Every once in a very great while, we get these people who rise above the confines of self. Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday at the age of 95, was one of those.
I like capitalism.
Specifically, I like the idea that if I write a better book, have a better idea, build a better mousetrap, I will be rewarded accordingly. A system where everyone gets the same reward regardless of quality or quantity of work is inconsistent with excellence and innovation, as the mediocrity and inefficiency that beset the Soviet Union readily proves.
The N-word again. Of course.
Six years after the NAACP staged its symbolic burial, that word has proven rumors of its demise greatly exaggerated.
You may not dance.
You may not listen to music or sing. You may not read. You may not leave the house except under certain strict conditions. You may not watch movies or television. You may not aspire. You may not learn.
These are the strictures the Taliban seeks to impose upon women and girls in the places it infests, including the Swat Valley in Pakistan.
With George Zimmerman out on bail last week after his latest run-in with police, it seems an opportune time to discuss the second killing of Trayvon Martin.
We were never innocent.
That word is invariably used to describe what changed in America on Nov. 22 50 years ago when a dashing young president was murdered in Dallas. But the word has never been quite right.
The greatest words any American ever said were spoken by a gaunt, war-haunted man in a tiny Pennsylvania college town 150 years ago Tuesday.
Boys will be boys.
Strip away the extraneous verbiage and that is what much of the defense of Richie Incognito boils down to.
I need to know how to build a bomb.
This is not, I hasten to add, for my use or, indeed, for the use of any real person. Rather, it is for Clarence and Dwayne, two hapless wannabe terrorists in a novel I'm writing.
The film surprises you with vast silences.
It is an emptiness that at first seems jarring to sensibilities trained to believe every moment must be crammed. By contrast, this movie takes you into moments of pregnant stillness: no movement on the screen, no dialogue, no swelling music to cue your emotions. At one point, the camera takes what feels like a minute to study Solomon Northup's face as he absorbs the awfulness of his predicament. He does nothing. He says nothing. He simply is.
It was a nick of time rescue, like when Polly Pureheart is whisked off the railroad tracks right before the train comes barreling through, or the correct wire is snipped and the bomb timer stops counting down with just seconds left.
In 1865, American slavery ended with the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Courthouse and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment.
The thing might be funny, except that somebody died. That part isn't funny at all. But the rest of it, the moments before Justin Valdez was killed, read like some twisted skit on "Saturday Night Live."
It was the suddenness that shocked me.
A few words on the new pope.
Since ascending to the papacy in March, the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio has managed to surprise and impress the religious and irreligious alike by living a brand of faith seldom seen on the public stage. Pope Francis insists on carrying his own bags, living in a simple apartment and cooking his own supper. He has largely shunned the papal Mercedes-Benz in favor of a 5-year-old Ford Focus.