Many American cities now enjoy an amazing reversal of fortune. Once hollowed-out shells mainly for those too poor to move -- or those so rich they didn't have to deal with the poor -- cities are again filling up with educated and aspiring young people.
This year, two big dress-up events fall in the same week. But the Academy Awards and Mardi Gras couldn't be more different. At the Hollywood party, the common people are supposed to venerate the stars. In Mardi Gras, the commoners are the stars.
A story that captivated New York City: A group of elderly Korean-Americans had been gathering at a McDonald's in Queens for conversation and fellowship. They'd sit there all day long, sometimes sharing a $1.39 package of fries. The hangout was so popular that friends from other neighborhoods would travel to join them.
Philip Seymour Hoffman's death at the end of a heroin needle again spotlights the dangers of a poisonous drug. And so did the Vermont governor's plea last month to confront the "full-blown heroin crisis" plaguing his rural state.
A guard insisted on looking into my handbag as I entered Radio City Music Hall to attended a concert recently. He had absolutely no reason to suspect me or the hundreds of other patrons whose bags he similarly inspected of carrying guns or explosives. But none of us objected to the incursion.
"The not so Golden State" is how a recent issue of The Economist magazine tags California's business climate. It's the latest in a trove of conservative literature trying to dance around the fact that high-tax, highly regulated, bureaucratic states can be economic powerhouses. The writers deal with the "problem" by burying reality under a pile of "buts" and "howevers."
After decades of suffering environmental torture at the hands of polluting industries, West Virginians might regard a chemical spill that poisoned the drinking water of 300,000 residents -- and is still scaring folks after the dangers have presumably passed -- as a last straw. But there never seems to be a last straw for them.
Some enterprising writer must do a book titled "The Downton Diet." It would explain how to get and stay slim without moving a muscle, as the aristocratic women in the wildly popular British drama series demonstrate.
A New York voice boomed from the back of the long car rental line: "Wha'd they do, lay off half the people?"
One of my thoughts no doubt shared by fellow detainees waiting, waiting at the big-name car rental office at a Florida airport.
Could an aging population be good for economic growth? I mean, isn't it an accepted fact that our economy will suffer as more Americans pass age 65 and start sitting around all day, soaking up government benefits?
Proposals to raise Social Security benefits are a refreshing antidote to portrayals of the program as a mere drain on the Treasury. Details of some such plans are troubling -- for reasons I'll go into -- but the change in tone is most welcome.
The honchos at A&E, professing shock that an old Southern redneck from their reality TV hit "Duck Dynasty" made the sort of homophobic remarks one would expect from an old Southern redneck, yanked Phil Robertson off the show. A culture war skirmish ensued.
Americans don't care much about rising economic inequality, recent surveys suggest. But that's not quite right.
The public may know that the top 10 percent pulled in about half of pretax income in 2012 -- and that income inequality is the widest it's been since right before the Great Depression. Its brain understands that these trends are not good for the society.
Mainstream Republicans are doing backflips over Chris Christie's frolic to re-election as governor of New Jersey. Here is a Republican who took on public employee unions, spoke out against abortion and gay marriage, and still scored a landslide win in a blue state. And he won Latinos' and women's votes, too.
Wow, this T-shirt costs only $8. Great color. Problem is, your finger could punch a hole through it. In most Americans' shopping experience, colors change and styles come and go, but there's one constant: low quality and a sweatshop-country label.
Drawing moral lines in our rough-and-tumble capitalist system can be hard. But it should not tax too many ethical muscles to set aside some protections for trusting, unsophisticated borrowers of modest means. That is, unless you're a politician working on behalf of predatory lenders.
An unapologetic drinker, writer H.L. Mencken blamed Prohibition on American moralists' distaste for happiness. "A Puritan is not against bullfighting because of the pain it gives the bull," he wrote, "but because of the pleasure it gives the spectators."
Much we believe about turkeys is not true.
Myth No. 1: They were served at the "first Thanksgiving" feast in Plymouth, Mass. There's no evidence for that.
During the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act, it's been hard to defend the law, much less to call it "great." But great it is -- for the American economy and for the American people, rich ones included.
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