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Opinion

Christmas a time of opportunity

This is the time of year when so many of us worry about the “perfect” gift, the “perfect” meal and the “perfect” outfit. Often subconsciously we hold ourselves to an unobtainable Norman Rockwell standard of holiday pageant. In so doing, we create needless stress and imperil an otherwise joyous season.

Facilitating dollar sign diplomacy

President Barack Obama recently moved to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. With a great predictability, several members of Congress have decried the action as pandering to Communism. Fortunately, a few cooler heads have also weighed in to the debate.

Jeb Bush for president?

Jeb Bush gave his party a Christmas present the other day. Some of its faithful will regard it as a pony, others a bag of switches. Bush confirmed he was running for president of the United States. Actually, he announced he had formed a Leadership PAC (political action committee), which is a kind of presidential exploratory committee. It allows an individual to run for president and solicit money without formally declaring as a candidate. Such is the law.

Let the music play

In a recent report, the White Hall School District’s School Board President Raymond Jones laid out a bold plan for much-needed improvements to the high school. The board voted Tuesday to proceed with the second phase of this plan.

Barriers tested and broken

It sounds like the setup for a redneck cautionary tale: Take a very aerodynamic car chassis with “Budweiser” painted in great big letters down the side, drop in a 48,000 horsepower rocket engine and, just for good measure, strap on a 12,000 horsepower sidewinder missile. What could possibly go wrong?

Distinguishing want from need

A little more than a month ago, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal by a man on Alabama’s death row for the 1989 pipe bomb death of Federal Appeals Court Judge Robert S. Vance. Without comment, the Supreme Court denied the request of Walter Leroy Moody to review his petition.

Dreading Ebola

One of the profound challenges of our age is how to evaluate risk from complex threats. At one level, experts provide scientific facts about, say, the transmissibility of a disease, and they can quantify the prospects for contagion. At another level, human emotions measure risk with irrational but powerful gut feelings. In a 1987 essay in Science magazine, Paul Slovic of the University of Oregon cautioned that emotions and science must be given equal weight. He wrote that “there is wisdom as well as error in public attitudes and perceptions.” His message was that, in communicating and dealing with perceptions of risk, fears and dread need to be considered as carefully as precise measurements by experts.

Distilling facts about Prohibition

On this day in 1919 the United States Congress passed the National Prohibition Act (more commonly called the Volstead Act). This law provided for the implementation of the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which established National Prohibition of alcoholic beverages.