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“School days/school days”– again

So many things have changed since I began elementary school back in 1949. First, we did not go to kindergarten. It didn’t exist. We never used 20-pound backpacks slung over our shoulders to carry everything from books to cell phones to clothing. We carried our sparse needs in book satchels. They were plastic, light-weight, some decorated with pictures of heroes of the day. There was a little pocket in the front for items such as colors and lunch tickets.

The benefits of attack ads

Negative campaign ads appear to be on the rise with the approach of this fall’s congressional elections and the 2016 presidential campaign. Hardly anyone has a good word to say about them. The standard critique — that they demean our democracy, deceive voters and cause disgusted voters to stay home on Election Day — has the ring of truth. But this exaggerates the negative about negative ads while obscuring their benefits.

College cost isn’t big problem for poor students

To judge by this summer’s banner policy proposals, the most important question for higher-education reform right now is giving students easier access to loans. But evidence from Canada suggests those changes won’t address the greater need: Getting more kids from poor families into college, the key to moving up in an increasingly unequal society.

Make the right choice

Joshua, God’s servant, the leader of God’s chosen people Israel who succeeded Moses, his mentor, was growing old and knowing the character and the attitudes of his people was compelled to call them together. (Joshua 24: 14-14)

Birthday wows and woes

Since July is my birthday month, I guess I should write something about the past three-score and one anniversaries of the date. Actually, my very first memory is of my fourth birthday party. I have a vague recollection of playing “Drop the Handkerchief” and “London Bridge” and a birthday cake served on the front porch with presents. In 1947, we didn’t know about party themes, pizza/game parlors, or inflatable rentals for the lawn.

Saying a killer ‘snapped’ does not explain domestic violence

When Ronald Lee Haskell was accused of killing six members of his ex-wife’s family in Texas this month, I wondered how long it would take for a news report to suggest that the suspect had “snapped.” The scope and horror of the crime — the victims included four children ages 4 to 14 — meant it took a little while for this media narrative to show up. But there it was, two days later, familiar from innumerable stories of domestic violence that end in murder. An Alaska TV station gathered the observations of childhood friends, who described the youthful Haskell as funny, compassionate and religiously devout, then cited one friend’s observation that “Haskell must have snapped.” The reporter let the description hang there, and closed the piece, as if a single verb said it all. Rarely does a single word attempt to explain so much and fail so completely.

New shooters for Derby winner Orb

LITTLE ROCK —In thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, they are called new shooters — horses that did not participate in the Kentucky Derby for one reason or another, but line up to ruin the dream for the Derby winner in the Preakness or the Belmont.