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Is the GOP on the wrong side of history?

The Republican Party, eyeing the 2010 elections, has convinced itself that the health care bill, slowly, but surely progressing through Congress, will be what political experts call, their “wedge issue.”  They are already talking about targeted seats, and pickups in the House, sufficient, or so they claim, to give them back control of the lower chamber.

Read more: Is the GOP on the wrong side of history?

It’s that time: Saying farewell to the aughts

We’re saying goodbye to the first decade of the 21st century and here we are, after 10 years, still debating about what to call it.  However, this problem isn’t unique to us.  From everything I have been able to find out, our great grandparents, a hundred years ago, had the same problem.  Teddy Roosevelt referred to the years as aught six, aught seven, and what have you.  But I don’t think he found it a satisfying reference and probably searched in vain for something with more of a rhetorical flourish.  But, alas, he never found it.

Read more: It’s that time: Saying farewell to the aughts

From an 1899 Christmas List to the Zu Zu

It’s a common complaint this time of year. Parents, and they’ve been doing this for at least the past 40 years, moan about the ever increasing complexity of our Christmas gifts. The toys get more gadgety, more electronic and more complicated with every passing year. Of course, I say that while delighting in every new feature I discover on my iPhone, and of course, I don’t know how I got along without my electronic razor with its 10 different settings, and, oh yes, a clock. I have no idea why it has a clock, but there it is. Then there is the Zu Zu. A friend of mine managed to find one of these for her daughter. They’re very hard to come by. I didn’t ask how she got it, but I suspect it probably involved an envelope changing hands at two in the morning somewhere on the New Jersey Turnpike. Zu Zus are the automated hamsters that are the toy of 2009. My guess, watching these little critters go through their tricks, is that the Zu Zus have more computing power in their one or two chips than my PC had in its entire motherboard back in 1983.

Read more: From an 1899 Christmas List to the Zu Zu

What does the future hold for newspapers?

This statistic will surprise some people. Some, like me, will find it disturbing. Others will simply shrug their shoulders and think very little about it. The alarming projection is that if current trends continue, the last newspaper in the United States will be printed in 2043. That’s based on statistical projections. However, even that estimate, given the state of the industry, may seem optimistic.
The great papers, whether it’s The New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Baltimore Sun (the paper H.L. Mencken called his literary home), are all fading. The businesses have been bleeding red ink for years. They’re laying off reporters by the dozens and trimming the size of their publications. The Baltimore Sun is just a shadow of its former self.

Read more: What does the future hold for newspapers?

Lighting the Christmas season: It’s all good

When asked, most people can easily name their favorite thing about Christmas time. For some, it’s the food. I can understand this. Pecan pie, eggnog, and yes, though I can’t understand the attraction, fruit cake. For others, it’s the music. Christmas carols, hymns, Bing Crosby singing White Christmas, and an addition I have come to enjoy, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, all say Christmas. But for me, the one thing that delights me most about the holiday season are the lights. Thomas Edison invented the electric light in 1879. In 1880, to celebrate the season, he strung the first Christmas lights outside of his Menlo Park laboratory. Since then they have been a part of the holiday season.

Read more: Lighting the Christmas season: It’s all good

If the recession is over, why doesn’t it feel like it?

Economists are all saying the recession is over. They point to a growth in the gross domestic product and an increase, at least when compared to last month, in retail sales. Even automobile sales improved slightly. And then there is the modest uptick in home sales. All of this sounds encouraging, and it should be, but it still doesn’t feel like the recession is ending. If anything, it seems unusually persistent and sometimes like it’s actually getting worse.

Read more: If the recession is over, why doesn’t it feel like it?

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