Essays

Afterglow: where have all the fireflies gone?
Published on Jun 12th, 2003
0 comments It's a childhood memory that many of us possess: Sitting on a front stoop as day turns to dusk, watching and waiting for the flash, flash, flash of fireflies to fill the summer night. But now those...
France matters: Don't mess with Texas-sized state
Published on Jun 5th, 2003
0 comments During the recent summit of G-8 countries in the French city of Evian, American and French officials worked hard to get over the bad blood between the two countries since France launched a diplomatic...
Potent weapon: Make sanctions, not war (yet)
Published on May 29th, 2003
0 comments Military action dominates the media coverage, but recent developments underscore, once again, the effectiveness of economic sanctions in punishing rogue regimes and persuading them to rejoin the...
Doubts abound: You better believe it or not
Published on May 22nd, 2003
0 comments Suppose a miracle is reported– say, another Virgin Mary sighting by Catholics, or the 900-foot Jesus seen by evangelist Oral Roberts. Some people will embrace this news joyfully, as evidence of...
Cloning: You shouldn't live so long
Published on May 15th, 2003
0 comments Fresh off its proposed ban on all human cloning, President Bush's Council on Bioethics is now considering whether it is ethical to pursue biomedical research aimed at extending human life spans. Last...
SARS wars: Genomics may save China
Published on May 8th, 2003
0 comments Thank goodness that SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) arrived in the Genomics Age. The malady has already infected 5,000 people and killed 327 since it broke out in China last year. A decade...
Private parts: Keep Santorum out of your closet
Published on May 1st, 2003
0 comments Pennsylvania Senator and chairman of the Republican Senate Caucus Rick Santorum has hit the buzz saw of history with his recent comments on homosexuality. Santorum told the Associated Press: "I have...
What'll it be? Will we lead by example or force?
Published on Apr 24th, 2003
0 comments Now that America has settled its beef with Saddam Hussein, all eyes are turning to Syria. Top American officials have recently charged the Syrians with possessing chemical weapons, harboring leaders...
Clothes modification: How fashion defines us
Published on Apr 17th, 2003
0 comments A woman I used to work with had a bad clothes reputation. Her problem wasn't overt sexiness or mindless trendiness. Rather, it was that she dramatically changed her "look" every few months. One...
Fat chance: Dating pointers at Weight Watchers
Published on Apr 10th, 2003
0 comments I've been wondering where it is a middle-aged single guy can meet women. It's an age-old problem. You can't go to nightclubs without appearing to be a father waiting to take his daughter home, or at...
Murder by dog: Owners liable for violent pets
Published on Apr 3rd, 2003
0 comments What do a gun, a knife, and a vicious dog have in common? They can all get you charged with murder. Just ask Marjorie Knoller, the lawyer convicted of second-degree murder and other charges last year...
Dirty bomb: No reason to be afraid
Published on Mar 27th, 2003
0 comments Stockpile food, get a pocket radio, hoard batteries, and find an easily sealed place in your apartment. Make a plan to flee the metropolis. If there is an inland waterway, consider using a skiff or a...
Documented: Riding across America with Diego
Published on Mar 20th, 2003
0 comments I'd never planned to do much traveling by Greyhound, particularly not coast-to-coast. Then again, I hadn't exactly planned to have my car and all my worldly possessions stolen in Los Angeles, either...
Has-been highs: Losing the personal drug war
Published on Mar 13th, 2003
0 comments At what point does youthful experimentation become embarrassing and pathetic? If Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston aren't on hand to give you the answer, maybe we can help. Join decorum expert Allison...
Fred Rogers: Esteem-builder for hard-boiled kids
Published on Mar 6th, 2003
0 comments February 27– Mr. Rogers died this morning. In an interview, Mr. McFeely, the Neighborhood's postman, said that Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood had been running since 1966. That means I saw the first...
Where's the pot? Straining for an elusive bargain
Published on Feb 27th, 2003
0 comments The ad for Kohl's department store in my Saturday morning newspaper reported the astounding news that Kohl's had the pasta pot on sale. Not an ordinary pasta pot, but the pasta pot "as seen on TV,"...
The sky's no limit: Strippers, nudists take to the air
Published on Feb 20th, 2003
0 comments And you thought the friendly skies had turned cruel, what with the incessant delays, the near-bankruptcy of airlines, and the lousy food. Silly you. No, the news from the airline industry is getting...
Front of the line: The rich get richer in Virginia
Published on Feb 13th, 2003
0 comments F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, "The rich are different from you and me." He was right about that, especially in Virginia. One way they're different here is that they don't have to wait in line. The rich...
What's it all about? Many fingers in the Shuttle pie
Published on Feb 6th, 2003
0 comments What are we doing in space? In the wake of the Columbia disaster, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe has told America that "every piece of evidence" will be examined to determine the cause of "this...
Roe v. Wade: Status quo serves us well
Published on Jan 30th, 2003
0 comments Perhaps the most striking aspect of the many observances of the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion, was the relative lack of drama surrounding...
Feet of clay: Let's take back the church
Published on Jan 23rd, 2003
0 comments The Rev. John Banks, a New Jersey priest, was recently convicted of molesting an altar boy. He told investigators his vow of celibacy "made no direct mention of abstaining from sex." Father Banks...
York: Mystery man of the Corps of Discovery
Published on Jan 16th, 2003
0 comments A friend called the other day to say I might want to take a look at a story in the Metro section of The Washington Post. She knew that I had recently completed a children's novel on the topic of York...
Twin freaks? Human cloning not all bad
Published on Jan 9th, 2003
0 comments At one of the oddest press conferences ever, Brigitte Bosselier, a "bishop" in the Raelian UFO cult announced on December 27 that their cloning company, Clonaid, has succeeded in cloning a 7-pound...
Shady's return: Was Kissinger back to hide assassinations?
Published on Dec 18th, 2002
0 comments Central Virginia's Congressman Virgil Goode and others complained about the recent appointment of Henry Kissinger to investigate 9/11. Citing conflicts with his international consulting work,...
Reparations considered: What's it take to set it right?
Published on Dec 12th, 2002
0 comments Most people never change their minds. Blame ego for this, probably. Reversing your opinion is an act of humility. It suggests that, previously, you were wrong. Wrong? Nobody wants to be wrong! We'd...
Osbourne Inc: Why Ozzy's a great CEO
Published on Dec 5th, 2002
0 comments It's become endlessly popular to make facile comparisons of various non-business-world figures to CEOs. Even today we still see references to George W. Bush having the management style of "a big-...
Game girl: Sid and Nancy in Electronics Land
Published on Nov 28th, 2002
0 comments The other night, I was bedeviled for more than an hour by a persistent beeping noise. Every few minutes I'd hear the beep, but I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. It sounded like the...
Not all the turkeys are in the oven
Published on Nov 28th, 2002
0 comments The night before Thanksgiving and all through the county, police were stirring and looking for bounty.  When the tractor beam of light surrounded our car on Interstate 64, we (along with three...
Mr. Oluwa's overture: The email everyone gets
Published on Nov 28th, 2002
0 comments Perhaps you heard from Daniel A. Oluwa over the past few days. He's a member of Nigeria's Federal Audit Committee. He dropped you an e-mail labeled "Strictly Confidential," stating that he's...
Caller I.D. vs. caller id
Published on Nov 21st, 2002
0 comments Caller I.D has revolutionized telephone etiquette. A helpful (though guilt-laded innovation) for the callee, the invention is potentially devastating for the caller. And not just tele-marketers. We'...