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Privacy? Surely You Jest!
  13 Apr 2014     12:05 am

Ring. Ring.
“Hello, this is Tom.”
“We know who you are, Tom. In the digital age, you will be shocked by what we know about you.”

“Who is this? The National Security Agency? I thought President Obama issued orders to rein you in!”
“That’s a good one, Tom. Obama told the NSA to stop storing bulk phone records on millions of Americans. The NSA can easily access that information through phone companies. I’m not from the NSA, however.”
“Then who are you and what do you want?”
“What is more important, Tom, is who are you …

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Springtime in Washington
  7 Apr 2014     12:05 am

Ah, springtime has finally arrived in Washington, D.C.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is beginning. The cherry trees, 3,700 of them given to America by the Japanese in 1912, will soon be in full bloom.

It reminds me why Americans are so wary of Washington.
In the spring of 1999, you see, some culprits had been chopping down cherry trees.
The National Park Service, in a state of high alert for days, finally identified the tree fellers: three beavers, who decided to construct a dam in the Tidal Basin.
In a normal city, this situation …

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Obama Confesses
  6 Apr 2014     12:05 am

“Pope Francis, I have never been to Catholic confession before, but I have a few things I have to get off my chest.”
“Go on, Barack.”

“Between you and me, pontiff, I can’t believe I am president. There I was, trying my hand at presidential debates, and all of a sudden I am sitting in the Oval Office. Now I need all the help I can get.”
“Help, Barack?”
“This job is getting to me, pontiff. The majority of Americans dislike ObamaCare, my signature achievement. Republicans are blocking everything I want to do. And …

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Obama Talks To Putin
  30 Mar 2014     12:05 am

“You have been warned, Vladimir. If you don’t reverse your impending annexation of Crimea, you’re going to pay a steep price.”
“Steep price, Obama? More silly personal sanctions placed on a handful of individuals, rather than sanctions on my energy industry and banks – something Vladimir actually fears? Sticks and stones may break Vladimir’s bones, but unserious sanctions never hurt me!”

“Don’t you read the college textbooks, Vladimir? You are on the wrong side of history. The Cold War is over. Carrying on like an imperialist thug is so 1980s!”
“Vladimir greatly enjoys …

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Government Advice on Affording ObamaCare
  23 Mar 2014     12:05 am

“Look, if you want ObamaCare, you are just going to have to make some better budgeting decisions.”
“Budgeting decisions? I make $36,000 a year. The best deal I could find on ObamaCare, with subsidies, is $350 a month. That is a hefty 10 percent of my income!”

“Like President Obama recently said at a Spanish-speaking town hall, all you have to do is prioritize your budget better. I’ll bet if we look at your cable bill, cell phone bill and other things you are spending on, we will find your priorities are …

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Old-Fashioned Baby Names Make a Comeback
  16 Mar 2014     12:05 am

Get this: Old-fashioned baby names are beginning to make a comeback.
That was the finding of BabyCenter, a digital resource for parenting and pregnancy, which released the top 100 baby names for 2013.

Some of the names at the top of the list are oldies but goodies, such as Sophia, Isabella and Olivia for girls. And once we get past Liam, Lucas and Mason, Jack, Ben and Bill are increasing in popularity for boys.
Naming conventions are surely cyclical in nature, and I hope it is just a matter of time before the …

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FIRST Step Toward America’s Future
  10 Mar 2014     12:05 am

It’s a compelling event — something we all better hope we see more of, if America is to thrive.
I speak of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competitions, which will be taking place at various cities across Canada and the U.S. through the first week in April.

Teams of high school kids spend months designing and building computerized robots. They raise money and manage budgets. 

Then their robots go head-to-head in a rollicking contest.
In the process, the kids become so excited about science, math and engineering, …

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Men, Your Love Life Needs a Pickup (Truck)
  9 Mar 2014     12:05 am

There’s a reason why American men drive big pickup trucks: Women dig them.
According to The Washington Free Beacon, a new poll by Insure, an independent consumer insurance website, found that women think attractive men are most likely to be driving a pickup truck.

The survey asked 2,000 men and women what type, brand and color of vehicle is driven by the “most fetching members of the opposite sex.” Ladies reported that desirable men are more likely to be driving, specifically, a black Ford truck – not a minivan or hybrid.
It would …

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A Dieting Cookie Addict’s Plea
  2 Mar 2014     12:05 am

We must stop them.
We must stop the millions of Girl Scouts who are, right this moment, preying on a helpless public, making us buy and consume calories we don’t need – at the rate of one or two rows of cookies at each sitting.

I am on a diet, you see – not just a low-carb diet, but a low-fat diet, low-calorie diet. I am getting by on only 1,300 or 1,400 calories a day.
That means I can’t eat sweets or drink adult beverages or consume pretty much anything that tastes …

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The Swimsuit Issue
  24 Feb 2014     12:05 am

It disgusts me more every year.
I speak of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, which is published the middle of February every year.
I’m not the only one disgusted. Other folks, such as those in the American Decency Association (ADA), often criticize the publication.

“Sports Illustrated disrespects women by displaying demeaning stereotypes of female sexuality,” says the ADA’s website. “The swimsuit issue features women models posed not as athletes of strength, skill, and endurance but as playthings …”
That is surely true, but here’s what is also true: We men are also being exploited.
Look, …

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Losing Ourselves in Snow & Cold
  23 Feb 2014     12:05 am

Let’s keep it together, people.
I speak of the way we are responding to record snow and cold sweeping across vast regions of the country.

People are cussing at snowplow drivers and each other. Panicked shoppers are fighting over toilet paper and milk. Americans are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder in unprecedented numbers.
For goodness’ sake, my fellow Americans, what kind of weak, chaotic image are we portraying to the rest of the world?
Worst of all is the way our nation’s capital is responding to the weather. As soon as forecasters predict an …

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Discouraging Work
  16 Feb 2014     12:05 am

Get this: The government is incentivizing people to not work.

So said the head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office last week. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf told lawmakers that millions of workers could either cut back their work hours or opt out of the job market completely because of ObamaCare.
The CBO report says millions of people will opt to keep their income low to stay eligible for federal health-care subsidies or Medicaid – resulting in losses equivalent to 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021.
But who can blame them?
Working is no fun. …

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For Valentine’s Day – a Return to Romance
  16 Feb 2014     12:05 am

For the past 40 years or so, a movement has been afoot to make men more like women and women more like men. This movement has been successful. I cite exhibits A and B as proof: Cosmopolitan and Men’s Health magazines.

According to one past issue of Cosmopolitan, women are in a panic to “follow sexy strategies to ignite our desire.” But you ladies need not waste your time. We’re simple creatures. If you want to ignite the desire of normal men, just show up.
As for men who subscribe to Men’s …

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Why Americans Want Smaller, Cozier Houses
  8 Feb 2014     12:05 am

Get this: Americans are getting sick of McMansions.
So says The Wall Street Journal in a recent report. Americans are favoring more historic designs, such as the arts-and-crafts houses their grandparents once lived in, over gargantuan suburban houses.

A new style of housing developer is emerging to serve this demand. These developers are designing and building more modest size homes – in the 2,500-square-foot range – that look historic on the outside, but that have modern amenities on the inside, such as custom kitchens and walk-in closets, that the original homes did …

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Why Groundhog Day Should Be Outlawed
  3 Feb 2014     12:05 am

Punxsutawney Phil must be stopped. The lovable little groundhog must be stopped.
You know Phil. Every Feb. 2, Groundhog Day, he is yanked from a tree stump in Punxsutawney, Pa. If he sees his shadow, his organizers allege, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, spring will be just around the corner.

Millions have enjoyed this primitive ritual for years, but now there’s a problem.
Groundhog Day evolved from Candlemas Day, a Christian tradition commemorating the purification of the Virgin Mary. As this tradition evolved in Germany, it got ever …

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It’s Later than Men Think
  2 Feb 2014     12:05 am

The illusion was good while it lasted. I speak of the male biological clock.
Yet another study, reported at PsychCentral.com, finds that children of older fathers are more likely to suffer “from mental health issues, including schizophrenia, mood disorders, neurotic disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders and other developmental and childhood disorders such as autism and mental retardation.”

And this news is a real bummer for middle-aged fellows.
Oh, how glorious things used to be before these male biological constraints were known. We fellows were free to believe we could dilly-dally through our 30s …

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Forward and Back with the iPhone
  26 Jan 2014     12:05 am

The Huffington Post is onto something.
In a recent report, the website listed seven things that the iPhone, first released to the public only seven years ago, has made obsolete – though there are surely plenty more than seven.

Up first, says the website: roadmaps. Thanks to Google Maps, which anyone can use on his or her cellphone, nobody uses paper maps anymore.
I can’t begin to imagine how much stress this is saving vacationing families.
Pre-Google-Maps horror stories were legend when I was a kid in the ’70s: Neighbors who thought they were …

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Little Sisters vs. Goliath
  19 Jan 2014     12:09 am

It’s a story about how freedom is all.
I speak of the Little Sisters of the Poor, an international congregation of Roman Catholic nuns who have devoted their lives to caring for the elderly poor.

I am lucky to know more about this remarkable organization than many.
In 2007, I wrote a column about Gorman Johnston, who was living in the Little Sisters retirement home in Pittsburgh, PA. I was scheduled to interview him one wintry December night, but didn’t want to go.
It was dark outside and bitter cold. The roads were icing …

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Elegy For The Incandescent Bulb
  12 Jan 2014     12:05 am

Farewell, old friend. I am going to miss you.
I speak of the incandescent bulb – the light of my life for all of my years. As of Jan. 1, you have been shut off. That was the mission of a 2007 law that raised energy-efficiency and wattage standards far beyond what you are capable of reaching.

You had a fine run, my friend. Perfected by Thomas Edison some 135 years ago, you stand as one of the greatest inventions of all time.
Your brilliance was in your simplicity. By sending an electrical …

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Obama Channels Nixon
  5 Jan 2014     12:05 am

President Obama, despondent over his low poll numbers and the lack of trust many Americans have for him and his policies, did something drastic. He met with the psychic medium who once helped Hillary Clinton contact the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt. With the medium’s help, Obama summoned the only presence in America who could help him: Richard Milhous Nixon.

Obama: Hello? Mr. President, can you hear me?
Nixon (sitting on a cloud playing a harp): What do you want, you ninny!
Obama: I’m in big trouble, Dick. My approval rating has fallen steadily …

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