I have a love-hate relationship with air conditioning

  The month of June arrives next week, signaling the approach of summer and warmer weather,  about which I have mixed feelings. You see, I have a problem with air conditioning. Let me explain. I went to an afternoon party a few years ago at the lovely home of a solidly middle-class couple who seemed oblivious to the increasingly uncomfortable temperatures of the day. “Is their AC on the fritz?” I asked a friend. “It’s not like they can’t afford it.” They didn’t have  air conditioning, I was told....

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Objectivity in journalism often is a misunderstood concept

  In his campaign last year, Donald Trump repeatedly declared that crime and illegal immigration had increased greatly during the presidency of Barack Obama.   But that wasn’t true, as most fact-checkers eventually reported. Still, Trump’s claims rang true in the minds of most of his supporters. Americans generally are inclined to think that social pathologies are worse than they actually are. If I reported here that murders were significantly less common when Ronald Reagan was president than when Obama was in the White...

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Regarding our debt to advertising

  More than half a century ago, when I was a would-be junior executive at an advertising agency in Chicago, a cynical copywriter with whom I worked opined that it was our job to persuade people to buy things they neither wanted nor needed. It was a joke, but it had a ring of truth. And on that very same day, by great coincidence, I first heard Bob Dylan sing this lyric: Advertising signs that con you/Into thinking you’re the one/That can do what’s never been done/That can win what’s never been won/Meantime life outside...

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When will we learn that “media” is not a singular word?

  In this morning’s edition of the Boston Herald, the following headline appears: “Adriana Cohen: The media has lost its marbles.” Nothing remarkable about that, right? A conservative newspaper is complaining about the mainstream media. So what else is new? But there’s a problem with the headline. It uses the word “media” as a singular. When I studied Latin in a Catholic school some 60 years ago, “media” was said to be the plural of “medium.” But things have changed over the...

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Barack Obama was the smartest president of my lifetime

  The declaration in the headline above is intended mainly to start an argument. After all, the term “smart,” like the term “effective,” can have different meanings in a political context, and we can disagree about such matters. Pundit David Corn put it this way a few years ago: Whenever I ponder the relationship between political success and smarts, I recall an interview I conducted with a particular George W. Bush supporter at a Wisconsin campaign rally shortly before the 2000 election. At that event, Bush had...

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Is the Trump presidency a warning from God?

  Over the years, right-wing televangelists have been quick to tell us that certain big disasters in America are warnings from God that our libertine ways have gone too far. For example, Pat Robertson and  Jerry Falwell (who has since deceased)  appeared jointly on television just two days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and declared that these events were signs of God’s disapproval of abortion, homosexuality and other increasingly popular evils. But a question has occurred to me of late: Why have preachers of this...

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