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Off the Record

A visit to the Gray Lady

The New York Times recently held a reception at its Manhattan skyscraper for its “regulars” — a group of about 60 people whose letters it prints on a regular basis.

The Times receives 400 to 600 letters a day from every geographic location and partisan persuasion. Out of this flood it prints as many voices as it can, but the regulars get printed over and over, sometimes for decades.

Physical and intellectual harassment: drawing lines

Drafting rules to govern workplace harassment seems to be as difficult as monitoring free speech on college campuses. In both cases, subjectivity and politics keep getting in the way.

On campus, liberal students know they can claim that any conservative speaker or idea is harmful and their administrators will respond like Pavlovian dogs and coddle them.

Why men won’t ask for directions

Since women are always wondering why men will never ask for directions, it’s only fair to wonder why women always leave their shopping carts in the middle of the aisle.

The reason men won’t ask for directions is very simple. It’s because most people don’t know north from south – especially women – although I say that with great respect. But really, why can’t they move their carts over to the side so the next fellow can get by?

Christmas books in Dickens’ England

“Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun.”

— Charles Dickens, “Bleak House,” 1851

 

Kids’ view of the Kennedy assassination

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, was one of those events, like Pearl Harbor and 9/11, that everyone who was old enough at the time will always remember. Even children were affected by it.

In our neighborhood, kids discussed the assassination in backyards. I was eight years old and got most of my information from the 10-year-old girl across the street. It was her considered opinion that F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover was behind it, along with Vice President Lyndon Johnson.

Mark Twain’s connection in Norfolk

A new book of Mark Twain’s letters provides some details of the famous author and humorist’s visits to Norfolk in the early 1900s. “The Letters of Mark Twain and Joseph Hopkins Twichell” publishes all the known correspondence between Twain and his close friend and pastor, with much background about their lives, families and careers.

American media worse than the Russians

You don’t know how lucky you are, boy. Back in the U.S., back in the U.S., back in the U.S.S.R.

— The Beatles, 1968

The Russians weren’t the only ones meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign. So was the American press.

The Russian interference ended on Election Day, at least for now, but the American press didn’t stop there. It has been actively trying to overturn the result of the election ever since.

As they say in Vladivostok, that ain’t kosher, comrade.

A tale of two victims, neither very innocent

Hillary Clinton and Kathy Griffin both claim to be victims of the usual feminist suspects, “older white guys,” Hillary most recently in the presidential election, Griffin in the aftermath of her latest ill-conceived publicity stunt.

 Griffin is being investigated by the Secret Service after posing for a photograph of herself holding a likeness of President Donald Trump’s severed head, which quickly went viral on the internet.

‘Happening now … Breaking news!!!’

CNN uses those exact words every day to open its super-hyped news and opinion show, “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

Too bad the words have lost all meaning except to gullible consumers who are habitually beguiled by fake tabloid headlines such as “Bigfoot Found on Mt. Riga.” Well, that one might be true.

Free speech: Banned in Berkeley

There really isn’t much difference between burning books and banning speakers. Either way, it amounts to the same thing — censoring ideas that don’t comport with your world view.