When kids are learning to read, a good teacher gives them as many tools to use.  Young readers are taught to sound out words they don’t know, words and concepts are repeated, and stories are put into a form that are familiar and warm.  All of these help us even as adults along with one more critical tool – context, a bigger whole than the details that support it.  Context comes from the pictures that support the text, either in a kids’ book or a magazine, but it also comes from the text itself.  It also happens to be something that is fading from our culture altogether in strange and chilling ways.

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Cookies for Santa

We’ve had a lot of sweet economic news lately.  The Gross Domestic Product was announced to have grown at an annualized rate of 3.5% in the third quarter, which even after it was revised down to 2.8% seems like a decent number.  The number of new unemployment claims was down to 474k last week, and the unemployment rate fell from 10.2% to 10.0%.  It’s all good, right?

Plus, we have less than two weeks until Santa arrives!  Better make cookies!

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New Deal

When I try to explain what I think is required for these hard times, I’ve deliberately steered clear of one important phrase:  The New Deal.  It’s a tough phrase for a lot of reasons, not just because it’s loaded with meanings that people inherited from their grandparents.  The word “deal” does not mean “a new bargain”, the way we might use it today, but a new deal of the cards.  The old hand had been played out, the way FDR saw it, and it was time for what he could only call a “new deal”.  That strong frame for understanding what he was trying to accomplish is a bit lost – something I’ve started to regard as more of a problem than I first thought.

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First Big Snow


Have they ever issued a Humorous Winter Storm Warning? It’s always a very severe affair, never something lighthearted that we can all get into. You know, the kind of thing that goes down before the commercial break on the evening nooze, delivered by the guy with the soothing voice of pale male authority and the woman wearing hair with tunnels that neatly reveal her big earrings:

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