Must it take tragedy to find triumph? Do we need destruction to discover decency? You’ve seen the images, the constant loop of video showing a man raised from a house, clinging to his daughter in one hand and a garbage bag in the other. You’ve seen the young man from Normangee strapping his john boat to a trailer he borrowed from his cousin to drive down I-45 as far as he could make it, just to see if he could pull another daughter from a flooded home. You’ve seen the deputy on TV – the one who could barely catch his breath while unloading one family to set out for another trapped in filthy water. This is what Houston looked like on Saturday, August 26, 2017. It’s what we looked like on Sunday and Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s what we will look like for another week, … [Read more...] about Don’t forget our nation really looks like this
My wife and I live in a house. We like our house. It has rooms and sinks and windows; it comes with electricity and air conditioning. We even like the people in our house, namely the two young boys who have completed one-third of their operation to destroy it. Like most homeowners with young children, my wife and I often find ourselves walking across the middle of the den screaming unspeakable words. We do this when we step on toys the size of Bic lighters with edges that pierce like a staple gun. If you’re a parent, you know this pain. And without fail, it leads to a conversation between mom and dad that goes something like this: “We need a bigger house.” Meghan and I had this conversation about two days after unloading the boxes in our just-purchased home. Yes, that sounds … [Read more...] about Where is this valley where contractors disappear?
When you opened this page, what words did you read first? Based on centuries (literally) of studying reading habits, your eyes went straight for the headline: “Your trust, our reputation sacrificed for dollars.” Headlines matter. They matter even more than you realize, but don’t take my word for it. Here’s an excerpt from an excellent article in The New Yorker: “… Everyone knows that a headline determines how many people will read a piece, particularly in this era of social media,” wrote Maria Konnikova. “But, more interesting, a headline changes the way people read an article and the way they remember it… By drawing attention to certain details or facts, a headline can affect what existing knowledge is activated in your head. By its choice of phrasing, a headline can influence your … [Read more...] about Your trust, our reputation sacrificed for dollars
I got a call earlier this week about a class being held at Rice University this fall and, almost immediately, I was fascinated by the idea. Not that my fascinations are any of your concern, but stick with me and I’ll explain why I think many of you might be interested in attending this class, which happens to be open to the public. Over the years, I’ve sat at this computer steaming mad at the structure of our city and the way our neighborhoods are treated. I’m never mad at any single person; I just don’t like the circumstances and I wish there were something we could do about it. Take, for example, the notice I get from my wonderful neighborhood once a year. They ask for a $250 contribution to the Constable program, and every year, my wife and I write the check. We do that so our … [Read more...] about ‘City in a City’ course has great potential
A reader sent me a note recently, asking if I could help cure one of society’s great ills. I appreciate the power still vested in the written word, but this one may be out of reach. Here’s the cited problem: The phone – and not the sort you find attached to a cord in a museum. The problem is the usage of today’s most important utility, which happens to be your cell phone or smart phone or addiction network, whichever you choose to call it. The reader’s problem was very specific. “You should do a column on cell phone etiquette on leaving messages. People will call and not leave a message and they expect a call back.” I feel a little like Ann Landers. Dear Reader with Phone Etiquette Issues… But nobody calls me “Dear,” so let me offer a little perspective to this problem. We’ll … [Read more...] about Reader Request: Please explain phone etiquette