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TO THE CLASS OF 2013

You’ve accomplished something, whatever school you’re graduating from. Almost 25 percent of Americans don’t finish high school. Almost 70 percent don’t complete a bachelor’s degree. More than 93 percent of people in the world won’t finish college. Hundreds of millions across the globe, mostly girls, never attend school for a single day.

So you should feel proud. But don’t feel superior. Not everybody had the means or the support that you’ve had to get here. And anyway, lots of people have done very well without graduating. Peter Jennings and Hans Christian Andersen didn’t finish high school. Mark Wahlberg, Louis Armstrong, and Julie Andrews didn’t finish high school. Edward Albee, Adele, Paul Allen, Dan Akroyd, and Jane Austen never finished college. That’s just a few of the A’s. 

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SHOULD MY MIDDLE-AGED MALE FRIEND JUST ADMIT HE LIKES THE NEW TAYLOR SWIFT ALBUM?

My friend, who was wary of admitting he liked Taylor Swift’s album Red, now has a separate but related and yet maybe even more significant problem: Step by step, chord by chord, he is learning to play every Red song on his guitar. And to sing them too.

SHOULD MY MIDDLE-AGED MALE FRIEND JUST ADMIT HE LIKES THE NEW TAYLOR SWIFT ALBUM?He started out with noble intentions. His young daughter’s guitar skills were advancing, so he thought that in order to keep the momentum he’d get the complete Red guitar tablature songbook. It was brilliant. The vegetables had been hidden within the pizza. He didn’t have to force her to practice. She did it on her own almost every day. 

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ARCHITECTURALLY, HOW BAD WERE THE 1970S?

Well, I think they were pretty bad. That’s just my view, as an amateur who grew up with buildings from that era, ignored them for years, and only recently started paying attention. Now they seem to be everywhere. There are lots of exceptions, and people who know architecture might disagree, but as a whole, commercially and residentially, I feel that Seventies architecture is a blight.  

ARCHITECTURALLY, HOW BAD WERE THE 1970S?Many times, when you walk into a building designed in the 1930s, you look on in wonder. When you walk into a building designed in the 1970s, most of the time you think, Jesus. It feels like an hallucination.

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I DON’T TRUST VLADIMIR PUTIN

Right now, most Americans oppose a strike against Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin may have done more than anyone to change their minds.  

I DON'T TRUST VLADIMIR PUTINIn a New York Times op-ed, Putin says that a U.S. strike in Syria would “throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.” He says “no one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria,” but in contrast to every shred of evidence presented so far, he alone knows that the gas was used “by opposition forces, to provoke intervention.”  

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LIVING IN THE U.S. MEANS LIVING WITH MASS SHOOTINGS

In Bangladesh, there are severe floods. Almost every monsoon season, roughly 20 percent of the country is covered in water. Hundreds of lives are lost every year. In 1998, 1,000 people were killed and 30 million lost their homes.  

In the Philippines, there are typhoons. About 20 strike every year and many people die. In 2012, more than 700 were killed by Typhoon Bopha. About 5,000 died during Typhoon Thelma in 1991.  

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IS FOOTBALL WORTH IT?

Now that we are deep into the season, I’d say the answer to that question I asked a while back is: absolutely! It’s the best sport in the history of the world. But then Washington Post columnist George Will has to come along and spoil it:

IS FOOTBALL WORTH IT?Football’s doughty defenders note that other recreational activities, such as bicycling, injure more participants. But only in football is long-term injury the result not of accidents but of the game played properly, meaning within the rules. Rules could be changed by, for example, eliminating kickoffs, with their high-velocity collisions, and barring the three-point stance, whereby linemen begin each play with their heads down and helmet-to-helmet collisions are likely. But such changes could be made only over the dead bodies of fans who relish mayhem from safe distances.

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DATE LABEL, SHMATE SHMABEL

You’re shopping. You just want to get in and out. You’re looking at the chicken. But all you see are a bunch of cellophane wrappers informing the grocer that they have to “sell by” a certain date. And that date is today.

DATE LABEL, SHMATE SHMABELWhat do you do? You want your fajitas. But what about that date? What does it mean? Well, it turns out that much of the time, it means nothing:

Sell-by, use-by and best-by dates do not indicate whether a food is safe to eat, or even if is still tasty. Sell-by dates provide information to retailers about how long to display a product. Best-if-used-by typically indicates a date after which the food will no longer be at its highest quality — as defined by the manufacturer. But the meaning of those terms varies from product to product, and even among manufacturers of the same products, because there is no industry agreement on definitions and on which labels should be applied to which foods.

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IN GENERAL, BASEBALL PLAYERS ARE LOUSY FIGHTERS

For baseball fans, these are the best of times and the worst of times. They’re the best, because going into the last weekend of the season, there are still some exciting playoff races. And then, of course, they finally have the playoffs and the World Series to look forward to.

IN GENERAL, BASEBALL PLAYERS ARE LOUSY FIGHTERSBut these last days of September are also the worst of times, because most teams have long been out of it, finishing the season in a whimper.  

The Houston Astros, for example, are 43 games out of the lead in the American League West. This weekend, during their final three games, they’re hosting the New York Yankees, whose season is also over. Unless Houston fans want to jeer the Yankees, why watch the games?

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