Border indignities

Last summer, a friend invited me to step out into the patio during a dinner party in a tony neighborhood. The dinner was at one of those places that predate gated communities, a throwback to kinder, gentler, genteel days. It was a classical setup to find out about some indiscretion, a rumor, preferably a confession, the stuff behind the headlines. Indeed it was.

The Super Bowl’s call to the young

The Super Bowl has once again worked its magic. I have no doubt that somewhere in the American heartland, a youngster saw the action and was inspired to believe that one day his talent will be the focus of the nation.

You can be sure that he will practice at all hours to hasten that day. As he does so, he will recall the great Super Bowl moments and will dream the impossible dream, because there are no impossible dreams in America, there are just some with a high degree of difficulty.

Facing a hi-def future

The very first video aired on MTV was the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.” I recently entered the wonderful world of high-definition-television ownership, and after a few months I’m beginning to wonder how many careers will be killed by HDTV.

In particular, there’s a real chance that John McCain, who appears to be on the verge of wrapping up the GOP nomination, will see his presidential hopes crushed by a technology he helped make commercially viable.

NFL, thy name is greed

If ever you wondered about how much owners of sports franchises really care about their fans, the NFL has taken a step toward providing the answer — very little unless you’re a paying customer. When a church or homeless shelter tries to provide some wholesome entertainment for the less fortunate, the league’s attitude is about the same as that ascribed to Marie Antoinette just before the French Revolution.

U.S. soldiers kill Iraqi civilians

The U.S. military said Monday that it accidentally killed nine Iraqi civilians during an operation targeting al-Qaida in Iraq south of Baghdad.

The civilians were killed Saturday near Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of the Iraqi capital, U.S. Navy Lt. Patrick Evans told The Associated Press. Three more civilians were wounded and taken to U.S. military hospitals nearby, he said.

The incident and the events surrounding it are under investigation, Evans said.

No free speech for Marines

The city council of Berkeley, Calif., where the Free Speech Movement was born, has decided that some people deserve more free speech than others and the U.S. Marines don’t deserve any at all.

For about a year, the Marines have had a recruiting station in Berkeley and the council wants it gone, voting 6-3 to declare that it “is not welcome in the city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders.”

‘The sun is about to shine at Guantánamo’

A federal court has, once again, slapped down the Bush Administration over its military torture chamber at Guantanamo Bay Cuba.

In a landmark ruling Friday, a federal appeals court ordered the Bush Administration to turn over virtually all its information on detainees at the prison where thousands have been held in cognito and without the due process accorded prisoners under our justice system.

The decision is another stunning defeat of the Bush Administration’s policies of ignoring the basic rights of the Constitution and the rights of those accused of crimes.

The tax man is always waiting

Welcome home.

Whenever I see those words scrawled across the banners draped like bunting across highway overpasses for returning servicemen and women these days, I have to smile.

I smile because they make me think of my father when he was a young man, 31, coming back to Rhode Island after nearly four years in the Navy.

An end to affirmative action?

Voters in five states will have a chance this fall to vote on banning racial preferences in state college admissions, contracting and employment. Ward Connerly, a businessman and former regent of the University of California system who spearheaded similar initiatives in California, Michigan and Washington state, is leading anti-affirmative-action campaigns in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Hi, I’m Betsy and I’m an email-a-holic

I’ve finally given up my BlackBerry, or rather my “CrackBerry.”

Actually, in my case I owned a Treo, but the point is the same: I had become addicted to e-mail anywhere and anytime. I had to let go.

It’s been many weeks now and I’m doing, well, okay. I wasn’t sure that would be the case, and because I was afraid of backsliding, I decided not to be open about the issue until I had some traction under me.