The Nation’s Pulse

The Nation's Pulse

Madness Takes Its Toll

By 11.20.13

State Sen. Creigh Deeds was recovering Tuesday night at the University of Virginia Health System Hospital in Charlottesville, but the physical wounds from being stabbed multiple times were perhaps not as painful to Deeds as the knowledge that his assailant was his only son, who police say committed suicide after the stabbing.

The Nation's Pulse

Blockbuster Goes Bust

By 11.15.13

One man’s wave of the future is his son’s antiquarian curio. Even “Victrola” once meant hi-fi.

Blockbuster shuttered all of its remaining storefronts this week. Appropriately, the last movie rental—near closing time at a Hawaiian outlet—was the apocalyptic comedy This Is the End. Surely the credits roll on video-rental shops.

Unlike Circuit City or Eastern Airlines, the decline of Blockbuster had less to do with the flaws in the company than with trends in society. In this sense, its disappearance evokes the loss of Borders (illiteracy), Tower Records (online shoplifting), and KB Toys (abortion). The customer isn’t always right.

Blockbuster opened in Dallas in 1985, when the idea of borrowing a VHS tape for a night of home viewing seemed an upgrade over the inconvenience, sticky floors, and extortionate pricing of a night at the movies. Like the Walkman or the Atari 2600—two other booming ’80s products—Blockbuster was damned by the evolving technology that initially blessed it.

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Justice Is Blind

By 11.14.13

May 19th, 1901

My Dear Margaret,

Here it is summertime, and the bees are blooming and the flowers are singing and the birds making honey, and we haven’t been fishing yet.

Well, there’s only one more month till July, and then we’ll go, and no mistake.

I thought you would write and tell me about the high water around Pittsburg some time ago, and whether it came up to where you live, or not.

And I haven’t heard a thing about Easter, and about the rabbit’s eggs—but I suppose you have learned by this time that eggs grow on egg plants and are not laid by rabbits.

(Letter from O. Henry in prison, to his daughter Margaret, who thought he was away on business.) 

The Nation's Pulse

Grow Up, Parents

By 11.8.13

Being your child’s friend instead of his parent is more the rule than the exception in today’s culture. 

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I Still Remember Sandy

By 11.1.13

Memories of the storm that destroyed my home.

The Nation's Pulse

Throw the Rascals Out?

By 10.29.13

Those we call "public servants" have in fact become public masters. 

The Nation's Pulse


By 10.25.13

The scariest thing about Halloween isn’t the goblins, those kids egging your house, or biting down on a sharp surprise in a Special Dark. It’s adults who impersonate children. 

Halloween, a holiday for children, has transformed into an unholy day for adults; its focus has shifted from gustatory appetites to sexual ones. It doesn’t take a warlock to see that this is frightening.

Popular costumes this year include Miley Cyrus’s mouse leotard, theHunger Games huntress, and, long after its sell-by date, variations on the 50 Shades of Grey theme, which is a long way of saying that by far the most popular costume this year, and indeed for at least 10 years running, is “whore.”