Christmas decorations went up over the streets before Halloween. And I used to find it offensive that they went up right before Thanksgiving.

I learned this week that many people consider it somewhat creepy for a man well past his teen-age years to hang out at the mall to chat up fifteen-year-old girls. But maybe you already knew that.

Fifteen of us were on a section of the platform waiting for the morning subway. Fourteen were scrolling through phones. I was reading a paperback. Perhaps this should have made me feel old, but it made me feel a tad superior.

“I reflected that it seemed to be in the nature of human beings to spend the first part of their lives mocking the clichés and conventions of their elders and the final part mocking the clichés and conventions of the young.” Michael Chabon, Moonglow.

What’s in a word? So much talk about whether the campaign “colluded” with the Russians. Then a pushback from some conservatives saying that only in the antitrust statutes is collusion against the law. The implication apparently is that colluding with Putin minions would have been ok if it happened. I pull out a dictionary that tells me “collusion” is a “conspiracy to commit fraud.” Will it make everyone happier if we ask, “Did the campaign conspire with the Russians?” There are many statutes and legal doctrines that make conspiracy against the law.

“From his dealings with his mother, Smitty had learned the following truth: the person doing the worrying experiences it as a form of love; the person being worried about experiences it as a form of control.” John Lanchester, Capital.

Do you know what “extreme vetting” is? Could you explain it to me? I am told that national security and my personal security requires more extreme vetting, but it is never explained what that entails. How does it differ from vetting? (Are there other stations on the vetting path? Is there “severe vetting” or “enhanced vetting” that are more than vetting but fall short of extreme vetting?) Do we, for example, when vetting ask the potential immigrant, “Who was James Monroe?” And in extreme vetting, if the applicant has answered, “He was the fifth President of the United States,” do we then ask, “Who was Monroe’s vice-president?” (The true sentimentalist should recognize that this is a reference to Miracle on 34th Street.) Or does extreme vetting have innovative uses of waterboards and electrodes? Why is extreme vetting never explained in a way so that I see it is not just a slogan—dare we say, a new politically-correct slogan—and I and everyone else can assess whether it actually guarantees us a safer world?

What were they thinking? The day after the election mail comes to my house asking me to vote for a candidate.

The baby was fussing. “What’s the matter” asked the father pushing the stroller. He continued, “You didn’t have enough of a nap today, Buddy.” I said, “Me neither.” The father laughed. The baby still fussed.

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