WASHINGTON -- "Miss Ann" is a disparaging expression once used in the African-American community to make fun of white women who are condescending. The so-called "vole clock" is an astoundingly accurate method of dating archaeological discoveries by finding and analyzing nearby fossilized teeth of the vole, a burrowing rodent whose complex stages...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The war on terror is over. Terror won.
I'm not talking about the global battle against groups like the Islamic State. That's still up for grabs. What's been lost is my personal war on the idiotic use of the word "terror" to mean "terrorism," as in, well, "the war on terror."
Terror means fear. Using it to mean terrorism is ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Today, another installment in my Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the plight of the beleaguered customer-service representative.
Wesson canola oil
Me: Can you tell me what kind of plant a "canola" is? I'm suspicious. "Canola" sounds like a made-up word, like "crapola" or "shinola."
Darren: It's from the canola flower, which is...Read more
WASHINGTON -- My favorite T-shirt says "In Dog Years, I'm Dead." Whenever I wear it, strangers stop me to tell me how funny it is. That is when I patiently explain to them that they are wrong to laugh, that they have been bamboozled by a logically flawed premise. In truth, I say, applying the dog-year formula to humans would mean that our ages ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- A wicked calumny against the Washington media is that we live and work in a liberal echo chamber, never interacting with persons of alternative political viewpoints. For that reason, it is said, we unfairly demonize conservatives.
No truth to either charge. I demonize no one. For years I myself frequently encountered conservatives...Read more
This column originally ran in 2007.
WASHINGTON -- As a child of the '60s, I remain a big fan of the "demonstration." You know what I mean: the grand, principled act of defiance doomed to spectacular but noble failure. My generation was weaned on these things. It's all about earnestly protesting injustice while making things worse. By God...Read more
WASHINGTON -- I am on the phone with Jennifer Rubin, a colleague of mine at The Washington Post. Jennifer has generously agreed to an interview on a topic recently in the news -- namely, whether she is stupid.
This issue was on the table because Donald Trump had just tweeted this: "Highly untalented Wash Post blogger, Jennifer Rubin, a real ...Read more
This column originally was published in 2006.
WASHINGTON -- When I read that the American Concrete Pavement Association was sponsoring an essay contest to celebrate its product, I reacted cynically. I mean, why not have an essay contest to celebrate mud? Or forks? Or those two rubber pads on the bottom of a toilet seat that hold it off ...Read more
I, Alexandra (A Legacy of Stehle's Door)William M. O'Brien Jr.
It began very incidentally. One odd occurrence after another. Then came the dreams. And then the apparitions. Alexandra and Stephanie had figured something was wrong early on. Then, one bright Saturday morning, Johanna appeared. Chased into her apartment and hiding in a locked downstairs ...
WASHINGTON -- Woman's voice: Internal Revenue Service. How can I help you?
Me: I am calling because I just got a letter from the IRS saying I never filed my 2014 tax return and that the government is going to begin "enforcement action" that could result in your "seizing" my "wages or property." The letter urged me to call this number ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- We baby boomers unabashedly worship the Beatles. This fact amuses millennials who see it as just another quaint manifestation of our geezerdom. We might as well be wearing dentures or calling pants "trousers" and hiking them up to our nipples.
This doesn't bother us. We'll happily cop to being old and fuddy. Sure, we've traded in ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- To: Daniel Snyder, owner, the Washington Redskins
Re: Your trademark battle
Every once in a while, Dan, The Washington Post will get a letter complaining that a column of mine is offensive. Most recently, someone wrote in to say that I am an apologist for Hitler. I never know how, or if, to respond to this sort of thing. But I do...Read more
WASHINGTON -- I write "catsup."
I write "pyjamas."
I write "yoghurt."
I suppose I am contrarian by nature, or possibly just argumentative. I prefer these spellings not because they are charmingly archaic or because I think they are somehow more correct, but because of how you all react to them. You lecture me about how I am wrong.
I like ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- As an ardent feminist, I cannot tell you how happy I was to learn that Playboy magazine will no longer be publishing photographs of unclothed women. I cannot tell you because it would be a lie.
No, I seldom read Playboy, and yes, it has always been nakedly (haha) sexist, and sure, this news is an important anti-misogyny milestone....Read more
WASHINGTON -- Have you heard that CBS is moving forward with a new series about Jane Marple, Agatha Christie's busybody old-lady detective? Jane is a meaty role for an experienced actress: Over the years, she has been portrayed by such formidable talents as Helen Hayes, Geraldine McEwan, Margaret Rutherford, Joan Hickson and Angela Lansbury. ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Today I write about two people who are widely presumed to be infallible: Pope Francis I, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles; and Ta-Nehisi Coates, a writer for The Atlantic.
Francis' mantle of perfection was conferred, presumably, by God Himself, so who am I to complain? Mr. Coates' ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- As a member of the so-called "legacy media," I'm required to whine ineffectually from time to time about the lamentable business model for American journalism, which is collapsing like a Jenga stack in a moon bounce. That is why I recently found myself on the phone with Rob Clarke, publisher of Roland Park Living, a monthly ...Read more