The city that holds our hearts

I confess to being fiercely devoted to this community that 464,000 Kansas Citians call home. At risk of being accused of boosterism, I consider this place at the prairie’s edge a collection of treasures.

Poetry reveals an extraordinary man

The name, Hans Zinsser, meant nothing to me. Nor will it, I suppose, to a reader here. Which only means that there must be in this world many individuals of great accomplishment whose virtues never receive the public notice they deserve.

Birds of a feather banquet together

In a frantic multitude they began arriving at first light, swarming to the tubes of fine grain and Niger seed and cakes of suet that hang in the gnarled redbud tree just outside the breakfast room window.

Terror spreads inside Africa

Outrages are being committed by Muslim fanatics throughout much of Africa and the Middle East. This is in no way a broadside aimed at the followers of the prophet. I respect their devotion to their sacred text. What I cannot respect is the evil done in its name.

There’s no need to mend fences

Never mind what poet Robert Frost wrote. Observation is the most dependable teacher. And what I have learned during this recent spell of nasty weather is that, in fact, it’s bad fences that make good neighbors.

Sochi is not your mother’s Russia

The Olympic presentation, beginning with the breathtaking opening ceremony, has been not just a celebration of youth and sport but also an announcement of Russia’s changing place on the world stage.

The nuts and bolts of a lapse of memory

For a journalist there’s no worse handicap than the inability to remember names, and that’s been a curse of mine since my days as a cub reporter. For the squirrel, however, forgetfulness could have fatal consequences.

A mind needs a sterling mentor

For every semester of the ensuing four years, his was the instruction I most valued. And his were the assignments on which I was determined to do my very best. By my last year, he was more than an instructor. He was a priceless friend.

Exposing lust is a labor of love

No subject on earth excites the reading public or engages the international press quite as avidly as the report of conjugal misbehavior on the part of some notable individual of high station — the higher the better.

Winter is at once a wonder and a witch

It’s one thing to have lived a cruel winter by choice. But what I cannot help thinking is how many others there must be for whom such a spell of brutal weather brings a kind of pain the more fortunate will never know.

Some movies don’t move me

It’s a pity what motion pictures have come to. Not all of them, of course, but a good many. I’ve endured some stinkers over the years, but the price of admission being what it is, I’ve only walked out on one.

Shining a light on South Africa

In 1964, Richard B. Fowler, The Star’s president and publisher, dispatched me to Africa — my first foreign assignment. I was proud then, and am proud still, of the stand The Star had taken against South Africa’s apartheid racial policies, an issue of fundamental justice half a world away.

Separating the grief from the greatness

Fifty years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the telling and retelling of that day has been practically unending. Most of it I’ve neither listened to nor read. For, selfish as it might seem, I simply have not wanted to live that sadness again.

Why can’t only our snowman be frosty?

What chance might there be that the season’s occasion of joy and giving will ease somewhat — if only temporarily — the climate of rancor and contention that has come to characterize the conduct of our public affairs?

Look up and ask: Who looks at Earth?

A report of possible Earth-like planets brought fresh to memory a conversation, on a day nearly 30 years ago, with a man who had devoted decades to considering and writing about the mysteries of the universe.

A feline friend finds new courage

The lack of contact and affection in early years can deform the nature of any sentient creature, human or otherwise. And now, at an age likely somewhere between 12 and 15, Tip, the Brooklyn tabby, faces a challenge of a different kind.

The seas swallow African dreams

An estimated 20,000 Africans in the last 20 years have lost their lives while attempting — in unseaworthy boats or on primitive rafts — to navigate Atlantic coastal waters or cross the Mediterranean in the quest for safer and more productive lives.

School violence tests our psyche

Young men and women who choose careers as teachers do so intending to serve. They are not volunteering for hazardous duty — not knowingly, at any rate. So what in heaven’s name is the matter? Are youngsters today that different?

In case of hornet attack, grab your tennis racket

If the Asian giant hornets happen to find their way to my country neighborhood, I’ll need some better defense than a spray. Because the giants are immune to it. If they come after you, the literature says, your best hope is a tennis or badminton racket.

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