My Word's

a weekly column by
Marylaine Block

Archive, Volume 4

July, 1998-June 1999

Subject Index


Current Column


Volume 1

(July 1995-June 1996)


Volume 2

(July 1996-June 1997)


Volume 3

(July 1997-June 1998)


Volume 5

(July, 1999-December, 2000)


Volume 6

(January, 2001-present)


Who IS Marylaine Block?


See the rest of my online work at


E-mail: marylaine at

  1. Grammar Matters -- maybe diagramming sentences wasn't such a waste of time.

  2. Hammock Reading -- when it's too hot to do anything else, you can always read an unputdownable book.

  3. Just Desserts -- the ads tell us we deserve everything. because we're worth it. Just what do we deserve, and why?

  4. Rock of Ages -- on VH-1's top 100 rock performers of all time.

  5. The Face that Launched a Thousand Cartoons -- making fun of people's appearance is the life blood of editorial cartoons.

  6. Strange Bedfellows -- the Republican Party is on a collision course with itself.

  7. A Reaction-ary -- pay attention to your reactions--they'll tell you who you are.

  8. Borders Skirmish Revisited -- should we try to make libraries more like the big chain bookstores? My readers speak.

  9. The Wrong Words -- words are dangerous; don't censor them--answer them.

  10. Never Jam Tomorrow -- short-term thinking is mucking up our life and our politics.

  11. Data Connector -- data is meaningless until acted on by human intelligence.

  12. The Eight Commandments -- if we were starting a religion from scratch, what would our commandments be?

  13. The Meaning of Never Again -- of Kosovo and genocide and monsters.

  14. The Price of Free Gifts -- you can get almost anything you want free on the net, and all you pay for it is your identity.

  15. Workin' at the Porn-Shop Blues -- some truly depressing things people do to make a living.

  16. Is It Live or Is It Memorex? -- what our minds record is not the same as what our cameras record

  17. Pushing Our Barns -- ruminations about the stuff we fill our lives with.

  18. What You Do with Falling Apples -- the differences between machine intelligence and human intelligence

  19. Chocolate Raspberry Amaretto Truffle -- we are all "32 flavors and then some," but the world keeps wanting us all to be vanilla.

  20. The Customer Is Sometimes Wrong -- what happens when we adjust our lives around the assumption that everything is fast, cheap, and available round the clock?

  21. 'Tis the Season To Buy Fruitcake -- your certain clue to what season and holiday is upon us.

  22. The Look of Life -- one of endangered species worth saving is surely the general interest magazine

  23. Christmas Card

  24. 1998: My Year in Books

  25. On Orbiting Things -- is it harder now for us to have Jeffersonian breadth of interests and knowledge?

  26. Sense and Sensibility -- on the strengths and limitations of common sense.

  27. Lighting Out for the Territory -- on men who walk out on their lives.

  28. A Game of Pinball -- life doesn't proceed in our nice neat planned lines because we keep getting bumped off course.

  29. How I Became a Fairy Godmother -- what happens when you put a book page up on the net.

  30. Crossing the Wide Semantic -- who would have thought that the Lewinsky story is fundamentally about semantics?

  31. It HAS Happened Here -- overruling an election with money, lawyers, and obedient journalists

  32. Guessing Game -- how much of what we do at an information desk is handing out answers, and how much is handing out better questions?

  33. Within the Sound of Silence -- we are not at home with silence.

  34. Limited Success -- without formal rules and limits, can poetry or art exist?

  35. Vampires -- we have become emotional voyeurs, preying on the real life emotions of celebrities and victims.

  36. Real Tinsel -- the difference between the Gilded Age and in our willingness to help others climb the ladder.

  37. Pun Pals -- time to lighten up with another e-mail game made entirely of puns.

  38. Time Machine -- if you could go back in time, what place and time would you choose?

  39. Connecting the Dots -- how are professors to pass on their love of learning to a resistant consumer generation?

  40. The Real News of the Century -- sometimes the biggest news is not an event but a sea change.

  41. Meddling with Wizards -- why is it that in so many books about fighting ultimate evil, we send children to do battle?

  42. We're All with Stupid -- on putting our minds on autopilot, and using our manual overrides.

  43. Design for Living -- we have abandoned our town squares and designed ourselves into isolation.

  44. Thoughts While Weeding --neither nature nor power much care what life forms triumph; they both need constant supervision.

  45. They've All Come To Look for America -- what books would you give new immigrants to tell them what they need to know about America?

  46. The Finger-Pointing Circle -- the media and the gunmakers need to take responsibility for their decisions, too.