My Word's

an occasional column by
Marylaine Block

Archive, Volume 5

July, 1999-December, 2000

Subject Index


Current Column


Volume 1

(July, 1995-June, 1996)


Volume 2

(July 1996-June 1997)


Volume 3

(July 1997-June 1998)


Volume 4

(July 1998-June 1999)


Volume 6

(January, 2001-present)


Who IS Marylaine Block?


See the rest of my online work at


E-mail: marylaine at


Quad Cities Online

  1. Shy, No. Retiring, YES!! -- thoughts after my first week of retirement.

  2. Poseable Dolls -- America has a way of treating children as parental property rather than small people with special emotional and physical needs.

  3. Bastards of Young -- perhaps the young aren't much interested in news because it depicts them as lazy, ignorant, and dangerous, and ignores everything they care about?

  4. A Sense of Who We Are -- at last we're beginning to make an effort to keep and remember our past.

  5. Like a Message in a Bottle -- of the things we leave in books to mark our places.

  6. Making Time Stand Still -- what compels writers and artists to try to capture experience, get it down on paper?

  7. Planting Memes -- how ideas spread and catch on.

  8. Secret Lives -- we all have secret lives, not necessarily because we want to hide ourselves, but because none of us pay enough attention.

  9. Loco Motion? -- why do humans ignore the biological imperative of laziness?

  10. That Little Old Smut Peddler Me -- Dr. Laura calls us smut peddlers because we think we are better at protecting children than filters are.

  11. Must By 50 Ways To Fix Our Country -- my responses to the George book, 250 Ways To Make America Better.

  12. When Fair Play Isn't Fair -- how the American penchant for fairness and moderation can be used against us.

  13. And That's the Way It Isn't -- what we see is not a natural reality, but a reality that resulted from somebody's decisions.

  14. Polishing Our Tools -- on making intelligent decisions.

  15. Night Vision -- on protecting children

  16. Achieving Frivolity -- that old Puritan hangover makes it hard for us to have fun that isn't uplifting or educational.

  17. It Was a Wonderful Life -- remembering my sister, Joan Cleaveland

  18. Riders of the Purple Sage -- the "sagebrush Rebellion" is less about seeking freedom from government interference than sneaking free goodies from the taxpayers.

  19. Transitional Lives -- reflecting on a book about women like me, raised to become June Cleaver just as June's world vanished forever.

  20. Tales Like These -- on our two guiding American myths: Norman Rockwell and the marlboro Man.

  21. Interesting Times -- the 20th century has seen some impressive changes, but nothing like the quantum changes of the 19th century.

  22. Merry Christmas!

  23. 1999: a Good Year for Books

  24. Tug of War -- on the kidnapping of Elian Gonzalez and the cravenness of politicians

  25. Try Trusting Us -- when a public issue is urgent, and not even the experts can agree on what to do, maybe they should ask us.

  26. R-E-S-P-E-C-T -- we don't get much of it, and we should demand more

  27. Teach the Children Well -- if I was going to teach for a year, I'd teach second graders to love language

  28. Of Freaks and Geeks -- a show that reminds us what it's like to be adolescents

  29. I'm Glad You Asked Me That -- good questions make for good decisions

  30. Here Comes a Regular -- on our need for casual gathering places and good conversation

  31. A Game of Names -- an intriguing way to arrive at appropriate pseudonyms

  32. Someone Else's Planet -- how do we learn to be competent?

  33. Change a Word, Change a World -- you can't change what you call yourself without losing the old word's history, shared understanding, emotional resonance.

  34. Yesterday's Gone -- of TV antennas and sidewalks and other things that have somehow vanished without my noticing

  35. Down Computer! Down I Say! TwoTwo -- or, why voice recognition software is not the solution to my problem.

  36. Let Me Entertain You -- teaching as a performance art.

  37. Afraid of Harry Potter -- why do we want kids to read and yet censor the books they love?

  38. Not Clones -- parents need to understand that kids are SUPPOSED to be different from us.

  39. Non-Programmable Function -- on apparent choice and real choice

  40. Besetting Virtues -- perhaps the things that drive our family nuts are not our faults but our virtues.

  41. Whose Weeds? -- where does helpfulness end and meddling begin?

  42. But We Know What We Like -- on a statistical view of what Americans like in art.

  43. Without Means of Support -- on the human meaning of infrastructure.

  44. Drifting into Virtue -- shouldn't we make it as easy to drift into virtue as into trouble?

  45. Real Reality -- some reality TV shows I'd enjoy watching.

  46. Beauty Is a Choice We Make -- we won't be too jealous of the rich as long as we have beautiful public spaces

  47. Life without a Plot -- on living a conditional life and enjoying every bit of it

  48. Christmas Card, 2000

  49. Mechanical Fix -- why do we prefer machines to human judgment?