Observing US:
A column about America,
by Marylaine Block
originally published by
Fox News Online, 1998-2000


  1. Introduction: Land of the Pushmi-Pullyu - who I am and what I aimed to do in this column
  2. Alone Together - on the American penchant for forming organizations
  3. Off Our Backs - and onto somebody else's, please
  4. Some Accounting for Tastes - some surprising things demographic and marketing statistics tell us about Americans
  5. The Newest Profession(s) - you mean somebody pays them money to do these things?
  6. Maps and Legends - names on the map reveal our history
  7. Cash Machine - these machines can only swallow money.
  8. On This Day in History... - some key anniversaries reporters didn't think to tell us about.
  9. Thanks a Heap - the impact of Monica Lewinsky on professional women
  10. Speed Demon - our lives may have sped up a little too much
  11. Hillary in the Funhouse - our images of Hillary Clinton are reflections of all our opinions of her.
  12. Check It Out - our lives are reflected in our checkbooks.
  13. US Against THEM - on Clinton's impeachment
  14. Entering the Lists - on our obsession with making top 10 lists.
  15. Open Letter to Bill Clinton - telling him how disgusted I am with his behavior
  16. Family Viewing - on TV families who become part of our own families.
  17. Cartoon History - viewing our history through New Yorker cartoons
  18. No Country for Old Men - our chief virtues and failings stem are those of young men who shaped America
  19. Candidate Finder - a quiz designed to help you decide what kind of candidate you want to vote for.
  20. Sez Who? Sez Me! - on American attitude.
  21. Over the River and Through the Woods - Americans wouldn't have to travel on holidays if we didn't make a habit of leaving.
  22. Advice for Desperate Men - the original My Word's Worth essay telling men how to buy presents for women, which was the basis for my Fox column, Hope for the Clueless, published in December of 1998
  23. The Present Value of One - even now, if you give a kid a dollar, there are wonderful things to do with it
  24. Macho Ball Games - sometimes there's just a little too much testosterone on display.
  25. Damn, We're Good! - everybody wants an award ceremony.
  26. Time for a Tea Party - on Clinton's impeachment.
  27. Enough Already - the problem with always wanting just a little bit more.
  28. 10 Days to a Brand New You - on our penchant for self-reinvention
  29. Not So Wild a Dream - maybe our parents shouldn't steer us into safe practical careers after all.
  30. We Like Explosions - America's top news stories of the year are nothing like other countries' top news stories
  31. Planting Our Flag - the internet is peculiarly American
  32. The Tragically Sort of Hip - given enough time, America's cultural fads will make it to the heartland
  33. The Guilty - reflections on Columbine and school cultures that drive students to despair
  34. I Feel Fine - there's nothing all that new about our worries as the century comes to a close
  35. Our Lady of the Stopwatch - honoring mothers then and now
  36. Mechanical Fix - on the American preference for mechanical solutions to human problems
  37. Safe as Houses - how our houses have changed along with our lives.
  38. Land of Why Not - on America's most eccentric tourist attractions.
  39. Why Iowa? - in case you were wondering why presidential campaigns all begin in Iowa
  40. A Hick Comes to Town - this heartlander's adventures in New York City in 1999.
  41. Independence Day - why don't we demand what the Declaration proposed: that legislators should act on the wishes of the governed?
  42. Spin Cycle - who are we going to believe: the hype machine or our own eyes?
  43. Field of Dreams - where fathers pass on their love of baseball to their children
  44. JFK, Jr. and Jesse Ventura - on men who have brought style and entertainment to politics
  45. Power to the (Well-Organized, Well-Funded) People - this long-time participant in the Iowa caucuses explains the limits of participating in democracy
  46. Point Counterpoint - the parallel downfalls of Nixon and Clinton
  47. And on the Next Day... - the people who improve inventions are as important as their creators.
  48. The Eat-Dessert-First Congress - we have a Congress that would rather cut taxes than fund essential public infrastructure
  49. Iron Bars DO a Prison Make - school security systems and guards won't fix bullying and alienation
  50. Protection Racket - on people who want to protect young people from objectionable information on the internet
  51. Shades of Ernestine - on large, inhuman organizations
  52. There She Still Is - on the Miss America Pageant
  53. Divided We Fall - on the nastiness of our political discussions
  54. Do Have a Cow, Man! on Chicago's Cows on Parade event
  55. Disconnect Brain, Engage Mouth - on Minnesota's Governor Jesse Ventura
  56. A Game of Leapfrog - on the states' scramble to come first on the political primary calendar
  57. Poll-itics - on the questionable reliability of political polls
  58. Talking Back - on our desire to talk back to top-down, one-way media.
  59. Consumer (Sort of) Confidence - some limits to apparent consumer confidence
  60. Bigger, Not Better - companies that get bigger do not thereby improve our lives
  61. Desperately Seeking Beauty - some major news stories reveal our complicated feelings about beauty
  62. Private Lives - the mixed messages we send about personal privacy
  63. Norman Rockwell Days - visions of the America we liked to believe we were
  64. Taking Stock - in which I worried that impatient young online traders would make a financial mess we'd all have to pay for
  65. Stamps of Approval -- choosing 15 stamps to represent American life in each decade of 20th century
  66. Time Goes Fast... - a tribute in verse to the millennium that recently ended.
  67. New Century's Resolutions
  68. Dare To Be Dummies - on the Dummies' guides to every function of life
  69. High Wire Act - on America's tendency to confront impending disaster at the last possible moment
  70. Common Cents - in which I ask people what they consider to be an inconsequential amount of money.
  71. Live from the Iowa Caucuses - a report from the 2000 Iowa Democratic and Republican caucuses
  72. Mind-Altering Substances - drugs do affect our minds: they short-circuit our ability to discuss the issue intelligently
  73. Romance for Dummies - men could learn what it takes to be romantic by reading a few romance novels
  74. Rites of Spring - on the appeal of baseball
  75. Socially Isolated, Sending E-Mail - the internet is as much about coming together as about isolation
  76. Show Me - before you buy a politician's slogans, check out the evidence behind them
  77. Conventional Wisdom - getting in on the fun of conventions and trade shows
  78. An Excess of Certainty - probing behind candidates' certainties to find out how they think
  79. Not Thanking the Academy - the disappointment of the kinds of movies the Academy Awards don't honor
  80. Quick Fix - on the epidemic of Attention Deficit Disorder
  81. Gas Pains - whining about high gas prices
  82. Bullying the Government - the political grandstanding surrounding Elian Gonzalez
  83. Rights, Wrongs, and Manners - Congress can't punish us for saying offensive things, but society can and will
  84. More Than Our Share - Earth Day thoughts on becoming part of the ecosystem
  85. The Way We Were - happy 200th birthday, Library of Congress!
  86. Better than Roses - something really special you can do for mom on Mother's Day
  87. Copyrights and Copywrongs - on artists who treat their fans and customers like criminals
  88. Peanuts for Everyone - a tribute to Charles Schulz
  89. Schools for Sale - corporations want to buy your kids, and school boards are selling
  90. In Search of Faceless Bureaucrats - on the useful work done by those much-maligned government bureaucrats
  91. The Things Dads Do for Kids - a Fathers' Day tribute to all our dads.
  92. Any Excuse for a Party - virtually every town in America comes up with some reason to hold an annual festival
  93. Who's in Charge Here? - in an age of distributed responsibility, it's sometimes hard to figure out who's responsible.
  94. The 4th: a Celebration of Ideas - The 4th of July celebrates the birth of an idea: that we are entitled to choose the government under which we live.
  95. Repeat after Me: Om - on the presidential candidacy of John Hagelin of the Natural Law Party.
  96. To a Tee - a tribut to our customizable, wearable philosophy of life.
  97. What We Choose To Make It - like any of our powerful technologies, the internet does what we want it to
  98. Death and Taxes - on the estate tax.
  99. Tales Republicans Tell - the stories Republican conventions tell about America
  100. A Modest Proposal - how Congress could earn the pay raise it regularly gives itself
  101. Tales Democrats Tell - the stories Democratic conventions tell about America
  102. Better Mousetraps - on American inventiveness
  103. Teach Your Children Well - on both presidential candidates' unfortunate plans for education
  104. A Taxing Issue - why internet business should pay the same state and local taxes as the businesses they're undercutting.
  105. Damned If You Do... - regulators are criticized both for doing their job, and for not doing it.
  106. Self-Gored - on Al Gore's odd campaign strategy that ignores his long record of accomplishment.
  107. A Whole New Ball Game - why government agencies and businesses need to understand the internet
  108. A Matter of Debate - what we learned from the 2000 presidential debates.
  109. Secret Lives - increasingly we seem to want people to know the real person lurking behind our grown-up facades.
  110. A Myth-Take - the Bush campaign and the great American myth of self-reliance.
  111. Skunk? What Skunk? - skunks in both parties' living rooms that were curiously unmentioned in the 2000 presidential campaign
  112. Vote Back! - here's another reason to vote: you'll annoy the people who don't want you to
  113. A Modesty Proposal - since neither party won a clear mandate, they should work together on things voters DO seem to agree on
  114. Thank Heavens for Little Boys - in praise of rowdy, curious little boys and the men they grow up to be.
  115. Christmas All Year - the gift of magazine subscriptions

There are more to come. I'm still transcribing these columns, and those that are currently without links will be added soon.

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