As the heat of an eastern North Carolina summer has settled in, my thoughts are often relaxed and wandering. Here are some of them.
    Just a few weeks ago, Americans were digesting the riveting news that a group of teenaged girls in Massachusetts may have made a pact to become pregnant and raise their babies together. I and other opinionated writers worried in print about what lies ahead for those too-young mothers and unsuspecting infants.
    Now comes word about babies whose lives are going to be much different from those of the New England bundles of joy.
    As I write this column, celebrity extraordinaire Angelina Jolie is ensconced in a French hospital suite overlooking the Mediterranean Sea awaiting the birth of her twins, fathered by her partner actor Brad Pitt. Television trucks camped outside the hospital to beam images around the world of Pitt and the couple’s other children as they come and go from visits with Jolie. Public relations experts report frenzied bidding for the first photographs of the Jolie-Pitt twins, bandying about numbers as staggeringly high as $20 million.
    Clearly, these children will not need to worry about college expenses.
    These yet unborn babes may be the objects of the highest dollar media attention ever, but they are hardly the only ones to receive it. Remember baby Suri, the child of actors Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise? Somehow, she managed to be publicly unphotograhped for her first several months of life, and media speculation abounded that something must be wrong with the child for her parents to keep her under wraps.
    Blessedly, the child is fine, and I see plenty of her on tabloid covers as I stand in the grocery checkout line. Likewise, I have also learned about the potty training progress of other celebrity tots and which ones are given to temper tantrums.
    The question which comes to mind now is why in the midst of a presidential campaign year and a war on foreign soil are we interested in infants and toddlers we will never know.

    A recent interview with author Barbara Ehrenreich on National Public Radio caught my attention. Ehrenreich gained national attention with her book Nickel and Dimed in America in which she attempted and ultimately failed to make ends meet with low-wage service jobs all across our country. She, of course, was able to return to the world of a successful writer but was clearly torn to leave her former co-workers behind in the world of minimum wage.
    Ehrenreich has published a new book of essays, This Land is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation, in which she tackles the growing gap between the haves and the have nots and other topics. Among them is the fiscal acumen of America’s young people, which is not stellar. My own observation is that too many of them view balancing a bank account as sticking their debit card into the ATM machine to get their current balance and that few can pass up an attractive purchase in favor of a savings account.
    That being said, Ehrenreich offered some thoughts for young Americans college bound for the first time.
    To paraphrase, she says that over the next few years they will become more in debt than they ever imagined, that they will drink more alcohol than they ever imagined and will regularly regret it on the morning after, and that, if they happen to bring their virginity to college with them, they will have lost it by the time they leave.
    I have no idea whether those notions apply to all college students, but they almost surely fit some.

The Other Thing
    {mosimage}And, finally, this, reprinted in my latest Kiwanis Club bulletin in memory of George Carlin, a truly original and funny fellow. Carlin died last month, but he left us many wonderful and intriguing thoughts.
    “Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty.
    One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.
    The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.
    Isn’t it a little unnerving that doctors call what they do practice?
    If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?
    Why do they lock gas station bathrooms?  Are they afraid someone will clean them?
    Why don’t sheep shrink when it rains?
    What was the best thing before sliced bread?
    Where are we going? And what’s in this hand basket?
    If the “black box” flight recorder is never damaged during the plane crash, why isn’t the whole d*** plane made out of that stuff?”
    Happy musings of your own, and stay cool.

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