Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the US central bank, has received a Hollywood-style response to a speech he delivered to graduating Princeton University students last Sunday. That a boring banker type can be pithy, witty and insightful about life has amazed the online world.
We pretend to be a socially conservative nation. We don't talk straight about sex. We shy away from sex education at schools. Many of us go to church on Sundays. We believe in God who, like Socrates and Immanuel Kant, encourages us to treat our neighbours as we would like to be treated.
During a fight, Hannah tells her best friend, Marnie: ''It's like you think meeting a man is the most important thing in the world."
"It" girls come and go. But there is one who never seems to go. After a 25-year modelling career - and in spite of a 2005 drug scandal - she hasn't lost her appeal.
My children need daily medication for headaches. I come home to find them moaning about sore heads, tired eyes and painful fingers. I've resorted to spoonfuls of painkiller to keep the peace.
George Lucas is a genius. I am not equipped to explain his genius.
I've been wearing bras consistently ever since I recovered from the excruciating embarrassment of growing breasts, and after outgrowing my youthful feminist reaction to wearing them.
You know the children who are dressed to perfection. Collars neatly ironed. Clothes made from natural fibres. Colours selected to match and complement their eyes and skin tones. Their family portraits are always delightful.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio has just landed a job at the advanced age of 76. It's an exhausting thought. Isn't it time he removed his cassock and took to the beach for lazy days in the sun?
A friend once told me the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. There are obvious benefits: harmony in the home and good romantic role modelling for the children.
Everything is going to be okay. It is hard to believe after last week, but my children, and yours, are going to save our world. How do I know this?
There is a very silly and growing trend towards unisex toilets in public places. Remember Ally McBeal, the 1990s US legal comedy-drama television series?
If I am reading the subtext and hearing the small talk properly, it seems poor - probably black - men are getting flack for being rapists.
We're experiencing magical moments in our house. The ball-obsessed boy is learning to read. He can't digest the book reviews in the weekend Financial Times yet. I have no doubt he soon will. But for now he's reading the riveting setwork book, Home - it's about a mouse looking for his home.
I was once married to an armchair sportsman who thought the ideal and most romantic way of spending a Saturday afternoon was having me watch a rugby match on TV with him. If there wasn't a rugby match, there was Test cricket. Hours of it. And always the best game ever.
Having a guilty-mother moment at a restaurant recently I decided to play fairy godmother and ordered each child a Fanta.
It began at 6am. I had stayed up late the night before, doing what parents everywhere do at this time of the year: make sense of the new school calendar.
On the last day of my holiday I cut my hand on a knife in sudsy sink water. It was the fourth time that day I had washed greasy dishes. After cleaning, clearing, and packing away, my husband described me as bustling and resentful.
Normally I am happy with my clutter. As I write this, I'm sitting in a room with books piled high on the floor, magazines waiting to be unwrapped, children's drawings that need framing and surfaces covered with trinkets.
According to a strange magazine I found at an event launch, there is a common understanding of what it is to be beautiful.
I had to slip out of the office the other day for a nap. I couldn't keep my eyes open. It was two days after the US election and my #electionhangover hadn't subsided yet.
Feature editor Jackie May's column about life and family appears every Monday in The Times. She has a blog of the same name.
Halloween, that pagan festival linked to marking the end of harvest season and beginning of winter, is the worst annual event on my family's calendar. It's a recently adopted one. And it's the one I won't be celebrating again. Why should I? What have I harvested as we go into summer, not winter?
The average age a child comes across hardcore porn online is 11. New York-based Cindy Gallop believes it's eight. That's the child with whom you may have had one, maybe two awkward conversations about the birds and the bees.
Overlit airports are soulless places through which we irritably rush on our way to catch a plane, or when we are exhausted after a horrible flight.
Ten years ago I walked down a short garden path to the lyrics "You better shape up/ 'cause I need a man/ and my heart is set on you". Now it's up for debate whether I still need the man I married at the end of that path.
My daughter, the littlest of my monsters, and Lady Gaga have both been called "fat" in the last few weeks.
Some crazy religious leader made a movie titled Innocence of Muslims , telling the Wall Street Journal it was "a political effort to call attention to the hypocrisies of Islam".
I remember the pure joy I felt at the oxytocin-infused births of our children and how this often segued into a depression induced by sleeplessness.
In my perfect world, no child would need to hunt for food.
While clearing out and tidying up toys, I was astounded by the privilege and abundance in which I find myself.
We have our very own family "spear". I have made a unilateral decision to hang it up at home. It will be framed and displayed for all to see.
It is cold. My head is sore. I've had too little sleep.
My mood and equilibrium have not quite recovered from a weekend getaway to the deep northern territories of our dear land.
Never mind "where do babies come from?" or the awkward follow-on question about how the sperm gets into the egg, how do you explain love?
It's been a while since I paid attention to Time magazine, but last week it was impossible to ignore.
Four years ago I was obsessed with a tall, dark and handsome man.
Once upon a time, trips to the sea were a joy. But that was a long time ago. Now that life is about protecting my young offspring, the beach is hell.
I've been a little baffled by the sisterhood. At a recent Elle magazine discussion, the convenor asked those of us who think of ourselves as feminists to put up our hands.
I am not squeamish. I've plucked feathers from chicken carcasses, eaten road kill and watched pigs being slaughtered. I've always understood where my food comes from. But it's been a while since I last saw the insides of a dead animal. The food I eat now is supermarket-bought and requires unwrapping, not gutting.
Did you dream last night? Not a question you need to ask people. The information is mostly offered, even if it isn't always welcome.
We know women are treated differently in the workplace. There are pay disparities, and too few women are in leadership roles, executive positions and in boardrooms.
There is a big hole in our ceiling. An electrician, while clearing the tangled mess of wiring in the attic, stepped onto the old ceiling and left a gaping hole. When the "ceiling man" came to give the electrician's boss a quote for the repair, I was amazed at what I heard.
The world becomes a shifty and insecure place when you're reminded that your moral universe is not the only one.
How strange it is when the most unexpected of exchanges gives you the most pleasure. A conversation between my youngest child and a friend - let's call her Sarah - did just this.
I AM not a Mrs. At school I may have been a Miss, but for as long as I can remember I have filled the title section of boring bureaucratic forms with a Ms. Being called a Mrs implies you belong to someone else. My marital status is nobody's business but mine. If somebody calls me Mrs A, I refer them to my mother-in-law.
A colleague, when I asked him for names of young married friends, sent me a list of exclusively black couples. He also sent me a note saying that he was still trying to make white friends.
It is the year of the dragon. The dragon, a symbol of power, brings optimism, Chinese astrologists say.
We have all done something embarrassing.
Cruising along the N1 while listening to Indie group Cornershop's Good to Be on the Road Back Home, I was hard at work trying to convince myself that although days of lazing in the sun along a slow-moving Karoo river were over, all is in fact good.
IT IS time to return to work. It's hard to believe, but I am fairly relieved about this.
In bed one night after a sweltering day last week, I lay, wide awake, striking out at mosquitos while avoiding the lengthening limbs spread across my bed.
My nine-year wedding anniversary is coming up. Or, as my husband would annoyingly say: "Nine years each. So make that 18."
A young boy's mother has been asked by another parent to dissuade her son from speaking English to his classmates.
I fear that, like Lily Allen, I may become a weapon of mass consumption.
Making our souls sing is, among many things, what good art can do.
Once population control was a no-go topic in nice, liberal circles. For good reason: it leads to distinctly uncomfortable discussions, such as abortion, eugenics, one-child policy and the killing of baby girls.
I have a friend who years ago gave up creating fictional lives for a local soap opera to instead live with a US comic earning his living as a proselytising atheist and rock musician.
There has been much talk about Man Flu recently. It is being taken seriously as a real condition - not just as an allegation that men take to bed and become useless to the rest of humankind at the first hint of a sniffle.
I don't often ask for sartorial advice. But I feel that we should urgently develop a national dress.
My children have a plan to butcher me.
Why should we be kind and considerate?
I don't often do online banking - maybe twice a month to make crucial once-off payments.
What drives you to be who you are and to live the life you are living? That's the big question, isn't it? Money and work, fun and happiness. Being idle? One or another, or all of the above?
Much has been said about Barack Obama's summer reading list - the books with which he has stuffed his Martha's Vineyard beach bag. I've also added a few words to the twitterverse about his collection. I am rather childishly chuffed that I've read one of his choices and am busy reading another.
I've banged on about this before - how to teach ethics in a godless home. Do you whip your kids for every misdeed?
By the time you've read this, we - that's me, my husband and our children - would have been to our first wedding together as a family.
I AM an ignoramus about many things, not least about rugby. To me a mass of big, stocky, heaving men running and scrumming around an oval ball seems pretty senseless. I apologise in advance if this offends anybody, but I find the game very unaesthetic.
WE SHOULD be celebrating, respecting and acknowledging each other every day. Of course.
GLUED to the screen as many of us were last Tuesday, I tried to listen to those vacant and defensive answers by James Murdoch to questions by the UK's parliamentary commission into the News of the World scandal. I also tried to listen to the awkward silences and unbelievable, short utterances by his father, Rupert. Or, like one of my best Twitter friends, you may have been trying not to be annoyed by Rebekah Brooks's tossing of her trademark head of red curls.
I'VE HAD to send the children out to write this. It has been school holidays, and I have been sick. Three days at home with three children.
I ONCE dated a music critic. I learnt as much from him about music as I did from my five years of high school piano lessons. Nothing. I am tone deaf, and no amount of anything can help me. I did learn that a yelling habit wasn't going to see me through long-term love. I also learnt to shut up during a classical music concert.
IMAGINE a society facing an existential threat. It doesn't take much of a stretch to imagine. Think of Japan.
YOU could be forgiven for believing you were on a pop psychology course if you'd been following US First Lady Michelle Obama's trip to South Africa last week. I did.
We all know boredom. Those endless hours of sorting admin, when your eyes glaze over SARS return forms. Or listening to deathly dull speeches, and long sermons. Or when you have a day like I did yesterday. Alone at home is in theory a fantasy, but after an hour I lost all motivation to do anything and slouched about, bored.