La Ofrenda

The candle’s flame sputters and then dies in a ribbon of white smoke, the smell of burnt wax mingling with the scents of pan dulce and tequila. Faces of people, long gone now but never forgotten, peer out from behind glasses of milk, cans of Coke and marigolds. A pack of Marlboro Reds, a can of Bud Light, a package of M&Ms and plates of salt and apples complete la ofrenda, the offering, for the traveling souls of our loved ones.

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The Real WMDs

For the second time in as many calendar years, I awoke Monday to the words “worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history” and wondered how long the new record will stand in a nation that, inexplicably, lets this happen again and again because we won’t give up our guns or, in the alternative, put reasonable restrictions on who can own them and what kinds are allowed.

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This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Last month I sat on an Austrian high-speed train, whizzing past the Alps in plush first-class comfort that cost less than a one-way ticket crammed aboard a Southwest Airlines jet from Sacramento to Burbank would have, and I found myself thinking: If America really is the shining city on a hill, why don’t we have anything that even closely resembles high-speed rail?

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