The battles after the wars are over can be the toughest; there's no longer the public interest that accompanies, for good and for ill, the start of combat.
High achievers, we imagine, were wired for greatness from birth. But then you have to wonder why, over time, natural talent seems to ignite in some people and dim in others.
The typical white American woman in 1800 gave birth seven times; by 1900, the average was down to 3.5.
The 1950s felt so safe and smug, the '60s so raw and raucous, the revolutions stacked one on top of another, in race relations, gender roles, generational conflict, the clash of church and state - so many values and vanities tossed on the bonfire, and no one had a concordance to explain why it was all happening at once.
After 9/11, whatever the evidence of intelligence failures, many people still saw that attack as almost unimaginable, so brutal and brazen an assault.
Our children will outwit us if they want; for when it comes to technology, they hold the higher ground. Unlike other tools passed carefully and ceremonially from one generation to the next - the sharp scissors, the car keys - this is one they understand better than we do.
If you want to humble an empire, it makes sense to maim its cathedrals. They are symbols of its faith, and when they crumple and burn, it tells us we are not so powerful and we can't be safe.
Back in the really olden days, dinner was seldom a ceremonial event for U.S. families. Only the very wealthy had a separate dining room. For most, meals were informal, a kind of rolling refueling; often only the men sat down.
I have two daughters: One an open book, one a locked box. So the question of privacy is a challenging one. How much do kids need? How much should we give? How do we prepare them to live in a world where the very notion of privacy opens a generational chasm?
All great rebellions are born of private acts of civil disobedience that inspire rebel bands to plot together.
Virtues, like viruses, have their seasons of contagion. When catastrophe strikes, generosity spikes like a fever. Courage spreads in the face of tyranny.
There was a time when researchers imagined that Plan B, or the morning-after pill, might become not an emergency form of contraception but a routine one; women would take it once a month to induce a period and never even know whether they had gotten pregnant.
In design as in life, smart can also mean wise, kind, inspiring - and cost-effective. And that has a charm all its own.
We will never know if any other president approached Nixon in paranoia, profanity or potential criminality, since only his conversations were captured, subpoenaed and ultimately released on the front pages of newspapers.
We are bombarded with reasons to stay inside: we're afraid of mosquitoes because of West Nile and grass because of pesticides and sun because of cancer and sunscreen because of vitamin-D deficiency.
When you are a media celebrity, every word you speak is dissected, as are those you choose not to speak.
Just because we eat together does not mean we eat right: Domino's alone delivers a million pizzas on an average day.
Even if it wasn't always morning in America during the years of his presidency, Reagan's eagerness to insist that it was tapped into a longing among voters. They didn't want to picture themselves turning down their thermostats and buttoning up their cardigans. They wanted to strut again. Reagan opened his arms and said, 'Walk this way.'
Runners exalt the marathon as a public test of private will, when months or years of solitary training, early mornings, lost weekends, rain and pain mature into triumph or surrender. That's one reason the race-day crowds matter, the friends who come to cheer and stomp and flap their signs and push the runners on.
Emotional life grows out of an area of the brain called the limbic system, specifically the amygdala, whence come delight and disgust and fear and anger.