"Excuse me, Mr. White?"

"Yes? What is it?"

"Something strange is going on. I seem to be the only one who came to work at the newspaper today."

"You are. Everyone else is off until January.

Look, Running Deer is coming! And he seems to be out of breath. Running Deer, what news have you brought?"

"Greetings, Bald Eagle. I (cough) have just (cough, cough) come from the European visitors and (cough, cough, cough).

Prime Time

" ... so as White House chief of staff, I want to congratulate you all again on a very successful week. The country's united behind us, we're hitting our military objectives, and even that old smallpox vaccine might still be good.

"All right, let's everybody finish up their Krispy Kremes and settle down. This session of the Joint Congressional Subcommittee in Charge of Hammering Out This Damn Airport Security Mess will now come to order."

"Mr.

Spy Guys

Good morning, Central Intelligence Agen - I mean, Bureau of Public Roads."

"Geez Louise, Stan! Can't you guys even answer the phone right?"

"Is that you, Mr. Director? Sorry, I was just covering the desk while the girl was at lunch.

(CLICK)

" ... what I'm asking, Professor Fleezner, is how people can watch this horrific news all day long and not get depressed?"

"Oooh, good question. Well, to start with, they should definitely buy my book, because on page 13 there's a little self-affirming song they can sing to themselves.

"Doctor, are you sure I don't have anthrax?"

"Absolutely, Mrs. Brimley. It's just the sniffles."

"But shouldn't I be under 'round-the-clock isolation and taking antibiotics?"

"I was thinking Nyquil.

Talibananas

"Pray tell us, Mullah, what is the latest unacceptable response to our Taliban's belligerent rhetoric and empty offers of negotiation by the evil, decadent, Allah-hating, women-loving American devils and their blonde-haired, suit-and-tie-wearing imperialist European allies and our rainy-day-Muslim turncoat-Arab former friends?"

"The microphones are off, Mullah Omar.

Along with the shock, grief, and anxiety of the past few weeks, some of us have been feeling, for want of a better word, inadequate.

We're not, most of us, very knowledgeable about foreign countries, or their cultures, or how they relate to each other and to the United States.

Wednesday afternoon, just a week and a day after the Tuesday when everything in America changed, I was walking through downtown Chicago, trying to catch a train. I was hurrying to pick up my daughter from school, and it was starting to drizzle.

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