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The avenues in my neighborhood are Pride, Covetousness and Lust; the cross streets are Anger, Gluttony, Envy and Sloth. I live over on Sloth, and the style on our street is to avoid the other thoroughfares.

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There’s the Ronald Reagan cupped-ear gambit. The press is deliberately and systematically kept away from him. All you hear is a bunch of monkeys screaming at him when they could easily have been brought right up and the president could have stood and talked in a conversational tone.

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I’ve been an agnostic for as long as I can remember … so I don’t know where we go. But if it turns out that the lights are just turned off and nothing happens, well, that’s okay.

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Now the 21st century approaches and with it the inevitability of change. We must wonder if the American people will find renewal and rejuvenation within themselves, will discover again their capacity for innovation and adaptation. If not, alas, the nation’s future will be shaped by sightless forces of history over which Americans will have no control.