Two weeks ago in this space, as loyal readers may recall, I unburdened myself of a dozen or so “things this old coot finds at least a little bit annoying in today’s world.”

Items on the grouch list included: TV “news” channels that don’t seem to cover much news; the fact that my car looks pretty much like everyone else’s; rude drivers illegally changing lanes while traversing the Pinehurst Traffic Circle.

And even though I got supportive responses to that screed from several folks out there (and though it was I who rhetorically asked several months ago whether there was “any such thing as a positive trend these days”), it seems only fair to counterbalance all that whining by mentioning at least a few things that are better about this troubled age we inhabit.

A few examples:

■ GPS. How did I ever live without this miracle of modern technology, short for “global positioning system,” in my car? It gives me an instant, constantly updating map of the most efficient route or routes to any other point in the world, if not the universe. (Of course, there is the nagging awareness that someone or something up there always knows exactly where I am at any given moment, but whatever.)

And, speaking of my car …

■ Those two wonderful little wide-angle rear-view cameras, one tucked away beneath the right-side mirror and the other peering unblinkingly from just above the license plate, which give me a crystal-clear dashboard view of whether it’s safe to back up or change lanes. Again: How did I ever live without those things?

■ The technological advances that have made weather forecasting so much more accurate and long range than in the relatively primitive days of my youth.

But enough technology. Some more human examples:

■ The extraordinarily lively and vibrant state of business in our beloved downtown Southern Pines. (If you have any doubt about how lucky we are in that regard, try driving 45 minutes south to once-thriving Rowland, which now presents a most depressing array of boarded-up storefronts.)

■ The praiseworthy amount of time spent and compassion displayed by today’s animal rights groups, which succeed in preventing so much cruelty and finding so many good homes for deserving pooches and kitties.

■ The gratifyingly large number of women now succeeding so admirably in professions like law and medicine — compared with the meager number a half-century ago, when the accepted wisdom was that “a woman’s place is in the home.”

■ The courage and determination that so many of our major news media entities (especially newspapers) have shown lately in spotlighting and commenting on disturbing recent trends and activities in Washington and elsewhere — at a time when it may not always be popular or profitable for them to be doing so.

Yep, our times could be a lot worse than what they are.

Now. Before I close, permit me a P.S.

One of the things I griped about last week was “people who are always misusing the phrase ‘that begs the question.’” A couple of readers drew a blank on that obscure complaint and asked me to explain. So here goes.

It’s easy to assume that “begging” a question is the same as “raising” it, as in: “This heat begs the question of whether there’s global warming going on.” But from what I’ve read, that’s not it. The real (or at least original) meaning of the term is “a logical fallacy in which the writer or speaker assumes the statement under examination to be true.” Or, “using a premise to support itself.”

One example I found: “We know God exists because God says so in the Bible.”

Steve Bouser is the retired editor and Opinion editor of The Pilot. Contact him at bouser@email.unc.edu.

(2) comments

Kent Misegades

In 1970 approximately 40% of women in the US worked outside the home. Today is around 46%. Not much of a change. What has increased dramatically since 1970 - children born out of wedlock, single parent households, kids without fathers, careers or high school diplomas. I recall the emancipated stay-at-home mothers and the solid families of 1970. Those ladies were the bedrock of society.

Jim Tomashoff

Kent's figures are wrong, as usual. Actually over 70% of women with children work "outside the home," according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. www.dol.gov/wb/stats/mother_families-text.htm#lfp-parental Kent longs for the "Leave It To Beaver," and "Father Knows Best," days. Well, actually he longs for the days when every family, especially white southern families, had at least one "colored" woman at home to take the burden of housekeeping off the back of the stay-at-home mother. Ah, the good old days, right Kent? To see Kent's ideal family in action see the movie "The Help."

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