What’s Your Problem?

Graham Roumieu

For years, we’ve been told that we should never put anything in our ears, especially a Q-tip. But I’ve been cleaning my ears with Q-tips for 25 years and I still hear perfectly fine. So this piece of advice is a lie. What else are they lying about?

R. D., Santa Monica, Calif.

Dear R. D.,

Everything. They’re lying about everything:

• Dolphins: friends of mankind

• A customer-service representative will be with you shortly.

• Giants

• Pandas

• Kurt Cobain

• Brown-eyed women and red grenadine

• Delivering tax relief to high earners is critical to spurring investment, boosting consumption, and promoting strong economic growth. This increased growth will more than make up for lost government revenue.

• Dark matter

• “Global warming”

• It’s just a cold sore.

• The circumstances surrounding the death of Catherine the Great

• Rogaine

• Air traffic in Europe was brought to a standstill by volcanic ash in the atmosphere.

• Afghanistan

• We’ll get married as soon as the divorce comes through.

• Giving content away for free on the Internet is a surefire way to achieve publishing success.

I read recently that people in Washington call the festivities surrounding the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner “prom weekend.” It sounds luxurious and expensive, with a lot of bejeweled celebrities present. As a Washington journalist, do you think this is an appropriate event, especially this year, after the mining disaster in West Virginia so strikingly exposed the differences between the haves and have-nots in our society?

J. L., Boston, Mass.

Dear J. L.,

It’s a well-known fact that the job of Washington journalists is to ignore the afflicted and comfort the comfortable. The correspondents’ dinner is in keeping with this fine tradition.

Every time I go to the supermarket, the checkout person asks me if I would like to donate an extra dollar for children with cancer. I want to support charity, but I don’t want to be confronted like this when I go shopping. What should I say?

H. W., Arlington, Va.

Dear H. W.,

You should say “I’d love to, but I’m late for my massage.” Or “I can’t today, I have to get my Range Rover detailed.” Or, alternatively, “How do I know that you and your fellow Safeway clerks aren’t going to spend the money on hookers and blow?”

Why are women still more interested in marriage than men are, even after reality checks like Tiger Woods and Jesse James?

E. M., Bayonne, N.J.

Dear E. M.,

Because most men are not named after carnivorous jungle cats or homicidal bank robbers. This gives women a false sense of security. (I, too, love America’s Sweetheart, Sandra Bullock, but her selection of a man named Jesse James as her mate is stupefying—akin to choosing a husband with the middle name Wayne, which is consistently one of the most popular middle names of adjudicated murderers. My wife, Bonnie Parker Goldberg, agrees with me.) To your larger question, many women remain interested in marriage because they are under the impression that it guarantees them a patient, sensitive, and emotionally available conversation partner for life.

To submit your question or request for advice, please e-mail advice@theatlantic.com. Include your full name and address.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. Author of the book Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror, Goldberg also writes the magazine's advice column. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. Previously, he served as a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward, and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

His book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. Goldberg rthe recipient of the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism. He is also the recipient of 2005's Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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