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HEAVEN OR HELL: MAKE YOUR CHOICE. Three out of four Americans say they believe in heaven. But only 54% believe in hell. So says Bible scholar Bart Ehrman. He has published a book telling how our views of the afterlife have changed during past centuries. For example, many years ago people were much more indifferent to the question of whether we'll end up in heaven or go to hell. And then there was purgatory to think about. The book is called “Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife.”

REMEMBER THE OIL PRICE WARS OF THE 1970s? The petroleum barons of the Mideast cut production, causing the price of oil and gasoline to skyrocket. For a few weeks back then, to protest, I locked up my car and hitchhiked from Indian Rocks Beach to my job in Tampa. Motorists were kind. They had never seen a grown man thumbing in a coat and tie, carrying an attaché case. Today things have switched. Russia and Saudi Arabia are feuding, and gasoline has been dirt cheap. A possible conclusion: there IS a God who knows how to even things out.

WHO WILL BE OUR NEXT PRESIDENT, AFTER TRUMP? No way to know, but I'm betting it will be Jeff Bezos, the head man of Amazon. At the rate he’s going, he will soon have enough money to simply buy the White House, plus most members of Congress. The corona pandemic has already cost the world's richest people $805 billion. But not Jeff. This year his net worth has increased by $7.8 billion. It now totals $122.7 billion. Brother, can you spare a dime?

HAVE YOU GONE ZOOMING YET? That's the latest communications advance for you and me. Instead of having to settle for one-on-one conversations, a group of persons can stay at home, boot up their computers to pre-arranged websites and then talk for hours while seeing their chatmates in full view on their screens. One day, I'm sure, we'll be able to contact anyone on earth just by thinking about him, her or them. But I see a problem: what if everyone must exchange passwords before a connection is made?

IF YOU CAN, GET THE APRIL 20 COPY OF TIME MAGAZINE. Flip it over to the back cover page. There you'll find what is (in my jaded opinion) one of the most appealing feel-good magazine advertisements on record. It shows a huge 80-pound-plus dog sitting happily on the lap of a young smiling blonde woman. The ad — submitted by Nationwide pet insurance company — talks about the meaning of "lapdog." As I write this column, I'm trying to learn (A) the breed of the dog, and (2) the name of the advertising agency that generated and placed the ad. Most ads are forgettable; this one is a winner.

HOW OLD IS “OLD”? HOW YOUNG IS “YOUNG”? Which age group do you belong to? Says who? Age groupings are flung around like s'mores at a Girl Scout picnic, so it's hard to pin down exactly what's meant. However, I can suggest a method by which you might decide into which generalized age category you belong. It goes like this: If you can easily remember when smoking marijuana was a crime in most of our 50 states, you probably fit in the old-timers club. On the other hand, if you and most of your grade-school or teenage set viewed marijuana use as no more illegal or sinful than a kiss on the cheek, you're still justified to call yourself "young." Or thereabouts.

The experts can probably pinpoint exactly when the marijuana-attitude began to change. I would guess that it coincided with medical research discoveries of how marijuana — in various forms — can be used to treat illnesses, both mental and physical. I want to believe that the COVID-19 virus may one day be corralled and converted into something beneficial for all earthlings, young and old alike.

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