Don Gonyea

Certain rituals have grown up around the use of the presidential pardon.

The most common is a lengthy review by the Justice Department on the merits of any such petition for a pardon.

But for President Trump, the pardon seems to have become the ultimate symbol of presidential power — the ability to use this exclusive authority as an act of benevolent largess and as the ultimate political perk.

Ry Cooder has been described as a singer-songwriter, slide guitar hero, session musician to so many other artists, producer, musicologist and historian, a man beholden to no single style, a champion of Cuban and international roots music, and a composer of film soundtracks.

Yet, now a half-century into his prolific career, Cooder continues to carve out new trades for himself.

Don Blankenship is an unlikely hero to the working class.

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"The Dude abides."

OK. As iconic movie lines go, maybe it's not as iconic as "Here's looking at you, kid" or "I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

But for fans of the film The Big Lebowski, there are few things better than hearing Jeff Bridges say those words with such nonchalant slacker indifference.

Jesse Ball's latest book Census is about a man — a widower — who learns he doesn't have long to live. So he takes one last trip with his adult son, who has Down syndrome. The father signs up as a census taker for the government, and he and his son head north.

"I suppose the profession is arbitrary," Ball says. "It's more of a model for the way we as a culture look at the world."

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