If you, as several members of the U.S. Congress and countless others across the country expressed, feel “surprised,” “shocked” or a similar reaction to the shooting on Sunday in Sutherland Springs, Texas, I have two words for you:

I doff my cap to Honolulu for passing what may be one of the 21st-century’s best pieces of legislation to-date: a law that allows police officers to fine pedestrians up to $35 for looking at their electronic devices while crossing the street.

I sat at Valentine several nights ago and couldn’t help but overhear two students sitting nearby:
“Whoever designed this place was so stupid — I don’t even know what he was thinking.”

“I know, right? Even the redesign failed miserably. Like, why would you put booths over here — you can’t get in and out of them! And then those new tables in the front room — I get the “social atmosphere” hope they were going for, but it makes it so there’s never enough seating.”

“Everything about this dining hall is a fail — even when they try to make it better.”

“Better the wheels of government should stop … demonstrate itself to be a failure and find an end … than our principles, our honor be infringed upon — we have right, justice and the ‘King of Kings’ on our side.”

If this sounds as though it came from the mouth of a Republican congressman this past week, many of whom refused to hold a confirmation hearing on anyone President Obama might name to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court — let alone even meet with any presumptive nominee — well, it did not.

Even when I lived in Illinois, I did not pay attention to neighboring Iowa. For all its virtues — corn, rolling plains, the rare Iowa Pleistocene Snail — my attentions were elsewhere. It had, perhaps, an “Iowa aura.”

But since the presidential campaigns for 2016 started last year with my best friend working as a paid organizer for Hillary Clinton’s team in Fairfield, Iowa — I have dared to look deeper at that Midwestern outlier.

It’s too bad Bernie Sanders isn’t related to Colonel Sanders, because he’d probably be better off selling chicken. I just can’t buy everything Mr. Sanders says and claims to stand for.

I understand that politics is rife with contradiction and paradox.

Whatever your gender identity, I encourage you to venture into the larger of the two stalls in the first-floor men’s bathroom of Frost Library. There, to your left, you shall see, inked on the gray metal barrier between the toilets, a challenge, of sorts: “Top 10 Nicknames for Biddy’s House.”