The Atreides vs the Ancient Greeks

I’d been reading a book by Colm Tóibín called House of Names.  The house is the House of Atreus; Tóibín explained through a character why he substituted “names,” but I didn’t understand it.  He took the story pretty faithfully from the plays of Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripedes about one or all members of the family.  […]

The Last Word

July 10 – 14, 2017 Guest Elizabeth Preston’s baby — what’s she doing? what’s she thinking?  Darwin had some ideas about that. Emma is in Tahiti — isn’t everyone? — and sees a flower so rare, so strange, so precious, that it has to be kept in a cage. If only mental illness were simple, […]

Redux: Honest to God, DARPA & Jet Packs

My friend and colleague, Sharon Weinberger, has a new book out called The Imagineers of War.  It’s a history of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Agency, an agency with which she has had, as a journalist, a long and storied history.  One of DARPA’s proposals was for a wearable jet pack.  Just let that sink […]

The Fall Line

I have a mild case of fatal familial obsessive-compulsive disorder. (At least, if that were real I’d have it.) Today’s obsession is the Fall Line. It’s the line that runs through the big east coast cities — New York City, Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Richmond, all the way down to Columbia SC and […]

The Last Word

June 19 – 23, 2017 “I imagine the zucchini plant at the end of the summer, lying back on the couch, an ice pack on its head, its eyes closed. Good work, I want to say to the zucchini. You made it.”  Now, says Cameron, will somebody please take some of it please? Who besides […]

Redux Because This Is Better Than What I Was Going to Write

I had dinner the other night with, among others, a graphic designer.  He said he liked looking at contemporary photographs but to be honest, he didn’t know why he liked looking at them.  He knew they were better than snapshots, he said, but he didn’t know why they were. I’m certainly the last person to […]

The Last Word

May 22 – 26, 2017 Lots of reduxes this week — “redux” in this case meaning posts that were posted before but would be nice to reread, if for no other reason than that the authors liked them. Christie on the line between dryness and drought:  “How much contrary evidence do we need before we […]

Redux: Falling

Back in 2012, I wrote about falling and gravity’s terrible vengeance when we don’t perfectly obey and how, if we’d just learned our physics, all this wouldn’t be so surprising.  Re-reading the post now, it seems also to be a nice science metaphor. That is, physics says the best way to not let gravity hurt […]