Getting Out of the Jail of Time

Time is a jail that we’ve built for ourselves, I think as I look at the clock and realize this post is due by some daunting hour of the morning. How could this day have been contained by a big hand and little hand on the face of a clock? Sometimes, or some places, the clock […]

The Mark We Leave

Rounding a corner in Manhattan last week, I saw a handprint spray-painted on a wall. It was my hand. I had put it there last summer, my first and only piece of graffiti. It was nothing special, no artistic flair other than my five fingers. I had gloved my hand in plastic wrap and waved […]

Let’s stop pretending we give a damn about climate change, 2015 edition

In 2011, I wrote about how little that year’s climate conference had accomplished. The latest edition of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change just wrapped up in Paris over the weekend with a historic agreement. Nearly 200 nations acknowledged the importance of keeping global temperatures from rising […]

Let Us Celebrate The Lack Of Total Failure

This past Friday evening, when I heard that the 195 nations represented at the COP21 climate meeting in Paris had reached a draft agreement, I was pleasantly surprised. On Saturday morning, when I saw the stronger-than-forecast draft text, I was shocked. And on Saturday afternoon, when the final agreement was signed—signed!—I was thrilled. The Paris agreement won’t singlehandedly head off the worst […]

Motherhood: A postscript

Three and a half years ago, I wrote a post about my struggle to decide whether to have a child. Now I have one — a wriggling, screaming bundle of chub and cheeks. She is wonderful. She is awful. She defies description. Until four months ago, I could not have imagined how it would be, […]

A Modest Proposal for Re-Naming Connectors and Fasteners

Here’s a thing I hate: calling plugs and ports “male” and “female.” In case you’ve never heard of this before, the terms are applied like this: things that plug are called “male” and things that receive those plugs are called “female.” So, a nut is female. A bolt is male. Your headphones have a male […]

Turning Left on 39th

I grew up in rural and small-town midwest.  Some people were richer than we were, some poorer.  And being normal, hierarchizing humans, we always knew who was rich and who was poor.  But regardless everybody went to the same grocery stores,  schools, churches, dime stores, movie theaters, summer concerts.  In other words, nobody was so […]

Guest Post: How the Bolivian Navy Became Landlocked

Cassandra wrote a post about the landlocked Bolivian navy in which she explained, in passing, that Bolivia once had a coast but lost it to Chile in the War of the Pacific.  One of the comments on that post, by guest poster Nick Suntzeff, was a post in itself and we thought you’d like to […]