Redux: Giving History the Finger

At a thousand words, this picture would be way undervalued. But there it was, waiting to be taken (the picture, that is, not the object). So I took, during a visit to Florence, and I wrote, in 2014, and I redux, here, because some images you just can’t get out of your head. The middle […]

Redux: Newsprint is dead. Long live newsprint!

This post first ran in 2013. I died a little inside when I heard about the recent Today Show interview in which Jeff Bezos said, “I think printed newspapers on actual paper may be a luxury item. It’s sort of like, you know, people still have horses, but it’s not their primary way of commuting to […]

Mrs. Whitcher and the Renegade Numbers

In 1938 a wallet manufacturer called the E.H. Ferree company had a genius idea: to show people just how well cards would fit in the wallet, by using a placeholder. This was before credit cards and before many drivers licenses were small enough to fit into wallets. So the thing they used to showcase the […]

Resistance Begins at Home

On the evening of November 29, 1944, in the small town of Hood River, Oregon, the members of American Legion Post 22 performed what they later described as a patriotic act: They went to the county courthouse and blacked out sixteen names on the plaques honoring local soldiers. All sixteen men were still overseas, fighting on behalf of the United […]

Honest to God, DARPA & Jet Belts

Dear Reader:  the above is a sketch of an Individual Mobility System (IMS) proposed by a very special agency in the Department of Defense. The sketch was unearthed by my friend and much-admired colleague, Sharon Weinberger, who generously shared it on Twitter.  You could call this an IMS.  Or you could call it a jet […]

Dirty Norwegians

Having a child changes a man. Perhaps not as much as it changes a woman but a fair bit. A friend of mine recently had his first kid and decided to take up hunting. He’s a successful nurse in a big-time hospital but somewhere deep inside him, he wanted to know he could provide meat […]

Drugs, Trials and a Little Bit of History Repeating

I can’t help but notice that placebos have crept into the political news in recent weeks. Okay, maybe they aren’t in the headlines but they’re there, just below the surface. That’s because when you see a headline about the Food and Drug Administration, you should immediately start thinking of placebos. The Trump administration hasn’t named […]

Why Rachel Carson Still Matters

On Monday, the Trump administration instructed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency staffers to freeze all of the agency’s grants and contracts—cutting off financial support for many state and tribal environmental protection programs. (Staffers were also told not to discuss the freeze with anyone outside the agency, but the news was quickly leaked to both ProPublica and the Huffington […]