Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods

Allow me to introduce you to the hugag, a moose-like creature native to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and eastern Canada. “Its head and neck are leathery and hairless; its strangely corrugated ears flop downward,” wrote William Cox, the first state forester of Minnesota. “Its four-toed feet, long bushy tail, shaggy coat and general make-up give the beast […]

Confessions of an Artifact Hunter

I once found a beautiful pot, an ancient red seed jar tucked beneath a boulder in the desert. By ancient, I mean pre-Columbian, probably 800 years old. It was hidden along the rubble-choked slope of a canyon in Southeast Utah. The way it was placed, seated in shade and red blow-sand next to a once […]

Gold Stars

Go ahead and celebrate today’s holiday with a grill and a swill or a trip to some big box store to buy discounted appliances. Unless you’re part of the other one percent — the tiny fraction of Americans who served in the military during the long wars fought since September 11, 2001 — Memorial Day […]

From the Edge of Beringia

In the Cold War, a U.S. Air Force telecommunications network was erected in Western Alaska, a series of gray metal radio-towers like obelisks on a hilltop over the town of Nome. Each points a different direction, meant to bounce tropospheric messages from the Russian border to the US. Last used in 1985, the network has […]

TGIPF: Look! International Symbol!

“Look!” our guide said, and he pointed to a frieze at the top of a nearby building. We looked. The figures were inscrutable at first, but then the guide explained: The building had been a shop belonging to a wine merchant. We ahhh’d, not so much at the fact that the shop had belonged to a […]

Garwin: the Movie (UPDATED)

Garwin: the Movie opens with an old, steady, precise hand on a computer keyboard, scrolling through now-declassified* documents.  Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower make announcements, and newspapers flash headlines about our splendid new hydrogen bomb.  Then the blossom of a mushroom cloud unfolds; and John F. Kennedy talks about Russian missiles in Cuba; and the […]

Kepler on the Moon, Part (Who Knew?) 3

Kepler strikes again! A couple of weeks ago, in a two-part essay, I wrote about a 1608 book by the German astronomer Johannes Kepler that scholars consider the first work of science fiction: Somnium—Latin for The Dream. This past week, I got to thinking about Kepler’s book again, after the discovery of dwarf planet 2012 VP113 (which the discoverers have nicknamed […]