Category: Life

0

Hand in Hand

The photographer Meg Boscov makes macro pictures; the writer Randall Brown makes micro stories. Teaming their extravagant talents, they’ve produced one of the loveliest — and most useful — coffee table books we’ve encountered. “Hand in Hand” contains a ravishing photo (many of them from nature) and an accompanying page of text in each chapter,...

Tim Urban’s The Story of Us

The popular blogger and stick-figure cartoonist Tim Urban posts educational and intellectually provocative articles on his Website, WaitButWhy.com. Everything there is worth reading. But during these plague times, his magnum opus, his masterpiece of expository and explanatory writing, a multi-part series called “The Story of Us,” is indispensable, not to be missed. In it, Urban attempts to...

Bold Predictions for 2020

We’ve consulted the elves, fairies, and ancient spirits flitting around our garden, and they’ve offered some insights into the future. We predict: + A cataclysmic environmental disaster on the scale of the 9/11 attacks, such as the entire continent of Australia going up in flames, will spark a global revolution of unprecedented size and impact,...

An Artist’s Take on Reality

“What the ancients knew, we are slowly re-discovering. Subtle energies that exist in the individual, exist in all of us; from the humblest grain of sand in the ocean to the massive galaxies mirroring a non-local connection, where language or math is different but the universal archetype is the same. This physical world that runs...

The Fable of Sybaris

Long ago, more than 2,500 years in the past, the city of Sybaris flourished on the heel of what is now Italy. Situated on a bustling line of Greek trade, Sybaris was where seagoing merchants unloaded their precious cargo for distribution along the Western coast. The customs and tolls from the Greeks’ inexorable enterprise made...

A Chinese Man with a Latin Name and Many Dangerous Ideas

His Chinese title was Mang-tze: Mang the Master. Just as European scholars changed his philosophical predecessor K’ung-fu-tze into “Confucius,” Latin-trained historians of the West called him “Mencius.” He spent most of his adult life (378-289 B.C.) counseling princes and kings, teaching them to rule like philosophers instead of barbarians. In his final years, he composed — or...

Ancient Questions, Modern Answers

When we consider regions of the world less “developed” than ours, let’s keep in mind Europe (and its imperialist offspring around the globe, like the United States) were also once Medieval. We, too, were once benighted, ignorant, backwards. Long ago, our civilization preferred the mystical powers of alchemy to the rational comforts of science, the...

The Driveway Mural

It began as a New Year’s folly, an impulsive lark. Some children and I splashed a few square panels of our concrete driveway with old house-paint from the cellar, shrouding the dull stone with color and shapes. We thought it looked pretty good, so the next day I did another panel, and then another the...

A Modest Proposal for Optimal Use of Artificial Intelligence

If you’re still in the camp that believes a near future dominated by artificially intelligent machines is nothing but a dystopian daydream, consider this: Not long ago, an artificially intelligent computer program called AlphaZero, hooked up to industrial-strength, Google-supplied processors, was given the rules of chess. That’s it. By playing countless games against itself, billions(?),...

Announcement: Why You’ll Be Hearing Less from Me

Today I’m delighted to announce my semi-retirement from writing. It’s been more than 30 years I’ve been doing this professionally, 20 years since my first book. Now it’s time to do something else. For the people who care about my work, don’t worry. Writing will continue. These essay Thoughts will continue (probably) to be published...