A Tourist in the Ice Age
April is the Cruelest Month
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
- T.S. Eliot – The Wasteland
Eliot was right, at least as far as my family is concerned. On Easter Sunday, April 6, 1996, my brother Bernie went to dinner at the home of family friends. By all accounts he ate well and laughed and left saying he’d see everyone later. Then he went home and hanged himself.
Why do the differences among us lead to ridicule, to sneering, even to hate? Is prejudice inevitable? There seems to be a kind of terrible logic operating here, a hateful syllogism: People are different; differences create prejudice; people are prejudiced. As a scientist, an evolutionary biologist, I worry that it could be the way we are made, a hard-wired trap.
Around the Block
Ask the Philosopher: Can We Say What We Mean?
Auschwitz, Stutthof, and Remembrance
Babe in the Woods: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Unlikely Summer in Montana
Drumming & Dancing on the Planet of Women
End Times Down at the Kingdom Hall
Down at the Kingdom Hall
A choir was singing’
Down at the Kingdom Hall
Excerpt from The Enchanted Desna
Fire and Blood of Poetry
I’m Not a Psychic But . . .
Ice and White Sky
The ride from Tel Aviv had been a long one—three hours by car, and much of it through desert. Although it was April, when the dry season had long begun in Israel, it rained almost the whole way, and when it did not rain, the skies were almost black.
Jesus and the Guinea Pig
Jesus and a guinea pig: words you rarely find together in the same sentence — or in the same religious encyclopedia, for that matter. But in the convent of San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador, I not only found them in the same sentence muttered by passersby, I also found them in the same painting.
Lean Forward, Stand Back
Lynn Margulis, biologist and Distinguished Professor of Geosciences, composed a grand and powerful view of the living and the non-living. Integrating the work of obscure Russian scientists, DNA pulled from cell organelles, computer-generated daisies, and the hindguts of termites, her vision was wider in scope and more profound in depth than any other coherent scientific world view. At the time of her death on November 22nd, 2011, it was and is a vision that remains misunderstood and misconstrued by many scientists.
Me and Cancer
Me and Edvard Munch
Not Fade Away
Octopuses and Ink, Lightning and Lightning Bugs
Of Hitchhikers and Writers
Our First Language
Peace Among Cousins?
Place Amongst the Stars
“The East belongs to God
The West belongs to God
north and southern lands
rest in the peace of His hands,
He, the sole just ruler,
intends the right things for every one,
Among His hundred names
– be this one glorified and praised
Political Mythology and Other Illusions
Producing Peltier: The Hollywood Pitch Meeting
Producing Peltier: Walking the Red Road to the Red Carpet
Punch a Hole in the World
Reclaiming Friday the 13th
In any age, whether we consider it modern or not, we can rest assured that for our species superstition trumps intellect. The next time you’re in an elevator try to press the number 13, although more than likely you won’t find it. For a split second you’ll be glad it’s not there because unspeakable horrors await anyone who alights on that floor: Demons and witches and blood baths.
Science: What is the God Particle and Why Should I Care?
Sending Joan Didion a Friend Request
So, you’re looking at the number of friends you have on Facebook and it’s, well, pretty scant. Some of those in your circle have, like, a thousand friends and you’re feeling pretty down about it and you think you’ll add to your list and so you decide to see if Joan Didion has a Facebook account.
Song Lyrics as Literature
One rainy evening in April as I headed through Philadelphia on the West Trenton local, a very large man bent over me and asked in a very small voice if he could sit next to me. “It’s only three stops,” he said.
The Extraordinary Lives of Lorenzo Da Ponte and Nathaniel Wallich
The Margulis Variations
The Unpossessed Country
There Used To Be a Township Here
Three Myths about Art and Success
What We Can Learn From the Summer of 1915
Wisdom from Our Foremothers: Brenda Ueland and Katherine Anne Porter
Write on the Wall
I am a lover of words, a logophile. Fancier yet, a linguaphile - lover of language and words. And I'm fascinated with graffiti, and the new kid on the block, murals with words or phrases; universally meaningful and/or entertaining words on a wall, sometimes with artwork. Graffiti and murals can be found on the overpass, the railway station, the subway car, and the wall. Words for eyes wide open. They’re ugly, beautiful and fascinating.