In Case These Are the Endtimes

      I always felt so sorry for the deluded folks who believed they were living in the endtimes. Now I have a feeling they might be right. So, as the planet spins toward God knows what fate, I calm myself by deciding that what feels like the endtimes is just one more stage […]

Why We Love to Kill Wolves

      Move among the wolf hunters, and you will find bumper stickers emblazoned with a wolf’s image and the suggestion to “Smoke a Pack a Day.” Protest signs that call wolves “Illegal Immigrants” or “terrorists on the order of Osama bin Laden.” Photographs of men posing, proud, holding up bloodied wolves whose lifeless […]

Loyalty Tests

      China is developing artificial intelligence programs that “extract and integrate facial expressions, EEG readings and skin conductivity” in order to measure someone’s “mastery of ideological and political education.” A loyalty test, in other words. The announcement came from the Heifei Comprehensive National Science Center, which posted it this summer on the Weibo […]

Village Gossip, Daily Paper, Metaverse

      Usually I need coffee, pastry, and an uninterrupted hour to properly read one of L.M. Sacasas’s essays in The Convivial Society, a newsletter about technology, culture, and morality. They are dense, brilliant, and provocative, and they refuse to be skimmed. But recently Sacasas sent a piece so short and strong, it punched […]

Thank You, Lt. Uhura, for Your Starship Service

    Nichelle Nichols, who died on July 30 at age 89, exemplified two things for me. One involves acting, and to discuss that, it is necessary to say a little about Star Trek, the TV series on which she played Lieutenant Nyota Uhura—her best-known role. Star Trek may be unique in its mix of […]

Affinities Only Now Visible

      After years of fretting about the way the internet is flattening history, stripping away context, jumbling bits of every culture…I have found a book that makes me glad of it. Affinities is a gorgeous journey through ten years of images in The Public Domain Review. Images that belong to all of us, […]

Janet Malcolm and Emmanuel Carrère Debate Journalism and Murder

      There is an incestuous and self-congratulatory tendency for media to report on media commenting on media reporting on reporters who are exposing some shocking fact that is by now lost in the layers. Nonetheless, it is sometimes worth doing. This story starts when Army physician Jeffrey MacDonald is charged with murdering his […]

Anything But Mellow

      “What a horrible thing yellow is,” muttered Edgar Degas. Granted, he loved painting ballerinas, and one sees few yellow tutus. But Degas is on to something more, because yellow has a weird place in the pantheon. It is the color of sunshine and daffodils, and it stands for warmth, joy, and clarity—yet […]

Our Penchant for Cherry Picking

        My life, of late, is a bowl of cherries. Often with a dollop of vanilla yogurt on top. I steal them at the grocery store, just one per bag, to avoid the crushing disappointment of learning too late that they are sour. Unlike soured humans, who tend to advertise their disgust, […]

Bored in the USA

        “Bored, I’m so bored,” Billie Eilish sings. “I’m so bored, so bored.” Were he alive, Bertrand Russell would jump to his feet to applaud her. “Boredom as a factor in human behavior has received, in my opinion, far less attention than it deserves,” he wrote in The Conquest of Happiness, published […]