Betting on Armageddon Then and Now

    I told a friend about my wager with the preacher’s son, and he agreed it was a solid bet. My third-grade classmate Mike was the son of an evangelical preacher who also worked for the phone company, I remember. He believed in the imminence of the Second Coming and all the disruption to […]

Trapped in the Wrong…Species?

      You feel too pale, naked, slippery. Not heavy enough. Moving through the world, you yearn for a more lumbering gait; see huge branches and want to grasp them between paws; study your cuticles and wish for long, curved, sharply pointed nails. Since childhood, you have been convinced that secretly, deep inside, you […]

SCOTUS Makes Room for Pregnant Pigs

        It was a watershed decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. It upheld California’s Proposition 12—which the Humane Society of the U.S. calls “the strongest law in the world for farm animals,” as well as the most significant piece of farm animal protection legislation ever passed in this country. Yet no one […]

Off On Some Trip

    Todd was near the end of his set by the time I got to the winery. I raised my hand in greeting as I entered, and he said, “Hello, sir,” into the microphone. I was not sure he recognized me. We went to high school together. He was a class officer, polished and […]

A Diary That Crossed the Battle Line

      Ted Engelmann helped direct air strikes in Việt Nam, worked to establish a counseling program for veterans after the war, became a teacher, and began making photographs—artistic, documentary, stunning—of veteran-related events in the U.S., Việt Nam, and our allies there, Korea and Australia. He also embedded with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan […]

Word Choice

        You cannot learn about a war without learning about language. Ted Engelmann enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1966, during what we call the Vietnam War. Just a kid, but a bright one, he was charged with helping direct air strikes for the U.S. and Vietnamese armies at the age […]

The Caring Application of Force

    When my sons were little they liked to play dinosaurs with me. They were the Velociraptors; I was a Parasaurolophus standing dully by the watering hole, waiting to be taken down. My then three-year old would (with my help) jump onto my back and clutch me around the neck; my six-year old would […]

Why Kids (and Adults) Need Philosophy

        “Is the hole in the donut part of the donut?” Peter Worley asks a classroom bubbling with children. A Brit, cofounder and CEO of The Philosophy Foundation, he had to hunt down an American donut for this project, because England fills theirs with jelly. “I think the hole is not just […]

Car Trouble and Overheated Angst

      An hour of roll forward, brake fast, wait, creep forward, brake, and my aged Mini’s air-conditioning goes tepid. Then a warning message flashes: something about my battery not recharging itself. Ten seconds later, I am still assimilating the first warning when a new one flashes: engine overheating. Stop and let it cool. […]

Public Orgasms, Corpsing, and the Giggles

      By now, the L.A. symphony-goer’s orgasm has been heard round the world. There was a slight attempt to pathologize the woman’s unmistakable (my opinion) moans of pleasure during the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony—surely she must have had a seizure of some sort? Well, yes—one that had her breathing heavily and […]