The Accident of Luck

  I have been thinking about relative dangers, recently, since everything now seems like a calculus of risk. I also want to be able to give my children perspective, as their isolation continues, a graduation has been canceled, and their futures teeter. Those who have been shocked at the sudden humbling of our economy and […]

The New Who: Special Delivery?

Doctor Who, “Kerblam!” Series 11, Episode 7 Written by Pete McTighe Directed by Jennifer Perrott Starring Jodie Whittaker, Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill, and Bradley Walsh Guest Starring Julie Hesmondhalgh, Leo Flanagan, Claudia Jessie, and Lee Mack Original Broadcast 18 November 2018 (50 minutes)     Perhaps it was inevitable, given the ongoing controversies about the […]

‘Ridiculous Authority’ Versus Medical Fact

Because my overseas tour in the army was in the Republic of Panama, I was pleased to find a book, after I got home, called The Isthmus of Panama, and What I Saw There (1852), by Chauncey D. Griswold (no known relation). Chauncey Griswold was a surgeon for the Panama Railroad Company, which broke ground […]

The New Who: Brexit By Any Other Name

Doctor Who, “Demons of the Punjab” Series 11, Episode 6 Written by Vinay Patel Directed by Jamie Childs Starring Jodie Whittaker, Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill, and Bradley Walsh. Guest Starring Leena Dhingra, Hamza Jeetooa, Amita Suman, and Shane Zaza Original Broadcast 11 November 2018 (50 minutes)     “Demons of the Punjab,” the sixth episode […]

Where Everybody Knows Your Business

Oh, God, here we go. The headline on Nextdoor Waterloo reads “Rooster crows all day long!” All my urban hackles rise, bracing to read a list of nasty, unneighborly gripes from people stuck at home with plenty of energy for vitriol. It was so nice until now, living the past thirteen years in this calm, […]

Making Sense of a Random Universe

“Random,” we say, one eyebrow raised, claiming the slang for anything odd, stray, out of sync. But when big things—like the universe—are defined that way, I feel a sort of vertigo. A literal Adam, Eve, and serpent might stretch credulity, but that deep, resonant off-stage voice giving them instructions? That means we are meant to […]

The Stuff the American Dream Is Made of

      “Attractions and stores at American Dream are temporarily closed.” That online announcement was not meant as metaphor. It refers specifically to the contents of the three-million-square-foot American Dream, a collection of experiences that refuses to call itself a mall. “The psychic center of American social life has shifted from buying things to […]

Farming-Out Air Power

Two-and-a-half hours north of St. Louis, in Quincy, Illinois, there is a private air force bigger than half the world’s combat air forces. In size, it ranks somewhere between South Africa’s and Mexico’s, and is growing (and hiring). The US military welcomes its existence. Don Kirlin owns Air USA, “the leader in military combat readiness […]

What Is Lost When Graduation Is Cancelled

Only once have I ever cried when I was supposed to. Not on my wedding day; I was giddy then, breaking that can’t-see-the-bride rule to hug friends and wait for Andrew in the back of church. No, it was the grad school Commencement that got me, that resonant swell of bagpipes that filled the hall […]

Why Star Trek: Picard Changed My Mind

Every time the channel changed (in those days, with a clunk of the knob, not a remote) and I caught sight of Star Trek—those primary colors glaring against cardboardy sets, Captain Kirk’s wooden yet melodramatic delivery—it looked like a kids’ show I did not want to watch. Same with Dr. Who, some goofy guy in […]