Features

The Dawn of the Second American Civil War

The compromises that have tenuously held together the marriage of convenience that is the American body politic are eroding under unprecedented societal forces: shifting demographics, climate change, a global pandemic, mass unemployment, and massive economic inequality. These forces shock a nation like infidelity, job loss, or family pressures might shock a marriage.

Marriage, That Magical Contract

Late Marriage is one of the few films concerning marriage bold enough to suggest that our modern insistence on personal fulfillment in romance is the double-edged sword that brings two people together but can also poison them with expectations that tear romance apart. And it is one of the more honest films about marriage in its open, forthright acknowledgment that the institution—and in this film, marriage is most certainly an institution—involves far more than the forces and desires of two people. 

Mama, Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away

In an artist’s hands, digital technology is a toolkit whose wands and transformations grant almost magical powers. But what about the rest of us, holding up our phones everywhere we go? Now we, too, live as Photographers.

Not with a Whimper but with a Bang

Instead of trying to predict how soon the world will end or reaching for a static, reassuringly rigid worldview, we need to take in new information every day, brush our teeth with it, readjust our internal model of the world as we go.

Why James Cameron’s Skynet Is Even More Disturbing as Reality

Extreme and eccentric though they be, transhumanists represent a movement to take control of human evolution. Artificial intelligence will, they predict, accelerate itself into a superintelligence far more powerful than anything our human brains are capable of. The consequences? Nothing less than immortality, some say. Certainly an end to much of our disease and suffering. Maybe an end to us.

Whose Problem Is Lake Charles, Louisiana?

Lake Charles, Louisiana, is a particularly sensitive canary in the coal mine of global warming. Not only is southwest Louisiana low-lying in the age of sea-rise; the land is also subsiding faster than just about anywhere on earth, and water courses through everything.

The Attention Economy

We talk about paying attention, as though it is a debt—and these days, attention is definitely currency. We still use money and buy material stuff, but these transactions all begin by gaining our limited attention.

Part of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Is Gone

In Louisiana’s future, the EPA says, there will be “retreating shores,” stronger and more frequent hurricanes, more flooding, more heat than ever, and reduced crop and fishery yields. And as disasters linked to climate change increase in scale and number, we can all expect to pay for them, with interrupted commerce and supply lines, higher insurance rates, and more federal aid for recoveries like this one.