"Science says the first word on everything, and the last word on nothing" - Victor Hugo
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What’s the Story?

Sometimes a photo from the past calls out, demanding a story. In this case, no one is left to tell it. My mom (right) died in February 2006, tragically of a brain tumor at 67 years old, and her older sister (left) followed in 2010, her heart failing her (plus, dementia). Here they are, the sisters, Roberta and Judith, a moment of youth captured....

Fri Dec 8, 2023 11:04
Lessons from the Witch Tree

A few years ago, I decided to buy a Christmas tree. I’m culturally Jewish, conceptually agnostic, and ritually a bit of a witch, but a lighted tree is a lighted tree no matter what you believe. I drove to my local big-box store and examined probably 30 or 40 different options in every size and color. There were classic plastic firs, 8-foot-tall...

Wed Dec 6, 2023 11:15
Swing and a Miss

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor died on Friday. This essay regarding her influence on American educational standards originally ran on May 12, 2011, but today it may be more timely than ever. Specific temporal references (e.g., “seven or eight years ago,” “last week,” “the current”) remain the same as in the original post. One morning...

Mon Dec 4, 2023 14:20
Preserved Cognition in a Twinkling

Whenever someone ‘swears by’ an obscure vegetable or exercise practice for longevity or [shudder] ‘wellness’, I assume it occupies a ritualistic place in their lives. Magical thinking is a powerful phenomenon, and just as placebo effects are stronger when the ‘treatment’ involves something invasive like a sham surgery (as opposed to a sugar...

Fri Dec 1, 2023 11:25
The Stubbornness of Women

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), Public Domain Review For reasons I didn’t fully understand myself (marriage? the cat? surely someone or something else was to blame), I was feeling more than usually lazy, or maybe just unwilling to tolerate the discomfort of writing. It felt like a dangerous malaise, and the only remedy I could think...

Wed Nov 29, 2023 18:37
How to Visit a Natural History Museum

I go to a lot of natural history museums. Something about all those pretty rocks and dead animals, and the chance that I might see something I’ve never seen before or learn something new—I can’t resist it. In the last three years, I’ve been to at least 15 natural history museums on two continents. Here’s some of the stuff I’ve learned. ...

Mon Nov 27, 2023 11:28

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