Today was another of those too-rare days that I attack the worsening jumble of my desk in an effort to restore it to a more reasonable state of disorder. As usual while shuffling through the papers I saw two fire-engine-red, polka-dotted mushrooms looking up at me appealingly from a photograph in a magazine article. This time they stopped me. Tempted by that bright photo of fly agaric, Amanita muscaria, I took the pages to my desk and began what became a heady plunge into the inner story of mushrooms,
“Oh yes, I’m helping to build a scale model of London, the way it was in 1840!”
What?? Sane people were building a three-dimensional model of ALL of London, which in 1840 was the largest city in Europe, twice the size of Paris?
Can you imagine hearing a 21st century man you admire and respect, saying this in a perfectly serious and even casual tone of voice? The scale of the undertaking was so great that at the time it sounded daft to me,
In a visit to the English country parish of Kelvedon Hatch early last month, in woodlands overlooked by a pretty little farmhouse, I found scores of schoolchildren celebrating the last days of their academic year. For them it was a special day out on an idyllic high-summer day in Essex. In retrospect it seems odd and a somewhat sinister that the friendly-looking nearby building is part of what has been called “the bunker at the end of the world.”
In fact the single-story structure hides the entrance to a large,
My mind wandered today to thoughts of the people of Zuni Pueblo, who all year will be putting together the intricate details of one of Indian America’s most thrilling traditional festivals, Shalako, to be held at the 2016 winter solstice. I knew I should be spending my time writing a long article on sustainability, but told myself it would be okay to break off on this tangent because a central cultural goal of the Zuni (and generally of other native peoples as well) is to practice sustainability — to balance environmental,
Early this year at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, your blogger joined a huge, attentive, jam-packed crowd that was listening for the latest information on something called CRISPR, pronounced “crisper.” Their big reason for being there was to learn more about a technology that may change human life forever. For many of the meeting’s attendees this lecture was without doubt the pièce de resistance, the reason to be in Washington, D.C., on a very cold winter’s day.
Quiet reigned in the auditorium as we listened to the woman who discovered how to change the central control room of what we are,
I had an unexpected treat this Christmas. The BBC has produced a 20-part TV series that features some of the most vivid characters to be found in Charles Dickens’ writings. Appropriately, the Beeb chose to launch the new offering, “Dickensian” on January 26 – Boxing Day, which Londoners have adopted to celebrate the life of the great novelist. I imagine BBC is arranging worldwide distribution of this unusual series, in which memorable characters from Bill Sykes to Miss Haversham share a remodeled mid-Victorian universe.
Dickens was on my mind this Christmas when while writing to friends and relatives I was visited by a reflective mood.