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.
Someone came up with the idea, a short time back, that some people have “time horizons” of different lengths, and that these are strong influences upon individual behavior patterns. People with short time horizons, the argument goes, think very little of the future and may not think of the consequences of an error (or rash act) that they might commit today. People who use power abruptly (i.e. on impulse), or who tune out and into the escapism of entertainment media, drunkenness, and recreational drugs – these are at the opposite ends of the short-time-horizon spectrum.
In the past decade especially, my interest in the puzzles of personal, unexplained “mystical” phenomena has been remorselessly worn away. It is as though science, or at least scientific theory, had gone to battle against my lust for wonder. True, countless other sources of wonder still surround me, but my own “spontaneous mystical experience” naturally was the one I liked best.
Let me explain. One day some years ago I returned to a favorite place in the country for a relaxed walk along a rustic pathway that had been worn into a forested hillside.
Quite recently, after a long period in which I must have heard it many times, I learned the American term glassa wodda.
I have a waitress at a local restaurant to thank for this, for she repeatedly asked “What?” or “What did you say?” when I asked for something so commonplace that it was not even listed on the menu. I asked for a glass of water. Maybe I said “glahss” and “wawtuh,” but I didn’t perceive these as odd pronunciations, though God knows I have tried to learn to speak American for decades and at times even fooled myself into believing I had succeeded.