Category Archives: Export

In defense of false expectations

Last spring — I’m late blogging this — the Guardian reported on a study finding that literature for very young children frequently reinforces a materialist, consumerist bias… but that other literature deters that bias. Books, in other words, and the … Continue reading

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Ouija boards and what we want to believe

It’s too late for Hallowe’en, but Linda Rodriguez McRobbie’s Smithsonian Magazine article on “The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board” is worth a read if you’re at all interested in nineteenth-century history, or in the occult, or if … Continue reading

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Fat(e), free will, and forgiveness

A hundred-odd years ago, gluttony was a sin, but fat men could be seen merely as successful. We seem to have reversed the calculus. Some of the new research on possible causes of obesity is fascinating. New theories emerge continually, … Continue reading

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A cultural sleep

Jessica Gamble describes new techniques and technologies whose inventors would radically reduce or eliminate the human need for sleep: Transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) is a promising technology in the field of sleep efficiency and cognitive enhancement. Alternating current administered to … Continue reading

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The insignificance of man in the face of modern magazine publishing

Nothing demonstrates to a man his ultimate insignificance in the Great Economy like his inability to unsubscribe from a magazine. (All right, fine: Lots of things demonstrate to a man his ultimate insignificance in the Great Economy. But this one … Continue reading

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A loss for words

This week I had to deal, second-hand, with someone deeply, personally, angrily offended by the indiscriminate use of vulgar language — not mine, and the circumstances really aren’t all that interesting, but it got me thinking in a meandering sort … Continue reading

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The hen in winter

Thoughts on the discovery of, and commentary on, the oldest known medieval cookbook: There really was no distinction between food and medicine in the thirteenth century, or for several centuries thereafter; every food was thought to have properties that affected health. So even the recipe for “hen in winter,” which a researcher says is just a seasonal formula relying on herbs available in cold weather, looks to me like a preventative for colds and flu: “Heat garlic, pepper and sage with water.” Continue reading

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