Category Archives: Impressions

Quick thought pieces, often in response to something I’ve recently read.


Blessings for children

Last Tuesday in the Western Christian calendar was the Feast of the Holy Innocents, which commemorates Herod’s murder of the children who might have been Jesus: Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, … Continue reading

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Some thoughts on suffering, “cures,” and ethics

Scott Alexander, a psychiatrist who has worked extensively with people with autism argues that yes, we do need a cure for autism: Would something be lost if autism were banished from the world? Probably. Autistic people have a unique way … Continue reading

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Technological change and the hard work of parenting

Alison Gopnik reports in the Wall Street Journal: “Two large-scale surveys done in 2007 and 2013 in the Netherlands and Bermuda, involving thousands of adolescents, found that teenagers who engaged in more online communication also reported more and better friendships.” … Continue reading

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Losing our language

This news has been wending its way through the blogosphere for a few months now, with predictable hand-wringing and defense, but Robert MacFarlane reports in Orion that the new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary replaces a number of words … Continue reading

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Does the physical task of writing shape our words?

These thirty-six miseries of reading and writing in 1806, penned by the pseudonymous Mssrs. Timothy Testy and Samuel Sensitive, are (like most anything written two hundred years ago) a mix of the familiar and the archaic. The first will, I … Continue reading

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Meat and mystery

Another day, another tale of mystery meat. Nestle voluntarily recalled two of its Hot Pocket products as part of a larger meat recall…. These products may have been affected by a recall by Rancho Feeding Corp. last week of 8.7 … Continue reading

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The placeless country

Via io9 this week, a collection of 1920s posters advertising the London Underground. The images are worth a browse; they’re all entertaining in their own way, but I was drawn, of course, to the few promoting access to the delights … Continue reading

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Public space and ignorance

This story seems, at first, like a classic tale of the little guy fighting the big mean corporation. A group of Korean seniors was tossed out of a New York City McDonald’s they had turned into a hangout: Mr. Lee … Continue reading

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Obsolete constellations

The “Apparatus Sculptoris” constellation in Bode’s Uranographia (via University of Oklahoma History of Science Collections) Allison Meier shares a look at Johann Elert Bode’s 1801 “Uranographia,” which shows constellations representing, among other things, a printing press and a sculptor’s stand … Continue reading

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Not nearly frightened enough

The Anunciation by Henry Turner, 1898. The angels in Luke’s gospel spend a lot of time telling people not to be afraid. Fear not, Zechariah! Fear not, Mary! Fear not, shepherds! And over in Matthew, Do not be afraid, Joseph! … Continue reading

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