Did Anyone Else Notice...that getting together every now and then to talk about dung beetles could help knit our divided and fragmented society together?

June 15, 2021

In these times of division and polarization, if we are going to get anywhere in remembering what it is that we still have in common, we are going to have to get back to basics. I mean, really basic. On the evening of June 10, 2021, in a program at...

Did Anyone Else Notice...that “The Era of Improbable Comfort Made Possible by a Taken-for-Granted but Truly Astonishing Infrastructure” is losing its “taken-for-granted” part?

June 7, 2021

A decade ago, I took up a campaign to popularize this phrase because it offered an accurate framework for thinking about how the majority of Americans had been living for the better part of a century. It was my hope that “The Era of Improbable Comfort Made Possible by a...

Did Anyone Else Notice...that every time you try to uproot a dandelion, your admiration for environmental historians soars?

June 2, 2021

In what must have been a much simpler era of my life, dandelions were the principal target of my rage. Spring arrived, and soon those spiky leaves, arranged as spokes around a creepy hub, overran the earth. Their treacherous attempt at cuteness—the brief phase when cheery little yellow flowers form...

Did Anyone Else Notice… that experienced K-12 teachers—if we unleashed their energy and originality—could infuse a whole new vitality into classroom teaching as schools open up in the post-pandemic era?

May 24, 2021

Here is how I became aware of this vast resource of creativity and innovation waiting to happen. In the public schools of Banning, California, I had many fine teachers who sent me out into the world with the skills I would need to rise to every challenge and to seize...

Did Anyone Else Notice...that getting people riled up and defensive is not the best way to inspire, persuade, and encourage them?

May 17, 2021

Given the riled-up state of our civic culture, my misadventure at a conference at Utah State University in Logan qualifies as a story worth retelling. As I prepared to speak at this 1992 conference, it was not my plan to stage a public performance of the reasons why we cannot...

Did Anyone Else Notice...that The New York Times may be planning to open a retirement home for old words?

May 3, 2021

“Why We’re Retiring the Term ‘Op-ed’”: that was the headline that appeared, ironically enough, on the Op-Ed pages of The Times on April 27, 2021. Kathleen Kingsbury , the Opinion Editor at The Times, was the author of the statement that followed this headline. But before I comment on her...

Did Anyone Else Notice...that the CEO of the Walt Disney Company had better get in touch with me fast if he is going to resolve his pressing problems with pirates?

April 26, 2021

This will require a little background. “Pirates of the Caribbean” is a popular ride at many Disneylands and Disneyworlds around the planet. In one episode on that ride, the pirates held a kind of fundraiser, auctioning off some women as brides. In the mid-2010s, Disney decided to respond to criticism...

Did Anyone Else Notice...that the CEO of the Walt Disney Company had better get in touch with me fast if he is going to resolve his pressing problems with pirates?

April 26, 2021

This will require a little background. “Pirates of the Caribbean” is a popular ride at many Disneylands and Disneyworlds around the planet. In one episode on that ride, the pirates held a kind of fundraiser, auctioning off some women as brides. In the mid-2010s, Disney decided to respond to criticism...

Did Anyone Else Notice… that we would gain useful insights on our troubled times if we were to reread Harold Frederic’s novel, The Damnation of Theron Ware?

April 19, 2021

The timing is perfect for a couple of reasons. The year 2021 is the 125 th anniversary of the publication of The Damnation of Theron Ware. On this anniversary, this book’s relevance is making a commemorative surge, even if I am the only person who is noticing this, and maybe...

Did Anyone Else Notice...that some of us will need retraining and reconditioning workshops if we are going to regain the passivity, submissiveness, and general squishing of the soul that made air travel tolerable?

April 12, 2021

When I landed at DIA on March 9, 2020, I surrendered my role as a frequent flier. After a year as an entirely terrestrial creature, I realize how poorly suited I was to the conduct required of denizens of the cultural and social habitats of the airport and the airplane...

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