World Peace Game

An educator named John Henry has created something called the World Peace Game, a complex international relations game he teaches to 4th graders.  The game pits children as leaders of different countries, presenting them with real-world challenges and letting them figure out the best solutions. There’s no curriculum attached and no rote learning at all…the […]

Tar Sands Action, Portland, Maine 1/26/13

On Saturday I joined activists from all over the country in protesting a Tar Sands pipeline in Portland, Maine. These folks were the real deal and truly committed, not least because yesterday was colder than a well digger’s ass. Even though I left the house bundled for a Siberian blizzard and was wearing two pairs of […]

Shrinking Mississippi

In the last few weeks, barge operators have been getting stuck on the Mississippi river.  Spurred by severe and persistent drought in the region, the Mississippi’s water level has dropped to record lows.  The Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for keeping the shipping channel open, says the drought’s effect on the river is […]

Look Ma, I’m an activist!

This weekend I’ll be headed to Portland, ME to attend my first Tar Sands pipeline protest. It’s a little strange, since I’ve never had the self-image of being one of those hippy protester types.  But these are strange times, and I guess strange times bring with them strange situations that force us to reevaluate ourselves and […]

Four more years.

This morning Sarah and I attended a get-together of local Democratic party faithful to schmooze and watch the inauguration. On the shmoozing front I’d only give us a B-…we talked to a few nice people but didn’t break much new ground. On the other hand, I’d give us an A+ for the efficiency and ruthlessness […]

That’s no moon…

Recently NASA’s Earth Observatory released a beautiful series of images from the dark side of the planet.  However, savvy observers noticed something strange…what was that patch of lights out in the plains of North Dakota?  There’s no big city out there, it’s mostly open grassland. So what is it? What we’re dealing with here is an immense new oil and gas […]

The Human Brain Project

Any doubts left that you’re living in the future?  European scientists are planning to build and study a complete working model of the human brain inside a computer.  My fear of Skynet here is balanced by my curiosity and amazement at the depths of human ingenuity.

Want to know man’s true nature? Ask a baby.

In the course of these talks I run across a lot of cynicism about humanity’s ability to fix our problems.  How can humanity tackle big problems, especially ones that involve sacrifice, when we’re all a bunch of greedy jerks?  My counter argument is to assert that people are not  fundamentally bad, and that “human nature” is […]

Climate Talk – Shannon and Nick, 12/16/12

A decade ago, I lived in the most disgusting apartment anyone has ever seen.  There was graffiti on the walls, rot in the furniture, flies buzzing over week-old dirty dishes, and toddler-height piles of cat feces stacked in the basement.  But past the filth, it was also a household full of beauty, spontaneity, and a constantly rotating […]

Edison knows what’s up

With all the love for Tesla out there these days, Thomas Edison isn’t exactly the internet’s favorite person.  For one from one who is considered by many as the godfather of American energy, it turns out he was kind of dick.  But this quote is enough for me to cut him some slack for a couple […]