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Monthly Archives: February 2021

Rethinking the growing season

Volunteer cabbage I should have noticed the possibilities for winter gardening long ago. I suppose it was that I was conditioned to think that gardening season ends with the frost or with the first hard freeze. But that’s not true. There are many vegetables that will keep growing, though slowly. Certainly some winters are milder […]

Who, and what, deserve our attention now?

If you ask me, boring government is the best kind of government, though, judging by the grin on his face, Biden is far from bored by rides on Marine 1. White House photo. Scott Rosenberg has a very good article at Axios this morning: After Trump, the attention economy deflates. Rosenberg writes, “Donald Trump used […]

Not for squeamish readers

Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis. Bantam Spectra, 1992. 608 pages. The title is a warning: This book is going to be about doom. To avoid spoilers, all the reader should know before starting the book is that it’s about time travel to the 14th Century, and that the plot has to do with the plague. […]

Let’s hear it for the wobble

Illustration from An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics Surely one of the coolest things about this planet is that it wobbles on an annual cycle. That causes the intensity of the sun to be about half as great in midwinter as it is in midsummer. The result is that life at most latitudes had to evolve […]

Our own fresh taste of the 14th Century

The Covid-19 virus. Source: Wikipedia By historical standards, this plague has been a mild one. So far, worldwide, about 2.3 million people have died from Covid-19. The most fatal pandemic in recorded history was the Black Death, which peaked in Europe between 1347 and 1351. The Black Death killed between 75 million and 200 million […]

Horowitz in Russia

In 1986, near the end of the Cold War, Vladimir Horowitz, then 82 years old, agreed to return to the Soviet Union for concerts in Moscow and Leningrad. The performance was recorded on video. PBS’ Great Performances draws on this historic video for the documentary “The Magic of Horowitz,” which was broadcast on Jan. 22. […]

Eat more barley ( … and sugar cake)

Barley risotto I sometimes hear the voice of Michael Pollan in my head: “Eat more leaves.” To that I might add: Eat more barley. Wheat, of course, will always be regarded as the monarch of grains, because we can make beautiful breads out of it. But for second place, I would nominate barley — humble, […]