Generally a cities and sustainability theme:
A quote from Charles Frazier’s Thirteen Moons that I cannot get out of my mind. For me, it is relevant in the context of continuing to be optimistic that we can construct a sustainable civilization, even though the current Plan of Record is clearly to burn it all:
I decided that many of Bear’s stories and comments shared a general drift. They advised against fearing all of creation. But not because it is always benign, for it is not. It will, with certainty, consume us all. We are made to be destroyed. We are kindling for the fire, and our lives will stand as naught against the onrush of time. Bear’s position, if I understood it, was that refusal to fear these general terms of existence is an honorable act of defiance.
Bear is a Cherokee chief that adopts Will, a bound boy working in a frontier trading post. They spend winters alone together in a kind of meditative semi-hibernation with a small crackling fire in a tiny snow-covered lodge.
Deborah Tannen is a sociolinguist at Georgetown University who studies “genderlects” — the speech and conversational patterns that exist both between women and men, and also within same-sex communications. She wrote You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation in 1990, and it explores an interesting way to interpret several types of common (often, explicitly stereotypical) misunderstandings that take place between men and women. Her idea is that generally in conversation women are trying (perhaps unconsciously) to facilitate intimacy, building relationships through social connectedness, whereas men are attempting (also perhaps unconsciously) to negotiate a social hierarchy.
Before I finished Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age in the Salt Lake City airport Monday, I found a book by Carl Sagan in the bookstore. “The Varieties of Scientific Experience”, based on his Gifford Lectures from 1985 (and published posthumously, in 2006 by Ann Druyan). I read half of it in the airport, and the other half last night. It went fast, because I’d heard it all before. The main piece of new information was that a decade and a half after the fact, Carl Sagan is truly dead to me. I’ve read most of his books, I’ve seen his television series Cosmos several times. I love his ideas; they’ve shaped me throughout my life, but I no longer hope to find anything new in them. So long as there were pieces of his mind that had been recorded, but that I hadn’t yet been exposed to, it was as if he wasn’t quite gone. He was still, from my point of view, a dynamic entity.