Browse the collection chronologically by title.
On emptiness, ruin, and spirits.
On Gabrielle Zevin’s ‘Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow’ and video games as art.
On scientific misconceptions, Eurocentrism, and the evolution of skin color.
On disillusionment and knock knock jokes.
On ‘We Do What We Do in the Dark.’
On Narcan and the perception of care.
On human babies and adult octopuses.
On ‘Babel,’ ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once,’ and violence.
On ‘Existential Physics’ and free will.
On kink, advertising, and climate change.
On inflation, inequality, and hungry ghosts.
On maternal bonds and cruelty.
On the apparent rarity of human-like intelligence.
On brevity and conspiratorial-sounding language.
On scientific beliefs, Indigenous knowledge, and paternity.
On Long Covid, minds, and bodies.
On urgency and gender-affirming medical care.
On pandemic-era incarceration.
On the apparent rise in transgender and non-binary identities.
On ‘The Dawn of Everything’ and the future.
On masks and whether they “work.”
On power (& when men feel small).
On amusement parks, depression, and familiarity with death.
On dangerous air and the damnation of cyanobacteria.
On trauma and the marshmallow test.
On Lev Grossman’s ‘The Magicians,’ the incel ‘Harry Potter.’
On cooperation and cons: Our theft from young people.
On complexity and seemingly good ideas.
On Gamestop and counterfeiting.
On isolation, depression, and suicide.
On predictions and a scientific response to calamity.
On octopuses and family gatherings.
On hydroxychloroquine, expertise, and the power of persuasion.
On money, nursing home care, and Covid-19.
On money: Health care, police officers, and social services.
On hostage situations and jail.
On grammar in Latin and English.
On meditation and the birth of the universe.
On domestication and Sue Burke’s ‘Semiosis.’
On explaining religion to my child, part two.
On the study of naked mole-rats.
On translation and quantum mechanics.
On Jonathan Safran Foer’s ‘We Are the Weather.’
On auctions, politics, quantum computing, and waste.
On Constantine Cavafy’s ‘Body, Remember’ and the mutability of memory.
On sexuality and freedom of choice.
On the evolution of skin color.
On bowerbirds, process, and happiness.
On telepathy and the battle for narrative control.
On the moon landing, and who benefits if you believe it was faked.
On re-watching the Matrix, twenty years later.
On the celebration of Neanderthals.
On national borders and the disappearance of our universe’s only known habitable planet.
On vengeance and Ahmed Saadawi’s ‘Frankenstein in Baghdad.’
On Brett Wagner’s ‘Apocalpse Blaze.’
On storytelling and social justice.
On happiness and mind control.
On Ann Leckie’s ‘The Raven Tower.’
On ‘The Ravanayan’ and women traveling alone.
On the value of religious misinterpretation.
On two degrees and the worst year (yet) to be alive.
On kind, environmentalist, and vegan books for kids.
On power and dignity in defeat.
On reading poems from Donika Kelly’s ‘Bestiary’ in jail.
On mind control versus body control.
On Vaughan & Staples’s ‘Saga’ and parenting metaphors.
On asymmetry and ‘The Hatred of Poetry.’
On Tao Lin’s ‘Trip,’ targeted advertising, and finding scraps of life in books.
On gerrymandering (a prequel).
On Tara Westover’s ‘Educated.’
On protest, the Supreme Court, and autocratic minority rule.
On courage, parenting, and Sergio de la Pava’s ‘Lost Empress.’
On gene duplication and oppression, a reprise.
On games, tinkering, and gratitude.
On fruit, welcome, and undergarments.
On explaining religion to my child, part one.
On food and willing sacrifice.
On artificial intelligence and solitary confinement.
On parenting and short-term memory loss.
On Buddhism, suffering, and Deadpool.
On automation, William Gaddis, and addiction.
On genetic inheritance and sexual assault.
On Matthew Walker’s ‘Why We Sleep.’
On radical religious terrorists targeting the United States.
On conspiracy theories and Santa Claus.
On Syria and the complexity of causality.
On reading Natalie Diaz’s “How to Go to Dinner with a Brother on Drugs” with a room full of men in jail for drugs.
On prayer, diversity among deities, and ADHD.
On Sci-Hub, the Napster of science.
On apocalypse-preppers, technology, and oppression.
On Gabriel Tallent’s ‘My Absolute Darling.’
On psychotropic drugs and optimism.
On animals that speak, including humans.
On clarity, Matthew Zapruder’s ‘Why Poetry,’ and reading Bruce Weigl.
On Daniel Handler’s ‘All the Dirty Parts.’
On ethics and Luke Dittrich’s ‘Patient H.M.’
On addiction, crime, Buddhism, and exorcism.
On goals and Jack Gilbert’s ‘Failing and Falling.’
On Edward Dolnick’s ‘The Seeds of Life’ and artificial wombs.
On the Silk Road, Nick Bilton’s ‘American Kingpin,’ and the difference between being clever and being wise.
On Liu Xiaobo, monster hunter.
On Finn Murphy’s ‘The Long Haul’ and our dying towns.
On idle time, coincidence, and Vivek Shanbhag’s ‘Ghachar Ghochar.’
On the sounds of aberrant ecosystems.
On Alvaro Enrigue’s ‘Sudden Death,’ translation, and the power of narrative control.
On race and our criminal justice system.
On the Tower of Babel and beneficial curses.
On college, chance, and Elif Batuman’s ‘The Idiot.’
On government intrusion and addiction.
On the Bush years, from the perspective of the 45th.
On fairness (and how we treat the utility monster).
On post-apocalyptic historical fiction (and Neanderthals).
On the history of time travel.
On psychedelic drugs as medicine.
On the future of sex (& Emily Witt’s ‘Future Sex’).
On literature as a weapon for social change.
On human uniqueness and invasive species.
On fish (and their similarities to us).
On poetry: Reginald Dwayne Betts’s ‘Bastards of the Reagan Era.’
On Charles Foster’s ‘Being a Beast’ and battling the empathy gap.
On Stefan Hertmans’s ‘War & Turpentine.’
On districting, or how much your vote matters.
On Colson Whitehead’s ‘The Underground Railroad.’
On Don Delillo’s ‘Zero K’ and the dream of eternal life.
On AIDS and drought in Malawi.
On stalking and the risk of seeming crazy.
On Robert Gordon’s ‘The Rise and Fall of American Growth.’
On deer, wolves, and Sean Carroll’s ‘The Serengeti Rules.’
On horror, healing, and Joanna Connors’s ‘I Will Find You.’
On attending a Black Lives Matter rally with dreadlocks.
On killer cops and killer prosecutors.
On Han Kang’s ‘The Vegetarian.’
On Stephon Alexander’s ‘The Jazz of Physics.’
On free-market capitalism, political spending, and Jane Mayer’s ‘Dark Money.’
On grace and the proper way to listen to music.
On PTSD and David Means’ ‘Hystopia.’
On Lisa Randall’s ‘Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs.’
On Edin & Shaefer’s ‘$2.00 a Day.’
On Peggy Orenstein’s ‘Girls & Sex.’
On Mark Leyner’s ‘Gone with the Mind.’
On the shifting sands of family, specifically: whose counts?
On CRISPR and the future of humanity.
On Bryan Stevenson’s ‘Just Mercy.’
On Ioan Grillo’s ‘Gangster Warlords.’
On ‘Cat’s Cradle’ and whether or not it’s sci-fi.
On paranoia, virology, conspiracy theories, & lemmings: my experience reading ‘Gravity’s Rainbow.’
On productivity, and the risk of accidentally making the world worse when we’re trying to make it better.
On poetry: Erin Belieu’s ‘When at a Certain Party in New York City.’
On the low-quality, highly-biased research attempting to dissuade you from wearing a bike helmet.
On Akerlof & Shiller’s ‘Phishing for Phools’ and the increasing heterogeneity of the United States.
On paying teachers for value added.
On Skynet, and why I’m still gung-ho about AI research despite having watched two out of four Terminator movies.
On octopus literature, a reprise: What would books be like if we didn’t love gossip?
On Simon Critchley’s ‘Memory Theater’ and other people’s lost time.
On my own attempt to understand what motivates people to join the terrorist organization Daesh.
On proving that elections will make you miserable.
On learning that my heart is a frog.
On the question of whom to blame for the paucity of women in science.
On crashing waves of violence and Paul Kingsnorth’s ‘The Wake.’
On the historical interpretations deathmatch: Sid Meier’s ‘Civilization 2’ versus Yuval Noah Harari’s ‘Sapiens.’
On humor (and bad medical advice).
On chess as a window to the soul.
On punishment as criminal deterrent.
On Marlon James’s ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings.’
On reading Playboy from the 1970s.
On Eka Kurniawan’s ‘Beauty Is a Wound,’ mythology, and misogyny.
On non-violence (part 2): empowering kids to act for equality.
On Gerry Alanguilan’s ‘Elmer,’ his author bio, and animal cognition.
On David Lancy’s ‘The Anthropology of Childhood,’ and violence against women (again!), and proscriptive parenting advice.
On attempts to see the world through other eyes.
On free-market economics & the actual meaning of words.
On watchful gods, trust, and how academic scientists undermined their own credibility.
On the worst I have ever smelled.
On Mat Johnson’s ‘Loving Day’ and wanting to fit in.
On sex work, reparations, a global wealth tax, and the connection between the three.
On mental architecture and octopus literature.
On depictions of (non)violence for the cause of justice.
On child pornography & an odd coincidence in timing.
On playing outdoors, and allergies.
On uncertainty (with cartoon ending).
On witchcraft and mass psychogenic illness.
On growing up poor, and hamsters.
On inflammatory language & music.
On identical twins and opportunity.
On the mortgage crisis and buffoonish, unethical prosecution.
On avuncular master-shamble-works.
On memory (part three): getting rid of memories.
On Viet Nguyen’s ‘The Sympathizer,’ the grotesque in art, and guilt.
On how human different humans happen to be (hint: equivalently human).
On reading books in prison (which luckily I have never done).
On charming sentences and sifting the OED.
On death (by gun violence) and taxes (progressive ones).
On racism and the empathy gap (while sneakily building toward the idea that teaching kids to root for your favorite sports team might be kinda evil).
On undeserved forgiveness and global warming.
On family (my own) and music videos.
On Paul Beatty’s ‘The Sellout’ and the current legality of slavery in the United States.
On fire myths and the origin of knowledge.
On time-traveling information and quantum mechanics.
On Alice Goffman’s ‘On the Run’ and extrapolate-able truth.
On Boyhood (the film), specifically the eleven seconds between 2:34:11 and 2:34:22.
On biomedical research (and why I no longer do it).
On burial rites … and a meaningful life.
On evolution (and why there aren’t more black plants).
On ‘Welcome to Braggsville’ and…
On perpetual motion machines (and where to find them).
On names (specifically, my own).
Excerpts from some other book: our heroic annelid makes a daring escape.
On minotaurs (and whether or not mothers are the root of all maladies).
On violence against women (part three): rape, evolution, and the dangers of partial truths.
On Linda Tirado’s ‘Hand to Mouth’ (until devolving into senseless tangents about cash transfers as medicine, the U.S. criminal justice system, work as exercise, and flawed science).
On video games, addiction and Infinite Jest: The Movie.
On redemption and Christianity in ‘The Book of Strange New Things.’
On inspirational women … and board games.
On redaction as art, and ‘Guantánamo Diary.’
On a global wealth tax, automation, and human trafficking.
On starfish (and whether they are zombies).
On scientific training, warmth, and pornography in writing, or: why I failed to fit ‘Bonita Avenue.’
On talking to students about school, particularly high schoolers.
On the PubPeer lawsuit, scientific fraud, and anonymity.
On penis size, Sports Illustrated, and child pornography.
On how there isn’t enough lyrical writing about insurance . . . and taxation in ‘The Pale King.’
On videogames and moral complicity.
On the potential psychological ramifications of certain insular societies, or: that fraternity video in the news.
On value claims and the popular press.
On parenting and belated “thank you”s.
More on violence against women … sexism, in particular.
On perspective, and whether you, Dear Reader, are a chameleon.
On civil forfeiture, racial profiling, and outlawing self-harm.
On Kerry Howley’s excellent ‘Thrown’ and author as jerk.
On Ross Gay’s “The Burden” and forcing mice to swim.
On how friends don’t let friends study alone.
On the creepy parallel between gene duplication and oppression – as inspired by a passage from Karen Armstrong’s ‘Fields of Blood.’
On Y chromosomes, surnames, and reproduction.
On evolution and League of Legends.
On personhood, in the Ramayana and in court.
On the grain size of reality and, eventually, creative work.
On free will, a bit, but mostly on graduate school and Rob Peace.
On child abuse and drawing conclusions from data.
On time travel movies, particularly Timecrimes.
On Cosmos and working through the math.
On chimpanzees and Nash equilibria.