As we wrap up the second decade of the twenty-first century, I've been reading and thinking about things like the effects of immigration policy on science and marriage, how the struggle against racism has changed over time, and what weird new technologies may emerge in the 2020s. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler The cover emphasizes … Continue reading Vinegar Girl, Bright April, Tell the Machine Goodnight [book reviews]
It's October. That means, at least here in Pittsburgh, everyone is beginning to talk about how to commemorate the terrible thing that happened here last October 27, when some guy from the suburbs drove into our Squirrel Hill neighborhood, went into the Tree of Life synagogue, murdered 11 people, injured others, and traumatized many more. … Continue reading Relighting the Tree of Life
We may be able to look back on 2019 as the year when the most people realized just how stupid it is to destroy our own planet and started changing their own habits and crying out for systemic change. I certainly hope so. It's about time! In fact, it may be just about the last … Continue reading Now Is the Cool of the Day
Like last year, this was a year in which The Earthling's Handbook drew more readers to the articles that have been here a long time (and therefore have been linked to more often, on other sites as well as in my own articles) than to new articles. The list of overall most-popular articles is so … Continue reading Top 18 Articles of 2018
Three weeks ago, a man drove into my neighborhood, stormed into a synagogue, murdered eleven people, and shot and wounded several others. Well, that's old news. Why I am I still talking about it now, after there's already been a mass shooting of twelve people elsewhere in America? Because NONE OF THIS IS NORMAL, none … Continue reading The Tree of Life in the City of Steel
After I wrote about a stranger's astonishment that my four-year-old daughter understands what I read to her, and the book involved happened to be On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder, my mom sent me a link to an article about the recent controversy over whether Wilder's books are appropriate for today's … Continue reading Cultural Sensitivity and Laura Ingalls Wilder
I wrote a short review of The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, but I have more to say about this book. The author is a marriage counselor whose experience with clients led him to identify 5 distinct ways of expressing love and to recognize that the acts that convey to you that someone really … Continue reading more about The 5 Love Languages
Tonight I attended a meeting at my son's school (grades K-8) about the decision to hire a full-time security guard and get a metal detector. I meant to do some research before the meeting on the extent to which schools with metal detectors have experienced shooting rampages, compared to schools without. I ended up not … Continue reading Do metal detectors prevent school shootings?
My church planned a Lenten book study, and then our books came in late, so I've spent the Easter season reading Waking Up White in parallel with the fiction that looked interesting at the library, which coincidentally was all by Asian authors. Sometimes I make an effort to seek out diverse authors/characters in my reading, … Continue reading 3 novels by Asian authors + Waking Up White
I love the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and have treasured the experience of sharing them with my children. Little House on the Prairie was the first chapter book that interested Nicholas enough for me to read it to him. His sister Lydia's first chapter book was Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of … Continue reading Little House on the Prairie: Too racist for children?
I first heard about the amazing usefulness of hemp when I was in college, 25 years ago. I had gotten onto the mailing lists of various environmental organizations, and from time to time they mentioned that hemp is excellent for making biofuel, food for humans and animals, rope, clothing, paper, plastics, construction and auto-body materials, … Continue reading Peeking Over the Hemp Horizon
My brother got me two books about cities for my birthday--one fiction and one nonfiction, both great books with great covers! Here they are, along with reviews of the other books I've read recently. Walkable City by Jeff Speck I love living in a walkable urban neighborhood! This book by a city planner told me a … Continue reading Walkable City, Visible City, and 4 more book reviews
My three-year-old Lydia and I recently enjoyed a picture book from our local library, Jacob's New Dress by Sarah & Ian Hoffman, illustrated by Chris Case. Jacob is a preschool boy who enjoys wearing dresses from the costume box but is criticized by his classmate Christopher. His mom is kind about his hurt feelings, but when … Continue reading Every school needs a Jacob!
My daughter Lydia, who is two and a half years old, noticed this picture in the newspaper I was reading. This is a photograph by Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images, as it appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Sunday, February 12, 2017. LYDIA: Who are they? MAMA: They are standing in line to vote in India. LYDIA: … Continue reading Muslim women in India: Are they like us?
In photographs of last Saturday's women's marches in Washington, D.C., and around the United States, many pink hats are visible, most of them with ears, indicating solidarity with the Pussyhat Project that was so popular it caused shortages of pink yarn in some parts of the country. It's obvious that many thousands of pink pussyhats … Continue reading Is Your Pussyhat Keeping Someone Warm?
I was devastated by last Tuesday's election results. There are many reasons I object to Donald Trump (like his racist lies about crime) and many reasons I hoped for a Democratic majority in Congress, but what I'm writing about here is our environment. Even if you voted Republican, you may not want to live in … Continue reading How to Save the Earth from Donald Trump and the Republican Congressional Majority
I worked with crime data for 17 years, and occasionally someone would say, "Gosh, that must make you so worried about your safety!" No. It didn't. It had exactly the opposite effect. There are four patterns I saw, over and over again, that made me feel safer: Crime rates in Pittsburgh and in the United … Continue reading America is SAFER now than it used to be.
This month I read two books that were new to me and two I'd read before but didn't remember well. 36 Children by Herbert Kohl Mr. Kohl was a white, Jewish graduate of Harvard and Columbia who agreed to teach sixth grade in a public school in Harlem in 1962. The school was only 29 … Continue reading Some Old and Some New: September Book Reviews
On days like this, when the sky is so heavy with clouds that we never glimpse the sun, and the wind is cold and damp, and it seems like winter will never end . . . I think of Eminem. I guess I don't mean the rapper himself so much as the character he played … Continue reading The City of Slim Shadies
When I was born, my mother quit her paying job so she could be home with me. When my kids were born, I took 12 weeks off and then returned to my job. It's my father, not my mother, who has been my role model for balancing parenthood with employment.