Thinking as a Human Being.” David Weinberger reviews James D. Madden’s Thinking about Thinking: Mind and Meaning in the Era of Techno-Nihilism, which probes underlying questions about the nature of human thought: “What are the necessary conditions for having a mind in the first place? That is, what does it mean to be a thinker and what might that tell us about who we are as human beings?”

An Elegy towards Hope.” Mark Clavier ponders the value of a neglected rural church in Wales: “Like beggars in a historic city, they depend on the largesse of generous tourists or the goodwill of those in power. Consider for a moment that Llangasty has meant enough to successive generations to remain a holy site for 1,500 years. We don’t think in such terms these days. We lack the patience, the confidence, the faith to do so. Our secular hearts have grown too cramped for such enduring love.”

Saving the Soil, Saving the Farm.” Colin Boller details the methods of several farmers who are shifting toward regenerative farming practices: “Farmers are increasingly focusing on regenerating soil health by enhancing soil structure, fertility, and resilience. Driven by new scientific understanding of the role of microbes in the health of the soil, practices such as reducing tillage, cover cropping, crop rotations, and animal integrations are increasing in popularity.” Boller then describes the efforts of the Bruderhof to launch a new business venture, Hiwassee Products, to design and manufacture “equipment systems that address biological soil building from composting to extraction to application and the testing of results.”

I Was a Heretic at The New York Times.” Adam Rubenstein describes his experience at the New York Times after he edited Tom Cotton’s editorial: “By telling the story the Times told about Cotton’s op-ed, the paper seemed to avoid confronting the tough reality that despite many staffers’ objections, the article was well within the bounds of reasonable discourse. What did it mean for the paper and its coverage that Times employees were so violently opposed to publishing a mainstream American view?”

Google Abandoned ‘don’t be evil’—And Gemini is the Result.” Nate Silver considers the questions raised by Gemini’s disastrous rollout: “The reasons for Gemini’s shortcomings are mostly political, not technological. Also, many of the debates about Gemini are familiar territory, because they parallel decades-old debates in journalism. Should journalists strive to promote the common good or instead just reveal the world for what it is? Where is the line between information and advocacy? Is it even possible or desirable to be unbiased — and if so, how does one go about accomplishing that?2 How should consumers navigate a world rife with misinformation — when sometimes the misinformation is published by the most authoritative sources? How are the answers affected by the increasing consolidation of the industry toward a few big winners — and by increasing political polarization in the US and other industrialized democracies?”

From the Curmudgeon’s Desk.” Brian Miller records some recent conversations with his young farm laborer.

A Country Shaped By Poetry.” Nina Strochlic narrates the crucial role that poetry continues to play in Somaliland’s oral culture and the way it’s adapting to new mediums: “In Somaliland, poems were often recited to pass the time by men leading camel trains and by women weaving mats to cover their domed huts. . . . But poems also served a utilitarian, public purpose: they could be deployed to argue a court case or to make peace between warring families.”

The Huge Effect of Parking Policy on How We Live.” Addison Del Mastro reviews Henry Grabar’s Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World and finds its critique of parking minimums and other policies quite compelling: “Just about every urban parking lot once housed a building. Unpack that one curious fact and you can learn a lot about how the logic of cars as the default mode of transportation is inherently at odds with the logic of cities as dense, vibrant, bustling places.”

Electricity Demand Is Surging for the First Time Since the 1990s.” Matthew Zeitlin explains how manufacturing growth, AI, and electric heat and cars are putting pressure on U.S. generation capacity: “Only about a fifth of all energy produced in the United States is electrical. Removing carbon emissions from transportation, heating and industry will require first converting all of those industries from running on combusted hydrocarbons to running on electricity — while at the same time, of course, working to make electricity generation carbon-free.”

What is a Mother?” Paul Kingsnorth weighs in on a referendum in Ireland next week: “The people of Ireland are being told that by rewriting their constitution they can ‘liberate’ the nation’s women from an outdated, patriarchal story. If they choose to do so, they will find instead that women have been ‘liberated’ from their right to bring up their own children in their own home, rather than being forced into the market economy by a state which has no interest in anything beyond economic growth and a desire to seem ‘progressive’ in the eyes of its EU neighbours.”

What Makes ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ So Sad.” David Mills considers the classic play Fiddler on the Roof as a lament for lost community: “A whole community, a whole way of life, dies, is murdered, without warning. But the play’s sadness doesn’t just come from that loss. It comes from the loss of the community and way of life that has been disintegrating through the whole play.”

Unique Raft Floating Down Susquehanna River.” More friends should spend their time on such projects: “It’s a sight on the Susquehanna that’s drawing attention. A group of friends floating down the river on a towering raft they built by hand.”

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


  1. “Just about every urban parking lot once housed a building. Unpack that one curious fact”
    Two words not mentioned in that article–urban renewal. The removal of buildings for parking didn’t just happen spontaneously, the federal and state governments gave cities massive amounts of money to destroy themselves.
    The article does point out that it’s a fact that a car-centric society requires parking, and there were in fact real problems that those urban renewal barbarians were trying to address, but while change inevitable we could have had a world with sprawling suburbs surrounding intact historic cores instead of what we have which is suburbs surrounding obliterated wastelands.


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