How Civilizations End

There’s a common story of how the Maya civilisation was wiped out: they fell foul of unstoppable climate change. Several periods of extreme drought withered their crops and killed off thousands in their overpopulated cities. ‘There was nothing they could do or could have done. In the end, the food and water ran out – … Continued

What it Means to Be Midwestern

After my Texas-born wife and I moved to Michigan—an eleven-hour drive in the snow, during which time itself seemed to widen and flatten with the terrain—I found myself pressed into service as an expert on the region where I was born and where I have spent most of my life. “What is the Midwest like?” … Continued

The History of the Future

The future has not changed a great deal over the past hundred years. In the late 1920s a book called The Conquest of Life by Dr Serge Voronoff, a Russian émigré based in Paris, became a worldwide success with the claim that the author had found “a remedy for old age” with the aid of which “life … Continued

What is Scholarship For?

Not so long ago, leftists on campus insisted that there was no discrimination against conservatives in academic hiring. They claimed professors were hired on the basis of merit (and “diversity”), and few if any meritorious (or “diverse”) conservatives wanted to be professors anyway. The left now has a new and better argument for not hiring … Continued

The Enduring Legacy of Children’s Books

Nineteen fifty-nine was a year of soft amusements for children. Dr. Seuss’s zany Happy Birthday to You! arrived in bookstores and Mattel introduced Americans to the Barbie doll and her frozen plastic gaze. On TV, suburban comedies like Father Knows Best and Dennis the Menaceadministered doses of mild humor laced with bland moral guidance. But the Caldecott Medal, the premier American … Continued

Why Do People Mock Mormons?

“What the Mormons do, seems to be excellent,” according to Charles Dickens’s 19th-century journal Household Words, “what they say, is mostly nonsense.” Since the days of Dickens, Mormons have been occasionally portrayed as virtuous despite their “strange” beliefs. Yet, those who study Mormonism closely often come to appreciate that distinct Latter-day Saint behavior is strongly tethered to distinct Latter-day Saint theology. Writing in The Atlantic this week, Kurt Andersen … Continued

Technology as God

“Humans are distinguished from other species”, says Peter Thiel, one of Silicon Valley’s high priests, “by our ability to work miracles. We call these miracles technology.” Thiel inadvertently touches on a pervasive paradox: we see ourselves as both the miracle-makers of technology and the earthly audience, looking on in wonder. But if the miracle was … Continued

Fish and Civilization

Fish. Slippery, mysterious creatures. They are mysterious because of where they live, in vast waters, and because they elude the historical record, too: fishing equipment is soft and decays (bamboo, hemp, lines made from kelp, cedar bark, women’s hair). Brian Fagan is an archaeologist, a profession that we associate with dust and soil and stone, … Continued

A Liberal Learns to Love Conservatives

Call it the “woke man’s burden”: in the year since Donald Trump unexpectedly won the presidency, many liberal journalists—in search of answers and disturbed by an election result that they saw as impossible, rather than merely improbable—have felt duty-bound to venture out to the parts of the country that elected the 45th president. The dilettante … Continued

Virtue-Signaling Barbie!

Mattel has unveiled a brand new Barbie doll modeled after the the first US Olympian to compete wearing a hijab. This marks the first Barbie doll to wear a headscarf in the company’s 58 year history. Ibtihaj Muhammad won the Bronze medal for fencing at the Rio Olympics last year and while she indeed is a good … Continued