History, Environment, and Politics, mostly in that order. Shorter stuff at worldhistoryfacts.com.
Why the King of England Banned Coffee
In 1652, an enterprising dealer started selling a new drug out of an alley in London. The drug promised its users extra energy, focus, and alertness. The dealer made a lot of money — the stimulant he sold was a big hit. Its users soon became addicted and came back again and again. Soon copycats were importing the stuff; the drug was everywhere on London’s streets. Addicts began to organize their social lives around the drug’s consumption, spending their afternoons in special places built just for ingesting it. It’s no wonder that the government eventually moved to ban the stuff. I’m writing, of course, about the scourge of coffee in British society.
Rejecting Students Doesn't Make a College Better
What’s the best college in the country? You’d probably answer this question with the name of a fancy college in the Ivy League, or an Ivy-equivalent like Stanford. Now — what makes these colleges good?
The Books That Stuck With Me This Year
I read fewer books this year than I normally do; I spent some of my “reading time” writing instead, but I still was able to engage with dozens of books. Some of them, I skimmed, looking for interesting information that could go into my classes or my writing. I forgot about a lot of these soon after I finished them. Others, I engaged with more deeply.
Confucius and the Secret Magic of Rituals
If you’re like me, you probably hate rituals, and you think most social rules are unnecessary. Why do I have to dress a certain way for some occasions but not others? Why do I have to sit through a national anthem before a baseball game or a religious service that’s the same every week? Graduation ceremonies, formal weddings, figuring out which fork to use, listening to a speaker get introduced when I can just google her bio… it all seems like a waste of time.
The Sad Truth Is That We Can Adapt to Climate Change
Climate change is a devastating problem; it threatens to kill millions of humans and ravage the rest of the living world, catapulting the biosphere into a mass extinction. It will impoverish every society on earth and change countless systems in nature.
College Admissions Puts Stress on Kids to Make Adults’ Lives Easier
It’s that time of year. The high school seniors that I teach are swinging back and forth between exhaustion and stress. They’re in the middle of a college admissions season that started last school year with college visits, dominated the entire first quarter of their senior year, and will hang over many of their lives until April. The system is cruel, capricious, and stressful. They know it. And it doesn’t have to be this way.