Viewing: Sociology

Jul 6

July 6, 2017

A Sumerian Palace and the "A" cemetery at Kish, Mesopotamia, Ernest Mackay, 1929.

The First Civilization Discovers the Limits of Control

It must have seemed to the people of Sumer at it’s height that an end would never come, that so much power and progress couldn’t be brought down by something as simple as salty soil.

Posted in Sociology

Jun 19

June 19, 2017

Iron and Steel--Pittsburgh, Joseph Pennell, published in the International Studio, 1897.

Control Freaks: Humanity’s Bad Habit

I’ve been ruminating on control: rolling the word around my mouth, giving it a good chew, seeing what spills out. It feels like a master word for our species, one that explains so much of our destructive habits, our worst impulses.

Posted in Sociology

May 18

May 18, 2017

Cover of Radio Broadcast magazine, November, 1926

When the Power Goes Out

Modern human life is absolutely dependent on the stream of electricity flowing in from the grid, and when it’s out, we’re out of luck.

Posted in Sociology

May 4

May 4, 2017

Illustration from My Fourth Tour in Western Australia, Albert Calvert, illustrated by Walker Hodgson, 1897.

Swallowed by Dust

Here’s the story of an entire desert town where people not only swallowed dust, they were swallowed by it.

Posted in Sociology

Mar 16

March 16, 2017

William Thomas Horton, illustration in The Savoy No. 7, 1896

As Night Recedes

For most of us today, artificial light keeps the night at bay, and the darkness of winter is avoidable, lightbulbs blazing.

Posted in Science, Sociology

Mar 11

March 11, 2017

McConnel's whiskey ad

What Whiskey, Angels, and Ecology Share

In the world of whiskey distilling, after adolescent whiskey has been sealed in its oak cask to mature about 2% of the whiskey has vanished by the time it’s reopened. The truth that every whiskey maker knows is this: you must accept the loss of some quantity in order to gain in quality.

Posted in Sociology

May 18

May 18, 2015

The explanatory diagram on the Voyager 1's Golden Record, launched by NASA in 1977.

Voyager 1 and the Golden Records

Images of celestial marvels are as common as cat videos, and play the backdrop on millions of computer screens. And while the photographs streaming in from space are still marvelous, it’s harder to get us to marvel.

Posted in Sociology

Sep 15

September 15, 2014

Catching hearts, Petit Livre d'Amour, Pierre Sala, 16th century

The Heart: An Appropriately Irrational Examination

Right now in your chest there is a muscular fist of tissue beating away, contracting and expanding, singing a pulsing song, producing its deep drum beat, which you are probably rarely aware of. This post will, at least momentarily, remedy that.

Posted in Myths & Folktales, Sociology

Jun 21

June 21, 2014

Stonehenge, near Salisbury, England. Photograph taken between circa 1890 and 1900.

The Summer Solstice: Nope, Not Just for Pagans

Today’s the summer solstice, and if you have no idea what that means or instantly think of a circle of flower-bedecked pagans chanting together around a bonfire, you’re not alone. Our modern society has a very tenuous connection to the ancient festivals that marked the changing of the seasons. Now the summer passes by without any great cultural celebration to mark our gratitude for this season of fertility, beauty, plenty, and joy.

Posted in Sociology

May 19

May 19, 2014

A Souvenir From Scotland, Gustave Dore, 1879.

Carmina Gadelica: Chants and Charms of Scotland

From 1860 through 1905, the folklorist Alexander Carmichael steeped himself in the oral traditions of the Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland. These were salt of the earth people, of many distinct and localized cultures, almost entirely illiterate and poor in monetary wealth, but with soaring lyrical tongues and sharp minds, perfectly adapted to surviving the often harsh conditions of their homeland.

Posted in Myths & Folktales, Sociology

Apr 25

April 25, 2014

Waste Collects on the Shores of Timor-Leste, Martine Perret, UN Photo, 2008

Plastic Pollution: Time to Kick the Habit

Our smallest actions accumulate to create our society’s impact on the ecological world. In this way, the changes we make in our own individual lives matter greatly. Saying no to plastic, whether it be bags, bottles, toys, or containers, will ensure a healthier future for all of life.

Posted in Sociology

Apr 11

April 11, 2014

In Central Park New York, Maurice Prendergast

Flaneur: The Freedom of Wandering

The towns and cities we live in are ripe for re-discovery. And if any word can act as an invitation to re-enliven your experience of the urban landscape, then “flâneur” is it.

Posted in Sociology