Neil Armstrong, Over the Moon Among the Pandas

In June, 2001, I took Neil Armstrong and his wife, Carol, to the National Zoo. I love pandas. As it turned out, Neil Armstrong did, too. The visit happened after my neighbor Joe Allen, another early astronaut, called to ask if I could arrange for the Armstrongs to see the young pandas, who’d recently arrived from China…

By JohnValbyNation July 17, 2019 0

What the Superhuman Controversy Reveals About the Shifting Ethics of Software

In recent months, those attuned to the affinities of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have been hearing about a young San Francisco startup called Superhuman. Though its name suggests a nootropics concern or a purveyor of networked exercise equipment, Superhuman’s unbodied offering is productivity software for the inbox. Its e-mail client—essentially, it’s an interface…

By JohnValbyNation July 17, 2019 0

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the 2020 Presidential Race and Why We Should Break Up Homeland Security

Listen with: iTunes WNYC Stitcher TuneIn It’s hard to recall a newly elected freshman representative to Congress who has made a bigger impact than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her primary victory for New York’s Fourteenth District seat—as a young woman of color beating out a long-established white male incumbent—was big news, and Ocasio-Cortez has been generating headlines…

By JohnValbyNation July 16, 2019 0

The Best Cookbooks of the Century So Far

The Internet really ought to have killed cookbooks. Recipes—tidy, self-contained packets of information that for centuries were individually swapped and shared, indexed and catalogued—are ideally suited for digital transmission. As they migrated online, liberated from the printed and bound, multiplying giddily, the thousand-recipe doorstops and easy-weeknight omnibus editions that had, for so long, stood in…

By JohnValbyNation July 15, 2019 0

Going Home with Wendell Berry

Two and a half years ago, feeling existentially adrift about the future of the planet, I sent a letter to Wendell Berry, hoping he might have answers. Berry has published more than eighty books of poetry, fiction, essays, and criticism, but he’s perhaps best known for “The Unsettling of America,” a book-length polemic, from 1977,…

By JohnValbyNation July 15, 2019 0