wayward son, by rainbow rowell

I’m not sure I’ve ever been this drained. It takes so much magic to stay alive in America.

braiding sweetgrass, by robin wall kimmerer

From the very beginning of the world, the other species were a lifeboat for the people. Now, we must be theirs.

insurgent empire

Common ground, even shared human feeling, is not a given, but is arrived at through imaginative work.

the cruel prince, by holly black

I think of the future I thought I was going to have and the one yawning in front of me like a chasm.

lady in the lake, by laura lippman

That’s basically the story of every woman’s life, right? You become your mother or you don’t. Of course, every woman says she doesn’t want to be her mother, but that’s foolish. For a lot of women, becoming their mothers simply means growing up, taking on responsibility, acting like an adult is supposed to act.

the australian ugliness, by robin boyd

The trouble is a deep unawareness, and a wish to remain unaware, of the experience of living here, now.

lost children archive, by valeria luiselli

Something changed in the world. Not too long ago, it changed, and we know it. We don’t know how to explain it yet, but I think we all can feel it, somewhere deep in our gut or in our brain circuits. We feel time differently. No one has quite been able to capture what is happening or say why.

command and control, by eric schlosser

“The computerization of society,” the technology writer Frank Rose later observed, was essentially a “side effect of the computerization of war.”

ancestral medicine, by daniel foor

If you find yourself drawn toward the tendency to help or “do something,” you might instead work to increase your capacity to sit with others’ suffering

atomic accidents, by jim mahaffey

It seems unfortunate, but nothing was learned from the Chernobyl disaster.

chernobyl, by serhii plokhy

even today we do not know which of the strategies the Soviets tried and the technical solutions they implemented actually worked. Could some of them have made things worse?

the rape of nanking, by iris chang

…atrocities such as the Rape of Nanking can be seen as a predictable if not inevitable outgrowth of ceding to an authoritarian regime

old in art school, by nell irvin painter

I thought I understood the fact of my mother’s impending death, but I had not. I had no idea of the feelings and fears and complications, the pit opening up before me, the loss of the key to my identity.

history of violence, by édouard louis

You’ve also stayed away because you’ve discovered how easy it is to cut her loose, how little you actually miss her

prelude to bruise, by saeed jones

I am done. Your grief will be useful some day, says no one.

speak no evil, by uzodinma iweala

All you people do, wherever you are in this world, is just bring death and destruction, you bring nothing good, nothing good

an unexpectedly lovely weekend

Yesterday after my riding lesson, Jeremy, Claire and I went out to Devil’s Teeth Bakery for the special breakfast sandwich (scrambled egg, avocado and bacon on a fresh biscuit). On the way back we visited the new house for some daydreaming. Liz lured me out to the dyke march. I arrived to find her twirling in the intersection at Valencia and 18th. We danced and chanted all the way to the Castro. It was a perfect San Francisco summer evening.

Today after my riding lesson, all four of us went to El Metate for fish tacos, and then to Bay Natives to buy eggs and admire the chickens and goats. We walked to the end of Heron’s Head and saw a sea lion frolicking in the bay. We stopped on Cortland for iced coffee, rainbow macarons and groceries, and when we got home I found a parking spot right on the corner. Now my feet are up and my heart is full of peace.

the invention of horses

Last night I read and enjoyed Wynne Davies’ The Welsh Cob, described in Amazon reviews as “for cob enthusiasts only”. (I feel seen.) While there have been horses in Wales since pre-Roman times, the purebred cob, an absolute unit, is a surprisingly late invention. The first Welsh stud book was published in 1902, following a busy late 19th century of outcrossing native Welsh ponies with Thoroughbreds, Arabs, Hackneys, Norfolk Roadsters, and Yorkshire Coach Horses.


King Flyer, b1894

At almost exactly the same time, my old friend Lady Anne Blunt was importing Arabian horses to England. The modern Arabian and the Welsh Cob were modeled on the English Thoroughbred, itself a literary fiction. Horses, obviously, exist, but purebred horses exist only in books, beginning with the General Stud Book of 1793. The GSB represents a cartel of Thoroughbred breeders and owners. Only horses registered in the GSB can race on the flat in Britain. A closed stud book raises prices by creating artificial scarcity. (Because of the risk of fraud, Thoroughbreds can only be registered if they are conceived by “live cover”, rather than artificial insemination, a quirk of history that keeps a lot of Thoroughbred stallions very busy.)

The GSB is almost exactly contemporaneous with the United States of America, and both of them pre-date Burke’s Peerage, the stud book for British humans. Nations are also literary fictions. Different rules apply to those whose names are written down in the right books. The white colonists needed a reason to argue that while they deserved liberty from oppression, their slaves did not. They found it in the invention of race. White people, like Thoroughbred horses, counted. They were counted. Black people, like half-bred horses, counted for less. Purebred horses were invented in part as a way to make this appear to be a law of nature: but it isn’t.

midnight in chernobyl, by adam higginbotham

Intense gamma fields of 100 roentgen an hour and above—on the threshold for inducing acute radiation syndrome—caused such extensive ionization of the air that it left a distinctive aroma, like that after a lightning storm; if you smell ozone, his colleague said, run.

prairie fires, by caroline fraser

She demeaned her own constant reading as “little more than a drug habit.”