Things are better than they seem. Honest.
The idea that America’s best days are behind it is no longer just a rhetorical device: It’s conventional wisdom…But is it true? America is characterologically, almost definitionally, optimistic. The country, after all, was founded on the idea that anyone could come here and make a better life for himself. And for 234 years and counting, millions of people have done just that.
Netherlands closes eight prisons: not enough criminals
During the 1990s the Netherlands faced a shortage of prison cells, but a decline in crime has since led to overcapacity in the prison system. The country now has capacity for 14,000 prisoners but only 12,000 detainees.
Actual photo of the aurora borealis just north of Dover, Oklahoma at about 3:00 a.m. on October 29, 2003 (click to see full size)
A Complete Guide to the Soul
There is an aspect to the question of what the soul is which is startling and strange, but so widespread that it cannot be avoided. It is connected to the popular idea that we all have a guardian angel. According to a US poll in the 1990s, sixty-nine per cent of Americans believe in angels. Forty-six per cent have their own guardian angels and thirty-two per cent have felt an angelic presence.
Want to Ward Off the Evil Eye? Just Be Nice
The more the volunteers anticipated being envied in a threatening way, the more helpful they were. Interestingly, they were actually less helpful than controls if they anticipated benign envy, suggesting that their preemptive altruism was motivated by fear rather than sympathy for the less fortunate. The experimenters ran another version of this experiment in which some participants clearly deserved their good fortune and others clearly did not, and as expected, those who were undeserving helped more to compensate for their unearned windfall.
It may be time to stop the senseless slaughter of plants
Here’s a fascinating TED talk by Stefano Mancuso, a founder of the study of plant “neurobiology”, which explores how plants communicate, or “signal,” with each other, using a complex internal analysis system to find nutrients, spread their species and even defend themselves against predators.
Brave New Prayers by Hunter Reynolds
Here’s the blurb that I wrote for Hunter’s fantastic book:
Hunter Reynolds’ Brave New Prayers is the single best collection of prayers I’ve ever found. And by best, I mean holiest, rowdiest, truest, and most intimately aligned with the tricky nature of the Divine Wow. I’m keeping his book beneath my pillow, sandwiched between Rumi and Hafiz, so I can soak up its tonic effervescence while I dream.
In Britain, otters were on the verge of extinction 30 years ago. They have made an amazing comeback, and are now almost everywhere.