International Year of Forests

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanates from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.

–Robert Louis Stevenson

To learn more about the International Year of Forests, visit the United Nations dedicated website. If you liked the video, you also might want to check out the related book, Forests and People, which contains essays by Gisele Bündchen, Don Cheadle, and Wangari Maathai.

And don’t forget to turn off your lights  – and maybe even the basketball game – tomorrow (Saturday, March 26) at 8:30pm local time to mark Earth Hour.

Free Paris: Musée des Arts et Métiers

Before The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol, the most famous literary thriller involving coded manuscripts, secret societies, and a gruesome sacrifice was Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. An investigation into conspiracy theories and the Templar Knights, a meditation on symbols and language, a serious poststructuralist joke, there’s no doubt that Eco beat Dan Brown to the punch.

But what does any of this have to do with the Musée des Arts et Métiers?

Continue reading “Free Paris: Musée des Arts et Métiers”

Reading Table

animal dialoguesThe best book to grace the reading table in the past few months has been Craig Childs’s Animal Dialogues. It consists of a collection of essays on specific animals, each with a tie-in to a narrative from Childs’s own life. It helps that the author has a knack for telling a good story — nature writing can be dry at times, but he draws readers right in with gripping tales of staring down a mountain lion in the Arizona desert or getting lost in a Colorado blizzard at night. But what really makes the book are the unusual facts he digs up (a mosquito in still air can sense you from over 100 feet away; the ancestral genetic blueprint of the African cheetah is in North America; rattlesnake venom breaks down cell walls the same way cancer spreads through the body and has been used as an effective treatment for some types of cancer) and, more importantly, his ability to transport you to a place that is obscured and forgotten, but which has not entirely disappeared from modern life.