Linear Thinking

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It’s a well known fact that 64.7 percent of American physicians spend late August on Martha’s Vineyard, and deserve to. You knew that, but may not know that this year, the percentage unexplainably reached a record 82.4 percent, causing increased pressure on the island’s fragile ecosystem and referring added weight to the ocean floor.

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“Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History”

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Houston’s superlative Gilbert and Sullivan Society will give six performances of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Princess Ida between July 22 and July 31. If the preview I saw at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck Pub is any indication of what is to come, audiences can look forward to performances that combine fine singing with nimble comic turns.

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While I Was Out of Town

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Equatorial Guinea (“EG”) has the advantage of having a small population, some 1.3 million.  It has a crazy geography, with the capital on the island of Bioko (formerly Fernando Po) and a good chunk of its people and commerce on the mainland a couple of hundred miles away.  I remember standing on the back patio of the Bahia in 2006, looking at Cameroon across the water, not far away.  I thought, “Why is this even a country?”  And yes, it has the dumb luck of having oil and natural gas, with the advantages of huge revenues years ago (never distributed to the people, to be fair.)  But the decline in oil and gas market prices has left the country vulnerable, and yet the buildings and private company headquarters continue to pour in.  Venezuela has been unable to deal with these fluctuations, and even Saudi Arabia and Russia have had their tumults, where EG is making its way.

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Whose 5776?

I realized how experience-poor I actually was as soon as I began to travel, which I’ve done as often as I can ever since. Anyone who has escaped a parochial bubble knows the advantage of losing your bearings, the fraught discovery that everything you’ve thought was normal turns out to be just your own tribal variant of an unimaginable profusion of ways to know, feel, and act in the world. There are, you come to learn, countless local versions of a normal breakfast, a normal parent, a normal song, a normal god. It’s disorienting to realize that when you get back home again and are going about the routine business of your life, the foreign lives you’ve glimpsed are still going on as strangely — and as ordinarily — as ever. And it’s discomfiting to realize that if they knew how much we privileged our own normalcy, they’d figure out what kind of hicks we’d have to be to believe that. Continue reading Whose 5776?