Dream of the Dragon

Category: rising above

Atomic Speak (Kimota)

by Justin

This made every meal an ordeal for Dirac: he had no talent for languages, and his father was an unforgiving teacher. Whenever Dirac made a slip – a mispronunciation, a wrongly gendered noun, a botched subjunctive – his father made it a rule to refuse his next request. This caused the young Dirac terrible distress. Even at that time, he had digestive problems and often felt sick when he was eating, but his father would refuse him permission to leave the table if he made a linguistic error. Dirac would then have no option but to sit still and vomit. This did not happen just occasionally, but over and over again, for years.

-from The Strangest Man: The Secret Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom

I was/am working on a piece about the final collisions at the Tevatron, the premiere atom smasher in this country. That sprawling beast of a story, about the history and legacy of the sprawling underground beast that is the Tevatron, dominated the past three months. Particle physics is a lovely and dangerous subject for writers. Read the rest of this entry »

Misdirection: Frogs, Mosques, and Octopi

by Justin

The classic misdirection employed by most politicians, and with shimmering expertise by the ruin-sewing GOP, seems to be working. I fell soundly into the camp of those attracted by the boldest headlines and the loudest voices in the polarized debates surrounding the Cordoba Center construction in lower Manhattan. The reminders of what matters, at least with regard to public policy and the perpetuation of life, came from a television series and a cartoon. Really.

First, courtesy of Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich:

I appreciate the joke and I’m a fan of the maybe inaccurate anecdote about a frog’s acceptance of water slowly brought to boil, which is now commonly used in discussions about Global Warming. The point, of course, being that the current mosque maelstrom concerns individual prejudice, wounded egos, and ideological schism – all petty in the grand scheme of things. Whereas the future of our planet rests rather (un)comfortably as the most pressing issue conceivable. Read the rest of this entry »

On Restlessness and Adventuring

by Justin

Far over the Misty Mountains cold,
To dungeons deep and caverns old,
We must away, ere break of day,
To seek our pale enchanted gold.

It is important to remember wonder. Over the past years, facing the fiscal nightmare of living in New York City and the sudden pressure to comfortably wed passion to paychecks, a few great truths began slipping into obscurity. Logistical concerns about making ends meet (what does that even mean?) invaded and subtly supplanted the more wondrous priorities of a dreamer.

I mean, it was real touch and go for a minute there. The following two desires flew into conflict: 1) to feel untethered, free to explore and uncertain of the next adventure; and 2) to find domestic bliss with the woman I love, the dog I adore, and in communion with family and friends. Read the rest of this entry »