SEND ME A POSTCARD

The mailperson, almost inevitably a man in my experience, is right up there in my mind with the local librarian and the priest as a consoler, a bringer of sustenance, a conduit between my cloistered little world and the world at large. I have come close to tears in my occasional outbursts of gratitude and wonder that the guy reallly does show up, mostly, rain, shine and here in Tucson, almost dangerous heat.

THE GLOBAL GARAGE SALE

“Before the 1960s, Japanese had a feeling of mottainai, a difficult-to-translate Japanese word that expresses a sense of regret over waste, as well as a desire to conserve,” reports Rina Hamada, editor of Japan’s Reuse Business Journal. But that was before the living standard in Japan shot sky-high. Now people are way more acquisitive, though they’ll buy second-hand if it’s of high quality.

SPIKY, HAIRY, SHINY: INSECTS OF LA

Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins: “Meet your neighbors!” invites the Natural History Museum, but they’re not talking about the people next door. The exhibit “Spiky, Hairy, Shiny: Insects of LA,” runs through April 1, 2022. All over the city, for the last 10 years people have gathered insects to help the […]

CLOISTERED

“A particularly severe form of asceticism within Christianity is that of anchorites, who typically allowed themselves to be immured, and subsisting on minimal food. For example, in the 4th century AD, one nun named Alexandra immured herself in a tomb for ten years with a tiny aperture enabling her to receive meager provisions. Saint Jerome (c. 340–420) spoke of one follower who spent his entire life in a cistern, consuming no more than five figs a day.”

FALLOUT: THE EVIL OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

When journalist John Hersey arrived in Japan, over a year after the dropping of the bombs, he was staggered by what he found. A mother who’d clung to her dead infant daughter until the body started to decompose. Human beings who had been vaporized, leaving only shadows on the ground or walls. Residents, desperate to rebuild, who were still coming across severed limbs and charred corpses.