Oct 282012
Pork Rinds and Public Education

Of late I’ve been thinking a lot about kindergarten. My kindergarten, that is. I’m thinking about a practice we had during lunch time: We did not get to choose with whom to dine. Instead, after purchasing our lunch or fetching our lunch boxes (mine was a metal Holly Hobby number with matching thermos, the combo always […]

Mar 282012
You Think, Therefore I Am

Hazel and I once again contributed to Edge.org’s annual compendium of ideas. In response to the 2012 question, “What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?” we riffed on Descartes to summarize the big idea behind social and cultural psychology. “I think, therefore I am.” Cogito ergo sum. Remember this elegant and deep idea […]

Jan 162011
Essay in Brockman Book

Pundits now invoke culture to explain all manner of tragedies and triumphs, from why a disturbed young man opens fire on a politician, to why African-American children struggle in school, to why the United States can’t establish democracy in Iraq, to why Asian factories build better cars. A quick click through a single morning’s media, […]

Mar 182010
Subtle Nudges for Greater Good

Note: Find my original and complete dispatch from the Stanford “Small Steps, Big Leaps” conference at PopTech. Many psychologists, writers and other students of human nature have reached the same conclusion: people are usually too distracted, tired, scared, or just plain lazy to act on their best intentions. But few of these observers suggest how […]

Apr 172009
The Safari Sleeper Effect

MP, CA –I finally wrestled Flickr into submission and posted all of my Tanzania photos on my account. Alas, I haven’t titled them yet. But you’ll get the picture. Most travel is better in the doing than in the sharing. But while sorting through the photographic evidence of my misspent February, I made a curious […]

Apr 072009
Eat Strange Things

MP, CA — “Eat strange things.” These were my friend Lera’s last words to me before I departed for Tanzania. I knew I would disappoint her, for not only is Lera the world’s most brilliant, eloquent, and charming expert on language and thought (get a load of Lera on yesterday’s “All Things Considered”), but she […]

Mar 232009
Small Joy

Menlo Park, CA — I’m back stateside and awash in more than 1000 photographs, which I’m slowly uploading to Flickr for your imminent viewing pleasure. I’ll spare you my ecstasy of self-flagellation over not posting more, better, sooner here. Instead, I’ll share this photo, which keeps leaping out at me like a rabbit out of […]

Feb 272009
License to Kili

KILIMANJARO, TZ– For Valentine’s Day this year, I passed up the usual hot date and box of chocolates for a little hypothermia and the summit of Kilimanjaro–Africa’s highest point. At 5:55 AM, after 3 days plus 5 hours of steady uphill slogging, I bagged Uhuru Peak with my travel buddy, David, and the world’s best […]

Feb 232009

NDUNGU, TZ– One of the benefits of taking the local shortcuts is that they often harbor unfathomed adventure. And one of the costs of taking the local shortcuts is that they often harbor unfathomed adventure. Consider our first shortcut: Some local men digging an ominously large hole recommended that we ride through a nearby grove […]