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Polar Light

To get oriented here is difficult. The light is flat because the sky is overcast. The sun’s weak rays create only a few anemic shadows by which to judge scale…

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Range Wars

Silver Bell Mine, just northwest of Tucson, Arizona, is shielded from the suburban homes nearby behind rocky hills and barbed wire. Seen from above, it is an upside-down Machu Picchu:…

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Bringing in the Beans

The bright-green hulk of our John Deere combine harvester crept across the field of soybeans. It was late in the day, early October, the sun low. A cloud of hulls…

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The March on Everywhere

I was at a Maryland travel plaza just off I-95 when I finally saw them, en masse and outfitted: the women. They were emerging from the fog like visions, their…

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My Holy Land Vacation

i. stand with israelI listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it…

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Emerald Sea

i. key west U.S. Route 1, the nation’s longest north-south highway, casts out of Fort Kent, Maine, and spools down the eastern seaboard, threading Boston, New York, and Fort Lauderdale…

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Cattle Calls

This is how you get a cow to stand still: round up the herd, then urge them into a chute. Some chutes begin as wood, but all end as metal,…

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Travel Day

When I was eight years old, in 1966, during a holiday with my parents, I traveled to Heathrow Airport for the first time. The reason I put it so clumsily…

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Going It Alone

All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.  — Blaise Pascal I. Go to any bookstore and you’ll find shelves of books written…

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Love Crimes

Gul Raham, the hymen doctor of Kabul, sat behind a wide desk in an office filled with purple plastic flowers. A bouquet of them drooped over a filing cabinet stuffed…

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“Today Is Better Than Tomorrow”

What makes Argia different from other cities is that it has earth instead of air. The streets are completely filled with dirt, clay packs the rooms to the ceiling .…

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21st Century Limited

We start in darkness. After fighting our way through the dingy, low-ceilinged, crowded waiting room that serves as New York City’s current Pennsylvania Station, we pull out through a graffitied…

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Blue Sky Days

Two years ago, in February 2012, President Barack Obama signed into law the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which called on the Federal Aviation Administration to “provide for the safe…

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You Rang?

Stranded between parking lots in downtown Denver two blocks from the state capitol, the Starkey International Institute is both a relic of the past and a portal into the alternate…

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Bartók’s Monster

More than anything he looked like a man grimly in need of a transfusion. Béla Bartók had the pallor of a garlic clove. A wan, sometimes acrid personality to match.…

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Blood Spore

In July 2011, on the hottest day of the year, I received a fragile-looking Maxell compact cassette from a retired psychology professor and gerbil-aggression researcher named Gary Davis. I had…

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A Delicate Truth

On the second floor of a characterless hotel in the British Crown Colony of Gibraltar, a lithe, agile man in his late fifties restlessly paced his bedroom. His very British…

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August 2019