Call me a geek, but if a genie appeared before me and offered me a wish, here’s what I’d wish for: detailed descriptions of at least 127 other randomly chosen planets in the galaxy, of which 63 would be home to life.
This may sound greedy (wishes usually do). After all, life on earth holds uncountable mysteries. Here’s one that puzzles me: Why is it that no birds have evolved pregnancy? Representatives of all the other major groups of backboned animals, from guppies to skinks, have evolved to give birth — why not birds? It would surely be better for an emperor penguin to give birth than to play ice hockey with its egg. Another: Can you alter the odds of conceiving a son or a daughter by altering how often and when you have sex?….
I’ve subscribed to Times Select, despite the heresy that seems to entail for some, since it was introduced. Recently, they’ve started introducing new columnists and Olivia Judson’s piece, extracted above, is wonderful. I’d pay for Krugman and Friedman and Kristof happily, and now I’m receiving a growing bonus in new voices. The Times‘ redesign still sucks, but you get good writing when you pay for it. I may, of course, be prejudiced in saying so.
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