By MEAD GRUVER, Updated 4:35 AM PDT, September 5, 2023
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — After parents in a rural and staunchly conservative Wyoming County joined nationwide pressure on librarians to pull books they considered harmful to youngsters, the local library board obliged with new policies making such books a higher priority for removal — and keeping out of collections.
But that’s not all the library board has done.
Campbell County also withdrew from the American Library Association, in what’s become a movement against the professional organization that has fought against book bans.
There’s a book that sits on a shelf in my room that routinely snags my attention and fills me with the exact dread of accidentally making eye contact with an ex at a crowded party. Look away! my brain screams. But it’s too late. Regret, shame and annoyance flood in, and I am once more in a silent standoff with that book I keep meaning to read and never do.
It’s not long or a classic, and it’s certainly not the only book I own and haven’t finished. But something about the spine always catches my eye, reminding me again and again (and again and again) of broken promises and literary shortcomings. One day, surely, I will finally pick up Z.Z. Packer’s “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere.” Right?
When Christopher Mazurek realizes he’s dreaming, it’s always the small stuff that tips him off.
The first time it happened, Mazurek was a freshman at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. In the dream, he found himself in a campus dining hall. It was winter, but Mazurek wasn’t wearing his favorite coat.“I realized that, OK, if I don’t have the coat, I must be dreaming,” Mazurek says. That epiphany rocked the dream like an earthquake. “Gravity shifted, and I was flung down a hallway that seemed to go on for miles,” he says. “My left arm disappeared, and then I woke up.”
Most people rarely if ever realize that they’re dreaming while it’s happening, what’s known as lucid dreaming. But some enthusiasts have cultivated techniques to become self-aware in their sleep and even wrest some control over their dream selves and settings. Mazurek, 24, says that he’s gotten better at molding his lucid dreams since that first whirlwind experience, sometimes taking them as opportunities to try flying or say hi to deceased family members.
Other lucid dreamers have used their personal virtual realities to plumb their subconscious minds for insights or feast on junk food without real-world consequences. But now, scientists have a new job for lucid dreamers: to explore their dreamscapes and report out in real time.
The first person I met at the Bar & Chill was a bald guy in a black T-shirt, black drawstring shorts, and flip-flops, with a Harley-Davidson tattoo on his right arm and a claddagh ring on his left hand. He was drinking and laughing with a few friends. He gestured to the empty stool next to him and said, “We don’t bite.”
I offered an expression of if-you-insist, and he said, “Bring it.” His tone was cheerful, as you might expect at the Bar & Chill, the principal drinking-and-dining establishment that looks out on the town center of Latitude Margaritaville, an active-living community for Jimmy Buffett enthusiasts, aged “55 and better,” in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The Bar & Chill was open to the evening. A gentle breeze fanned the lanai. On a flat-screen, the Providence Friars led the Vermont Catamounts by a few buckets. A bartender brought a Perfect Margarita in a plastic cup.
The bald man, drinking a vodka soda, said his name was Phil. Phil Murphy, from Arlington, Massachusetts, aged sixty-four. Formerly a research director at Forrester, retired since 2015. “I was in the air for twenty years,” he said. He looked and sounded less like my idea of a Parrothead, as Jimmy Buffett’s diehard fans are called, than like Mike Ehrmantraut, the melancholic fixer in “Breaking Bad.”
Standing off his left shoulder, his wife, Betty, red hair cut short, added a dash of urbanity, a spritz of Allison Janney. Phil and Betty had organized an emergency fund for the restaurant’s staff during its Covid shutdown. One of their friends declared them “the king and queen of the Bar & Chill.”
Astronomers have discovered more than 5,000 planets in other star systems, most of them found by the Kepler space telescope. This graphic provides an overview of the types of worlds discovered so far.
That sound represents the first confirmed exoplanets — planets that orbit stars other than the Sun. At the end of 1992, only two such planets were known — orbiting the dead heart of an exploded star.
The first planets orbiting a star similar to the Sun were announced in 1995. By last spring, the number had passed 5,000, with thousands more possible planets awaiting confirmation. NASA put together an audio track as a timeline of all the discoveries. Each note represents a confirmed planet, with the pitch representing the planet’s distance from its star.
It was my mom’s birthday the other day. She died 14 years ago of cancer. She would have been 74 years old.
Every year I scan my bookshelves for her copy of “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” written by Richard Bach in 1972. It’s a story about a seagull who defies the expectations society has put on him and learns to fly high into the heavens to reach his highest potential. It’s not an explicitly religious book, but there are some Christian undertones along with some Buddhist concepts of reincarnation.
I love this book because reading it makes me feel closer to my mom, but each time I read it, I also understand her a little more. And yeah, when I close the book on her birthday, I am also reminded how beautiful it is to fly. I never really thought of that ritual as a sacred practice, but after talking with Vanessa Zoltan, I realized it is.