I’d Like to Solve the Puzzle: N E _ R _ _ _ E L L E

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New Rochelle’s Marc Hartzman on Wheel . . . of . . . Fortune!

OK, so I admit that I am not a faithful viewer of Wheel of Fortune, but I will try to tune in this Friday, September 27th at 7:30pm (on ABC – Channel 7) when New Rochelle’s own Marc Hartzman spins the wheel. Good luck, Marc!

Rainbow Over New Rochelle

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Best. Rainbow. Ever.

This is a real, unaltered photo taken yesterday afternoon behind New Rochelle City Hall by my colleague Prince Guerra. Best. Rainbow. Ever.

Why Can’t My Kids Cook Like This?

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New Rochelle’s own Arielle and Alfie Wayner on Chopped.

Three cheers for the Wayner kids, Arielle and Alfie, who are competing in a special siblings episode of Food Network’s Chopped. There’s more about this impressive New Rochelle family in this article from Westchester Magazine. Full disclosure: their mom Ayanna is our former Deputy Commissioner of Development, so I’ve also got a sorta professional reason to root for the Wayners. Now, why can’t my kids cook like this?

600,000 Miles in 2 Minutes

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Alpha Centauri, Only 4.37 Light Years Away

Alpha Centauri, Only 4.37 Light Years Away

A group of billionaires and scientists is reportedly planning an interstellar mission to Alpha Centauri involving a fleet of iPhone-sized ships that would be accelerated to a fifth of the speed of light by ground-based lasers.  They would travel 600,000 miles in the first two minutes of their journey and reach Alpha Centauri in about 20 years.  (Although – unfortunately – don’t expect a launch date before the mid-2030s.)

Called “Breakthrough Starshot,” the plan is described in today’s New York Times.

As a confessed science fiction nerd, I have to say that this is really, really neat.  I just hope to live long enough to see the first images beamed back from another star system.

 

Some Light Weekend Reading

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Cascadia 2This recent article from the New Yorker is horrifying, and yet so brilliantly written that it also makes for a gripping read.

It describes a major fault in the Pacific northwest that is sure to produce a devastating earthquake and tsunami — probably within our lifetimes.

The article contains a pulse-pounding description of rolling catastrophe that could almost double as the screenplay for a big-budget disaster movie.  More important are the insightful observations about our collective inability to plan wisely for the future.  Here is an especially good passage:

On the face of it, earthquakes seem to present us with problems of space: the way we live along fault lines, in brick buildings, in homes made valuable by their proximity to the sea. But, covertly, they also present us with problems of time. The earth is 4.5 billion years old, but we are a young species, relatively speaking, with an average individual allotment of three score years and ten. The brevity of our lives breeds a kind of temporal parochialism—an ignorance of or an indifference to those planetary gears which turn more slowly than our own.

This problem is bidirectional. The Cascadia subduction zone remained hidden from us for so long because we could not see deep enough into the past. It poses a danger to us today because we have not thought deeply enough about the future. That is no longer a problem of information; we now understand very well what the Cascadia fault line will someday do. Nor is it a problem of imagination. If you are so inclined, you can watch an earthquake destroy much of the West Coast this summer in Brad Peyton’s “San Andreas,” while, in neighboring theatres, the world threatens to succumb to Armageddon by other means: viruses, robots, resource scarcity, zombies, aliens, plague. As those movies attest, we excel at imagining future scenarios, including awful ones. But such apocalyptic visions are a form of escapism, not a moral summons, and still less a plan of action. Where we stumble is in conjuring up grim futures in a way that helps to avert them.

That problem is not specific to earthquakes, of course. The Cascadia situation, a calamity in its own right, is also a parable for this age of ecological reckoning, and the questions it raises are ones that we all now face. How should a society respond to a looming crisis of uncertain timing but of catastrophic proportions? How can it begin to right itself when its entire infrastructure and culture developed in a way that leaves it profoundly vulnerable to natural disaster?

Good questions.

Anyhow, I strongly recommend the article as some light weekend reading.