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The Apprenticeship Ambivalence

Amidst political discussion about expanding apprenticeships in the U.S., two contradictory realities persist. One is a changing landscape, in both school and work, that increasingly needs a sound apprenticeship system; the other is the refusal by many parents to understand why a formal apprenticeship might make more sense for their children—and their finances—than four years of college.


Gold as a Rejuvenator: Myths and Facts

Gold’s supposed health benefits fall into three categories: medicine, cosmetics, and cuisine. Let’s dissect them one by one: Gold Cosmetics Many excited claims and anecdotes about the cosmetic use of gold leaf gush from beauty websites, echoing the magic word “rejuvenation.” An aesthetician quoted in Harper’s Bazaar explains this phenomenon by saying that “The gold…

Fountain Pen Resources

As with many subjects that draw perfectionists and collectors, the fountain pen world offers a variety of superb resources for finding great pens, understanding their fine points (excuse the pun), and fixing old pens that need some TLC. Here are some of the more prominent resources. Richard’s Pens – for decades, Richard Binder has served…

The New Water Alchemists

While annual wildfires and other “natural” disasters mount in Australia, California, and elsewhere, a growing number of researchers and pastoralists around the globe have found remarkable, untapped opportunities to limit these troubles. It turns out that animals, plants, soil, and air have long collaborated to regulate our climate through their water use—until we disrupted their partnership. An environmental author finds a pathway to reconciliation.


Our Second Artisanal Gift Guide

The word artisanal has become so shopworn that it’s almost devoid of meaning. (To wit: we once saw a pizza outlet on the outskirts of a small town in northern France that was fashioned in the style of an ATM-kiosk under the following sign: “Artisanal Pizza.”) In stark contrast to this sorry state of affairs, we would like to suggest a few items for holiday shopping made by some of the masters we profiled in 2016.


Precious Drops

While many people in arid regions of the world struggle just to find water, others in rain-soaked developing countries face a different challenge: getting water that is safe enough to drink. What will it take to turn their precious water clean—so they can stay healthy, and we can stop spending scarce resources on mountains of plastic water bottles?


Getting Serious about Play: A Resource Guide

While school officials in the U.S. seem to have done their best in recent decades to eliminate play from the school day, things might be turning around: innovative projects like Providence PlayCorps continue to push back against that cultural shift. An example of families playing together include the now well-known Maker Faires, held in cities…

The Play Gap

In Providence, Rhode Island, Janice McDonnell started one of the unlikeliest of revolutions. On seven empty lots in the inner city, she set up a new kind of playground—places where kids could build anything they want, break anything they want. Her larger goals? To fight the disappearance of play brought on by the relentless testing that’s become the norm in today’s schools—and to spread playful opportunities beyond rich white families.


The Quest for Cool

Cooled dairy desserts have been known for millennia, but gelato is the child of refrigeration. Who invented it? Nobody and everybody. It’s a testament to the uncanny appeal of frozen cream that so many people made the effort to develop it further. Before refrigeration, of course, there was ice and snow: Emperors of the Zhou…

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