Issue 429 | The Sun Magazine

September 2011

Readers Write


Red patent leather shoes, the Y2K bug, the Gestapo

By Our Readers
The Dog-Eared Page

excerpted from
The Lives Of A Cell

Notes Of A Biology Watcher

We have become, in a painful, unwished-for way, nature itself. We have grown into everywhere, spreading like a new growth over the entire surface, touching and affecting every other kind of life, incorporating ourselves.

By Lewis Thomas


If we had a reliable way to label our toys good and bad, it would be easy to regulate technology wisely. But we can rarely see far enough ahead to know which road leads to damnation. Whoever concerns himself with big technology, either to push it forward or to stop it, is gambling in human lives.

Freeman Dyson

The Sun Interview

Environmental Heretic

Stewart Brand On Nuclear Energy, Genetically Modified Foods, And Climate Engineering

Will we grow buildings? That’s been my hope for thirty years, including making parts of them edible. We’re sitting in a room that has old-fashioned, energy-intensive air conditioning. It could be that someday all walls will be made of engineered living tissue that takes up carbon dioxide and replaces it with nice, clean oxygen while keeping the temperature of the room comfortable for humans and allowing all the microbes in the room to do their jobs.

By Arnie Cooper
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

It Takes A Village To Please My Mother

“Don’t worry about taking care of me,” my mother liked to say every year as her birthday approached. “You’ve already trained me not to expect anything.” This because once, right after the divorce, my father had taken my sister and me to the beach on her birthday week.

By Kathryn Kefauver Goldberg
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Conversations With A Tree

Every morning I’d have an audience with my tree. I always began by saying, “Namaskar,” which is Sanskrit for “I salute the divine within you with my entire mind and heart.” Standing before the tree, I’d hear words in my head that weren’t my own. I suspected the tree was actually speaking to me, and I began a journal of our conversations.

By Sparrow
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

A Zen Zealot Comes Home

A Zen Buddhist monk in my tradition gets exactly one week off a year. This time is specifically designated for a “family visit.” I always take my week at Thanksgiving, and every year I prove right that old Zen adage: Think you’re getting closer to enlightenment? Try spending a week with your parents.

By Shozan Jack Haubner

When Mystical Creatures Attack!

I don’t believe in anything mystical, Ms. Freedman. Not even God. You made us build that diorama of Mount Olympus, and you made us paint that mural with unicorns and butcherbirds and sand toads. You said it was to show that books transport us to different worlds, where there are different rules, and there’s magic in everything.

By Kathleen Founds


On the day my mom got her last chemo treatment, I fished from the dike of the Intake Reservoir. I wasn’t supposed to be fishing. I was supposed to be delivering the Hawthorne Pennysaver. My summer job was to place a crisp Pennysaver at each of the 465 doorways of the Pleasant Pines Apartments once a week, but I hadn’t done that for months.

By Tim Melley

Good Morning, Crisis

To see the feather on the filthy mat beneath the gas pedal is infinite sadness. / No more opposite a place for a feather to be, no worse way / for it to get there than how it must have come, / on the bottom of a shoe.

By Eric Anderson

Please Don’t

tell the flowers — they think / the sun loves them. / The grass is under the same / simple-minded impression / about the rain, the fog, the dew

By Tony Hoagland