Selected Work

‘Leaving Orbit’ cheers spaceflight’s feats, mourns its fading

Review of 'Leaving Orbit,' by Margaret Lazarus Dean

Originally published May 22, 2015 in Los Angeles Times

In 1969, the moon landing brought together a nation, millions slack-jawed in the glow of their televisions. In 1986, the explosion of the Challenger became a defining moment for a generation of schoolchildren. But how many of us remember the blastoff of Atlantis in 2011 — the final flight of NASA’s manned space shuttle program? Margaret Lazarus Dean, an English […]

LA Existential

The Third Los Angeles: Can It Truly Become a Green, Sustainable City?

Originally published April 19, 2015 in Slate

Earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown’s announcement of California’s first-ever mandatory restrictions on water use drew attention to the state’s uneasy relationship with its natural resources. “Mother Nature didn’t intend for 40 million people to live here,” University of Southern California historian Kevin Starr told the New York Times. If any city is known for violating natural boundaries, it’s Los […]

Tube-Tied

In our era of ultrapersonalized viewing, why do we still allow TVs to infiltrate our public spaces?

Originally published February 1, 2015 in Slate

Not long ago I arrived at an Amtrak station near my home in Southern California and was struck by its pleasant atmosphere: high ceilings, a spare design, a clean and airy waiting room with light streaming in the windows. But as I settled in to wait for my train, I saw it: an enormous television looming on the back wall. […]

Utopian Visions on a Wraparound Screen

Review of 'Shanghai Future,' by Anna Greenspan

Originally published February 22, 2015 in Los Angeles Review of Books

AT THE 2010 Shanghai World Expo, audience members strapped themselves into moving seats to watch a 360-degree screen. The scene on display was a quixotic vision of the city in 2030. “Congestion, pollution, accidents have all been eliminated,” writes Anna Greenspan in the preface to her new book Shanghai Future. “Instead, future citizens float through a vast sci-fi cityscape of […]

Speed Kills

Review of Pressed for Time: The Acceleration of Life in Digital Capitalism, by Judy Wajcman

Originally published January 15, 2015 in The Nation

Not long ago, while crashing with my parents for a few days, I had the opportunity to sift through a wicker box stuffed with memorabilia from my youth: cards, letters, notes scribbled furtively in class. I’m not that old—the historical period in question was the 1990s—but the exercise felt like stepping back into an ancient era. There were letters from […]