Now out from HarperPaperbacks, 101 Places Not To See Before You Die is a guide to some of the least appealing destinations and experiences in the world. From the armpit of New Jersey to the Beijing Museum of Tap Water to, of course, Euro Disney, it includes some of the most boring museums,stupidest historical attractions, and worst Superfund sites you’ll ever have the pleasure of not visiting. But the book goes much further.Jupiter’s Worst Moon, an Outdoor Wedding During the 2021 Reemergence of the Great Eastern Cicada Brood, Fan Hours at the Las Vegas Porn Convention —101 Places Not To See Before You Die travels through time and space to provide a welcome — and unusual — reprieve from the glut of “inspirational” travel books currently on the market.
Far from being just an encyclopedic list of crappy travel statistics, 101 Places Not To See Before You Die is also a backhanded tribute to what makes traveling so great: its tendency to put us in situations that we otherwise never would have experienced. With guest entries from writers like Nick Kristof and A.J. Jacobs, 101 Places Not To See Before You Die is filled with stories and anecdotes of misadventure to which any seasoned traveler can relate. These are the experiences we tell to friends afterwards, the stories that earn us bragging rights, the reason why we’re willing to put up with the bed bugs and the food poisoning and set out to explore to the world.
101 Places Not To See Before You Die: Because Bad Places Make Good Stories.
Even if you ignore ( from ignorare — to not know, disregard) the Romans’ influence ( influere — to flow in) on our culture ( colere — to foster, cultivate or respect), architecture ( architectus, from the Greek arkhi — chief + tekton — builder, carpenter), literature ( littera — letter), government (gubernare — navigate, pilot, govern), military (miles — soldier), legal ( lex — the law) and judicial (iudex — a judge) systems and medicine ( medicus — physician), there’s still the fact ( factum — something done, a fact) of Latin’s presence ( praesentia — presence) in English itself.
As might be obvious, getting to write a feature about Latin for the Washington Post Magazine was a treat for my inner dork.
As I took a bite, the flavor that greeted me revealed another important distinction between American and Mongolian cuisine. In America, even a dish as straightforward-sounding as “Fat-Wrapped Liver Chunks” would probably include a few unnamed, yet complementary ingredients like onions, or salt. But in Mongolia, the title says it all. Like everything we ate that night, my first bite had not been salted. It contained no herbs or spice. It was exactly what I knew it was: the liver of the sheep I’d just watched die.
For Slate Magazine, I write about what it really means to attend a traditional Mongolian feast — and why I’d prefer never to do so again.
It was a bad move for someone who hates boats: I spent 2 weeks at sea with a crew of marine biologists and students from Stanford, documenting the journey from the Line Islands to Honolulu and creating this website. (Don’t know where the Line Islands are? Take a map of the Pacific Ocean and stick a pin somewhere directly in the middle.)
I just had the chance to speak about my article in Popular Science, Rebooting the Body, on the New Hampshire Public Radio show Word of Mouth. (For those who missed it, it’s about how a new drug, currently known as teplizumab, might be able to halt the progress of Type 1 diabetes — and potentially have uses in other autoimmune diseases.)
You can read more about the segment — and listen to the interview — here.
An organizational shopping spree left me wondering about the philosophical significance of the Container Store — so I wrote an essay about it, a condensed version of which aired on American Public Media’s Marketplace.
When I wrote an article for Greater Good Magazine (and then Alternet) about the science of gratitude, I had no idea it’d have so much resonance. Around Thanksgiving I was asked to come on the NPR show Humankind to talk about my gratitude experiment.