The fantasy of conquering all worlds on my bicycle came crashing down when I moved to Lincoln, Nebraska to earn my PhD. Lincoln was a very bikeable city, but it was the first place I lived where the grocery stores were off highways and there was no way to easily reach the Hinky-Dinky and get the stuff I needed into my panniers without braving lanes of speeding traffic, instead of me speeding past traffic.
So there at 29 going on 30, I learned to drive, bought a car, parked it in the driveway and continued to take my bike to the university. I had a European attitude—cars were for hauling heavy things and going out of the city. In the city, all I needed was the bicycle—no matter the weather or time. One winter, riding to school as the sun was setting, I hit a patch of ice and flew over my handlebars, landed on my face and scooped up some rock salt. I remounted and continued on my way until a car stopped in front of me and a man came out and said, “Are you okay? Your face is a mess.”
I stopped in at the University health clinic, where I saw in the mirror, blood and salt and stones all splattered in my skin. I lay on the bed listening to the clink of every pebble as the doctor extracted them one by one from my skin—it took three hours and several bandages. I was back bicycling the next day.
This was a sentence said recently by one of the students in my class, "Justice, Compassion and the Rights of Nonhuman Animals," which I teach at my university.
It’s hard being an animal rights advocate. You get laughed at. You get ignored. The worst part is that even the people who share a deep concern for social justice, empathy toward the downtrodden, and a commitment to making the world a better place, often feel or care little about the oppression of nonhuman beings, our close brethren. The fact that violence toward animals desensitizes us to all types of suffering and that the oppression of animals is intimately tied to the oppression of humans is simply invisible to many people.
That was what my student was confronting: Hopelessness in the face of overwhelming odds and indifference. What can we do when so few people care?
I gave her one, simple, sure answer. What we can do is write.
The subway car was as packed as at rush hour. Face to face with a kid with his nose in a Kindle, it struck me that sometimes what one gets—and gets to keep—on public transportation is not an experience but an unforgettable expression. When the subway came to a stop, snapping the kid out of whatever world he was in, he looked at once startled, confused (what stop is this?), anxious, irritated, and finally, relieved. His face went blank, he returned to his reading, and I was left to marvel: This kid had no idea he was born a century too late to be a silent-film star.
Drama, lyricism, philosophy, and romance—I hope you will find all of these, plus even a little humor, and even a dram of beauty here and there, in this new book. Perhaps even that elusive thing, inspiration.
Salvaging a priceless gem from a shipwreck in the Sea of Japan is a seemingly simple assignment for a treasure-hunting duo. But when a monk’s prophecy about a natural disaster starts coming true, adventurers Rachel and Chase fall into a race to find three samurai swords that will save an entire country.
San Francisco is known for its charming cable cars and their affable conductors and grip operators. Now Daniel Curzon reveals these goodwill ambassadors’ dark side, with snarky, honest tales of tourists and locals sure to offend almost everybody.
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