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Rehearsing ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ is like trying to herd cats onto a grid and make them walk it perfectly.

I’m really enjoying the experience. I’ve made a playlist of all the numbers I’m in, and as I drive or do laundry I’m mentally practicing the choreography. What do we do again after the sunburst? Am I supposed to cut in front of or behind Travis when we zip our two separate lines into a single ring around the ghostly, curse-shrieking, ladder-mounted Fruma Sara? Rehearsing ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ is…

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The Sentence That Knocked Down the Berlin Wall (But Almost Didn’t)

Words that defined Ronald Reagan’s presidency, as remembered by the White House speechwriter. As a speechwriter you spent your working life watching Reagan, talking about Reagan, reading about Reagan, attempting to inhabit the very mind of Reagan. When you joined him in the Oval Office, you didn’t want to hear him say simply that he liked your work. You wanted to get him talking, revealing himself. So you’d go into…

Ada Lovelace at 17
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The First Programmer Was a Lady

Over a hundred years before a monstrous array of vacuum tubes surged into history in an overheated room in Pennsylvania, a properly attired Victorian Gentleman demonstrated an elegant little mechanism of wood and brass in a London drawing room. One of the ladies attending this demonstration brought along the daughter of a friend. She was a teenager with long dark hair, a talent for mathematics, and a weakness for wagering…

iPod

On Death and iPods: A Requiem

I never owned a classic iPod, though I did have a B&W PalmPilot and a color successor. They day SHU gave me an iPad, I carefully collected all the cords and manuals and put my Palm away in its original box. I still feel a little guilty that I didn’t even bother to synch it one last time. Less dramatic was the decline of my relationship with digital voice recorders. I…

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Robot Dramas: Autonomous Machines in the Limelight on Stage and in Society

A thoughtful overview of robots in culture, addressing the fear and hope that go hand-in-hand when humans reflect upon, fictionalize, and create our relationships with with mechanical workers of all stripes. Aaron Dubrow, National Science Foundation media officer, includes his perceptions of a panel on robots in theater, where I brought up the legacy of the 1920s Czech play that introduced the word “robot.” Theater is not an arena where the NSF…