Reasonable Doubt

The law says yes. My experience says otherwise.

Illustration:

O, my greatest enemy and benefactor in the whole world is this dumb-hearted mother, this America, in whose iron loins I have been spiritually conceived… But alas, our spiritual Mother devours, like a cat, her own children.

—Ameen Rihani, 1911

For as long as I could remember, I wanted to be white. I wanted to be white because Luke Skywalker was white, because the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys was white, because the president of the United States was white.

But I was not white. My skin was brown, my hair was dark, and my name was Ahmed. I was…


Inside the Bay Area’s craziest secret underground parties

Illustrations:

What the fuck is this,” asks Jeffrey, so high that he cannot see straight, his face a melting candle. By “this” I don’t think he means the chemicals he’s ingested, which he’s taken on prior occasions, albeit at lower doses. Nor do I take him to mean Nana’s Living Room, the interactive art piece where beautiful people in costume are draped over pillows and rugs and whispering to one another in soft Californian, as the older woman we call Nana rocks rhythmically in her chair, passing out candies.

No, by “this” I suspect Jeffrey means the whole mandala, the ineffable…


LOVE/HATE

I’d never considered a future where a pod was out of reach. Moving to Barcelona changed that.

Photo by on

The nicotine is everywhere, and I am assailed on all sides. Hip Catalan separatists in jean cutoffs smoking their rollies, their tobacco laughter echoing up the cracked façades of this narrow Barcelona street and into my open window. The old lady in the apartment across the street from mine hanging up sopping clothes on the strung wires, a cigarette dangling from her lips, her morning routine occasionally interrupted when her body seizes and her rheumy coughs ring out. The construction workers grunting in my building’s hallway, the smoke from their cigarettes creeping under my door and rising in tantalizing curls.


Future Human

This software engineer let an algorithm pick where he lives, what he does—even what tattoo to get. Is he onto something?

Hawkins’ Random Place to Live program sent him to areas of Slovenia, Japan, India, Taiwan, and Dubai. He’s pictured here in Essen, Germany.

Max Hawkins will be getting his first tattoo in a few days, and the panic’s setting in. Not because it’s a permanent choice — although it certainly is. And not because of the pain — he thinks that’ll be manageable enough. Hawkins is panicking because until the moment he walks into the parlor, he won’t have any idea what tattoo he’s getting, or where on his body he’s getting it.

The random tattoo generator he’s built searches Google Images’ line drawings, taking a sample of the Internet’s offerings by choosing keywords in proportion to how frequency they’re used. By pressing…


The Arab Spring brought my father back to America, and LSD helped us make up for lost time

My father, left, and me during an LSD trip in Willard Park, Berkeley.

All the familiar paranoias emerge on a bright summer day in Big Sur, as my older brother and I watch my 70-year-old father come up on LSD for the first time in…maybe ever? His eyes are closed, hands folded on his lap. The light shines through gaps in the redwoods and lands in dapples on his face.

What have we done?

Here is a man who has fought in wars, who was once institutionalized by the Egyptian military, who had a heart attack at 54. A man beloved back home in Egypt, where he is an actor and humanitarian. A…


Owned by one of America’s richest families, Millbrook hosted Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Mingus and more

Billy Hitchcock’s country estate in Millbrook, New York, was occupied by Timothy Leary and his followers during much of 1967. (Alvis Upitis/Getty Images)

William Mellon Hitchcock was not your typical acid head.

Billy, as he was called, was a tall, charming blonde stockbroker in his twenties who worked at Lehman Brothers, for one. He was heir to one of the largest fortunes in the country, for another. And he had a trust fund that lined his pockets with $15,000 a week to do what he pleased. Sometimes he played the stocks. Sometimes he dropped acid. …


Buffett’s wager is a lesson in taking the Long View

This year, Warren Buffett won his multi-million dollar, decade-long .

From the preacher warning that the day of reckoning is nigh, to the sports analyst prognosticating about the outcome of next week’s big game, to the fortune teller calling for hard times in Mercury retrograde, predictions are pervasive, but accountability is rare. That the vast majority of predictions fail to come true is hardly a deterrent; we tend to remember the few that do.

This is a story about , on the eve of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, by Warren Buffett, one of the three richest people in the…


Urbano Monte’s planisphere was centuries ahead of its time

Urbano Monte’s planisphere, digitally stitched together. Source:

On July 25, 01585, near the end of , four Japanese boys stopped in Milan on their way back home to Japan. They’d been sent as the first Japanese Embassy to Europe three years earlier by the Jesuit missionary Alesandro Valignano. Their European tour took them through Spain, where they met King Philip II, and to Rome, where they met with the Pope. Now, in Milan, they encountered Urbano Monte, a gentleman scholar from a wealthy Milanese family whose interests had lately turned to geography. …


Xavier Dphrepaulezz’s triumph is the feel-good story we need to hear

Photo by Roberto Finizio/NurPhoto/Getty

Before Xavier Dphrepaulezz became Fantastic Negrito, the Oakland musician who won two Grammys for Best Contemporary Blues Album in the past three years, he was, for a brief period in 2012, my weed dealer.

Every week or so, he’d stop by my Berkeley apartment in an old car with a car seat in the back to deliver eighths that made my shifts as a barista more bearable. I’d always hated the awkward small talk that accompanied these sorts of encounters, the feigned attempts that the exchange was anything but transactional. But it was different with Dphrepaulezz. …


The art of Alicia Eggert makes time tangible

” (02020)¹ by Alicia Eggert in collaboration with David Moinina Sengeh. The neon sign was commissioned by TED and Fine Acts for TED Countdown, and driven around Dallas, Texas on October 10th, 02020 to generate action around climate change. Photo by Vision & Verve.

I. Time

The most commonly-used noun in the English language is, according to the Oxford English Corpus, time. Its frequency is partly due to its multiplicity of meanings, and partly due to its use in common phrases. Above all, “time” is ubiquitous because what it refers to dictates all aspects of human life, from the hour we rise to the hour we sleep and most everything in between.

But what is time? The irony, of course, is that it’s hard to say. Trying to pin down its meaning using words can oftentimes feel like grasping at a wriggling fish. …

Ahmed Kabil

Editor, The Long Now Foundation. Stories in OneZero, GEN, LEVEL, Timeline. Say hi:

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