Along Those Lines: The Boundaries that Create Our World

Along Those Lines: The Boundaries that Create Our World

by Peter Cashwell

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Overview

"Intellectual reveling at its finest."— Booklist

"A delightful and curious book about borders, boundaries, fences, and lines."— Slate

"A thoughtful and entertaining look at the demarcations in our lives."— Times Dispatch

After years of crossing borders in search of new birds and new landscapes, Peter Cashwell's exploration of lines between states, between time zones, and between species led him to consider the lines that divide genders, seasons, musical genres, and just about every other aspect of human life. His conclusion: Most had something in common—they were largely imaginary.

Nonetheless, Along Those Lines , a tour of the tangled world of delineation, attempts to address how we distinguish right from wrong, life from death, Democrat from Republican—and how the lines between came to be. Part storyteller, part educator, and part wise guy, Cashwell is unafraid to take readers off the beaten path—into the desert vistas of the Four Corners, the breeding ground of an endangered warbler, or the innards of a grand piano. Something amusing and/or insightful awaits at every stop.

And he's not alone. The tricks and treats of the human instinct for drawing lines are revealed in interviews with experts of all sorts. Learn about the use of the panel border from a Hugo Award–winning comics creator. Trace the edge of extinction with the rediscoverer of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Get the truth about the strike zone from an umpire who holds a degree in physics.

You'll begin to see even the most familiar lines in a whole new way.

"From music to politics to gender splits, the things that divide us also tell us quite a bit about who we are, and how we got there. You couldn't ask for a better guide than Peter Cashwell, whose eloquent musings on the lines we draw—and sometimes erase—is illuminating, fascinating, and impossible to put down."—Caroline Leavitt

"If, as Paul Klee told his students at the Bauhaus, a line is a dot that goes for a 'walk,' then Along Those Lines is a beguiling and personal treasury of dots on hikes, treks, and walkabouts. To accept this invitation to meander through the author's territory of boundaries, borders, definitions, demarcations, and delineations is to be rewarded with surprising answers to questions you didn't know you had until now, about everything under the sun, from strike zones, musical genres, and Gerrymandering to birding, gender, and how different religions define the lines between right and wrong. Peter Cashwell's appreciation of the boundaries that create our world is a pure delight." —Katharine Weber

"As if by magic, Cashwell gives us the power to see the invisible lines we live by and—perhaps more importantly—the permission to smudge, erase, dissolve, or redraw the lines that don’t serve us well. Along Those Lines is an imaginative and well-researched book full of Cashwell's trademark imagination and humor.* Even the most edgy, rule-bound readers will come away enlightened and liberated. [*His footnotes alone could open Saturday Night Live.]"—Maria Mudd Ruth

"Peter Cashwell has written a brilliant, mind-bending saga of delineation as a supreme act of imagination, as a noble and often comic attempt to confine the raggedy universe within a geometer’s desperate dreams of precision."—Will Blythe

Peter Cashwell dabbled in everything from radio announcing to improv comedy before settling into his career as a writer and teacher. His lifelong fascination with birds and language eventually inspired him to write The Verb 'To Bird' , a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection (Paul Dry Books, 2003). Since 1995, Cashwell has taught at Woodberry Forest School in Virginia, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781589880924
Publisher: Dry, Paul Books, Incorporated
Publication date: 05/27/2014
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 955,363
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 5.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Peter Cashwell dabbled in everything from radio announcing to improv comedy before settling into his career as a writer and teacher. His lifelong fascination with birds and language eventually inspired him to write The Verb 'To Bird' , a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection (Paul Dry Books, 2003). Since 1995, Cashwell has taught at Woodberry Forest School in Virginia, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

Table of Contents

Prologue Where I'm Coming From 1

Birds do the strangest things

Basketball, science, and dirt

A list of lists

The Fifty-Fifty Project

Part 1 Space and Time

Maps and Legends 11

Retting, scotching, and heckling

Things get recursive

On the border

What the South is really like

No supernatural forces

Carolinas in my mind

The buck stops here and there

The verb 'to border'

State of the Union 23

American pie

Physical and political

West-running lines

London Company calling

The landless states

A house divided

"He was James K. Polk, Napoleon of the Stump"

The Great Compromiser and the other guy

Boundary manipulation

Drivers Education 59

North of Calvander

Anticipation

It is wrong

"The map is not the territory"

As above, so below

Under the sea

Ocean views

I am a pale shadow

The line of descent

History's Greatest Monster 53

Malapropisms, bowdlerizations, and smoots

The very best or the very worst

Spreading santorum

A Field Guide to Gerrymanders

From the New World

A small and niggling sort of shame

The Starting Lineup 65

What it is is football

How to get paid to watch sports

Interview with the umpire

Quantum baseball

A Platonic ideal

A short trip to Cooperstown

Framing devices

The Four Corners Offense 75

Salient points

The Carolina Way

Not a debilitating form of insanity

Terminators and time zones

Uncoordinated Universal Time

Saturday forever

What questions

Lumpers and splitters

The rings of Saturn

What God Has Put Asunder 89

The Lord is One

Acts of division

The longest afternoon of my life

Sailing the Sea of Talmud

Fishing for capybara

I wouldn't think of it

Surveying the moral landscape

Time of the Season 102

Heavenly bodies

Errors add up

From Hanke to Henry

Ithacation

You must believe in spring

Why migrate?

I go north

Scary birders

"Spring is here"

Part 2 Arts and Sciences

Just Lines on Paper 121

Not on the ground

Nearly touching the chicken

A really stupid question

Nothing whatsoever about lines or paper

All in the gutter

What happens in between

This Is So Lame

Bricks and Mortar 131

A new kind of pain

I am not the only one thinking about it

"Pixels were the only way I knew the world"

Vultures eating obsolete technology

Between 1 and 0

Spoiled by jagged edges

Compressed and rarefied air

A much more complex set of skills

Exchanging fidelity for convenience

Chaotic interactions

Rock and a Hard Place 147

"The Sound of Difference"

An illegitimate reason

Scandalized metal fans

The surprising contents of Pandora's box

Dickie defies corporate policy

In search of Beethoven's Third Symphony

High-powered consultants

Parts Is Parts 157

An exercise in double entendre

Bikinis and burkas

A pair of overlapping bell curves

"Sex is biology. Gender is sociology."

I'm thinking of Mrs. Frisby

Elephants do it too

The South's most widespread invasive plant

People who are not typical

Smudging the lines

Names Will Never Hurt Me 173

The science of names

Interspecies romance

The kind of creature that would break a taxonomist's spirit

Talking with non-scientists

The magpie issue

Stupid hybridization

Rite of Passage 184

A certain degree of frustration

The commercial engine of our culture

Where no heads roll

Not by maturity, but by age

The biggest myth about adolescence

Considerable upset

Thirteenness

Right at the edge of the nest

An entirely different animal

The Undiscovered Country 198

The most famous speech in English literature

The only truly important line

Iterations of immortality

Virginia and Martha

Pigeons unknown to science

Special Creation

The elephant in the room

Jeffersonian paleontology

Lazarus species

They can't all be hiding

We're Not Lost 213

Hovering right at the brink

Deep in the swamp forest

"I've never felt any doubt"

Bucking consensus

The Romeo error

"It would be insane"

The next mass extinction

The place where we live

Epilogue: I Don t Know Where I'm Going, but I'm on My Way 227

Close to the end

Failure to quote Dorothy

Repeatedly denied

There's Kirwin

Bibliography 231

Acknowledgments 255

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