Trained in satire: Comedian Al Franken intends to be taken seriously as a Democratic candidate for the Senate in Minnesota. "A satirist looks at a situation and sees the inconsistencies and hypocrisies, and he cuts through the baloney and gets to the truth," he says to those skeptical about his candidacy. "I think that's pretty good training for the Senate, don't you?" (Atlantic, May).
Golden Rules: Playwright George Bernard Shaw detected a flaw in the Golden Rule: "Do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you," he said; "their tastes may be different." The late Richard Graham had his own take: "You shouldn't do unto others what you wouldn't want done to you" (Washington Monthly, January/February/March).
Get moving: Americans could cut carbon emissions by 64 million tons if they’d either walk or bicycle for 30 minutes a day instead of driving. They’d also collectively shed 3 billion pounds of excess fat in the process. Even more would be done for the environment if people gave up eating meat, since livestock production produces 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions (Sierra, March/April).
Strange love: David Levy, an artificial-intelligence researcher from London, thinks the time is coming when humans will hook up with robots for love, sex and even marriage. "If the alternative is that you are lonely and sad and miserable, is it not better to find a robot that claims to love you and acts like it loves you?" he argues (Scientific American, March).
Say a prayer for java: It is not so unusual that Catholic authorities in Croatia have opened a coffee shop. What is unique is that their customers can pay for their caffeine fix with prayers. The café in Zagreb charges four “Our Fathers” for a cappuccino and five “Hail Marys” for a Coca-Cola, the most expensive item on the menu (The Week, February 22).