I have always been an amateur cosmologist at heart; the mathematical rigors of real physics have always bored and vexed me, but the conceptual ideas surrounding our universe are, well, more interesting than anything we could ever possibly invent ourselves. The trouble with storytelling is, I suppose, that all stories are like many other stories, and even the most extraordinary ones are so familiar that, by all rights, we shouldn't ever be in awe of them. Still, what seems the most pedestrian, the most quotidien, the most mundane has, somewhere in it, the threads of the fantastic. No matter how dull a life and its story seem, it is, [...]
If it weren't for slavery, New York City wouldn't be in the mess we're in today—that is to say, the mess of New York State. After a detour during the mid-late 1700s, when the country's founding fathers were drafting the United States Constitution in the sweltering provisional capital of Philadelphia, Alexander Hamilton lobbied fiercely for his second home, New York City, to become the official capital of the new union. Had compromises not been necessary to satisfy the slave states—namely, a capital a little closer to home—New York City could be a federal district today. And maybe it should be anyway.