The Last Word



December 14-19, 2014

In the second half of Ann’s reflections on Marvin “Murph” Goldberger, the subject turns from academic life to Jason, the group of physicists who advised the US government on science, including tactics to be used in the Vietnam War. As before, she lets Murph do the talking.

Press release-driven science journalism is lazy and inherently flawed, argues our guest Stephanie Paige Ogburn. The motivations of those who write them are at odds with the goals of journalism, and the public deserves proper beat reporting in context, rather than study stories.

One of the great and trivial mysteries of life is the fate of those small items – ballpoint pens, elastics and paperclips – that we rarely intentionally throw out, but which disappear all the same. Somewhere out there is a paperclip sink, we muse, a person with an ever-growing wealth of these vanishing microtools. Her name is Nell Greenfieldboyce.

Cassie presents an astoundingly accurate account of the working practices of professional science writers. Highlights include the conveniently ambiguous nature of deadlines in a globalized industry, the fortifying powers of a bra, and crucial steps such as, “Go to the kitchen. Eat all the things.”

Finally, Michelle leads us into some weekend feature reading with a story about abducted Laotian environmental organizer Sombath Somphone. She invests us irretrievably in the man as a young, striving high school student who earned the support of his English teacher and paid the opportunities back in hard work back home.


Image: JF Sebastian, via Flickr

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Categorized in: Jessa