Redux: Contagious Compassion

This post was first published in March of last year; sadly, it’s more relevant than ever. On February 29, after having lunch in Hood River, Oregon, Kozen Sampson drove to a quiet neighborhood to take his dogs for a walk. He was getting out of his car, he says, when a man with brown hair approached and kicked his car door. […]

Better Science Writing Through Improv

Those of us who try to communicate complicated things for a living are usually told, early on by some wiser person, to know our audiences. To know our readers, in my case. I’ve always taken this pretty seriously—which is to say, I take all of you seriously. I don’t know your names (except for Mom—hi, […]

Corvid Redux Week: The Crow Knows Your Nose

Like Ann, I’m a recent convert to the charm of crows. This has led to a running joke with my husband’s cousin, Roger. At family reunions, I tell him how much I like crows. He tells me how much he likes to shoot them. Hilarious, right? Here’s the satisfying part: Crows remember Roger. They don’t just remember Roger’s […]

Science Metaphors (cont.): Arctic Resignation

The Svalbard archipelago, midway between continental Norway and the North Pole, is famous for its polar bears, but it is also home to the distinctive (and distinctively adorable) Svalbard reindeer. Shaggy-haired and stubby-legged, the Svalbard reindeer is not only the world’s smallest subspecies of reindeer but also the world’s northernmost herbivorous mammal, and its survival […]

Science Metaphors (cont.): When Han Solo Got Waxed

The latest issue of the journal Environmental History features an article titled “Chest Hair and Climate Change: Harrison Ford and the Making of ‘Lost There, Felt Here.’” Stop snickering! This is a serious thing. At least, I think it’s a serious thing. Section editor Finis Dunaway acknowledges that while “readers were not expecting to find an […]

Redux: Tesser Well

When I first published this post, my daughter was six. Now, she’s eight-going-on-nine, and halfway through the Harry Potter series. But on dark and stormy nights, winter or summer, she still feels the pull of A Wrinkle in Time—and I do, too. ______ It was a dark and stormy night. In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, […]

Redux: Dr. Frankenstein’s Climate

Two hundred and one years ago today, a young writer began a very famous story. Every year, it gets a little more relevant. Between two and three o’clock in the morning on June 16, 1816, during a restless night in a villa on Lake Geneva, eighteen-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin had a waking dream. As the moon […]

Listening to the Lost Boys

Last Sunday afternoon, I spent a couple of hours at a right-wing “free speech” rally in downtown Portland, Oregon. I described parts of the experience in a story I wrote earlier this week, but I’m still thinking about what I heard and saw. The rally, organized by an area group called Patriot Prayer, was held in […]