Debunking Hollywood: The Gordian Knot

I’ve often wondered who was the first person to tie a knot. Who was that ancient ancestor 10, 20, 100 years ago who first wrapped a strip of animal skin – or maybe some fibrous vine – around itself and realized that it could hold itself together, even hold a person’s weight. Or hell, after […]

Nobody Knows What Makes Something a Copycat Crime

On July 31st, five women robbed a bank in Olympia, Washington. While one stood watch outside, four of them entered the bank wearing hoodies and dark stocking caps and wielding handguns. Inside, one stood guard, another called out the time in in five second intervals, while the remaining two leapt over the counter and stole […]

Turning Left on 39th

I grew up in rural and small-town midwest.  Some people were richer than we were, some poorer.  And being normal, hierarchizing humans, we always knew who was rich and who was poor.  But regardless everybody went to the same grocery stores,  schools, churches, dime stores, movie theaters, summer concerts.  In other words, nobody was so […]

Guest Post: How the Bolivian Navy Became Landlocked

Cassandra wrote a post about the landlocked Bolivian navy in which she explained, in passing, that Bolivia once had a coast but lost it to Chile in the War of the Pacific.  One of the comments on that post, by guest poster Nick Suntzeff, was a post in itself and we thought you’d like to […]

An extraterrestrial social experiment

When I put on the metallic silver unitard and homemade alien mask that rainy morning, I had no idea that I was about to embark on one of the most stressful weekends of my life. How could I? I love wearing costumes. One Halloween, I dressed as a vulture-like Skeksis from Jim Henson’s The Dark […]

Guest Post: the Grandmother Hypothesis

Recently I’ve started seeing examples of those much-mocked New York Times trend stories that are not about Millennials, the way the trendiest trend stories usually are. In the articles I’ve been noticing, the trend-setters are Baby Boomers — who are, according to the Times, relocating to New York City to help raise the grandkids. Now […]

I Got the Post Puppy Blues

Anybody who knows me at all, in any context, probably knows that I adopted a dog two weeks ago. It’s all I talk about all the time. Sources know that she might try to get in my lap during an interview. Friends know that they’re invited over any time to see her and teach her […]