A Hometown Hero, A Foreign Flag

Last Saturday, my daughter and I went to the opening day of Little League season. In our small town of White Salmon, Washington, it’s a day for classic Americana: The players chase their coaches around the bases, the Boy Scouts raise the Stars and Stripes, we sing the Star-Spangled Banner, and a local celebrity throws […]

Going Once, Going Twice

Spring is in the air, and with it comes the cha-ching of candy-bar sales. Of jogathons. Of hordes of students (and their parents) trying to raise money for books, for field trips, for the art program that’s on the chopping block, for scholarships. In some places there are also auctions. Here, we have themed auctions where […]

Interview with Will Storr: Disputable Sources

Ann:  Will Storr is a phenomenon.*  His specialty is writing good stories about people in bad places.  He’s got a story in Matter about an extremely unpleasant disease called Morgellons.  People with Morgellons have terrible itches, then tiny fibers creep out of their skin and make oozy sores.  The disease sounds like a horror story out […]

Snowbound and Murderous

My God but the veneer of civilization is thin. Baltimore had one of its whomping good snowstorms last week – I stopped measuring at 14 inches – and the next day it had another 3 inches or so, plus sleet, and the day after it had only an inch, plus more of that sleet, and […]

This Is a Story About Dancing Monkeys. Really.

What do you do if you are trapped in a room with a chimpanzee, a macaque, and a sea lion? The answer, apparently, is pump the tunes and get the party started. This week at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (basically the US version of the Royal Society) scientists […]

Why I’ve Become a Distracted Driving Bore

Lately, I’ve become a nag. I reprimanded my husband for fiddling with the navigation on his smartphone while he was driving. I chastised a friend who said she talked on her speakerphone on the road and another who admitted to texting while “only going 30 miles an hour.” Last weekend, I looked up a bunch […]

Much As I Loved It, I’m Not Going Back

Behind science news stories, which are facts or predictions of facts, is a reality which gives them their context and sometimes their meaning. Science magazine, January 23, 2014: “A new analysis . . . indicates that modern-day rumblings in the New Madrid Seismic Zone are not echoes of the 1811 to 1812 quakes, however. Instead, […]

I Regret the Error

Happy 2014, the year after The Year We Broke the Internet. Last week, in a gloomy essay in Esquire, Luke O’Neil wrote that publications old and new have abandoned basic reporting—and worse, their basic concern for the truth—for the sake of speed and splash. “Big Viral, a Lovecraftian nightmare … has tightened its thousand-tentacled grip on […]