Why Am I Not There?

I’m not at the totality today, and it’s been gnawing at me. Between 1 and 7 million people are estimated to witness this swath of darkness across the middle of North America from coast to coast. I live about an eight-hour drive away, and I’ve heard totality is a mystical experience, once in a lifetime. […]

What I Learned About Interruption from Talk Radio

I grew up listening to a lot of talk radio, thanks to a childhood spent in the car driving from this soccer tournament in rural Connecticut to that one in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania, all while listening to Mike and the Mad Dog, or Dr. Laura, or Opie and Anthony. I didn’t think it […]

I Have So Many Ideas, I Have No Ideas At All

Whenever I talk to students or aspiring journalists there is one question I dread. It’s also a question I can almost guarantee someone will ask. And it’s this: “Where do you get your ideas?” I usually answer first, with a performative groan. I hate this question, I say. It’s a good one of course. It’s […]

Redux: Newsprint is dead. Long live newsprint!

This post first ran in 2013. I died a little inside when I heard about the recent Today Show interview in which Jeff Bezos said, “I think printed newspapers on actual paper may be a luxury item. It’s sort of like, you know, people still have horses, but it’s not their primary way of commuting to […]

The Sock Barometer

    I’ve been losing socks lately. One at a time. I correlate this with my state of life and work: picking up and dropping off kids, scheduling plane flights and cross-country drives, article deadlines, a final book manuscript due tomorrow, a blog post tonight. This week, I’m teaching 15 high school classes on the writing process, why we […]

Redux: You’ve got mail, you idiot!

This post originally ran on October 26, 2011, back when Donald Trump was relentlessly propagating an easily debunked conspiracy theory about President Obama. As we ponder the triumph of “alternative facts,” it’s worth considering what makes bullshit so appealing and why it’s so hard to debunk.Earlier this month, I gave an Ignite talk at the National Association of […]

Sexist for All I Know

Last night I ran through quotes in my new book manuscript, making sure they were all amply annotated, meaning I spelled the names right. There were a lot of women in this run. For a book on the Ice Age and paleo sciences, mostly archaeology and paleontology, I’d had no trouble finding female researchers to write […]

The Problem with Good People

Writing about people who are a normal mixture of good and bad is already hard.  Writing about good people is close to impossible. I wrote a profile once about a doctor who was just plain good.  He wasn’t a do-gooder – “I’m not a missionary,” he’d say; he was just a man who needed to […]