When America was Great, the First Time

We were great in the Ice Age. Big weapons, big animals, big land. While parts of the world were crawling with hominids for a million years or more, this side of the planet was off limits. Getting here was never easy, not in the late Pleistocene, not now. The Americas are bookended by the world’s two […]

No Rings, Pops, or Bells

I don’t know what to do with my phone. It makes noises that I don’t understand. Sometimes it sounds like a jackpot machine and I want to throw it as far as I can. The last few days I found myself out of range while driving across southern Utah, trying to call my boys to […]

The trouble with abundance

There are several things you’re likely to notice if you fly over Southeast Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago on a clear day. If you’re an alpine junky like me, the first will be the snowcapped mountains that stretch seemingly without end from near the coast to the eastern horizon somewhere in Canada, their white-and-gray-tongued glaciers pouring all […]

Just Have Lunch

I wish I could remember – but I can’t  – the woman who told me a story about how she and other women in her profession had regular lunches, casually, unofficially, no agenda.  Was she a lawyer? A writer? An astronomer?  Just don’t remember.  The thing I’m sure about is that the point was not […]

Reason for Hope

I joined a film crew several years ago in Chilean Patagonia where we put together a  flick opposing dams along the turquoise rivers of the Aysén region. At the time, stopping the advance of some of the biggest investors in the world seemed impossible. But soon more films were made, protests ignited across the country to save […]

Goodbye, Home

I close on a house this week. I’ve never done this before, not quite sure how the paperwork is supposed to happen. It’s not much of a place really, almost a thousand square feet and a loft with spaces between the planks where my older boy pressed his eye, watching his brother being born on the […]

What Should We Do About Comments?

I have a policy: never read the comments. This rule applies to most of the publications where my work appears online, such as FiveThirtyEight, Slate and The Washington Post. (LWON is the exception. Comments left here require approval before they’re posted, and I read them all.) It might seem unfriendly to ignore people who are […]

Thankful? Oh, Really?

Ann:  It’s been a fairly dreadful year, personally and nationally, and giving thanks is going to be a stretch.  But even when I was a kid, I was thankless.  When my grandfather said grace at Sunday dinners — “Bless, oh Lord, this food to our use and us to thy service” — I thought the […]