Redux: Whither the Dorset?

Five years ago, I received a fateful invitation to join the Last Word On Nothing. Since then, almost all of the faces have changed, but its maverick spirit lives on. Much like the culture of the Dorset, featured in my first post in 2011…:   There’s nothing like a lost tribe to pique child-like curiosity. When an […]

The Wonderful World of Period Patents

I recently wrote a story for Racked about how some of the period underwear on the market work — the kind that either help keep your pad in place, or help replace tampons by wicking and absorbing blood. And because I always like to know about the evolution of various technologies, one of the first […]

The Monument that Montreal Swallowed

When I travel outside the US, I use an app called OffMaps. It loads up a map of whatever city you chose onto your phone, so even without service I can at least have some sense of where I’m going. There are lots of apps that do this, and probably ones that do it better […]

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 […]

Guest Post: The Lords of Yesterday

As my husband and I drove into Ouray, Colorado recently, we both gasped. The red-grey cliffs of 14,000-foot mountains cradle the old mining town, with waterfall lacework tracing down the mountainsides — one of the most gorgeous spots on Earth. But it was the stream tumbling through the valley we were gasping at: It was […]

Plodding With My Father

The Milky Way hung overhead. The lights from the far-off plains made a faint glow in the eastern sky. I made one last visit to the pit toilet at the edge of the parking lot, put on my day pack, and began to plod. I was setting out to climb a mountain with my dad. […]

Story, History, Story

Ann:   Some time ago, I got interested in why European languages so often use the same word for “story” and “history.”  Every English speaker knows that having one word for two such different things — fiction and truth, respectively — is anathema.  But my thinking didn’t go much farther than that, it rarely does.  So […]

The Simplest Answer

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about an old friend of mine named William of Occam. You know the guy I’m talking about, right? Skinny little kid in the monk’s robe who doesn’t say much. Sure you do. Some guys call him “Sharp Willy” or “Billy the Knife.” I’m not sure why, I assume it […]