The Last Word

December 5-9. 2016 At a writing residency in Oregon, Emma finds a bird foot in coyote scat, and then sees death all around her in the forest. When I stopped for lunch, I took out my notebook and wrote, “Thinking mostly about nothing much except how the forest is death, death, life out of death, death accumulated so it […]

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 […]

Redux: Killing in the Name of Science

On the occasion of fifteen years of science writing, I revisit the task that led me out of science. When I first wrote this piece, I have to admit, I was shaking and crying. It was a passage I needed to write, and it appeared here in 2011. If you have trouble with the image […]

Rosetta and Philae: Plucky siblings for life

On September 30, the Rosetta orbiter will make a controlled collision with Comet 67P/C-G. It is not designed for landing, so this is the last we will hear from it. This date also marks an end to a happy period for my family that started in 2013 when my son was just four years old […]

Redux: The Berger Inquiry

When I first posted this piece in August, 2014 I wanted to let the Berger Inquiry stand alone for the remarkable event that it was. Subsequent events have added nuance to the meaning of the inquiry. When the proposal was revived in 2004 as a natural gas pipeline, some of the people who had spoken […]

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 […]

Dip, Dip and Swing

Another Canada Day has passed, eclipsed in my part of the country by the festivities of Aboriginal Day, which falls just a week beforehand. Bizarrely, it was the Google Doodle this year that most roused my patriotic spirit on July first. In the image, a woman kneels up in the bow of a canoe — possibly […]

Debunking Hollywood: Drowning

Debunking Hollywood is LWON’s very occasional series that takes a hard science look at common TV and movie tropes.  “Help!” The lifeguard straightens in his chair, craning his neck to find the citizen in peril. “Help!” Over there, by the barrier floats! The victim’s face is obscured by great splashes raised in her violent struggle for […]