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 […]

The Long Now of the Tiburón Bighorn

In the spring of 2012, botanist and graduate student Benjamin Wilder was camping on Tiburón Island, a large island in the Gulf of California whose flora he has studied for most of a decade. Wilder wanted to find out more about the evolutionary history of the plants on Tiburón, so he was looking for fossil […]

Which Sherlock Are You? An LWON Diversion

In our quest to not only see but also observe, the readers and writers of LWON have a lot in common with Sherlock Holmes—that famously exquisite observer, terrible flatmate, and devoted fan of intelligent crime. (Science writers may feel even more affinity with Holmes’ long-suffering chronicler Dr. Watson, but that’s another story). Which Holmes, though? Arthur […]

My Dirty Stream

You’ve probably heard a lot of Pete Seeger songs in the last couple of days. And no wonder: When Seeger died on Monday, he left behind a very long lifetime’s worth of beautiful, cheeky, unforgettable songs. But what he left me — and the millions of other kids who grew up along the Hudson River […]

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 […]

One Weird Old Trick to Undermine the Patriarchy

My five-year-old insists that Bilbo Baggins is a girl. The first time she made this claim, I protested. Part of the fun of reading to your kids, after all, is in sharing the stories you loved as a child. And in the story I knew, Bilbo was a boy. A boy hobbit. (Whatever that entails.) […]

The Botanist Nobody Knew

Before dawn on October 3, 1932, in the small Columbia River town of Bingen, Washington, an 82-year-old man walked to the depot to catch the morning train to Portland. Under circumstances that remain unclear, the arriving train struck him down, killing him almost instantly. The man had lived in town for more than half a […]

The Last Word

25- 29 November This week, we gave thanks. Ann pointed out that sexual harrassment may be a subset of a deeper inability to keep other people from suffering the consequences of your own inner demons. Kant is involved. Jessa identifies a central mechanism keeping us from flying off into virtual existences — that pesky inner […]