Dog Days

These are the dog days. Hot as a dog, lazy as a dog, wanting to curl up and take naps like a dog. Please, let us lie, sleeping like them, on these summer afternoons. But the phrase didn’t originate from the habits of our earthly canine companions. Instead, it came from Sirius, the dog star. […]

Slay a Monster—With Science!

  “There are monsters in my mind,” my daughter said at bedtime. “Oh, honey,” I said. “Monsters don’t exist.” She glared at me. “Yes, they do.” I sighed. “Have you ever heard of allometric scaling?” Well, it didn’t go exactly like that.

A Placebo a Day…

The other day I was walking home and I noticed that the local herbal remedy place in the neighborhood had closed down. It was a cheery place, with pictures of flowers on the windows, and often a pretty girl outside to lure in customers. It may have been a tad corporate-looking but I never really […]

The Ghosts in the Machines

Early one evening a couple of weeks ago I was sitting on a bed in a hotel room in Aspen, laptop in lap, when I started hearing voices. I raised my head, listening closely. At first I assumed the voices were coming from the street, but then I saw that the windows were closed. I got up and […]

Redux: The Knowledge

 This first ran on Nov. 18, 2011, before Sally took indefinite leave.  We just know you’re missing her so here’s the next best, the redux Sally. A transatlantic phone call ended badly the other day. “You can just turn left at the next light,” I heard my friend tell the New York cab driver over […]

I Dream of Wrigley

I dream of Wrigley. All the time. More and more often. I grew up in Chicago and went to games at Wrigley Field all season long, season after season, and even though I left Chicago 30 years ago, Wrigley Field has never left me. The one-hundredth anniversary of the opening of Wrigley Field last month got me wondering […]

Guest Post: The Art (& Science) of Lefty Portraits

If neuroscientists could pick one idea to pack into a wormhole and expel to the outer reaches of the galaxy, there would be several worthy candidates. Some would probably pick the notion that you can “read” people’s tastes and preferences and even political ideologies on brain scans. Others might banish all talk of “neuroplasticity” and […]

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 […]