Motherhood Week: Making Friends With Mister P.

My eight-year-old daughter is a fourth-generation perfectionist. In my family, the trait is matrilineal, so I know from firsthand experience that it has a few advantages. My daughter is likely to pay her bills on time and use semicolons correctly. She will not be intimidated by details. She will have a certain baseline competence that will make her […]

The Community Listservs of the People of LWON

  Emily Underwood, Friend of LWON, posted on Facebook a collection of topics from her community listserv. Lions (mountain lions) Free blue heeler Sick chicken Ann doesn’t know exactly where Emily lives but it sure isn’t Baltimore.  Ann’s community listserv looks more like this. 2nd Quarterly Citizen’s Decision-Making Training (formerly known as “Shoot Don’t Shoot”) […]

On Competence

As human civilization becomes ever more technologically complex, the average competence of each person declines. When a society operates using a suite of technologies that a single adult can learn in his or her lifetime—building a house from scratch, farming, spinning cotton, making medicines, having babies, hunting, fishing, singing and dancing—then it is possible to […]

Redux: You’ve got mail, you idiot!

This post originally ran on October 26, 2011, back when Donald Trump was relentlessly propagating an easily debunked conspiracy theory about President Obama. As we ponder the triumph of “alternative facts,” it’s worth considering what makes bullshit so appealing and why it’s so hard to debunk.Earlier this month, I gave an Ignite talk at the National Association of […]

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 […]

A Resolution For A New Year That Doesn’t Exist

Tomorrow is the last day of 2016. And good riddance. Boy, what a mess 2016 was. 2017 is bound to be better. Like 2015 maybe – man that was great year. Way better than that pile of crap 2014. No matter what our opinions of 2016 are, for most of us January 1st will feel […]