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 […]

The Last Word

June 13-17, 2016 Christie thought she was from nowhere–until an internet quiz put her in her place. The novel Frankenstein, Michelle writes, “can be read a warning of the perils of human hubris and a brilliantly imaginative response to a global disaster.” Will we take its lessons and inspiration to heart in the face of our own monstrous creation, climate change? J-Shame: “It hits when your […]

On Getting From “Wow!” to “[yawn]”: Yes!!!

A few weeks ago I was talking to one of the founders of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), the collaboration that last September made the first detection of gravitational waves. Even if you’re not science-savvy, you will almost certainly recall the worldwide breathless news coverage following the February announcement of that detection. Now Rainer Weiss, MIT […]

You call that science?

Last week I invited readers to participate in a little experiment. I’d had what I thought might be a big idea: a possible correlation between rate of reading speed and facility with learning foreign languages. My younger son and I are slow in both categories. My older son and my wife are quick in both categories. I […]

Parle français? Read English? ¿Una palabra a la vez? Oy.

Inspired by guest Veronique Greenwood‘s three-part series (part 1, part 2, part 3) about learning a foreign language, some of the contributors to LWON volunteered for a week’s worth of essays about their own encounters with the challenges of linguistics. When my younger son was in high school, my wife and I realized we would need to hire a tutor for his French class. […]

The Last Word

April 13-17 Ann on a recent Nature study linking dragons and climate change: “The authors recommend the obvious — increasing research in consumer-friendly fire-resistent clothing — and further suggest that monarchs desist from running around conferring knighthoods.” A sharp-eyed commenter notes publication date. Michelle on a disease affecting couples living in tipis and other small, off-the-grid […]

There Goes the Sun

During a total eclipse of the sun, the landscape darkens. But you knew that. What you might not know—what I didn’t know, anyway, when I observed a total solar eclipse on August 11, 1999—is that the experience comes with a lot of other sensory overload. I found myself thinking about that total eclipse while reading about the one […]