How We Broke up with Our Phones (Sort Of)

Catherine Price’s book How to Break Up With Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life was just published 10 days ago, but since we here at LWON are not confined by space or time, we can already tell you how her 30-day plan worked for us. Last spring, the two of us were […]

I Hope You Can Keep It A Secret

The psychology department is a small, squatty building on the west side of campus. It has a weird exterior, a vaguely geometric set of slats that surround the building, probably to cover up the ailing stucco beneath. You’re five minutes late. With a backpack slung over your back, you hustle down the hall, looking for […]

Amazon Alexa fanfic

  Inspired by true events   Me: Alexa. Good morning. Alexa: Good morning! On this day in 1961, NASA sent a chimpanzee named Ham into space, flying 155 miles up in the Mercury capsule. But these scientists weren’t just aping around. This mission was designed to tell them about – Me: Alexa stop. Alexa, did […]

Phone Hell

Today marks the publication of yet another study telling us that our screens are making us miserable. Psychologist Jean Twenge at San Diego State University looked at survey results from more than a million U.S. 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders and found that those who spent more than an hour a day gazing into the rectangular […]

Hidden in this picture

When the ancient Greeks wanted to get something done, they really committed. In 499 B.C., in a bid to get out of an unpleasant job assignment, Histaeus, the leader of Miletus, plotted a rebellion against the Persian king Darius the Great. Elaborately coded missives sent to co-conspirators would only rouse suspicion. He needed something much […]

It Turns Out There Are Some Downsides to the Magical Box

A good proportion of science fiction can be summed up like this: scientists invent a black box that does a magical thing. Hooray! Oh no… wait… that magical thing has some kinks. Oh dear, oh my, look what has happened, it turns out that there are some downsides to the magical box. The thing is, […]

The Kid Fire

Some years ago I attended a beach barbecue in Juneau, Alaska on a gray summer day. The adults drank beer in a ring around a fire where salmon collars sizzled and talked about the price of boats and politics. The kids ran in a mixed-age herd closer to the surf, clambering over driftwood and getting […]

2018: What’s the worst that could happen?

“It is easy for me to imagine that everything in our lives is just a creation of some other entity for their entertainment.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson, on the odds that all human existence is a simulation “Two tech billionaires [are] secretly engaging scientists to work on breaking us out of the simulation.” – The Guardian  “What […]