The Last Word

April 25-29, 2016 This week, Veronique Greenwood’s glancing knowledge of Mandarin becomes a daunting challenge, spurred on by some tentative communicative exchanges in China. Some argue that Shakespeare couldn’t have written some of his plays because the author of the plays knew too much. There’s another explanation: Perhaps he acted like a journalist. Helen bore […]

Redux: Murmuration. The poetry of the morning walk.

This post first ran on January 15, 2013. This morning I awoke to the kind of day that offers an easy excuse to skip the walk. The temperature gauge read -3F (-19C) when I crawled out of bed, and by the time I’d finished the tea and hot porridge my husband had prepared, it was still only […]

The Biography of an Ice Pile

I love snow and cold (although I hate ice) and, for the most part, this winter did not come through for me. But there was one exception: a blizzard in late January that dumped a couple of feet of snow on Washington. I ran around in the snow with dogs and did snow angels and […]

Shakespeare Was a Journalist

This past Saturday, the world celebrated the birthday of a guy named William Shakespeare. He was born in Stratford-on-Avon in England on April 23, 1564, and died on or about the same date in 1616. Pretty much every reputable Shakespeare scholar and literary historian argues—based on historical evidence—that this William Shakespeare was the author, alone […]

Sankofa Futurism

One of my favorite futurist quotes comes from a 1956 Ford commercial called Design for Dreaming. In it, the main character sings (yes, it’s a musical) the line: “Everyone says the future is strange, but I have a feeling some things won’t change.” I love this quote for a lot of reasons, and I use […]

Damage Patterns

The other night I was in the midst of writing about the Ice Age when I strayed to the internet. Up came the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography that went this year to New York Times photographers Mauricio Lima, Sergey Ponomarev, Tyler Hicks and Daniel Etter for their coverage of the European refugee crises. Fresh from writing a […]

Book Review: The Informed Parent

Being a new parent is a lot like trying to land an airplane with an engine on fire: barely controlled chaos in which all kinds of people are yelling different ideas in your ears. None of it is all that helpful but no one is volunteering to take the controls either. How long should you breastfeed? How […]

The Last Word

April 11-15, 2016 Guest poster Liza Gross details the struggles of traditional societies within the United States to hold onto their cultures in the face of ongoing settler aggression. Helen used to have a messy desk. Did it mean she was badly behaved or more creative? Now she has a clean desk. Does that mean she’s the […]