My Garden of Evil (Plus, Planting Tips!)

  So, here’s a weird thing that happened. It began when I bought some new plants for my “garden” in Virginia. (I put “garden” in quotes because most of what grows in this spot are weeds, which I’ve taken to calling “native plants” to make myself feel less inept.) These were the kinds of plants […]

Guest Post: The Top 5 May 20ths Ever

Five years ago today, The Last Word On Nothing was born. I’ve been Googling around, trying to figure out why anniversaries are a thing, but most of what pops up is drivel from couples counselors. Wikipedia offers some facts about Latin names. But what I’m really looking for is why we celebrate anniversaries, why they make us feel so many […]

Guest Post: Death’s Eternal Logistics

I spent several hours on Sunday afternoon in what has to be the most charming cemetery in New York City. If I didn’t know what I was looking for, I would have missed its arched iron gate, tucked into 2nd Avenue just north of East 2nd Street, where the East Village meets the Lower East Side. Once through, […]

The Last Word

10 – 14 December Turbulent week here at LWON HQ. We started with a crushing loss: our Ginny decamped to National Geographic. We wish her, obviously, every success and all the happiness there — and we’re so proud that she was poached by a place with such an impeccable pedigree. But wow, will we miss […]

On the Road

Some sad-yet-happy news: I’m leaving the people of LWON. Next week I’m launching my own blog at a new network hosted by National Geographic. I’ll be sharing a web neighborhood with some amazing writers (and they’ll post their own announcements soon). My blog, called Only Human, will be all about people — our genes, cells, brains, behaviors, […]

The Last Word, Turkey Day edition

November 19 – 23 I hope you nice people in the States had a lovely Thanksgiving. This week, Ginny introduced us to the sleep molecule. Jessa explained the 21st century superbear. It’s a hybrid between a polar bear and a grizzly, and it’s straight out of the anthropocene. Christie considered a status symbol shared by […]


Anna Sumner’s craving for sleep began when she was an 18-year-old high school senior. She thought nothing of it. When it followed her to college, she blamed it on stress. She was working so hard, she told herself, her body just needed the extra rest. But it was more than that. She would choose naps […]

Conan’s Umwelt: How a Dog Sniffs

This is my puppy, Conan, and the reason I’ve been buying a lot of dog books. For those of you who’ve never had the pleasure, dog books are for skimming, not reading. They’re hokey, repetitive, poorly written and peppered with pseudoscience. But Friday I found an exception: Inside of a Dog, a fascinating, science-rich story of how dogs […]