Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Two Towers, Part I

To be completely fair to my parents, it simply never occurred to them that they might actually have to TELL me not to climb the tower. Who might have thought that a five-year-old would suddenly get a yen to see the tops of the trees? It never occurred to me either that this long-abandoned windmill tower set behind the main house on our eight-cabin resort on Second Crow Wing Lake was anything but just another thing in the landscape….

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A Love Letter to Louise

Oh, this book! This was the book that inspired me to be a writer and a girl spy. Both things I have achieved with aplomb. Blogging is very useful this way. It kills two birds with one stone. Harriet, as a character, was brilliant. She wore her orange hoodie and her canvas sneakers and carried her notebook everywhere and was sassy and smarter than her parents, her teachers, and, she thought, her friends. Harriet, hiding in the dumbwaiter is an image indelibly implanted in my brain. I have written all these years because of Fitzhugh’s Harriet. And have sometimes gotten myself in a spot of trouble just like Harriet for not having the ability to know who should see what.

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Ken Avidor on Dean Zimmerman

I began writing and blogging about Dean Zimmermann, Congresswoman Bachmann and Representative Mark Olson years ago because they were elected, public officials promoting the PRT boondoggle. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. The more I researched PRT, the more bizarre stuff I discovered about all of them.

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The Joy of Swearing

Why do I enjoy swearing so much? One reason is that I come from a long line of female swearers. My grandmother had no problem swearing, and my mom, a Lutheran minister by trade, was no different. Mom was the only mom and/or minister I knew who swore freely with pleasure and without a sense of guilt.

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The Secrets of Mother’s Day

I don’t make it easy–this surprise-ruining. He tried blurting it out in the car after I picked him up from school on Tuesday. He tried convincing me on Wednesday that if he said it while he was brushing his teeth that I wouldn’t be able to guess because his mouth was full of toothpaste. He tried telling me when I dropped him off Thursday morning when the teacher shooed me out of the room. He almost blurted it out in his sleep too.

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Rock Stars of Science at Origins Symposium

Rusty-red rocks against an electric blue sky were an exact color match for the mix of brilliant intellect I knew to be in Phoenix on Monday. I had just flown into Sky Harbor Airport from Minneapolis, and any Minnesotan will tell you that we don’t waste a day like that indoors. It was a sparkling spring morning alive with color and radiant sunshine. But I happily joined 3,000 other science fans inside a dark auditorium for a full twelve-hour day of physics, cosmology, biology and more.

You didn’t hear about it? It was the much anticipated and sold out public event called the Origins Symposium. The media may not report it, because they don’t get science. But regular, everyday people do and are hungry for it. We came to hear the new, and what we know will be stunning, discoveries about how the world works. We filled up the concert hall on the campus at Arizona State with anticipation.

Monday morning began with an amazing line up of rock star status scientists who spoke for an hour, one after another. Does lecture style delivery at a podium with PowerPoint visuals on a large screen sound boring to you? Not a bit—it was mesmerizing for five hours straight. Steven Pinker, Don Johanson, Brian Greene, Richard Dawkins, Craig Venter, and Lawrence Krauss presented their unique views on evolution, origins and their research with charismatic delivery. We laughed and cheered and bonded knowing we were witnessing an historic event. As the late afternoon panel of six, count ’em, six noble laureates came on stage, we stayed right where we were. Ira Flatow, the nationally known science journalist and host of Science Friday, expertly juggled the egos and zingers that the physicists on either side of string theory tossed at each other.

Listening to these brilliant minds was like hearing a symphony performed by the original composer. The world of ideas and the appreciation of beauty is an aesthetic artists share with scientists. This trans-disciplinary approach is one that Michael Crow, President of ASU, and Lawrence Krauss, physicist and director of the “Origins Initiative” are developing. Along with college courses, the Initiative will also reach out to the public and journalists through workshops and future events.

Between presentations, I noticed how many in the audience were curious about the people around them. We found each other interesting and smart. We’re creating a trend, riding a wave of discovery, taking part in a cultural transition don’t ya know. Many people told me how relieved they were to see our intellectual lives respected after eight years of oppression.

So with spring and science in the air, I felt a little giddy heading back to Minneapolis. I’ll revisit my bookmarked pages at the Origins web site during the year, watching how the Initiative develops and hoping to catch next year’s big event.

Lynn Fellman is a Minneapolis artist and blogger, as well as an interviewer for Atheists Talk radio and one of science’s most enthusiastic cheerleaders.

Losing Miller’s God

I remember reading Finding Darwin’s God awhile back. The first half of the book was an excellent defense of evolution and critique of creationism. The second half of the book was a poor defense of god belief. I remember thinking that if Miller had only applied the logic from the first half of his book to the second half, he would be an atheist.

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A Renewable Energy House

Humans have never wanted to go backwards. Less comfort, security, pleasure, utility, convenience and strength are not options most people will consistently choose in their lives, even if it is for the betterment of their own bodies or the environment as a whole. We’re wired to eat fat and lay around. This is why selling people on consuming less, conserving more, paying more and getting less has always been a failing political position, even if it’s the smartest long-term approach and the least costly one. The answer to environmental problems, then, isn’t to get people to drive less. It’s to improve our technology with more efficient cars or alternative, lower polluting cars. Or heating systems. Or packaging. Or water use.

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Sheriff Charley Brown: Chapter 1

“Let me put my cards on the table.” The marshal picked up his badge, returning it to an inside vest pocket. Then he fished in an outside pocket to produce a curved stem pipe and tobacco pouch. Taking his time, he casually filled the pipe, tamping down the tobacco with his index finger. Before striking a match he raised his eyes to Charley. “I’m looking for a Texan. He’s been involved in several bank holdups, and lastly, he was one of the gang involved in the train robbery at Mesquite, Texas.”

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Gender Trends in Science and Medical Writing

As a medical writer, I’ve noticed that most medical writers I meet are female. A quick Google search using the keywords‚ “freelance medical writer‚” produced seven female and three male writers (approx. 2:1 ratio) from the first 10 eligible results. While it is difficult to draw statistically relevant conclusions from such a small sample size, it certainly implies a trend.

The American Medical Writers Association is the leading professional organization for medical communicators, with over 5,500 members from around the world. The ratio of female to male members is 4449:1227 (approx. 4:1), mirroring the trend observed with the Google search.

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