Blog Profile / Achenblog


URL :http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/achenblog
Filed Under:News / Independent News
Posts on Regator:614
Posts / Week:2.2
Archived Since:April 20, 2011

Blog Post Archive

New planet ‘Proxima b’ reminds us that the universe isn’t about us

We have been talking about new planets for, let’s see, about 21 years, ever since Swiss astronomers found one orbiting 51 Pegasus in 1995. Now we know that the universe is full of planets; they’re a routine element of star formation. At this point, it’s easy to get a little jaded about a new planet […]

An ode to local knowledge in the age of Google

[This post is in progress and will be updated.] This morning I was driving from National Airport, north on the GW Parkway, and had to laugh at the sign instructing motorists to follow signs for Route 50 if they want to reach Key Bridge. That will not work. I mean, it could, in theory, but […]

George Washington could have been a strongman, but kept giving power away

PHILADELPHIA — In an old brick building on Locust Street, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania this week displayed an early draft of the Constitution, with words and phrases scratched out, and one section marked with a big “X,” a wholesale deletion. Drafted by James Wilson sometime in July or August 1787, the text refers to “the […]

Live from Cleveland! We finally reach Peak Crazy

First, here’s Trump’s speech, as prepared for delivery. He may extemporize. Note the heavy law-and-order theme culminating in the final line: “We Will Make America Safe Again.” He also decries the “rigged system” enforced by elites. So it’s a fusion of Richard Nixon and Bernie Sanders. I wrote three pieces today: Capitalism vs. Communism on […]

‘Lunatic shortage in rest of world’ as Cleveland proves magnetic

We were walking through Public Square on Tuesday, and Dave Barry turned to me and said, “There’s got to be a lunatic shortage in the rest of the world, because there’s an awful lot of them around here.” As we reported: The big rallies and marches have been relatively orderly this week, but a simultaneous […]

After Dallas ambush, two presidents pray for unity

A president said this today in Dallas: At times, it seems like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates too quickly into dehumanization. Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions. And this has […]

Another heroic journey into the wilderness we call America

Last week I had to do some road-trip reporting that included much driving in the hinterlands. (Weirdly, when you type “hinterlands” into Google Maps you get a bar in Brooklyn; someone needs to adjust the algorithm.) I had a vague notion that I’d camp along the way, and therefore brought a few camping essentials: tent, […]

The Orlando terror attack and “soft targets”

Sick to my stomach about what happened in Orlando, in my home state, where I still have family. Just updated the story about what happened in the Pulse nightclub and the decision to rescue the hostages. We have had to write too many such stories. These people in Orlando were just having fun on a […]

The Year Without a Summer

Today marks the official start of “meteorological summer.” Don’t take my word for it — ask my pals at the Capital Weather Gang. There’s a meteorological winter (starting Dec. 1), a meteorological spring (March 1), and so on. This notion of the season as a meteorological unit is a nice annotation of the imperfect nomenclature of […]

‘A headlong sprint into an abyss’

Through a very good source I obtained a document given to college students to prepare them for a midterm test in an introductory biology class, and it included a list of technical terms, like “allele” and “codon” and “meiosis” and “introns” and “recombination pleiotropy” and “plesiomorphic traits” and various other genetic and biological and evolutionary […]

The secret to happiness (cont.)

Lately I’ve been a sucker for How To Live a Happy Life essays, not out of self-help desperation, but just because we all need pointers and tips and booster-shots and upgrades. Like, the happy-life experts will tell you that you should not just sit on the couch and watch baseball, but should do other things […]

Despair and death in small-town America: Your comments

By now I hope you’ve had a chance to read the first two installments of the new Washington Post series Unnatural Causes: Sick and Dying in Small-Town America. We’re exploring rising death rates among midlife white Americans, particularly women. The first two stories come at the subject from opposite directions: The first, by Eli Saslow, […]

My Los Angeles

I’ve been to Los Angeles enough over the years to know my way around, carving deeper ruts in the landscape as I move from one familiar location to another. I hit my marks. I’m at the age where I dodge the novel and the exotic and home in on the known. To do anything new […]

LIGO’s success was built on many failures

There he is again, on the front page of the New York Times: Albert Einstein. A nice little head shot with the hair flying upward as the great man puffs on a pipe, no doubt pondering something mind-blowing. When big news breaks about gravity, or the shape of the cosmos, or the origin of the […]

Despair and death in small-town America: Your comments

By now I hope you’ve had a chance to read the first two installments of our new series, Unnatural Causes: Sick and Dying in Small-Town America. We’re exploring rising death rates among midlife white Americans, particularly women. The first two stories come at the subject from opposite directions: The first, by Eli Saslow, looks at […]

Our new series on mortality in America: “Unnatural Causes”

If you haven’t already, please read my colleague Eli Saslow’s story on the life and death of Anna Marrie Jones of Tecumseh, Okla. Eli is a masterful reporter and writer and this story kicks off a year-long project here at The Post in which we explore the rising mortality rate among white women in midlife […]

Yes, weeding is life-affirming

Spring is the life-affirming season, which is why I vow to spend more time doing things that are actually life-affirming rather than things that are the opposite of that, such as sulking, whining, mewling and sniveling. The key thing for me is to spend time outdoors, enjoying the natural world, studying life itself and then […]

New T. rex discovery proves evolution is actually true … again

Two great joys of my spring so far: Watching the world green up and the birds get frisky as I sit on my back porch, and visiting the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, where I got to go behind the scenes and see the vast and astonishing collection of dinosaur bones. These are overlapping […]

Porch Season 2016: Don’t be the last to notice

At the risk of being overly authentic, I am filing this item from my porch. Porch Season has begun. Mark the date, note the exact time (10:26 a.m. EST but it actually changes according to your elevation — whether you’re up on the porch or down the steps in the yard proper). I do not […]

The limits of nostalgia

I was back home last week, home being Hogtown, and the old house, which back in the day had a little wooden sign above the front door saying “Woodland Echoes.” It was nice as a boy to live in a house with a name. Also it was two stories, which seemed rather exotic in 1960s […]

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