2011: The Year in Me

Having misplaced my anti-narcissism drugs earlier this week, I can’t see any reason not to usurp the year-end retrospective trope and look back at some of what I’ve most enjoyed writing in 2011. I don’t maintain that the stories listed below are objectively my best work—that’s for others to decide. But these are my favorites, for reasons I’ll try to note briefly.

A great many of them appeared here on “The Gleaming Retort” at PLoS Blogs. And why wouldn’t they? PLoS Blogs was kind enough to invite me to be one of its writers when the site debuted. It gave me complete freedom to write what and how I wishes, and it let me bask in the elevating company of Steve Silberman, Deborah Blum, David Kroll, Daniel Lende and Greg Downey, Peter Janiszewski and Travis Saunders, Misha Angrist, Martin Fenner, Melinda Wenner Moyer, Sarah Kavassilis, Seth Mnookin, Shara Yurkiewicz, Hillary Rosner, Emily Anthes, and Jessica Wapner, along with (pause for breath) the contributors to EveryONE, PLoS Podcast, Speaking of Medicine, The Official PLoS Blog, The Guest Blog, and The Student Blog—as accomplished, gifted, smart and warm a group of writers and people as you’ll find anywhere in the science blogosphere. (And no, I don’t always count writers as people. Why? Because I’m an editor, and I’ve watched writers eat.)

So let’s start with what my favorites for PLos Blogs and proceed in no particular order thereafter.

For “The Gleaming Retort”

For Scientific American

  • The Immortal Ambitions of Ray Kurzweil: A Review of Transcendent Man (Feb. 15). I was fair to it.
  • The Evolutionary Errors of X-Men (June 3). Catching science errors in a superhero movie is shooting fish in a barrel, I admit. But this assignment also allowed me to write More Science and Snark on X-Men: First Class (June 3) for “The Gleaming Retort,” which was worth it if only for the chance to write the following paragraph: “Helping him is January Jones as the world’s most powerful mind-reading lingerie model. In the blink of an eye, she can also change into a diamond-hard crystalline figure, then back to her original wooden form. She hates mankind—I think that expression is supposed to be hate—though to be fair, if I were a lingerie model and could read minds, I’d probably hate mankind, too.”

For Txchnologist.com

For SmartPlanet.com

  • Climate disasters: quibbling over causes (Nov. 15). Even well-meaning people sometimes get much too particular about acknowledging that, yes, climate change does cause disasters. And speaking of causes…
  • Mind games on global warming (Dec. 6). Politics is a far more immediate cause of the impasse on climate policy than psychology is.
  • Cloning vs. conservation (Dec. 20). An economist actually suggested that cloning and cryogenics might be an economical substitute for conservation. Not so.

For The Guardian

For Discover‘s “The Crux” group blog

On to 2012!

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