I'm Chels. I blog about science, art, tennis, and my adventures in journalism. Officially, I'm a Science Writer at Brookhaven National Lab and I blog for them, too. Unofficially, I'm pretty awesome.

Or, you know, owsome.

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Whiskey Ginger Arm Flab

Scotch Smarts

Mine would be Gin Commitment (or possibly Aperol Spritz Talent), but can we all just take a minute to realize that Mike Rugnetta — one of the most intelligent humans I can think of — is concerned about his smarts? Good reminder that we’re all just people trying to get through this crazy world and not quite knowing how great we are.

And, Mike: you’re real smart. I know this isn’t how it works, but you can go ahead and take that one off your list, eh? 

Refrog has been attempting to escape her aquarium every night for a week now. There’s an open window nearby and I think she can hear all the insects outside. That seems plausible, right? Do frogs have ears? (As a frog owner, I feel like I should know that.)

I’m not used to seeing people’s faces," he said. "There’s too much information there. Aren’t you aware of it? Too much, too fast.

The Strange Tale of the North Pond Hermit

Wow. This is an incredible story of a man who lived in the woods of Maine for nearly three decades, surviving almost entirely on things he stole from summer homes. He was finally caught, and reporter Micheal Finkel struck up a sort of friendship with him, visiting him in prison and learning about the years he spent silent and alone. 

The truth is that the kind of magazine pieces I used to do are not published in magazines anymore.

Six life lessons we can learn from trees

  1. Appreciate your roots
  2. Drink lots of water
  3. Provide sanctuary for others
  4. Grow
  5. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb once in a while
  6. Be productive

From “Canopy Meg” at the California Academy of Sciences

What's the most meaningful response we could have to the murder of James Foley? - Comment - Voices - The Independent 

Now Isis - or IS, or whatever the latest repugnant brand identity it is that this collection of godless psychopaths and pirates have adopted by the time you read this - have released a video that seems to show Foley’s murder at their hands. Foley did not shy from telling us of the worst; that Global Post video features images of dead children that are hard to erase. But the images he took were not part of the act, but an impartial record of it.

The footage released by his killers, in contrast, stands with the attack on Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich last year, where the record is the point. Martin Amis coined the term “horrorism” with reference to 9/11, but it seems still more apposite when applied to these less ambitious crimes, committed by the first extremists of a universally connected era: in one sense trivial set against such a tapestry of indiscriminate violence, they find their force in this very triviality – in the pointed senselessness of an act at once so small and so vast, so strategically self-defeating and yet so unanswerable.

News from so far away cannot really terrorise us here, and so without the pictures, James Foley’s death would in one sense mean nothing. With the pictures, that “nothing” takes on a shape, becomes a terrifying abyss, one we are mockingly invited to stare into by those nihilists who would destroy everything worthwhile so that they might stand atop the rubble and declare themselves kings.

It’s right, then, to decline to look at, or to share, the grotesque imagery of the end of Foley’s life, which said so much less about him than the living of it. But I found myself thinking, yesterday, that this oft-repeated point is nothing like enough.

There’s been a lot said about James Foley’s death over the last few days, and I think this article does it best. The rest of it is highly worth the read.




From Elon James White Tuesday night.

Everything is so disheartening…

"I can get gassed & rubber bulleted every night for the next month and what will you learn that you don’t know right now?" — Elon James White

"The question is: When it’s not our bodies and minds being abused every night will many of you still care? Will you support the work? Our abused and battered bodies can’t be the only canvas you’ll agree to read our concerns on."

(via therumpus)

Need a smile? Watch Willie Nelson do this fun card trick. 

When I think about Lost, it’s totally woven into those years of my life — with my friends, with my family, with where I was working, the apartment I was living in. Lost ushered me into adulthood, and both the show and growing up seemed like such promising ventures a decade ago. I’m not just disappointed in the end of Lost: Adulthood is kind of the worst, too, even during rosé season. We have to go back! they said. It sounded good to me. It still does.

I’m Still Obsessed With Lost. Is That Okay? — Vulture

It’s ten years later and someone finally said something worthwhile about Lost.


The five major oceanic gyres from “The terrifying true story of the garbage that could kill the whole human race

This is a stunner of a story. It’s a seafaring adventure, full of salty characters and incredibly beautiful (and also salty) language, and it’s worth taking the time to read. Yes, it’s about the terrifying reality of how we’re poisoning our oceans, but it also captures the wonder of the animals and vastness that make up the world’s seas:

We gather in the cockpit and train our headlamps on a shallow cake pan, eager to see what shakes out. Lots of little fish, battered to a pulp like anchovies from a pizza. “Myctophids,” Eriksen says. “Lantern fish.” The better-preserved resemble miniature gargoyles, an inch or two long, with underslung bulldog jaws. “It’s the greatest migration in the world, the vertical migration. These little guys coming up out of the darkness of the deep by the billions to feed on the surface every night.” And lots of little black flies, Halobates, tiny marine insects that stride upon the surface of the sea feeding on fish eggs. (What a planet, eh? Where you think there’s nothing, there’s always teeming strangeness!) And finally, among unidentifiable hunks of mucous-like stuff, little bright bits of colorful confetti.”

… the strangeness and danger of sailing through waters never before fully researched:

Tonight, as the Sea Dragon crosses the western edge of the gyre—about 3oo miles due east of Rio—Watch Team A can’t see squat beyond the little illumined stage created by the ship’s running lights. The seas arrive out of the darkness, implode into fractals of foam and force, then shove off aft into oblivion. They make a sound like applause. Or hissing disapproval. A fuse? A tremendous snake? It’s beautiful and eerie out here, hundreds of miles offshore, both unreal and hyper-real, and ultimately hypnotic. Why not—I woolgather, shivering in the spray—just beyond our circle of light, a bizarro Atlantis of plastic crap populated by bobbing Barbies and molded plastic action heroes? And hovering above Crapopolis, perhaps, a ring of judicious aliens holding clipboards like doctors in a surgical theater? And how surprised would I really be if, with the next big wave, we crashed through construction-paper scenery, and the lights came on, revealing us to be actors in bad community theater? Pretty fucking surprised, I suppose. And relieved.”

 … and the stories of some captivating sailors and scientists: 

In August 2003, Eriksen launched Bottle Rocket, a little catamaran with plastic bottle pontoons, an old Mustang seat, and two bicycles cannibalized to drive a paddle wheel. He started in Minnesota and didn’t reach the Gulf until February of 2004. That self-imposed ordeal helped him reclaim his fighting spirit. He was homing in on his true adversaries. He writes: “Become mentally prepared, factual and thoughtful, about principles of human rights and sustainability. Become a force of greater persuasion. Choose justice, choose your army, find your students, know your enemy, and then prepare yourself with clenched fists.””

It’s long, but so totally worth the read. Stick through it to the end

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