Monday, December 31, 2012

My favorite articles of 2012

What a year. I published just over 400 articles in 2012, including more than 110 about endangered species, as well as hundreds more covering a variety of other environmental topics, a few dozen covering bleeding-edge technology, and more than a few about great people doing great things around the world. Here are my favorite articles from the past year:

Should YouTube Ban Videos of the Adorable but Endangered Slow Loris? (Scientific American) - The first of several endangered species articles on this list, and the one that generated the most discussion.

Sell or Keep - One of two articles on this list written for Lion magazine, although it was actually written in 2011 but published in January 2012. Putting this article together gave me the opportunity to speak with Lions Club members around the world as we looked at a subject many clubs are struggling with every day. This also includes my first published magazine photo.

Mini Livestock - My first article for Conservation magazine. A great, potentially game-changing idea.

Kalamazoo ospreys get safe new roost thanks to enterprising filmmaker (Mother Nature Network) - A nice article about some people who saw a chance to make a difference and embraced it.

First Responders Since 1951 - Another article for Lion magazine, and a very personal one. My dad was a member of this Lions club, and I probably rode on one of these ambulances on my way to being born.

3rd Annual Antelope Die-Off in Kazakhstan—Was a Spacecraft to Blame? (Scientific American) - I'm the only journalist in the West who has been following this story (except for the billion bloggers who ripped me off after this was published).

How do horses travel overseas to the London Olympics? (Mother Nature Network) - I had a chance to cover the horse-racing industry a few times this year. It's a weird, messed up industry populated both by scumbags and people who really, really care about their animals.

Every Engineer is a Green Engineer (Today's Engineer) - I interviewed some incredibly interesting and passionate people for this one.

Okapi Conservation Center Recovering after Militia Attack that Killed 6 People and 14 Animals (Scientific American) - Heroes and villains.

Romanian Teen Wins IEEE Presidents' Scholarship (IEEE's The Institute) - What a cool kid. You're going to be reading a lot more about this young man in a few years.

Cost to Prevent All Future Extinctions: $11 per Person? (Scientific American) - I love outside-the-box thinking. This was reprinted (and copied) in a few places and generated a lot of discussion.

What if climate-change doubters held a debate and nobody came? (Mother Nature Network) - I still laugh about this one.

Video: 2 Rhinos Fight for Life after Their Horns Are Chopped Off  (Scientific American) - I still cry about this one.

And my favorite article of 2012?

Prosthetics: A Career That Changes Lives (Today's Engineer) - Writing this article was an amazing experience. The scientists and engineers I interviewed for this article really touched me with their passion, compassion and drive to help people. That would have been enough in and of itself, but several readers have told me that this article made them decide to go into the prosthetic field. I can't imagine a better compliment.

You can find links to all of my 2012 articles here. Take a look -- and if you have any of your own favorites, I'd love to hear your picks!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A few words about quite a few movies

We watched a LOT of movies on Netflix streaming over the past few weeks, most of which I'd recommend. In no particular order...

  • Stake Land - A rather inventive apocalyptic vampire movie. Maybe nothing new plot-wise, but tonally it's unique.
  • Bank Shot - A goofy but clever 70s crime caper movie, based on a novel by Donald E. Westlake. Not great, but enjoyable if you like George C. Scott in comedy mode and can stand the godawful laughing of Joanna Cassidy.
  • Reel Injun - Fantastic documentary about how "Native Americans" are portrayed in film, and how that portrayal affects the very people the movies depict. (I put "Native Americans" in quotes because a single quote by the great John Trudell in the middle of this movie really opened my eyes about something. Don't let me spoil it for you: watch it.)
  • Happy - Another great documentary. What does it mean to be happy, and what -- scientifically -- makes a human being happy?
  • Sleepwalk with Me - An astonishing fact-based drama by star, writer and director Mike Birbiglia. This movie embodies humor through pain.
  • Craigslist Joe - A documentary about a man who decides to live exclusively off of Craigslist for a month. Odd and inspiring. 
  • FDR: American Badass - Pure B-movie pulp and the latest work of "art" "inspired" by Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Barry Bostwick has never been funnier (or raunchier). It's a truly awful film, but everyone involves knows that and has fun with it.
So, what have you seen recently?

Friday, December 14, 2012


I found myself quite literally starstruck last night. I took the pups out for their last walk at about 9:30, looked up, and stopped dead in my tracks. What seemed like billions and billions of stars hung above us, shining brighter than I have ever seen them before. For that moment, surrounded by their peaceful glow, I felt at one with the universe.

The dogs were not as impressed.