How Animals Discover and Use Medicines

How Animals Discover and Use Medicines

This guest post from Dr. Mark Plotkin (@DocMarkPlotkin) features an excerpt from his book Medicine Quest: In Search of Nature’s Healing Secrets. I loved the chapter so much that I published the audio version on the podcast. If you prefer the audio version, narrated by Mark, click here.

How to Become a Better Writer by Becoming a Better Noticer

How to Become a Better Writer by Becoming a Better Noticer

Let’s take an example from one of the greatest noticers in history, David Foster Wallace. In his famous commencement speech, “This is Water”—which is about the power of noticing—Foster Wallace recounts the experience of going to a grocery store on a stressful day. A less skilled noticer might write, “You go to the store and it’s crowded. The cashier looks angry and the shopping carts are broken.” Now see how the same moment comes alive in Foster’s prose through better noticing:

The Overstory by Richard Powers — Patricia Westerford

The Overstory by Richard Powers — Patricia Westerford

Richard Powers’ The Overstory, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, is an incredible book. It’s beautiful and brutal, poetic and therapeutic. Several guests on the podcast recommended it to me, and Hugh Jackman gave me the best description: “It works on you in the way nature does. It’s patient, and it’s in no rush. It’s slow and it’s steady and it’s true.”

Essay I’m Reading — “Still Alive”

Essay I’m Reading — “Still Alive”

Some of my dear friends are journalists, and they’re wonderful people. They measure twice and cut once. They are thoughtful, unrushed, and considerate, despite organizational pressure and incentives to be the opposite. That takes extraordinary discipline, and it’s fucking hard. It isn’t the path of least resistance, and I admire the hell out of them for doing what is right, despite the uphill path. This includes some amazing humans at the NYT. This praise doesn’t mean that they write fluff pieces; it means they aim to be fair and humane and take the time necessary to think about ethics and the Golden Rule.