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Marissa Fessenden
omnivorous and geeky science writer
omnivorous and geeky science writer

Marissa's posts

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"Like many others who turned into writers, I disappeared into books when I was very young, disappeared into them like someone running into the woods. What surprised and still surprises me is that there was another side to the forest of stories and the solitude, that I came out that other side and met people there. Writers are solitaries by vocation and necessity. I sometimes think the test is not so much talent, which is not as rare as people think, but purpose or vocation, which manifests in part as the ability to endure a lot of solitude and keep working. Before writers are writers they are readers, living in books, through books, in the lives of others that are also the heads of others, in that act that is so intimate and yet so alone."

-Rebecca Solint in "Flight" from The Faraway Nearby via Brain Pickings

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Back some excellent journalists that will show you how plants and animals are responding to climate change: 

Do it, do it now. 

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Such an interesting, fun story to report -- and just where I like it: science, art, microbes and food.

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"'There’s either a scapegoat or a silver bullet in almost every bestselling diet book,' [says epidemiologist David Katz].

The recurring formula is apparent: Tell readers it’s not their fault. Blame an agency; typically the pharmaceutical industry or U.S. government, but also possibly the medical establishment. Alluding to the conspiracy vaguely will suffice. Offer a simple solution. Cite science and mainstream research when applicable; demonize it when it is not."

James Hamblin at The Atlantic dives into the bestselling book "Grain Brain" in his article "This is Your Brain on Gluten."

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"Aided by genomics and related molecular tests, breeders have managed to create a cornucopia of new foods that are already available at some grocery stores and farmer’s markets, including cantaloupe that’s firm and ripe in the winter, snack-size bell peppers, broccoli that brims with even more nutrients than usual, onions that do not offend the eye and tomatoes that do not disappoint the tongue."

Love +Ferris Jabr's writing. Always. And of course, this was wonderful fun to illustrate.

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Reading Charles Mee's "Big Love" and really just want to see it. He writes,

"But the setting for the piece should not be real, or naturalistic.
It should not be a set for the piece to play within
but rather something against which the piece can resonate:
something on the order of a bathtub, 100 olive trees, 
and 300 wine glasses half-full of red wine."

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I took this trying to forget everything I've learned about speaking after I left home. (And weird things: I call traffic circles roundabouts because we had an English exchange student when I was a teen. Also, I don't really know any traffic terms because I grew up in an area that was basically road, ditch, corn field or alfalfa field. So I don't know these verge, berm, median, access road things.)

My results: Rochester, Baltimore and Arlington as my most similar cities. Houston, Baton Rouge and New Orleans as least similar.

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From Lillian Ross's 1950 New Yorker profile of Ernest Hemingway, up on the Neiman Storyboard with annotations:

"He began his new book as a short story. “Then I couldn’t stop it. It went straight on into a novel,” he said. “That’s the way all my novels got started. When I was twenty-five, I read novels by Somersault Maugham and Stephen St. Vixen Benét.” He laughed hoarsely. “They had written novels, and I was ashamed because I had not written any novels. So I wrote ‘The Sun’ when I was twenty-seven, and I wrote it in six weeks, starting on my birthday, July 21st, in Valencia, and finishing it September 6th, in Paris. But it was really lousy and the rewriting took nearly five months. Maybe that will encourage young writers so they won’t have to go get advice from their psychoanalysts. Analyst once wrote me, What did I learn from psychoanalysts? I answered, Very little but hope they had learned as much as they were able to understand from my published works. You never saw a counter-puncher who was punchy. Never lead against a hitter unless you can outhit him. Crowd a boxer, and take everything he has, to get inside. Duck a swing. Block a hook. And counter a jab with everything you own. Papa’s delivery of hard-learned facts of life.”"

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I love this photo series by Olivia Locher called "Another Day on Earth." (It's NSFW.)
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