He Rode the Depth and the Breadth of China

The Man Who Loved China
Simon Winchester

My gift this fine February morning, is sparing you the three-line subtitle that reads like pre-DDB body copy. Editors, it seems, have decided such copy makes the sale.

I have no idea whether that is actually true. In a category other than publishing, I’d utter my favorite “let’s-not- Continue reading


You Must be Real Far Gone

Exuberance: The Passion for Life
Kay Redfield Jamison

exuberanceHere’s a head-scratching editorial proposition for you: much of the psychological literature is about depressed states.  Our author suggests that going back to the time of the ancient Greeks, melancholy and other less-sunny moods have dominated thinking about, and interest in, mental health. So why not examine the opposite end of the spectrum?

The short answer was given in the first sentence: there’s a Continue reading

Science is Mankind’s Brother

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012
Dan Ariely, Guest Editor; Tim Folger, Series Editor

Best_science_12Human beings love patterns. We seek them even when they don’t exist. So I’m not in alien territory when I wonder whether the pattern I’m stuck in with these science annuals is reading them at 12- to 18-month  intervals or picking volumes from  years divisible by two.

More likely there’s no pattern at all although I do have a common reaction which is that I cheat myself by not Continue reading

Sugar and Stress

The Trouble with Testosterone
And Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament
Robert M. Sapolsky


Last I looked,  Mighty Mouse had little to do with science.

Yet an editor agreed to use his image on a book cover–and a science, no, not just a science, a biology book cover at that–for a reason. And it wasn’t just to crack me up.

(It probably was intended to draw my attention to the book on the shelf. Alas for the bean-counters and the Continue reading

Behind Every Great Man….

Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith,and Love Dava Sobel daughter

Product of an oral culture, I tend to think in terms of stories. But I’m also a science geek. So it’s a little ironic that with a lot of science I know the concepts, I’m just vague on the story. That includes the story of the first of the great moderns, Galileo Galilei.

Dava Sobel‘s book is a splendid way to get the Galileo story in one easy read. Sobel penned Longitudeand if you didn’t think it was possible to get a book out of what is essentially the story of clocks, you Continue reading

Numbers and Words

As a response marketer, I’ve been up to my ears in numbers since I got into the business. Math has become so important to what I do  that I went back to school to ladle on more.

That’s why I’m particularly attuned to what people do with numbers. If you read my last post you know I don’t agree with Rio Longacre. Our philosophical and executional differences aside, his post provides a beautiful illustration of what happens when you take the easier way out with numbers.

I’m a big believer in stating one’s biases upfront. Here’s one: when speaking Continue reading

The Great Antidote

The Best American Science Writing 2004
Dava Sobel, Editor; Jesse Cohen, Series Editor

In high school I was a certified nerd: slide rule, binder, TI some-number-or-other in hand, 90+ on all four science Regents. Science remains a fascination and the rigor I learned is important as I read the social science and business literature where it often goes wanting. So it’s a little troubling that there’s so little of it in these virtual pages.

Part of the problem is that I am, by nature, a generalist. The history of science is populated with Continue reading

The Lives of a Cell Revisited

The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
Lewis Thomas

Reading is fuel here at AHC so you might think there would be a premium placed on fresh material. That’s more or less true. I kid myself that it’s about needing new ideas to bounce off existing ones but, really, it’s driven by boredom. Were I in primary school today they’d slap an ADHD label on me and get the drugs into my system as fast as possible. Yet I’m not opposed to rereading even though, as the nuns taught me, you can’t get back time. So if I am to re-read, it better be worth it.

Lewis Thomas’ first book was worth a second visit. Continue reading