A Farewell to Worms

by Kevin S. Baldwin Amidst all the bad news about climate change and emerging diseases it is easy to overlook one of the most successful public health initiatives in recent memory. We are on the verge of exterminating an ancient scourge, the Guinea worm. Dracunculus medinensis, (literally the little dragon from Medina), is a large…

A Solstice Tale

by Kevin S. Baldwin Shopping in general and shopping at malls in particular, especially during the holidays is one of my least favorite activities. Despite this predilection, a few a years ago, I found myself at the Circle Centre Mall in Indianapolis on the Winter Solstice. The mall's name is descriptive. At its center there…

Teen Werewolves

by Kevin S. Baldwin We really do coinhabit the earth with mythical creatures. Werewolves have recently occupied my home. Let me explain: Two of my kids are young teens, who have transformed practically overnight into hairy, musky, snarling, nocturnal beasts with insatiable appetites for food, media, novelty, and the company of other werewolves. Of course,…

Footprints and Debt

by Kevin S. Baldwin With the recent global economic troubles, bail-outs of various kinds, and hand-wringing about passing financial debt onto future generations, it seems like as good a time as any to think about other debts that may be at least as important. Don't get me wrong: I too am concerned about the long…

Liberty Nickel

by Kevin S. Baldwin When I first moved to a small town in the midwest in the summer of 1999, I walked downtown to check out and support the local businesses. I honestly cannot remember what I bought, but I do remember that the change the cashier made for that first purchase included a very…

Rethinking Lawns

by Kevin S. Baldwin Spring has arrived, Summer is just around the corner and once again I must deal with the enigma that is my yard. As I look around town, there is a wide range of lawns spanning from, what Michael Pollan (2001) would call, Apollonian control to Dionysian abandon. Mine is towards the…

Failure to Yield

by Kevin S. Baldwin It had been a perfect Fall day: Clear, crisp, and sunny. Then there was one of those moments (like Kennedy's assassination or 9/11) where you never forget what you were doing. A student had asked me a question that I did not have the answer to, but knew where to find,…

A Modess Proposal

by Kevin S. Baldwin I have to admit that I had never really paid much attention to reproductive issues until Rush Limbaugh's recent remarks about birth control and state mandates for transvaginal ultrasounds got me to thinking about what is really at stake: Wasted human potential. All that sexual activity taking place with nothing material…

Stargazing

by Kevin S. Baldwin Sometime early in my grad school studies I went vacationing in Hawaii with some family. Their idea of fun was shopping. Mine was snorkeling and hiking. One of my hikes was down into the crater of Haleakala, the volcanic peak on Maui. After my ascent out of the crater, I noticed…

Roach Clips

by Kevin Baldwin About a year ago I began thinking about a host-parasite system that I could set up in a lab, that would be inexpensive to maintain and would provide opportunities for undergrads to get their fingernails dirty. I consider myself to be more of a field biologist, but with family obligations and the…

Cemeteries and Prairies

by Kevin S. Baldwin One of the little-known delights of the Midwest is pioneer cemeteries. These are burial places dating from the late 18th century to the early years of 20th century, during the period of westward territorial expansion. Like many people, I find cemeteries to be places that promote contemplation at many levels, the…

1859 Reconsidered

by Kevin S. Baldwin Anniversaries be they of marriages or births, are generally a time to celebrate (another lap around the sun, yeah!). They can also be a time of darker speculation: “What if I had stayed single, gotten married, married someone else, hadn’t been so career-focused, or hadn’t been born?” These “what if” scenarios…

Secular Humanism 2.0

by Kevin S. Baldwin I recently found myself in the unusual position of almost agreeing with Michele Bachmann. Wait: Before you stop reading this or welcome me to the fold, let me explain. I was reading a recent article in the Los Angeles Times about Bachmann's enthusiasm for the ideas of Presbyterian Pastor Francis Schaeffer…

Three Island Stories

by Kevin Baldwin Islands have always been fascinating places. The old story-tellers, wishing to recount a prodigy, almost invariably fixed the scene on an island — Faery and Avalon, Atlantis and Cipango, all golden islands just over the horizon where anything at all might happen. And in the old days at least it was rather…