When I was in New York last Thursday, I went to a dinner hosted by Marty Edelston, owner and publisher of Boardroom Inc., a company that with great success publishes a bunch of newsletters on health and investment and such perennial topics. Every couple years I manage to organize my life to attend one of these events, designed to bring together contributors to the newsletters and other people who might have interesting things to say. It’s supposed to be a way for Marty to see what’s going on, hear about new ideas and trends.
That idea appeals to me, so I troop along with the same thing in mind. In this case, I wanted to see what people were saying about China. But the best part of the evening was meeting Steve Mirsky, a columnist at Scientific American, and getting into a conversation about our neighbor here, Mark Fischetti, who wrote the 2001 cover story, “Drowning New Orleans.” I haven’t been a regular reader of Scientific American for a long while, having got comfortable with the British New Scientist all the way back when I worked at Blackwell Scientific. But I was writing about Scientific American only a few weeks ago, in a feature about Marvin Mudrick and the College of Creative Studies. Mudrick was a well-known literary critic who was a great admirer of the magazine. Because of his enthusiasm, I ended up writing about the Institute of Theoretical Physics at UCSB when I was a student, and then sending the article to the editor of Scientific American, who invited me to come to talk to him when I was in New York for job interviews. Thanks to Steve, I’ve been reading about the man I met, Dennis Flanagan, who was one of the founders of the magazines and a remarkable editor. This is more inspiration for our work on the two cultures, and has got me thinking about science publishing, too. And I’m enjoying Steve’s humorous–and ascerbic–columns. He apparently gets lots of angry mail from fundamentalists.