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Looking Back and Looking Forward: Thank You To My Readers

January 1, 2010

Goodbye 2009, hello 2010. It was supposed to be the year we made contact. We’ll have to make do with a watered down version of healthcare reform instead. At each new year we often seek to look back in reflection and learn a few lessons as we continue our journey. We are also apt to atone. I apologize for the intermittent posting as of late. Work had piled up and it’s always difficult to get things done while visiting family. I assure you that we will return to our regularly scheduled program shortly. Writing for me is more of a need than a choice, but without my loyal readers I would feel like I was was merely yelling into the wind.
During rare moments these past two weeks I’ve been reading Christopher Hitchens’ Letters to a Young Contrarian — time stolen after sweet potatoes but before pie or during rest stops on the road. In it he cites Rainer Maria Rilke, the Bohemian poet and social critic, in his advice to the young writer:

There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all; ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity . . .

While I can’t claim that I would die if unable to write, I am quite confident that it would amount to brain death. Considering that, under such circumstances, I would prefer not to be kept on life support, I suppose the personal relevance of Rilke’s statement holds true. I am constantly drawn towards understanding and synthesizing the complexity of the modern world. From my vantage as a human primate in this strange zoo we’ve all agreed to be housed in (either overtly or tacitly) I find that writing is perhaps my greatest joy and a necessary antidote. As such it is not something I can be kept from for long.
As we start a new year (and a new decade) I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the readers of The Primate Diaries here at ScienceBlogs, at my previous site with Nature Network and for many years at Blogger. I’ve only been part of ScienceBlogs for six months (starting the day my son was born) and already you’ve put me in the top third of the most read bloggers on the network. Thank you very much. As we start a new year I will effort to improve my craft each day and justify your interest in these pages by continuing to titillate, provoke and inform while at the same time satisfying my need for the written word. Writing is my drug and you are my pusher. Or, to put it in the words of Lord Byron, “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.” The wine in my cup truly runneth over and you’ve been there, goblets in hand, to make a party out of what would otherwise have just been a mess on the floor.
Below I’ve assembled my top fifteen posts of 2009. Thank you for your interest and I look forward to many more to come.
1. The Unseen and Unknowable Has No Place in Science
2. Male Chauvinist Chimps Or the Meat Market of Public Opinion
3. An Anthropologist in District 9
4. Rebranding Science: Unscientific America Values Style Over Substance
5. Science and the Worship of Truth
6. The Struggle for Coexistence
7. Darwin’s Connection to Nazi Eugenics Exposed
8. Afghanistan’s Arrow and the Cycle of Imperial Hubris
9. The Population Bomb, Nuclear Winter and the Role of Science in Public Advocacy
10. Misunderstanding Dawkins: The Role of Metaphor in Science
11. Does Taking Birth Control Alter Women’s Sexual Choices?
12. Reexamining Ardipithecus ramidus in Light of Human Origins
13. Those Cheating Testicles, or Who’s Your Baby?
14. Rosalind Franklin and the Discovery of DNA
15. Rivalry Among the Reefs: Charles Darwin and a Century of Conflict Over the Coral Reef Problem

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