1. First snowstorm of the year.

    19 December 2009

    Yesterday morning, the newswires were burning up with winter weather warnings, effective midnight last night for a region of the eastern seaboard as far north as Manhattan and as far south as North Carolina. A Pittsburgh native, I said "Yeah, right," and proceeded to battle the DC beltway, which happened to be clogged with people who forget how to steer or accelerate whenever they think something is going to fall out of the sky. This included a multiple-hour drive home last night which culminated in my getting in the front door around 2230 EST5EDT after a cut-short dinner at a …

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  2. Treasure hunting as black op.

    13 December 2009

    One of the mainstay tropes of fiction is sunken treasure: pirate treasure, ancient payrolls, treasure of the ancients... to quote The Goonies, "rich stuff". Gold. Gems. Artifacts. Stuff that would make Indiana Jones push his professorly duties off onto his overworked and underpaid grad students, grab his khakis, fedora, and bullwhip, and make a beeline for the middle of nowhere. However, since diving and its associated technologies have advanced over the years sunken treasures are growing more and more rare. Maybe there is only so much treasure to go around and a lot of it's been salvaged already. Maybe the …

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  3. Dr. Peter Watts was arrested and beaten at the US/Canadian border last Tuesday.

    11 December 2009

    Note: additions are being made after the cut and edits are stricken.

    If you're not familiar with the work of Dr. Peter Watts, you really should be. His degrees in marine ecophysiology aside, he is also a sci-fi author of some talent and is best known for releasing his novels under a Creative Commons license in addition to having them published through Tor, among them Starfish and the mind-bending transhumanist novel Blindsight, which will certainly make you reconsider what you think about how you think. His work is well known by the science fiction fandom for taking hard SF in …

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  4. Genetic drift always keeps life interesting.

    09 December 2009

    H1N1, the disease that's kept supplies of vaccine low, doctors' offices and emergency rooms packed, and way too many people feeling like crap this season has thrown the medical community a curveball in recent weeks. Beginning early last spring Tamiflu-resistant strains of the virus started appearing around the country, most notably in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington state. The antiviral compound Tamiflu is one of those administered to the sickest of patients, and this means that physicians will have to figure out another drug or combination of drugs because their best treatment thus far is likely to become less effective as …

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  5. Life with the HTC Hero.

    06 December 2009

    A couple of weeks ago my old Treo started acting too wonky for comfort (such as refusing to hold a charge for any reasonable length of time) so I started hunting for a replacement. Interestingly, Sprint (my cell carrier) started offering a number of smartphones running the Android OS from Google back in October. I waited as long as I could while keeping an eye on the newswires to see what the going opinion of it was (as well as camped out at my local Sprint store for a while to play with all of their demo Android phones) and …

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