The Cutting Edge of Genetic Manipulation – in Louisiana?

April 18, 2009

Reactionary Republican State Senator Danny Martiny is prepping a bill for the state legislature banning the creation of animal-human hybrids in the state.  The bill also would prohibit placing human embryos in non human wombs or nonhuman embryos in human wombs.  This begs the question – is this a big problem in Louisiana?

I’m on vacation but I just had to share this.  I originally found it on Slashdot, then linked through to the full article.


Resonance – AJ Scudiere

April 7, 2009

I was recently asked to review a new book, Resonance by AJ Scudiere.  I was super excited since it is the first time I’ve been asked to review something by a publisher.  My initial excitement wore off quickly for 2 reasons:  I had the publisher send me a PDF of the book, which I thought would be fine but turned out to be difficult to read – I don’t have a kindle so I was reading on my laptop – and the book started off a little slow.  I kept going though, and by Ch. 3 it was starting to pick up.

Resonance is based on the scientific theory about the poles swapping, which in the book supposedly happens every 60 million years or so.  It starts gradually at first, with ‘hot spots’ developing where directions are reversed, so that magnetic north is south, and south is north.  When these hotspots hit a certain critical mass, the poles swap all at once, and suddenly north is south for the whole planet.  I don’t know much about this from a scientific standpoint, but I did google it and it seems to be a real theory, although there doesn’t appear to be any scientific agreement on when, how, or how often the magnetic poles shift.  Some people (okay, okay, one guy who’s probably a nut) are predicting the next pole swap will happen in 2012 (which coincidentally – or not – is when the Mayan calendar ends, marking what could be the end of the world).  Also there is another theory that involves a physical pole shift rather than a magnetic one – the idea is that the poles become so heavy due to the buildup of ice that the planet eventually rolls and the equatorial regions become poles and the poles become the equator.  This one sounds pretty far fetched even for scifi, so it’s fortunate the book didn’t go this route.

In the first few chapters of Resonance the reader is introduced to various characters in different locations, with no connection to the others.  We meet a graduate student in a biodiversity lab, a geologist and paleontologist working together, and a team of doctors from the CDC.  (Apparently it is now called the CDCP – I must be old school.)  All are confronted with oddities within their respective fields.  Gradually as the story continues we see the connections between them, until they all come together to try to figure out what exactly is going on. 

The writing wasn’t spectacular, but it was serviceable.  It could use a fine tooth comb from the editing department (a few misplaced commas, or lack thereof, and places where chose should have been choose, for example).  But by the end of the book, the story was racing along and the plot had reeled me in enough that I didn’t want to put it down.  To me that is a strong indication it’s a good one!  I would definitely recommend you add Resonance to your reading list, and I will be keeping an eye out for more work by AJ Scudiere.

It’s not science fiction…

April 5, 2009

but it is funny.  And true.  And kinda sad.  Check out this article on bottled water culture.