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Archive for August, 2007

Crystal Rain by Tobias S. Buckell

bookrev: Crystal Rain by Tobias S. Buckell

Crystal Rain by Tobias S. BuckellEntertaining and thought-provoking…all between the same two covers!

Reader’s read with many motivations. Sometimes you read for entertainment, for the plot; sometimes to be intellectually stimulated (big words), for the ideas. When I want to read to laugh out loud, I pick up a Christopher Moore tome.

I’ll now add Mr. Buckell to the list of authors who write entertaining science fiction with enough large ideas to make me think, and sometimes to argue with their perceptions of how the future might look. (more…)

Komen Race for the Cure

I should be able to run a 5K, shouldn’t I???

Komen Race for the CureMy industrious wife formed a team to walk in the Komen Race for the Cure in Houston October 6. The team name is “Komen Get It”….catchy, eh?

Somehow (as usually happens) I got talked (or directed) into participating; not only did I get talked into participating, I am in the competitive run (e-coached by my brother Terry the marathon runner, who is tall and thin and has qualified for and run in the Boston Marathon several times). Running will be fun, since most of my exercise these days is in martial arts class, where you just walk into a sparing match, or stand in one stance for a very long time, plus the occasional vintage rugby game, where I am not usually the youngest participant but I am far and away not the oldest. (more…)

Here, There & Everywhere

bookrev: Here, There & Everywhere by Chris Roberson

Here, There & Everywhere Enjoyable trips through history, the multi-verse and a woman’s mind

After reading several history and general fiction books (mostly due to commitments to read ARCs), I was desperate to get back to the escapism and entertainment that is fantasy and science fiction. Here, There & Everywhere by Chris Roberson was the fix I needed, blending in just enough science, history and character with a plot that somehow ties together in the end.

Chris Roberson is a fellow Texas author whom I have not yet met. I will soon seek him out and buy him a Shiner and a Tequila to discuss this and his other novels. (more…)

Ice Road Truckers – The Final Episode

I’m not sure what it was about this short (10 episode) series that entertained my family. It could have been any combination of:

  • a locale, the Northwest Territories, that most of us have never or will never see;
  • the characters;
  • the competition (the dash for the cash);
  • the difficulty in driving over ice while freezing your butt off.

And, yes, as I predicted (and anyone could tell), they advertised Season 2 at the end of the show. Because of it’s notoriety, there will be quite a few more rookies on the ice next year, giving the History Channel more wrecks and more trauma, no doubt.

Of the 800 truckers that started, (more…)

Wiki-washers and grave-Digg-ers

By day, I masquerade as someone who knows a thing or two about digital security and identity.

So when my friend and collegue Charles mentioned wikiscanner to me, my split personality showed: one side cheered that the media manipulaters could no longer hide; the other side jeered because privacy and anonymity took another blow.

Wikiscanner, through the usage of computation and knowledge about who (which corporations or ISPs) own what blocks of IP addresses, takes away some of the anonymity that can be associated with changing a Wikipedia post. Kudos to wikiscanner creator Virgil Griffith for his creativity; because of his invention he can no longer remain anonymous, as media rags show how his creation reveals corps like Diebold editing Wiki articles on e-voting machines.

Identity and the concept of “authoritative” are interesting topics to discuss in terms of Wiki, and also in terms of other community sites such as Digg, eBay, Amazon, MySpace, dating sites and others. (more…)

Bu, Rhino at Houston Zoo

Bu, thanks for the memories

Bu, the 39-year old Rhino at the Houston Zoo, died of old age yesterday. Bu, Rhino at Houston Zoo

My family and I have seen a lot of Bu over the years, through many trips to the Houston Zoo, especially while our friend Robin was working there (and taking us “backstage”).

Bu was one of our favorites animals and he will be sorely missed.

himac.jpg

Congrats and best of luck to Wushu Kung-Fu Fed team

The team from the school where I take Taichi, Wushu Kung-Fu Federation, won the team himac.jpgtrophy at the recent combined Houston International Martial Arts Championship and USAWKF National Championships. I’ve seen the trophy, but have not seen the results posted anywhere on the net so if anyone has seen them please send me the URL in a comment (as the results are not posted at the website above yet).

The team won some 30 medals. Congratulations to Master Jason Jung and all who participated. The team is now off to China to compete in an international tournament (leaving yours truly in Texas to complete his first form).

I did not participate, having only been with the school for two months (and, last I checked, knowing half of a form doesn’t really get you in the door). But I obviously have been good or lucky or both at selecting instructors, having two excellent ones (or are they picking me??).

In both instances, I used sage advice from two of my friends who had long been black belts. (more…)

The Day of Battle

bookrev: The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson

Volume Two of the Liberation Trilogy (from the invasion of Sicily in July 1943 to the fall of Rome just before D-Day, June 1944) (review of Advanced Reader Copy)

The Day of Battle

Another triumphant book from the Pulitzer prize winning author

The Day of Battle is an excellent follow-up to An Army At Dawn, covering the often overlooked, extremely bloody and costly campaign in Italy. Again Mr. Atkinson uses a variety of sources to turn history into a smooth flowing story, including viewpoints from generals and soldiers alike.

Several topics stand out in Mr. Atkinson’s writing: (more…)

Nanotechnology and Harry Potter

An excellent letter from Dr. Andrew D. Maynard, Chief Science Advisor, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies to Mr. Arthur Weasley of Harry Potter fame:

Nanotechnology is not magic, but it sometimes looks like magic. For instance, we can make stuff change color, just by altering the size of the particles it is made of. We can weave threads that are so strong a single strand could pull the Hogwarts Express. We can even alter the way that light moves through substances—and might possibly be able to mimic your friend Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak one day!

Nanotechnology plays an important role in my novel, Dusk Before the Dawn, and at times the people in the story view it’s effects and those of other often “unexplainable” happenings (such as those involving the martial arts) as magic. Dr. Maynard voices some caution in his letter that foreshadow the efforts of many novels, including my own:

I am sure that most uses of nanotechnology will be perfectly safe. But it would seem sensible—and good business sense —to make sure of this, rather than ignoring the warning signs and hoping for the best. We do know that the unusual behavior of nano-particles might make them harmful if they get in the wrong place. For example, our scientists have shown that some nano-particles can get to places in our bodies that larger particles cannot, although we do not yet to know whether this is a cause for alarm. And we do not know what happens in the long-run when we release nano-materials into the environment.

movrev: The Marine

3 stars: The worst action movie with a collection of sci-fi movie extras

It looked like a good formula: fight scenes, good sci-fi film extras moving over into a semi-martial movies (WWE?), gorgeous blonde (hey, I’m a guy). The previews looked good, my son and I were set for a good rock’em sock’em.

Don’t bother. This movie is not worth the time. And this time, my 16 year old son and I both agree. If there is a category for the worst action movies whose cast includes former sci-fi extras, this stinker would win hands down. (more…)

Re-reading MSandT

Re-reading Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn

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Dusk Before the Dawn

Dusk Before the Dawn

Software By the Kilo

Software by the Kilo

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