RIP, Ursula K. Le Guin


I haven’t read nearly as much of her work as I’d have liked, and that’s something I look forward to rectifying soonly. I’ve never had the chance to meet her at a con, but very eloquent folks who knew her have said wonderful things in remembrance. Of particular note:

Neil Gaiman presents lifetime achievement award to Ursula K. Le Guin at 2014 National Book Awards from National Book Foundation on Vimeo.

The Laddie Wha Lived

It has been making the rounds that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has been translated into Scots, but I feel compelled to share here as well given how excellent this development is. I mean, seriously, BEHOLD:

New translation of Harry Potter into Scots

One could read it aloud in a think, Scottish brogue (as I have), or sit back with a dram and listen to the translator, Matthew Fitt, read a bit of it on NPR.

Zika of late

160418-F-NL936-001 by Airman Magazine via Flickr CC BY NC 2.0
160418-F-NL936-001 by Airman Magazine via Flickr CC BY NC 2.0

I had the pleasure of giving a Grand Rounds presentation to Sinai’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology yesterday on the Zika virus, focusing on what we’ve learned about it since it’s emergence in this hemisphere in 2016, things of importance that we haven’t figured out yet, and what lies ahead for Zika as a threat in 2018. A few particularly interesting points to me include:

At the end of the day, just don’t get bit by mosquitos, man.

the conference roll for 2018

conference by dionhinchcliffe via Flickr CC BY SA 2.0
conference by dionhinchcliffe via Flickr CC BY SA 2.0

The roll call of conferences and conventions I intend to attend in 2018, either whole or in part:

The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin
The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin


Three terrible things happen in a single day.

Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world’s sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes — those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon — are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.

She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

Flavor: Primal earth-mages grappling with service to a society that both needs and fears them, as well as freedom from the horrible chains that their guardians judge are needed to keep them in line.

Thoughts: I listened to the Audible version. It started out slow for me over the first couple of hours, but soon broke through into quite the interesting story that easily had me hooked. Jemisin’s voice is distinct and fresh. The world she builds is intriguingly different than most fantasy settings, with enough broad strokes to give a sense of scope and spikes of detail to inform the story, but leaving much more to be fleshed out in future tales. The characters are strong, evolving in real and complex ways. By the end, I felt like I had thoroughly lived a story to a satisfying end, but with a clear setup for the next book.

Verdict: Highly recommended. An excellent choice for fantasy enthusiasts looking for something different, and very well-done. It won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2016, and certainly feels worthy of that honor. I’ll be prioritizing the next book in the Broken Earth series on my to-read list.

Hey, You Guys, We Totally Own A Game Store

Family Game Store endcap October 14, 2017 via docoperon on Flickr CC BY SA 2.0
Family Game Store endcap October 14, 2017 via docoperon on Flickr CC BY SA 2.0

Last year, Laura and I joined as business partners in the Family Game Store, located in the Historic Savage Mill in Savage, MD! As board game enthusiasts, we have been shopping there for a number of years, and decided to take the plunge into the fascinating, and sometimes tumultuous, world of board-gaming small business.

It’s been, let’s say… educational. But also (and most importantly) fun! Please come by to check out some games, hang out at our weekly Saturday evening open gaming nights, or join in on specific gaming events. In addition to the calendar of events on our website, you can follow our news and happenings on the Twitter machine and the Facebookery and the Instagram. We hope to see you there soon!

Cmar is also… Cancer Management and Research

In which I will continue to note all things “cmar”… the journal Cancer Management and Research describes itself thusly:

An international, peer reviewed, open access journal focusing on cancer research and the optimal use of preventative and integrated treatment interventions to achieve improved outcomes, enhanced survival and quality of life for the cancer patient.

That sounds lovely, although the used of the word integrated is potentially an eyebrow-raiser in the context of doing serious evidence-based medicine.

While not a top journal in it’s field, it is named CMAR, and as such is worthy of note. More granular assessments of it’s quality are beyond my scope, and much more in Miloš‘ wheelhouse.


On Roughly Speaking 340: The Rise Of Superbugs

CT-SMAC Agar 2- detail via nathanreading on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
CT-SMAC Agar 2- detail via nathanreading on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Dan hosted me on Roughly Speaking to give my Top 5 list of the germs to watch in the coming year, many of which (I hope) will not cause much excitement:

5. Influenza
4. Zika
3. Ebola
2. Multi-drug resistant bacteria
1. ? the next big plague we don’t know about yet?
Bonus: HIV

Listen here for opining on the relevance (or not) of the above.

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