Precessions: October 22 to December 3, 2012

Redshirts: Expendables in Fact and Fiction.  As a security guard, I found Redshirts by John Scalzi (Tom Doherty Association, 2012), at once intriguing, humorous, insightful, and disappointing. Scalzi’s work is at once a parody and a tribute.  Just as Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is a Gothic novel about a girl deluded by Gothic novels, so, too, does Redshirtsincorporate all the important elements of classic Star Trek.  Real life redshirts include the private contractors who supplemented US military forces in Iraq during the Second Gulf War.  That story is harder to tell because nothing about it is amusing  (More here.)

Austin Winter BioBash, November 28, 2012.  About 150 of uscelebrated the history of life sciences here in Central Texas with a keynote address from Dr. Matt Winkler, the chairman and CEO of Asuragen.  He was followed by Dr. Paul Lammers chairman and CEO at Mirna Therapeutics. Our last contacts were a trio from the Austin Technology Incubutor: Mike A. Sandoval of the IC2 Institute, Dr. Lydia V. McClure, an Accenture Venture Partner with Texas Venture Labs at the McCombs School of Business, and Michael R. Pierce also an Accenture Venture Partner.  Earlier this year, the ATI announced the launch of two companies, Savara Pharmaceuticals, and Terapio, which markets the RPLI76 protein as a countermeasure to radiation exposure and chemical threats.  About 30 companies are now in the incubator, including Alafair Bioscience, Integrated Medical Systems, Inc., Admittance Technologies, and Xeris which makes ultra-low volume biopharmaceuticals in auto-injection pens. (More here.)

Where All the Children Are Above Average Growing Up Gifted (Seventh Edition) by Barbara Clark (Pearson 2008) is basically a textbook for teachers.  It also can serve parents, and perhaps gifteds, as an educated, intelligent mainstream guide. The basic flaw in her thinking is confusing a taxonomy with a remedy. Nerds: Who They Are and Why We Need More of Them by David Anderegg (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin 2007) slays an array of little dragons that plague nerds.  Dr. Anderegg obviously is an advocate. At the same time, though, he also seeks to deconstruct the concept of “nerd.”  Make no mistake: it is a schoolyard insult. What happens if you give a thousand Motorola Zoom tablet PCs to Ethiopian kids who have never even seen a printed word? Within five months, they’ll start teaching themselves English while circumventing the security on your OS to customize settings and activate disabled hardware. Whoa. “Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction”  (More here.)








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