Monday, February 27, 2006

UT 1, Ricin 0 (like I said)

Me, yesterday afternoon:

"My first thought is that this is not really ricin, and more laboratory testing will show that in the next week."

Nice to see yourself proven correct. Especially when other, more famous bloggers were a little excitable.

At least when it comes to bioterror, you know where to go for the straight info. I've been interested in the nefarious applications of science for a long, long time, I wrote a paper for a HS biology class called "Nerve Gas: Pesticide for People" back in 1985-6 or so. You, too, can acquire knowledge of biological weapons if you want, read the books I have read:

Biohazard by Ken Alibek and Stephen Handelman. Alibek was the director of the USSR's bioweapons program. This book will curl (or straighten, as appropriate) your hair.

The Ultimate Terrorists by Jessica Stern. Don't remember a lot about this one.

Germs by Judith Miller, et al. Before she went to jail and was fired by the NY Times.

The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. Great read, a near-miss of an Ebola outbreak in the US. What a difference a couple hundred nucleotides can make.

Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy. That a terrorist would fly a plane into a building on purpose came as no surprise to anyone who reads Tom Clancy books, we knew about it after reading one of the books prior to this one. This one is about biowarfare, and Clancy may get some details wrong here and there but he does pretty well at helping you think about what a bad, bad thing biowarfare would be. The prequel book to this one (in the Jack Ryan series) is Executive Orders, which also deals with bioterror.

Zinsser Microbiology when you just can't sleep at night or have a pesky door to prop open.

And I learned most of what I know about microbiology from Dr. Dan Brannan at Abilene Christian University, one of those great profs that parachutes out of The Real World and lends a spirit of practicality to otherwise dry academic pursuits. Thanks, Dr. Brannan!

Happy, if disturbing, reading.

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