tqa https://scienceblogs.com/author/tqa/feed en Goodbye https://scienceblogs.com/authority/2010/07/20/walkout <span>Goodbye</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><strong>UPDATE: I have a new blog home!</strong><br /><a href="http://scientopia.org/blogs/authority/">The Questionable Authority can now be found at Scientopia</a>. </p> <p> When Pepsigate first erupted, I was extremely unhappy both with that situation and with how Seed had been treating its bloggers. I did not join the large (and still growing) group of departing ScienceBloggers at that time. I've invested a great deal of time and effort here, and felt that - despite the credibility that we all lost as a result of Seed's amazingly idiotic decision to sell Pepsi a blog - there was still a lot of potential for ScienceBlogs to be a force for positive change. </p> <p> You might have noticed that I just used the past tense quite a bit in that last paragraph. </p> <p> During our behind the scenes discussions since the Pepsi Explosion, I listed a number of steps that I thought Seed needed to take in order for ScienceBlogs to have a chance at continued viability. So far, they have not shown that they will be able to do any of those things. The headquarters response, or, more accurately, non-response to Bora's departure yesterday sealed that impression. </p> <p> I have nothing but respect, admiration, and gratitude for the various community managers and editors that Seed has assigned to ScienceBlogs over the years. They've done a stellar job under what can be exceptionally trying circumstances. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no confidence that they will be able to get any more support from their higher-ups than they have been getting. At this point, even with the site melting down around their shoulders, they have not been able to take rapid or decisive action. </p> <p>ScienceBlogs has meant a lot to me, and it's been a privilege to be here. I'm not going to be stopping blogging, but time constraints may force a brief delay before I'm able to get up and going at a new site. If I still have access here, I'll edit this post with a link to the new site when there is one. If not, you can follow me on Twitter (questauthority) and I'll let you know when and where I'm up again.</p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/tqa">tqa</a></span> <span>Tue, 07/20/2010 - 06:00</span> Tue, 20 Jul 2010 10:00:36 +0000 tqa 118559 at https://scienceblogs.com I suppose it was only a matter of time... https://scienceblogs.com/authority/2010/07/20/i-suppose-it-was-only-a-matter <span>I suppose it was only a matter of time...</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p> ...before someone used Pepsigate as the inspiration for <a href="http://blogs.nature.com/boboh/2010/07/20/my-application-to-join-scienceblogs">some painfully good satire</a>. Well done, Bob. </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/tqa">tqa</a></span> <span>Tue, 07/20/2010 - 02:14</span> Tue, 20 Jul 2010 06:14:47 +0000 tqa 118558 at https://scienceblogs.com The personal life update: https://scienceblogs.com/authority/2010/07/08/the-personal-life-update <span>The personal life update:</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p> Since I've obviously started blogging again (at least for the moment) I thought this might be a good time to bring you up to date on the <span style="text-decoration:line-through;">latest excuses </span>reasons I haven't been blogging much over the last few months. </p> <p> I've been working a real, live jobby job. It's one that has extremely limited internet access, and has been exhausting enough that I haven't really had the energy to write much after work - I'm now an Assistant Aquatics Manager on an Army base. (Think Hasselhoff with a big goatee and bigger gut.) I'll probably have more to write about that later. For now, I'm still working on figuring out what is and isn't going to be appropriate for me to write publicly and under my own name. </p> <p> I'll have more to say about that, and other things, later on. For now, I've got to run. There's a big downside to being employed in a physical fitness field on a military base - every now and then I'm forced to wake up at an hour even more insanely early than the soldiers do, because someone has to get things ready for them to do their 0-dark-30 morning PT. And tomorrow is one of those days. </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/tqa">tqa</a></span> <span>Thu, 07/08/2010 - 16:30</span> Thu, 08 Jul 2010 20:30:03 +0000 tqa 118557 at https://scienceblogs.com Pepsico, Scienceblogs, and the Future https://scienceblogs.com/authority/2010/07/08/pepsico-scienceblogs-and-the-f <span>Pepsico, Scienceblogs, and the Future</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p> This is not the post I though I'd be putting up today. This morning, I fully expected to come home from work, post my already-written "I quit" post, and point you all to a WordPress blog I set up yesterday. As of this moment, I'm not leaving Sb. As of this time next week, who knows? </p> <p> As some of you have gathered, a lot of the bloggers here have frustrations with Seed that extend well beyond the Pepsipocalypse, pressures that, in some cases, have already led bloggers to quit. I'm certainly in the frustrated group, and to be honest I was strongly considering moving on well before the latest incident. I have not (yet) done so for a number of reasons - some selfish, some less so (at least I hope). I do not have high hopes that Seed is going to be successful in addressing all, or even most, of the concerns that the Sb writers have. But as of now I'm willing to give it one more shot. </p> <p> Right now, I'm going to try to explain at least some of what's happened in very general terms - I'm not going to violate any confidences, or reveal any confidential internal material. But I think that, particularly given recent events, ScienceBlogs readers are entitled to get a bit more information, presented a bit more coherently, then they have gotten so far. I should note that this is my own view, and other bloggers might see things a bit differently. </p> <p> Let's start with Adam Bly, the Seed founder and CEO. I've met him, I've spoken with him a few different times now, and I genuinely believe that he sees science as a force for positive change in the world. He sees an ongoing engagement between scientists (from all fields and places of employment), policymakers, educators, and the general public as an absolute necessity for making science a more effective positive force. His goal is to try to facilitate that engagement, and he set up Seed to do just that. </p> <p> ScienceBlogs was originally started as an adjunct to Seed Magazine. Many of the bloggers who were brought here early on came not because of the chances for fame or money (I know neither was a big motivator for me), but because we have views about science, politics, and society that fit in very well with what was presented to us as the Seed mission. We were being offered - we thought - a chance to be a part of the conversation about how best to begin to make a difference. </p> <p> That conversation has yet to start, despite what we've accomplish here on our own. And when I say "we", I'm not just, or even mostly, talking about the bloggers. I'm talking about the Sb community as a whole, particularly the readers. Bloggers are good for pointing out injustices that need fixing, but you've been the ones who have come through with the support needed to deal with them. You've shown that <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/authority/2007/12/sciencedebate2008.php">time</a> <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/authority/2009/03/senate_update_-_science_advise.php">after</a> <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/authority/2007/10/scienceblogs_clearly_more_popu.php">time</a>. </p> <p> Despite the success of ScienceBlogs, both as a tool for informing and mobilizing concerned people and simply (and selfishly) in terms of traffic growth, Adam Bly and the rest of Seed's big picture management have never seen fit to involve the bloggers in any form of meaningful consultation - or even discussion - about what he is trying to accomplish. That is stupid on so many levels. </p> <p> The Pepsi blog was a mistake, and a bad one. Because the roll-out was handled badly, Seed, ScienceBlogs, and individual bloggers here (particularly those of us who didn't immediately leave) suffered a substantial credibility hit. This was not just avoidable, it was easily avoidable. If the bloggers had been given any sort of meaningful involvement in discussions about the future of the blogs or Seed as a whole, the entire debacle could have been avoided. </p> <p> Instead, we wound up with a situation where we took a credibility hit, and SB took a hit, and where we took these hits not just because of something that we had no involvement in, but which could have been easily avoided had we been given the involvement that we've been begging for since 2006. That's a lot to take in one shot. Particularly since Seed had already spent most of the goodwill of their bloggers on other issues over the past few years. </p> <p> That kind of thing all makes it hard to stay. </p> <p> At the same time, there are things that make it hard to leave. I've sunk a lot of time and effort into both writing this blog and participating in the broader Sb community. I don't want to walk away from that, particularly since I think that there is still a lot of potential for Sb to grow, to improve, and to become a more effective part of the broader discussion about science and society. </p> <p> For the time being, I'm staying. I'm not enormously optimistic that Seed is going to change the way they deal with the ScienceBlogs branch of their enterprise, but I'm not - yet - convinced that there is no hope for change. There will almost undoubtedly be discussions both in public and behind the scenes about the future of ScienceBlogs over the next few weeks, and I'm going to wait and see what - if anything - comes of it before I make up my mind. </p> <p> <strong>Addendum:</strong><br /><br />While I was working on this post, <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/scienceisculture/2010/07/science_is_culture.php">Adam Bly was publishing the first post on his own, brand-spanking-new, ScienceBlogs blog</a>. The fact that he's making at least that much effort gives makes me just slightly optimistic. Or at least not entirely pessimistic. </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/tqa">tqa</a></span> <span>Thu, 07/08/2010 - 15:19</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/policy" hreflang="en">Policy</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 08 Jul 2010 19:19:36 +0000 tqa 118556 at https://scienceblogs.com ScienceBlogs: The Choice of a New Generation? https://scienceblogs.com/authority/2010/07/06/scienceblogs-the-choice-of-a-n <span>ScienceBlogs: The Choice of a New Generation?</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p> A few of you might have noticed that there's <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/foodfrontiers/2010/07/welcome_to_food_frontiers.php">a new blog here at ScienceBlogs</a> - one <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/ethicsandscience/2010/07/welcome_to_inescapable_conflic.php">that does not</a> <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2010/07/seed_conflicts_of_interest_and.php">exactly</a> <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/whitecoatunderground/2010/07/rethinking_blog_networks_and_e.php">seem to be</a> <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist/2010/07/sucking_corporate_dick.php">receiving a warm welcome</a>. </p> <p> Pepsico - the makers of much of the sugary caffeinated goodness that gets me through the day - seems to have managed to purchase a blog here. (Contrary to popular belief, that's not actually the strategy I employed to get my slot. I don't have corporate pockets, so I went with "beg and grovel" instead.) For obvious reasons, having a corporation blogging about their products at Sb raises some concerns about things like conflicts of interest, the increasingly blurry line between "news" and "news releases", and the like. </p> <p> Some bloggers - better ones than I - have already talked about leaving Sb as a direct consequence of the Pepsi deal. </p> <p> I'm not sure that I'm going to be blogging here for much longer, but if I do leave, the Pepsi thing is probably not going to be the main reason. </p> <!--more--><p> <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thoughtfulanimal/2010/07/a_pepsi_blog_initial_thoughts.php">Like Jason Goldman</a>, I am concerned about the Pepsico blog, but not outraged. I am a long, long way from thinking that adding Pepsi is a boost to Sb's credibility, but I'm also far from convinced that it's as bad a move as some believe. Here's my rough take on the issue: </p> <p> 1: As others have pointed out, this is not the first corporate blog we've had here. It's also not the first blog sponsored by a corporation that has a less than immaculate reputation when it comes to issues surrounding public health and the environment. </p> <p> 2: As far as the reputation of the platform is concerned, I don't see that as a huge issue. We, the ScienceBlogs bloggers, have done just fine tarnishing that reputation without the help of the overlords. I don't think this is likely to do any more harm to the community or the reputation of Sb than some of the past escapades that did not involve corporate have. </p> <p> 3: Advertising versus content. I'm going to hold judgement on this issue for a bit, at least until I see enough content on the new blog to get a feel for things. </p> <p> 4: Longevity. As I mentioned, this isn't the first time there's been an attempt at a corporate blog here. The other's didn't really last all that long. Given our readership, the only way that this one will end up any different is if they do a good job engaging your interest. That's not easy, and if they succeed in doing so it will be because the new blog is actually presenting some science, and providing a place where reasonable discussion of that science can take place. Frankly, bought and paid for or not, I don't see that as a bad outcome. </p> <p> All that said, I definitely understand why people are concerned, and I will certainly respect anyone who decides that they cannot continue to blog somewhere that is selling content space. Depending on what happens with this new blog (or if adding corporate blogs becomes a major feature of Sb), I can easily see myself winding up in that group a few months down the line. For now, though, I think the best option is to take a deep breath and relax. For now. While continuing to watch the situation really, really closely. </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/tqa">tqa</a></span> <span>Tue, 07/06/2010 - 17:19</span> Tue, 06 Jul 2010 21:19:05 +0000 tqa 118555 at https://scienceblogs.com Aaaaaannnnnnddddd... We're back. https://scienceblogs.com/authority/2010/05/05/aaaaaannnnnnddddd-were-back <span>Aaaaaannnnnnddddd... We&#039;re back.</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p> It's been a while since I've posted, because I've been busy goofing off and having fun - I took a long European vacation (pictures and posts to follow). I'm back, mostly recovered, and almost back to my normal routine. </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/tqa">tqa</a></span> <span>Wed, 05/05/2010 - 13:40</span> Wed, 05 May 2010 17:40:22 +0000 tqa 118554 at https://scienceblogs.com Federal Judge Strikes Down BRCA1/BRCA2 Patents. https://scienceblogs.com/authority/2010/03/29/federal-judge-strikes-down-brc <span>Federal Judge Strikes Down BRCA1/BRCA2 Patents.</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p> As of this morning, <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/10/1013_051013_gene_patent.html">at least 20% of your genes were patented</a> by someone other than you. The holders of the patents could quite literally forbid you to investigate large portions of your own personal genome. This afternoon, a federal judge in New York <a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jKJ6pynnd0_ZTnKTIY90nfDYil2gD9EOHTN02">handed down a broad ruling</a> that calls into question - thankfully - the entire idea that naturally occurring genes are patentable. </p> <p> The ruling in question most directly affects the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which have been implicated in hereditary breast cancer. Myriad Genetics patented those two genes, and has been jealously guarding those patents. This has restricted research into those genes, and has prevented the development of any alternative methods for tests involving those genes. The ACLU filed suit challenging the patents last year, and the ruling in question came in response to their request for summary judgement. </p> <p> I'm still reading through the 156-page ruling, which can be downloaded from the ACLU's website (<a href="http://www.aclu.org/files/assets/2010-3-29-AMPvUSPTO-Opinion.pdf">pdf</a>), but I think I may have already found one of the quotes that - if the ruling survives the appeals process - is likely to have extremely wide-ranging effects on genetic research in the future: </p> <blockquote><p> Because the claimed isolated DNA is not markedly different from native DNA as it exists in nature, it constitutes unpatentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101. </p></blockquote> <p> Myriad is sure to appeal the ruling, so the case is most likely far from over. But it at least gives cause for hope that research into human genetics will not be restricted by firms that claim patents on part of our very physical makeup. </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/tqa">tqa</a></span> <span>Mon, 03/29/2010 - 15:09</span> Mon, 29 Mar 2010 19:09:23 +0000 tqa 118553 at https://scienceblogs.com What the scientific community can (and should) learn from the pending UK rail strike https://scienceblogs.com/authority/2010/03/29/what-the-scientific-community <span>What the scientific community can (and should) learn from the pending UK rail strike</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p> Next week, I'm going to be in the UK. My plans for the trip are centered on two things: the room I've booked in London for the week, and the 8-day rail pass I purchased a couple of months ago. This morning I hit the National Rail website to start figuring out exactly which trains I need to take to get to the destinations I've been planning to hit. After the third or fourth inquiry I ran, I began to notice a disturbing pattern: every train I might want to take had a little yellow exclamation point icon under "status". Clicking through to details brought up a notice that, "industrial action may affect this train" and <a href="http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/service_disruptions/2010/dispute.html">a link for yet more detail</a>. </p> <p> Clicking through to that link, I was able to find enough context to figure out that "industrial action" translates as "strike" without needing to resort to my English-English translation dictionary. I have <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/authority/2008/12/unions_are_a_freemarket_soluti.php">defended</a> <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/authority/2007/10/does_righttowork_equal_rightto.php">unions</a> on this blog before now, so the brief rush of euphoria that was brought on by my linguistic prowess was followed by an almost pleasant diversion into the etymology of the phrase "<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petard">hoist with his own petard</a>". </p> <p> Then I moved on and began to look into the details involving both the "industrial action" and the underlying disputes. </p> <p> The brief version of affairs is this: unions representing railway signalers and maintenance workers have announced that their members have authorized action, and that if the disputes that they have with Network Rail are not resolved forthwith they will strike from Tuesday to Friday of next week. The maintenance workers will be on strike for the entire period, while the signalers will only walk off during the peak hours from 0600-1000 and 1800-2200. </p> <p> The representatives of the unions <a href="http://www.tssa.org.uk/article-101.php3?id_article=5925">point out</a> that they are being kind enough to wait until (just) after Easter to stage their walk-out. The representative of the group of companies that run the trains has (predictably) called the planned action "<a href="http://www.atoc.org/media-centre/latest-press-releases/train-companies-respond-to-union-announcement-100440">deplorable</a>", because the unions are not putting the passengers interests ahead of their own. <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1262054/Network-Rail-Only-trains-run-national-RMT-strike.html">The Daily Mail</a>, noting that the strike is set to begin on the day when the prime minister is expected to announce the date of the next national election, called the unions' timing "blatantly political." </p> <p> My own reaction to the strike plans, particularly given their potential impact on my own travel, is a bit complex: </p> <!--more--><ol><li>Crap.</li> <li>Of course the timing is blatantly political. It's also brilliant. The walk-out is set to start at the beginning of a short work week. It puts the Prime Minister in a situation where he has a great deal to gain if the strike is called off, and even more to lose if it happens - Brown is already being hammered for "<a href="http://www.politics.co.uk/news/transport/rail-strike-talks-start-as-ba-actions-comes-to-an-end-$1368045.htm">weakness</a>" on labor (excuse me, labour) issues, and the last thing he needs is to have a hugely disruptive transportation strike upstage the announcement of new elections, particularly given the <a href="http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2010/03/uk-polling-numbers-not-sufficiently.html">already poor outlook</a> for his party.</li> <li>Crap.</li> <li>This is a fantastic example of the benefits (for workers) of collective bargaining. Without it, the 1500 workers that Network Rail wants to make "redundant" would already be gone.</li> <li>Did I say "crap"?</li> </ol><p> More seriously, if the industrial action takes place, I will be somewhat inconvenienced, but not tragically so. My vacation will not be ruined, but I probably won't get to all the places I was hoping to see, won't get to travel as comfortably to those I will reach, and will wind up going to some alternative sites instead of my first choices. That's not pleasant, but it's nowhere near the sort of disruption that will be faced by others (like those, for example, the plight of those who depend on the railways to permit them to <a href="http://cromercrox.blogspot.com/">live the bucolic life of the gentleman farmer without sacrificing their glamourous day job as an editor/crusher of dreams</a>). </p> <p> More seriously yet, I think that this UK railway strike is something that can - should - be very instructive to those of us who want to see changes in the public perception of science and the way science is used in policy debates in the USA. </p> <p> The transportation unions are organized. They have members, an organizational structure that has some clearly identified leaders, and an effective method of discussing and communicating plans for action. </p> <p> The transportation unions are consciously seeking and using all the leverage that they can find. They have used their ability to set the time for the strike to magnify the leverage they get from their not-inconsiderable ability to create major disruptions. </p> <p> The transportation unions have a clearly identified short term goal that they can at least potentially achieve, which is also likely to move them closer to (or at least no further from) their also well-identified long term objectives. </p> <p> The transportation unions are magnifying their strength by working together. The two unions represent slightly different constituencies and do not have the same grievances or short-term objectives. By presenting a united front, they are able to further strengthen their bargaining position. </p> <p> At the moment, the scientific community shares all but four of those traits. That's something that we might want to keep in mind the next time we're wondering why we're so readily ignored, and so rarely effective. </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/tqa">tqa</a></span> <span>Mon, 03/29/2010 - 12:49</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/policy" hreflang="en">Policy</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 29 Mar 2010 16:49:14 +0000 tqa 118552 at https://scienceblogs.com Remembering Megan https://scienceblogs.com/authority/2010/03/18/remembering-megan <span>Remembering Megan</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p> If it takes a village to raise a child, I was particularly lucky to grow up in the middle of a wonderful little village in the middle of the Bronx. All things considered, the village did a pretty good job with a whole bunch of kids, who have since spread out all over the place. Some have gone on to really cool editing gigs, occasional appearances with Keith Olbermann, and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Hayes_(journalist)">our own Wikipedia pages</a>. Others have wound up working as lifeguards in Lower Alabama. But pretty much all of us came away from the village we were raised in with at least three things: a strong understanding of the importance of community, a strong sense of social justice, and the simple knowledge that the best way to make sure that a problem gets fixed is to get in there and fix it. </p> <p> Those are not things that we know because someone sat us down and talked to us about them. They're things we learned by watching the adults who were around us, and important to us. </p> <p> Today, we're all mourning the loss of one of the adults who loomed large in our lives. Yesterday, while bicycling to work, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/03/17/2010-03-17_bronx_bicyclist_who_swerved_to_miss_car_door_is_hit_killed_by_city_bus.html">Megan Charlop was struck by an opening car door and forced into the path of a city bus</a>. Her death leaves a gaping wound in many, many lives. </p> <p> A couple of <a href="http://www.bronxnewsnetwork.org/2010/03/bronx-loses-one-of-its-best-and.html">obituaries</a> have already appeared, and I'm sure more will follow, because Meg was important to her community - her family - in so many ways. <a href="http://twitter.com/chrislhayes/status/10676894330">Chris Hayes described her</a> as, "One of the most righteous, humane,compassionate human beings I've ever had the good fortune to know." The Bronx Borough President <a href="http://www.bronxnewsnetwork.org/2010/03/diaz-calls-charlop-tireless-advocate.html">talked about</a> her "tireless advocacy". My brother Dan <a href="http://dunford.tumblr.com/post/455546617/meg">talked</a> about how full of life Meg was, "in every sense of the word." <a href="http://www.philipalcabes.com/2010/03/in-memoriam-a-public-health-exemplar/">Philip Alcabes</a> says that Meg "wasn't a maker of big policy. She was a maker of many small differences." </p> <p> Meg Charlop showed me what love of neighbor really looks like, and how much of a force it can be. And so much more. I will miss her a great deal, and my heart bleeds for her family. </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/tqa">tqa</a></span> <span>Thu, 03/18/2010 - 11:25</span> Thu, 18 Mar 2010 15:25:10 +0000 tqa 118551 at https://scienceblogs.com Upcoming Travel - England, Germany, France https://scienceblogs.com/authority/2010/03/17/upcoming-travel-england-germ <span>Upcoming Travel - England, Germany, France</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p> One of my many distractions lately is travel planning. After spending several months living in the wilds of Lower Alabama, I'm getting to take a bit of a vacation. Right now, face a 60-minute round-trip commute to get to the nearest bookstore (a marginally acceptable Barnes and Noble). If I'm going to make a longer trip to restock the larder, I might as well go the full Monty and hit the Waterstone's on Piccadilly Circus. </p> <p> So I'm off to Europe for a few weeks at the beginning of April. I've got the rough outline sketched in, and I'm hoping that some of you can help me fill in some of the details before I go. Here's what I'm looking at so far: </p> <p> Fixed Dates:<br /><br />On the morning of 5 April, I arrive in London. I have a hotel booked in Central London for the following week. I also have a BritRail England pass, which gives me unlimited rail travel through England for that week. On the morning of 12 April, I depart for Frankfurt. I'll be staying with friends there for two nights, and heading on to Paris on the 14th. On the 15th, my wife and children will be arriving in Paris. We're planning to head to Normandy for a couple of days, then meet up with my parents back in Paris, head down to see some of my wife's family in Auvergne, and then get back to Paris on the 20th or 21st. On the 24th, I'm taking the train back to London, and I'll be flying home early on the 25th. </p> <p> The gaps:<br /><br />Right now, I've only got some tentative plans for the week that I'll be basing out of London. I'd like to make sure I get my money's worth out of the rail pass, and I'm very much open to advice on ways to do that. </p> <p> The last time I was in the UK, I got out to Oxford, Cambridge, Stonehenge, and Down House. Here's what I'm thinking about for this trip, in order of priority: </p> <p> <strong>Nottingham</strong>. This one's actually a bit of a priority for me. I'm a long-time Warhammer and 40K geek, and I'd like to get to Warhammer World, if only for a few hours. I'm probably going to do this on the 7th, and only for part of the day. </p> <p> <strong>York</strong>. I'd like to see at least York Minster, the walls, and the Railway Museum. (Yes, I'm also a transport geek. In fact, I have lots of hobbies, and all of them are geeky in one way or another. At the moment, this is a very good thing, because it helps me compensate for the fact that I seem to have somehow wound up making a living in sports and aquatics.) I'm not sure if I'm going to go to Jorvik or not - if anyone's been there, and has a review, please let me know. I'm strongly considering DIG, or at least the Hungate tour. (Again, opinions from those who've done any of those are very welcome.) At the moment, I've tentatively decided to head to York on the 6th. </p> <p> <strong>Dover.</strong> Dover Castle, in particular, has a lot of appeal, and I'd like to take an hour or two to walk along some of the paths that head toward the White Cliffs. </p> <p> <strong>Canterbury.</strong> I've wanted to see the place since I read Canterbury Tales in high school, but somehow didn't get around to it last trip. I might stop there the same day I go to Dover. </p> <p> Those are the places I've got the strongest feelings about, at least for the moment. I'm considering a number of others - Bath, Salisbury, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Colchester - but haven't settled on any of them, or even tried to sort out which I want to get to most yet. I also wouldn't mind getting back to Oxford or Down House, but I don't know that I want to sacrifice going someplace new to get back to either of those. </p> <p> <strong>London.</strong> This will be my third time in London. Last time, Matt Brown (who was then working at Nature Network, and is <a href="http://londonist.com/profile/Matt">now</a> at the <a href="http://londonist.com/">Londonist</a>) took us on a couple of fantastic walking tours that covered a good bit of the scientific heritage of the city. But, London being London, there are still a lot of places I haven't seen yet, and quite a few that I have, but want to see again. Suggestions here would be good - I've been to most of the major sights already at least once, but I'm open to any sort of suggestions here. About the only thing on my "I'm definitely not skipping out on again" list is Kew Gardens. Everything else is open. </p> <p> <strong>Germany.</strong> I really haven't done much planning on this one. One of my local hosts was going to ask for advice on another blog. I'll link that when it goes up. </p> <p> <strong>France.</strong> My family is doing most of the planning for this part of the trip. Since they're being nice enough to let me go off and explore on my own for 10 days, I'm not going to argue with them much. Still, suggestions, particularly for Paris, would be appreciated. </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/tqa">tqa</a></span> <span>Wed, 03/17/2010 - 05:05</span> Wed, 17 Mar 2010 09:05:37 +0000 tqa 118550 at https://scienceblogs.com