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Who I am
“There are thirty-two ways to write a story, and I’ve used every one, but there is only one plot – things are not as they seem.”  -- Jim Thompson
Listen to my appearance on NPR's Talk of the Nation program...
I also blog for the AARP website, where I write about subjects ranging from politics and pop culture to the backstories of intriguing recently-dead people. In the latter capacity, my subjects have included Billy Jack auteur Tom Laughlin, Edsel designerRoy Brown, apocalyptic prophet Howard Camping, sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar, Etch-A-Sketch inventor Andre Cassagnes, George "Shadow" Morton (producer of the Shangri-La's "Leader of the Pack"), enigmatic songwriting genius ("Along Comes Mary") Tandyn Almer, Marilyn Monroe paramour Hal Schaefer, and Willard Conrow, who took the very cool photograph at left.
I've written a lot on conspiracy theories, from the colonists who thought King George III might be the Antichrist to the Truthers and Birthers Here's a piece that I did for Orange Coast on southern California conspiracy theorists, and a HowStuffWorks article entitled "10 Things People Believe About the Illuminati."
Most of his zillions of fans probably think of sci-fi visionary author Philip K. Dick as a trippy, amphetamine-fueled Berkeley hipster. But the author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, A Scanner Darkly, and Man in the High Castle actually spent the last decade of a member of a condominium association and shopping at Trader Joe's in uber-conservative Orange County, CA. Here's my article from Orange Coast magazine on the enigmatic PKD.
In 1949, W. Somerset Maugham wrote an essay in which pondered whether Dostoevsky or El Greco was the greater artistic genius. Hard to imagine how he would react to a Rolling Stone cover proclaiming “The Genius of Eminem.” Read more meditations upon cultural grade inflation in "The Golden Age of Mediocrity," from the Los Angeles Times Magazine.
Mix a lonely candy heiress, a charming--albeit tacky-- lothario, a somewhat creepy butler and a stable of expensive race horses, and what do you get? The mystery of the disappearance of Helen Brach. Read my investigative article "The Horse Lady Vanishes," from  GQ  magazine.
Here's "Buzz Kill," an article I did for Sierra magazine about the controversy over neonicotinoid pesticides and their effect on bees, birds and other creatures. 
Journalist, author, blogger, web content producer, autodidact, fly on the wall, contrarian futurist, compulsive iconoclast, snarky pop culture pontificator
If you need proof that Bank of America is hep, two of the bank's managers once serenaded a meeting with a cover of U2's tortured lost-love lament "One," recast as an upbeat ode to merger integration and affinity-card branding. Read more bizarre tales of corporate rock in my article for Workforce Management magazine.
Here are some of my articles for HowStuffWorks, the web encyclopedia on 10 conspiracy coverups that just made things worse, how to grow test-tube meat, 10 last-minute stays of execution, 10 evil robots bent on destroying humanity, whether ancient Maya civilization was wiped out by climate change, and what might have happened if Americans had lost the Revolutionary War.
In 1983, the California Highway Patrol pulled over a bland-looking Long Beach computer programmer named Randy Kraft, who turned out to have a drugged and dying U.S. Marine in his passenger seat, and snapshots of scores of other victims in his possession. But 30-plus years later, despite being caught in the act, one of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history somehow has managed to avoid execution. Here's my article on why Kraft isn't dead, from Orange Coast.
Read about J.D. Salinger's visit to Washington, D.C. in 1955 to consult with a Hindu mystic, the time that Ringo Starr got his hair clipped at the British Embassy, the actual demonic possession that inspired The Exorcist, the repurposing of JFK's death car, and other strange tales of the nation's capital in my posts for public broadasting station WETA's Boundary Stones blog.
Here's the once-prolific Thunnus thynnus, a majestic creature that can reach over 10 feet in length and a ton in weight, and had been swimming in the Atlantic for 40 million years. But some fear the species' days are numbered, due to human craving for its fatty, succulent raw flesh. Read my piece on the fate of the bluefin tuna from the National Geographic Channel website.  
Coal companies' practice of mountaintop removal threatens to turn rural Kentucky into a wasteland. That's why an environmental activist made the sites into an unlikely sort of tourist attraction. Read my article "Unnatural Wonders" from Mother Jones magazine.
 From 2007 to 2013, I was a blogger for the Science Channel, where I wrote about outlandish inventions, game-changing breakthroughs and extreme phenomena. Here are my posts on building vertical skyscraper forests, whether genetic researchers should create killer super-viruses, starting your own nation on an artificial island, a startup company that aims to mine asteroids for precious metals, whether we should alter the sky's color, and technology for downloading drugs from the Internet.
  POPLORICA is "the perfect book for those who feel as if their attention spans have become as fractured as a bad MTV video." --USA Today Now available in KINDLE edition
Buy OOPs: 20 Life Lessons from the Fiascoes that Shaped America...Now available in KINDLE edition.
Read more of my work...
I'm a science blogger for Discovery News, where I write about topics ranging from the Yellowstone supervolcano that eventually may spew ash all over North America, to fracking and earthquake swarms in Oklahoma, to whether an increase in iceberg formation might lead to another Titanic-like disaster in the North Atlantic.
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