tomb of the lord of sipan, peru

After taking a leisurely trip through the Washington Post’s slideshow of the Pam-Am Highway, I realized that I may have found my next big vacation trip. What beautiful countries and cultures… I feel like I wasted my time in San Antonio, being so much closer to all this and yet never venturing southward.

As always, a “quick trip” to Barnes & Noble for a single book turned into an hour-long affair that ended with three different books (House of Sand and Fog, by Andre Dubus III, Motherless Brooklyn, by Jonathan Lethem, and Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates, by Tom Robbins). It really is impossible to get out of there without spending serious money. Fortunately, it wasn’t one of the stores with a music section, or else there would have been a couple other purchases, as well.

The New York Times has a pretty great article on the growing use of maternal-fetal surgery, and the recent shift towards performing the risky procedure not to correct potentially fatal intrauterine problems, but to improve the life of a baby with a non-life-threatening diagnosis. There are some good ethical questions embedded in this one.

Talk about usability problems: the most recent RISKS Digest has a pretty funny story about a bunch of motorized shopping carts going haywire during a power outage. It turns out that the interface for charging the chairs involves plugging them in but then turning them on and placing the handle in the “forward” position — and then, when the power goes out to the outlet they’re plugged into, they surge forward and have to be chased down.

The space dork in me has tracked down yet another cool picture of the Space Shuttle launch from Thursday, although I suspect that this one will disappear in a week, when the Washington Post turns its daily photo archives into a single weekly best-of disaster of a Flash presentation.