LEVI McPHERSON, a graduate student of analytical chemistry at the University of North Central Florida, is approached by agents of the Homeland Security’s Counter-terrorism Unit. The agency is recruiting Lee to study and expose the loopholes of screening instruments in airports. Struggling financially, he accepted the offer, making him a paid, benevolent hacker of the nation’s gateway. Yet Levi is horrified when an Airbus from Los Angeles disintegrated in mid-air.

At 40, when everybody’s career trajectory is going up, Levi’s still a poor graduate student, struggling financially. His research projects however, are worth million dollars. Researching the highly classified and heavily guarded secrets of detecting traces of explosives, what Lee know was a goldmine. The agency's offer is his financial break . So Levi tackles the problem like a scientist, detailing the loopholes of the aviation security and turning what he knew into a big time money machine.

JIM and JONATHAN of the counter-terrorism unit, where nowhere to be found after Charlotte International Airport, a hub of Delta Airlines closed abruptly because of instrument malfunctions in their security lines. And in a post-Osama Bin Laden’s era, the biggest blow to the United Stated after the 9/11 disaster comes unexpectedly when a passenger plane blew up in the skies of Washington D.C., in the heart of the nation.

Levi knew it was only the start of more troubles, so he recruits his fellow graduate students to counter the future attacks. They have to think like criminals—and scientists too. With the help of FBI counter-terrorism experts, Homeland Security and Transportation Security Agency, the team races to close and plug the loopholes Lee identified.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Philippine Daily Inquirer's 'Young Blood' Compilation

In any given Sunday during my college years at Los Banos, my pan de sal breakfast was most likely with The Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI). And there's no doubt that I was reading the ‘Young Blood’ column. To make the lazy sunday complete, I lie in my bed or the sofa to read. Life was good (and still good to me).

Young Blood column changed the way I read PDI. After checking the sports page, I flipped the pages straight to the editorial section. Reading the Young Blood column connected me with other people of my age. Although you don’t follow a plot, I read the column just like following a story line. But having a morning paper everyday is a premium for a college student, so most of the time, I read the paper from the library. My roommate was resourceful; he took the column page (only the column page) from papers ready to be discarded by store owners, at the end of the day.

During my Philippine vacation last December (2007) after five years in the US, I went to Power Books and went straight to the Philippine section. Asking my cousin what’s the best book from the Philippines, she advised me to read the "Young Blood" compilation (and some Bob Ong books, an Eraserheads anthology and the compilation of Pilipino Scientists and Pilipino Entrepreneurs).

My stopover on my way back to Florida included a long stopover in Chicago. In a crisp Chicago morning, while waiting for my connecting flight, I sat in an isolated table with my bagel (America’s pan de sal) , my Young Blood compilation, and a hot coffee. I was wishing I was lying in my bed, for old time sake.

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