Recent Stories

Links to my varied articles and essays for the Huffington Post (formally renamed HuffPost in 2017) can be found on my contributor page.

The following is a list of links to other samples of my published writing, many of which have to do with undersea ventures, a topic I’ve kept up with (often on my Facebook – Author Page) since researching and writing Sealab:

* “The Other Final Frontier,” New York Times op-ed, raises questions about how the U.S. has long favored manned space exploration over ocean exploration.

* “The Mail” in the New Yorker magazine of June 22, 2020, includes my letter to the editor responding to a May 18 article about the deep-diving exploits of entrepreneur Victor Vescovo. (Some may notice that I make essentially the same point I made in the above-referenced op-ed, only this time in just 180 words.)

* Two feature stories I wrote for Hospital Voice, a publication of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, had to do with the Covid-19 pandemic: in the spring/summer 2021 issue about how an Oregon hospital led the setup of the state’s first mass vaccination site; in the fall/winter 2021 issue about the Oregon National Guard deployment to hospitals across the state to help contend with a dramatic surge in Covid cases.

* “Bob Barth – The Ultimate Aquanaut” is an obituary I wrote for the Journal of Diving History shortly after Barth, a Navy diver and major Sealab participant, died in March 2020.

* Also for the Journal of Diving History, I wrote an obituary in 2019 for Capt. James Vorosmarti Jr., a Navy doctor assigned to Sealab III, and in 2014 I wrote an obituary for Capt. Walter Mazzone, Capt. George Bond’s right-hand man throughout the Sealab program. My obituary for Jack Tomsky, commander of Sealab III, was published in the Journal in 2013. I was interviewed by the New York Times for its obituaries of Barth and Mazzone, and also Hannes Keller, the Swiss deep-sea diving pioneer whose ill-fated thousand-foot dive is described in my book. I also helped out with the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times obituaries for Capt. Mazzone.

* “Volkswagen’s Long, Strange Trip Through Pop Culture; How did the Sensible German Automobiles Come to Symbolize Both Counterculture Cool and American Family Fun?” A July 2016 essay (and photo essay) for Zocalo Public Square, on the occasion of the class-action settlement in the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

“Sealab’s 50th Anniversary Could Use Some Celebration Too” is an essay for HuffPost in which I lament that Sealab’s golden jubilee, despite the project’s game-changing significance, was allowed to pass with scarcely a tweet.

* “The New Wave of Underwater Hotels,” a photo essay I put together for HuffPost, got quite a few “likes” and “shares,” which I suppose suggests there may indeed be a vibrant market for sub-aquatic accommodations.

“Sea Base Alpha,” my feature story in the June 2012 issue of Discover magazine, is almost like an epilogue to my book in that it describes the continuing efforts to build on the Sealab-era advances that made sea bases and long-duration dives possible. The story begins with the creator of Jules’ Undersea Lodge, in Key Largo, Florida.

* “The Closure of Aquarius Reef Base and America’s Scientific Ambitions,” a piece I wrote for HuffPost, follows up on the possibility raised in my New York Times op-ed that the world’s only Sealab-style marine research base might lose its federal funding.

* “Is Dusk Descending on Aquarius Seabase?” This article for the online edition of Pacific Standard magazine adds some key fiscal details to my HuffPost piece and to other media reports that followed it during the summer of 2012, when moves were being made to save Aquarius.

* “The Hunt to Catch the Giant Squid – On Film.” Who knew this creature had never been filmed in the wild? With this piece for Pacific Standard, I had some fun bringing readers up to speed on this unusual cinematic quest.

* “How Humans Learned to Live Under Water” is a story I wrote for the tech website Gizmodo to provide some historical and technical background for the site’s multi-faceted coverage of the July 2012 mission at the Aquarius Reef Base. I also helped out with a related story about how NASA uses Aquarius to train astronauts.

* “Don’t Hold Your Breath; Why manned undersea exploration is dead.” In this essay, posted in Slate magazine on Sept. 17, 2013, I explain the fits and starts that have characterized underwater exploration over the past half century, and how nothing much seems to be changing, even as the ocean remains largely unexplored. My 2,000-word essay was part of a month-long Slate series on the future of exploration.

* “Ocean Technologies for the Next Era of Exploration.” This package of nine stories for Men’s in 2013 shows how leading developers of undersea technology are pushing the sub-aquatic envelope — despite the fits and starts in ocean exploration programs I recently described in my essay for Slate.

* “Hybrid Airship Could Launch Shipping Revolution,” or, as titled on page 12 in Discover magazine’s November 2013 print edition, “Super Fly: Hybrid Airship Aims High.” This front-of-the-book story explains the thinking behind the Dynalifter, a new breed of airship.

* “Fabien Cousteau Sets Aquatic Record, Lives Underwater for 31 Days.” A news story for Parade magazine, posted online July 8, 2014, about the just-completed mission of Jacques Cousteau’s grandson at the Aquarius Reef Base. Also posted at is my accompanying Q & A with Fabien: “I’m a Realist, But a Hopeful Realist.” Especially cool — and totally unexpected — was when he told me that he and his crew took a copy of Sealab with them on their mission.

* “Is the Final Frontier Under the Sea?”, an essay for Zocalo Public Square, commemorates the 50th anniversary of Sealab I, which coincided with the completion of Mission 31, in July 2014, when Fabien Cousteau, the eldest grandson of legendary ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, wrapped up an unusually long underwater stay at the Aquarius Reef Base, the world’s only undersea research station.

* “String theory is a cosmic yarn” (as originally headlined in print) is an oldie from my daily newspaper years, often made lively by spontaneous assignments like this one. The resulting story about my day at this international physics conference has been online since the dawn of Google — as you might surmise from its gawky appearance and the links that now lead to digital dead ends. The original front-page newspaper story was apparently clipped out, scanned, reformatted, and posted by a tech-savvy conference participant. No simple way to share such content at the turn of century, but, hey, hang around a bunch of physicists and they’ll figure it out . . .

Two books I’ve recently edited:

What Size Balls Do I Need?: A Road Map for Survival In the Dizzying World of Youth Sports, as the title implies, is a light-hearted but sober rumination on how to handle the highs and lows that come with today’s youth sports, told in the wry style of the author, a father of three, who speaks from the heart — and from years of firsthand experience as a parent, a coach, and parent-coach. He brought me on as an editor and copy editor to do what needed to be done to make his 75,000-word manuscript ready for its impending publication process, in which I was also involved.
(Coast Sports, 2020)

Santa Cruz Island – An Illustrated History, an artfully designed 600-page book on which I worked as chief editor and copy editor with the author and his team, is like a visual timeline, with dozens of scenic and historical photographs from across the years and the island’s rugged ninety-six square miles (an area four times the size of Manhattan Island, as in New York City, rather remarkably). The two-volume set, while an “illustrated history,” also has thousands of words of text, including extensive notes and a bibliography, to help detail and document the natural and cultural history of the unique island, now part of Channel Islands National Park, along with four neighboring islands off the coast of Central California. (SCI Co., 2016)