Public anywhere is public everywhere.

There are three parallel stories flowing past me via Tweetdeck and on Friendfeed right now: One story is about Facebook and their hubristic attempt to declare everyone’s personal information public. Another story is a librarian debating whether it’s OK to write a blog post containing tweets from library users with public accounts. Third is this story about the poor student who had a harsh appraisal of her posted to the internet by her pseudonymous advisor. This blog, named Synthesis, exists precisely to synthesize meaning from these seemingly unconnected events. Continue reading

A dialogue between a scientist and a catholic pro-life activist.

It’s not surprising in this melting pot of a nation, founded on religious tolerance, that people believe a variety of things. Neither is it surprising that some believers try to get other people to believe like they do. Southern Baptists, for example, aren’t considered to be true believers unless they “bear witness” to the non-believers. Everyone understands this, and for the most part tolerates it with a minimum of eye-rolling.

However, where the line is crossed is when believers in some article of faith attempt to assert the objective truth of said article by advancing a supposedly secular argument in favor of what they personally take on faith. For example, no one cares if you personally believe that life begins at conception, but when you start machinations to get such belief encoded into the law, people care.

I found a blog dedicated to doing exactly that for the Catholic faith. In one post, the blog author, Rebecca, is complaining about an editorial in Nature Neuroscience, which takes Dr. Maureen Condic to task for an sloppy and biased article she wrote for the Catholic magazine First Things.

The following unedited exchange is between myself and Rebecca.

Continue reading

Xeni Jardin put up an article about the candy meth craze.

The candy meth craze is a story I hear from time to time, always containing some comment along the lines of “it’s made to taste like candy, so little kids will get hooked”. It’s sad to see this kind of hysterical nonsense show up on boingboing, which usually eschews hysteria. Given the amount of traffic the site receives and how wrong she had gotten the story, I felt it was worth writing an email to clue her in. In it, I explained that this is simply a matter of branding, and the choice of this particular style is probably due to the history of preparing meth from sudafed tablets, which left a little red tint in the final product from the tablet coating.

Well, she posted the comment and I forgot to include a link to my site!

(In case anyone is wondering how I know these things, and how I might know how amphetamines taste, you should know that chemistry people occasionally talk about this kind of thing. Since food and biology are my two loves, I’m really interested in the intersection of the two. I had some old posts up about this, but they’ve succumbed to link rot. I’ll put up my chart of amino acid tastes when I get a chance. For the record, I have not ever attempted to make meth, ok?)