In my case, there was a the usual – I ordered DNA primers, sequenced some DNA, went through that sequence and assembled it into my model… I cooked some dinner, slept some. But last week was punctuated with something a little different.
Monday morning, the first new episode of my old radio show The Inoculated Mind Radio and Mindcast, aired on the local Madison student station, WSUM. The show was pre-recorded the week before, because I was not going to be in Madison to do it live.
The same day, I was visiting the San Francisco Bay Area with Anastasia, zooming around the City, meeting up with PZ Myers, and oh yeah – having dinner with Michael Pollan at Chez Panisse! My review is up, as well as Anastasia’s.
As for the show, I used to host the Mindcast here on this blog, however, I have built a completely new site called Inoculated Media dedicated to hosting the show. Continue reading What did you do last week?
Swine Flu versus Media woo:
In other news, Bill Maher finally expressed his true opinions of vaccines while interviewing Bill Frist. After being told he was crazy by a doctor, he followed up with being told he was crazy by three non-doctors the following week. Antiscience comes in many strains and Maher’s got a bad case of the Doubtbreak.
Ladies and gentlemen, don’t wait, inoculate!
P.S. I love how Jon Stewart worked in a joke about being a “Pasteurized Milk Drinker!” Take that, Raw Milkers!
The Big Event that everyone has been waiting for is here: Michael Pollan is going to be in Madison, Wisconsin, speaking about food and diet and word has it he will be bringing his rose-colored glasses!
There are several events where Pollan will be the big cheese:
Thursday at 7 pm at the Kohl Center, he will be giving a talk to what will likely be a packed auditorium. His talk is called The Omnivore’s Solution. I’ve been dying to find out what Omnivores can be dissolved in.
His talk is part of a campus-wide project called Go Big Read. I know, the name is lame. But they put thousands of copies of Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, in the hands of students in many disciplines. From sociology to nutrition and political science, the idea is to get students in many different fields talking about the same thing from different angles.
There is a blog on the Go Big Read site, and they were taking question submissions for Pollan, a handful of which will be selected. I submitted a question, along with Ariela. Continue reading Michael Pollan in Madison
(Hat tip to the Ethicurean.)
Daniel Engber writes in Slate about the campaign against High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Delving deep into not only the science of sweeteners, but also the sociology of foodies, he concludes that HFCS is on the decline not because of what it is, but what meanings are imparted upon it.
Read Dark Sugar.
Here are some of my favorite parts:
There may be other reasons to blame obesity in the United States on high-fructose corn syrup. According to a critique popularized by Michael Pollan, the development of HFCS allowed cheap, subsidized corn to be converted into cheap, subsidized sugar. Food processors plumped up with empty calories, and America got fat. But it’s not clear we’d be consuming any less sweetener if corn weren’t so cheap and plentiful. Since the corn content of HFCS contributes less than 2 percent (PDF) to the cost of producing a can of soda, the effect of the subsidies amounts to just a few pennies in the retail price. And while the price of corn syrup is kept artificially low by farm subsidies, the prices of other sweeteners are artificially inflated by tariffs and quotas on imported raw cane sugar and refined sugar. In other words, if we wiped out all of our subsidies and trade restrictions, we’d still have plenty of cheap sugar around, and processed foods would be just as caloric. As Tom Philpott points out in Grist, you don’t need high-fructose corn syrup to rack up American-style obesity rates: Australia manages similar numbers with a food industry based largely on cane sugar.
And the following paragraph:
The unwholesome reputation of HFCS has no doubt been exacerbated by the general view that it’s less “natural” than other forms of sugar. The notion that anything natural is healthy—and anything artificial is not—seems especially silly when it comes to added sweeteners. If fructose is indeed the problem, we’d do well to avoid the all-natural sweeteners in health-food products and fruit drinks, which often include concentrated apple or pear juices. These are almost two-thirds fructose—and might be significantly worse for your health than HFCS. (Organic, raw agave nectar could be even more dangerous, containing 90 percent fructose.)
That’s one of the things that I’ve been telling people – if the fructose content of HFCS is a problem, then look out for the fruit juices sweetened by concentrates made from apple, grape, and apparently pear. Continue reading The anti-HFCS campaign in Slate
(via Pharyngula and The Thumb) The Institute for Creation Research, which was denied its request to be an accredited degree-granting institution, has decided to sue the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board! It’s 67-page complaint “reads kind of like stereo instructions.” Not only are they suing the members of the board institutionally, but also individually, at their homes. The first couple pages of the complaint are grand, you should check it out, but in case you were thinking to read all 67 pages – there’s a lot of mindless crap in it and your time is better spent searching for lint in your belly button.
They are suing for viewpoint discrimination, religious discrimination, a violation of their first amendment rights, and even violations of interstate commerce! I didn’t know they had a traveling road show – I ought to see it sometime.
Here’s my favorite part of the complaint: Continue reading We wantz too be edyoukators two!
Five years, oh where has the time gone? Five years ago today, a creationist promised the science blogging community that he would explain a fancy new term that he came up with. Supposed to be a measurement of the degree of development of an organism, “Ontogenetic Depth” interested PZ Myers because he himself studies developmental biology. But the creationist never explained what it was, how it was calculated, and why the most developmentally well-characterized metazoan model species, C. elegans, had an OD of ‘somewhere between 7 and 9.’
That creationist’s name is Paul Nelson. Five years ago today he made a promise, Continue reading Happy Paul Nelson Day!
I’m back in Madison from the 51st Maize Genetics Conference, which was full of wholesome scientific goodness. It was also a great opportunity to finally meet Anastasia Bodnar from Genetic Maize, and discuss everything about communicating plant genetics, from common arguments to the cool nitty gritty scientific details that make this topic something really fun to learn about by itself. Anastasia is great and it was a delight to spend the conference with her – here’s to a long and productive future of cooperative blogging!
We also met another blogger at the conference, James Schnable from James and the Giant Corn. Here are the three of us hanging out near the posters.
Hey who’s that little guy with us? And what cool stuff did we learn and talk about at the meeting? What video interviews, audio conversations, and pictures did we bring back? Keep an eye on Biofortified for details.
PZ Myers just alerted me to a new organization taking up the mantle of watching over science education in the great state of Wisconsin: Behold Wisconsin Citizens for Science. I’ve already signed up, and if you’re in WI, especially Madison – its home base – I recommend adding yourself to its roster! There is little information up on the site yet, nor any indication of agenda items to watch, but in time I’m sure there will be plenty of that. But they have just announced today that their membership is now up to 72 – pretty good for just starting out!
In the same thread, I also learned of the Madison Skeptics society. No familiar faces in the pictures there yet, but Madison is a big place. Yet also quite small.
Now PZ is suggesting that Wisconsin is behind the times: just now organizing to help with science education in the schools – and that his home state of Minnesota is way ahead. Heck, even the Dakotas get higher marks from him. Now I don’t know about you but I think he’s got his numbers backwards. Kansas was the state that started it all – with Kansas Citizens for Science. Kansas was arguably the worst state when it comes to evolution in science education – and it trickled down to states with fewer problems. So doesn’t that suggest that by coming in last, that there isn’t as much of a problem here as in other states, like our puddly neighbor to the West? 🙂
I’ll try to help spread the word about the first meeting, when it comes.
Recently radio host Jeni Barnett went on the attack against vaccinations, revealing her utter ignorance of the relevent facts, and the logic required to analyze the issue. It would have gone unnoticed for me, and probably the rest of the internet, except when Ben Goldacre of Bad Science posted an mp3 of the show to display the wonton idiocy, Jeni’s radio station went after him, threatening to sue over copyright infringement. Jeni herself attempted to defend herself on her own site, admitting that she did not know her facts, and calling a nurse who corrected her on the air “vicious” while playing the victim.
As a result of this whole affair over the last couple days, a group of science bloggers got together, passed around the mp3, and transcribed the WHOLE THING. Take a look, but before you do, you have to hear how it sounds, so Get the mp3 from WikiLeaks while you still can!
My favorite part: Continue reading Go Download This
In science you always.
Always use controls.
That is the very basis of science, for without a control running next to your experiment, you have no isolated variables, no conclusions that can be drawn from it, and no theories that it can support.
So when I was reading the Ethicurean, as I regularly do, I was simply flabbergasted at this post: Mercury in HFCS. Apparently, a research paper came out proclaiming that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)-containing products had detectable levels of mercury. The explanation given was that HFCS is made using alkali soda, from plants that use mercury in the process of synthesizing it. (Except this has been for the most part phased out)
I took a look at the paper, and the first thing that I noticed was Continue reading Controls are Sweet!