Monthly Archives: January 2013


In a rare move… I’m posting a link to something that I do NOT consider worth reading. I’m normally a big fan of the NY Times “Room for Debate” series, in which hot topics in politics, culture and the media are approached in a series of opinion pieces by various experts. Today, however, I have been sorely let down by this publication. Today’s edition claims to debate the origin of the unusual illegal trade in Tide brand laundry detergent. The unusual story was originally chronicled in a New York Magazine article that I linked to on facebook. Here’s a copy of that link: Suds for Drugs. You can also find today’s Room for Debate here, though again I don’t recommend you waste your time.

My mild anger with the opinion pieces stems from three failures: First, the editor failed to secure a variety of experts to speak intelligently about this topic. There are three in this edition, when normally there tend to be around 4 to 6. Today’s ranks included a “laundry expert at” and a sociologist who was an advertising consultant (!) for Proctor and Gamble (not for their Tide product though). Perhaps this speaks to the relatively insignificant amount of debate to be had on this subject. More importantly, the second failure is that there is no significant debate taking place. In a series centered on opposing views, one would expect there to be at least some noticeable disagreement, and yet nothing of consequence is actually disputed. Finally, and perhaps most annoying to me, is that this opinion piece utterly fails to bring any new opinions, relevant facts, or insights to the table that were not previously presented in the original article by Ben Paynter. One wonders what merit, if any, this opinion piece has.

Regardless of what I see as a major misstep on their part today, I still find the series to be a generally great read, and would encourage you to check out some of their other discussions. Skip this one though, and read the NYMag article itself.


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At both ends

It’s been a very busy weekend for me, and it’s not over yet. But first, Id’ like to do something different. For your listening pleasure, I have included a playlist of songs that I’m listing to this morning. So listen along with me if you like (It will open in a new tab):
Sunday Morning Playlist Click here, then click ‘Play All.’

This weekend my sister, brother-in-law, and their kids came to the Bay area for a brief visit en route to Hawaii. We spent an evening in Berkeley, and a whole day in San Francisco doing some touristy things: riding the cable cars, chinatown (including the fortune cookie factory and a bit of dim sum), and Grace Cathedral (which was particularly stunning). However, the best part of this trip was by far renting bicycles and riding them from Fisherman’s wharf up to and on to the Golden Gate Bridge. The sky was clear, and just about the best weather we could expect for January. After a return to Berkeley and a nice dinner you would think I would be done for the night. …. But no.

The “next level” for the night was preparing for this morning’s brunch. In partnership with the skillful Daniele Monahan, I managed to put together a presentable looking spanakopita for brunch this morning (Pro-tip: you don’t need to pre-heat the oven to 350 when you aren’t planning on baking your dish for another 10 hours at a different house…)

Anyways, the time is just about nigh to bake that beast… so here’s wishing everyone has a wonderful day… and continue to enjoy the tunes!

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New Year

Current Plans

As I’ve told a number of people in person, but failed to publish online, I haven’t completely severed my ties with graduate school. In December I became aware of a potential “plan B” for being a student, which I am now pursuing. I’ll continue taking classes this semester (in fact I’ll take a rather large load of classwork) and being a graduate student instructor, but I won’t be working in a research lab. If I successfully complete my classes, then I’ll be able to leave at the end of the spring with a coursework-based Masters degreee in Chemistry.

Honestly, I am still unsure of whether this is the best move for me right now. The degree itself won’t be worth that much more than a bachelors, but it provides me with an income and something to occupy my time for the next few months. Following that, who knows!

Here’s a short list of “also-ran” ideas for what to do next:

-Mountain-man / hermit




-Revolving door repairman

-Stand-up Philosopher

-Subway operator

Which do you think I should try next?

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