Monthly Archives: May 2007

Scientist becomes science

The man who helped discover the molecular structure of DNA has become the first person to receive his own personal genome map. It apparently shows that James Watson, 79, has variances that are cancer-inducing.

While the procedure cost E750,000, the price will probably plummet to about E750 in the fullness of time. This may still sound pricey, but seeing as it could show what illness you are predisposed — thus allowing you to anticipate and potentially catch such conditions early — it may be worth every cent.

No indication on when it’ll become a common part of healthcare, but definitely something to keep an eye on.

Holy crap

Dell’s quarterly earnings topped expectations but the company still plans to shed about 8,200 jobs — or 10% of its workforce.

Net income fell slightly but revenue was up E400 million. The company’s been slipping in recent years and has lost market share to Hewlett-Packard. But 10% of the labour force? They say desperate times call for desperate measures, but I didn’t think Michael Dell felt things were so bad. That said, the share price has shot up, so I guess I can’t really fault his business acumen…

Anthology of a slain journalist

Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev has helped launch a collection of articles by Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot dead outside her home last year.

A fierce critic of corruption and abuses within Russia, she died in an apparent contract killing last October. Politkovskaya was special correspondent for independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which has produced the 980-page book.

At the launch, Gorbachev, who is co-owner of the newspaper, joined her colleagues and family in urging the crime be solved. The IHT quotes him as saying the case was especially important because much of Russian society thinks that law enforcement officials were involved in her killing.

Gorbachev held a copy of the book and suggested that while her writing was painful for some to read – it often accused government officials, soldiers and police officers of crimes – it was ultimately helpful to the Russian state. “It is bitter,” he said. “But it is a medicine.”

Kremlin officials boycotted the event, although they were invited to speak. The launch was not covered by any official news services.

From stricken Darfur, a good news story

Every week Awatef Ahmed Isaac produces a newspaper documenting the life of Al-Fasher, capital of North Darfur. It’s handwritten and pinned to the same tree every time.

Awatef’s work is inspired by her late elder sister, who dreamed of publishing a newspaper for her town. Al-Raheel (The Journey) contains stories of the two million people who have been displaced by the Darfur conflict. But Awatef wants to build on her experience — her ambition is to produce a daily paper to campaign against poor public services and other such issues.

She came to international attention when The Washington Post ran an article about her earlier this year, but Mohamed Hasni of Agence France Presse has checked in with her. Since the Post’s article, she has been inundated with support and her journal is now available in English and Arabic at

Conflict of interests

The Virginian-Pilot has an interesting biog-piece on Marcus Ross, who holds a doctorate in geosciences yet is also a creationist. I like how the spark for his internal debate was the fact he liked dinosaurs while being raised a Christian fundamentalist. His 197-page thesis was described by his supervisor as “impeccable”, yet Ross doesn’t believe a word of it.