Another controversy, another round of blaming preprints

On February 1, Anand Ranganathan, the molecular biologist more popular as a columnist for Swarajya, amplified a new preprint paper from scientists at IIT Delhi that (purportedly) claims the Wuhan coronavirus’s (2019 nCoV’s) DNA appears to contain some genes also found in the human immunodeficiency virus but not in any other coronaviruses. Ranganathan also chose…… Continue reading Another controversy, another round of blaming preprints

Losing sight of the agricultural finish line

In The Guardian, Joanna Blythman pokes an important pin into the frustrating but unsurprisingly durable bubble of vegan cuisine and the low-hanging fruits of ethical eating: These days it’s fashionable to eulogise plant foods as the secret for personal health and sound stewardship of our planet. But in the process of squaring up to the…… Continue reading Losing sight of the agricultural finish line

Google Docs: A New Hope

I suspect the Google Docs grammar bot is the least useful bot there is. After hundreds of suggestions, I can think of only one instance in which it was right. Is its failure rate so high because it learns from how other people use English, instead of drawing from a basic ruleset? I’m not saying…… Continue reading Google Docs: A New Hope

India’s Delhi-only air pollution problem

I woke up this morning to a PTI report telling me Delhi’s air quality had fallen to ‘very poor’ on Deepavali, the Hindu ostensible festival of lights, with many people defying the Supreme Court’s direction to burst firecrackers only between 8 pm and 10 pm. This defiance is unsurprising: the Supreme Court doesn’t apply to Delhi because,…… Continue reading India’s Delhi-only air pollution problem

The unclosed clause and other things about commas

The Baffler carried a fantastic critique of The New Yorker’s use of commas by Kyle Paoletta on August 23. Excerpt: The magazine’s paper subscription slips have long carried a tagline: “The best writing, anywhere.” It follows that the source of the best writing, anywhere, must also be the finest available authority on grammar, usage, and…… Continue reading The unclosed clause and other things about commas

Goopy junk

Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop, a wellness brand that has recently come under fire for advertising almost-certainly pseudoscientific “lifestyle” products like $66 jade eggs for women to insert into their vaginas to strengthen their pelvic floors, put up three notes in their defence: two by doctors and one by ‘Team goop’. The ‘Team goop’ note was the usual…… Continue reading Goopy junk

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