Friday, March 24, 2006

The Disgruntled Chemist in the Hot Seat

The Disgruntled Chemist is in the hot seat tonight. He has a rather large blog in Ca and disagrees with almost every position most of us have. However, in real life people disagree and move ahead. The Chemist is not known for his sense of humor but he will give it the old college try. The Chemist is a Grad student at UCI in California.

Blog related
1 You have a huge blog but it seems to be mostly Grad Students and the college crowd . Describe your target audience for our readers ?
2 You have a couple of interesting posters. Is Rob as funny and cool in person as he is on the web ?
3 What type of reaction do you get to the picture blogging and I pod posts ?
4 Do you think that the stereotype of scientists as humorless is correct. Rob is certainly an exception to that rule ?

Beer

5 Is beer making an art or a science ? Is there a chemical formula for good beer or does it involve a human touch ?
6 I enjoy some odd beers that you may have never heard of St Sixus, Black End Voodoo
( Haven't seen it in ages) and Tusker Lager. Have you heard of any of these brands ?
Name some premium beers that you feel excell in taste ?
7 Is light beer watered down beer or beered up water ?

No Class Remember the Chemist is not in Social Sciences.

8 If I went to your class and you were talking about free radicals. Is it safe to say that this is a non political discussion ?
9 What role should the private sector play in Science ?

Danerous Turf Energy
10 What are your views on gas taxes ? Gas alcohol and cigarette taxes are unpopular in rural America ?
11 Should we drill in ANWR ?
12 What are your views on nuclear energy

General
13 Are you bothered by public displays of religious symbols in Parks ?
14 Are you a vegetarian ?
15 What are your views on the use of lab animals ?

Fun
16 Have you been to a toga party in the last four years ? Did someone show up in a Power Rangers toga ?
17 Have you tried driven a Snow mobile or a pick up truck ?
18 Do you still listen to Michael Savage ?
19 Have you seen any of the Revenge of the Nerds films ?

Sports
20 Why do you hate the NY Yankees ?
21 Do you watch football ?
22 What sports do you participate in ?


23 Should the military be allowed to recruit on campus ?
24 Where do you get your news ?
25 Do you think my chants of USA USA USA are hate speech ?

Extra credit Did you think I was going to set up an ambush interview ?

15 comments:

nanc said...

well you musta disgruntled him out of the ballpark! tick-tock, tick-tock!

MissingLink said...

Another disgruntled youth?

The Disgruntled Chemist said...

Sorry it took so long. Our internet was down this morning. Here you go:

The Disgruntled Chemist said...

OK, here are my interview answers.

Blog related
1 You have a huge blog but it seems to be mostly Grad Students and the college crowd . Describe your target audience for our readers ?

I don't know if I'd call my blog "huge"; on an average day I get about 150 hits. My average is up over 200 per day lately because of the links from Protein Wisdom, Shakespeare's Sister and LGF, but I expect it to go back down soon. I also don't think it's mostly graduate and college students. There are a lot of people who are older and out of college that read and comment consistently. Right now, about 14% of my visits come from outside the United States, although it can be higher or lower depending on what links are coming in. My target audience is anyone who wants to know what I think. I don't usually write hoping to please a certain class of people.

2 You have a couple of interesting posters. Is Rob as funny and cool in person as he is on the web ?

Rob is a funny guy in person, and in fact he's one of my roommates in real life. He's especially funny when he's had a couple beers and there are people around who he wants to make fun of. Not everybody can spend a lot of time around him (he will freely admit to being a bad person), but I find him immensely entertaining.

3 What type of reaction do you get to the picture blogging and I pod posts ?

The picture blogging gets a good response, especially when I post pictures of my trips abroad or some good nature shots I've taken. I'll do some more of that tomorrow, actually. The iPod posts only get comments when people want to recommend music for me or tell me they like one of the bands that pop up. Otherwise, they're place filler, and I've basically stopped doing them.

4 Do you think that the stereotype of scientists as humorless is correct. Rob is certainly an exception to that rule ?

Scientists as a population aren't any more humorless as other groups of people, but they have a different kind of humor. Most of the professors in my department are actually very interesting to hang around with; they like to make fun of each other and just have fun. Other people may not get their humor, so that may be where the "humorless" stereotype comes from. I sometimes get blank looks when I tell jokes, for sure.

Beer

5 Is beer making an art or a science ? Is there a chemical formula for good beer or does it involve a human touch ?

Beer brewing is an art and a science. The science part comes in when the brewer chooses the correct pairing of malt and yeast to get the desired flavor. Certain yeasts will give more sugary flavor, and others will give a richer flavor; still others will produce more alcohol. Similarly, the preparation and amount of hops controls the bitterness. All these things affect the beer in predictable ways, and so I'd consider them the science of brewing. There are other components of the flavor, however, and the proportions in which they are added (and the brewing stage at which they're added) I would consider an art. When do you add the cherries to produce a subtle aftertaste in a Belgian tripel? Only a brewer with years of experience would know. That's the human touch.

6 I enjoy some odd beers that you may have never heard of St Sixus, Black End Voodoo ( Haven't seen it in ages) and Tusker Lager. Have you heard of any of these brands ? Name some premium beers that you feel excell in taste ?

I haven't heard of any of those. There are a lot of beers that I drink; some widely available beers that I feel are well crafted are Sam Adams Lager, Spaten Optimator, Guinness Draft, and Newcastle Brown Ale. All of these have different characteristics, but they're great for what they are.

7 Is light beer watered down beer or beered up water ?

Beered up water. It's not that they start with real beer and water it down; they don't add enough of the necessary ingredients to ever achieve real beer. There are some exceptions (Amstel Light and Sam Adams Light are passable), but in general light beers are not worth drinking.

No Class Remember the Chemist is not in Social Sciences.

8 If I went to your class and you were talking about free radicals. Is it safe to say that this is a non political discussion ?

Free radicals (the science kind) apply to biochemistry and biology, so I wouldn't mention them in any class that I'm responsible for. Atmospheric radicals, however, apply directly to my research, so I might mention them in class. I do go off on tangents sometimes, but they're unlikely to be about politics unless a student asks me about research funding.

9 What role should the private sector play in Science ?

That's a tricky question. In many cases, the private sector is the driving force behind scientific advancement; this is particularly true in biochemistry and drug development applications. University researchers often don't have the money of Pfizer or Merck, and so they can't be as effective. However, private money can be problematic in areas like atmospheric or environmental chemistry, especially when that money comes from oil companies. Then, there's the danger that the researcher will tell the oil companies what they want to hear instead of what the evidence might indicate. This kind of thing has happened in the past with studies on global warming sponsored by oil companies. So I guess the answer is, "it depends on what area of science you're talking about".

Danerous Turf Energy

10 What are your views on gas taxes ? Gas alcohol and cigarette taxes are unpopular in rural America ?

Gasoline taxes that are earmarked for road maintenance and repair make a lot of sense, and I believe that's what all (or at least the vast majority) of taxes in the US are used for. The money to maintain state roads and the Federal Highway system has to come from somewhere; using gas tax revenue seems like a logical way to ensure that the costs of repairing a rode are borne mostly by the people who use it most.

11 Should we drill in ANWR ?

No. It's not going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, despite what Republican Senators tell you. The reason for this is that a significant part of the oil produced will be sold to countries such as Japan and China. This will be good for Alaska's economy and the oil companies' bottom line, but the same problem of dependence will continue in the mainland US. It's not the answer that George W. would have us believe it is. It's basically a way for the oil companies to get rich at the expense of the environment of Alaska.

12 What are your views on nuclear energy

The problem of waste storage is significant, but people are wrong to be so scared of nuclear power. The potential for environmental damage during normal operation is quite low. Nuclear could also be a reasonable solution to the problem of powering the developing world. Still, I'd like to see even more focus on truly renewable power (wind, solar, etc.) instead of just building more and bigger conventional (coal, oil, nuclear) plants.

General

13 Are you bothered by public displays of religious symbols in Parks ?

Cristians in this country have a totally undeserved persecution complex, and it leads them to try and exert too much influence over the government. One of the ways that manifests is in advocating for their own personal religious symbols to be used by the government in displays. I would absolutely love to see a Ramadan display (whatever it would look like) erected by a major city in a park, just to see what people would say. Would Christians be offended, because it might be seen as a government endorsement of Islam? It would be very interesting. Personally, I don't care what symbols are erected. If I value them, I will respect them; if not, they're just things. What I do worry about is the motivation behind the erection of the symbols. Allowing religion to get too much influence on government would be a very big mistake.

14 Are you a vegetarian ?

NO! I ate no red meat (just fish) for three years, and I hated it the whole time. As soon as I was able to, I started eating red meat again and haven't looked back. I do enjoy good, fresh vegetables, though.

15 What are your views on the use of lab animals ?

I think it's a necessary evil. I don't particularly like it, and could never do it myself, but I realize that it's the best way to learn things about biology in general that can help save and improve human life.

Fun

16 Have you been to a toga party in the last four years ? Did someone show up in a Power Rangers toga ?

No, but I did go to an underwear party once. I went in jeans and a t-shirt, but some people were in much less than a Power Rangers toga.

17 Have you tried driven a Snow mobile or a pick up truck ?

I own a pickup truck, in fact, a 1998 Toyota Tacoma. It's kind of a piece of junk, and it has absolutely no options other than AM/FM cassette, but I like it and it's very handy to have around. I don't take it off-road much, though, since the suspension isn't made for it and the engine is just a 4 cylinder. And I've never driven a snowmobile, since whenever I'm somewhere that it snows, I'm on a snowboard or skis. I don't have much desire to drive one, although Amicus told me it's a lot of fun. I'll stick to the ski lifts.

18 Do you still listen to Michael Savage ?

I don't drive much, so I don't listen to him much, since the only radio I have is in my truck. When I'm at work, I usually just listen to music off my iPod or computer. Besides, Savage is so angry that I can't listen to him for too long anyway.

19 Have you seen any of the Revenge of the Nerds films ?

Just the first one. I tried to watch another one, but it was so bad compared to the original that I had to turn it off.

Sports

20 Why do you hate the NY Yankees ?

Really what I don't like is Steinbrenner, based on the impression I get from the media. I know he does charity work, but the overwhelming sense I get is that he's an overbearing bully who tries to solve his problems with money and rage. The Billy Martin situation seems to be a good example of that, as does him buying up every high-priced free agent there is. If he can pay the luxury tax, there's no reason for him not to do this, but it's just another example of his mentality.

Plus, I'm no fan of Alex Rodriguez.

21 Do you watch football ?

Religiously, every weekend during the college and NFL seasons. My NFL team is the Buffalo Bills, because both my parents were from Niagara Falls, NY and they got me hooked when I was a little kid. My alma mater only had Division II football, but I try to catch the games whenever I'm in San Diego. They won their division title last year, and I went to a couple of the games.

22 What sports do you participate in ?

That's an extensive list. I play intramural basketball and softball, and occasionally flag football. When I was younger I played baseball, but I was never very good. In high school, I was on the track team (shot put and discus), the football team (free safety) and the wrestling team, and also played soccer (every position but goalkeeper) and two-man beach volleyball outside of school. In college, I was on the varsity rowing team for three years, but two knee surgeries during my sophomore year and one during my junior year meant that I had to stop. I coached the freshman team during my senior year. I also like playing racquetball, and I kick Rob's ass most of the times that he dares play me. Take that, Rob!

23 Should the military be allowed to recruit on campus ?

College campuses: yes. High school campuses: no.

24 Where do you get your news ?

Let's see, in my bookmarks folders are links to CNN, BBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, MSNBC, Google News, Yahoo News and Drudge. I'm kind of a current events junkie, if you didn't get that.

25 Do you think my chants of USA USA USA are hate speech ?

Depends what you mean by them.

Extra credit Did you think I was going to set up an ambush interview ?

I really didn't know what to expect, but I didn't object to any of these questions, and I welcome any requests for clarification or suggestions that I don't know what I'm talking about.

beakerkin said...

Chemist thanks for being a sport and it was certainly a well rounded
interview. We will have to agree to disagree on number four. Rob is a true comedic genius and appears to be an exception.

American Crusader said...

I don't trust anyone who doesn't like the Yankees. They are America's team. 26 World Series victories...this year will make 27.
ARod=MVP

American Crusader said...

"Beer brewing is an art and a science. The science part comes in when the brewer chooses the correct pairing of malt and yeast to get the desired flavor."

This answer makes up for the Yankees answer...well almost.

nanc said...

wow - a beer guy! my husband brings me a sixer of snob beer (anything that costs more than a case of what he drinks!) - how do you feel about japanese beer?

asahi or sapporo?

sake or wine?

i recently tried a lager from guatemala called "famosa" - it's quite heady - have you tried it?

nanc said...

what is a yankee?

The Disgruntled Chemist said...

asahi or sapporo?

Asahi. I don't know what it is about Sapporo, I just don't enjoy it that much.

sake or wine?

Sake, and always cold, never hot. I don't think I've ever had a Japanese wine.

I don't think I've ever had a Guatemalan lager, but if it's like every other beer I've ever had from Central America (Suprema, Rio Claro, Rialto, Regia, etc.) I can imagine what it tastes like. Pretty much all Central American and Mexican lagers taste the same (to me), and they're not bad.

Still, I like something with a little richer flavor. I'm definitely a "snob beer" drinker.

American Crusader, I'm glad my love of beer (almost) makes up for my dislike of the Yankees. Angels all the way!

nanc said...

sake - hot!

orangeducks said...

The Yankees are the fourth Axis of Evil.

Now, your comments about drilling Alaska interest me. How is it that the evil oil corporations will sell to Japan and China, but not US markets?

Will their decisions not be made based on profit? If so, does it not make sense that the increase in world oil supply that resides outside of Arab hands will result in a decreased dependence on Arab oil?

The key word here is "dependence". We may continue to consume Arab oil if conditions/relations are amenable. But we will no longer be "dependent".

Will it not also be a comfort to know that the motivations of oil companies will be based on pure, evil, yet predictable capitalism, rather than pure, evil, unpredictable Arab Wahabbism?

You are correct to assume that production of Alaskan oil will not immediately mean cutting off Arab imported oil. But Alaskan oil will be there if we need it, will it not? Can the same be said for oil in the hands of the Middle East?

I appreciate your comments concerning nuclear energy. I have a long professional history in environmental investigation and remediation. Would you say that the adverse effects of radiation are much more understood and predictable than the effects of chemical hazards, in terms of human exposure? Aren't the common fears concerning nuclear power and radiation bordering on paranoia?

Waste is the only problem. Do you know how much waste is generated by a nuke plant? Seriously, because I don't. Since we have materials that can halt the spread of radiation, why is waste containment a huge problem, other than having to comply with regulations that try to sooth paranoid fears?

Great interview,

orangeducks

Robert Bayn said...

Chemist, your right on the money on Anwar. Spending more money on drilling for oil is not the answer, instead investing the money into Alternative fuel sources is, and we know it's possible, because there are people out their right now (Bill Maher, Willie Nelson) to name a few, who already are using Alternative fuel.

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

If you drink sake ice cold it kinda tastes like Thunderbird '55.

nanc said...

sake - hot! you'll never be sick...