Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What does Rudy write?

Over at In the Pipeline, chemblogosphere eminence grise Derek Lowe announced that he's been invited to serve on an advisory board at C&E News. He also solicited opinions to share with the staff of the magazine; there are no shortage of opinions (80 comments and counting!)

A comment reminded me of one of my favorite old hobbyhorses: the editorials of Rudy Baum, the Editor-in-Chief. They range from the innocent (wrens! pretty!) to the mundane (Pittcon 2040 - the Future is the Future!), but they can really veer into the controversial.

I was terribly curious as to how many editorials were of the politics/controversy type. Naturally, I dragged out all the available copies of C&EN that I had. Sadly, they only cover parts of 2008, 2009 and 2010. The results are tabulated here; the more controversial or personal editorials are highlighted. (Green for climate change, blue for everything else.)

Below is a chart presenting the 2009 editorials in the issues that I have in hand:


I'm surprised that the ratio of the mundane to the controversial was as low as 1.9:1. I expected the ratio to be a lot lower and my memory was just biased. (Man, it seemed like in 2005, I found something to be mad at in every one of his editorials.) I'll also note that I scored the controversy with a pretty weak threshold and with a eye towards including editorials I agreed with, like the one that railed against "The Story of Stuff". (On that one, right on, Rudy!) Also, I'll note again: this is just for the issues that I had at home. THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE TABULATION, FOLKS.

As for Baum's editorials, I used to really get irritated at the more political stuff, but I learned to just deal with the fact that they were one man's opinion. Life goes on, and I'll probably still read them.

4 comments:

  1. You can access all the old issues online, you just have to sign in with your ACS member ID. I just looked and you can go back as far as October 1998 (DAMN!)

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  2. How about the recent one in which I decried the environmentalist assault on BPA ("BPA Craziness" http://pubs.acs.org/cen/editor/)? Do I get credit for that one being a welcome departure from my usual "boring stuff" or left-wing drivel?

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  3. Hi, Mr. Baum:

    If you'll note, I have linked my scoring of my available issues of C&EN. I do indeed note the editorial on BPA, which I largely agree with.

    Also, "left-wing drivel" is your phrase, not mine. I believe my phrase is "ARRGGH!!!", which is shorthand for "editorials that cover somewhat controversial topics."

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  4. CJ: My post was meant to be good-natured. I actually really appreciate your analysis. I have known for a long time that I write far fewer ARRGGH!!! editorials than most people think. Keep up the good work.

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