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.


  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!)

  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?

  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."

  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.