I’m experimenting with a slightly longer form of writing for GeneHack updates; let me know if it really bugs you. I’m also going to be moving towards smaller, more frequent updates since I’m expecting to be spending a lot more time at work. The speedier net connection will also make surfing much more pleasant, so I’ll be doing most of my daily info download there.

I spent a good part of today poking around with Perl/Tk. I can see that a trip to the bookstore for another O’Reilly title is in my future. My immediate goal is to develop a front-end for editing genpage configuration files and launching genpage runs. I got the basic GUI (26 K gif in new window) implemented, now I just have to fill in all the callbacks. (The grey buttons are the un-implemented ones.) I’m calling it gooeyGenpage, but suggestions for better names are welcome. I expect to have a working version out by this time next week for people to pound on.

I took some screenshots of the new work box, but somehow they got munged between work and home. I’ll take some new ones once I get into work and then put them up.

In the continuing fallout (no pun intended) over the Bt corn-monarch butterfly study, ENN has

a piece with comments from John Losey, the scientist responsible for the study, downplaying the applicability of the study to real world conditions. The obvious question is why that fact wasn’t featured more prominently in the original paper and press releases. The answer, of course, is because would have made crappy news if that was done. In other genetically modified food news, the that many of the scientists appointed to advise the British government on GM food issues have ties to companies in the GM food sector. (Link from Robot Wisdom.)

The Rev Michael Reiss, ethical adviser to ACNFP, said he thought the system was flawed and “genuinely lay people” should be given seats on advisory committees. “Also, at some point you need to involve the sceptics on these committees,” he said. “For reasons of fairness, expertise and public confidence, the whole spectrum of public opinion must be included.”

I’m all for including the “whole spectrum of public opinion”, but several things need to be remembered. First, we mucking with the only ecosystem we’ve got right now; messing it up would be a Bad Thing. Second, that ecosystem doesn’t pay much attention to national boundaries; some yahoo in Outer Mongoland can release a bug just as easily as a highly trained scientist in the US or Britain. Third, there are a lot of hungry people out there who really need more productive food crops; it’s difficult to care about the environment when you’re starving. Finally, the problem with including “genuinely lay people” is that by the time you’re competent to evaluate the benefits and risks of something this new and complex, you’re not a layperson anymore. (Insert stock rant about opinions, entitlement, and chuckleheads here.) I’m not sure what the answer is, but I am sure it’s a lot more complex than it will get made out to be.

I’ve got 3 or 4 more things bookmarked to point at, but I think I’ll just mail the URLs to work and decide what to do with them later. It’s just about bedtime…

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