this land is your land

Lor and I took in the Woody Guthrie exhibit at the Smithsonian on Saturday. It was really pretty amazing; prior to this, I hadn't known very much at all about his life. As one very minor example, I didn't realize that This Land Is Your Land was written as a sort of DIY/punk rebuttal to God Bless America. The exhibit is going on the road in about a month, so if you're in DC check it out soon -- if you're not in DC, look for it at a museum near you.

Otherwise than our museum jaunt, it was a pretty uneventful weekend. Watched some tee-vee; read some books. Got caught up on the pile of miscellaneous paper-work that was piled up on my desk. Yay. Oh, and I tweaked out something in my back, and I can't look to the right now unless I swivel my whole torso. Double yay.

Search engine query of the week: "nude pictures of ladies in suspenders". (#14, and the first non-sex site to boot!)

Okay, so the 2600 gang lost the first round of the DeCSS case -- unfortunate, but not surprising. Hopefully this will bounce to the Supreme Court soon, so that the more stinky parts of the DMCA will get booted to the curb. In the meantime, never fear -- linking to the DeCSS code may be illegal, but linking to links to the DeCSS code is still a-oh-kay, near as I can tell. Therefore, this link => Put that in yer pipe and smoke it, MPAA.

Ohh, good mp3 player -- The KLF's "3 AM Eternal" just came up in the rotation. (It stands for Kopyright Liberation Front, in case you're not down with the Mu-Mu.)

Via Jay 'Baylink' Ashworth, Wired News has a bit on IBM getting into the bioinformatics arena.

In this BBC story, Napster's lawyer says:

"If users are not themselves infringing, then we are not liable for contributory infringement," Napster lawyer Jonathan Schiller said on Friday after filing a written defence in the latest stage of the company's court battle.

And when if they are infringing? This seems like a very stupid place to draw a line in the dirt, but IANAL and all that...

Initial reaction: Study says Americans worried about privacy on the 'net, but too stupid and/or lazy to do anything about it. After reading more closely, however, it appears that somebody along the line missed some stats classes. Based on my reading of the data they present, the alternative explanation of two distinct populations (one concerned about protecting info and aware of how to do that; the other unaware and not too worried) also looks valid. Of course, I can't be arsed to chase down the original study to find out...

A few home-grown PCR tips for Dan (offered in public in case anybody else is planning on playing along). I haven't seen the particular book Dan mentioned, but I have seen some other short guides, intended for use by high-school biology teachers. For the gel electrophoresis step, you don't need to bother with buying agarose -- it'll set you back a bit. Low-grade agar is fine, and I've even seen a protocol that used Jello (unfortunately, I don't recall details for that one). Be careful on the visualization step -- anything that stains DNA in a gel stains it in your fingers just as well, and is therefore likely to be mutagenic as all get-out. Ditto for the UV light that's often used in visualization. Use a full-face shield if at all possible to avoid a 'raccoon-eye' sunburn -- a welder's face shield works well. The record player should work for a shaker, but you might be able to scrape by without the blenders. I've seen people use a modified stationary bike system for centrifuging (hint: most DNA extraction protocols have spins 2-3 times as long as they need to be. optimizing this step might be good if you intend to do this a lot.); you also don't really need a vortexer. just hold you tube near the top (firmly) and then rapidly tap the bottom of the tube. If you're doing it right, you'll get a vortex (a 'whirlpool') forming in the tube. Have fun, and put up the gel pictures, if and when.

In the 'blog-rolling category, warm wishes and a good thought in Fred's direction.