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Simon Says

Simon Says column

Gene Jousting

By Simon Grose

To patent or not to patent? That is the question.

The internet’s culture of free access has changed the game for publishers trying to protect their intellectual property. From Australasian Science to News Limited they are placing content behind paywalls and asking people to pay at the gate.

As a director of News Limited, Lachlan Murdoch is at the forefront of efforts by publishers to get a fair return for the content they create. Father Rupert has led the charge.

A Plan So Cunning... Or Courageous

By Simon Grose

The government’s backflip on a carbon price was politically opportunistic, but public support could suffer if global emissions keep rising.

Labor Senator and eminence grise John Faulkner has observed that his party has come to be seen as “cunning rather than courageous”. Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s policy reversal on a carbon price could be seen to be either – or even both – depending on your view on dealing with climate change.

It was also boldly duplicitous, a fact that failed to anger the general polity, indicating that soon after an election win is probably the best time for you to change your tune.

Clever Country Confusion

By Simon Grose

Julia Gillard’s new ministry is not a coherent platform for science-based policy.

Responsibility for policy and funding across the science and technology sector has always been a tug-of-war, mainly between industry ministers and education ministers. Julia Gillard could have handled this tension creatively or constructively with her ministerial arrangements, but instead she has created a schemozzle.

Plate of the Nation

By Simon Grose

Our most successful television program provides insights into the Australian state of mind.

Averaging more than two million viewers nationwide each episode, Masterchef has been this year’s most popular Australian television program. Attracting the attention of around 10% of Australian eyeballs six nights per week is a mean feat, only achieved by nourishing the attitudes and aspirations uppermost in the minds behind those eyeballs.

It’s Life, But Not As We Know It

By Simon Grose

The creation of the first synthetic genome is the latest paragraph in the story of evolution.

The evolution of life on Earth is a fantastic story shaped by a multitude of random forces, from occasional massive meteor impacts to countless miniscule mutations. Craig Venter and his team at Synthetic Genomics are not the first non-random force to attempt to shape this story, but definitely the most ambitious.

It Is Rocket Science

By Simon Grose

Obama boosts space exploration beyond the Moon to Mars.

A few months after Barack Obama became America’s 44th President, a US commentator noted that it was a welcome change to “have a grown-up in charge”.

Change is what Obama promised. The hard-won reform of America’s health care system that crunched through Congress a year after he took office is the headline example so far.

Mad Cow Backflip Denies Science

By Simon Grose

Politicians have given in to public fears about the safety of beef imports rather than doing “what the science tells us”.

Doing “what the science tells us” is a powerful slogan in the climate debate. Labor and the Greens invoke the weight of scientific opinion when they argue for action on climate change, scorning opponents as science “deniers”.