Battlepanda: More musings from Daytime TV


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Monday, June 26, 2006

More musings from Daytime TV

Wired articles tend to be hyperbolic and somewhat lacking in substance. But this one on the increased restriction of chemicals and equipment for scientific purposes is depressing if it turns out to be solid.
[M]ore than 30 states have passed laws to restrict sales of chemicals and lab equipment associated with meth production, which has resulted in a decline in domestic meth labs, but makes things daunting for an amateur chemist shopping for supplies. It is illegal in Texas, for example, to buy such basic labware as Erlenmeyer flasks or three-necked beakers without first registering with the state’s Department of Public Safety to declare that they will not be used to make drugs.[snip]

“To criminalize the necessary materials of discovery is one of the worst things you can do in a free society,” says Shawn Carlson, a 1999 MacArthur fellow and founder of the Society for Amateur Scientists. “The Mr. Coffee machine that every Texas legislator has near his desk has three violations of the law built into it: a filter funnel, a Pyrex beaker, and a heating element. The laws against meth should be the deterrent to making it – not criminalizing activities that train young people to appreciate science.”

The increasingly strict regulatory climate has driven a wedge of paranoia between young chemists and their potential mentors. “I don’t tell anyone about what I do at home,” writes one anonymous high schooler on, an online forum for amateur scientists. “A lot of ignorant people at my school will just spread rumors about me … The teacher will hear about them and I will get into legal trouble … I have so much glassware at my house, any excuse will not cut it. So I keep my mouth shut.”
Well, right after I tuned out of Martha's daytime show in disgust, I happened upon a "World's stupidest criminals" type program. There was a guy who filmed himself making meth so that he can send it to his buddy and show off his meth-making skills. Well, turns out his buddy wasn't such a buddy after all. The tape got turned in to the police, and the stupid criminal got 35 years. Two points that are interesting about this: first, being a moron is obviously no barrier to making meth. Secondly, he was making meth in a couple of mason jars and a length of rubber tubing! He didn't need no Erlenmeyer flask! They're hasseling amateur chemists in Texas for nothing!