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That's what Alex Tullo was wondering, so he let Babelfish and Google take a swing at a press release, in Portuguese, from the Brazilian chemical company Braskem. He posted the results on C&EN's Central Science, along with the company's own English translation. The results? Not good news for either service. "Babelfish and Google both make a mess of the first paragraph," Tullo writes. "Braskem’s translation wins hands down."

An Editors Weblog post reflects on coverage of Sarah Palin's "death panels" remark and the rise of fact-checking sites like and, which won a 2009 Pulitzer Prize. Why do reporters work to establish the truth on one hand and help sustain lies like "death panels" on the other? Federica Cherubini suggests journalists need to revise their notions of objectivity to compensate.

From the New York Times, a story discussing how some bloggers have turned their no-pay hobbies into sometimes-lucrative businesses. Some sold ads, some sought donations, some spun off books and other sidelines. "What the successful have in common is a passion for their subject and a near-compulsion to share what they know," reporter Kate Murphy writes. "Advertising, merchandising, offline events, book deals, donations and sometimes sheer luck also play a part."

Biographer Robert Caro talks about the importance of place in his Lyndon Johnson biographies. Receiving a lifetime achievement award, Caro said that to understand Johnson's roots in the Texas hill country, he spent the night in those hills alone in a sleeping bag. To see Washington as Johnson did, he studied the Capitol in the brilliant morning sun. "The greatest of books are books with places you can see in your mind’s eye," he said in an excerpt on Nieman Storyboard.

There's the analyzer, the explainer, the linker, the reviewer, the short blurber, and other, Rhett Allain writes on's Dot Physics blog. He classifies recent posts from eight science blogs. (But how did he overlook On science blogs this week?) "I guess the next step would be to create some keyword-based algorithm that could automagically classify each blogger’s posts," Allain concludes. "Then you could generate some blog-scale score."

Heavier on scientists than bona-fide writers, this list features names like Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Stephen Jay Gould, E.O. Wilson, and Oliver Sacks. The methodology is undefined and the credentials of the web site that published the list,, are equally murky. But at least a couple of NASW members received mentions, and the inclusion of some names you might not expect — Isaac Newton? Galileo? — make for an entertaining read.