Links — May 12, 2009, 2:55 pm

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Previously, some researchers and law-enforcement officials have raised red flags. In a paper published in Nature Biotechnology in 2007, a group of scientists and FBI officials called for better oversight of so-called synthetic DNA, an ingredient widely used by professional biologists and hobbyists, saying it could theoretically lead to the creation of harmful viruses like Ebola or smallpox, since their genomes are available online. ‘Current government oversight of the DNA-synthesis industry falls short of addressing this unfortunate reality,’ the paper said. Ms. Aull, who lives with a cat and three roommates who are ‘a little bit weirded out’ by her experiments, says the worries are overblown. DIY biologists are trying to ‘build a slingshot,’ she says, ‘and there are people out there talking about, oh, no, what happens if they move on to nuclear weapons?’”

In California, the Hayward Area Planning Association is developing a… community called Quarry Village on the outskirts of Oakland, accessible without a car to the Bay Area Rapid Transit system and to the California State University’s campus in Hayward. Sherman Lewis, a professor emeritus at Cal State and a leader of the association, says he ‘can’t wait to move in’ and hopes that Quarry Village will allow his family to reduce its car ownership from two to one, and potentially to zero. But the current system is still stacked against the project, he said, noting that mortgage lenders worry about resale value of half-million-dollar homes that have no place for cars, and most zoning laws in the United States still require two parking spaces per residential unit.”

This evening, the president and first lady will host what Michelle Obama’s press office describes as ‘an evening celebrating poetry, music and the spoken word in the East Room of the White House.’ That’s right: The first family is hosting a poetry jam… As White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers made clear in an email to Lynn Sweet, tonight’s event is not a poetry ‘slam’– which is different than a poetry ‘jam.’ ‘Slam is a competition,’ she noted. ‘There will be no competition.’”

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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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