Son of “The MLA Meme.”

by Scott McLemee on December 1, 2006

That sure didn’t take long….Word of Scott Eric Kaufman’s meme experiment has reached Wired News, which just ran a story on it. Well, sort of a story. It manages to avoid discussing what Kaufman was actually trying to do. Seems like the kind of factual point you’d want to nail down.
[click to continue…]

But why aren’t you talking about …

by John Quiggin on December 1, 2006

Norman Geras pulls out one of the oldest moves in the Cold War playbook, saying

There are some clever people about who will tell you that responsibility isn’t zero sum: Bush and Blair bear responsibility for what’s now happening in Iraq even if others do too. They only fail to follow through on the ‘others do too’ part of this idea, reserving all their blame, all their ire, all their passion, for… Bush and Blair.

He’s aiming mostly at Chris, but since I’ve made exactly the same argument, and Geras is using the plural, I’ll respond.

Of course, I’ve never posted a condemnation of terror attacks, noted successes in the struggle against terrorism or matched condemnation of Bush and Blair with the observation that whatever evil has been done in our names, our terrorist enemies have shown that they can and will do worse. Well, only here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and so on.

But this is unlikely to worry Geras. As he would know from his days on the left (and from the parallel experiences of dissidents on the other side of the Iron Curtain), the point being made here is that, unless every criticism of our own government is matched by a ritualistic denunciation of our enemies, taking up at least as much space as the original criticism, it is obvious that you are on the wrong side.

And having made this point, it’s not necessary to examine your own support for policies that have brought death and disaster on hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

World Aids Day

by Ingrid Robeyns on December 1, 2006

Today is “World Aids Day”:, and “UN AIDS”: “reports”: that another 14.000 children, women and men will become infected with HIV today. This year is 25 years ago that the first case was reported. In those 25 years, there has been a gigantic difference in the impact of HIV/AIDS on the affluent societies versus the poor societies, especially in sub-Saharan African. The life expectancy in some African countries such as Botswana and Swaziland is now well below 35 years. And even these statistics do not reveal the grim reality of children who are growing up without adults, in what social scientists now call ‘childheaded households’. How can a 12 year old girl feed her younger siblings? If there are no neighbours or organisations supporting them, it is likely that her only short-term survival option is prostitution. Long-term survival is something these children simply cannot contemplate.

The theme of this World Aids Day is accountability – not only of individuals who are having unsafe sex (especially those who are infecting others through unwanted sex), but also of religious leaders “discouraging the use and promotion of condoms”:, political leaders of rich societies “who don’t give enough money”: to fight the epidemic, and political leaders in severely HIV/AIDS-affected countries, such as “Doctor Beetroot”:, who are misinforming the population. But World Aids Day is also the day when we should thank the many men and women who are fighting this ugly disease, from grassroots awareness activities up to diplomatic action at the highest level, often in difficult circumstances.

The latest in online video sharing

by Eszter Hargittai on December 1, 2006

An important aspect of scientific research is that others should be able to reproduce the work. This is significant partly, because it serves as a check on the system, but also, because it allows others to build on previous achievements. Replication is not trivial to achieve, however, given that studies often rely on complex methodologies. There is rarely enough room in journal articles or books to devote sufficiently detailed descriptions of how data were collected and procedures administered. Moreover, even with adequate space for text, many actions are hard to explain without visuals.

This is where recently launched JoVE comes to the rescue. The Journal of Visual Experiments publishes short videos of procedures used in biology labs. Former Princeton graduate student Moshe Pritsker created the peer-reviewed online journal with Nikita Bernstein. The inspiration came back in his graduate school days when he had often been frustrated in the lab while trying to conduct experiments based on others’ descriptions of the necessary methods. The goal of the journal is to assist others with such tasks. The publication has an editorial board and submissions are reviewed before a decision is made about publication.

What a great use of the Web for dissemination of material that would otherwise be difficult to get to relevant parties.

[Thanks to Mark Brady for pointing me to the Nature article – that is now behind subscription wall – about JoVE. That piece served as the source for some of the above.]