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What Scotland's independence vote tomorrow - and the UKIP - could mean for science

Posted 18-Sep-2014 at 12:44 AM (00:44) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

Scotland votes tomorrow whether to go for eventual full independence, or to stay in the Union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. What does it all mean for science, especially science in Scotland? The science world is worried; some are putting off takig up professorial or research positions in Scotland until the result is known. There is also some discussion of it all in the science press, as for example here.

What I haven't yet seen is any discussion of the Scot independence...
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Why doesn't Žižek understand Orwell's 1984, or freedom?

Posted 17-Sep-2014 at 09:31 PM (21:31) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 17-Sep-2014 at 10:40 PM (22:40) by Gurdur

Slavoj Žižek misunderstands freedom and control. He doesn't get George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984). Why is that, and why is it important, and what does it say about us all? Žižek (you can just call him Zizek) is one smart guy; he's a philosopher and culture critic who has quite often written on theological issues. He's quite famous these days (VICE magazine calls him a superstar), and he's proud of thinking dangerous ideas. We as a public need to be confronted with dangerous ideas, we need...
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Personal update

Posted 17-Sep-2014 at 09:05 PM (21:05) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 17-Sep-2014 at 09:11 PM (21:11) by Gurdur
Tags

I was very ill. I am now somewhat better. At least I have avoided so far needing to have any major operation done, which I find to be quite an accomplishment, since the past four years have been marked by needing to have at least one major operation done on me each year, along with more minor ops (still done though under general anesthetic).

It's going to take me a while to catch up with everything. I am sorry I have been absent for such a long time. Please bear with me as I slowly...
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Questions for the Longitude Prize

Posted 18-Jun-2014 at 09:45 PM (21:45) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

I have written - elsewhere, on Medium - a post on some of the reaction to the Longitude Prize. I do have some questions for those managing the Longitude Prize; chiefly,
Is the public impact of the Longitude Prize being measured, and its impact over social-media being mapped (for example with Gephi)?

This seems to me to be an important part of measuring and enhancing the positive accomplishments of the Prize.




        


              

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Comments are welcome! Please keep in mind if you are not registered that comments posted here to this blog post may take a while to appear - up to 16 hours after you post them, since they go onto a moderation queue and have to be individually approved, in order to stop spammers. The answer to the so-called "Random Question" is always "human".

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An #ff for @RazaRumi - journalism, literature and culture in Pakistan

Posted 20-May-2014 at 12:44 AM (00:44) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 20-May-2014 at 01:12 AM (01:12) by Gurdur

Raza Rumi is one of the courageous journalists in Pakistan who risks being murdered daily. He is also an editor and networker who has helped a good many other journalists and activists in Pakistan, and he has stood up at all times in the defence of minorities inside Pakistan, whether Ahmadis, Christians or whomever. Through his writing and his use of social media, he has consistantly promoted others and their own efforts. others such as Sana Saleem, and he has consistantly promoted Pakistani culture,...
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Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Nerdist throw astrophysics in the crab-bucket?

Posted 14-May-2014 at 01:13 AM (01:13) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 14-May-2014 at 06:29 AM (06:29) by Never (fixed typos)

Astrophysics, what use is it? The stars are far away, and as Cassius in Shakespeare's play says, the fault is not in our stars but in ourselves, that we are underlings. You could add the fault is in ourselves, not in our stars, when we are ignorant, or simply stupid. Put all that in a different way: when I was a teenager, working in cruddy factories and on worse building-sites, reading a book was seen socially as a bad thing, akin to Communism or being gay. Reading a book was a major no-no. Oddly...
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Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

Understanding life through the Strandbeest art of Theo Jansen

Posted 11-May-2014 at 07:28 PM (19:28) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 11-May-2014 at 09:25 PM (21:25) by Gurdur (fixed typos)

On Saturday May the 3rd, I drove up to the Hague. It was easier than I had thought; it only took three hours. I was enormously lucky to catch the last day of an exhibition of the Strandbeest art of Theo Jansen in the Electriciteitsfabriek in the Hague (Den Haag), in the Netherlands. The building is a former power-station - its name in Dutch translates to "Electricity factory". The building is huge; it was very suited to the exhibition, done up there as a mock dig for fossils, with several of his...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Science-communication (#scicomm) in East Africa - Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda

Posted 08-Mar-2014 at 12:10 PM (12:10) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 09-Mar-2014 at 07:27 AM (07:27) by Gurdur

There's far more dedicated #scicomm in East Africa than you might have ever thought. It more than deserves recognition, interest and support outside East Africa. Unfortunately it simply doesn't get any interest or recognition outside Africa almost all the time. One of the major sources for observing and interacting with science-communication in East Africa is the site SciDev.Net. Just to pick four to follow on Twitter: there's @SciDevNetSSA, the Twitter account for SciDev's "Sub-Saharan Africa" section;...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Various initial and unsorted thoughts about the #scio14 conference

Posted 06-Mar-2014 at 12:48 AM (00:48) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 06-Mar-2014 at 01:13 AM (01:13) by Gurdur

The #scio14 conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, 27 February to 01 March inclusive, went pretty much as you could expect of a #ScioX conference. That being reasonably well within certain parameters or limits. It was a lot more successful than certain flamers beforehand opined it would be. It could have done better on certain aspects. Overall, it functioned mostly as it should. The conference schedule opened with a day of non-conference field-trips and the like organized by others, on Wednesday...
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Dedicated to having and making a good #scio14 conference

Posted 28-Feb-2014 at 08:42 AM (08:42) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 28-Feb-2014 at 08:47 AM (08:47) by Gurdur

A couple of tweets today (Thursday) came mighty close to deriding some for attending one #scio14 session and not another. Other tweets derided the ScienceOnline board for not doing whatever the flamer thought they should be doing, or for being what they are rather than something else completely. Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door, to explain in minute detail endlessly why your better mousetrap is something they scorn.

The ScienceOnline board have...
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Rating: 9 votes, 5.00 average.

#Scio14 in (Ki)Swahili

Posted 25-Feb-2014 at 08:04 PM (20:04) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Feb-2014 at 09:19 PM (21:19) by Gurdur

I will be doing the best I can to do reports in (Ki)Swahili on the #Scio14 science-communication (#scicomm) conference, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, February 27 to March 01 inclusive this year, i.e. in a couple of days' time. I will make a new Twitter account, maybe, to do the Swahili tweets. I will also tweet in (bad) German occasionally. One first part in KiSwahli is below. I will be doing my best to promote Tanzanian scicomm and science-reporting people, and to make them known to the scicomm...
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Last-minute tips for newcomers to #scio14 (#scioX)

Posted 25-Feb-2014 at 09:42 AM (09:42) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Feb-2014 at 08:11 PM (20:11) by Gurdur

The general #scioX hashtag refers to (all) the different ScienceOnline conferences and activities, while the #scio14 hashtag refers to the ScienceOnline conference at Raleigh, NC, Feb 27 to March 01 this year.

Join In
The most important thing is simply to join in. Of all the complaints in the past about anything to do with #scioX, quite a few seemed to be from people who simply wouldn't join in - who did not make any effort to participate in any group activities, who waited...
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Rating: 21 votes, 5.00 average.

You do not get to hog suicide risk or depression all to yourself: @mjrobbins, @BoraZ, #scioX and implosions

Posted 03-Jan-2014 at 07:18 PM (19:18) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 03-Jan-2014 at 10:44 PM (22:44) by Gurdur

At an awkward time for me personally, yet again the science communication (#scicomm) world implodes, and that fairly close to an upcoming conference, the #scio14 one in Raleigh, North Carolina. I am on an urgent trip to Australia for only one week, from where I live in Germany, for the funeral of my father in Perth. While here I have also been informed that my paternal aunt is also dying, in Sydney, right on the other side of Australia (the very last relative left on my paternal side); I am simply...
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Information on how to donate for children etc. in Tanzania

Posted 13-Dec-2013 at 06:08 AM (06:08) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-Dec-2013 at 06:30 PM (18:30) by Gurdur

A couple of people have asked me how they can help children in Tanzania, given what I described in a previous blog post. While I donate myself, I am cautious about promoting charities in this area, since there are many scams and scammers operating, and I bear a responsibility towards the readers of my blog. The needs in Tanzania are large; it is a poverty-stricken Third-World country, with almost half of its population being 15 years of age or younger. I will recommend only what charities I trust,...
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A child: a photo-essay on depicting life in Tanzania fairly

Posted 05-Dec-2013 at 07:48 PM (19:48) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 05-Dec-2013 at 09:41 PM (21:41) by Gurdur

Once I begin blogging in full about my travels in Tanzania, and putting up a lot of photographs on the net, you will see that there are comparatively few pictures of people. There is a reason for that; a great many people in Tanzania don't like being photographed. One of the more common attitudes sems to be a resentful rejection, based on rightly or wrongly feeling objectified; other attitudes (such as superstition, or xenophobia) also play a part with some. This causes problems; it tends to skew...
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Old

Always sailing to Kilwa

Posted 04-Dec-2013 at 02:55 AM (02:55) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 04-Dec-2013 at 09:16 PM (21:16) by Gurdur

Below is a photograph a couple of decades old. The digital form was made from an old slide, already much degraded, as tends to happen to slide-film over the years. It is a photo of me, most likely taken by my father, and it shows me on a dhow, sailing to Kilwa. There are three different Kilwas in Tanzania, all neighbouring each other. There is Kilwa Masoko, which means "Kilwa of the market", a large, sprawling town. Then, around 12 miles away as the crow flies, there is Kilwa Kivinje, a small town,...
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Rating: 5 votes, 5.00 average.

Classism, sexism, racism, snobbery, community, #scicomm and #citizenscience

Posted 29-Nov-2013 at 04:57 AM (04:57) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 29-Nov-2013 at 07:29 PM (19:29) by Gurdur

The blogger @drisis put up a blog post talking about her take on science-communication (#scicomm) and the people involved in that general area, i.e. what could be called the general #scicomm community. That would include the component communities like the #ScioX community (centering around the anual scicomm conference in Raleigh, NC, USA), or the #SpotOn community (centered around the annual scicomm conference in London, UK, and IIRC the one in NYC, USA). @DrIsis' blog post was titled, "An Open...
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Old

Experimenting with Lytro - picture of a Datoga (Datooga) pastoralist extended family

Posted 26-Nov-2013 at 10:25 PM (22:25) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 26-Nov-2013 at 11:15 PM (23:15) by Gurdur

This is by way of an experiment, with a Lytro camera. I am trying to see if added value for you as people is given when using Lytro pictures. The special thing about Lytro is that it takes a picture of the whole light-field - there is no one single point of focus.

Try it with this picture below. Click on different parts of the picture and see it re-focus on the point you clicked on (thus allowing you to have the picture focused on different parts). You can also zoom in (double-click)...
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Old

Offline for just under 2 weeks from now owing to safari

Posted 08-Nov-2013 at 11:56 PM (23:56) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

I will be completely offline and without access to the net for just under 2 weeks from now owing to being on a second safari here within Tanzania, this time around the southern national parks.

        


              

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Comments are welcome! Please keep in mind if you are not registered that comments posted here to this blog post may take a while to appear - up to 16 hours after you post them, since they go onto a moderation queue and have to be individually approved, in order to stop spammers. The answer to the so-called "Random Question" is always "human".

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No, I decline to join your "spontaneous, justifiable" mass-action, I mean your mob

Posted 08-Nov-2013 at 11:24 PM (23:24) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 08-Nov-2013 at 11:52 PM (23:52) by Gurdur

Over on Scientific American blogs, Krystal D'Costa ‏(@krystaldcosta) asked the question of what differentiates a Twitter-mob from a mob. Drug Monkey ‏(@drugmonkeyblog) responded on Twitter by pointing out that one man's mob is another man's spontaneous, justifiable mass-action. Only that cuts both ways, and then some. At its best, Drugmonkey's remark is only the truism that moral standards differ from group to group, and from individual to individual. At its worst, it was only a solipstic,...
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