Stranger In An Even Stranger Land - blog by Gurdur


A blog of random jottings on events, science, renfairs, travel, reading, music, humanism, religion, atheism, and even the odd spot of gardening.


The women nobody wants to see: public virtues and private viciousness

Posted 04-Jul-2015 at 12:10 PM (12:10) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

There are women who are very much in the news without being in the news. In an enforced black-hole of public memory and sanctimony, their presence is only obvious because of people refusing to admit their existence. Let's cover some examples here. A few years ago I supported a woman who had been accused of fortune-telling and of inciting a mob to destroy a crocodile sanctuary. Those who leaped upon the bandwagon to denounce her didn't even know she was a woman. Her being a person, let alone a...
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A very sad day for #scicomm: Science Online to close down, cancels #scio15

Posted 10-Oct-2014 at 03:20 PM (15:20) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

In a fairly short statement, the Science Online board have said they will be closing down ScienceOnline, and cancelling the #scio15 conference planned for February. The statement is up here. While not totally unpredictable, this is a very sad day; most of us very much wanted #scioX to go on and go well.

Financial insolvency, and the inability to raise enough funds for a paid position of executive director, are among the grounds given. Of late the #scioX community at large was much...
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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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Science-communication (#scicomm) in East Africa - Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda

Posted 08-Mar-2014 at 11:10 AM (11:10) 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 05-Mar-2014 at 11:48 PM (23:48) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 06-Mar-2014 at 12:13 AM (00:13) 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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Rating: 13 votes, 5.00 average.

#Scio14 in (Ki)Swahili

Posted 25-Feb-2014 at 07:04 PM (19:04) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Feb-2014 at 08:19 PM (20:19) 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 08:42 AM (08:42) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Feb-2014 at 07:11 PM (19:11) 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: 25 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 06:18 PM (18:18) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 03-Jan-2014 at 09:44 PM (21:44) 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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Rating: 5 votes, 5.00 average.

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

Posted 29-Nov-2013 at 03:57 AM (03:57) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 29-Nov-2013 at 06:29 PM (18:29) 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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No, I decline to join your "spontaneous, justifiable" mass-action, I mean your mob

Posted 08-Nov-2013 at 10:24 PM (22:24) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 08-Nov-2013 at 10:52 PM (22:52) by Gurdur
Tags ,

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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Please vote for Lars Fischer, @Fischblog, in this viral competition

Posted 26-Aug-2013 at 07:27 PM (19:27) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 26-Aug-2013 at 07:34 PM (19:34) by Gurdur

There is a vote going on for a "Virenschleuder" prize, a competition for who came up with the best idea for viral marketing in Germany recently ("Virenschleuder" translates roughly as viral accelerator). Entered into this competition is Lars Fischer, who never meant to go viral, but who more than fully deserves to do so, and to win the prize. His entry is on this page here. Lars Fischer (@Fischblog) suffers from a bad condition that gave him a really bum deal in life - and yet he remains one of...
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Productive disagreement

Posted 09-Feb-2013 at 07:41 PM (19:41) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 09-Feb-2013 at 07:51 PM (19:51) by Gurdur

In connection with the very recent discussion on the discovery of Richard III's skeleton, the noted professor of classics Mary Beard made a very important point, that being about the value of productive disagreement. In connection with the discussion about University of Leicester branding on the archeology work, there were many different issues brought up, none of which will ever be truly settled, and all of which will continue to be big issues for the foreseeable long-term future. In a complex...
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The Gathering For Gardner meet-up in Essen, Germany, last Saturday 20. October 2012

Posted 25-Oct-2012 at 03:16 AM (03:16) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-Oct-2012 at 04:30 PM (16:30) by Gurdur

The Gathering for (Martin) Gardner #G4G meet-up on Saturday 20th of October, 2012, went very well indeed. Around twelve turned up, which is quite successful; I will blog separately on lessons learnt for me on the #scicomm side, and how I myself can help make next year's meet-up even better. That next year's event will be on Friday, the 18th of October, 2013. The #G4G events all around the world to explain and honour the work and life of Martin Gardner, author and former columnist for Scientific...
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Gathering for Gardner, THIS Saturday, in Essen, Germany, Unperfekt Haus

Posted 15-Oct-2012 at 03:30 PM (15:30) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 18-Oct-2012 at 12:16 AM (00:16) by Gurdur

Once again there will be a meet-up this coming Saturday in honour of the heritage of Martin Gardner, former columnist for Scientific American, tireless popularizer and communicator for science, mathematics, skepticism and tolerant humanism. The Gathering for Gardner (a part of the worldwide Celebration of Mind events on this day in remembrance of Gardner) will be again held in Essen, Germany on Saturday October 20, beginning at 7.30pm (19.30). The German version of this post and information is here....
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Can a striped animal have a spotted tail? Videos of joint lecture by Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart

Posted 05-Sep-2012 at 05:38 PM (17:38) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 05-Sep-2012 at 06:25 PM (18:25) by Gurdur (Few typos corrected.)

A spotted animal can have a striped tail, but a striped animal cannot have a spotted tail. This was one of the great explorations of nature and mathematics in a joint lecture by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen at the recent DiscWorld convention in Birmingham, UK. Ian Stewart is a world-famous British research mathematician and author; Jack Cohen is a world-famous British reproductive biologist and author. Both have collaborated with Sir Terry Pratchett to co-author three books on science and philosophy,...
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News in science communication, 14 August 2012

Posted 14-Aug-2012 at 07:50 PM (19:50) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 14-Aug-2012 at 08:22 PM (20:22) by Gurdur

Various news in science communication (#scicomm). The biggie is the announcement of the initial details of ScienceOnline2013, the big gathering of people into scicomm in Raleigh, North Carolina. ScienceOnline2013 will start on Wednesday 30 January 2013, and go through to Saturday 02 February. Registration will be on September 17 2012 -- since this event gets booked out very quickly, make sure to keep yourself informed if you want to go to it. To do that, see here (and there's also their Facebook...
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News in science communication, 03 August 2012

Posted 03-Aug-2012 at 02:53 PM (14:53) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 03-Aug-2012 at 04:09 PM (16:09) by Gurdur

Some news in science communicationn (#scicomm), so here it is. First off, a new Guardian regular blog, "The H-Word", on the history of science. It's run by Rebekah Higgitt (@beckyfh) and Vanessa Heggie (‏@HPS_Vanessa), under the Guardian's history of science section (the blog also uses the Twitter hashtag #thwb). A reminder as well; if you really like history and philosophy of science, then the two Twitter hashtags #HPS and #histsci will serve you well, and the premier networker/networking publicist...
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Three short but big reasons you should be on Pinterest

Posted 25-May-2012 at 11:55 AM (11:55) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 25-May-2012 at 11:27 PM (23:27) by Gurdur

Three very short reasons why you should be on Pinterest - and later I'll blog more with tons of details, but it will only reinforce the point.
1) Pinterest works.

In March 2012, this year, Pinterest overtook Google+ to become the third most popular social-media site, behind Facebook and Twitter, but ahead of Tumblr, LinkedIn and Google Plus - and Pinterest has a high rate of referrals, meaning people will often follow links elsewhere from Pinterest posts.

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Power-blogging outreach to the media

Posted 16-Mar-2012 at 05:33 AM (05:33) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 16-Mar-2012 at 05:57 AM (05:57) by Gurdur

Do blogs matter to the press? I came across on Twitter what I thought was a strange statement from Fiona Fox, head of the Science Media Centre of Britain, speaking at a recent discussion on science-journalism in London. The relayed partial quote was: "Fiona Fox: blogs are fantastic but no journalists goes to them to look for full stories - must be realistic". I thought that was quite wrong, and more importantly, that it would discourage scientists and others from blogging and from reaching out to...
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One year after, a new post-Fukushima class of pariah Hibakusha in Japan?

Posted 29-Feb-2012 at 03:41 PM (15:41) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-Mar-2012 at 12:28 AM (00:28) by Gurdur

I was much saddened today to read a report in Spiegel about massive traumatization among TEPCO workers dealing with the Fukushima disaster - and social prejudice against them. The original catastrophe of three nuclear-reactor meltdowns plus other mishaps followed the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. The resultant catastrophes were not down with six months afterwards, and now it's one year after the Fukushima meltdowns, and it's still nowhere near over yet.

A Spiegel report (in...
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