Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fun with telephones
In lieu of a grown-up post about memes, that is forthcoming, dead honest guv

Well, all the clever and sophisticated kids are rolling their eyes about just how provincial and boring it all is, but I'm afraid I'm one of those squares who thinks the crime of making obscene phone calls is.... a crime.

I also note that assuming that someone is a member of a burlesque group called the "Satanic Sluts" constitutes licence to broadcast their sexual history on the TV, is functionally equivalent to the saloon bar slogan "phoar, with those short skirts and make-up, they're just asking for it, aren't they?". 

I also note that to comment on the Brand/Ross affair on the BBC website, I must adhere to a comments policy that includes:

Keep your contributions civil, tasteful and relevant. Please:

  • No defamatory comments. A defamatory comment is one that is capable of damaging the reputation of a person or organisation. If successfully sued you could be held liable for considerable damages and costs.
  • Do not post messages that are unlawful, harassing, defamatory, abusive, threatening, harmful, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, homophobic or racially offensive.
  • No swearing. People of all ages read and contribute to Have Your Say. Please don't use profanities or other words which might offend them.
  • No inappropriate usernames (vulgar, offensive, etc).

It seems reasonable to expect those on the BBC to adhere to the same standard.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sodding 'memes'
A rant
Quick questions:

1) Are there any occasions when the word "meme" must be used, such that "idea", "model", "hope", "aspiration", "belief", "dream" and similar words cannot express the same notion,only  with greater precision?

2) "Meme" rhymes with "gene", which makes it sound almost scientific. If memes were referred to as "magic idea fairies" or "midichlorians", would this make them any less believable? 

and finally,
3) [The 'homeopathy' question] What evidence would lead you to reject the meme hypothesis?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mash-up madness!
In which we muse on the implications of new copyright policy of the American Physical Society

Whilst trying to check the maximum article length for Applied Physics Letters, I stumbled across this:

When you submit an article to an APS journal, we ask you to sign our copyright form. It transfers copyright for the article to APS, but keeps certain rights for you, the author. We have recently changed the form to add the right to make ‘‘derivative works’’ that reuse parts of the article in a new work. 

This is rather exciting[1]: the APS has always given you the right to reprint figures for use in books, and for all co-authors to host a .pdf of papers on personal websites, this means you'll be able to use individual figures directly. [Also, it'll save the bother of clearing figures individually with APS, should you be writing a review chapter]

The editorial goes on to state that this will permit authors to create Wikipedia articles, which seems a bit passé, although I suppose it might raise the quality/quantity of the wikipedia physics articles.

[1] For a given value of "exciting", obviously...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In honour of Paul Krugman

A fun paper for this years Nobel laureate in economics:

My favourite bit is "This paper is, then, a serious analysis of a ridiculous subject, which is of course the opposite of what is usual in economics", but figure II - a Minkowski diagram with really imaginary axes - is good, too.

[via John Band]

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Two more pieces of Joy

My job-hunting-derived blogging hiatus has come to an end due to these pieces of Joy:

Cross country running "Cross-country running at school could be a form of physical abuse" - [source] 

Feeding children (the Tam Fry edition) "Tam Fry, a member of the National Obesity Forum's board, will tell a conference that youngsters who are over-fed by their parents should be treated as victims of abuse, as happens with malnourished children." - [source]