The Robber Barons of Academic Publishing

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:38 am

Truth from George Monbiot: http://www.monbiot.com/2011/08/29/the-lairds-of-learning/

My own particular beef in this area, in addition to all those he has articulated so nicely, is online journal subscriptions. If a university subscribes to a paper journal for 20 years, then quits the subscription, it has an archive of 20 years worth of journals in paper form that researchers can still draw on. But if it subscribes electronically for 20 years, then quits, it has nuthin’. Electronic is cheaper for publishers but more expensive to buy. It’s more convenient for researchers: I seldom set foot in the physical library any more, just the virtual one. But the costs are astronomical and rising without restraint.


Confessions of A Bad Teacher

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:40 pm


Philosophy Education Sorely Needed

Filed under: — Bravus @ 4:42 pm

Alex did a Philosophy and Reason course in Year 11 and 12 that she enjoyed very much, and I have been saying for a while that *all* school students should learn philosophy. Philosophy is, in my opinion, no less important than English, maths and science in preparing students for life.

Excellent points made in this article: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/opinion/editorial/general/niles-bid-raises-spectre-of-philosophical-illiteracy/2273114.aspx?storypage=0

Good stuff from David Friedman

Filed under: — Bravus @ 2:04 pm

I’m not an atheist, and I have to admit I have issues with the approaches of some of what P Z Myers (whose stuff I like a lot) calls the ‘gnu atheists’.

This blog post from David Friedman is a very nice rebuttal to some of their more simplistic arguments: http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2008/01/atheism-and-religion.html

Most of the gnu atheists claim that they are about reason above all. If that’s true, they ought to be engaging with religion in all its richness and complexity, not with their own simplistic strawman versions of it.


So, I guess we’ll stop hearing the gloating about ‘Climategate’ now

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:26 am

I’m joking, of course: people who don’t care about the truth don’t care about the truth.

But here’s some for people who do: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-22/climate-change-scientist-cleared-in-u-s-data-altering-inquiry.html


An Aesthetic1

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:17 pm

To me, this is beautiful music.

Not rough, tough, scary but beautiful. Clearly there is something about taste that is innate and something learned: as some of you know, ABBA was my gateway drug and it takes some listening to ‘get’ everything that’s going on in this…

I’m not sure whether I have a point with this, except that perhaps if I put as much time into listening to opera I’d find it beautiful too…

That and the fact that this is very complex, and I like that in visual arts as well.

Which is probably why, no matter how much I listened to it, I wouldn’t find mainstream country music beautiful.

  1. Oh… I see what you did there….



Filed under: — Bravus @ 1:46 pm

We don’t need draconian new laws. We need to chill, and individuals need to take responsibility, but what we’re doing is working: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/breaking-news/death-on-aust-roads-down-22pc-in-5-years/story-e6freonf-1226115243096

And, for Mark, a balanced take on the riots

Filed under: — Bravus @ 1:27 pm

…which makes pretty much the point he made about the rush to judgement.


I guess I need to remember that you’re not all in my head. My biased posts were posted as a counterbalance to bias I’d read elsewhere, and I know both perspectives were needed to make sense. But if you hadn’t been reading what I’d been reading, it probably seemed as though I thought I was posting the Whole Truth.

More good sense on the UK riots

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:31 am



Always knew Russell Brand was more than just a pretty face

Filed under: — Bravus @ 11:15 pm

Saying some of the things I wanted to say about the UK riots, only better: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/aug/11/london-riots-davidcameron?CMP=NECNETTXT8187


Sense about the stock market

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:22 pm



Why I’m ticking ‘No religion’ on the census

Filed under: — Bravus @ 5:36 pm

…despite the fact that I do have confused, confusing, postmodern, nebulous theistic leanings…

Basically, there’s no box available for ‘post-Christian’, although that’s probably the most apt description for what I am. I’m in an on-going, multiyear process of thinking through life, the universe and everything: here are a few of the waystations, but there’s lots more if you go for a dig through the archives:


Job description for a god

Literalism and Bibliolatry

Reverse Pascal

I guess I could write in ‘post-Christian’, but I suspect they wouldn’t mean the same by it as I would (or they’d just assume I attend by correspondence).

But the bigger reason is that, no matter what my personal beliefs, I’m afraid I believe the influence of Christianity on government in Australia is generally pernicious, and I disagree with the Christian lobby on almost every social issue.

If I checked ‘Christian’, I would become a statistic that would be pointed to in supporting the agenda of the Christian lobby, and as such would end up supporting all the things I strongly disagree with and vice versa.

So the decision to choose ‘No religion’ is more an ethical one than a religious one, for me.

I think part of it, though, is that Christianity itself has been hijacked by political conservatives and other forces… from my reading of the Bible, Jesus was much more likely to be on my side of most of the issues than theirs.

Wonder what He’d tick?


Fukishima – Colin Peters brings some truth on Twitter

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:04 am

I’m sorry, I feel a rant coming on. Fukushima is not “the worst catastrophe in the history of the world.”

Unless, possibly, your *only* measure of how catastrophic an event is, is in Bq/m^2

The tsunami on the same day killed more than 15,000 people. Bhopal killed as many or more. The 2004 tsunami killed 230,000.

Even at the highest estimates, Chernobyl resulted in 27,000 fatal cancers (and other estimates are much, much lower).

This is a terrible tragedy. All of these were terrible tragedies.

OK, sorry for the rant. I’ll try to find some pictures of cats or something.

Bq/m^2 = Bequerels per square metre, a measure of radiation intensity

Teacher Quality Matters More Than Class Size

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:50 am

Who knew?


(well, I did…)


One for Mark Patterson

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:21 pm

From Pharyngula: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/08/i_guess_im_going_to_have_to_ge.php

I’m by no means the gleeful atheist P Z is, but I seem to recall you making the ‘no new DNA’ claim in the fairly recent past.