Harold Varmus, director of the NIH, is making waves with a plan for electronic publishing of bioscience research. I don’t understand what the fuss is; the physics and computing communities have had online archives, preprints, and publishing for quite a while. Look at what they’ve done, and steal the successful bits…

It would be cool if the NIH went with this software; collaborative on-line peer review would be pretty cool. Slashdot for scientists. Maybe somebody should hook Rob Malta up with Harold Varmus and see what happens.

Continuing with the academic publishing theme, a recent Salon piece discussed the politics of authorship. From what I’ve seen, the situation isn’t quite that bad in the biosciences. The author also presents the following conclusion:

So why all the reluctance to address such issues? Perhaps it’s because scientific communities usually consist of two groups with distinct interests and very different powers. The likely victims of misappropriation of authorship are the junior scientists with no power to legislate the rules of authorship. The senior scientists, on the other hand, might change the system, but in the sense that it clearly benefits them, they have little incentive to do so. Since senior scientists no longer have a supervisor who can easily appropriate authorship from them, and no longer need famous honorary names to help greasethe wheels of publishing, they have no reason to perceive the issue as a problem.
I hate to disillusion anyone, but that’s basically the situation in every hierarchical power structure in the world. It’s not a science problem, it’s a human power structure problem.

Brig admitted to me that the real purpose of her weblog portal was to cause massive amounts of time wasting. I, of course, have fallen into her evil trap…

While I’m on weblogs, a couple new ones that I might end up following: lemonyellow and bespoke.

Via one weblog or another, I ended up at the Computer jokes section of the rec.humor.funny archive. That’s joining the ‘Read at Leisure’ book mark section…

A Fox News story on the

first application of cloning to rescue endangered species. In order for this to work, we’re still going to have to clone a sizable number of critters from each species; otherwise the species will bottleneck, and we’ll end up with a genetically ‘brittle’ species, with insufficient diversity to respond to environmental changes. (You could argue, of course, that if the species had sufficient diversity they wouldn’t have become endangered…)

I think I may have finally found a use for those 286 PCs I accidently purchsed…

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