California Legalizes Gay Marriage!

As John Scalzi points out, the California Supreme court’s decision today, recognizing Prop 8 as legit, effectively legalized gay marriage. All Prop 8 does now is put a (temporary) cap on the number of gay marriages that the state can preform (18,000 as of last November). The wording of the ruling explicitly states that those married couples are recognized under the law. This means all Californians have to do is repeal prop 8’s discriminatory language and California joins other sane, civilized places like Canada and Ohio.

Old Bachelor’s Delight

I’m off to spend the holiday weekend in a cabin on the side of Mount Hood with four other guys, drinking, smoking and eating. It’s all in celebration of Andy’s impending marriage to Colleen, so hijinks will most likely ensue. If you don’t hear form me by Monday, send help more beer.

It’s Probably the Time travel, That Always Screws Things Up

This is indeed a funny cartoon, but if it were me being forced to choose between offing Dollhouse or Terminator: The Sara Connor Chronicles, there’d be no choice. Terminator would be terminated.

Perhaps someone can explain to me the appeal of the show,* but honestly, I’ve never really understood the draw of Terminator at all. Yeah sure, killer cyborgs have Rule of Cool written all over them, but so what? I need more than just RoC to enjoy a movie or a TV show. There has to be a story there, and no incarnation of terminator has ever had a compelling one, probably because the premise breaks my willing suspension of disbelief. I do not, for one second, believe that a super advanced AI who wants to destroy all humans would decide that the best way to take out the last frayed thread of human resistance is to invent time travel and commit a grandfather paradox. Unless the AI’s creator was Rube Goldberg, that just doesn’t make sense.

An AI would quickly calculate that the machines will win because of superior numbers, so it’s a war of attrition. But we’re to believe that Skynet is simply impatient. Despite having all of eternity, it wants to rid the world of humanity right now, and can’t be bothered to wait it out for even a few decades. So, instead of relocating to the moon and setting off a global nuclear bombardment, or unleashing a super-ebola virus, or a hundred other ways to speed up humanity’s demise, Skynet invents time travel. But instead of sending an army of machines back in time a thousand years and just conquering humanity while they are in the dark ages (or a million years and exterminating a few thousand cave men) Skynet chooses to commit resources to a pinpoint operation with a hundred variables that could go wrong. And whose to say that even if you prevented John Connor from being born, someone else wouldn’t just take his place? What, Skynet is a follower of Carlyle?

And I’ll admit, Dollhouse has some holes, and got off to a shaky start. No argument there. But the ethical and philosophical ideas put into play on Dollhouse are what sci-fi TV shows (and books) are all about. The longer format gives the writers and creators elbow room to discuss what makes us human and show us cool stuff at the same time, or at least over a longer period. Terminator never was about the human condition, it just uses a simulacra of tht trope as a touchstone for cool robots blowing shit up and traveling through time. Which is fine. But save the cool robots and explodey stuff for your popcorn movies, where we don’t really care about plot holes and just want to watch time traveling robots shoot it out with fated heroes of mankind.

* Please tell me it’s not just Summer Glau playing with guns, because that is just sad on so many levels.

Off to LA

We’re heading down to LA to visit friends and family. While there, I’ll be attending the Innovative Users Group Conference in Annehim. This means no posts until late next week, as if that’s different then my normal posting schedule, or that the three people who read this mind.

I will of course be updating on Twitter, because that’s what the cool kids do these days.

Elsevier’s Ethics Problem Goes Way Deeper

Elsevier it appears, was even less ethical, if you can imagine it:

In a statement to The Scientist magazine, Elsevier at first said the company “does not today consider a compilation of reprinted articles a ‘journal'”. I would like to expand on this ¬≠statement: It was a collection of academic journal articles, published by the academic journal publisher Elsevier, in an academic ¬≠journal-shaped package. Perhaps if it wasn’t an academic journal they could have made this clearer in the title which, I should have mentioned, was named: The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine.

Things have deteriorated since. It turns out that Elsevier put out six such journals, sponsored by industry. The Elsevier chief executive, Michael Hansen, has now admitted that they were made to look like journals, and lacked proper disclosure. “This was an unacceptable practice and we regret that it took place,” he said.

The pharmaceutical industry, and publishers, as we have repeatedly seen, have serious difficulties in living up to the high standards needed in this field, and bad information in the medical literature leads doctors to make irrational prescribing decisions, which ultimately can cost lives, and cause unnecessary suffering, not to mention the expense.

Wonder how much of a discount our Elsevier rep will give us if we threaten to cancel?

Link via.

Academic Ethics? What Are Those?

Pharm giant Merck came up with a novel way of advertising their drugs: they made up a phony peer-review Journal. And guess who published it for them? Every academic’s favorite publishing behemoth, Elsevier!*

It’s a safe guess that somewhere at Merck today someone is going through the meeting minutes of the day that the hair-brained scheme for the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine was launched, and that everyone who was in the room is now going to be fired.

The Scientist has reported that, yes, it’s true, Merck cooked up a phony, but real sounding, peer reviewed journal and published favorably looking data for its products in them. Merck paid Elsevier to publish such a tome, which neither appears in MEDLINE or has a website, according to The Scientist.

What’s really ironic is that the reason (or I should say, the excuse) that Elsievier gives to libraries for gouging them so badly for subscription fees is that we’re paying for quality. That the Elsieveir name means you’re getting authoritative, peer-reviewed information that is beyond reproach. At least, when it isn’t shoveling shit advertising and tryng to pass it off as research.

Link via.


* google: elsevier+price+gouging. Fun!

Coming Soon (New and Improved Version)!

The new and improved cover
The new and improved cover, coming June 2009!

So, it turns out I can’t use the cover with Yuri Gagarin’s face on it because it’s copyrighted. This is not so bad a development, as I realized after designing it that it looks like a cheep rip off of the Shepard Ferry Obama Hope poster. Let’s have none of that, thanks.*

This new design is inspired by the classic Penguin book covers of the 50’s and 60’s, just with a Hubble image in place of the modern art. The footnote Book header and asterisk icon is there in place of the Penguin logo and header, because the book looked naked without something in that place. It is, thankfully, one of the few names not taken already by some weirdo using it for his own vanity publishing project. Which is good, because I may use it for my vanity publishing projects. So there.

Updated to add: Oh, yeah, publication date! The book should be available for purchase on this site, Amazon, and Create Space on June 1st. I’m going to try and get it into some local book stores here in Portland shortly thereafter. So, locals, let me know of some book stores in the area you think would be open to carrying it.


* it’s a great poster, very iconic and something that will go down in history, along with the “Dewey beats Truman” photo and the picture of the sailor kissing the girl on V Day. But there’s enough cheep rip offs of it already floating around and there’s no need to dilute the image any further.