The best element of this story, by Jenny Odell, is probably how well it is told. The worst part is the NYTimes’ wholly needless “interactive” intervention. Much better as a narrative stripped of its distracting effects. After all, the drama of this story is its dramatic quality: the ways in which we, as consumers, find ourselves winding through rabbit holes searching for that thing. Then, the interactive elements–the click here to learn more parts–measures our steps into the warren, and reduplicating it misses the point of power.


Open Government Using GitHub

Donna Strickland’s treatment on Wikipedia shows how women have long been excluded from science | The Independent

When Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1903, women couldn’t vote, couldn’t graduate from prestigious universities and weren’t allowed to become Fellows of Learned Societies. When Maria Goeppert-Mayer won the Nobel 1963, she wasn’t being paid for her scientific research, and the headline in the local paper that announced her success read “Mother Wins Nobel Prize”.

Someone had created a page for Strickland, which was subsequently flagged for deletion and removed from the encyclopaedia. The entry was determined not meet Wikipedia’s notability requirements, which require a scientist is widely published, has received media attention, and has won significant prizes. All three of these criteria, however, are biased in favour of men. Wikipedia doesn’t have to replicate the biases that exist in scientific institutions.

Source: Donna Strickland’s treatment on Wikipedia shows how women have long been excluded from science | The Independent

Opinion: Poor Science Contributes to Delhi’s Air Pollution Crisis | The Scientist Magazine®

Sometimes the obviousness of governmental corruption–systemic or not–is obvious, more obvious than usual. The Delhi case below is an instance, but hardly unique in India or anywhere. But rather than complain about corruption, it’s worth considering how the ways in which the changing climate will compel (governmental) action. That action could be of the sort seen in the Trump administration’s reaction to Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico or in the rather more fair and farsighted actions of other polities. But whether the action is negative or positive, the facts of climate change, and its causes, puts the role of government front and centre.

The sources of pollution are not known yet because of incomplete data collection.

Source: Opinion: Poor Science Contributes to Delhi’s Air Pollution Crisis | The Scientist Magazine®

6 Birds You can spot in Delhi in this Birding Season

Helps identify the raptors and other birds in Delhi.


By Mohd. SalmanDelhi is blessed in that it has a fantastic green cover, a resource that is far more than a purifier for the city’s polluted air and a pleasing sight to the eye. It contributes to making Delhi among the most bird-rich cities on the planet. Delhi’s birds come in all shapes, sizes and colours, some living with us in our localities, others out of sight in parks, protected forests and bird sanctuaries. There are more than we think, though, that exist within close range, that can be found if you know which ones you’re looking for and where to find them.We’ll do a mix of the obviously identifiable ones with some that need a little looking, and with some clues to their behaviour to help you understand them better.Rock Pigeons |The one bird you’ll never miss. This grey-liveried force of rather timid, friendly and mostly harmless birds throngs important traffic intersections all over town, where concerned members of the citizenry leave grain and water for their benefit. They also throng the domes of mosques and temples, the nooks and crannies of residential buildings, parks and offices. To put it in a nutshell, they are everywhere. They’re rather unassuming, and will readily accept grain from you if you are patient. They are also a deadly crapping unit, and the curses of many home owners and cleaning staff follow them as they relieve themselves on cars, buildings and balconies. Most importantly, though, they are birds that unite the urban landscapes of pretty much every continent.Yellow-footed Green Pigeons |There’s another kind of pigeon in town, and one way of looking at this species is—they’re pigeons in a parrot costume. Bright green with yellow feathers on their feet, these guys dot the better-greened urban landscape, and are not too difficult to spot in many parts of south, central and north Delhi. They are best seen in the well-wooded parks, and can sometimes be seen in the company of their commoner grey cousins.House Sparrows |Now, now, before you go, “What sparrows?! They’re all gone!”, they’re still around, though a lot fewer. You will find them in the Ridge, the Asola Sanctuary, in Jamia Nagar, under the shadow of the Jama Masjid. Again, these are birds that exist on every inhabited continent. They’ve been pushed out of a lot of our urban areas because of habitat loss, partly due to urbanisation, and partly due to their territory being invaded by other birds. Their loss is a tragic one because for so many of us, they were the first birds we learned to identify.You can get them back, though. Nesting boxes that meet their requirements can be bought or built, and strung from balconies or placed on thick tree branches. With its habitat restored, this is a species of bird that will not take long to recover.House Crow |It only takes ten minutes of looking at these guys to realise how much they stand out when compared to other birds. The house crow is to birds, what we are to primates: adaptable, intelligent, cunning and utterly without scruples. This bird suits its feeding and living to the circumstances it finds itself in, and its taste for opportunism often gives a watcher the pleasure of seeing many a prank in action. Watch as your neighbourhood crow sneaks into a house, emerging with a little something to eat or something to build its nest with. Crows will also seize the king’s share of food left out for birds and squirrels by people on their terraces. On a day when the more ‘attractive’ species of birds are in short supply, crows make for interesting watching. Read A Crow for All Seasons by Ruskin Bond to get yourself interested.Black Drongo |There’s a sheriff in town, and it’s called a Drongo. Look for this slender black bird with a long, deeply forked tail in pretty much every kind of urban location. These birds are literally known as the ‘policemen’ of the bird world, being ferocious to a point where a pair will chase away even an eagle that attacks their nest. The Okhla and Asola sanctuaries are good places to get up-close and personal with these birds.Black Kite |Kites are distinguished from all other birds of similar appearance by their forked tails. Remember this, the next time you go “Eagle!” at a big brown bird in the city sky. With vultures driven to near-extinction, kites are the dominant scavengers of the sky. They hover over pretty much every quarter of the city, circling great heights in their quest for sustenance. They’re medium-sized for birds of prey, but are still very impressive. Kites with hatchlings to feed will also resort to hunting, and that is one of the grislier, but more fascinating sights that the fauna of the city can bring to you.These are the birds we’re beginning with. But there are many, many more. Birds of song, birds of beauty, little balls of feather that are a delight to spot, birds of the water and birds of prey. Winter is coming, and there’s no better time of year for birding. Watch this space for more! About the Author | Salman has spent his summe

Source: 6 Birds You can spot in Delhi in this Birding Season

Hard to miss the raptors of Delhi. Objects of fascination to visitors, and also mystery. Here, in Toronto, we see Red Tailed hawks and the occasional other, smaller raptors. Eagles are rare, and enormous. But in Delhi, they seemed to be everywhere, implausibly colonising utility poles and scaffolds and spiralling over the open areas.

Mexican Senate Passes Changes to Copyright Law That Would Censor Content Online | infojustice

This is disturbing news–it’s censorship in the waiting, and should be read in light of the relentless murders of independent journalists in Mexico.


Source: Mexican Senate Passes Changes to Copyright Law That Would Censor Content Online | infojustice

Things have gotten worse. Presumably, if I have an accident, it’s my fault, despite the murderous quality of the roads.

UnKoch My Campus

I had known about the Koch’s influence on US academia for some time–and also on other parts of American culture–and had read Nancy MacLean’s riveting history of the issue, “Democracy in Chains” (Penguin, 2017). But only came across this site today. Worth looking at.

A plausibly relevant point: the claims of intellectual property. Tech/science publications work as claims of intellectual property, as stakes asserting ownership of the processes used or materials discovered. That’s not the case with most work done in the humanities, excluding some obvious disciplines.


Source: UnKoch My Campus

Study examines the research that never receives a citation

The article is interesting for several reasons. One, the data reflecting the surge in citation within the sciences is interesting. Second, the corresponding lack in the humanities highlights crucial and unfortunately misleading differences that, third, Marco Caracciolo, who is quoted, explains:

For instance, monographs and book chapters “carry a lot of weight in this area of the humanities” and it was much more likely that these — rather than any journal article that first expressed an idea — would be cited.

“The general expectation is that articles pave the way for monographs, which will contain the ‘final’ version of an argument — not the other way around,” said Caracciolo.

He added that the citation culture was also different for scholars on the more theoretical side of literary theory. Here, citation “works by signaling affiliation with a certain movement or theoretical trend.”

“Scholars position their approach not through a comprehensive literature review but by way of strategic citations — which may result in a relatively small number of highly influential publications (typically in book form) receiving the vast majority of citations,” Caracciolo said.

“This is quite different from what happens in the sciences, where the logic would appear to be more incremental,” he said, adding that his own citation rate could be higher because of his primary field of narrative theory having “a more science-like logic.”

As the article writer, Simon Baker, points out, however, that “Even with the caveats about the citation patterns seen in different disciplines, there is a danger that such figures could be seized upon by those wanting to question the value of publicly funded research.” That is, austerity-minded politicians, administrators, and others who fear or hate publicly-funded research and teaching (especially if it runs counter to their beliefs, be they religious or political), will look to the data, give it the yell of truth and then cut funding for those disciplines that fail the acid test, even though that test is wrong for the discipline.

Solutions, like having a greater awareness of the issues, only work if the cutters are willing to be schooled. Another, albeit only half-solution, which is sort of practiced in many British universities, I think, is to count publications, regardless of nature. These publications could be reviews, new, deep articles, or books. They are all counted. it’s not a good way to evaluate the quality of scholarship produced, but it does put the humanities’ scholar on a more even footing as the tech/science scholar, at least in counting publications for any academic or departmental purpose. A complication is that in the sciences, the rule is collaboration–to have many authors per paper, and yet more for important ones. That is not the case in most humanities.



Analysis suggests big differences among disciplines in the volume of scholarship that fails to garner a citation.

Source: Study examines the research that never receives a citation