Thursday, 31 May 2007

no bake cookies

I've been avoiding the blog recently, because I've had too many half-baked ideas recently, and now that it's summer, it's too hot for baking. So rather than my delicious home-made chocolate chip cookies made with grandma's secret recipe, this time around, it's no-bake cookie time.

First up? Some random pointers to things other people wrote. Each of these made me say, "hmm." Perhaps one will have the same effect on you.
  • The Supreme Court has decided to fiddle with the notion of obviousness in patents. I'm not sure whether this counts as news, but it occurs to me that our current system (court-regulated markets) is a bit absurd. And an obvious alternative already exists within the academic community: journals. Priority claims might be settled in the same way in either case, but what's really at issue here is cold hard cash. Specifically, who gets it? Millions of dollars are at risk in either case--in the form of exclusive rights to manufacture or license in the case of patents, and in the form of opportunities to seek funding and credit in the other. Some kind of virtuous circle is supposed to exist between reputations of journals and reputations of individuals publishing therein. Members of the field explicitly review new contributions and deem them worthy or unworthy of acceptance (credit). Those who get credit are granted entry into the pool of potential reviewers for future rounds. Throw away patents, I say. Forget about formulating a legal test for obviousness. There's a better system already in place. It's obvious.
  • Science now has half a brain. Half a mouse-brain to be exact.
  • I'm an Eagle Scout (though I'm a bit ashamed to admit my affiliation with an organization whose crackdown on gays, girls, and atheists I detest), but I never earned any of these merit badges.
  • Maps are fun. These ones are more fun than usual. I'm amused by the toy manufacture versus toy consumption maps. I'm frightened by the port numbers map. And I'm disturbed by the war death map.
  • Do you suppose famous art influences our idea of the beautiful? If so, what does it say that we seem to be so fond of frowning beauties?
  • I meant to say lots of smart things about the now-ancient debate about "framing science." Instead, I'll just point out two of the better takes on the now-ancient "framing science" debates on scienceblogs. (see also my previous post on framing in politics)
  • Finally, I just want to trademark a new academic term: post-culturalism. Will it be all the rage in the next few years? Does it already exist without me knowing? Who knows. But this is one beer-induced idea I actually remembered the next day, so here it is.
One day, perhaps, my posts will return to their usual highly crafted, polished form. For now, this is all I can manage.

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