Blog Comments Terms
Violating any of the Terms below may result in your account being locked. In the event that your account is locked, we may, but are not obligated to, remove comments you have added to our blog.
Please keep comments on topic (that is, specifically related to the blog post you’re commenting on).
Please keep comments cordial.
No swearing or foul language, and don’t use symbols to mask the words. The meaning is still conveyed and we don’t want it in our blog. Please keep in mind that we have readers of all ages.
The swearing part is pretty straightforward. I have no idea what ‘cordial’ entails. Some readers say rather ignorant or stupid things now and then, and I’m rather frank about that. The main impact this is going to have is that since I moderate the comments I’m going to just publish fewer comments, because I am not inclined to spend much time explaining in cordial terms why the comment was not appropriate (harsh languages is at least compact). Also, anyone who obviously misrepresents anything I say is going to get banned. I can’t be bothered to respond to a response to a point I didn’t make. I’m aware I offend people with some of the things I say, but please get angry about things I actually say, not what you perceive or intuit I say. If I mean it, I’ll say it. That’s how I roll.
Looks like DISQUS has finally been enabled on this website. I know it doesn’t resolve all the issues that cropped up with the site transition, but for me it’s an excellent first step. I assume most of you know how DISQUS works. Basically if you have a Google, Yahoo!, Twitter or a Facebook account you can just login with that. Or, you can create your own DISQUS account.
Once again I have much greater control over comments. So I have to approve the first comment. And I can remove/ban people at my discretion. With these conditions met I will now again spend much more time in comments.
To kick it off I figured I would put up an “unlurk” post. If you want to tell readers/and or/me who you are, go ahead. It will also be a chance for regulars to allow me to approve their comment so that they don’t have to wait in the queue in the future.
I didn’t post for the last week for two reasons. Christmas is a lot different when you have a child. The opportunity cost was just too high for me to really blog with gusto, so I didn’t. And in any case I suspect many of my readers were also busy with family or Caribbean vacations (the latter an inference I’m making by extrapolating the somewhat skewed sample of Facebook photos today). Second, the new comment system has to a great extent broken the connection between myself and the readers of this weblog. Frankly, it strikes me as very 2002 in terms of technical implementation, and as someone with finite marginal time I can’t be bothered to keep track of incoming opinion. The old system was simple and elegant. Without the back & forth I honestly feel a lot less motivated. It’s like I’m shouting into an empty room. The good news is that this is going to change soon. I know some of you have gripes about the design, and I’m not too excited about some aspects myself. But my first priority is to get discussion/comment features back to a semblance of genuine utility.
Because of the nature of modern American ‘work-life balance’ the next week or so is going to be my longest period of being the ‘primary caregiver’ for my daughter in her short life. Needless to say I’m quite excited! Especially because this will be her first Christmas.
I spent most of my childhood in a region on the margins of lake-effect, so I am familiar with a white Christmas in a classical fashion. More recently I’ve been resident on the maritime fringes of the western United States, and snow is rare in the lower elevations of this region. But I persevere!
Over the next week I will likely be blogging a great deal from my daughter’s playroom, where I’ll have a makeshift encampment. But rest assured this will be a great leisure for me. I hope readers of this weblog can find time to relax as well. Hopefully the comments will come back to a civilized state after the New Year….
I get a fair number of emails (often press release blasts) to my public address, contactgnxp -at- gmail -dot- com. Of these a non-trivial are requests for papers. If I have access to a paper I always send that paper. That being said I’ve confused some of these emails for publicist-junk mail and what not. So if you want a paper please do this:
1) Put the paper name in the title, perhaps with the preamble “paper request:”
2) Put the link to the paper in the body. You don’t need to put anything else besides the link, I always will send the paper if I have access to it. If I don’t respond to you immediately, there are two reasons. I’m busy and am not checking my public email, or, I don’t have access.
Though projects like Haldane’s Sieve is making this less of an issue, it does seem like high profile empirically oriented publications of interest are still moving toward Nature and Science.
Update: You can leave comments now. But, you are forced to register with no third party login option. I know many of you don’t like the last, because you are emailing me about it. If the quantity of responses (<5, vs. the usually of ~50 for an “open thread”) on this thread is a measure I suspect that I’ll have to switch web-discussion mostly to Twitter or Facebook. I balk at registering to comment personally, so I totally understand.
As you may have noticed there are some issues with Discover Blog‘s transition to a new system. But once comments work again, feel free to post here. I’m busy with some other things right now besides the blog, so I’m going to take the current technical issues as an excuse to not post for a few days.
Every now and then I get emails/inquiries about using my simple “quick & dirty” charts. I always give permission, and in fact I never complain when other (usually more popular!) weblogs use them. Even on the very rare occasions where attribution is not given (I suspect this is usually an oversight in haste). This is fair enough, as I regularly use figures and tables from scientific papers in my blog posts. I believe this is all reasonably under “fair use.” But I’ve decided to explicitly assert that the charts I produce are under the Creatives Commons license. This is not to force people to attribute. Even if someone uses my chart and does not attribute I won’t really sue or anything like that (unless they’re somehow miraculously making millions off them). Rather, it’s a nudge to those who would use the charts, and should also make it so that people don’t have to contact me directly via email or Twitter. If you want to use the chart or data, permissions is given implicitly.
As regular readers know I have been to two previous Singularity Summits (2008 and 2010), and will be at the 2012 event. The speakers look particularly interesting to me this year. I may finally be stupid enough to blurt out to Vernor Vinge how awesome the adolescent me thought Fire Upon the Deep was (I downed a beer with Vinge in 2008, but didn’t say a word to him). Carl will be there again, and we’ll definitely catch up in the “meat-space.” More importantly I have a lot of socializing to do, since I haven’t seen any of my friends from the Berkeley LW community since I left the Bay Area in the summer of 2011. But I hope to meet new & interesting people, as I always have at these events (the social circle overlaps a great deal with BIL). So if you read this weblog and are going to the Singularity Summit and think I’m worth talking to in person just come on up, I’m not very shy. With the prior that you’re actually at the Summit my assumption is that you’re interesting, unless proven otherwise!
Addendum: Some people are curious if I am a “believer” in the Singularity. I’ll be honest and say I don’t think that the idea is necessarily crazy, but I spend my days thinking about genetics far too much to really be a hardcore A.I.-obsessive, which is what is needed to entertain the concept with any seriousness. Rather, my interest is rather in the social milieu where I can temporarily dispense with niceties and get down to the type of verbal blood-sport which I truly relish: engagement with intent not to thrash your opponent, but to wrestle with reality and perhaps squeeze out a few points against it.
There are now over 400 responses to the survey. Here is a link to the responses in CSV format. If you import this into R, an extra parameter in regards to encoding may be necessary:
responses=read.csv("responses.csv",sep="t",header=TRUE,fileEncoding = "UCS-2LE")
I decided to separate the respondents into two categories, biologists and non-scientists (therefore, excluding other types of scientists from further analysis). You can see the filtered responses for biologists and non-scientists yourself. Below are some comments on interesting differences.