October 30, 2013

More from the Google Alert Hinterlands

If you've been following my road-to-publication updates the past few months, you'll know that the Google Alerts I've got set up to track my book ("Andrew Ladd" and "What Ends") generally provide very little useful information at all.

For instance, Andrew Ladd was the only person to score in a penalty shootout against Dallas the other night.

Yesterday, however, I got a link to this mildly interesting article from Salon, reporting on a study from PLOS One, which explained that "WHAT ENDS up on a diner's plate is determined by the presentation order of food"—a story that, back in my fevered, blog-filled youth, I may well have chosen to write about of my own volition. e.g.:
While [the] tendency to grab what’s in front of you is obviously problematic, newly published research finds one environment where it can come in very handy: The buffet line.
Also: the driver's seat of a car.

Also, ahem (cf. Andrew Ladd): the mouth of a hockey goal.
Cornell University researchers Brian Wansink and Andrew Hanks... describe a study featuring 124 human resource managers attending a conference on behavior change and health. Unwittingly, they found themselves part of an experiment one morning.
Ah-ha! So the testers have become the... testes?
The conference-goers began their day by being randomly assigned to one of two breakfast buffet lines. The food served at the two locations was identical, but the order of the dishes was reversed....

“Over 75 percent of diners selected the first food they saw,” Wansink and Hanks write...

The researchers caution that they did not measure portion size or actual consumption. It’s possible that the people who chose the unhealthy foods had second thoughts once they sat down, and decided to eat only a small portion of what they took.

Possible, but unlikely.
...added the study's third author, David Caruso.
The takeaway from the experiment is clear: Encouraging healthy eating may be as simple as offering nutrient-rich, low-calorie items as a first choice...

Better yet, it sidesteps issues of the “nanny state” telling us what to eat.
Oh, THANK GOD. If the nanny state started limiting my access to unhealthy food, that would really take the biscuit/get me steaming mad/cheese me off/SPLABANGO.

October 25, 2013

October 23, 2013


I wouldn't generally wade into the swampy bed of sin that is predatory open access publishing on my blog, because:

(1) It's esoteric even by my standards
(2) Given the luck I've had attracting unwanted Google attention, it seems to be asking for trouble, and
(3) It's just too damn easy.

However, today I found myself giggling so much over one particularly egregious example that I decided to throw caution to the wind.

But first, for the uninitiated, a brief primer on said esoterica, folded into the jump...

In the beginning, there were Science and Nature, the two holy grails of scientific publishing. (...and The Lancet, and the New England Medical Journal, and...) They acted as gatekeepers for scientific research, carefully evaluating all submitted articles to make sure they met rigorous standards, thereby guaranteeing that only the best research was published. (N.B. Open-access proponents may quibble with you on this point, but when was the last time PLOS ONE discovered DNA?)

Anyhow, over the years more and more of these traditional journals proliferated, and during that time the internet was also invented, and so naturally all these journals wanted to be online to permit wider dissemination of their scientific knowledge. But, like subscribing to the paper version of one of these journals, to get their online version you had to pay. This in itself wouldn't have been a problem, except a few large and mildly evil academic publishers realised that they essentially had a monopoly and raised subscription prices by about 600%.

Now, scientists, being the high-minded folks they are, began to feel a little squeamish about the hundreds if not thousands of dollars readers were paying to access research that the scientists had carried out purely to advance human knowledge (and not at all to advance their own progression up the tenure ladder). So some of them started publishing in the above-referenced open access journals, in which reading is free and journal costs are defrayed through a combination of ads, grants, and publication fees.

That in itself also wouldn't have been a problem. (Though, side note: jeez, if you're squeamish at the thought of paying to read research, you ought to be at least as squeamish at the thought of paying to publish research.) No, the real problem arose when internet scammers realised they could take advantage of those junior scientists desperate to publish articles (not at all to advance their own progression up the tenure ladder), and start up fake journals that took your article and "published" it in exchange for an exorbitant publication fee. And these days there are literally dozens of these "predatory" open-access publishers, producing hundreds (if not thousands) of predatory online journals.

Which brings me back to the impetus for this entire ramble.

And now, witness: BioInfo Publications, whose website is riddled with spelling errors and broken English, and whose FAQ page is like some glorious piece of surreal, postmodern performance art, e.g.:
Can I know the Publication Charges for Bioinfo Publications Journals?
(For answer, see International Journal of Epistemology.)
What do the article-processing charges pay for?
● immediate world-wide barrier-free open access to the full text
● securing inclusion in Open Access
(See also International Journal of Ontology, for discussion of securing inclusion in something that has no barriers.)
How do Bioinfo Publications charges compare with other publishers?

Bioinfo Publications article processing charges are extremely less and competitive.
Don't submit your work to one of those journals whose charges are extremely more!
I want to know where Bioinfo Publications Journals are indexed ?
Do you know what a question is.
Bioinfo Journals Open Access Model?

If you are not in academia, don't worry—I'll toss you a dick joke or something in Conversations With Greatness this week.

October 18, 2013

October 11, 2013

October 08, 2013

I Guess This Makes McCain a Bipartisan

From the New York Times: Lift ‘Threats,’ Obama Insists, Spurning Talks
Eight days since House Republicans refused to finance the government because Mr. Obama would not defund or delay the new health care law, and nine days before the Treasury Department says it will reach the legal limit to borrow money for existing bills and obligations, the two parties showed no movement toward an accord...

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, blamed both parties. “Shouldn’t we be embarrassed about this? Shouldn’t we be ashamed?” he said, his voice rising in anger as he described how death benefits were being denied to families of fallen troops because much of the government is closed. “And the list goes on and on of people, of innocent Americans who have fallen victim to the reality that we can’t sit down and talk like grown-ups.”
Well said, John McCain. It's good to see that even after your decades of service in the Senate, you've managed to avoid the jaded, partisan cynicism keeping the government shuttered this month, and that you're still speaking up for a mature, accommodating approach to political negotiation.
Separately, Senate Democrats introduced a measure to raise the debt limit without any conditions, and initial votes could come by Friday. Yet it is far from clear whether Democrats will have support from six Republicans to break the likely Republican filibuster... Mr. McCain, [a] frequent bridge between the two parties, said Tuesday that he would vote no.

Can somebody please call Congress and tell them that governance is not just one big fucking talking point? Thanks.

October 04, 2013