Jan 28, 2017

He tore out the heart

What made America greater than this:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

„Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!“ cries she
With silent lips. „Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Emma Lazarus, 1883 
Statue of Liberty

Jan 2, 2017

Dead, right?

Sometimes you are alive. Sometimes you are dead.
Well, you feel like it.
Which is strange. Because, I suppose, when you are dead - how does it feel? Deadish? I thought the whole concept of being dead is that all that conscious stuff - and very much so the 'feeling'-thingy - vanishes.
Exactly what you sometimes yearn for.
When you are too destroyed to get up, for example. New-Years' morning, when you feel like you are dead. Well.
We talked about it.
So.
My blog was dead.
When I had to renew my payment-details I got trapped in some super-smart login loop, that always told me to renew my payment-details before I could log-in to go to... you got the idea.
Now I got some reanimation done and there we go again.
Life looks much better now.
Even though some things look very non-ok.
But let's not talk politics.
Or emotional, private stuff.
thanx.

Jul 12, 2016

Dave and Bea

Every now and then a memory from my early coding-years pops up in my mind.
When I had acquired my Atari 1040F (1MB RAM, 100MB external harddrive), I was of course hex-dumping the OS and as the programmers obviously never had worked with that much space before (I believe my first Apple ][ had 8kB) they just bumbled around wasting Bits - in the middle of all the tech-stuff there was the line "Dave Staugas loves Bea Habling". Just so. In the ROM.
It never got out of my brain again.
And it popped up again right now. I  believe I can only lay it at rest if I know:
... did they eventually get together? 
Can you please tell me?
(thanks)

Jun 27, 2016

Indicators of scientific excellence - where are they?

The discussion about reputation-metrics in science is dragging on. By now everybody knows the standard indicators (publications, impact-factor, citations,...), everybody uses them, everybody criticises them - and everybody ignores them if necessary. It has become a ritual to do metrics-bashing (while boasting about the own Hirsch-factor). Something has to happen. 
Now. 
(It won't.)
While researching new metrics can earn you a living, the output, quite frankly, can bore you to tears. The same folks that were unable to show how scientific excellence maps onto numbers, now open the floodgates. They  spread their concept of 'excellence by Excel' from research to knowledge-transfer to impact on society - expanding the food-chain to be tagged. 
Get real! 
What societal impact does a scientific result have? The discovery of superconductivity? Research on linguistics of micro-languages? Any result: societal impact? Good luck!

The science-community is feeling the grip of the bureaucrats while science-funding is following the mirage of 'efficiency'. It looks as if everybody is fooled into submission.You know the line: 'I believe it is crap but since everybody is doing it, so should we' - which is heard from scientists and bureaucrats alike. So they all play those 'boredgames'.
The science-bureaucrats are the ones who need some computable numbers to rank, judge, praise or dismiss science and scientists - because they so deeply mistrust the concept of science and the peer-review-system, it seems. How could they understand the predominant working principle of curiosity-driven self-exploitation that powers any real scientist?
Since many of them can't distinguish potatoes from horse-droppings, they need the science-landscape mapped to a score-sheet to create their impressive set of poo-charts - umm, pie-charts.

This age-old approach to reputation-metrics looks so impressingly objective. But it must not be mistaken: no matter what numbers they compile, the best ones are the fallout of a peer's opinion:
publications? - Referrees have seen the paper and commented on it
citations? - Scientists quote what they learned to be important and trustworthy
PhD-theses? - a number of scientists were involved over years

Reputation-metrics as we know them - the compilation of indicators - is nothing but the condensate of peer-review that scientists justifiably rely on and that bureaucrats are so scared of. 'Objectivity' is a sweet deception and honesty about that would be a good thing for a start.