Just a quick notice: I’ve written a piece for TechDirt. on the outrageous agreement between the French National Library (Bibliothèque nationale de France) and ProQuest: Dirty Deeds: French National Library Privatizes Public Domain, Part 2. If ever you are wondering: Part 1 is here, by great Glyn Moody 🙂
Archives Mensuelles: février 2013
This morning, February 9, the Cairo Administrative Court announced its decision to ban YouTube and « all other websites that showed the anti-Islam film » ‘The Innocence of Muslims’. The ban is for 30 days. The lawsuit was initially filed on 18 Sept 2012 by a lawyer, Mr. Mohamed Hamed Salem, in the middle of a MENA-wide turmoil the trailer provoked. The lawyer insisted on having the website removing all anti-Muslim videos as they « distort the image of the Prophet ».
*Ok, trolling away, DMCA itself is a bug.
The background: Retraction Watch is one of the must-follow resources on the web for anyone who is interested in scientific publishing. The blog, maintained and nurtured by Ivan Oransky (Reuters health editor) and Adam Marcus (science journalist and managing editor of Anesthesiology News), is the place for keeping abreast of retractions and corrections in scientific and medical journals. Recently, the blog editors woke up to find out that 10 of the posts have been taken down.
What happened? Apparently, some firm from India copied these 10 posts — relating to Anil Potti, a cancer researcher whose career is imploding as 19 of his papers were already retracted, — then claimed them and filed a DMCA takedown notice. Consequently, the posts were pulled off by WordPress from Retraction Watch… and haven’t been restored thus far.
This is my #LulzOfDaDay 🙂 Background: the Obama administration provides a web platform — We the People, — for citizens to send a petition to the President, and « if a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response. » Among the most popular petitions, you can find one calling for free access to scientific publications arising from taxpayer-funded research or the one asking for the removal of District Attorney Ortiz for overreach in Aaron Swartz case.
And here comes one of the most important petitions to Obama ever: « Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016. » Launched on Nov 14, 2012 it has gathered nearly 35,000 signatures thus far. The rationale:
By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense.
This makes you laugh? Come on, don’t go medieval on this concerned citizen. The Obama administration took his demand into consideration as it « shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense. » Unfortunately, a Death Star isn’t on the horizon:
You certainly remember the allegedly revolutionary discovery of a bacterium using arsenic instead of phosphate to build its nucleic acids. Arsenic is a poison, and phosphate is mandatory for life. Thus, this alien, « the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic » as presented during the NASA HQs press conference, was supposed to be an alien constituting a paradigm shift, etc. — you remember the hype. The alien that wasn’t one as I already summed up critics shortly after the paper was published (ici en français). The story received an incredible media coverage as well as a huge number of comments from other fellow scientists. A few months after the paper was published in Science, follow-up studies revealed the bacterium does require phosphate — even though in small amounts — to be able to grow and sustain life.
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