Notes on the Paradigm Crisis

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Re: Notes on the Paradigm Crisis

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Sun Aug 11, 2013 2:35 pm

Luther Blissett » Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:33 am wrote:This is a few months old, but I couldn't find any mention of it here.

Strange 'Methuselah' Star Looks Older Than the Universe
by Mike Wall, Senior Writer | March 07, 2013 04:20pm ET

The oldest known star appears to be older than the universe itself, but a new study is helping to clear up this seeming paradox.

Previous research had estimated that the Milky Way galaxy's so-called "Methuselah star" is up to 16 billion years old. That's a problem, since most researchers agree that the Big Bang that created the universe occurred about 13.8 billion years ago.

Now a team of astronomers has derived a new, less nonsensical age for the Methuselah star, incorporating information about its distance, brightness, composition and structure.

"Put all of those ingredients together, and you get an age of 14.5 billion years, with a residual uncertainty that makes the star's age compatible with the age of the universe," study lead author Howard Bond, of Pennsylvania State University and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, said in a statement.

The uncertainty Bond refers to is plus or minus 800 million years, which means the star could actually be 13.7 billion years old — younger than the universe as it's currently understood, though just barely.

A mysterious, fast-moving star

Bond and his team used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to study the Methuselah star, which is more formally known as HD 140283.

Scientists have known about HD 140283 for more than 100 years, since it cruises across the sky at a relatively rapid clip. The star moves at about 800,000 mph (1.3 million km/h) and covers the width of the full moon in the sky every 1,500 years or so, researchers said.

The star is just passing through the Earth's neck of the galactic woods and will eventually rocket back out to the Milky Way's halo, a population of ancient stars that surrounds the galaxy's familiar spiral disk.

The Methuselah star, which is just now bloating into a red giant, was probably born in a dwarf galaxy that the nascent Milky Way gobbled up more than 12 billion years ago, researchers said. The star's long, looping orbit is likely a residue of that dramatic act of cannibalism.

Hubble's measurements allowed the astronomers to refine the distance to HD 140283 using the principle of parallax, in which a change in an observers' position — in this case, Hubble's varying position in Earth orbit — translates into a shift in the apparent position of an object.

They found that Methuselah lies 190.1 light-years away. With the star's distance known more precisely, the team was able to work out Methuselah's intrinsic brightness, a necessity for determining its age.

The scientists also applied current theory to learn more about the Methuselah star's burn rate, composition and internal structure, which also shed light on its likely age. For example, HD 140283 has a relatively high oxygen-to-iron ratio, which brings the star's age down from some of the earlier predictions, researchers said.

In the end, the astronomers estimated that HD 140283 was born 14.5 billion years ago, plus or minus 800 million years. Further observations could help bring the Methuselah star's age down even further, making it unequivocally younger than the universe, researchers said.

The new study was published last month in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Follow Mike Wall @michaeldwall. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on ... verse.html
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Re: Notes on the Paradigm Crisis

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Thu Aug 15, 2013 4:40 pm

Via: ... -0814.html

Information theory — the discipline that gave us digital communication and data compression — also put cryptography on a secure mathematical foundation. Since 1948, when the paper that created information theory first appeared, most information-theoretic analyses of secure schemes have depended on a common assumption.

Unfortunately, as a group of researchers at MIT and the National University of Ireland (NUI) at Maynooth, demonstrated in a paper presented at the recent International Symposium on Information Theory (view PDF), that assumption is false. In a follow-up paper being presented this fall at the Asilomar Conference on Signals and Systems, the same team shows that, as a consequence, the wireless card readers used in many keyless-entry systems may not be as secure as previously thought.

In information theory, the concept of information is intimately entwined with that of entropy. Two digital files might contain the same amount of information, but if one is shorter, it has more entropy. If a compression algorithm — such as WinZip or gzip — worked perfectly, the compressed file would have the maximum possible entropy. That means that it would have the same number of 0s and 1s, and the way in which they were distributed would be totally unpredictable. In information-theoretic parlance, it would be perfectly uniform.

Traditionally, information-theoretic analyses of secure schemes have assumed that the source files are perfectly uniform. In practice, they rarely are, but they’re close enough that it appeared that the standard mathematical analyses still held.

“We thought we’d establish that the basic premise that everyone was using was fair and reasonable,” says Ken Duffy, one of the researchers at NUI. “And it turns out that it’s not.” On both papers, Duffy is joined by his student Mark Christiansen; Muriel Médard, a professor of electrical engineering at MIT; and her student Flávio du Pin Calmon.

The PDF in question:
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NASA’s Most Serious Management and Performance Challenges

Postby Allegro » Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:41 am


First, if you wish, refer Reinvigorating the Astrophysics Sounding Rocket Program: Strategic Investment in the Future of Space Astronomy Position paper prepared by the NASA Astrophysics Sounding Rocket Assessment Team (ASRAT)
15 March 2009 | 13 pp. pdf

At the bottom of the Röntgensatellit (ROSAT) wiki page, is a link to the 15 pp. pdf, from which the summary of challenges in a cover memo was authorized by Mr. Robert W. Cobb, NASA Inspector General until April, 2009.

The unambiguous justification for the paper, as stated by Mr. Cobb in 2007, can be read in his final paragraph at the bottom of this post. Highlights herein are mine.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Office of Inspector General
Washington, DC 20546-0001
November 13, 2007

TO: Administrator
FROM: Inspector General
SUBJECT: NASA’s Most Serious Management and Performance Challenges

    As required by the Reports Consolidation Act of 2000, these are our views of the most serious management and performance challenges facing NASA. Over the past year, NASA has been working to address these challenges and improve Agency programs and operations through various initiatives and by implementing recommendations made by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and other evaluative bodies, such as the Government Accountability Office (GAO). An overarching challenge concerns how NASA integrates diverse programmatic and institutional functions across geographically dispersed operations. Each of the five challenges listed below, and summarized in the enclosure, is colored by this overarching challenge.

    • Transitioning from the Space Shuttle to the Next Generation of Space Vehicles.
    Balancing schedule and resource constraints while maintaining the capabilities required to fly the Space Shuttle safely and effectively and, simultaneously, developing the next generation of space vehicles.

    • Managing Risk to People, Equipment, and Mission.
    Effectively managing risk, safety, and mission assurance controls to ensure reliable operations in the context of aggressive launch and mission schedules, funding limitations, and other future uncertainties.

    • Financial Management.
    Ensuring that the Integrated Enterprise Management Program (IEMP) improves NASA’s ability to efficiently provide reliable information to management, supports compliance with the Chief Financial Officers Act and other Federal requirements, and strengthens the Agency’s Internal Control Program to address continued problems such as NASA’s internal controls over property, plant, and equipment and materials (PP&E).

    • Information Technology (IT) Security.
    Improving management and operational and technical controls to protect the information and information systems vital to the Agency’s mission.

    • Acquisition and Contracting Processes.
    Developing adequate cost estimates, managing program costs, and ensuring that NASA is using the most advantageous acquisition and procurement strategies and safeguards to promote competition in contracting and to maximize the Agency’s ability to fulfill its missions.

    Transitioning from the Space Shuttle to the next generation of space vehicles remains on the list of challenges because of the complexity of balancing the human capital, equipment, and property needs of the Space Shuttle Program with the needs of the Constellation Program without compromising either program. The challenge arises within the framework of a projected 5-year gap between the last expected flight of the Space Shuttle in 2010 and the first projected flight of the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) in 2015.

    That 5-year period will challenge NASA’s ability to maintain employee skill sets, efficiently utilize its infrastructure and suppliers, and provide adequate support to the activities of the International Space Station (ISS). At issue is maintaining the critical skills now present in the Space Shuttle workforce throughout the remaining Shuttle flights while placing additional emphasis on defining the skill sets needed by the Constellation Program. NASA’s plans to rely on international partners and commercial providers during the 5-year gap period to provide the support necessary to operate the ISS will also be a challenge because the capabilities, schedules, and funding requirements for NASA, its international partners, and commercial cargo vehicles are not yet firm enough to ensure that the ISS mission objectives can be fulfilled.

    NASA’s role as the Nation’s leader in space and aeronautics research and development contains inherent risk management challenges. Continuing to confront the Agency are operational and safety risks and mitigating these risks is a continuous challenge.

    Even when the risk management system is robust, activities such as flying the Space Shuttle involves the acceptance of substantial amounts of risks. For example, notwithstanding risk mitigation efforts by the Agency subsequent to the Columbia accident and since return to flight, foam continues to liberate from the external tank and potentially threaten the orbiters and their crews. The alternative to managing (and accepting) the risk would be to permanently ground the Shuttles. Grounding has occurred for temporary periods to address specific issues or to conduct a comprehensive review of issues. However, grounding the Shuttles prior to the planned retirement of the Space Shuttle program in 2010 would result in a failure to accomplish the missions that have been laid out for the program over the next 3 years. The Agency’s willingness to accept risks, such as those associated with continued Shuttle flights to accomplish the mission, may reflect or it may exceed the Nation’s tolerance for such risk. NASA refers to the Shuttle as a test flight and experimental vehicle recognizing the risk inherent in the program. A misalignment between the risk NASA accepts and the Nation’s tolerance for such risk will bear no negative consequence so long as NASA’s risk acceptance is rewarded with successful flights. Were tragedy to strike again, however, the merits of manned space flight to the moon and Mars would likely be reevaluated.

    NASA programs are constantly challenged by risks introduced by fiscal and schedule tightening that result from internal weaknesses such as failing to adequately identify requirements prior to program execution and not adequately overseeing contractor performance. NASA programs are also challenged by risks associated with the reprioritization of resources to meet continually evolving demands. These pressures can be manifest in subtle and incremental ways. These fiscal challenges are not new and NASA’s past difficulty in developing systems within cost, schedule, and performance parameters are well documented.

    NASA’s financial management remains on the list of challenges because of continued internal control problems affecting the Agency’s ability to produce complete and accurate financial statements and provide sufficient evidence to support statements throughout the fiscal year. These deficiencies have resulted in a disclaimer of opinion on its financial statements by Independent Public Accountant audits since FY 2003. Many of the deficiencies the audits disclosed resulted from a lack of effective internal control procedures and data integrity issues. Although NASA has made progress in addressing these deficiencies, during FY 2007, the auditors noted that similar inadequacies still exist.

    Two of the most significant deficiencies involve the financial statement preparation process and NASA’s internal controls over property, plant, and equipment and materials (PP&E). NASA’s financial statement preparation process contains deficiencies affecting NASA’s ability to effectively accumulate, assemble, and analyze information to timely develop its financial statements on a routine and recurring basis. Consistent with last year’s audit report, NASA’s ongoing PP&E weakness is a result of NASA relying primarily on a retrospective review of disbursements to determine amounts that should be capitalized with a heavy dependence on contractors to identify assets created at a contractor’s location.

    We have again included IT Security as a most serious management and performance challenge because our work and that of the Agency continues to report that significant weaknesses persist and many IT security challenges remain. Significant management and operational and technical control weaknesses continue to impact the Agency’s IT Security Program and threaten the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of NASA information and its systems. That threat is tangible in that the Agency continues to be a target for criminal computer intrusions. For example, NASA OIG recently investigated a series of unlawful computer intrusions into NASA’s Earth Observation System networks. Aside from the operational impact to the Agency‘s mission, such as the temporary suspension of automated processes, these intrusions cost NASA $1.5 million for incident mitigation and clean-up costs alone.

    Significant challenges include establishing an IT security internal control program; enhancing intrusion detection and computer forensics with incident management analysis; implementing improved NASA network security monitoring capabilities; and managing IT asset and Internet protocol addresses. Although these challenges are significant, NASA has taken tremendous steps in FY 2007 to bolster its IT security defenses. Despite the progress NASA has made in improving its IT Security Program, IT security is still a most serious management and performance challenge and is recognized by the Agency as a material weakness.

    Weaknesses in NASA’s acquisition and contracting processes pose significant challenges to NASA’s ability to make informed investment decisions. GAO reported that NASA still lacks a modern, fully implemented integrated financial management system to provide accurate and reliable information on contract spending, has undisciplined cost-estimating processes, and lacks the ability to obtain information needed to assess contract progress. Audits and investigations completed by OIG and GAO in FY 2007 also continued to reveal systemic problems in areas such as knowledge-based acquisitions and procurement process abuses. Challenges to the Agency include implementation of changes to its acquisition approach and preventing and deterring procurement fraud.

    In FY 2008, the OIG will continue to conduct work that focuses on NASA’s efforts to meet these challenges as part of our overall mission to promote the economy and efficiency of the Agency and to root out fraud, waste, and abuse.

    Robert W. Cobb
Art will be the last bastion when all else fades away.
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science and engineering treated as a commodity

Postby Allegro » Sun Oct 06, 2013 11:42 am


The subject line for this post is a paraphrase from Mr. Steven Battel’s quote in the third extract, below. The three extracts may be read in the original pdf paper, Reinvigorating the Astrophysics Sounding Rocket Program, which was also noted at the top of the previous post as well as originally posted in RI’s General Discussion.

My personal rant for the 21st century continues as a heart-felt acknowledgement for many creative and artistically creative people who must meticulously work with pressures for matching goals, percentages and quotas that are, as I think of them, ongoingly ubiquitous observations stored on supercomputers by behemoth, egregious corporations and corporate-like entities. Thus, human capacities are undeniably treated as patrolled commodities: a rancid dilemma.
Allegro » Mon May 13, 2013 12:45 am wrote:When I saw the words “sounding rockets” recently posted in various sites, I spent an inordinate amount of hours for research, because the word sound gets my full attention these days when its context is science. The pdf papers I found online divulged more than I had expected, and extracts from the paper below have shone light on historical information I had not over the years assumed.

A personal perspective. Oppressive adherences to goals, percentages and quotas continually generate a certain chaotic competitiveness, to a greater or lesser extent, between and within too many North American corporate offices populated by those salaried and contracted as well as upper managerial hierarchies—science-related or not, it seems.

Within astrophysics are matters of which I have no experience yet curiosities, and it’s in good faith that the following extracts from a pdf paper are submitted.

The highlights I’ve marked in here might be helpful due to the length of extracts. You’ll notice SpaceX’s mention in the final paragraph in the paper of origin.

Reinvigorating the Astrophysics Sounding Rocket Program:
Strategic Investment in the Future of Space Astronomy Position paper prepared by the NASA
Astrophysics Sounding Rocket Assessment Team (ASRAT)
15 March 2009 | pdf 13 pp total

< begin extracts >

    Executive Summary - The Astrophysics Sounding Rocket program has had, and will continue to have, a profound impact on the success of the nation’s space science program. It provides fresh and timely scientific seeds, critical technology development, and irreplaceable recruitment and training of future mission leaders. However, because of downsizing over the last two decades, NASA is in danger of losing this core capability. A rededication to this program will pay off dramatically in the scope, cost-effectiveness, and scientific disco very potential of NASA’s future medium and large missions. Moreover international competitiveness is a true challenge today. With the increasing activity of the Chinese and Indian governments in space related activities, the pressure to remain at the forefront of aerospace technology is increasing. A well-trained and experienced work force is a national priority. Our assessments are:

    Assessment 1: Programmatics.
    1a) Size. NASA should maintain a bare minimum of a dozen well-funded astrophysics sounding rocket programs and set a goal of raising the number to twenty groups over time.
    1b) Selections. Sounding Rocket selections should balance short-term and long-term science potential. There is benefit of closer alignment of strategic missions and technology/training potential of Astrophysics Sounding Rocket Program.
    1c) Renewal. Initiate a Young Rocket Scientist Program that provides stable funding for 7 years to support the formation of new Sounding Rocket groups.

    Assessment 2:
    Orbital Sounding Rockets. Initiate a highly competitive but stable Orbital Sounding Rocket (OSR) program, whose purpose is to launch science payloads (~1000 lb) into low Earth orbit frequently (1/yr) at low cost, with a mission duration of 1-30 days. Payload selection would be based on scientific merit and use of proven sounding rocket instruments.

    < snip >

    1. Overview [page 3]
    The early days of NASA space astrophysics were heady times of excitement and discovery. The NASA Sounding Rocket program played a central role in this drama. Early rockets gave us the discovery of x-rays from an extra-solar source, the discovery of the x-ray background, the first UV spectrum of a quasar, and the first extreme ultraviolet spectrum of a dying star. Sounding rockets provided a platform for quick access to space to test exciting and powerful if immature new technologies and instrument concepts that could break open new areas of science. Sounding rockets provided an irresistible venue for talented young experimenters to test new ideas and approaches as students, post-docs, and young faculty. This fertility and vitality attracted the best experimenters of their generation to enter Space Science, providing the future leaders of complex and demanding orbital missions.

    While astrophysics has grown enormously in the last three decades, the Astrophysics Sounding Rocket Program (ASRP) has suffered from attrition, diminished funding, and a lowered scientific profile in comparison to NASA’s large portfolio of successful astrophysics missions. It has become a challenge to build new experiments that obtain cutting-edge science from 5 minutes of sounding rocket data. The number of active astrophysics sounding groups is greatly diminished, and the number of flights per year has dropped to a handful. The Astrophysics Sounding Rocket Assessment Team (ASRAT) has been charged with evaluating the role of the ASRP in the NASA Strategic Roadmap, and to recommend changes to the program to fulfill its critical strategic potential.

    We find that in the present day, as missions grow in scale, complexity and development time, the unique contribution of the ASRP is more critical than ever. The huge expense of major missions can only be justified if the technology required to make orders of magnitude gains is ready years before the launch of the mission. Frequent ASR flights provide both the motivation to develop the highest performance technology (to squeeze the most exciting science from minutes of data), and the platform on which to test it. Perhaps even more importantly, the synoptic training provided while designing and flying a sounding rocket maintains a cadre of experienced people that cannot be duplicated. This experience encompasses the full range of issues that any space mission faces, and forces deep thinking about the balance of science, cost, and risk. The broad opportunities and freedom of the program attract capable and versatile talent that otherwise might be lost to other fields. The level of success of many NASA missions can be traced directly to the presence or absence of such experience in leadership positions. The long chain of experience originating in the early days of the space program is in danger of being broken.

    The NASA Astrophysics Program has long held a position of world leadership in observational capabilities and scientific advancement. We have taken as our overarching goal the continued renewal of this achievement. Our recommendations flow from the desire to maintain ASR as a unique source of new science and technology, and a training ground for new talent that NASA can leverage to accomplish goals that are literally out of this world. We commend NASA’s recent moves to revitalize the ASRP by increasing flight frequency and urge that those initial efforts be fully actualized and sustained over time. We believe that to maintain vitality a minimum flight rate must be set to effectively utilize ASRP in the pursuit of NASA priorities.

    < snip >

    3. State of the Profession [page 8]
    3.1 Workforce at Risk
    The foundation of NASA success is its creative and experienced work force, built through years of experience in designing, qualifying, and flying space flight hardware. This foundation is being eroded on two fronts. Retirement is decreasing the ranks of those with the most experience, and today’s generations are choosing alternate careers where they perceive more opportunities. The current leaders of the aerospace community recognize this:
      The space workforce is fundamentally a craft-based “guild”, where knowledge is passed from generation to generation. However ... process-profit focus has profoundly affected the aerospace workforce ... science and engineering is treated as a commodity ...[which]... has broken ... the generation-to-generation training thread within the entire aerospace enterprise.’ Steven Battel, 2008 – President, Battel Engineering

    The breaking of the generation-to-generation thread is an erosion of our competitive position as noted in the National Academy of Sciences Study entitled, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future,”
      ‘In a world where advanced knowledge is widespread and low-cost labor is readily available, U.S. advantages in the marketplace and in science and technology have begun to erode. A comprehensive and coordinated federal effort is urgently needed to bolster U.S. competitiveness and pre-eminence in these areas.’ Norman R. Augustine (Chair) 2007 - Retired Chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation

    A federally coordinated effort is required to recruit and train new talent that will execute future, ever more complex, space missions. Industry alone cannot do this. A matrix-based organization, driven by market forces, cannot afford to educate and mature multidisciplinary system engineers with the breadth of experience necessary to define and lead complex space missions - it is just not cost effective.

    A sounding rocket investigation requires that every scientist and engineer function at a system level, in contrast to aerospace industry practice. The result is a team of broadly-trained experimentalists: each member understands how a mission is conceived, how requirements are derived and designs defined, and ultimately how to execute a successful space mission. Experimentalists armed with this complete mission perspective provide the backbone of program leadership required to guide a larger team through the diverse and demanding process of building space flight hardware. Leaders armed with this experience know how to balance cost, risk, and performance for the overall benefit of the program.
      In general, students with hands-on experience—ones that suffer through the pain of designing something, struggling to make/fabricate/build the system, figure how to ... test them, fly them and even enjoy the possibility of a failure (and if it fails the drive to find the why)—are worth their weight in gold.’ Gopal Vasudevan, Sr. Staff Scientist, Lockheed Martin ATC 2008

< end extracts >
Art will be the last bastion when all else fades away.
~ Timothy White (b 1952), American rock music journalist
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Re: Notes on the Paradigm Crisis

Postby Joao » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:08 am

No conversation about paradigmatic shift is complete without the perspective brought by Immanuel Wallerstein, whose work I have found extraordinarily cogent and enriching. The following are the barest of excerpts from a 1997 speech, meant only to pique interest--the entire thing is available through the link in the headline. Admittedly, I still found the complete text to be a bit rushed (and dated with regard to Japan) and I highly recommend Wallerstein's still brief but much more satisfying book, World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction. (The audiobook is available as a torrent.)

Contemporary Capitalist Dilemmas, the Social Sciences, and the Geopolitics of the Twenty-first Century
Keynote speech at Colloquium of the Japan Sociological Society, Tokyo, Sept. 24, 1997
Immanuel Wallerstein

We are at a triple turning-point. World capitalism is facing a long-term structural squeeze on profits, and its major institutional prop, the modern state, is under severe attack. The structure of knowledge that has been produced in this capitalist world-system and has served as its intellectual underpinnings is also under severe attack. And the interstate container of the system is going through one of its periodic restructurings, but this time it is as likely to decenter the system as to hold it together. In short, we are not at an ordinary moment of reshuffling within the framework of the existing system but rather at a moment of transition, of the demise of one kind of system and of the gestation of another.


[T]he curve designating the percentage of the globe into which there exist possible zones of relocation is reaching an asymptote.... [...] And as the number of such zones diminish, the worldwide bargaining power of workers increases. This has resulted in a worldwide [long-term] trend of increase in the wage bill.


The same problem of an asymptote limiting a trend is visible in the tax bill. [...] The pressures on the states to spend more but simultaneously tax less is what we mean by the "fiscal crisis of the states."


There is a third curve that is reaching an asymptote. It is the curve of exhaustion of the conditions of survival. The demand for attention to the ecological damage to the biosphere has become very strong in recent decades.


We have entered into a parallel critical moment for the structures of knowledge. The dilemmas of the structures of knowledge may seem to be rather remote from the squeeze in capitalist profits, but both endless capital accumulation and modern science are part and parcel of a particular historical system, and must necessarily be affected by the stability of this system. Since the modern world-system is entering a period of demise and transition to a successor world-system (or systems), the structures of knowledge are inevitably undergoing a transition as well.


Complexity studies and cultural studies are approaching each other in the arena of the social sciences, and thereby lay the basis for the establishment of a new reunified epistemology, in which adventure the social sciences are destined to play the crucial mediating role. It will have to be an epistemology based on the "end of certainties," to use Prigogine's expression. It will have to be an epistemology that refuses the Cartesian separation of humans and nature - their separation as objects of study, their separation as realities that operate in fundamentally different ways, their separation in terms of the role of the scholar (who is irremediably rooted in his physical and social reality). It will have to be an epistemology that gives pride of place to the concept of creativity, and therefore to the study of historical choice. It will then be an epistemology that can assist us in the transition from our existing world-system to a successor system (or systems), a system one may hope (but not be certain) will be more substantively rational than our present one.


The ability of some new hegemonic power to come forward in this context seems very constrained by the crumbling basis of such attempts, the endless accumulation of capital.

What is far more likely is that the difficult times ahead constitute a transition from the existing world-system to some new kind of historical system. Such a transition is by definition uncertain in outcome, and even in direction.
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Re: Notes on the Paradigm Crisis

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Mon Oct 28, 2013 2:51 pm

Nothing strictly new, some tedious moralizing, but an MSM overview of the problem and thus it is included here...

Via: ... z2j2lC4j00

Science has lost its way, at a big cost to humanity
By Michael Hiltzik

In today's world, brimful as it is with opinion and falsehoods masquerading as facts, you'd think the one place you can depend on for verifiable facts is science.

You'd be wrong. Many billions of dollars' worth of wrong.

A few years ago, scientists at the Thousand Oaks biotech firm Amgen set out to double-check the results of 53 landmark papers in their fields of cancer research and blood biology.

The idea was to make sure that research on which Amgen was spending millions of development dollars still held up. They figured that a few of the studies would fail the test — that the original results couldn't be reproduced because the findings were especially novel or described fresh therapeutic approaches.

But what they found was startling: Of the 53 landmark papers, only six could be proved valid.

"Even knowing the limitations of preclinical research," observed C. Glenn Begley, then Amgen's head of global cancer research, "this was a shocking result."

Unfortunately, it wasn't unique. A group at Bayer HealthCare in Germany similarly found that only 25% of published papers on which it was basing R&D projects could be validated, suggesting that projects in which the firm had sunk huge resources should be abandoned. Whole fields of research, including some in which patients were already participating in clinical trials, are based on science that hasn't been, and possibly can't be, validated.

"The thing that should scare people is that so many of these important published studies turn out to be wrong when they're investigated further," says Michael Eisen, a biologist at UC Berkeley and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The Economist recently estimated spending on biomedical R&D in industrialized countries at $59 billion a year. That's how much could be at risk from faulty fundamental research.

Eisen says the more important flaw in the publication model is that the drive to land a paper in a top journal — Nature and Science lead the list — encourages researchers to hype their results, especially in the life sciences. Peer review, in which a paper is checked out by eminent scientists before publication, isn't a safeguard. Eisen says the unpaid reviewers seldom have the time or inclination to examine a study enough to unearth errors or flaws.

"The journals want the papers that make the sexiest claims," he says. "And scientists believe that the way you succeed is having splashy papers in Science or Nature — it's not bad for them if a paper turns out to be wrong, if it's gotten a lot of attention."

Eisen is a pioneer in open-access scientific publishing, which aims to overturn the traditional model in which leading journals pay nothing for papers often based on publicly funded research, then charge enormous subscription fees to universities and researchers to read them.

But concern about what is emerging as a crisis in science extends beyond the open-access movement. It's reached the National Institutes of Health, which last week launched a project to remake its researchers' approach to publication. Its new PubMed Commons system allows qualified scientists to post ongoing comments about published papers. The goal is to wean scientists from the idea that a cursory, one-time peer review is enough to validate a research study, and substitute a process of continuing scrutiny, so that poor research can be identified quickly and good research can be picked out of the crowd and find a wider audience.

PubMed Commons is an effort to counteract the "perverse incentives" in scientific research and publishing, says David J. Lipman, director of NIH's National Center for Biotechnology Information, which is sponsoring the venture.

The Commons is currently in its pilot phase, during which only registered users among the cadre of researchers whose work appears in PubMed — NCBI's clearinghouse for citations from biomedical journals and online sources — can post comments and read them. Once the full system is launched, possibly within weeks, commenters still will have to be members of that select group, but the comments will be public.

Science and Nature both acknowledge that peer review is imperfect. Science's executive editor, Monica Bradford, told me by email that her journal, which is published by the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science, understands that for papers based on large volumes of statistical data — where cherry-picking or flawed interpretation can contribute to erroneous conclusions — "increased vigilance is required." Nature says that it now commissions expert statisticians to examine data in some papers.

But they both defend pre-publication peer review as an essential element in the scientific process — a "reasonable and fair" process, Bradford says.

Yet there's been some push-back by the prestige journals against the idea that they're encouraging flawed work — and that their business model amounts to profiteering. Earlier this month, Science published a piece by journalist John Bohannon about what happened when he sent a spoof paper with flaws that could have been noticed by a high school chemistry student to 304 open-access chemistry journals (those that charge researchers to publish their papers, but make them available for free). It was accepted by more than half of them.

One that didn't bite was PloS One, an online open-access journal sponsored by the Public Library of Science, which Eisen co-founded. In fact, PloS One was among the few journals that identified the fake paper's methodological and ethical flaws.

What was curious, however, was that although Bohannon asserted that his sting showed how the open-access movement was part of "an emerging Wild West in academic publishing," it was the traditionalist Science that published the most dubious recent academic paper of all.

This was a 2010 paper by then-NASA biochemist Felisa Wolfe-Simon and colleagues claiming that they had found bacteria growing in Mono Lake that were uniquely able to subsist on arsenic and even used arsenic to build the backbone of their DNA.

The publication in Science was accompanied by a breathless press release and press conference sponsored by NASA, which had an institutional interest in promoting the idea of alternative life forms. But almost immediately it was debunked by other scientists for spectacularly poor methodology and an invalid conclusion. Wolfe-Simon, who didn't respond to a request for comment last week, has defended her interpretation of her results as "viable." She hasn't withdrawn the paper, nor has Science, which has published numerous critiques of the work. Wolfe-Simon is now associated with the prestigious Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

To Eisen, the Wolfe-Simon affair represents the "perfect storm of scientists obsessed with making a big splash and issuing press releases" — the natural outcome of a system in which there's no career gain in trying to replicate and validate previous work, as important as that process is for the advancement of science.

"A paper that actually shows a previous paper is true would never get published in an important journal," he says, "and it would be almost impossible to get that work funded."

However, the real threat to research and development doesn't come from one-time events like the arsenic study, but from the dissemination of findings that look plausible on the surface but don't stand up to scrutiny, as Begley and his Amgen colleagues found.

The demand for sexy results, combined with indifferent follow-up, means that billions of dollars in worldwide resources devoted to finding and developing remedies for the diseases that afflict us all is being thrown down a rathole. NIH and the rest of the scientific community are just now waking up to the realization that science has lost its way, and it may take years to get back on the right path.
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Re: Notes on the Paradigm Crisis

Postby JackRiddler » Tue Oct 29, 2013 3:35 pm

Artice quoted by Wombaticus Rex » Mon Oct 28, 2013 1:51 pm wrote:"A paper that actually shows a previous paper is true would never get published in an important journal," he says, "and it would be almost impossible to get that work funded."


The demand for sexy results, combined with indifferent follow-up, means that billions of dollars in worldwide resources devoted to finding and developing remedies for the diseases that afflict us all is being thrown down a rathole. NIH and the rest of the scientific community are just now waking up to the realization that science has lost its way, and it may take years to get back on the right path.

Highlights two basic problems in the way science is done that I've mentioned before, both of which serve to constantly skew published findings:

1) No reward for confirming the findings of others.
2) No reward for falsifying your own hypothesis.

This plus the usual peacockry of capitalism and the spectacle make for a cutthroat competition.

I believe scientists should be funded just as well for failing to discover something new, or else the incentive to fake is overwhelming. Faking is not just falsifying evidence or lying outright (relatively unusual), but also exaggeration, hyping, self-deception, false framing, selective questioning, etc. etc.

The principle could be extended to consider the benefits to all of us if society had a baseline standard of living for all regardless of whether they work, produce useful things, or succeed in business or professions. This would take away most of the fear-driven material incentives to fake, bullshit, lie, steal, deceive, exaggerate, mislead, exploit, plunder, win at all costs, murder, etc.
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Re: Notes on the Paradigm Crisis

Postby Elihu » Tue Oct 29, 2013 4:27 pm

the incentive to fake is overwhelming.
faking is a one-off success story (a discreet event). an incentive to fake is a monopoly (an income stream).

consider the benefits to all of us if society had a baseline standard of living for all regardless of whether they work, produce useful things, or succeed in business or professions.
i'm considering

I believe scientists should be funded just as well for failing to discover something new
does the ratio of successful scientists affect the calculation of the baseline standard of living?
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Music Industry keeps “Underground Hip-Hop Music” Underground

Postby Allegro » Tue Nov 05, 2013 1:49 am

The author doesn’t mention a paradigm crisis or hauntology, but both are recognizable in this piece.

Why does the Music Industry keep “Underground Hip-Hop Music” Underground?
Timothy Alexander Guzman | Silent Crow News
Posted in Media & Entertainment, 22 September 2013

Music is everybody’s possession. It’s only publishers who think that people own it.
~ John Lennon

    The Corporate Music industry has had a monopoly on what youths from all around the world listen to. They have been controlling the thoughts and beliefs of our youths and even adults through their control of the music industry. The Music industry is a multi-billion dollar business. There are now “Big Three” record labels since 2012 that include Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group that dominate the market. They control the artist and set what percentage of the sales receipts they keep as profits. They also keep the competition between the major record labels at a minimum since they are already a monopoly.

    There are many underground hip-hop artists that the political and corporate elite don’t want the public to know about. They control what kind of music is produced and sold to the public. In an interview with Jay Woodson, organizer of National Hip Hop Political Convention (NHHPC) in Philadelphia with online news source The Final Call:

      FINAL CALL (FC): A recent study of rap songs and music videos on BET and MTV found that several major corporations advertise their products or services during programs that often expose explicit lyrics and images to children. I remember the time when the music industry and society held that rap and hip-hop music was just a fad that would pass. What’s happening now that “everyone” seems to be on board?

      JAY WOODSON (JW): What our options are in this political economy are options for profit, which benefits large corporations. This includes the entertainment industry. They give a very narrow message and image of what Black life is. It’s materialistic, about death, it’s about violence, and it’s about misogyny and any diverse or alternative messages and images of that, they don’t seem to support because they don’t find it profitable to have diverse aesthetics within the entertainment industry for people to purchase and to view on television. A lot of time when it comes down to critiquing BET and Viacom, we really need to look at the policy of communications. Like, we understand that the airways are owned by people, who give licenses through the Federal Communication Commission. With legislation that was passed in the mid-90s under Bill Clinton, Congress narrowed the plan for people to tap into the media. A lot of larger media bought up media in smaller markets and it narrowed the choices for smaller media or even public access to have cable programming or even local radio stations. So you have these large corporations such as Clear Channel giving such small packages of 20 songs that are played over and over again.

    Lauryn Hill is a Grammy award winning singer, songwriter, rapper and a former member of the Fugees explains how the music industry operates in a letter she wrote on Tumblr to the public about the music business and her tax evasion case where a judge sentenced her to 3 months in prison earlier this year:

      “For the past several years, I have remained what others would consider underground. I did this in order to build a community of people, like-minded in their desire for freedom and the right to pursue their goals and lives without being manipulated and controlled by a media protected military industrial complex with a completely different agenda. Having put the lives and needs of other people before my own for multiple years, and having made hundreds of millions of dollars for certain institutions, under complex and sometimes severe circumstances, I began to require growth and more equitable treatment, but was met with resistance. I entered into my craft full of optimism (which I still possess), but immediately saw the suppressive force with which the system attempts to maintain it’s control over a given paradigm. I’ve seen people promote addiction, use sabotage, black listing, media bullying and any other coercion technique they could, to prevent artists from knowing their true value, or exercising their full power. These devices of control, no matter how well intentioned (or not), can have a devastating outcome on the lives of people, especially creative types who must grow and exist within a certain environment and according to a certain pace, in order to live and create optimally.

      “I kept my life relatively simple, even after huge successes, but it became increasingly obvious that certain indulgences and privileges were expected to come at the expense of my free soul, free mind, and therefore my health and integrity. So I left a more mainstream and public life, in order to wean both myself, and my family, away from a lifestyle that required distortion and compromise as a means for maintaining it. During this critical healing time, there were very few people accessible to me who had not already been seduced or affected by this machine, and therefore who could be trusted to not try and influence or coerce me back into a dynamic of compromise. Individual growth was expected to take place unnaturally, or stagnated outright, subject to marketing and politics. Addressing critical issues like pop culture cannibalism or its manipulation of the young at the expense of everything, was frowned upon and discouraged by limiting funding, or denying it outright. When one has a prolific creative output like I did/do, and is then forced to stop, the effects can be dangerous both emotionally and psychologically, both for the artist and those in need of that resource. It was critically important that I find a suitable pathway within which to exist, without being distorted or economically strong-armed. During this period of crisis, much was said about me, both slanted and inaccurate, by those who had become dependent on my creative force, yet unwilling to fully acknowledge the importance of my contribution, nor compensate me equitably for it. This was done in an effort to smear my public image, in order to directly affect my ability to earn independently of this system. It took a long time to locate and nurture a community of people strong enough to resist the incredibly unhealthy tide, and more importantly see through it. If I had not been able to make contact with, and establish this community, my life, safety and freedom, would have been directly affected as well as the lives, safety and freedom of my family. Failure to create a non toxic, non exploitative environment was not an option.

      “As my potential to work, and therefore earn freely, was being threatened, I did whatever needed to be done in order to insulate my family from the climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism that I was surrounded by. This was absolutely critical while trying to find and establish a new and very necessary community of healthy people, and also heal and detoxify myself and my family while raising my young children. There were no exotic trips, no fleet of cars, just an all out war for safety, integrity, wholeness and health, without mistreatment denial, and/or exploitation. In order to liberate myself from those who found it ok to oppose my wholeness, free speech and integral growth by inflicting different forms of punitive action against it, I used my resources to sustain our safety and survival until I was able to restore my ability to earn outside of it!

      “When artists experience danger and crisis under the effects of this kind of insidious manipulation, everyone easily accepts that there was something either dysfunctional or defective with the artist, rather than look at, and fully examine, the system and its means and policies of exploiting/’doing business’. Not only is this unrealistic, it is very dark in its motivation, conveniently targeting the object of their hero worship by removing any evidence that they ‘needed’ or celebrated this very same resource just years, months or moments before. Since those who believe they need a hero/celebrity outnumber the actual heroes/celebrities, people feel safe and comfortably justified in numbers, committing egregious crimes in the name of the greater social ego. Ironically diminishing their own true hero-celebrity nature in the process.

      “It was this schism and the hypocrisy, violence and social cannibalism it enabled, that I wanted and needed to be freed from, not from art or music, but the suppression/repression and reduction of that art and music to a bottom line alone, without regard for anything else. Over-commercialization and its resulting restrictions and limitations can be very damaging and distorting to the inherent nature of the individual. I Love making art, I Love making music, these are as natural and necessary for me almost as breathing or talking. To be denied the right to pursue it according to my ability, as well as be properly acknowledged and compensated for it, in an attempt to control, is manipulation directed at my most basic rights! These forms of expression, along with others, effectively comprise my free speech! Defending, preserving, and protecting these rights are critically important, especially in a paradigm where veiled racism, sexism, ageism, nepotism, and deliberate economic control are still blatant realities!!!

      “Learning from the past, insulating friends and family from the influence of external manipulation and corruption, is far more important to me than being misunderstood for a season! I did not deliberately abandon my fans, nor did I deliberately abandon any responsibilities, but I did however put my safety, health and freedom and the freedom, safety and health of my family first over all other material concerns! I also embraced my right to resist a system intentionally opposing my right to whole and integral survival. I conveyed all of this when questioned as to why I did not file taxes during this time period. Obviously, the danger I faced was not accepted as reasonable grounds for deferring my tax payments, as authorities, who despite being told all of this, still chose to pursue action against me, as opposed to finding an alternative solution. My intention has always been to get this situation rectified. When I was working consistently without being affected by the interferences mentioned above, I filed and paid my taxes. This only stopped when it was necessary to withdraw from society, in order to guarantee the safety and well-being of myself and my family. As this, and other areas of issue are resolved and set straight, I am able to get back to doing what I should be doing, the way it should be done. This is part of that process. To those supporters who were told that I abandoned them, that is untrue. I abandoned greed, corruption, and compromise, never you, and never the artistic gifts and abilities that sustained me.”

    There are many “underground Hip-Hop artists that are politically conscious-driven such as Common, Flobots, Dead Prez, Rebel Diaz and many others. Lowkey is another underground Hip-Hop artist, a former member of Poisonous Poets, lives in the UK and has traveled the world in support of Anti-war and human rights causes. He announced last year that he will leave the Music Industry to pursue his studies. Lowkey is a rapper that can easily be distinguished from main stream rappers. He has numerous albums produced independently that include Dear Listener, Soundtrack to the Struggle and Uncensored. One of his most popular songs is called ‘Obama Nation’. He has toured the world with several rappers including Talib Kweli and Lupe Fiasco. He is an influential part of the underground world of Hip-Hop music transforming how rap music can be used to inform and educate people not to turn them into consumers. Lowkey is one of several rappers who are at the forefront. The main stream media does not mention Lowkey, instead they continue to play Hip-Hop music from the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z, Snopp Dog among many others. Their Music has no substance or positive meaning behind the lyrics. It is music that destroys the minds of urban youths. But according to the media whether based in the United States, Great Britain and Israel, all criticize Lowkey. The Jewish Chronicle Online describes in a 2011 article how Lowkey and other artists such as Elvis Costello can become a “Potential Nightmare” that can influence youths during an event organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign for the second anniversary of Operation Cast Lead and the Gaza conflict that killed thousands:

      One expert studying anti-Israel activity described the increasing influence of performers such as Lowkey as a “potential nightmare,” and compared the impact of his backing for the campaign to the effect of artists such as Annie Lennox and Elvis Costello attacking the Jewish state.

    Lowkey was heavily criticized by the Jewish Chronicle when it said “At last week’s rally he spoke of his pride at being an anti-Zionist and called Israel a “terrorist state”. The event organisers and audience later successfully persuaded him to perform his track “Long Live Palestine”, written during the Gaza conflict. It accuses Israel of bombing hospitals and mosques and criticises everyone from Barack Obama to Coca Cola and Huggies nappies. Fox news jumped on the bandwagon with Glen Beck mocking Lowkey when he danced and showed gang signs to his song “Terrorist? In his Website http://www. describes why he did what he did on his show:

      Sometimes a story comes along and it’s almost impossible to find the words to really capture what’s happening. More often than not, the story involves tragedy, riots, and possibly some kind of new world order/Edward Bernays “conspiracy”. Sometimes Glenn just breaks down in tears because of, well, anything really. It could be the death of the Republic, uncensored pictures of the Alamo, or the latest Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy. And sometimes the stories that take the words away involve Glenn dancing and throwing up gang signs.

    Is it a coincidence that big name rappers who are known throughout the world are sponsored by the biggest corporations in the world? Hip-Hop music gets nominated for the Grammy awards based on the number of sales and popularity of the rappers. Lowkey lives in London, the heart of the former empire known to support numerous causes especially the Palestinian struggle against Israel. What drives Lowkey to focus his music on human rights issues? In an interview conducted by ‘Ceasefire’ an independent political and cultural quarterly publication by Jody McIntyre, Lowkey was asked what has “hurt or inspired him the most?” He replied:

      “Well, I have been privileged enough to travel to many different countries, particularly doing what I do for a living, it is a real blessing. Recently I travelled to Australia, a nation founded upon the genocide of over 500+ separate nations, I heard some harrowing stories of what life has been like for the indigenous people of that land the last 223 years since Captain James Cook arrived there with a British flag. I learned that until the 1967 Referendum, the indigenous, native people of that land were considered “Fauna and Flora” ie Plants and Animals within Australian Law. True justice can only come with acknowledgement of the historical context within which we live. The fact that his date of arrival on the land is still celebrated as “Australia Day” shows that justice for the indigenous people of that land is something we all must fight for, especially those of us who are British citizens. Travelling and touring throughout the United States alongside my friend Norman Finkelstein, showed me that despite the constant manipulation by the mainstream media in that country, there are millions of US citizens who do NOT believe US security is dependent upon on its supremacy and global dominance.

      “There are millions of US citizens who do not believe it is a good idea to have over 1,000 military bases worldwide from Japan to Colombia to Diego Garcia, these people are just so marginalised in the mainstream discourse that in the rest of the world it is easy to forget they even exist. Being detained twice in Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv was an interesting experience; particularly the second time, when I was held for 12 hours. It made me realise that a state which is built upon the foundations of injustice will never feel secure. The ever-changing and diverse citizens of Israel will always be united by one thing and one thing only; fear. The IDF are a colonial force of scared teenage supremacists who would shoot at their own shadow. The worst thing about that, is that they are supplied with the most sophisticated weaponry on the face of this planet by the United States and Britain. Israel is a colonial supremacist state which is rapidly expanding, and the Zionist dream which Theodor Herzl had is still yet to be reached.”

    Many rappers in the West come from poor neighborhoods where crime, drugs and high incarceration rates affects their communities and do rap about “life in the ghetto”. But many rap about sex, drugs, prison and money. I have seen rap videos where they have numerous women on multi-million dollar yachts as Jay-Z’s video called ‘Big Pimpin’. According to Dr. Carolyn West, associate professor of psychology and the study of prevention of violence at the University of Washington said “What’s changed over time is the greater sexualization of hip-hop. Initially, it started off as a revolutionary form of music. Now, large corporations produce images that sell, and there is a blatant link between hip-hop and pornography” in a Pittsburg Post-Gazette article in 2008 called ‘Researcher cites negative influences of hip-hop.’ Rappers promote business agenda’s for the music industry where advertisements and propaganda prevail over young minds. Lowkey raps about real issues that affect life on earth. He wants his music to make a change in society. Why does the main stream media (MSM) and the Music industry criticize Lowkey? Why does the Jewish Chronicle Online call him and other musicians of consciousness a “Potential Nightmare?” Can Lowkey’s music inspire youth to seek change or the truth for that matter? Yes, the MSM and the music industry want to keep youths interested in issues that don’t matter. They want them to follow “Uninspiring rappers” who are about nothing. The majority of rappers are used by the major labels to sell propaganda. They use rappers to further demoralize people who have no idea what is happening in their communities and the world. Do music fans who follow main stream rappers know who Lowkey is? I doubt it. But I will bet that the state of Israel does. In 2009, Lowkey was detained in Israel, when he arrived in Tel Aviv’s airport for 9 hours. According to

      The musician had been travelling to Tel Aviv to take part in a series of charity shows in the country, including sites in Palestine and Palestinian refugee camps, to raise funds to help rebuild the Gaza Strip.

      He told NME.COM that his passport was confiscated at Tel Aviv airport on February 27, after which he was questioned, detained for nine hours then released.

      “As soon as I stepped off the plane with my AA guide to Israel tucked under my arm, I was pulled away to the side and interrogated as to why I was in Israel, by a man who wore no uniform identifying himself as any type of security but was clearly heavily armed,” Lowkey explained.

      “After this I carried on through to passport control. After giving over my British passport it was confiscated. I was then detained for nine hours. During this time I was interrogated about many aspects of my life, what the purpose of my trip was, where my parents are from and where I planned to go in Israel.

      “Eventually I was told my story was a lie and was subjected to a bout of the Israeli polices paranoid mind games. I was eventually released, knowing that no matter how frustrating what I just went through was, I knew that it was not even a miniscule fraction of the degradation Palestinian people are subjected to on a daily basis.”

    Lowkey and many other underground Hip-Hop artists are controversial to the corporate music world and even to average people who follow the main stream rappers. Some people may not like his style. People do have different tastes, styles or other musical preferences. All legitimate reasons.

    Hip-Hop is controlled by major corporations, they have a monopoly on several record labels mentioned earlier. Singer Cee-Loo even commented on how and why corporate influence is relevant to hip-hop music. In an interview with The Daily Beast, platinum recording artist, Cee-Lo commented on the current state of Hip-Hop and what is the agenda behind corporate control of the industry:

      “We don’t judge, but we acknowledge that acting and performing music are very kindred spirits. You write something down, go into a recording booth, and reenact the emotion onstage. At one point in time, there was a code of conduct: creed and credential. And I’ve said this before on Twitter, but hip-hop was once an Ivy League institution, and now it’s become a community college—you don’t need any qualifications to come on in. And, quite frankly, it can be a little embellished-upon. There’s a low entry level, and it’s become monotonous and congested. All you need to do is be able to rhyme “cat” and “hat,” and you can become an MC. But executives have a lot to do with the larger agenda to emasculate and colonize. I believe hip hop is being used in some mass way to influence underachievement. Maybe these individuals may not be aware of the larger agenda, and how they’re being puppeteered, but if they are, that’s even more shameful.”

    He is correct to point out that corporations “colonize” youth through music which promotes “underachievement” and depicts women in a negative way.

    Lowkey is an example of what major corporate record labels do not want people to listen to. Down below is one of Lowkey’s music videos which I recommend to those who never heard his music before. It is worth a listen.

    So I ask the question once again, why does the music industry keep “hip-hop underground music” underground?

    Here is Lowkey featuring Klashnekoff in ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’.

Listen to ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ Official Video.
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Shakeup in children’s music education

Postby Allegro » Sat Nov 16, 2013 11:05 pm

Highlights mine.

Shakeup in children’s music education has failed to bring significant benefits
Class playing and singing not taught in every school — and scales, chords and melody are rarely understood
The Guardian, by Haroon Siddique | Thursday 14 November 2013

    A radical shakeup in children’s music education has failed to have a significant impact on the quality of provision, with only a minority of pupils feeling the benefits, according to Ofsted.

    Music hubs took over responsibility for music education in September last year, but in a report published on Wednesday Ofsted says that in more than two-thirds of the schools it visited “there is little discernible difference from the support previously given by local authorities”.

    The hubs were championed by the government to tackle disparities in quality of provision. They were selected through a bidding process arranged by Arts Council England. In practice, many local authorities, who had been responsible for music education before, were chosen.

    The hubs’ tasks included giving every child the chance to learn a musical instrument and ensuring that every pupil sings regularly.

    Ofsted says many of the hubs have done valuable work in supporting those in ensembles outside the classroom, but were failing to promote music in schools for all pupils, including those who do not currently play an instrument.

    Most pupils still reach the age of 14 without understanding the basics of music such as time signatures, scales, chords and melody, unless they play an instrument, according to Ofsted.

    Robin Hammerton, national lead on music at the inspectorate, said: “More hubs need to be more focused on helping schools and challenging schools at improving their day-to-day curriculum.

    “We wouldn’t expect after a year that every school would be totally successful with improving lessons in school, but the disappointing thing is quite a few of the hubs haven’t begun very well.”

    The report found that, especially in large counties, hubs were failing to reach out to all eligible schools, despite receiving funding to do so. Part of the problem was perceived to be a lack of understanding and low expectations of music among senior staff.

    Ofsted called on the Department for Education and the Arts Council, which channels funding to the 123 hubs, to improve accountability and challenge hubs to deliver the best possible value for money.

    An Arts Council England spokeswoman welcomed the report’s acknowledgment of the hubs’ “transformative potential” and said it was already making the improvements suggested.

    “Raising quality drives everything we do and we are working with hubs to pilot new approaches to performance measurement, which will apply from next year,” she said.

    “We have taken the lead in establishing an advisory group with a focus on quality — set up to share good practice between hubs. We are also planning seminars in the new year, with Ofsted, to look at the continuing development of hubs and help them to develop effective school engagement plans.”

    She added that hubs were already in contact with about 70% of schools, which she described as a “positive start”.

    A DfE spokesman said: “For far too long, music education has been patchy across the country — but music hubs, part of our National Music Plan, are again placing it at the heart of school life.

    “Every child should experience high-quality music education. These are early days — Ofsted’s findings are based on just a quarter of the 123 hubs, which were assessed only a few months after opening. But Ofsted is clear that when hubs are properly run, they are already making a real difference.”
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Billy Bragg: ‘education reforms risk stifling creativity’

Postby Allegro » Sat Nov 16, 2013 11:25 pm

Highlights mine. Links in original.

GCSE: General Certificate of Secondary Education. There :) you go.

Billy Bragg: ‘education reforms risk stifling creativity’
The singer and left-wing activist used a lecture in memory of John Peel to criticise Michael Gove’s plans to scrap GCSEs
The Guardian, John Plunkett | Monday 12 November 2012 15.51 EST

    Singer Billy Bragg has warned that the government’s education reforms risk stifling creativity and leaving the pop charts the preserve of a well-off public school elite.

    Bragg used a lecture in memory of broadcaster John Peel in Salford to criticise education secretary Michael Gove’s plans to scrap GCSEs in favour of an English baccalaureate. He also turned his ire on and “culture-clogging shows” such as Simon Cowell’s The X Factor on ITV1.

    The singer and leftwing activist said the government’s proposed new education system threatened to exclude creative subjects from the core qualifications expected of 16-year-olds.

    “At a time of cuts to the education budget, the pressure on schools to dump subjects like music and drama in favour of those that offer high marks in performances tables will only grow,” said Bragg.

    He criticised the “insistence that knowledge is more important than creativity”, adding: “As Albert Einstein said, imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited while imagination embraces the whole world”.

    Bragg, delivering the second annual John Peel Lecture at the Radio Festival on Monday, said: “Under the English baccalaureate, with its reliance on a single end of course exam, the child with the creative imagination will always lose out to the child with the ability to recall knowledge learned by rote.

    “And it’s not just the creatively talented kids who will suffer. Evidence shows that pupils from low-income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to go on to higher education.

    “Young people do better in English and maths subjects if they study the arts. They are more easily employable, more likely to vote, to volunteer and to get a degree. You might add to that they will be more likely to get into the charts, too.”

    Bragg said there had been a “steady decline” over the past decade of state-educated artists getting into the top 10. He pointed to a magazine study which compared the charts from 1990, when 80% of artists were state educated, with 2010 when the charts were dominated by people who went to private schools.

    “A decent education in the arts will only be available to those able to pay for it,” said Bragg.

    “Now I realise that private education is something that no-one really wants to talk about in the UK,” he told the audience of radio and music industry executives in Salford.

    Politicians would rather lay the blame for inequality at the door of the underfunded state system than discuss the excessive influence of the privately educated.

    But the fact is that, for the first time since the 1960s, our society is dominated by the 10% of the population who go to private school.

    “The prime minister went to Eton; the archbishop of Canterbury went to Eton; the mayor of London went to Eton: even the man they tell me is the new Billy Bragg – Frank Turner – went to Eton.

    “Now you may be thinking here he goes – middle-aged Clash fan railing against the state of modern music. I don’t have anything against those who were sent to private schools by their parents – Peel himself went to Shrewsbury public school and Joe Strummer went to Westminster.

    “And my only real criterion when it comes to music is whether or not song moves me. This issue here is not one of social class, but of access.”

    Bragg called on the radio industry to take more risks with the music they played, like John Peel.

    “For teenagers today, the most obvious path to a career in the music industry would be the shiny floor TV talent shows which have come to dominate the schedules and the charts,” he said.

    “Yet the judgemental approach of culture-clogging shows like The X Factor is the diametrical opposite of what John Peel stood for. His only criterion was that the music he played had to be challenging – whether it was good or not he let his audience decide.

    “Now I realise that’s not a very good business model for some of you, that such eclectic programming sounds like commercial suicide, but lets not forget that Peel operated alongside mainstream broadcasters like Tony Blackburn and Steve Wright throughout his career at Radio 1.

    It’s about finding a balance between the comfort of the mainstream and the shock of the new.”

    Bragg used the example of Jake Bugg, the Clifton-born singer songwriter who went to number one in the UK with his self-titled debut album last month.

    Bugg broke through after his single was picked up by a presenter on his local radio station, BBC Radio Nottingham. It had previously come to the appearance of a local commercial station, Trent FM, but the station’s “unsigned” initiative was closed down after it was rebranded as part of Global Radio’s nationwide network, Capital FM, said Bragg.

    “When Jake Bugg got to No1, it made national news headlines – why?” asked Bragg.

    Because he never went to stage school nor graduated from the Brits Academy. He didn’t enter Britain’s Got Talent, not submit himself to the humiliations of The X Factor. Because he’s just an ordinary kid from a state school.

    “Should that make him an exception? I don’t think so.

    “I can’t believe that there aren’t plenty of articulate teenagers out there with an ear for a good tune and a chip on their shoulder who have something to say.

    Given the crucial role that radio played in bringing Jake Bugg to the attention of the music industry, and the good work that is being done to introduce new talent to the airwaves, why aren’t there more kids from his kind of background in the charts?”
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Youngsters are ignorant of classical music

Postby Allegro » Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:08 am

Queen’s official composer: youngsters are ignorant of classical music because of ‘elitist’ attitude
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies says centuries of great works could be lost to future generations more interested in “vacuous celebrity culture and inane talent shows”

The Telegraph, by Simon Johnson | 11:10PM GMT 17 Nov 2013

    The Queen’s official composer has warned that hundreds of thousands of British youngsters have never even heard of Beethoven or Mozart thanks to the education system’s “elitist” treatment of classical music.

    Sir Peter Maxwell Davies said the situation has reached a “serious tipping point” whereby centuries of great works could be lost to future generations more interested in “vacuous celebrity culture and inane talent shows.”

    He described the standard of music teaching in British schools as a “disgrace” and backed calls for every child to study classical works to help them better understand humanity.

    However, the 79-year-old said the same ignorance extended to other areas of learning, warning that many children are equally oblivious to the writings of Shakespeare or Dickens.

    The outspoken intervention by Sir Peter, who is one of the world’s greatest living composers, came after Nicola Benedetti, the acclaimed violinist, earlier this year made an outspoken attack on the state of music teaching.

    As part of the school curriculum, she said teachers should be encouraged to take children through symphonies by composers such as Beethoven, Sibelius, Dvorak and Mahler and explain the form in detail.

    Sir Peter, who has been Master of the Queen’s Music since 2004, said she was “absolutely right”, adding: “There are hundreds of thousands of youngsters who now have never even heard of Mozart or Beethoven. It is shocking and a disgrace that has been allowed to happen.

    “The same applies to Shakespeare and Dickens. It just shows what has gone wrong with areas of the educational system.”

    He said that both Right and Left-wing ministers have been responsible for the decline, arguing: “I’m afraid successive governments and local authorities have seen classical music as an elitist fringe activity.”

    Playing a musical instrument improves a child’s self-esteem, he argued, before attacking as “shameless” councils that charge for music tuition.

    It goes against the very ethos of widening music across all social classes. The danger is that music becomes the preserve of the better off – the parents who can afford to pay – while talented children from poorer families miss out,” he said.

    Warning about the impact of popular TV talent shows, which mainly focus on pop singers, Sir Peter warned: “We are in grave danger of losing – through not learning or experiencing – centuries of a wealth of wisdom and works.”

    The composer, who lives in Orkney, has recently been given the all-clear after a cancer battle and plans to stand down as the Queen’s composer in March next year.

    However, he said he plans to use his retirement to focus on helping make classical music more accessible to young people.

    Ms Benedetti, who last month won the best female artist at the Classic Brits, argued earlier this year it is ridiculous that classical music was marginalised in schools because of the perception that children do not find it “fun.”

    The 26-year-old, from West Kilbride, said: “Since when did everything have to be fun? Music can be fun and enjoyable, but it also provides a way to go as deep as you can into our history and our understanding of humanity.”
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Re: Notes on the Paradigm Crisis

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Tue Dec 10, 2013 11:02 am

Via: ... CMP=twt_fd

Nobel winner declares boycott of top science journals

Randy Schekman says his lab will no longer send papers to Nature, Cell and Science as they distort scientific process

Leading academic journals are distorting the scientific process and represent a "tyranny" that must be broken, according to a Nobel prize winner who has declared a boycott on the publications.

Randy Schekman, a US biologist who won the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine this year and receives his prize in Stockholm on Tuesday, said his lab would no longer send research papers to the top-tier journals, Nature, Cell and Science.

Schekman said pressure to publish in "luxury" journals encouraged researchers to cut corners and pursue trendy fields of science instead of doing more important work. The problem was exacerbated, he said, by editors who were not active scientists but professionals who favoured studies that were likely to make a splash.

The prestige of appearing in the major journals has led the Chinese Academy of Sciences to pay successful authors the equivalent of $30,000 (£18,000). Some researchers made half of their income through such "bribes", Schekman said in an interview.

Writing in the Guardian, Schekman raises serious concerns over the journals' practices and calls on others in the scientific community to take action.

"I have published in the big brands, including papers that won me a Nobel prize. But no longer," he writes. "Just as Wall Street needs to break the hold of bonus culture, so science must break the tyranny of the luxury journals."

Schekman is the editor of eLife, an online journal set up by the Wellcome Trust. Articles submitted to the journal – a competitor to Nature, Cell and Science – are discussed by reviewers who are working scientists and accepted if all agree. The papers are free for anyone to read.

Schekman criticises Nature, Cell and Science for artificially restricting the number of papers they accept, a policy he says stokes demand "like fashion designers who create limited-edition handbags." He also attacks a widespread metric called an "impact factor", used by many top-tier journals in their marketing.

A journal's impact factor is a measure of how often its papers are cited, and is used as a proxy for quality. But Schekman said it was "toxic influence" on science that "introduced a distortion". He writes: "A paper can become highly cited because it is good science - or because it is eye-catching, provocative, or wrong."

Daniel Sirkis, a postdoc in Schekman's lab, said many scientists wasted a lot of time trying to get their work into Cell, Science and Nature. "It's true I could have a harder time getting my foot in the door of certain elite institutions without papers in these journals during my postdoc, but I don't think I'd want to do science at a place that had this as one of their most important criteria for hiring anyway," he told the Guardian.

Sebastian Springer, a biochemist at Jacobs University in Bremen, who worked with Schekman at the University of California, Berkeley, said he agreed there were major problems in scientific publishing, but no better model yet existed. "The system is not meritocratic. You don't necessarily see the best papers published in those journals. The editors are not professional scientists, they are journalists which isn't necessarily the greatest problem, but they emphasise novelty over solid work," he said.

Springer said it was not enough for individual scientists to take a stand. Scientists are hired and awarded grants and fellowships on the basis of which journals they publish in. "The hiring committees all around the world need to acknowledge this issue," he said.

Philip Campbell, editor-in-chief at Nature, said the journal had worked with the scientific community for more than 140 years and the support it had from authors and reviewers was validation that it served their needs.

"We select research for publication in Nature on the basis of scientific significance. That in turn may lead to citation impact and media coverage, but Nature editors aren't driven by those considerations, and couldn't predict them even if they wished to do so," he said.

"The research community tends towards an over-reliance in assessing research by the journal in which it appears, or the impact factor of that journal. In a survey Nature Publishing Group conducted this year of over 20,000 scientists, the three most important factors in choosing a journal to submit to were: the reputation of the journal; the relevance of the journal content to their discipline; and the journal's impact factor. My colleagues and I have expressed concerns about over-reliance on impact factors many times over the years, both in the pages of Nature and elsewhere."

Monica Bradford, executive editor at Science, said: "We have a large circulation and printing additional papers has a real economic cost … Our editorial staff is dedicated to ensuring a thorough and professional peer review upon which they determine which papers to select for inclusion in our journal. There is nothing artificial about the acceptance rate. It reflects the scope and mission of our journal."

Emilie Marcus, editor of Cell, said: "Since its launch nearly 40 years ago, Cell has focused on providing strong editorial vision, best-in-class author service with informed and responsive professional editors, rapid and rigorous peer-review from leading academic researchers, and sophisticated production quality. Cell's raison d'etre is to serve science and scientists and if we fail to offer value for both our authors and readers, the journal will not flourish; for us doing so is a founding principle, not a luxury."
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All the King’s Men by Pravit Rojanaphruk

Postby Allegro » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:39 am

A few images and links in the original.

All the King’s Men, Pravit Rojanaphruk | October 11, 2013

As Thailand’s heavy-handed government continues to brutally stifle dissent against the monarchy, a rebel reporter learns that the most dangerous form of censorship is when it starts to feel normal.

    As I huddled with a group of colleagues at an undisclosed small private library in central Bangkok one recent evening, it suddenly dawned on me that I have unknowingly, if reluctantly, become a part of my country’s censorship culture.

    For those who are unfamiliar, Thailand’s draconian lese majeste law forbids people from defaming or insulting the king, queen or heir apparent, with a maximum prison sentence of fifteen years. A form of the law dates back to before the revolution of 1932, when the system of absolute monarchy was transformed into a constitutional one. However, it was very rarely invoked until 2006, when a military coup staged in the name of saving the throne ousted the elected prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, and ushered in an era of political instability and civil unrest.

    The stepped-up enforcement of lese majeste is in line with the current government’s efforts to control what information Thai citizens can and cannot access. Censorship here extends to tens of thousands of URLs, as well as some YouTube videos that are blocked by the authorities. And there is virtually no space for public criticism of the Thai monarchy or the role the royal family plays in society.

    Earlier this year, anti-coup activist Ekachai Hongkangwan, who sold copies of an Australian Broadcasting Corporation television documentary about the monarchy at a political rally in Bangkok, was sentenced to three years and four months in prison. A magazine editor, Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, is serving ten years for two articles he claims were written by a contributor—a former cabinet member in political exile abroad, having himself escaped prosecution under the same law for an earlier speech in Bangkok. An old man who set up a secondhand mobile bookstore at political gatherings is the latest “criminal” in the process of being charged for allegedly selling books defaming the monarchy.

    As I pen this article, roughly ten people are behind bars under the law—at least that’s how many we know of. The list of former prisoners of conscience under the law also includes nationals from the United States, Australia, Switzerland and Singapore.

    Back to that evening of epiphany: at a secret venue chosen to host a small group of activists, journalists and filmmakers, there was a screening of several short films critical of the monarchy, the official religion (Buddhism), and nationalism in general. I’d gotten a phone call from the organizers who told me to quietly come and not inform anyone else of the location; only those in the know, who could be completely trusted, were invited. And still, at the end of the night, I found myself warning organizers and filmmakers that some of the films they had just shown us could land them in prison under the lese majeste law.

    I openly acknowledged on that early September evening that the most fearful form of censorship is when it has become internalized and normalized by citizens—even citizens who oppose the laws. And I reluctantly have become one of these people by giving such a warning about the consequences of disobeying the law.

    This is not new, however, because every time I write or speak about the lese majeste law or the monarchy I have to censor myself in order to avoid landing in prison. (I have never been in prison, nor do I ever plan to be.) And this article that you are reading—even though it is primarily for foreign readers in the United States and beyond, and even though I promised to be as personal, frank and reflexive as I can be—is no exception.

    So our culture of censorship has evolved into a culture of self-censorship. While I openly condemn and challenge the law that has shut the ears and eyes of the Thai public, I also cooperate, doing my part by not speaking and not writing as frankly as I would love to.

    * * *

    Every evening at eight p.m., all the major free television networks in Thailand broadcast “royal news activities” for thirty minutes. Bookstores stock titles praising the king as a genius at practically everything he does, from music and painting to irrigation, invention and more. Large posters praising the king and queen adorn the fronts of buildings throughout the kingdom, while many citizens keep portraits of the royal couple displayed on the walls of their home. The giant revolving LCD panel atop Thailand’s tallest building, Baiyoke Tower II, in the heart of Bangkok’s tourism district—akin to New York’s Times Square—repeats the messages “Long Live the King” and “Love Live the Queen” in Thai and English, every night, in between ads for phone companies and a hotel—the perfect marriage of commercialism and cult of personality.

    So, not only is the current government, under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, unwilling to touch the law or amend it to bring it in line with international standards of freedom of speech and expression, but a large percentage of the population seems to possess an insatiable appetite for positive-only information that glorifies their king and queen.

    If Buddhism doesn’t have God, these Thais who claim to be Buddhists will invent one, so they can worship him, and the current king has almost become a God-like figure to them. It is as if they yearn to be proud of someone beyond any doubt. And to ensure that it’s beyond any uncertainty, the very act of doubting the king and queen in public must be made illegal and carry severe punishment. Even the most prominent leader of the royalist movement was recently sentenced to two years in prison for verbally reproducing the defamatory remarks made by an anti-monarchist.

    Even with the king in frail health at 86—having reigned since 1946, he is the world’s longest reigning monarch—and his successor, the Crown Prince, much less popular than his father, the vast majority of the mainstream media pretends there are no concerns or unease about the future of the Thai monarchy.

    I am among a handful of Thai journalists who keep warning the public about the risk of not subjecting the monarchy to realistic appraisal, scrutiny and criticism, as they do in the United Kingdom, Spain and elsewhere. You can’t possibly expect society to stay sane and functional if the most influential person in the country is completely off-limits to even the subtlest forms of criticism. (Criticism of Buddhism, meanwhile, remains sensitive but not unlawful.)

    I keep reminding the public of the steep price to be paid for overt glorification of the monarchy, which is reminiscent of North Koreans’ cult-of-leader worship. But it mostly falls on deaf ears. We can’t make much noise, for when I last counted, there are no more than five mainstream journalists who dare to speak out. For the most part, they are all well-educated and dedicated reporters, like Achara Ashayakachat of the Bangkok Post, who are not in senior management positions and therefore don’t receive any direct backlash from advertisers. But they all experience the same problem: once you speak out against the law, your career prospects are definitely at risk. You become a black sheep. There is no CIA-style disappearance or liquidation, as far as I am aware; but the most effective form of censorship is that which makes people feel that they still have freedom.

    On Twitter, where I often protest the lese majeste law, I have endured all forms of abusive responses, ranging from users calling me “un-Thai” or “China man” (while both of my parents were born in Thailand, I am ethnically half-Chinese), to labeling me a traitor to the nation, brainwashed by Western education, “liberty maniac,” and the son of a whore. One anonymous Twitter user who hinted that he is a soldier threatened to harm me and my young relatives while many simply told me to leave the kingdom and live elsewhere if I wasn't happy.

    In February of last year, Vorajaet Pakeerat, a leading constitutional law lecturer at Thammasat University in Bangkok, was physically assaulted by two men in the parking lot of the university. The two men later confessed to the police that they attacked him because of his prominent stance in igniting the public campaign to amend the law. Vorajaet suffered from minor bruises and was soon discharged from the hospital. Thirty-seven years ago, on October 6, 1976, dozens of student protestors from the same university never made it home alive—accused of being communists and wanting to abolish the monarchy, they were lynched to death by a mob of ultra-royalists, their bodies repeatedly humiliated and beaten in broad daylight. One particular photograph encapsulates what was arguably the darkest day of modern Thai history: It shows a sophomore male student hung to death by the angry mob on a tamarind tree; a man hurls a metal folding chair towards his lifeless body, while many members of the mob stand on and watch.

    Last year, an ultra-royalist cited seven of my commentaries that appeared in Thai on alternative on-line newspaper as alleged violation of the lese majeste law. The police decided not to pursue the complaint made against me, but only after a thorough questioning and an ordeal that lasted a year. The prosecution, however, can revive the case anytime they wish.

    And so the majority of the press has chosen to stick with the status quo—it’s risk-free, at least for themselves. Never mind what might happen to Thai society, which claims to be democratic but is unable to discuss its own issues critically. As I earlier wrote on alternative media outlet “Thailand is like a sick man who cannot discuss his own medical condition fully and openly. Like a patient who needs surgery but does not dare undergo medical examination, diagnosis and treatment, he waits bitterly, grudgingly and confounded as the pain mounts and the situation becomes increasingly untenable.”

    * * *

    In 2010, shortly after the government of the previous Prime Minister of Thailand, Abhisit Vejjajiva, claimed there was a conspiracy to overthrow the monarchy, nearly a hundred mostly unarmed anti-government protesters were killed. I was at the demonstrations a number of times, surrounded, under the cloak of darkness, by a sea of demonstrators who wore no masks—they hid by their sheer mass. On the night marking the four-month anniversary of the killings, I saw that much anti-monarchist graffiti had been painted on a temporary construction wall next to the rally site where a building was burned in the aftermath of the protest and killings. But none of the mainstream media dared to report on it. Those written messages were quickly removed and painted over, as if they never existed.

    I believe the media has to take sides. They have to side with the truth, no matter how ugly, complicated and ironic it may be. Alas, many prefer to play it safe, and if they are critical of the Thai monarchy at all, they do it through gossip—in private, behind closed doors, among friends and colleagues whom they can trust, at clandestine film screenings like the one I attended last month.

    So I am a minority, a black sheep among the media and the millions of Thais who are addicted to the incessant glorification of their king and queen. I take comfort in the fact that there are some other citizens who do oppose the law; more than 30,000 signatures were gathered in a failed bid to amend it last year. The president of the parliament refused to bring the petition up for discussion for fear of being branded as an anti-monarchist or even accused of wanting to overthrow the monarchy. And few foreign states are willing to publicly support the call to amend the law, so democratic-minded Thais have only ourselves to depend on.

    If we can’t have genuine freedom of expression in my lifetime, I will try to be one of the few who will chronicle this dark era of excess and paranoia while pushing for the limits of what the law would allow. For the past two years, I have been using Twitter to bypass certain levels of newspaper self-censorship to test the limits and, as a result, have endured near daily hate speech in an attempt to shut me up. Instead, these ultra-royalists have succeeded in reinforcing my recognition that I am facing a force of reactionary fear that borders on neo-fascism.

    And so I simply do what I can to make Thailand a freer and better place. We are fighting for our posterity, in hopes that, one day, Thais will speak freely and will not have to see things in black and white, given one-sided information like animals being fed at the trough. Gains may be incremental, but more and more Thais are becoming aware of the absurdity of this censorship.

    All I ask is for people to be treated with respect and allowed to express critical views. This would be in line with what we call ourselves: a democratic society. And while I know I have to censor myself, even while writing these words to you, I am also aware that to submit myself to such a predicament without resisting is tantamount to forfeiting my soul and humanity.

    The other option is prison or exile—and Thai prison is no Hilton or Holiday Inn. Although, in a sense, my country is already a giant prison of conscience, particularly for those who want to speak and write freely and publicly.

    * * *

    Pravit Rojanaphruk is a senior reporter at Bangkok-based The Nation, an English-language newspaper. He was educated in Manila and Oxford. The view expressed here is his own and has nothing to do with The Nation newspaper.

    Alexis Frederick-Frost spends too much of his time bent over a drafting table or squinting at a computer screen in his small apartment in Philadelphia. He illustrates the Adventures in Cartooning series of graphic novels and draws a monthly cartoon about the exploits of a worldly wise cat and ever eager dog for a British comic magazine. Sporadically he posts drawings @afrederickfrost.
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Re: Notes on the Paradigm Crisis

Postby Elvis » Sat Mar 01, 2014 4:51 pm

More for this important topic: The phony papers brought to light in this Nature article show 'technocracy' asleep at the wheel, and their true authors (at least some of the listed authors are apparently not the real authors, who used a gibberish generator) seem to be just testing the system to see if it's awake. But 120 bogus papers? -- accepted? -- by the esteemed likes of IEEE? The papers are easy to generate, so the number submitted might not be important, but the uncredible -- you might even say unbelievable -- lazininess of IEEE is harder to explain. Can the 'management' of science (in this case the gatekeeper journals) really have become that uncritical, that comfortable in its self-referential reality bubble? Reason has simply fallen asleep at the wheel?

Nature | News

Publishers withdraw more than 180 gibberish papers

Conference proceedings removed from subscription databases after scientist reveals that they were computer-generated.

Richard Van Noorden

24 February 2014 Updated: 25 February 2014

The publishers Springer and IEEE are removing more than 120 papers from their subscription services after a French researcher discovered that the works were computer-generated nonsense.

Over the past two years, computer scientist Cyril Labbé of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, has catalogued computer-generated papers that made it into more than 30 published conference proceedings between 2008 and 2013. Sixteen appeared in publications by Springer, which is headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, and more than 100 were published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), based in New York. Both publishers, which were privately informed by Labbé, say that they are now removing the papers.

Among the works were, for example, a paper published as a proceeding from the 2013 International Conference on Quality, Reliability, Risk, Maintenance, and Safety Engineering, held in Chengdu, China. (The conference website says that all manuscripts are “reviewed for merits and contents”.) The authors of the paper, entitled ‘TIC: a methodology for the construction of e-commerce’, write in the abstract that they “concentrate our efforts on disproving that spreadsheets can be made knowledge-based, empathic, and compact”. (Nature News has attempted to contact the conference organizers and named authors of the paper but received no reply*; however at least some of the names belong to real people. The IEEE has now removed the paper).

*Update: One of the named authors replied to Nature News on 25 February. He said that he first learned of the article when conference organizers notified his university in December 2013; and that he does not know why he was a listed co-author on the paper. "The matter is being looked into by the related investigators," he said.

How to create a nonsense paper

Labbé developed a way to automatically detect manuscripts composed by a piece of software called SCIgen, which randomly combines strings of words to produce fake computer-science papers. SCIgen was invented in 2005 by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge to prove that conferences would accept meaningless papers — and, as they put it, “to maximize amusement” (see ‘Computer conference welcomes gobbledegook paper’). A related program generates random physics manuscript titles on the satirical website arXiv vs. snarXiv. SCIgen is free to download and use, and it is unclear how many people have done so, or for what purposes. SCIgen’s output has occasionally popped up at conferences, when researchers have submitted nonsense papers and then revealed the trick.

Labbé does not know why the papers were submitted — or even if the authors were aware of them. Most of the conferences took place in China, and most of the fake papers have authors with Chinese affiliations. Labbé has emailed editors and authors named in many of the papers and related conferences but received scant replies; one editor said that he did not work as a program chair at a particular conference, even though he was named as doing so, and another author claimed his paper was submitted on purpose to test out a conference, but did not respond on follow-up. Nature has not heard anything from a few enquiries.

“I wasn’t aware of the scale of the problem, but I knew it definitely happens. We do get occasional e-mails from good citizens letting us know where SCIgen papers show up,” says Jeremy Stribling, who co-wrote SCIgen when he was at MIT and now works at VMware, a software company in Palo Alto, California.

“The papers are quite easy to spot,” says Labbé, who has built a website where users can test whether papers have been created using SCIgen. His detection technique, described in a study1 published in Scientometrics in 2012, involves searching for characteristic vocabulary generated by SCIgen. Shortly before that paper was published, Labbé informed the IEEE of 85 fake papers he had found. Monika Stickel, director of corporate communications at IEEE, says that the publisher “took immediate action to remove the papers” and “refined our processes to prevent papers not meeting our standards from being published in the future”. In December 2013, Labbé informed the IEEE of another batch of apparent SCIgen articles he had found. Last week, those were also taken down, but the web pages for the removed articles give no explanation for their absence.

Ruth Francis, UK head of communications at Springer, says that the company has contacted editors, and is trying to contact authors, about the issues surrounding the articles that are coming down. The relevant conference proceedings were peer reviewed, she confirms — making it more mystifying that the papers were accepted.

The IEEE would not say, however, whether it had contacted the authors or editors of the suspected SCIgen papers, or whether submissions for the relevant conferences were supposed to be peer reviewed. “We continue to follow strict governance guidelines for evaluating IEEE conferences and publications,” Stickel said.

A long history of fakes

Labbé is no stranger to fake studies. In April 2010, he used SCIgen to generate 102 fake papers by a fictional author called Ike Antkare [see pdf]. Labbé showed how easy it was to add these fake papers to the Google Scholar database, boosting Ike Antkare’s h-index, a measure of published output, to 94 — at the time, making Antkare the world's 21st most highly cited scientist. Last year, researchers at the University of Granada, Spain, added to Labbé’s work, boosting their own citation scores in Google Scholar by uploading six fake papers with long lists to their own previous work2.

Labbé says that the latest discovery is merely one symptom of a “spamming war started at the heart of science” in which researchers feel pressured to rush out papers to publish as much as possible.

There is a long history of journalists and researchers getting spoof papers accepted in conferences or by journals to reveal weaknesses in academic quality controls — from a fake paper published by physicist Alan Sokal of New York University in the journal Social Text in 1996, to a sting operation by US reporter John Bohannon published in Science in 2013, in which he got more than 150 open-access journals to accept a deliberately flawed study for publication.

Labbé emphasizes that the nonsense computer science papers all appeared in subscription offerings. In his view, there is little evidence that open-access publishers — which charge fees to publish manuscripts — necessarily have less stringent peer review than subscription publishers.

Labbé adds that the nonsense papers were easy to detect using his tools, much like the plagiarism checkers that many publishers already employ. But because he could not automatically download all papers from the subscription databases, he cannot be sure that he has spotted every SCIgen-generated paper.

doi:10.1038/nature.2014.14763 ... NatureNews

Referenced above, from 2005:


Nature 434, 946 (21 April 2005) | doi:10.1038/nature03653; Published online 20 April 2005

Computer conference welcomes gobbledegook paper

Philip Ball
Top of page

Researchers vent feelings through spoof submissions

Most graduate students would be delighted to have a paper accepted for presentation at an international scientific conference. But Jeremy Stribling, a computer-science graduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, wasn't sure whether to be amused or alarmed.

His paper, "Rooter: a methodology for the typical unification of access points and redundancy", co-authored with Daniel Aguayo and Maxwell Krohn, was accepted for the 9th World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI), to be held in Florida, in July. But Stribling didn't write it; he let a computer do it.

Stribling and his colleagues have developed an 'automatic computer-science paper generator' that cobbles together articles adorned with randomly generated graphs. The 'results' are totally spurious.

The MIT researchers say they hoped to cause "maximum amusement" by aping the jargon of the less illustrious papers in computer science. But they also had a more serious goal: to test whether such meaningless manuscripts could pass the screening procedure for conferences that, they feel, exist simply to make money.

'Rooter' passed the test: the WMSCI accepted it, albeit without peer review. The paper claims, among other things, that "the famous ubiquitous algorithm for the exploration of robots by Sato et al. runs in Omega((n+log n)) time".

It's not the first example of a hoax paper aimed at exposing poor reviewing and meaningless jargon. In 1996, US physicist Alan Sokal published a paper on the "hermeneutics of quantum gravity" in the journal Social Text. Sokal's paper parodied the post-modernist language of some contributions to that publication and prompted a vigorous debate about the intellectual respectability of 'cultural studies'.

The WMSCI conferences have been running for ten years, and last year's meeting attracted nearly 3,000 papers. WMSCI 2005 advertises itself as "trying to bridge analytically with synthetically oriented efforts, convergent with divergent thinkers".

The MIT team regards it as one of many conferences that have no scientific function and sell themselves through indiscriminate e-mails. "You see lists of speakers, and there's no one you've ever heard of," says Stribling. "They spam us."

Such conferences have sparked anger in the field, as demonstrated by a WMSCI submission from David Mazières of New York University and Eddie Kohler of the University of California, Los Angeles. The title, text and figures of their ten-page paper consist entirely of the phrase "Get me off your fucking mailing list".

"I don't know why these conferences exist," adds Frans Kaashoek, a member of the MIT computer-science group to which Stribling and his colleagues belong.

But the WMSCI's general chairman, Nagib Callaos, who is based in Venezuela and has no listed academic affiliation, has defended the conference's decision. "We did not receive reviews for some papers," Callaos says. "Since we thought that it was not fair to reject those, we accepted them as non-reviewed ones." The MIT paper has now been pulled ... 03653.html
"Frankly, I don't think it's a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous."
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