Richard P Grant and his BioLOG (biolog); the wee blog, weblog, or web blog; things not necessarily biology related. The anti-blogger.


20 October 2010

Open letter to Simon Hughes, MP

Dear Simon

Thank you for signing Early Day Motion 767. This implies your support continued (if not increased) public funding of scientific research, along with many of your colleagues in the Coalition. Today we learned that science funding has been ring-fenced for the next four years. While I am happy that science funding has not borne the brunt of the CSR’s bad news, it is disappointing that your administration has not seen fit to invest in an area proven to deliver economic growth.

But that is not why I am writing today. I helped organize the Science is Vital campaign, which saw over two thousand scientists and their supporters demonstrating outside the Treasury on Saturday 9 October. We arranged a lobby of Parliament and filled Committee Room 10 with over 100 constituents and some two dozen MPs. More MPs sent representatives. We delivered a petition of nearly 34,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street two days later. I wrote to you asking if you would care to meet me at the lobby—as did at least one other member of your constituency. We filed a green card to let you know we were there. You did not turn up, nor even have the grace to send a message.

Now, I know that Vince Cable was speaking to the House at that time. We waited until questions had finished, waited until the chamber had emptied. You, I am told by somebody who saw you, met with other members of your party in the committee room next door—yet you did not attempt to meet me.

I also wrote to you last May, about libel reform. You didn’t respond to that letter either. But you did send me a Christmas card. I’m not quite sure what to make of that.

Do your other constituents wait in vain for a response from you on matters important to them? Do they, like me, make the effort to come to Parliament to talk to you (taking time away from their own work or family or leisure), only to be ignored, without being offered even the most basic courtesy? A message that you were unavoidably detained would at least have signalled you were aware of my existence.

There is no room for complacency in democracy. If the people of a constituency feel that their MP no longer represents them, they will replace that MP with somebody else. This is not merely their right, but their duty. And the lesson I have learned from the Science is Vital campaign is that in a democracy, determined groups of quite unlikely citizens have extraordinary power.

Yours sincerely

Richard P. Grant

Filed under: fools (!gladly) — rpg @ 22:24

19 October 2010

On the telly!

Once you get past the ad and the gloating Canadians, fast forward to 5:12 in this video:

Filed under: Cockles, for the warming of — rpg @ 20:13

16 October 2010

Just you wait


Filed under: I want one of those for Christmas — rpg @ 11:44

10 October 2010

Lost at sea

If I might be permitted an observation, there is something wrong when, in a forum expressly for the purpose of bug reports and feedback, a user’s perfectly valid comments are dismissed out of hand.

It’s bad enough when an unaffiliated Nature staffer who does not have an active blog on Nature Network (and yet maintains a presence on the private forum) weighs in and completely misses the point. It is far worse when one of the admins says something patently untrue—and then implies that the user shouldn’t be so silly as to ask for pretty basic features.

First, WordPress comes with an ‘Admin login’ straight out of the box. Second, I have used a Moveable Type install where the login link was in plain sight—and connected to an entire University’s user database. They managed to solve the ‘logging in across different sites’ problem that seems to be beyond Nature Publishing Group’s ken. Third, bookmarks are not necessarily “always in a fixed location on the screen” as anybody with more than one bookmark will be able to verify for themselves.

See how I manage to log in

And let’s get to the nitty gritty here. It’s one line of code we’re arguing about.

The comment made on 27 September was, actually, pretty good and said all that needed to be said for the time being (I suspect that was Lou). There was an apology, an understanding of the issue, and what looked like positive moves in the direction of working things out together with us, the users. Compare and contrast with what followed.

But apart from Lou, Nature Network isn’t that good at communicating with its users. Take this new Microsoft group blog for example: I know that a few people have been thinking “Pepsi“—but all we have heard from the Network is that “there’s no commercial connection here”. What does that mean? Does that mean Microsoft aren’t paying NPG for the privilege—and if not, why not?. Will Microsoft products or Microsoft-funded research never be mentioned in “The Fourth Paradigm”? At this stage, you know as much as I do, which is a truly woeful position to be in (and I should know).

Has Nature Network lost its way? Who is steering the ship? And is anybody left rowing?

Filed under: Rants — rpg @ 20:29


Recent Comments

  • Open letter to Simon Hughes, MP (1)
    • ricardipus: “P.S. You git.” Nice letter. Starts off all positive, then progresses to the O. Henry-esque...
  • On the telly! (1)
    • ricardipus: Ha. Saw all kinds of coverage of the spending review on the news here but missed this CBC story. We...
  • Just you wait (4)
    • ricardipus: First thing to do – repaint that dismal black door. Preferably with an enormous “Science Is...
    • Kausik Datta: Ah, for aspirations!!
    • Cromercrox: We’re all doomed.
    • Davieboy: No, William Hague lost his hair and never actually made it to Number 10.
  • On teaspoons (2)
    • rpg: Thanks Jennifer—that sounds like what I was looking for. That must be a reprint from another place, though.
    • Jennifer: I know this post was from a while ago, but I wanted to weigh it in case you’re still looking for an...
  • Lost at sea (3)
    • ricardipus: Ye gods. I cannot believe that anyone (let’s name names – “Maxine&# 8221;) would argue...
    • rpg: That’s true—but completely besides the point.
    • mariawolters: Actually, Microsoft produces quite a bit of interesting research – they are very active in Human...


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