Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Shopping Cart Hero

So as not to be too serious...

Shopping Cart Hero 2 (www.monkeywantbanana.com) is very cool; I might just buy the app. Jolene likes it too.

Screen Shot
The trick is to never close the browser window, and boy is that monkey hard to beat, it took me like twenty tries.

Scientific Publishing

Two things I've read recently have caused me to re-think my earlier ideas on scientific publishing (mySDscience, subscription required). I won't rehash all of my previous musings on the subject here, but in short, I suggested that authors be able to publish whatever they'd like into an online repository, as long as they had the approval (and potential co-authorship) of a faculty member. No more journals, no more peer-review, just what scientists think should be published.

After reading much about the arsenic-based bacteria touted recently by NASA (Google News search link), and having just enjoyed thoroughly The Atlantic profile of Dr. John Ioannidis, and his corresponding PLoS Medicine and JAMA articles from 2005, I am convinced that the current model of scientific publishing is broken. What then should or even could we do to fix it?

I believe most scientific research is publicly funded. Therefore, why shouldn't the public have the opportunity to access the research they are funding? I would be completely willing to participate in a publishing system that required me to daily upload my experimental procedures, code, data, and results, and also would accept regular summaries similar to today's publications in scientific journals. These archives would be read-only (unable to be tampered with after the fact), and would accept comments only from those also publishing in a similar way in the same system (no anonymity and no trolls without a vested interest in their own results). I can think of a few questions about such a system:

  1. Wouldn't you worry about being scooped?
    Not really, if someone read of an idea published on my research feed, there would be a record of their accessing it and it would be easy to demonstrate that I had arrived at that idea or result first.
  2. Wouldn't this be overly burdensome on the scientists?
    No more than the current best practices of daily recording results, backing up data, etc. In fact, this would serve as a great insurance against the loss of data.
  3. Wouldn't this expose non-scientists to the inner workings of science and not a 'united front' as some scientists have recently called for in relation to climate change, evolution, and even arsenic-based bacteria?
    Reading the articles linked above would go a long way to dispelling this notion of how science should be done.
To conclude, if I had some reasonable assurance from hiring committees at major universities and research institutions that my work would be considered in the same way as those with publishing records in traditional journals—that the quality of work would be judged, not the journals where the work was published—I would easily, and happily adopt such a system of publishing my day to day research findings.

Image courtesy of Vmenkov on Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Living Water

I've really enjoyed God as living water as revealed in the book of Isaiah. According to John 4:14b, this actually covers the entire Bible. Below are some of the outline points from two messages that really explain the depth and riches of this matter.

Points from the Crystallization-study of Isaiah:
Message Two - The Revelation of the Lord Jehovah, the Eternal God

The Lord Jehovah has become the divine water. In the book of Isaiah God considers that He is our salvation as living water. To be our salvation, the Triune God was processed to become the life-giving Spirit as the living water, the water of life.

In totality, what Christ is and has accomplished is just the divine water, which is the consummated Spirit as the consummation of the Triune God for us to drink and enjoy.

Message Eight - Drawing Water with Rejoicing from the Springs of Salvation

God's intention in His economy is to be the fountain, the source, of living waters to dispense Himself into HIs chosen people for their satisfaction and enjoyment.

We need to know the difference between the words fountain and springs. The fountain is the source, the springs are the issue of the source, and the river is the flow.

The Triune God, while unfathomably profound, is also very simple. The Father is the hidden source, the Son is the spring, and the Spirit is the flow. What God wants from us, in order to fulfill His eternal purpose, is simply that we drink Him as this water. One of the best ways to do this is by calling on the name of the Lord.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Philosophy and the Sandwich

The thesis is taking most of my time, but I remembered an interesting interaction I had several years ago and thought to commit it to the cloud.

I was invited to a UCSD Philosophy Club discussion regarding theodicy, or the supposed problem of an apparent contradiction between an omnipotent, benevolent God and the existence of evil. While not getting into this pointless debate too much, I'd like to make two observations.

First, every time I hear this matter come up, I am dumbfounded at the consistent lack of defining the terms before the discussion. What is "good"? What is "evil"? It is always assumed that everyone present knows what these terms mean, but how can you debate good and evil, let alone God, without defining the terms?

Second, at this particular discussion, I created a peculiar metaphor for our discussion that goes as follows. It was like we were sitting around a table with a cover on it, and the proposition being debated was the existence of a sandwich underneath the cover. The Christians at the debate, believing in the sandwich because many of them had tasted it at one time or another, argued strongly for its existence. The atheists, never before having tasted the sandwich, argued that it could not possibly exist. However, no one simply lifted up the cover, picked up the sandwich, and took a bite. That's what I would have done, and that is what I would encourage any aspiring philosophers to do. Eat the sandwich; then you'll know once and for all whether or not it exists.

Finally, to the aspiring philosophers, should any actually find this post: don't summarize philosophy, do philosophy. I could not believe how much of that pointless debate was the summarizing and quoting of previous philosophers' works, and how little was actual synthesized ideas from the participants.