Pluralistic: 02 May 2021


Today's links



One frame from XKCD's 'Types of Scientific Papers' strip; the headline has been replaced with Hemingway's famous six-word story, 'For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

XKCD's scientific microfiction meme (permalink)

In 2008, I traveled to the world's largest scientific data-centers for a Nature story. No matter whether the labs were devoted to internet archiving, the human genome, or the Higgs boson, they had two things in common: vast server farms, and XKCD.

https://www.nature.com/news/2008/080903/full/455016a.html

Randall Munroe's webcomic is so unabashedly geeky, so unafraid to be obscure or format-breaking, so affectionate and knowing about the triumphs and pitfalls of science that it is absolute catnip for scientists.

XKCD 2456, Types of Scientific Paper

Last week, Munroe published strip #2456, "Types of scientific paper," a 3×4 grid of thumbnails of journal articles with titles like, "We put a camera somewhere new" and "My colleague is wrong and I can finally prove it."

https://xkcd.com/2456/

Even by XKCD standards, this is heavy scientist-bait. The research community has risen to the challenge, flooding the net with remixes that are, if anything, even better than the original: works of microfictional genius to rival Hemingway's "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Many of these have been collected on Bruce Sterling's Tumblr blogs, and, taken as a body, they constitute an act of wry, insightful auto-ethnography – self-criticism wrapped in humor that tells a story.

Types of Paper in Epidemiology and Public Health

"Types of Paper in Epidemiology and Public Health"

  • We counted how many people have a disease, here are maps with poor countries in red

  • We found that if you call your research 'genetic epidemiology,' then people are surprisingly OK with eugenics

https://brucesterling.tumblr.com/post/650002102621519872

Types of History Paper

"Types of History Paper"

  • Stuff happened: a chronology 1910-1974

  • They missed so much stuff, it's honestly embarrassing 1910-1974

  • I am so tired of stuff scholarship

  • Wokeness is killing stuff scholarship! A senior scholar weighs in

https://brucesterling.tumblr.com/post/650002102621519872

Types of Glaciology Paper

"Types of Glaciology Paper"

  • The ocean is doing a bunch of weird stuff to this glacier

  • Why is it doing that: the wild physics

  • Why is it doing that: now with machine learning

  • We found a glacier that's doing fine! Oh, wait, nevermind

https://brucesterling.tumblr.com/post/650002102621519872

Types of Entomology Paper

"Types of Entomology Paper"

  • This pesticide is completely safe, says one very restricted metric

  • This pesticide will kill us all: extrapolation from irrelevant data

  • 39,000 new parasitic wasps

https://brucesterling.tumblr.com/post/650002102621519872

Types of Climate Science Paper.

"Types of Climate Science Paper."

  • Here's a bad thing about climate change you hadn't even thought about

  • Did any of you guys take a statistics course?

  • Things are definitely worse than we thought

  • Things are definitely better than we thought

https://brucesterling.tumblr.com/post/650002179207348224

Types of Quantum Computing Paper

"Types of Quantum Computing Paper"

  • Simulating our system with our system

  • We've solved QC with our new scripting language

https://brucesterling.tumblr.com/post/650002179207348224

Types of Remote Sensing Papers

"Types of Remote Sensing Papers"

  • We saw stuff on the ground from space

  • We saw stuff on the ground better from space

  • What's that? Let me see if I can see it from space

  • Have you tried neural networks though?

https://brucesterling.tumblr.com/post/650002179207348224

Types of Building Energy Papers

"Types of Building Energy Papers"

  • Expensive material improves building efficiency

  • Stop climate change by rebuilding all buildings this way

  • Insulate all things

https://wolfliving.tumblr.com/post/650004947977519104

Types of Housing Papers

"Types of Housing Papers"

  • Why tech workers deserve condos with better walk scores

  • Design students' yurts will end poverty

  • Supportive housing costs less than boiling poor people in oil and it's more efficient

  • Elders have rebuilt enough equity for a new round of predatory lending

  • Neighborhood gained wealth when rich people moved in

  • This city ended homelessness (for left-handed veterans with cats)

https://wolfliving.tumblr.com/post/650004131207053312/design-students-yurts-will-end-poverty

How a reporter sees types of science papers

I saved my favorite for last: "How a reporter sees types of science papers"

  • This journal puts the full paper online

  • Quantum

  • I know this person responds to emails

  • GIF-able video in the supporting information

  • Fig 1 seems like it basically sums the whole thing up

  • Scientist beef!

  • I covered their last paper

https://brucesterling.tumblr.com/post/650002179207348224



A glitched animation that flickers between a CCTV camera, the styled title of ATTACK SURFACE, and 'by Cory Doctorow'

Attack Surface is a Locus Awards finalist (permalink)

The annual Locus Awards finalists have been announced and I am thrilled to pieces to see my novel ATTACK SURFACE, a standalone book in the Little Brother universe for adults, in the final ten for Best SF Novel!

https://locusmag.com/2021/05/2021-locus-awards-top-ten-finalists/

Even more exciting than making the top ten is the company it puts me in: the other finalists are:

  • Machine by Elizabeth Bear
  • Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott
  • Agency by William Gibson
  • The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • War of the Maps by Paul McAuley
  • The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • The Last Emperox by John Scalzi
  • Network Effect by Martha Wells
  • Interlibrary Loan by Gene Wolfe

(also excited to see Tor Books, my publisher, next to so many of those names!)

The entire list is, as always, a must-read guide to the best sf/f of the past year. This year's Locus Awards Weekend is a virtual affair (for obvious reasons) and runs Jun 23-26. You can sign up here:

https://locusmag.com/2021-locus-awards-weekend/



This day in history (permalink)

#20yrsago Microsoft slams Open Source. Again. https://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/03/business/technology-microsoft-is-set-to-be-top-foe-of-free-code.html

#20yrsago Fiery screed about the state of Linux desktop environments https://web.archive.org/web/20021204051712/http://www.linuxplanet.com/linuxplanet/opinions/3297/1/

#15yrsago Rich Americans as sick as poor Brits https://web.archive.org/web/20060516225807/http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn9098&feedId=online-news_rss20

#15yrsago Classic multi-ending MAD flexidisc MP3s https://scarstuff.blogspot.com/2006/04/mad-magazine-its-super-spectacular-day.html

#10yrsago Brust’s Tiassa: versatile fantasy in three modes https://memex.craphound.com/2011/05/02/brusts-tiassa-versatile-fantasy-in-three-modes/

#10yrsago Will technology make us freer, and if so, how? https://locusmag.com/2011/05/cory-doctorow-techno-optimism/

#1yrago Kim Stanley Robinson on "our rewritten imagination" https://pluralistic.net/2020/05/02/rewriting-our-imaginations/#ksr

#1yrago Ticketmaster gets $500m from Mohammad bin Salman https://pluralistic.net/2020/05/02/rewriting-our-imaginations/#mister-bone-saw

#1yrago How "contact tracing" apps could be worse than useless https://pluralistic.net/2020/05/02/rewriting-our-imaginations/#exposure-notification

#1yrago Prisons, meatpacking plants, nursing homes https://pluralistic.net/2020/05/02/rewriting-our-imaginations/#superclusters



Colophon (permalink)

Currently writing:

  • A Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. RESEARCH PHASE

  • A short story about consumer data co-ops. PLANNING

  • A Little Brother short story about remote invigilation. PLANNING

  • A nonfiction book about excessive buyer-power in the arts, co-written with Rebecca Giblin, "The Shakedown." FINAL EDITS

  • A post-GND utopian novel, "The Lost Cause." FINISHED

  • A cyberpunk noir thriller novel, "Red Team Blues." FINISHED

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: Past Performance is Not Indicative of Future Results https://craphound.com/news/2021/03/28/past-performance-is-not-indicative-of-future-results/
Upcoming appearances:

Recent appearances:

Latest book:

Upcoming books:

  • The Shakedown, with Rebecca Giblin, nonfiction/business/politics, Beacon Press 2022

This work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commercially, provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link to pluralistic.net.

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are included either under a limitation or exception to copyright, or on the basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution.


How to get Pluralistic:

Blog (no ads, tracking, or data-collection):

Pluralistic.net

Newsletter (no ads, tracking, or data-collection):

https://pluralistic.net/plura-list

Mastodon (no ads, tracking, or data-collection):

https://mamot.fr/web/accounts/303320

Twitter (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and advertising):

https://twitter.com/doctorow

Tumblr (mass-scale, unrestricted, third-party surveillance and advertising):

https://mostlysignssomeportents.tumblr.com/tagged/pluralistic

"When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla" -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla