- The Economist has a nice article on The Underworked American:
"Americans like to think of themselves as martyrs to work. They delight in telling stories about their punishing hours, snatched holidays and ever-intrusive BlackBerrys. At this time of the year they marvel at the laziness of their European cousins, particularly the French. Did you know that the French take the whole of August off to recover from their 35-hour work weeks? [...]
But when it comes to the young the situation is reversed. American children have it easier than most other children in the world, including the supposedly lazy Europeans [...]
- Did you notice we're in the middle of a global pandemic? Here's California's reaction: Drive Through Doctors, see "The Doctor Will See You At The Next Window."
- Nature has a special on Science Journalism, accompanying the 6th World Conference of Science Journalists from 30 June-2 July 2009 in London, and to "shine a spotlight on the profession in changing times." It contains several interesting pieces, for example Boyce Rensberger's essay "Science journalism: Too close for comfort." (Thanks to George for sending the link!) Rensberger's essay is a brief historical account "to reflect on how far the profession has come since its beginning." (Occasionally a bit too far?) He closes with saying
"We are obviously now in the 'Digital Age', and the very definition of journalism is changing in uncertain directions. Science journalism has moved from working for the glory of the scientific establishment to taking back its independence and exercising a new responsibility to the public. Now, traditional news outlets are withering, leaving many journalists to self-publish online with total independence and a direct connection to the public. But scientists too can use the web, bypassing journalists altogether and taking their science — and their agendas — directly to the public. It is becoming increasingly difficult for readers to tell which sources are disinterested and which have an axe to grind.
If science journalists are to regain relevance to society, not only must they master the new media, they must learn enough science to analyse and interpret the findings — including the motives of the funders. And, as if that were not enough, they must also anticipate the social impacts of potential new technologies while there is still time to make a difference."
Also recommendable is the editorial "Filling the void" (comments in square brackets added):
"[S]cientists are blogging in ever increasing numbers [are they?], and the most popular blogs draw hundreds of thousands of readers each month [#visitors not equal #readers]. These blogging scientists not only offer expertise for free, but have emerged as an important resource for reporters. A Nature survey of nearly 500 science journalists shows that most have used a scientist's blog in developing story ideas [sure, it's all our own fault] ...
Sadly, these activities live on the fringe of the scientific enterprise. Blogging will not help, and could even hurt, a young researcher's chances of tenure [Who want's tenure anyway?]. Many of their elders still look down on colleagues who blog, believing that research should be communicated only through conventional channels such as peer-review and publication [petroglyphs!]. Indeed, many researchers are hesitant even to speak to the popular press, for fear of having their carefully chosen words twisted beyond recognition [once bitten, twice shy].
But in today's overstressed media market, scientists must change these attitudes if they want to stay in the public eye. They must recognize the contributions of bloggers [YES!] and others [others??], and they should encourage any and all experiments that could help science better penetrate the news cycle. Even if they are reluctant to talk to the press themselves, they should encourage colleagues who do so responsibly [pass the buck]. Scientists are poised to reach more people than ever, but only if they can embrace the very technology that they have developed [the spirits that we called...]"
See also our earlier post Do we need Science Journalists?
- Paul Fendley was offended by a "the" in Lee Smolin's book "The Trouble With Physics" and thus offers us Five Problems in Physics without the Definite Article. It must totally suck to be a writer. Thanks to Matt for the link.
You find my top 10 unsolved problems in physics here. Note absence of definite article. Now do I qualify to write a book or what?