Sunday, February 28, 2010

research is wasteful

reading about the government's reaction to the recession (well at least in its own (our) coffers), we can see that it is highly likely they will cut funding to research over the next year(s).

there are two ways to do this - both wrong - one is to spread the reduced funding thinner, the other is to concentrate funding in fewer (elite) places (actualyl 50% of the money goes to the top 5 institutes anyhow).

But what they should do is spend more. Research is wasteful, very very much like evolution - but necessity is the mother of invention and (just like in evolutonary systems) the impact of a big recession might make people more creative - more creativity does lead to more potential outputs, but it also leads to LESS predictability - we don't know what will fit the future landscape (i.e. what is "selected" as most fit, is not something you can do a priori, but a posteriori, only).

No doubt they will get this wrong, which is sad, as doubling the UK's governemt research funding would still leave it at under 2% of the bank bailout last year, and would be likely to yield more profit by about an order of magnitude.

Unfortunately, we are not ruled by people that have a clue.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

clown computing

its so much more fun, and easier to market than the cloud

send in the clowns

i've looked at clowns from both sides now

clown atlas, using the Grimaldi internet coordination system based on
empirical data from Big Foot

Sunday, February 14, 2010

CRU/Dr Phil Jones are a bigger pain than maybe they realize

I' reasonably well trained in natural sciences and computing. So I usually trust scientists to do their job as well as they can. In medicine, there's a whole bunch of due process before they loose a new procedure or drug on the world, and even if the big Pharma might be a bit dodgy (and most are fine), the process stops rediculous things happening too often (unless politicians get in the loop).

WHen I or a close family member or friend get ill, I do read the literature (the tech. literature, not just online freebie dodgy internet health sites) to figure out what is what - when i spent a week in hospital with metal in my leg, a couple of years after my father died in a hospital from an MRSA infection, I read all the latest papers on that - I didn't find it too hard to catch up and it mattered to me - but I assume, most of the time , that the latest practice is I don't have to read the 1 paper published per scientist per month in the world (it.d make me, on average, the 2nd reader only on average).

This is true in most areas where there's a large scale deployment of some piece of engineering (planes, trains, automobiles) too.

So even though I could get my head around a lot of the work, I assume I don't have to.

So the consensus on climate change has been fairly overwealmingly behind the anthropgenic global warming explanation, leading to many government initiatives and international schemes to try to get people, society, industry, nations etc to reduce carbon emmissions. Seemed ok to me - the bit I like was the sane stuff which looks at being, simply, more sustainable, anyhow, as that seems like a good way to conduct oneself - not having had a car for 45 years and having got 3 kids to/thru school on bikes- having an efficient house, etc - I feel ok - then I feel like I should carbon offset my flights (I used to do more, but I still, as an academic, go all over the place for project meetings, conferences, PC meetings etc etc etc)....

so now, because of the CRU fiasco (not their fault the email was leaked, but it is there fault the data isn't avaialble and in good clean shape) I now have to read through the mountains of literature on this topic to try to figure out what is sane and what isn't.

You know what is scary? In the 21st century, there is absolutely no way to tell what is authoritative .

I know what/who is serious in my own area. In biomedical area, I can usually guess to some extent. But in this area, it is completely impossible to determine

so not only do I have to read the literature, it looks like I might need to go out, and audit where the data comes from, then get ahold of some of the data, and then do my own analysis.

that is rediculous, but without doing it, I really don't see a way to have any confidence in the statements by AGW proponents, or by climate skeptics.
I am sure most of them are genunine. But none of them has a clue how to instill a sense of public understanding of why we should listen

this does not make me a climate skeptic (not at all) - it just means that for the first time, I'm looking at an entire body of so-called knowledge, and while I can grok the concepts, until I can grep the raw data files, I am basically saying that this is a complete crock!

Monday, February 08, 2010

mandy cuts his knows to spite his feys

Mandelson said: "We know that universities have a vital contribution to our economic growth, so we are not going to undermine them. We are asking for savings of less than 5% and we expect universities to make these in a way that minimises the impact on teaching and students. I am confident they will."

Mandelson said: "I am an arts graduate myself. We don't dictate to universities which courses they put on. They tailor courses to meet demand. We want universities to play to their strengths, but we also want to keep this country civilised."

since the universities contribute net profit to the UK, cutting them decreases the UKs GDP. so cutting them ANY percent will have an impact both on students and on everyone else.

of course, being an Arts graduate, Mandelson is probably not numerate to understand this.