Saturday, June 06, 2009

Will dead tree journals follow newspapers over the cliff?

Take one of these:

The curious thing about the various plans hatched in the ’90s is that they were, at base, all the same plan: “Here’s how we’re going to preserve the old forms of organization in a world of cheap perfect copies!” The details differed, but the core assumption behind all imagined outcomes (save the unthinkable one) was that the organizational form of the newspaper, as a general-purpose vehicle for publishing a variety of news and opinion, was basically sound, and only needed a digital facelift. As a result, the conversation has degenerated into the enthusiastic grasping at straws, pursued by skeptical responses.
mash it up with this:

Now here’s another thing:

Everything is open.

It just is, and there’s nothing that anyone can do about it. Everything that becomes available as a PDF is quickly passed around the community, and in most cases posted on the author’s web-site (whatever the journal’s Arbitrary And Exploitative Copyright Transfer Form said). So from a purely pragmatic perspective, you could say that in choosing a journal we can also ignore the criterion of whether or not the journal considers itself open access (because it really is anyway)

then consider: is the titular question unthinkable? Printing presses are expensive. Paper is heavy. PDFs have excellent survival potential, and are not going away.

In this new enlightened age, I have disabled comment moderation to facilitate interaction. (Also, I'm curious about this "natural male enhancement".)

Bring it.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Oklahoma tetrapods

This one's for Darren. The poor guy is working on at least two books, several technical papers, and keeping up two blogs, not to mention being a husband and father with an infant to take care of.

So here are some tetrapods for ya, Darren, from my recent vacation to Oklahoma. I think we've seen that my skillz at identifying non-sauropods are definitely sub-1337, but I will do my manful best. Everything is arranged in accordance with the Great Chain of Being, of course.

I reckon, given the brown coloration, the light spot on the eardrum, and the north-central Oklahoma locality, that this is a Plains Leopard Frog, Rana blairi. I can say for certain that it was too fast for me to catch.


Bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana. We saw this dude sunning himself every day.


The same, or at least a very similar, frog on a different day.


A juvenile watersnake in the genus Nerodia, but no tellin' what species. Note cow poop for scale.


Shed skin of an unidentified serpent.


My brother and I were walking along the creek near the house when we spotted this subadult raccoon, Procyon lotor, moving upstream.


It didn't seem unduly exercised by our presence, so we tailed it for thirty yards or so until it disappeared into some brush.


Nearby we found this skeletonized paw from a nine-banded armadillo, Dasypus novemcinctus.


Also this mostly skeletonized bobcat, Lynx rufus. I boiled and peroxided the skull and it is now sitting on my desk at work, distracting people who come by to give me more work. One of the ribs was broken and healed.

At last we come to the pinnacle of evolution, the saurischians.


A Common Grackle, Quiscalus quiscula. This one was in the top of a tree at my in-laws' place in Oklahoma City. Interesting bird to watch but irritating to listen to; it sounded as if it had eaten a squeaky wheel and dying cat and was trying to vomit them both out at the same time.


A red-winged blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus. The wheat fields around my parents' place were full of these things.


Arf. I saved the best and worst for last. Best because this was the toughest photo of the bunch, and therefore the most satisfying. Worst, because I am probably going to choke on the ID. But here goes anyway. At first I was thinking that that the beak was too thick for it to be anything other than a finch. But further reflection (i.e., randomly thumbing through Sibley's) suggests another, more likely alternative: a Dickcissel, Spiza americana.

That's all I got. Coming soon: selected tetrapods from the LA Zoo.

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