Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays: Grav-mas

It came as news to me that Isaac Newton's birthday is December 25.  This web page celebrates Grav-mas.

2 thumbs up !

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Paywalls erected on economically disadvantaged Islands

This gets at probably the most indefensible aspect of the proprietary publication of scientific literature.  I discovered a paper through a google scholar search, about Lantana camara, a disastrous introduction in Micronesia.  I have lived where this plant is an invasive species, where the thorny shrubs are an impediment, when hiking through the boonies, in Chuuk Lagoon.  The story goes that a woman of Chuuk, some years ago, saw these beautiful flowers on Saipan, and brought them home to introduce to her own garden at home.  Birds scattered the seeds.  The thorny bushes soon became a presence in the forests, where they are like brambles, albeit with shorter thorns.

Lantana camara.  Photo from Wikipedia.

I was privileged to work in Chuuk and on Saipan, both, as an Environmental Science teacher, in high school and at community colleges of both island groups.   It was my responsibility to research---using whatever meager resources may have been at my disposal---significant issues, and, in the process of learning about them myself, share this knowledge with the true stakeholders, the native people upon whose efforts will hinge the ultimate fate of the islands themselves, and future generations.

It is impossible to explain the depths of my anger when I have seen important literature that has been inaccessible to me, because of the policies of the publishers of scientific literature, and textbooks.  The same goes for health issues, and marine resources and their management.  The proprietary publishers are the handmaidens of the scientific elitists who drift like flotsam through the islands, and brandish their superiority about, in their arrogance and conceit.  They publish papers, build careers upon their remarkable publishing records.  In Chuuk, one is amazed that the word "scientist" means someone who can read other peoples's minds.  

Not all scientists---in fact, perhaps only a few of them---exhibit such a painful countenance; but the papers even of the humblest among them, the fruit of the research they have performed in the islands, is as often as not unavailable to any islander who may wish to avail of the knowledge therein.

This unacceptable situation is exemplified here by the following screen shot of my computer, when I was doing a google search and discovered a paper about Lantana camara.  I thought, "this is a paper worth having a look at: someone in Micronesia needs this paper."   But, unfortunately, it is behind a paywall.  Take heed of the following.

Notice that this article alone would cost 46.00.

Luckily I can now access this literature at a nearby library.  This is of little help to the ones who truly need this knowledge: students, teachers, and just plain people of the islands.  Actually, NO HELP.