England’s Libel Law is Liable to Bite Yer Arse

So do what Simon Singh says and sign the petition to reform it:

This week is the first anniversary of the report Free Speech is Not for Sale, which highlighted the oppressive nature of English libel law. In short, the law is extremely hostile to writers, while being unreasonably friendly towards powerful corporations and individuals who want to silence critics.
The English libel law is particular dangerous for bloggers, who are generally not backed by publishers, and who can end up being sued in London regardless of where the blog was posted. The internet allows bloggers to reach a global audience, but it also allows the High Court in London to have a global reach.

You can read more about the peculiar and grossly unfair nature of English libel law at the website of the Libel Reform Campaign. You will see that the campaign is not calling for the removal of libel law, but for a libel law that is fair and which would allow writers a reasonable opportunity to express their opinion and then defend it.

The good news is that the British Government has made a commitment to draft a bill that will reform libel, but it is essential that bloggers and their readers send a strong signal to politicians so that they follow through on this promise. You can do this by joining me and over 50,000 others who have signed the libel reform petition at http://www.libelreform.org/sign

Remember, you can sign the petition whatever your nationality and wherever you live. Indeed, signatories from overseas remind British politicians that the English libel law is out of step with the rest of the free world.

If you have already signed the petition, then please encourage friends, family and colleagues to sign up. Moreover, if you have your own blog, you can join hundreds of other bloggers by posting this blog on your own site. There is a real chance that bloggers could help change the most censorious libel law in the democratic world.

We must speak out to defend free speech. Please sign the petition for libel reform at http://www.libelreform.org/sign

Please sign and pass it along.

Some Things of Especial Note

Whilst you’re waiting for me to get my arse in gear on the whole Discovery Park geo thing, here’s some lively links to keep you busy.

Callan Bentley’s moving!  He’ll be joining the new American Geophysical Union’s new blog consortium by the end of the month, so watch his space for directions to the new digs.  Congratulations, Callan!

(Ye gods – will we all be assimilated into networks?!)

Our own George W. has a fascinating post up on the powers of 10.  My mind, it is blown!

Marcelo Gleiser explains why science matters.  If you missed it the first few times it made the rounds, don’t dare miss it now.

Carl Zimmer explores where e-Book publishing might take us.  Those who believe writing and reading are dead, take heart!

And (dum-DUM-dum!) Readers Beware!  Which says everything that needs to be said to arrogant asscrunches who think bloggers are unwashed, untrustworthy little pissants sullying the fine reputation of journalism.

Stuff Comes from Somewhere

Back before I distracted by the shiny new car and purchasing of same, our own George W. had a post up that really forced some thinking.  And it’s all because he was up at 4 in the morning thinking about bolts:

Where’s the nickel (which plates the bolt) mined? What’s the state of mine-safety technology? Do mining companies pay lobbyists to keep the laws lax? Or more likely, does the manufacturer just buy the nickel salts for plating from some third-world country where the government doesn’t protect the workers or the rivers or the children who live along them? Is that why the bolts are so cheap? What’s the external cost of the carbon output from manufacturing the bolt? Maybe that’s the reason I saved the bolt that was left over from a project of years ago.  Or maybe I’m just really cheap.

Read the whole post.  It’ll make you think about bolts, politics, change and resources all in one go, which is damned impressive for a short post brought on by insomnia.  This is why I love George’s blog so: when I leave there, it’s not with the same eyes as when I arrived.

Hey, Hoosiers!

There’s actually interesting natural history in Indiana.  No, really!  And David Orr’s out to prove it.  His new blog, Under Indiana, has an ambitious mission:

After I’d grown up a bit, I learned to appreciate my home state on its own terms. I think it’s a common experience for lovers of natural history: a deepening appreciation of the world that goes beyond the biggest, the splashiest, the most touristy. From the fossiliferous limestone of the south to the glaciated landscapes of the north, from the humblest crinoid fragment to Arcdotus simus, Hoosiers have plenty of natural history to be proud of, to share with the rest of the world, and to inspire new generations. [emphasis added to denote my emphatic agreement with this statement.]

I have to admit, it’s exciting to see my birth state getting some respect.  It certainly never got any from me.  Every time I go back there, I end up suicidally depressed.  It takes about 20-30 minutes before I’m willing to do something, anything, to get the fuck out of there and get back home to me mountains.   But my own dear mother lives there, and I’m fated to visit her, so it’s good to know I’ll have interesting things to look forward to.  Between Lyle and David’s new blog, I do believe I’m set!

Go over and give David some love.  Don’t forget to drop by his other home, Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs, too.

Geo Linkfest!

Since I’m traipsing all over bits of Oregon with Lockwood and ye olde intrepid companion, I’m having to rely on other geobloggers to fill in the gaps.  I’ll use any excuse so’s to have a chance to highlight some truly awesome geoblogging goodness.

When you’re a professional geologist in western Washington, you can’t always depend on the weather to cooperate.  But as Dan McShane knows, you can depend upon it to provide some lovely shots:



That’s haunting, that is.  And there’s more where that comes from, so do go enjoy.

Speaking of enjoy, if you missed Brian Romans’s Unconformity at Point Reyes, head to his place forthwith.  Why do I live for Fridays?  Because of his Friday Field Photos, of course! 

Chris Rowan explores New Zealand’s Alpine Fault, and shows why it could be a bit nervewracking to live in a country bisected by a plate boundary. 

Lockwood reminds us that conservation often clashes with consumption, and that there are certain compromises we have to make if we want to maintain our standard of living.

Callan Bentley shows us how field paleomagnetism is done.  After that post, I feel I understand a great deal more about both field work and paleomagnetism, which is no small feat for a blog post!  As always, his lavish photos have left me mopping drool from my chin:



And, finally, Silver Fox has the perfect photo for the long road ahead.  For the punchline, see here.

I can only respond with a quote from The Walking Drum: “Yol bolsun!”  May there be a road.  Preferably one with signs in.

Speaking of roads, I am wending my way back to you on one, possibly at this moment even.  See ye soon, my darlings!

Geoblogosphere Samplings

Yes, yes, I know most of you have probably read these already, but these selections will be new to some of you, and that’s all the excuse I need.

Brian Romans wrote up the geology of Point Reyes National Seashore, complete with lovely pictures.  And for those who can never get enough pictures of sedimentary structure, he’s got you covered.

Silver Fox has ancient seashores and a delicious dike from Oregon for ye.  You know you want ’em!

Chris Rowan discusses the fault that made a mountain range, and his co-blogger Anne Jefferson takes on intolerable heat.  Definitely using Anne’s Intolerable Heat Index next summer!

Speaking of the Tetons, Callan Bentley shows us how to calculate offset on the fault.  Pay close attention to the Post-Its.  If math textbooks had been drawn up that way, I might be better at math today.

Do you love geology and horses?  Visit Dan McShane for a little bit of both.

Erik Klemetti discusses the detection of volcanism on extrasolar planets.

And this is just a small sampling of all the geoblogospheric goodness.  More to come.  Enjoy!

Science Bloggers in Motion

Yes, againWired Science has launched a brand-new network, and for once in the new-science-blogging-network world, it actually includes geology!  Our own Brian Romans, in fact.  If you’re looking for your Clastic Detritus, they’ve got ‘im right here.

And that’s not all they’ve got.  Brian Switek finally found a loving home for Laelaps.  Huzzah!

They’ve also landed Dot Physics, Neuron Culture, Frontal Cortex, and Superbug.  That’s a stellar starting lineup by any measure.  Give ’em a visit!

Strata to Make Your Heart Sing

I don’t go by Wayne Ranney’s blog as often as I should (and he doesn’t post nearly as often as I’d wish!), but when I do, I’m always treated to some of the most beautiful geological images available anywhere in the known universe.  Let me give you a sample:



This is from his rafting trip in Dinosaur National Monument, and there’s a lot more where that comes from.  Go feast your eyes, my darlings.  Read the strata, and weep from the beauty.  Well, that and the envy – what a wonderful trip Wayne had!  Lucky barstard.

And lucky us.  At least we got to see it through his eyes!

The Poetry and Prose of Ellen Morris Bishop

One of my favorite science writers is Ellen Morris Bishop.  She wrote In Search of Ancient Oregon, which I’ve lavished much-deserved praise on here and cannot recommend highly enough.  If I could personally grab each of you by the lapels, give you a good shake, and scream “Buy this book!” in your faces, I’d do it.  You’ll also need a copy of Hiking Oregon’s Geology, dog owners need Best Hikes with Dogs: Oregon, and she’s got a Field Guide to Pacific Northwest Geology on the way.

She doesn’t update her blog often, alas – in fact, last I’d checked, there’d been no activity since 2008.  Silly me, I assumed that was that.  But I dropped by there the other night on the off chance that maybe, possibly, things might have changed, and there are two new posts!  Well, posts from summer 2010, anyway.  New enough, damn it!

I wish I’d known about “Energy and Entropy” when the BP oil spill was still leading the news, but better late than never, especially when a scientist takes on the laws of thermodynamics to explain why we need to get serious about green energy.  Here’s a taste:

We can re-order things now by plugging the well. Period. And we can continue the rest of the system pretty much as-is. Not a lot of energy. Not much change. But also, according to thermodynamics, it will take a minimal amount of energy dysfunction to once again slip into chaos. If we continue offshore drilling without re-ordering our processes and priorities, if we invest minimal political and physical energy in fixing the system, then we will live with chaos on our doorstep. That’s not my opinion. It’s thermodynamics.

Or we can truly change the system. Energize a whole new order to energy and our use of it. It is in these convective overturns of an existing system where new orders are established and, for a time, entropy is driven back. This is an opportune moment to demonstrate mastery of the Second Law.

Once you’re done with that, there’s a poem for ye.   It’s one of those poems that makes a person pause and consider.  And if by some bizarre circumstance I ever end up dying as a soldier, I want it read at my grave.

Now, my darlings, go pester Ellen.  The geoblogosphere needz moar Ellen!  Only, of course, not so much that it slows down the delivery of her books to our shelves.

Some Stunning Geology

I’m off to enjoy me new books and work on a post idea that struck me on the way to work.  In the meantime, here’s some intriguing and awe-inspiring stuff from the world o’ geoblogging.

Silver Fox has posted her Highway 50 links.  I wish more geobloggers would do what she’s doing and post in-depth on a stretch of accessible geology they know well.  Looks like another field trip for moi will be in order, because after this series, I’ll be wanting to sample the geology for meself.  Who’s in?

Those who doubt the power of a mudflow need to watch this video:

Yes, that is a semi being floated off like a little leaf on a current.  I was going to do a little home experiment on the power of mudflows to move boulders, and still might if I remember to buy the damned chocolate pudding, but in the meantime this shall suffice.

Dave’s Landslide blog has this image of the landslides caused by Pakistan’s current monsoon woes:



Talk about yer debris flows.  The size of some of the boulders that came down in that thing is staggering.

Speaking of landslides, Dan McShane’s not happy about finding the Whidbey Formation:



When it gets wet, it gets slippery, and then substantial bits of Seattle fall down and go boom.  As grim as this is, though, his description of it will probably crack you up, so do go visit.  And if you should ever move to Seattle, be sure to check out the geology underlying any home you intend to purchase, lest you find yourself sleeping with the fishes in the Sound.

Highly Anne has an eminently readable post up on social media, diversity and women in the geosciences

Callan Bentley has an absolutely delicious metamorphosed graded bed to show you:



His blog turns me into a drooling idiot.  Not that it’s not filled with substantial science that gives my brain a good workout – it’s got plenty o’ that.  It’s just that when I first click on, there’s usually a picture like the above that gets me salivating, and my first comment is “WANT!” 

I haven’t had time today to do more than skim it, but he’s also got a post up about creationism that I commend to your attention.  I shall be settling in with it over dinner tomorrow night.  If you think it’s only biologists who have to confront creationism, you haven’t hung about the geology department lately. 

I think that’s enough for now.  I’ve got books to delve in to, my darlings, one in particular which led to a sustained SQUEE! when I cracked it open this morning.  I even did a little dance.  The cat was not impressed, but then she wasn’t even impressed by the dancing dog, so how the fuck can I compete?

Oh, and – happy Labor Day weekend!