New stars rising, old ones fading

I hate to say it, but there’s no avoiding the stinking corpse on the living room rug: is dead. It might be twitching still, but that’s just the biota working beneath the skin, and soon they’ll erupt and start looking for new hosts.

Many already have. Scientopia was one of the early products of a Sb diaspora, and now Bora has announced the Scientific American network, which also has a swarm of very good bloggers, some formerly of Scienceblogs, but also some new and interesting faces. Scienceblogs won’t be competing with SciAm; it can’t, and there’s a lack of interest in doing so.

What happened? I’ll tell you: the absence of support. You cannot maintain a quality network without some regular investment in maintenance and growth, and while blogging is one of those activities that can flourish on a shoestring budget, it needs some nurturing, and we haven’t been getting it. Basic functionality, like LaTex support and mobile CSS, have been talked about for years and vague promises made, and nothing was done. A members-only forum was created early on for discussion and technical issues, and it was a wasteland — we’d bring up problems, sometimes quite pressing problems, and there was no reply from management — it was like whispering in a great empty room. There was a misplaced focus on advertising: the management seemed to want to land nothing but big prestige clients, like GE, but what they were selling was a motley horde of diverse and fractious voices, not the kind of thing corporate giants like, and now we’re reduced to hosting garbage ads for Christian singles, Michele Bachmann, and psychic networks, which is even more badly targeted.

If you won’t maintain the property, you end up with a slum.

It’s a real shame, too. I like this place, it’s been good to me, and I wish it could be revivified. But the head is dead, and there doesn’t seem to be the will or the ability to even try.

I think I’ll be flying away soon, too, but that’s a different announcement that will have to wait a little longer.

An unholy fusion

Old timers may remember Unscrewing The Inscrutable, and the World Wide Rant, two blogs that preceded mine and were long on my blogroll before they both up and died from ennui or something. Now Andy and Brent have done something unnatural and disturbing: they have taken the dead, rotting corpses of their ex-blogs and stitched them together into one lurching undead hybrid nightmare. It’s called Happy Puppy Sunshine Blog. Somebody needs to alert the Center for Disease Control, I’m afraid.

Kids these days…

OK, this is getting ridiculous. I’m beginning to feel like I wasted my life. Here’s another new blog, Life Before the Dinosaurs, about ancient animals other than dinosaurs, by someone who really likes arthropods.

He’s seven years old. He’s dictating the text to his mother.

At least I have an excuse. We didn’t have blogs when I was 7. We didn’t have the internet. Heck, computers cost millions of dollars and filled whole rooms. When I was 7, the best I could do was make dinosaurs out of play-dough and make them battle on the windowsill.

A Pacific NorthWest Science blog

It’s a new blog from the region I’ve always felt was home, so I have to mention it.

Also, the top entry there is about water, something always on the minds of Pacific Northwesterners, so I have to tie it into a weird story from Portland: a man was seen peeing in one of their reservoirs, so they’re draining it completely at a cost of $35,000. Seriously? That’s just silly squeamishness. Fish and amphibians and passing birds and insects and mammals are busy peeing in our water supply all the time; insects are dying and falling into the reservoirs and rotting in them. And let’s not forget the bacteria and viruses that constantly drizzle in. It’s all so dilute, though, that it is of no consequence at all.

Starting them young

As one of those geezers in his grey, tired, wizened 50s, I’m torn between the cranky get-offa-my-lawn attitude and a patronizing bless-their-little-hearts when I see all these young’uns romping about at meetings nowadays. And the internet is even worse: look, it’s a literate 13 year old atheist and a hardnosed 16 year old skeptic!

I’m going to have to combine my views — it gets easier as senility looms — and kick their little hearts around on my lawn, I guess.

My cunning plan has worked!

In my talk at the Society for Developmental Biology, I encouraged more scientists to take advantage of the internet to share science with the public. Someone fell for it! Saori Haigo has started a blog, and she even explains why.

I’ve started this blog because I believe I have a social responsibility as a professional scientist to communicate science openly to the people. I will blog about what I think are important topics in the biological and biomedical sciences and explore the value, current issues, and realistic expectations of what we gain from doing research on that topic. In addition, I’ll explore how science is done, share with you why I think the research I’m working on is of interest and worth funding by taxpayers, give you a taste of what my daily activities entail, and share the latest cutting edge research published in science journals. All in layman’s terms, so you can follow too.

I hope through my posts you will come to appreciate the value of academic science and learn about a world which may seem ‘foreign’ to you. And also to learn something neat along the way. Enjoy!

So go browse already. It’s a brand new blog, but she’s already got some interesting stuff, including spinning eggs.

Wait, what? AOL still exists?

I have learned that AOL is buying the Huffington Post, which is an act of compounding irrelevancies. AOL was a joke (something about landfills full of shiny disks) ten years ago; the Huffington Post started with a flake running the show and has descended to capitalizing on celebrity sleaze, and is on its way to becoming the Weekly World News of the internet. I think the two of them belong together, and hope they sink each other.

But pay no mind to my cynical and pessimistic views. Go read a more substantial summary of the ongoing fluff collision.