Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Reinstall Windows and outfit your system with all freeware programs Review & Download Link |

Reinstall Windows and outfit your system with all freeware programs Review & Download Link |

Chemists Without Borders promotes open source solutions. The above link, and other links therein, point to excellent resources for running Windows machines entirely with freeware programs. For those who wish to avoid Windows altogether, there are excellent Linux implementations like Ubuntu and Xandros which offer comparable desktops and resources.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jan Egeland on Charlie Rose

This is a fascinating and informative inverview with Jan Egeland, former Undersecretary-General (USG) for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC). He talks about the many successes of the the various humanitarian efforts, as well as current critical issues and what to do about them.

Egeland's new book on these issues, A Billion Lives : An Eyewitness Report from the Frontlines of Humanity that looks worth a read.

President Carter on Charlie Rose

This is a very interesting perspective from former President Carter.

Monday, April 28, 2008

25 Tools: A Free Toolset for Learning

25 Tools: A Free Toolset for Learning

This is a site with useful links. Slideshare, for example, is a popular way to create presentations and make them available to specific users or to the general public. We may use this for our continuing education and personal development program.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

As Food Prices Soar, U.N. Calls for International Help

(Once again the NewsHour on PBS provides excellent analysis of current issues. You can read the transcript and listen to the audio. There are additional links to other relevant discussions.)

Here's an opportunity for us: Chemistry claims to be "The Central Science". If so, we are central to the issue of food and energy. The "silent tsunami" of rising food prices is exacerbated, for example, by the diversion of corn from food to fuel. Millions of lives are jeopardized not by the scarcity of the food, but by the price of the food. (I once heard that the 1,500,000 deaths during the notorious Irish Potato Famine of 1845 were more caused by prices rising beyond the reach of the poor than by an actual lack of potatoes.)

There are already many intelligent people addressing this problem, but it is by no means solved. Imagine the impact of bringing the minds of a half a million or so chemists worldwide to bear on the question. Add to that the medical profession, the architects, the designers, the financiers, the businesspeople, etc., etc., etc., not to mention the students most importantly, and you have a huge pool of people with minds trained to identify and solve problems.

If 70% of your $1-a-day income goes on food for the family, and the price of rice and wheat rapidly doubles, your family goes from 2 meals a day to 1 meal a day, and then .......

What then must we do?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Long Slide For R&D Energy Spending

The US General Accountability Office recently reported in Advanced Energy Technologies: Budget Trends and Challenges for DOE's Energy R&D Program that federal R&D dropped from $6 billion in 1978 to $1.4 billion in 2008, adjusted for inflation. Fossil and nuclear will get an increase of 34% and 44% respectively in 2009, while renewable energy R&D will drop by 1%. What do you think of that?
GAO-08-556T March 5, 2008

Green Chemistry R&D Bill S.2669 Introduced

US Senate measure aims to prevent pollution by encouraging cleaner and safer chemicals

The purpose of the Green Chemistry Research & Development Act of 2008 is to advance research into environmentally friendly chemicals. Check it out and please contact your Senators and Representatives to express your opinions.

Interesting Argument About Global Warming

I like the simplicity of this argument. The choice is yours. Please let me know what you think. - Watch more free videos

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sarah Chayes: Hope is irrelevant. It's determination that counts.

I recently saw on PBS this wonderfully enlightening Bill Moyers interview about Afghanistan with Sarah Chayes, former New York Times correspondent. At the end of the conversation, they have the following dialogue:

BILL MOYERS: There's a thin line. As I listen to you, there's a thin line we sometimes walk, we human beings, between hope and folly.
BILL MOYERS: Are you very close to that line?
SARAH CHAYES: I don't think that hope is relevant. I think determination is all that counts. You just have to try. It doesn't matter if you hope you're going succeed or not. You have to keep trying.

Pasted from <>

I agree with the opinion about hope. It is indeed determination which counts. (Mind you, I wouldn't use the word "try" either. In the words of the great Yoda: "Do or not do, there is no 'try'.") Consider this: At the end of the ABC World News on television, Charlie Gibson finishes with , "I hope you had a nice day." I never understand what he means. Hope is about the future, if anything, so how does it apply to the day that has already passed?

I think "hope" is a word worth dropping from the vocabulary, as are words like "struggle", "desperate" and "try". When Victor Frankl talks in "Mans' Search for Meaning" about how people like him survived the Nazi concentration camps, it's not "hope" that he talks about; it's about a commitment to an idea that some day he would be reunited with his family (didn't happen -- they were all murdered), and that he would be standing in front of audiences answering the question, "How did you survive when so many others didn't?"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bradley's Open Notebook Science: Must-Read for Science Librarians

Chemists Without Border's Jean-Claude Bradley recently did a presentation for my class at UBC on Open Notebook Science that has been called a must-read for science librarians. Chemists are sharing information openly, from every step of an experiment to sharing molecules on Chemspider. This can advance our knowledge much more rapidly, for example in Malaria which Jean-Claude's group is working on; it also makes our knowledge available to everyone, making it possible for every Chemist with an internet connection to keep up to speed; this will make it easier for developing countries to create programs to teach new Chemists. For more details and the links, please see my post on The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics.

In other recent open access news, EBSCO has created a free database for environmental information called GreenFILE, which includes bibliographic information and a fair bit of full text, too. Congratulations and thanks to EBSCO.

Monday, April 07, 2008

OA Week to celebrate US National Institutes of Health new OA mandate policy

Researchers are celebrating OA Week, in honour of the US National Institutes of Health new policy requiring open access to the results of NIH-funded research, which took effect today!

For details on how to join in the festivities - and support the NIH in this important move which certainly takes us beyond borders - see Peter Suber's post on Open Access News.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

European Universities Association (EUA) urges universities to develop clear strategies to advance open access

The European Universities Association (EUA), at their spring meeting in Barcelona, unanimously endorsed a recommendation to develop and support open access at every university in Europe. Details of the recommendation have been posted in the EUA Newsletter.

Details of the policy and my comments can be found on The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics.

Thanks to Bernard Rentier and Stevan Harnad.