|The Early Days of a Better Nation|
Friday, February 26, 2010
Over the past few months the Genomics Forum has hosted three very successful public events, the Social Sessions, on: the scientist as seen in literature and in science studies; genetics and crime; and science as an inspiration for poetry.
We are now planning a fourth, to be held in March, on the relevance of science studies to the controversy arising from the East Anglia emails hack - labelled 'Climategate' in the media and online. Our panel and audience will discuss whether the attitudes and actions apparently shown in the emails and other documents are as scandalous as has been claimed, or whether they are (as some of the science studies literature would suggest) fairly typical of what goes on in everyday scientific practice. And if the latter is the case, how is that the results of scientific practice can be regarded as reliable?
Date: 10 Mar 2010 17:30
Time: 5.30pm for 6.00pm, drinks and nibbles provided
ESRC Genomics and Policy Research Forum, 3rd Floor, St John's Land, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ
Organised by: ESRC Genomics and Policy Research Forum
Simon Shackley - School of Geosciences
Colin Macilwain - Nature
Ben Pile - Climate Resistance blog
Colin Campbell - EaSTCHEM Fellow, School of Chemistry
Steve Sturdy - Genomics Forum Deputy Director
This event is FREE, but as space is limited, please confirm your attendance as soon as possible to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
'Can things only get better or do we have to look over a mountain of rubble to see beyond the next fifty years? Scottish writers are leading a renaissance in British speculative fiction, but does our national identity have any future at all?' That's the question posed at an event on Sunday 7th March, 20:00 - 21:30, at Glasgow's Book Festival Aye Write!, where Andrew J. Wilson will be be discussing it with Mike Cobley, Hal Duncan, Richard Morgan, Deborah J. Miller and me - along with, we're promised, 'some very special surprise guests'. Space may be infinite, but space at the event is limited, so book here now.
Date: Thursday 25 February
Time: 7.00 pm to 9.00 pm.
Place: LT1, Appleton Tower Edinburgh EH12 5AU (map)
Free, and all welcome.
Check here for other upcoming events from the Society.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
PS: not least of StarShipSofa's many good points is its links to interesting pieces in print, such as this M. John Harrison review of a newly published lost novel by John Wyndham:
At its worst, science fiction is a kind of rumour mill, in which concepts such as cloning are first reduced to conceits, then ground into triviality by author after author; at its best it arranges these conceits into stories that have some emotional or ideological connection to the ordinary world. Wyndham perhaps recognised this, and tried to provide more value in his postwar work: however cosy we find his disaster novels, they are written in a recognisable voice rather than the incompetent burble on display here; set in a recognisable milieu rather than an indifferent parody of a culture Wyndham knew nothing about; and hinged on familiar emotional issues rather than a meaning-free reshuffle of plot elements.What I love about this is how it epitomises the sheer decades-long consistency of Mike Harrison's critique of SF, like John Amalfi's 'slogging brutal tireless heart'. Long may it beat.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The Genomics Forum recently hosted two designers as Visiting Fellows: James King and Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg. Among other activities in a busy week, they presented a slideshow of their activities. Check out Daisy's Synthetic Kingdom and Growth Assembly, and James's Meat of Tomorrow for imaginative and witty visualizations of biotechnological possibilities, translating the submicroscopic and nano-scale into macro objects of a possible future everyday.
Elsewhere in the noosphere, sculptor John Powers (author of the astonishing photo-essay Star Wars: A New Heap) has been writing and thinking about the kitchen of the future.
John, by the way, has an upcoming multi-part essay on the Singularity, with lots of quotes from my novel Newton's Wake, so watch this space.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
[T]hanks to the row over leaked emails from the Climatic Research Unit, we now learn that this body’s director, Phil Jones, works in a disorganised fashion amid chaos and mess. [...] His colleagues recall that his office was ‘often surrounded by jumbled piles of papers’.Elsewhere in the paper, we learn the full horror:
According to Mr Harrabin, colleagues of Professor Jones said ‘his office is piled high with paper, fragments from over the years, tens of thousands of pieces of paper, and they suspect what happened was he took in the raw data to a central database and then let the pieces of paper go because he never realised that 20 years later he would be held to account over them’.Tens of thousands of pieces of paper! Chaos and mess! Jumbled piles! In a scientist's office! Having been inside the offices of many science professors, and having worked for a year with social scientists who've made close anthropological studies of the everyday work of natural scientists, I'm shocked to the core.
Friday, February 12, 2010
i09 has lots more geeky romance, as does New Scientist, with wedding pic and everything.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Evolutionary biologist and science writer Julian Derry has a speculative evolutionary poem, The Meme Gene, at the Human Genre Project. Kelley Swain has written a very appreciative account of her visit to the Genomics Forum. The Forum has just advertised opportunities for similar visits and residencies, open to 'anyone concerned with the social dimensions of genetics, genomics and the new life sciences, whether natural or medical scientists, medical practitioners, social scientists, artists, writers and musicians, policy makers and others working in public service and civil society, and individuals from the worlds of industry and commerce.'
My good friend and Scottish SF stalwart Jack Deighton has a nice review of The Night Sessions, for which thanks, and an interesting personal account of the game-changing effect of Iain M. Banks's first published space opera Consider Phlebas for Scottish science fiction. Jack's own first novel, A Son of the Rock, is still available, and well worth a read.
Monday, February 08, 2010
Last week I received my contributor copies of
Sunday, February 07, 2010
Right at the bottom of the page is an ad for a book I can unhesitatingly recommend, Socialism or Your Money Back, a collection of articles from the Standard's first century (1904 - 2004). 'A running commentary on one hundred years of history, as it happened,' the ad says, and it's right. Every article in the book is consistent in outlook, reflects the time in which it was written, and yet (for the most part) remains readable and interesting today. You don't have to agree with the book to enjoy it, or to have your thoughts (and more) provoked. I bought it for a tenner when it came out, and it was worth every penny. It's now available in the UK for a quid, plus postage. As its publishers would be the first to agree, the market affects everything. You can get the entire collection of articles (but not the introduction and comments) free, but the book's a bargain even so.
(Why does the SPGB have annual conferences? So that it can react quickly to events.)