Thursday, 17 May 2018

tap tap

This cute little guy fluttered onto our windowsill, tapped on the window a few times, then just sat there looking in at us for about five minutes, not even moving as I crept forward with my phone, photographing as I went.

"why is the air all solid in front of me?"

Thursday, 10 May 2018

book review: The Bonobo and the Atheist

Frans de Waal.
The Bonobo and the Atheist: in search of humanism among the primates.
Norton. 2013

Some extremist religious people claim it is impossible to be “good without God”: we are all steeped in original sin, and fear of God’s wrath is the only thing stopping people from murdering each other. Frankly, I don’t know whether to assume they don’t really believe this, or whether to avoid them in case they suffer a crisis of faith and go on a rampage.

de Waal demonstrates a rather more sensible source of our morality: it evolved. To bolster his argument, he provides many examples from the behaviours of chimps and bonobos. These apes have different kinds of social structures, one rather more violent than the other, but both exhibit what can easily be interpreted as moral behaviours, including a desire for fairness, respect for each others’ possessions, and altruism.

de Waal’s observations build up a strong picture of a proto-moral society, with the chimps and bonobos exhibiting a wide range of bottom up moral behaviours, and resorting to some top-down “policing” on the relatively few occasions when individual behaviour is wanting. The multiple descriptions draw a picture of a complex society of caring individual apes, plus the odd grouch.

In summary, we are moral because we evolved as social apes, and the kind of morality we have evolved lets us live together in relative harmony. We too need policing, but only for the outliers, not for everyday behaviours. So no need to worry about atheistic murderous rampages. Or no more than religious ones, anyway.

For all my book reviews, see my main website.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

The Natural Science of Computation

Just got a complimentary copy of a new CUP book in the post:

Michael E. Cuffaro & Samuel C. Fletcher (eds)  Physical Perspectives on Computation, Computational Perspectives on Physics.  Cambridge University Press, 2018

Why did I get a complimentary copy?  Because:

Dominic Horsman, Viv Kendon, Susan Stepney.  Abstraction/Representation Theory and the Natural Science of Computation.  Chapter 6 in ...

I had fun writing the chapter with my co-authors.  And from the look of the table of contents, I'm going to have fun reading the other chapters.

Monday, 7 May 2018

three, no wait four!, cans of similar spam

The spam dentistry journal requests are continuing to arrive thick and fast.

Just this afternoon I received:
Dear Dr. S Stepney,

Good Morning…..!

Can we have your article for successful release of Volume 1 Issue 5 in our Journal?

In fact, we are in need of one article to accomplish the Issue prior 15th of May; we hope that the single manuscript should be yours. If this is a short notice please do send 2 page opinion/mini review/case report, we hope 2 page article isn’t time taken for eminent people like you.

We appreciate your attention to this request.

Best Regards,
Alexia Cornish
Significances of Bioengineering & Biosciences (SBB)

whereas earlier this morning, from a different bot with a now surprising lack of boldface and a weaker grasp of my name (presumably their web scraper is a little less intelligent than the others):
Dear Dr. S Stepneydf,

Hearty Greetings from AS Dental Sciences

We would like to take the pleasure to represent AS Dental Sciences journal, that is publishing various articles on Dentistry and Oral Sciences, after performing a double blinded peer review by potential Editors.

Current Issue:

We have also gone through your research work, and we heartily appreciate your expertise in the related field. So, with a desire to publish your descriptive article in Volume 2 Issue 7 of AS Dental Sciences, we cordially welcome your manuscript submission by May 26, 2018 through the below link.

We hope to publish your valuable paper in AS Dental Sciences!

With Kind Regards,
Ms. Sadhana Singh
Managing Editor at AS Dental Sciences
Acta Scientific Publications Private Limited
Contact: +91-9182824667
So they've "gone through" my research work, and "heartily appreciate" my "expertise in the related field".  Really?  Not really.

On 2 May, I got another one with the standard boldface template bot, again claiming that I am an eminent manuscript:
Dear Dr. S Stepney,

Good Morning…!

Can we have your article for successful release of Volume 5 Issue 1 in our Journal?

In fact, we are in need of one article to accomplish the Issue prior 10th of May; we hope that the single manuscript should be yours. If this is a short notice please do send 2 page opinion/mini review/case report, we hope 2 page article isn’t time taken for eminent people like you.

Or else drop your CV to edit or review articles in our journal.

Your trust in my efforts is the highest form of our motivation, I believe in you that you are eminent manuscript brings out the best citation to our Journal.

Anticipate for your promising response..

Best Regards,
Britney Sampson
Anatomy Physiology & Biochemistry International Journal (APBIJ)
Ooh!  I can become an editor, too!  Oooh!  No.

Update:  I idn't remember this one, until I started clearing out my email inbox.  On 25 April, I got one written in considerably better English:
Dear Dr. S Stepney, 

Greetings from our journal!

I wonder if you could write a manuscript (or any type of article) for Journal of Otolaryngology and Rhinology.

JOR is an international, open access, peer reviewed journal that publishes articles on causes, symptoms and diagnosis of various otology, rhinology, laryngology and many more within the scope of journal.

The main objective of the journal is to disseminate the scientific work, publication, education, and exchange of ideas globally. The Journal provides authors with a platform to contribute their findings and help raise awareness among readers on Otolaryngology and Rhinology.

Submit your manuscript on or before May 25, 2018 for publication in the upcoming issue.

Submission process: Online submission system [link omitted]

You can find the list of other journals hosted by ClinMed International Library here. [link omitted]

For any further information contact us by replying to this mail.

Awaiting your submission.

With thanks,

Catharine Paul
Editorial office
Journal of Otolaryngology and Rhinology | ISSN: 2572-4193
ClinMed International Library
3511 Silverside Road, Suite 105
Wilmington, DE 19810, USA)

Just how many of these spam journals are there?  Are they just using a bot to generate journal names along with the request emails?

And my "promising response" is still a promise to name and shame.  For the record, here’s a (growing) list of the spam-so-far:

Sunday, 29 April 2018

wait, a house needs other rooms?

Some interesting house design ideas...

Dream, Fantasy … world of wonder awaits you …

St.Gallen Abbey Library, St. Gallen, Switzerland

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