Category Archives: Books

New Sb Book Club!

The Book Club blog is active again – discussing Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure by Paul Offit, who wrote the first post. Join in the discussion!

Books: “The Good Father: On Men, Masculinity, and Life in the Family” by Mark O’Connel

The Good FatherIt is great when you write a blog post about somebody, then that somebody shows up in the comments and clarifies his position thus starting an interesting conversation (both in the comments and via e-mail), then you realize that his book-signing tour is bringing that somebody to your town, so you go there and meet that somebody in person and have a great conversation, which inspires you to write yet another blog post – the one under the fold….

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Thomas Frank at Quail Ridge Books

At Quail Ridge Books

with his new, much reviewed book, THE WRECKING CREW: CONSERVATIVE RULE IN THEORY AND PRACTICE, which examines the Washington culture that politicians have given us.

The second best thing to visiting Hogwarts….

….is to read how Grrrl visited the Harry Potter spots in London:
My Quest: To Visit all the Harry Potter Film Sites in London, Part 1:
The Leaky Cauldron, Gringott’s Wizarding Bank.
My Quest: To Visit all the Harry Potter Film Sites in London, Part 2:
Platform 9 3/4, Diagon Alley, Lambeth Bridge, The Houses of Parliament.
My Quest: To Visit all the Harry Potter Film Sites in London, Part 3:
Little Whinging Zoo, Train Station, The Ministry of Magic, 12 Grimmauld Place (Headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix), View Out the Windows of Harry’s Room at the Leaky Cauldron.

How to Read a Blog post (and books and stuff….)

Interesting post (based on one of my favourite books which may warrant a re-reading after many years – Adler’s “How to Read a Book” but adapted to online reading) How to Read by Brian Clark:

We know that people don’t read well online. They ruthlessly scan for interesting chunks of information rather than digesting the whole, and they want to be entertained in the process. This is the reality that online publishers deal with, so we disguise our nuggets of wisdom with friendly formatting and clever analogies.
But that doesn’t mean you should read that way.
If you’ve been publishing online for even a small amount of time, you’ve seen someone leave a comment that clearly demonstrates they didn’t read or understand the content. Even more painful is when someone writes a responsive post that clearly misses the entire point of the original article.
While it happens to us all from time to time, you do not want to consistently be one of these people. Credibility is hard enough to establish without routinely demonstrating that you fail to grasp a topic that you’ve chosen to write about, whether in an article or a comment.
Plus, if you’re doing nothing but scanning hundreds of RSS feeds and reading purely to be entertained, you’re at a disadvantage. Someone in your niche or industry is likely reading books and reading deeper to become the higher authority.
For example, next time you read a challenging blog post and you’re not clear on a point, your first inclination might be to ask a question in the comments. Instead, read the post again. If it’s still not clear, go do some research on your own to see if you can figure it out. Then when you finally do ask a question, you’re on an entirely different level of understanding and can likely engage in a meaningful dialogue with the author.

Read the whole thing. Carefully. With focus and understanding. Syntopically (you’ll have to read it to see what it means, then will have to read what OTHER people say on the topic before posting an intelligent comment).

NPR interview with Nancy Olson

I was just on my way to Raleigh this morning, among other errands also heading to Quail Ridge Books to pick up a book there, when I heard Nancy Olson’s interview on NPR’s The State Of Things. Very nice interview with the owner of my favourite bookstore! I drove slowly in order to hear the whole thing:

When Nancy Olson opened a small bookstore back in 1984, she wanted it to be more than just a place to find bestsellers. Today, Quail Ridge Books and Music is a community anchor, an incubator for Raleigh’s creative class and a dream come true. Nancy joins host Frank Stasio to share stories from her many years of selling books and meeting authors.

Buy This Book. Today.

I did already.
Female Science Professor (the Grand Dame of science/academic blogging) has just published a blook – a collection of her best blog posts.
You can and should buy “Academeology” on and later nominate it for the Blooker Prize.
And while you are shopping at, do I really need to remind you that this and this are still available there?

PZ is all over the place today!

PZ just had a book review published in Nature:

Science and evolution have an advocate in Kenneth Miller, one of North America’s eminent knights-errant, a scientist who is active in defending evolutionary theory in the conflict between evolution and creationism. He has been at the centre of many recent debates about science education, most prominently testifying against intelligent design creationism in Pennsylvania’s Dover trial, which decided that intelligent design was a religious concept that should not be taught in public schools. He is also a popular speaker, offering the public a grass-roots defence of good science education. Miller’s new book Only a Theory is a tour of creationist misconceptions about evolution, such as the one referred to in the book’s subtitle — a creationist predicted an inevitable victory in the Dover trial because evolution is “only a theory”. The book is also a celebration of the power of evolutionary theory to explain our existence.

Also, as a part of a Forbes Magazine’s special report on commuting, PZ had an article published today – Do Animals Commute?

Whether an animal commutes or not is less a function of the work they must do than of whether they actually have something that might be called a home, a haven, a shelter. We don’t just invest ourselves full-time in the job–if we did, we might as well spare ourselves the commute and live in the office–but instead make the effort to set up a place of our own, a safe spot where we can relax, raise a family, or pursue activities that aren’t directly related to simply feeding ourselves.
And for that, we and other animals will make the sacrifice of sinking time and energy into shuttling between a place of profit and a place of refuge. If you want to know if a particular animal engages in anything like a commute, just ask if it has anything you would call a home.

Lively discussion of commuting, of course, follows in the comments. I wish more people were commenting on animals’ movements, but OK, people like to talk about themselves and other people-worries.

Eric Roston on Colbert Report

Which New Media vs. Old Media book is the best evah?

There was a glowing review of Andrew Keen’s book in ‘Vreme’ (Serbian equivalent of TIME magazine) a couple of weeks ago and a friend of mine asked me if it was worth translating into Serbian language. I told him it was the worst book on the topic ever and sent him this link to explore (links within links within links, in an infinite journey through the blogosphere).
So, he asked me – which book on blogging, New Media and the struggles of the Old Media would be the best to translate. So, which one?

Colbert Report enters the Carbon Age

Yes, Eric Roston will be a guest on Colbert Report tonight at 11:30pm Eastern.


Go here and here for context, then discuss the idiosyncrasy of such lists. There are books there I have not touched, but I have read equally long and boring ones by the same authors. I have read parts of some, or kids/abridged versions of others. Here are those I read from beginning to end in original, unabridged versions:
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

The Sigil

sigil.JPGHenry Gee has published drafts of his new SF trilogy The Sigil on Apparently, publishers have no problem with this tactic – the final version will be published by them in the end.
I have ordered the trilogy and all three books arrived here about a week ago. I’ll let you know what I think once I find some time to read them.

Modern Science Writers – who do you like to read?

Triggered by noticing who was very obviously missing from the most recent Dawkins’ book that collects the best essays in modern science writing, Larry has been writing recently about other people who are excellent science writers. I have been a fan, for a long time, of the writings by Richard Lewontin, Niles Eldredge, David Raup, Jacques Monod and Steven Vogel. I am afraid I did not read enough by Eugenie Scott and should also check out Brent Dalrymple, Helena Curtis and David Suzuki.
And of non-modern science writers, I always found Darwin fun to read.
So, who do you like? Carl Sagan, Isaak Asimov, Stephen Jay Gould – those are obvious. Carl Zimmer – absolutely! Who else? Any particular books rather than others?

The ScienceBlogs Book Club

Yes, there is a new blog around here – The ScienceBlogs Book Club – where the author of a book and invited guest bloggers will discuss the book. You are invited to join the discussion in the comments and we, the rest of the sciencebloggers, may add to the cacophony on our blogs as well.
The first book in this series will be Microcosm by our own Carl Zimmer. The invited bloggers are John Dennehy, PZ Myers and Jessica Snyder Sachs, and all of you, of course….
Fortunately, I recently got my copy of the book, so I may push it to the top of my reading list and join in the discussion myself.

Can’t Blaspheme Any More!

Have you been to Pandagon lately? Have you seen the brand new look, design and layout? Cool!
Which reminds me that I have read Amanda’s book, It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments, on my first 2-3 flights in Europe last month. I left it with my cousin – let’s spread the new, fun kind of feminism to the Balkans!
I have been reading Amanda Marcotte online since before she joined the crew at Pandagon and I have to say that, as a white, middle-aged, middle-class man, I learned from her blogging a lot about things I used to take for granted, things I have which many other people do not have. It is through reading Pandagon (and a couple of other feminist blogs) that I became aware of the implicit sexism of the society and, in some cases, in my own head. I have learned how to notice and recognize subtle sexism which I could not before, and how to combat it and, in the process, become a better person myself.
Amanda’s book is a delight to read. It is funny (I startled some fellow passengers on the plane when I laughed out loud a few times). It is not as “foul-mouthed” as her blog-posts sometimes are (but there are occasions when an F-word is the only appropriate response to someone’s obstinate idiocy). It covers all the bases of the current state of gender (as well as racial, ideological, religious, etc.) relationships in the USA (and it is focused on the USA by design, so no need to complain about the lack of coverage of other societies). I intend to buy several copies and give them out as presents to people I think NEED to read this. I hope it is an eye-opener to them, just as reading Pandagon was an eye-opener for me.
My only problem with the book? No “Blaspheme” button on the bottom of each page that I can click on and post a comment!
And now, with the re-design of Pandagon, oh blasphemy!, there is no “Blaspheme” button any more!
Update: Amanda is fast!!! She saw this and immediately fixed her blog – instead of the “Publish” button, you can, once again, press “Blaspheme” in order to post your comment.


While I was gone for 6 days in Florida, my mailbox got choked with books. Some came from publishers, others from friends who hit my wish list. Disregard the last ClockQuotes just below – I am excited about these books and intend to read them.
First, and most exciting is Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life by my SciBling Carl Zimmer. Not surprisingly, the book has received glowing reviews everywhere. That will be the first one I tackle next week as soon as I am done with what I am reading right now.
Then, I got The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of Eastern North America. Now that the weather is nice, and considering that North Carolina is great for birding, I will see how good and useful it is for my kids (especially my daughter seems keen) as well as for myself as my birding skills hover right around zero. The book has lovely illustrations by Julie Zickefoose.
Next, there is the Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments which, I bet, my son will like to use. I grew up with such a book (in Serbo-Croatian language), but this one is specifically written for this day and age in the USA when the chemistry sets are de-fanged and boring due to litigation fears. The book promises to make chemistry exciting to a kid again.
Then, there is The Wisdom of Whores by another blog-friend Elizabeth Pisani. And The Animal Research War which is likely to make me happy. And Sex in Space, which, despite this review is so skinny it will take only about an hour of my time so it will likely get read anyway.
And I have read two and am finishing the third book on various airplane trips recently – I’ll try to find some time and energy to write brief reviews of them here as well.

Books: “Snooze…Or Lose! – 10 “No-War” Ways To Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits” by Helene A. Emsellem, MD

Snooze%20or%20Lose.jpgMy regular readers are probably aware that the topic of adolescent sleep and the issue of starting times of schools are some of my favourite subjects for a variety of reasons: I am a chronobiologist, I am an extreme “owl” (hence the name of this blog), I am a parent of developing extreme “owls”, I have a particular distaste for Puritanical equation of sleep with laziness which always raises its ugly head in discussions of adolescent sleep, and much of my own research is somewhat related to this topic (see the bottom of this post for Related Posts).
So, I was particularly pleased when Jessica of the excellent Bee Policy blog informed me of the recent publication of a book devoted entirely to this topic. Snooze…or Lose! by Helen Emsellem was published by National Academies and Jessica managed to get me an Advanced Reading Copy to review.

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Columbia Book Sale

I got an interesting e-mail yesterday:

Columbia White Sale goes through May 31st. For more information, please visit: We are offering up to 80% off on more than 1,000 titles in all subjects. (There are some really great deals). I hope this will be of interest to you and your readers. Please feel free to pass the word to friends and colleagues.

Hmmmmm, shiny!

OpenLab 2007

The second science blogging anthology, the Open Laboratory 2007 is now up for sale on As the profits will go towards the organization of ScienceOnline’09, it is the best if you guide your readers to buy it directly from However, it would be really nice if some of the readers wrote reviews on the page.
Also, do not forget to keep submitting new entries for the OpenLab’08.

It’s a Jungle Out There

There is a good review of Amanda Marcotte’s book on Powell’s site:

Fortunately, she manages to integrate enough fresh material to keep the book relevant to feminists of all ages. As she observes in her introduction, “Spotting sexism sounds easy, but the sheer commonness of it, coupled with its surprising diversity, makes it so that even hardened feminists could use refreshers.” Marcotte shines when she takes aim on subjects that are rarely discussed in Women’s Studies 101, from the passing stranger who demands that you smile to the ritual of self-flagellation that occurs when female coworkers gather to eat sweets. It’s a Jungle Out There offers fun, smart relief from the unending safari of sexism.

I will be reading it on my flight to England….

“Sex in Space” not so exciting after all…

Or so says Talia in her book review.
I recently ordered a bunch of stuff from for me and others, and all orders arrived nicely except this book which never appeared (lost in space?). Perhaps I should not worry, according to the review.

Jablonka & Lamb

Anne-Marie wrote an excellent review of Evolution in Four Dimensions by Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb.
I tend to think that the use of the term “neo-Lamarckism” (just like the use of “neo-Darwinism“) is unnecessary as it will raise hackles and start linguistic battles instead of invite people to investigate new ways of thinking and new additions to the body of evolutionary theory.
Yes, we now understand that genes are necessary, but not sufficient, for heritability and we are increasingly including development in our accounts of evolution. And as much as I like the Developmental systems theory (DST), I don’t think it needs a new name – it is just an addition to our thinking about biology, a newish and promising angle to use when looking at Life.

Not all blogs are tech blogs

In one of those “if you like this you may also like this” e-mails from, I got a suggestion I may like a book called Blogging Heroes: Interviews with 30 of the World’s Top Bloggers. So, I took a look. I’ve been blogging since 2004, so I thought I knew who the top bloggers were and could find it interesting to see what they had to say.
As it turns out, the title is a misnomer. It should be “……American Top TECH Bloggers”. I recognize three names (Anderson, Scoble, Rubel).
Perhaps they say interesting things in the interviews, as observers of the blogosphere. But, I am not really interested in tech blogs. I mean, kudos to them – they built all the software that tens of millions of bloggers are using today. But, they usually do not write about things interesting to people outside their circle. I know nothing about software. I am a Luddite when it comes to gizmos and gadgets (got my first cell phone 6 months ago, OK?). I have no interest in the business shenanigans of tech corporations. I understand some people may be interested, but the title of the book should have been more truthful about it.
The book is also heavily male-slanted, with the editor’s explanation about as clueless as was Oransky’s back at the Conference.
I’m thinking, perhaps I’ll buy it anyway, and see if the contents is interesting to a broader audience.
Update/Clarification: Being clueless is not something to be ashamed of – I was clueless about this until about a year ago. Being a white man, I took some things for granted that I shouldn’t. Reading feminist blogs taught me some things. As Pat said in a comment (see the link above):

I thought his was a good post but that, unlike you, he didn’t understand that when a group hasn’t been at the table, sometimes it takes more than an invitation to get them there.

Exactly – an open invitation is not perceived as an open invitation by groups that historically were not invited. Just issuing an invitation is not enough. Women, non-Whites (in academia: undergraduates) and other minority groups have seen many invitations that were really by and for white men. When we say ‘open invitation’ we mean it, today, but it was not always like this and the people in groups that remember this will not conclude that they are really welcome. Even when the invitation is very specific, as in job ads that state “women and minorities are encouraged to apply”, this not usually seen as a true invitation but as ass-covering legalese language. Thus, if you really want to see diversity, you have to make an effort to demonstrate that you Really mean it – you talk to the representatives of those communities directly and issue direct invitations, not just circular letters.
Update/Correction 2:I may have been too harsh on Ivan Oransky above. Apparently, the editor did explain that they did ask female bloggers (as did the editor of the book that is the topic of this post) and they did not respond. Which makes it two examples of situations in which invited women did not respond. The question is why? I still think that the explanation above is valid, but perhaps there is more. Why did we manage to get a lot of women to moderate sessions at the Conference, while these editors could not get the replies? Is it because I invited women I already knew and had rapport with? Does it take more time and more work than just an invitation, even if it is a personal invitation?

Arthur C. Clark, RIP

Sir Arthur C. Clark has died at the age of 90.

It’s A Jungle Out There

amanda%27s%20book.jpgAmanda Marcotte’s book is (finally) out for sale. As she says:

Titled “It’s A Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide To Politically Inhospitable Environments“, and it’s about what it seems to be about, a guidebook for those irritating situations that keep cropping up for a feminist in a still-sexist world.

I ordered myself a copy the other day. You should, too.

Walking With Zeke

I bought a book yesterday. You should buy yourself a copy, too. The best writer in the blogosphere, on the most famous dog in the blogosphere. You’ll be touched.

How Do You Shelve Your Books?

Wow! This is nuts! And this is nuts in a different way! Fortunately, Scott McLemee, Chad Orzel, Josh Rosenau and Brian Switek bring in some reality to the topic: what goes on the living-room bookshelf? Commenters chime in. Good stuff. Read it.
So, what are “rules” in the Coturnix house?
First, the house is too small to allow too much fine planning as to what the guests will see.
Second, we do not have guests very often (again, lack of space), so the bookshelves are not aimed at them.
Third, we have about 5000 books and they have to be stored somewhere, in some fashion.
Fourth, we have moved twice in the last 5 years, so the “rules” had to change, due to changes in available space.
Fifth, it never occured to me that a bookshelf is any kind of statement about me, though perhaps it is not true: I do like the rare guests to look at the books. It is not so much that I want to impress them with Great Literature, but I do like to brag about some rare gems I found serendipitously at second-hand bookstores and yardsales.
Sixth, I would never be so presumptuous to call the library mine – it is ours, we are a family, and all the books belong to each of us.
When people have a bad time and need to lift themselves up, or if they have good times and need to celebrate, they usually go out to eat at a good restaurant. My wife and I? We go to a bookstore. Food comes at one orifice and leaves on another. Books stay forever.
Do we ever get rid of books? Yes, we pack up a couple of boxes and sell them a few times a year. Kiddie books outgrown by our kids get sent to younger nephews and nieces. How do we choose what to get rid of? Books we did not like, and know will not like, and, importantly, do not think our kids will ever care to read.
How are the books organized? Right now, total chaos. Almost. Each kid has a shelf in his/her own room. All the physics book and chess books are in my son’s room, for instance. All the SF is on a shelf in our bedroom, next to my side of the bed. There is also a big “to read soon” shelf in our bedroom. There are also four other big shelves in our bedroom populated mainly by fiction, plus some books about the Balkans and some Judaica. Those used to be oganized in the alphabetical order by author, but are a mess right now – it’s a project for the near future. There are eight large and one small bookshelf in the living room, populuated by non-fiction, textbooks and reference books. Right now they are a mess, but they used to be organized by topic. An entire line of Darwin, another row is just SJ Gould, about two shelves are philosophy, lots of evolution, ecology, behavior, physiology, and also art, film, sociology, politics. It did make sense, trust me.
Oh, BTW, I built all the shelves myself.
So, what decides what books are kept? Books useful for reference, daily blogging, or study. Books we liked and hope our kids will read one day. Books of historical value. Book we intend to read. It’s actually pretty simple, and does not really involve impressing guests (though we appreciate it when the guests are impressed by the sheer numbers).
So, what’s your book-keeping/shelving method?

Books on careers in science

Anne-Marie reviews two books that appear to be useful in thinking about one’s career in science: The Beginner’s Guide to Winning a Nobel Prize, by Peter Doherty, and The Chicago Guide to Landing a Job in Academic Biology, by Chandler, Wolfe, and Promislow. Read the review and, if you think this is something you need, buy the books.
And, if you have additional recommendations, let Anne-Marie know in her comments.

1-2-3, the Goosed/Book meme

Oh-oh, it seems it’s a meme season again! I’ll dutifully do them, one at a time. Today – the good old 123 book meme, which memeticized over time into being called “Goosed meme”. I was tagged by Lance Mannion who was hoping that the book closest to me is the OpenLab07. Sorry. It’s not. It was until earlier today. Tough luck, Lance, you’ll just have to buy it.
Anyway, the rules first:
• look up page 123 in the nearest book
• look for the fifth sentence
• then post the three sentences that follow that fifth sentence on page 123.
The nearest book is the one which arrived in the mail today, so I have not have had the pleasure of reading it yet, though I am chomping at the bit as it is supposed to be quite racy. It is It’s every monkey for themselves by Vanessa Woods, a book which, for various legal reasons, is not available in the USA or on, but you can order it directly from Allen&Unwin.
So, let’s see what’s on page 123 and if it is considered cheating if I do not consider single-word shouts in a dialog as sentences:

“But it was impossible. People in the monkey house were obsessed with sexual relations. We couldn’t help it. We spent all day watching monkeys go up and down the hierarchy because of who they had sex with.”

Whetted your appetite yet?
Now I need to tag some other bloggers to do the same excercise:
I hope that Eric Roston’s manuscript is the closest book to where he is sitting right now.
I hope that Tom Levenson keeps his manuscript close to his computer.
I hope that Chad Orzel’s dog has not dragged the manuscript away from his computer.
I guess that Jennifer Ouellette is always writing a new book as well and has a draft nearby.
And what the heck, might as well tag Vanessa Woods herself – she is busy writing two books so one of them is bound to be the “closest”.

In which we proudly announce the Editor of the Open Laboratory 2008

Yes, that time has come….Going it alone in 2006 was far too much work for one person. Reed Cartwright was the first guest editor in 2007 and this was a perfect solution. So, going on into the new year and new victories, it is now time to announce the Editor of the Open Laboratory 2008. Drumroll….
The anthology editor for this year will be Jennifer Rohn!!!
Jennifer is a post-doc in cell biology at University College London, she blogs at Mind The Gap and is the Editor of
Stay tuned for more book-related news soon. The new submission form will be available very soon as well so start checking your archives for posts written since December 21st 2007.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Wikipedia and Facebook but were too shy to ask

Two books – Facebook: The Missing Manual and Wikipedia: The Missing Manual arrived in my mailbox today. How did I get them? By being on Facebook, getting a message from the O’Reilly Facebook group and being one of the first 20 to respond. The first glance at the books and the tables of contents suggests both books will be useful references and I will try to use them in the near future as I plan how to take over the world!

Open Lab 2007 – soon in a bookstore near you!

OpenLab07-cover-adj.jpgThe day before yesterday, my copy of The Open Laboratory 2007, the second annual science blogging anthology, arrived in the mail.
So yesterday, Reed and I met at a coffee shop and looked it over. It looks great! Reed knows what he’s doing and is a perfectionist, so of course the book looks perfect.
So, I went back online to and approved the book to be sold in various online and offline bookstores. The book information will be sent to Bowker’s Books In Print and once approved by Bowker, Lulu will upload the title to their distribution network. This process is generally completed within 2-3 weeks. You can expect to see the book listed on and other online retailers within the next 6 to 8 weeks.
As for brick stores, let’s hope they pick the book out from the catalogue. But you can help in this department. Each one of you, no matter where you live, probably have a favourite local independent bookstore. Next time you visit there, tell them you’d like to see them carry this item:
The Open Laboratory: The Best Science Writing on Blogs 2007 (, 2008; ISBN: 978-1-4357-0832-7).
I know I’ll be calling Nancy at Quail Ridge Books and Katharine at Market Street Books around here.
The book will always be available online on – just go here and place your order (you can save money by buying a downloadable PDF, but then you will miss the feel of holding a pretty book in your hands and it does make a difference). Buy an extra copy and donate it to your local library. Use it in the classroom (or suggest it to a teacher you know). Buy a few and save them for next year’s Christmas presents.
The proceeds will go to and will be used for the organization of the next Science Blogging Conference and the editing of the next edition of the anthology next year. If this is something you want to support, keep in mind that the royalties are greater if you buy directly from than from any other source.
If you work for MSM and want a review copy of the PDF, contact Reed about it. I will also try to see if will print a few review copies of the book for me to distribute to science magazines and journals that are interested in reviewing it. Note to authors: I am still working on getting the free copy for each one of you like did for last year’s anthology authors.
The first review is already out! You can read it in today’s issue of Nature:

The editor of this second anthology of the best scientific communiques from the blogosphere thinks blogs offer new ways to discuss science. The Open Laboratory 2007: the Best Science Writing on Blogs (, 2008) takes the curious approach of using dead tree format to highlight the diversity of scientific ideas, opinions and voices flowing across the Internet. Every year a different guest editor — here Reed Cartwright, a blogger and genetics and bioinformatics postdoc from North Carolina State University — picks the best posts to coincide with the Science Blogging Conference (in North Carolina on 19 January). First-hand accounts bring to life the stresses of a graduate student, a mother returning to the bench and an archaeologist’s joy at unearthing mammoth fossils. Topics tackled are as varied as the writers, from Viagra and tapeworms to trepanning. Explanations are often offered with a personal twist, such as a father’s tale of his child’s Asperger’s syndrome. The measured voices of trustworthy academics make medical research easy to swallow. If you are overwhelmed by the surge in science-related blogging and don’t know where to start, then this compilation may help you steer a course through the sea of perspectives on offer — or inspire you to start a blog yourself.

Now, buy The Book!

Open Lab 2007 – Up For Sale!

Well, The Day has arrived! The Open Laboratory 2007, the 2nd anthology of the best science blogging of the year, is now up for sale on!
Yes, you can buy it right here!
In a few weeks (and I will be sure to tell you), the book will also available in online and offline bookstores.
You can read the background story, see all the submitted entries and the winning 53 posts.
All the kudos go to this year’s editor, Reed Cartwright for doing a magnificent job on every aspect of the process – from summoning posts for submission, getting volunteers to judge the posts and providing all sorts of technical tools that made everyone’s job easy, to the final touches in making the book look absolutely gorgeous.
I have ordered the first copy so we can check how it looks like when printed and if any errors need to be fixed before the book is accepted by and the meatspace bookstores. Lulu’s prices have gone up a bit since last year – sorry…. But if you cannot wait for that, you can order right now, of course – right here (and if you have missed out on the first edition from 2006, you can still order it, on only).
I would also like to thank the judges for spending their holiday break reading, commenting on and grading all the submitted posts and making our job that much easier. They are (in no particular order): Anna Kushnir, Tara Smith, Tiffany Cartwright, Greta Munger, Karen James, Anne-Marie, Jennifer Forman Orth, Michele Kiyota, GreenSmile, The Ridger, Abel PharmBoy, John Dupuis, Alex Palazzo, Blake Stacey, Greg Laden, Michael Rathbun, Dave Bacon, Egon Willighagen, Martin Rundkvist, Arunn Narasimhan, Mike Dunford, Steve Matheson, Brian Switek, Peter McGrath, Chris Rowan, Kevin Zelnio, John Wilkins, Anton Zuiker, Jeremy Bruno, Ian Musgrave and Mike Bergin. Please visit their sites, look around, boost their traffic and say Hello.
And tell all your friends to go here and buy The Book!
Update: Thanks to all who have written blog posts promoting the anthology:
10000 Birds
The Other 95%
Pondering Pikaia
The Tao of How
Minor Revisions
Talking Sense
Science After Sunclipse
And He Blogs
The Nervous Axon
Living the Scientific Life
The Digital Cuttlefish
Greg Laden
The Beagle Project Blog
Bootstrap Analysis
The Real Paul Jones
Podblack Blog
Confessions of a Science Librarian
The Greenbelt
Bad Astronomy

Open Lab 2007 – the winning entries for you to see!

Well, The Day has arrived! After reading all of the 486 entries at least once (and many 2-3 times) and after calculating all of the judges’ ratings of all the posts, Reed Cartwright and I are happy to announce which blog posts will be published in the second science blogging anthology, the “Open Laboratory 2007”.
First, I want to thank the judges (at least those who do not wish to remain anonymous – let me know if I missed one of you) for spending their holiday break reading, commenting on and grading all the submitted posts and making our job that much easier. Those are: Anna Kushnir, Greta Munger, Tiffany Cartwright, Karen James, Anne-Marie, Michelle Kiyota, The Ridger, Abel PharmBoy, John Dupuis, Blake Stacey, Greg Laden, Michael Rathbun, Jeremy Bruno, Egon Willighagen, Martin Rundkvist, Arunn Narasimhan, Mike Dunford, Steve Matheson, Brian Switek, Kevin Zelnio, Alex Palazzo, John Wilkins and Mike Bergin (and one or more anonymous referees). Please visit their sites, look around, boost their traffic and say Hello.
Like last year, the book will be published by, the on-demand online book publisher based here in the Triangle area of North Carolina.
I will post occasional updates on the process of turning all these posts into a book, which should be published and up for sale just in time for the 2nd Science Blogging Conference. And now, here are the winners…drumroll please…
The Poem:
Digital Cuttlefish
Much Ado About…The Brain?
The Comic:
The Lab Fridge
10000 Birds
In Memory of Martha
Star Stryder
You are the Center of the Universe (and so am I, and so is Gursplex on Alpha Eck)
The Panda’s Thumb
Stuck on you, biological Velcro and the evolution of adaptive immunity and Behe vs Sea Squirts, fused into a single article.
Bad Astronomy
Happy New Year Arbitrary Orbital Marker!
Would you give your baby someone else’s breast milk?
Anterior Commissure
Why we bond – Individual recognition, evolution, and brain size
Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog
How Much LSD Does It Take to Kill an Elephant
Visiting the Wenas mammoth and Looking for drowned mammoths fused into a single essay.
Science And Democracy III
The Questionable Authority
Adam, Eve, and why they never got married
Measure twice, average once
Bootstrap Analysis
Shrew party
Cocktail Party Physics
Genie in a Bottle
Evolving Thoughts
Coffee Talk
What is the meaning of (grad student) life?
A Blog Around The Clock
The Scientific Paper: past, present and probable future
Your Folks, My Folks in Prehistory
Creek Running North
Breathing in, breathing out
Thoughts from Kansas
Neither means, motive nor opportunity: a guide to dysteleology
Deanne Taylor’s blog
Faculty diversity in science
Deep-Sea News
Our Ocean Future: The Glass Half Empty and Our Ocean Future: The Glass Half Full fused into a single article.
SMILES and Aromaticity: Broken?
Duas Quartunciae
The Evolution of Wings
Effect Measure
Tamiflu resistance: digging beneath the headlines
The End Of The Pier Show
No Girrafes On Unicycles Beyond This Point
The Loom
Build Me A Tapeworm
The Pump Handle
Popcorn Lung Coming to Your Kitchen? The FDA Doesn’t Want to Know
Denialism blog
The Road to Sildenafil – A history of artifical erections
The Other 95%
Anemones Raise a Tentacle in Support of Evolution
Highly Allochthonous
Testability in Earth Science
Invasive Species Weblog
Square Pegs
Homo sapiens: What We Think About Who We Are (Redux)
Life of a Lab Rat
Riding with the King (also found here)
Living the Scientific Life
Schemochromes: The Physics of Structural Plumage Colors
The Primate Diaries
The Sacrifice of Admetus
The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times
All of My Faults Are Stress Related
The Sound of Mylonites
In the eyes of the Aye-ayes
Mind the Gap
In which I leap into the Void, In which I lift my finger from the ‘pause’ button, In which I contemplate the road taken, not taken, then re-taken and In which I rejoice in muscle memory fused into a single essay.
Omni Brain
How moving your eyes in a specific way can help you solve a problem
Minor Revisions
Sloppy Thinking about Homeopathy from The Guardian
An illustrated history of trepanation
Notes from Ukraine
The Chernobyl liquidators: incredible men with incredible stories (Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3) and Musings about the liquidators fused into a single article.
Segmentation genes evolved undesigned
Pondering Pikaia
Moving Mountains
Quintessence of Dust
They selected teosinte…and got corn. Excellent!
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Getting ethics to catch on with scientists
Schneier on Security
Shor, I’ll Do It
Stranger Fruit
Pithecophobes of the World, Unite! Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV all four fused into a single article.
Update: Thanks to people who have linked to this post and spread the news: Corie Lok, Karen James, Egon Willighagen, Martin Rundkvist, Steve Matheson, Brian Switek, Mike Bergin, RPM, Reed Cartwright, Phil Plait, Shelley Batts, John McKay, Sabine Hossenfelder, Josh Rosenau, Craig McClain, Carl Zimmer, Jennifer Forman Orth, Richard Grant, Grrrlscientist, Afarensis, Steve Higgins, post-doc, Mo, John Lynch, Neil Saunders, Seed Daily Zeitgeist, Edwin Bendyk, Microecos, crazyharp81602, Reed Cartwright (pick up your badges here), Chad Orzel, Carl Feagans, Larry Moran, The Ridger, John Dupuis, Jake Young, Massimo Morelli, Revere, King Aardvark, Grrrlscientist, Brandon, Podblack Cat, Alex Palazzo, Graham Steel, Sciencewoman

Open Lab 2007 – all the entries are now in!

It is midnight, and the deadline for submission of blog posts for the 2nd Science Blogging Anthology is over. We have recieved 468 entries (after deleting spam – the total was 501) and a jury of 30+ judges has already started reading and grading the entries. We truly believe that we will have the book ready and printed by the time the 2nd Science Blogging Conference starts, on January 18th-19th, so both the participants and you at home will be able to order your copy at that time.
A little later, I will post the links to all of the 468 entries so everyone can see them (and I will not hide them under the fold like I did last time) – expert commentary on the entries posted in the comments of that big linkfest will be appreciated by the judges.

U.S. history

I need to pick, buy and send a book on U.S. history to an old friend in Belgrade. It should be an objective, academic book, 600+ pages, not more than $50 used at Amazon. Is there such a thing and if so, what shall I get?

Golden Compass – it’s about sex, really

This weekend, with 70 degrees F in Chapel Hill, it would have bin a sin to remain indoors. So I didn’t. But in the end, at twilight today, my daughter and I went to see Golden Compass, the movie whose first-weekend box-office earnings I wanted to boost.
I made sure not to read any reviews of the movie beforehand. I am, unlike most people who already wrote about it, one of those people who has never read the Pullman books on which the movie is based. Thus, like the majority of the target audience, I was a Pullman “virgin” and I wanted to watch it just like anyone else going out to see a movie on a weekend, with no big expectations.
Of course, there was no escaping knowing at least something about it. Before seeing the movie, I knew that:
– the books are supposed to have a strongly anti-religious sentiment, growing stronger as the story moves to the third book. But, I have no idea if the anti-religious sentiment is against the religion in the sense of belief in the supernatural, or the mythology, or the ceremony, or the community-building aspects (“us versus them”), or the top-down hierarchical structure of the religious organization.
– Pullman is a first-generation (“born-again”) atheist. This gives him a different view of religion than someone like me who was born and raised an atheist, in an atheist family, in an atheist country. His childhood religion colors him as a person, and his adult rebellion against religion also colors him as a person. He knows how it feels to be religious. I don’t. For me, religious people are curiousities, perhaps interesting as potential subjects to study: how is it possible for a human being to believe obvious untruths and how does such belief result in particular anti-social behaviors? It is like starting one’s research career by studying cockroach behavior because you want to eradicate the pest, but after decades of study you realize that you quickly forgot the fact they are pests and got fascinated by their brains, how they work and how they lead to particular cockroach behaviors. Having Gregor Samsa join your research group would be fascinating as he would bring new angles, yet also would bring biases that a merely human researcher cannot have.
– there was a controversy before the movie came out. Atheist groups protested the watering-down of the anti-religious sentiment compared to the books. The most extremely anal political organizations that like to voice their opinions publicly as if they speak for religion, voiced their disapproval of the movie and called for boycotts.
So, that’s all I knew. We got popcorn and sodas and went in.
And then, I loved the movie. It was fast-moving, it was fun, it has great acting, great characters, great scenery, great special effects and a fun story. My daughter loved it as well. We both now want to read the books (we have all three, sitting on the shelf right next to the Harry Potter series, still unread by anyone in the household, but that is soon to change).
Of course, the story is a typical fantasy story – it has all the elements such a story has to have. There is the main protagonist who is an unlikely hero, too young and inexperienced for the job, yet nobody else can do. Events thrust the protagonist into the role of the hero. This involves a journey. An older, wiser character serves as a teacher. There is a funny, yet also wise sidekick. The enemy is a jealous authoritarian (surrounded by a slimy posse of thugs) who wants to rule the world. An object is lost and needs to be retrieved. The hero finds help and shelter from a group at the edge of society that cherishes freedom. The journey is perilous, and each dangerous event on the road teaches the hero something new and adds crust and courage to the character (i.e., the character is built). Unexpected family ties are discovered (“I Am Your Father, Luke!”). The crescendo of events leads to the final battle between Good and Evil in which Good triumphs and the hero, irreversibly changed, rides off into the sunset.
So yes, all the archetypes are in the movie. And so they are in every adventure, fantasy, coming-of-age story in history. From Illiad to Winnie-the-Pooh and Alice in Wonderland to James Bond. From 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 to Brave New World. From Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings to Star Wars and Harry Potter. And so they are in the Golden Compass as well. Does it make the movie bad? Of course not – there is a reason why those elements are always in the story – they work! They appeal to something in all of us, make us identify with the hero and makes the adventure exciting!
So, what is special about Golden Compass? It’s sex. Everything in the movie has an interesting sexual or gender connotation. The hero is a heroine – a smart and brave girl. And, although there are many, many characters in the movie, very few are female. The society is entirely patriarchal. Thus, it is not just the age and the spunk, but also the gender of the heroine that rubs many other characters wrong (on both sides of the Good/Evil divide).
The place-time looks Victorian – I actually recognized the scenes filmed at Queens College and the Radcliffe Square in Oxford. And the society is Victorian as well. The school where Lyra goes to employs only men. The students, apart from her, are all men. White men. The only other female character at the college is the maid.
The Gyptians, while Billie’s mother appears to be a prominent member of the group, are still led by a group of old bearded men – she does not sit at their table when they make decisions.
With the polar bears it is hard to tell who is male or female, but there is no question that the King has to be male.
And of course, the Magisterium is led by a bunch of ugly, old, nasty, white guys who are the prime target audience for the Viagra commercials, if they only had anyone to use the blue pill with. Their sexual frustration, combined with the fear of death, turns them into power-hungry control freaks. If they can’t get it, nobody will! Thus, nobody, especially children, shall even know about sex, …er, Dust. Familiar?
In this world, every person has a daemon. Daemon is an animal and it is the place where the person’s soul resides. It is also a representation of the person’s sexuality. In kids, deamons are innocent and cute and change shape and form (aka species) all the time. At puberty, the species gets fixed. The soldiers have wolves. The farmers’ souls are horses. The servants’ daemons are dogs – higher in hierarchy, bigger the dogs, with the top servants walking around with Great Danes. And what are the daemons of the top leaders of the Magisterium? All are Great Cats. Now, why do you think these middle-aged guys are walking around with black panthers and snow leopards? Of course, for the same reason that their modern counterparts drive Jaguars to the grocery store.
And the very top dog, the leader of the cult? His daemon is a snake. Yes, really – a snake. The guy is constantly holding and playing with his python!
The king of the bears, the guy who likes to play with the dolls, is stupid enough to fall for the trick because the sweet-talking was delivered by a pretty girl who knows how to stroke his masculine insecurity.
The other bear, the good guy, also has some issues – he is a loner, a drunk, and a warrior. And as macho as can be. “Are you sure you want to ride me?” he asks, not being able to believe his good luck!
The other major female character, the ice-cold Mrs. Coulter – the brilliant stroke of lucky coincidence in naming, useful at pointing out to the dense what her role in the society is – is between the rock and a hard place. While the leaders of the Magisterium, all men, can sit around with stern faces, fluffing each others’ self-importance, Mrs. Coulter, being a woman, is supposed to actually do the work. She is doing the cleaning of the house. Being a woman, she is judged by her performance. Being a woman, she is dispensable if she screws up or becomes too uppity for their taste. They lust after her, and they hate her because they cannot have her. So, they own her and play with her destiny. And she, an independent spirit when younger, decided to play within the system, by their rules, choosing to have some power and temporary safety within their hierarchy in return for obedience. And she does it with a vengeance. If they are nasty, she has to be ten times as nasty just to be tolerated in their society.
Her project, an experimental splitting between kids and daemons, is a form of castration. Which she does with gusto. Except in one instance when her own offspring is to be rendered infertile. Her genetic immortality is more important to her than anything else in that moment of weakness.
So, is this movie anti-religious? Yes and no. It is primarily anti-authoritarian, so, as much as all organized religion is authoritarian, it is anti-religion. I do not know how the books are, but the movie does not mention God or even mention even a little bit of their beliefs and theology. We do not see anything from their sacred texts, do not hear the liturgy or see the ceremony. All we see is the social organization of the Magisterium which is decidedly authoritarian and bigoted, and on the other side, the Good side, the people are free-thinking and all-inclusive. The wiches, the bears, the Gyptians (who look like sea-faring Gypsies, the most despised and oppressed and simultaneously most romanticized nation in the world – for their love of freedom), the funny guy with a Texas accent – they never eye each other with suspicion for a split-second. Tolerance is in their blood.
But an authoritarian, hierarchical organization need not be limited to religious organizations. Political organizations, and others, can also be organized in the same way, motivated by greed, fear and sexual repression. Just because the leaders of the Magisterium wear funny robes, does not mean that the movie attacks priesthood in just religious organizations. Other, secular organizations also have their priests and uniforms. And of course the leaders of such organizations will want to headquarter their operations in as big and phallic buildings as possible, thus the cathedrals shapes in the movie. Again, the brilliant coincidence of the name of the second major female character….
And just because the audience is expected to want a “big one” as well, this little questionnaire produces, in about 90% of the trials, a Big Cat:

Chris Clarke on Joshua Trees

Chris Clarke is writing a book on Joshua trees. This requires money and Chris does not have enough. I know I want to read the book when it comes out. This is what blog-friends are for: donate now.

Open Lab 2007 is now being judged

Reed has assembled more than 30 judges and provided a secret online place for them to start working today on the difficult job of choosing the 50 best posts, one poem and one cartoon for the 2007 Open Laboratory science blogging anthology. You have only 20 days left to submit your own or your favourite bloggers’ antries.

Happy birthday “Origin of Species”

Or, Happy Evolution Day! It’s time for a party!
It is easy to look up blog coverage – if you search for “Origin of Species” you mostly get good stuff, if you search for “Origin of the Species” you get creationist clap-trap as they cannot even copy and paste correctly (hence they are better known these days as cdesign proponentsists).
Pondering Pikaia and The Beagle Project Blog were first out of the gate this morning with wonderful posts.
Here is a recent book review of the Origin by someone who knows some biology and another one by someone who does not – both are quite nice and eye-opening.
Corpus Callosum, John Wilkins, Shalini, Paul Erland also mark the date.
The first printing of 1250 copies did not fly off the shelves, because they were all already sold to subscribers – yes, did not invent pre-ordering of books. The second printing was then rushed immediatelly for public sales in actual physical bookstores.
Upon first reading The Origin, Thomas Henry Huxley famously exclaimed: “How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!”
I first read The Origin (4th edition) when I was about 13 or 14. That was the third serious book I have ever read in English (the first two were Jonathan Livingston Seagull and a biography of Bruce Lee) and it was heavy slogging. I do not remember if I actually finished it (probably not) and mostly remembered the pigeons. Too young.
I read The Origin again (the 1st edition), the whole thing, while taking a “History of Life Science” course with Will Kimler some ten years ago, and then again next semester for his “Darwin In Science And Society” course. As well as a bunch of secondary literature, autobiography, a couple of biographies, some papers…Then the following year, Will and Roger Powell co-taught a graduate seminar “Darwin (Re)visited” where we actually read the entire Origin, entire Voyage of the Beagle, huge chunks of Descent of Man (I read the whole thing), the whole The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, some letters, excerpts from the Orchid book, etc. I also read pieces from the Power Of Movement in Plants and the Earthworm book. I need to re-read all that stuff again (one should, every ten years or so). And you should, too.
More from Dispersal of Darwin, Laelaps, Sandwalk, Afarensis and Yikes!

I want an e-Book, but Kindle is not it

Call me traditional, but I love books. I have about 5000 of them. If I see a long blog post or a scientific paper or an article that is longer than a page or two, I print it out and read it in hardcopy. I see why an e-Book is a good idea, though, and one day I am sure to have one for particular purposes (e.g., for travel, or for copying and pasting short quotes into my blog-posts as needed, or for sharing books with others), but not until I am the master of exactly what is on it and what I want to do with it – and apparently that time is far off. It may be even going backwards. Just see what people are saying about Kindle, the new Amazon book-reading device. Proprietary, proprietary, proprietary…
This is probably the best way to put it (in the best tradition of Billmon!).
And not just that Amazon is tying you to their own format and forbidding you from doing anything interesting with the book, e.g., owning it, sharing it, printing it, mashing-it-up, but you can now also read blogs using Kindle. Look at the list of blogs they offer, and especially the list of science blogs. Many of my SciBlings are on there. Happily, I am not. Although a couple of times a week when I flag a post to appear in the Select Feed, you will be able to read it on Kindle. And pay for it. In the meantime, you can continue reading my blog for free, right here, or via my RSS feed, or via e-mail subscription. Feel free to print out my posts, link to them, cite/quote them, discuss them, fisk them, use the printouts for kindling a fire or whatever else you want to do. You can print the whole blog if you want and have it leather-bound like a book if you want. Up to you. Free.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Well, I certainly like it very much when a reader checks out my Amazon wish list and picks out a present for me. I like presents!
But this morning I got a LARGE package, full of books from the Wish List, a variety and quantity sufficient to keep me excitedly reading for quite a while:
Quantico by Greg Bear
An Inconvenient Truth DVD by Al Gore
The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Short Stories (2 Vol. Set) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh.
The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior by David Allen Sibley.
Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside by Katrina Firlik
How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok by Glenn Greenwald
Cross Dressing by Bill Fitzhugh
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, OxyContin®, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania by Matthew Chapman
Thank you!!!!!

Open Laboratory 2008

Openlab 2007
Now that the registration for the Science Blogging Conference is open, it is time to remind you that the new edition of the Science Blogging Anthology, “Open Laboratory 2007”, is in the works and is accepting your suggestions.
Although the entire process, from the initial idea all the way to having a real book printed and up for sale, took only about a month, the Open Laboratory 2006 was a great success. This year, we have much more time so we hope we will do an even better job of it.
More than 100 entries have come in so far (see under the fold) and we are looking for more. I have read them all and written my annotations about each, while Reed Cartwright is in the process of reading them closely as we speak. In the end, he will be the final aribiter of which 50 posts, plus one poem and one cartoon, will make it into the anthology. Think of me as a ‘series editor’ and Reed as the ‘2007 editor’.
As we are bloggers, we like transparency. As much as the automated submission form makes our lives easy, we decided that it would be best if, like last year, we made the list of entries public. That way, you can all see them, read them, comment about them, and see what is missing and needs to be entered before the deadline comes (December 20th 2007).
Please, use the submission form to enter your submissions (i.e., putting a link in the comments of this post will not do you any good) and pick up the code for the cool badges (like the one on top of this post) here to help us spread the word.
As I wrote earlier:

Clicking on the button will take you to the submission form. Reed and I will get e-mail notification every time there is a new entry and we will read them all and jot down some ‘notes to self’. Since we have ten months to do this, we will not need a jury of 12 bloggers to help us read all the entries, but do not be surprised if we ask you to vet/factcheck/peer-review a post that is in your domain of expertise (and not ours) later in the year.
So, go back to December 20th, 2006 and start looking through your archives as well as archives of your favourite science bloggers and look for real gems – the outstanding posts. Many have been written recently for the “Science Only Week”, or for the “Basic Terms and Concepts” collection.
Try to look for posts that cover as many areas of science blogging as posssible: mathematics, astronomy, cosmology, physics, chemistry, earth science, atmospheric/climate science, marine science, biochemistry, genetics, molecular/cellular/developmental biology, anatomy/physiology, behavior, ecology, paleontology, evolution, psychology, anthropology, archaeology, and/or history of science, philosophy of science, sociology of science, science ethics and rhetorics, science communication and education, the business of science, the Life in Academia (from undergraduate, graduate, postdoc, faculty or administrative perspective), politics of science, science and pseudoscience, science and religion, etc.
Also, try to think of different post formats: essays, personal stories, poems, polemics, fiskings, textbook-style prose, etc. For now, let’s assume that color images cannot make it into the book (I’ll let you know if that changes) and certainly copyrighted (by others) material is a No-No. Posts that are too heavily reliant on multiple links are difficult to turn into hardcopy as well. Otherwise, write and submit stuff and hopefully one of your posts will make it into the Best 50 Science Posts of 2007 and get published!

Under the fold are the entries so far. About half have been submitted by authors, the rest by readers. I hope you don’t need to ask us to remove an entry of yours, but if that is the case (e.g., you intend to include it in your own book), please contact me about it.
Reading all the entries so far will help you think of other posts, yours or others’, that may fit in here. Perhaps a big story of this year is not covered in any of the submissions so far. Perhaps you remember a post which covers a story better than the entry we already have. Have we missed a really popular post that everyone loved and linked to?
Also, if you are an expert in an area and you have BIG problems with one of the entries in your field, please let us know soon so we can send it out for further peer-review. As was the case last year, only English-language posts are eligible. If you have written an awesome post in another language, please make a GOOD translation available before submission.
I will occasionally update this post as new entries keep coming in, so keep coming back every week or so to see what is new. The entries are arranged in alphabetical order of the name of the blog (because all attempts at categorization failed), which makes it easy to get my own out of the way first, and let you go on quickly to see all the really cool writers of the science blogosphere. If a blog has multiple contributors, the author of the submitted post(s) is named in parentheses.

Continue reading

Thank you!

Dr.Tatiana.jpgA dear reader checked out my amazon wish-list and sent me Dr.Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation, a book I wanted for a long time. Thank you!

Potter, again

Now that I have finished reading HP7, I finally let myself go around and see what others are writing. Here is some of the best I found so far, to be read only if you have finished the book (or do not care for spoilers).
There is a paper that looks at sociopolitical aspects of the books.
And there is tons on the internets, e.g., this enormous comment thread on Pandagon, which touches on everything from quality of writing, through gender issues, to politics.
And there is a bunch about science of Harry Potter
And the greatest spoiler-full spoof of the seventh book, scene by scene. Hillarious.

Danica McKellar exclusive for Scienceblogs

Tara of Aetiology, after reviewing Danica McKellar’s book “Math Doesn’t Suck”, posted an exclusive blog interview with Danica, which you can (and should) read here.

Are you physically addicted to Harry Potter?

It is certainly possible. Compared to some people I know, I am definitely not. I have read each of the books once (more than halfway through the 7th – so do not give me spoilers yet!) and I have seen each of the movies once. I enjoy them, but do nothing on top of it: no speculations, no obsessions, no additional activity.

Thank you!

Botany%20of%20Desire.jpgOne more book is off my wish list, thanks to one of my readers – Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan. Thank you so much! It is going straight up to the top of my “to read” stack, as soon as I finish Harry Potter.

Professor Steve Steve meets Harry Potter

Then, after all this walking, I finally went to Borders and got myself the seventh book of Harry Potter. But, lo and behold, when I got home, Steve Steve decided he was going to read it first, so all I could do is post pictures on the blog instead: