Monday, December 02, 2013
The American Chemical Society (ACS) is defending its franchise against the challenge of Open Access in some creative ways.
Perhaps the most interesting idea is that ACS will provide the corresponding author of every article a credit of $1500 that can be used for any of their open access options. Think of it as a frequent author program, but, alas, like frequent flyer points, the credit ages out after three years. What is more the credits can be transferred.
What are the open access options? Well the immediate or 12 month embargoed options, but also a Creative Commons license so that authors can post the published article on their web site, or that of their institution, or in other open access repositories. Costs are $4000/article for immediate open access and $2000/article for the 12 month version. For members (a couple of hundred a year, but you gotta be a chemist), the costs are half that. The Creative Commons licenses are $1000/$500 for non-members/members
If the university or laboratory subscribes to all the ACS journals, ACS will provide special pricing for open access publication. That drops the immediate price down to $3000/article and the 12 month opening to $1500, with again 50% discounts for members.. ACS will also manage the interface between funder, institution and governments to meet the requirements of the authors and their funders, institutions and guess what governments.
Details and more
For giggles Eli took a survey today about academic publishers in which he trashed Elsevier, and, glory be, it turned out to be sponsored by Elsevier.
As Elsevier says to the libraries: Good Day! Are you prejudiced against former felons or would you rather subscribe to a magazine though me?
Posted by EliRabett at 7:27 PM
Sunday, December 01, 2013
My kind-of annual post below, with a few changes. I've found that emergency kits make highly-appreciated gifts for friends and relatives, one of those things that are on everyone's to-do list but often don't get done. If the entire kit's too expensive, you can just give a car kit, or get a part (I suggest water and water purification) and upgrade over time.
If people have had kits for a few years then it's also time to consider replacing out the food. If you or someone you know uses camping food, you might switch out the old with the new a year or two before expiration, so you can use the food before it expires.
- Water in plastic jugs, 3 gallons/person
- Chlorine dioxide water-purification pills (purifies 7 gallons) in case water goes bad (after 6 months, assume the water's bad), in case it's leaked away, or in case you need more water.
- Mountain House 72-Hour Emergency Meal Kit, 1 per person
- Mountain Oven Flameless Heating Kit: each kit can be used 5 times and can prepare 2 meals at a time. So 2 kits per two people in a household, but also 2 kits in a single-person household.
- Plastic silverware
- Emergency phone numbers/contact list
- Cheap flashlight/headlamp
- Spare batteries in clear plastic bag so you can see if they've become corroded over time
- Plastic tarp and cord as a rain shelter
- Swiss Army knife
- Emergency shelter, 1 per adult
- Cheap or expensive first aid kit (I went with cheap kits from the local drugstore)
- Cheap rain gear, spare shoes and clothes
- Hand-crank radio/flashlight combination
- Liter water bottle per person (enough to keep you hydrated for a few hours until you can find a water source)
- Water purification tablets (can disinfect murky water from ditches, and you might need to)
- Emergency shelter
- Small amount of long-lasting food (I found tins of honey-roasted peanuts that were good for four years)
- Cheap rain poncho
- Emergency contact list
- Shoes you can walk many miles in, if that's not what you normally wear
- Cheap, tiny flashlight
- wool blanket (additional warmth, or traction under a spinning wheel in the mud or snow)
Lots of great comments here, and a resource link at Making Light. UPDATE: and see the comments below.
Posted by Brian at 10:35 AM
Saturday, November 30, 2013
In the latest rendition of Salby Tunes Eli wandered over to the Scottish Sceptic's summary of Murry Salby's talk in Edinburgh. The Scep did a reasonable job of summarizing the talk, which appears of a piece with Salby's Hamburg seminar. That was well shredded by the Weasel in penance for his sins. Still, there does appear to be something new, Salby is now claiming that the increase in CO2 mixing ratio is due to thermal decomposition of soils.
Eli was feeling obscure at the time so the Bunny inquired
Now Eli is but an ‘umble Rabett, innocent as the bunnies of the field, a little bunny foo foo as it were, (fair warning) and it occurs to him that there is a significant indicator of CO2 emission by combustion and not warming, contained in the Keeling curve but not much remarked upon and certainly not mentioned by the Good Dr. Salby, Ph.D. Perhaps the Scottish Skeptic would like to play? Here is a giant hint, what happens during combustion.which confused everyone including Wotts.who was also at play, but Eli offered other hints "Well, here is another giant hint, which Keeling?
The answer of course is Ralph Keeling who took over the family business, adding a new line in the last quarter century of oxygen molecule concentrations. Eli's argument is really simple. If combustion is the reason for increase in CO2 mixing ratio then the concentration of oxygen should decrease. If Salby is right, not so much.
So let us go to the tape.
The loss roughly matches the amount of fossil fuels that have be burned when one takes into account the amount of water vapor produced by combustion from hydrogen in the fuel. The seasonal variation reflects the growth and decay of plants. The differences can be related to fluxes into and out of the land and oceans.
Unfortunately so do we all.
Posted by EliRabett at 10:23 PM
Friday, November 29, 2013
Eli Rabett neither endorses nor recommends this product.After I took delivery of my $500 Denon AKDL1 Cat-5 uber-cable, Al Gore was mysteriously drawn to my home, where he pronounced that Global Warming had been suspended in my vicinity.
Yes, I had perfect weather: no flooding, no tornadoes, the exact amount of rain necessary, and he pronounced sea levels exactly right and that they were not going to rise within five miles of my house.
Additionally, my cars began achieving 200 mpg and I didn't even need gasoline. I was able to put three grams of cat litter into the tank and drive forever.
What's more, the atmosphere inside my home became 93% oxygen and virtually no carbon dioxide. In fact, I now exhale oxygen.
One heck of a cable.
Didn't notice any improvement in audio quality though.
The $800 Apple iCable is clearly superior.
Posted by EliRabett at 4:26 PM
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone in the US and everywhere else. Seems like a good time to note we've found a way to step back from yet another war, a good thing to be thankful about. Political stuff below - please skip it if you don't want to deal with that on this holiday.
Moving away from war seems good, except to the Republican leadership, who see no success with the interim deal. They've forgotten that if somebody's trying to get something you don't want them to get, then delaying them is generally a victory for your side. And this is more than a delay - the highly-enriched uranium will be processed into an oxide form that is at least an additional step further away from being useful for a nuclear bomb. So six months from now, Iran will be (slightly) further away from a bomb than they are now, and with much more extensive verification. Seems preferable to me over an ongoing program of blowing up large chunks of Iran now and repeating every two or three years as a politically-united Iran rebuilds its nuclear program.
So not much learning on that side of the fence, but I'm not sure the left is much better. Juan Cole's been my go-to expert on the area (I suppose I should like his recent emphasis on climate but I don't think he brings nearly the value added to that as to the Middle East). He strongly supports the deal, but has also strongly opposed the sanctions that made the deal possible. His opposition stemmed partly from the valid argument that they impose real hardship on Iranians, but also from the very dubious claim that they make war more likely, and from the legally ridiculous assertion that western use of financial tools to block oil sales "is a financial blockade, and blockades are acts of war." Nothing in his recent posts indicate a reassessment of that position.
So everyone's prior assessment was right, and the new information about the success of the approach they had opposed doesn't change anything.
And then there's yours truly. I fell to somewhat to the left of Obama, repeatedly buying Seymour Hersh's statements over the years that the US was just a few months away from starting an air war in Iran. I considered it crazy to attack Iran, and contra Obama, that living with a nuclear Iran was better than a bombing campaign. I still think that's true, but the question is whether the threat of a potential attack added to the pressure created by sanctions to get Iran to this agreement.
It seems likely to me that the military threat helped more than harmed the process to agreement. Iranian hardliners may have welcomed an attack as a way to weaken internal opposition but they don't seem ascendant now. So maybe Obama was right about making the threat. Actually carrying through on the threat is a different matter - you are allowed to bluff in this game, although you need to do it carefully.
Anyway, as with the case with the narrow issue of chemical weapons in Syria, we're in something close to a best-case scenario. Thankfully.
Posted by Brian at 6:00 PM
Superabsorbent disposable diapers have been a world changer for the ladies who cheerfully don't hunt diaper pail door busters on Black Friday ( as Ms. Rabett puts it, any store that opens on Thanksgiving, is a store she will not set paw in) and for bunnies like Eli who are moving into the Alzheimer generation. The key is polyacrylic acid, made, guess what, from acrylic acid. And what, say the bunnies, is acrylic acid made from? Well propylene. And what is propylene made from, well oil, specifically as a byproduct from ethylene crackers in Texas and LA, e.g. heavy oil.
A recent article in C&E News, the American Chemical Society social magazine (they have obits and promotions, but sorry, pay wall), discusses the possibility of superabsorbent bio-diapers, which comes down to whether there is a route from plants to acrylic acid which is cheap enough to compete..
As with any commodity chemical the question is price. That is the only question as far as substitution. Worse, it is not a question of whether something is cheaper now, as whether it will be cheap enough in the future to justify investment in plant and equipment now.
The situation is not simply whether you can produce cheaper acrylic acid from propylene wrested from tar sands or Orinoco basin oil, but even that is being displaced by even cheaper propylene from ethane separated from natural gas which is increasingly cheap given the expansion of cracking. So the propylene price point at which it pays to invest in bio-acrylic acid is also a bet on how long fracking will provide cheap natural gas, and to an extent a bet on the ethane content of what comes up in the future.
While bio-acrylic acid may get a bit of a lift from those who want to be as sustainable as possible and the iPhone effect (eg be the first on your block), that soon wears off and babies and the incontinent get through a mess of diapers. So price is indeed the only point and early enthusiastic adopters would be a help at the introduction of the product but should not be counted on long term
A good illustration of how this all doesn't work is the glycerin route which has fallen victim to the bio-fuel bust. Glycerin comes from fats and oils in plants extracted in the processing of bio-fuels. While that business was growing great guns in the early part of this century, growth has slowed, the price of glycerin has not fallen to where it would be competitive as a feed stock for acrylic acid.
There are two solutions, and probably both. First, the price of oil and gas can be increased by a tax or a market mechanism to increase the price of fossil fuels. A point for though is that at least as far as commodity chemicals made from oil and gas, the market mechanism and taxes have to hit at the well head and not at the point of emissions. Second, the price of the bio-routes can be lowered. Right now they are moving out of the lab to pilot plant and some progress might be anticipated, but probably not enough to completely close the price gap.
BTW, for bunnies who want to paint the town red, about half of the 5 million tons of acylic acid made ever year go into acrylic paints, most of the rest is for the diaper trade.
Posted by EliRabett at 8:24 AM
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
(Dueling policy tips part 1 here.)
I'm no big fish politically, but I have experience with scientists and other experts that provide advice to us at our water district and I know lots of local level politicians with similar interactions. The tips for the experts listed below are based on actual events that happened to somebody:
Don't change your mind. I know, the objections are starting, but I just want you to understand the effects first. Want to know what ruins a politician's day? When she has taken a public position based on your expert advice, especially a position that's against her political interest but you told her it was necessary, and then you reverse your opinion. If you want a policy-maker to listen to experts, then you have to be aware of this problem.
Okay, you object validly about needing to change your mind sometimes, but you can help in advance if you announce your uncertainty level. If the politician knows there's a reasonable chance you'll change your mind, then her public positions might reflect that, and at least you've got a defense when you get some angry blowback for changing your mind. Related: if your policy recommendations are based on bright line criteria that are just barely met, then specify that in case a revised analysis shows those those criteria aren't met. This last one happened on my watch, and I could've helped with public acceptance of expert opinion had I known in advance what was going on.
Other tips on mind-changing: if you do change your mind, tell the policy-maker. The only thing worse for the policy-maker than finding out the experts now have a different opinion is to learn they've had the different opinion for the last six months and never said anything. Give the unpleasant news early, and if it's possible to do so informally and before it becomes public, and then the policy-maker has a chance to neutralize the fallout. Also, if you're Expert B taking over from Expert A, figure out ASAP if you're changing any opinions. The political problem is the same whether it's a changed expert mind or change of expert minds.
As for expressing your expert opinion, translate analysis into policy language but don't push for one outcome. The expert mistakes here are being too far on either side - if you explain your work like you're at a poster session or seminar, then you're not helping. If you're seen as trying to box in the policy-makers, then they won't trust you or your analysis. You should help the policy-maker understand the policy implications without trying to take over the politician's job. Similarly, pointing out the political implications is helpful so long as it doesn't reach political conclusions. If you're supposed to make a policy recommendation, that's fine, and even if you're not, it's no big deal when the policy-maker can read between the lines and guess your opinion. The big mistake is to withhold information that doesn't support your policy recommendation.
Above paragraph applies to experts in their roles of advising policy-makers, but they have every right to wear other hats. Jim Hansen, Carl Sagan, and Rachel Carson were and are right to tell the public on their own time that their expertise leads them to urgent policy conclusions.
The one other exception about not pushing for an outcome is when you're a hired gun for policy advocates instead of policy-makers. In that situation, ethics demand that you be honest, but your job is to present the best case for your side, not a balanced presentation with equal weight given to opposing positions. The policy-makers will know they need to look elsewhere to supplement the opposing position.
I'm sure there's more advice. I've been curious about Pielke Jr.'s book about honest brokers, but his track record is not good. Buying the book will likely provide the wrong financial incentives, so I haven't read it.
Posted by Brian at 10:08 AM
Monday, November 25, 2013
Interesting article in Nature on 20 weird tips "to improve policy-makers' understanding of the imperfect nature of science" and reduce belly fat. It's good although even better IMNSHO would be directions on how to choose between dueling experts. I'd guess they'd say just discount the experts that run afoul of the most tips.
First few tips are straightforward in theory if not always so in practice, and need no comment. Moving on, regression to the mean and extrapolating beyond a data range strike me as things that smart people don't always understand. Replication versus pseudoreplication is also good - a replication that repeats the same errors in the original study, e.g. not accounting for confounding factors, will just give the same bad results.
Separating no effect from nonsignifance can be huge, and appears to be what drove the stupidity over whether the Oregon Medicaid study showed insurance resulting or not resulting in improvements in health outcomes. I would also add to the tip "significance is significant", the coda "except when it's not." Just do enough studies and you'll eventually trip over the 5% threshold due to repeated dice-rolling. That's what gets us cancer clusters (or many of them, anyway), and over multiple decades may even result in global temperatures temporarily going below or above the 95% confidence levels.
Cherrypicking and risk perception also are pretty obvious, but such a huge problem that we really need tattoos.
Scientists are human and become biased, yes. The one trick I'd add from the legal profession is the declaration against interest - if one of the expert's statements goes against what the expert would like to conclude, it's more likely to be true.
Posted by Brian at 9:50 PM