It's been an inexcusably long time, faithful reader (by now, I'm sure that my inactivity has whittled you down to the singular).
I'd plead all of the usual rubbish... witter, witter - illness. Maunder, maunder - return to full-time work. Cribbet, cribbet - life and family offline. And it'd all be true, but you're not really caring about that, so let's just press on, shall we?
I've been reading, and writing, as it happens, just not posting. Here's an example, taken from some of my thoughts about the execrable Unscientific America:
"... In the face of a growing movement of scientists writing cogent and trenchant books - and, perhaps more tellingly, blog posts - Mooney has now decided, it would seem, that the lack of public understanding of science is... wait for it... the fault of scientists. More specifically, it is the fault of scientists who are... again, wait for it... poor communicators. While having just written the aforementioned cogent and trenchant books."This thesis is a load of dingo's kidneys."
I'll whip up a full review in good time, because it's just too delicious to pass on the chance to explain just how this self-congratulatory* and smug little volume (and I do mean little) gets it all so wrong. My view of UA is held in comparison to lots of other wonderful current works on science (Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution Is True is excellent, as is Donald Prothero's Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters; I've just started on the new Richard Dawkins book, The Greatest Show on Earth, so far it's quite good too), let alone to a book like Charlie Pearce's Idiot America, which is, for the most part, a lark and a lovely read. But then, I would say that, would I not? I'm part of the problem, aren't I, dears?
Here also are some ruminations on the sort of people who have quite inadvertently found themselves shopping in a science store:
"...Sometimes, though, people come through our portals unaware of where they are, and unaware of what to expect. And this, for whatever reason, can make them turn... er, well - unpleasant. When they're hostile, they typically fall into one of three categories:
- The sneering, knows-it-all, "my god can beat up your god" (even if you don't have one) type, who flaunts their unreason as a sort of badge of honour
- The "la-la-la-la - can't make me hear it" school of argument: this one includes the sort of person who says smug things like "stars are millions of light years away? Well, I don't believe that", as though you were some sort of drooling infant who had just claimed that the bloke round the back was busy turning water into wine.
- The openly nasty "I don't want to be here, they [accusingly points at compatriots] made me come in the door" type (had one of those about a month or two back, and suspect that she might have been an old boss of mine)
Presented just to show that I haven't been bone idle all this time. What else have I done? Let's see... Put together and gave a - very shaky - workshop on mineral identification, which I'd hope to do much better next time. Done a lot of reading. Taught some children the basics of geology (hardly qualified to do so, but did it anyway). Went on holiday. Went to a wedding (note to self: in future, when going to a wedding of people about whom I know and care nothing, imbibe more. Much more.). Did some observing with trusty telescope. Neglected friends (another noun rapidly moving toward a singular, rather than a plural, construction). Constructed a small laboratory in the basement (must nip out and get dehumidifier before chemicals end up as unrecognisable sodden masses), largely out of old tables and string. Still haven't build either of my two Spitfire model kits. *Sigh.*
In short, wasted a lot of time. But no more. Or at least, less time wasteage in future, more posting!
Here are some quick ideas for the future:
- More science!
- Periodic rebuttal of the "ID the Future" podcast - because it's much healthier than shouting at my iPod while I drive
- Book reviews! At long last... er... again!
- Actually updating my Twitter feed! (some have argued that I'm a bit of a twit anyway, but never to my face).
- More about me! Because a blog about my interests isn't self-centred enough already.
So that's the plan, roughly. Love it or not, we'll see how long this lasts.
I'm old enough to have kept
diaries journals when I was younger - proper paper things in which I earnestly scratched away. Trouble was, after a few weeks, I'd get bored. Attention span of a radish, me, whether twenty years ago or now. But we'll give it a go, see what happens. No promises. Now get on your bikes and ride.
* For example, count the references in UA to ScienceDebate 2008 in the light of the authors' rôles in its creation and perpetration... I didn't dream that, right? They were hugely involved in SD2008, weren't they? So isn't it just a tiny bit... well, crass to point at it and say "look, look, at the wonderful thing that we did!", or is that just me?