Michael Riordon

the view from where I live


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“The Robin Hood of science”

In the ever-deepening shadow of the national surveillance state, a bright gem of a story.

Alexandra Elbakyan’s ingenious online resource Sci-Hub has broken the corporate stranglehold on worldwide access to science research.

Sci-Hub

Science writer Simon Oxenham reveals why and how this brilliant young neurotechnology researcher in Kazakhstan did it. Details here, on Big Think.

It’s an inspiring account of knowledge gathered, privatized – imprisoned, really, to exploit for profit – and now, thanks to Alexandra Elbakyan, set free.

A fragment: “Only days after the [New York District] court injunction blocked Sci-Hub’s old domain, Sci-Hub was back online at a new domain accessible worldwide. Since then, the website has been upgraded from a barebones site that existed entirely in Russian to a polished English version proudly boasting a library of 48 million [research] papers, complete with a manifesto in opposition to copyright law. The bird is out of its cage.”

In part 2, here, Simon Oxenham pays tribute to pioneering internet creator and activist Aaron Swartz, who was ultimately hounded to death in 2013 by the US government.

Fortunately, at least for now, Alexandra Elbakyan and Sci-Hub remain beyond its imperial reach.

To encounter other scientists who defy the status quo, check out Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science. Read excerpts here.


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Bees and honest scientists: under attack

Honey bee, WesternHoney bee, Western.  Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

Bees keep us alive.  They and other insects pollinate two-thirds of all food crops.  No pollination, no food crops.

Bees and other pollinators are in great peril, their populations in sharp decline worldwide. A growing body of evidence identifies neonicotinoids, chemical pesticides that impair the neurological systems of insects, as a key factor in the decline.

Some of these chemicals are already banned or restricted in several European countries.  Yet neonicotinoids remain the most widely used pesticides on earth, generating enormous profits.

Scientists gather and interpret data to make the necessary links between neonicotinoids and bee collapse.  But in Canada and the USA scientists whose findings conflict with the corporate agenda are under escalating attack.  Currently in the US:

“Your words are changed, your papers are censored or edited, or you are not allowed to submit them at all.” – a senior scientist at the US Department of Agriculture Research Service.

“Censorship and harassment poison good science and good policy.” – Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Details here.

Follow the Honey, a report from Friends of the Earth, exposes how agrochemical corporations obscure links between their chemicals and pollinator decline, and block government regulation.  Read it here.

For more on the battle for honest science, have a look inside Bold Scientists.


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Scotland the brave

Good news: Scotland freezes fracking.

Scots protest fracking

Scotland says: Don’t frack.  Photo: the-news-daily.com

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing announced that the moratorium would stand until “a full public consultation on unconventional oil and gas extraction” had been initiated and completed.

A week later, more good news: the Welsh government also voted to block fracking until it is proven safe for the environment and public health.  Note:  It cannot be proved safe, since it is everything but.

Neither of these initiatives is an outright ban, but in New York state, years of citizen campaigning led to a similar moratorium, and finally last month to a ban.

For a close look at the dirty business of fracking, see Bold Scientists.  Scroll down to chapter 10, The unsolved problem.

 


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Bold Scientists, the trailer, now on YouTube.

“Tremendously hopeful and profoundly disturbing.”

Great minds don’t think alike. They think differently.  Here.

Bold Scientists trailer, screen shot


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Bold Scientists in Kingston, Ontario: November 6

cropped-bold-scientists-front-cover8.jpgAuthor Michael Riordon in dialogue: Whole food for free range minds.

Thursday November 6, 1 – 2:30 pm. Room D214, Mackintosh Corry Hall, Queen’s University.
Map: http://www.queensu.ca/campusmap/main?mapquery=mackintosh.

Everyone is welcome.  Bring your own mind.

Co-sponsors: Studies in National and International Development (SNID), and the School of Environmental Studies.


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Great minds don’t think alike: Bold Scientists in Picton

Thursday October 16, 7 pm
The Prince Edward County library
208 Main Street, Picton, Ontario.

The Picton launch of Bold Scientists.

You’re invited.

 Great minds don’t think alike. They think differently.
Bring yours with you.

 Here.


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Bold Scientists @ Word on the Street

DSCF2417

Photo: Brian Woods.

Bold Scientists (and the author) at work in the non-fiction reading tent, at the giant Toronto literary festival Word on the Street, Sunday September 21, 2014.

This was the book’s public debut.

Wild thunderstorms in the morning, then the clouds cleared, and throngs of people filled the streets around Queen’s Park in downtown Toronto. The reading tent was full.

I gabbed a little and read several pieces from the book, including – in honour of Sunday’s climate change marches around the world — two excerpts on scientists who challenge official silence and inertia on the urgent climate crisis we all face.

Next event: Thursday October 16, 7 pm, at the Picton Public Library, 208 Main Street in Picton, Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada.

Come along!