Quickies: Free Speech and Online Death Threats, Peer-Review Scams, and Graphic Novels

  • A New Dawn for the Podcast – ” ‘Have you been listening to Serial?’ Yup. But more than anything else I’ve been listening to people talking about Serial. Don’t worry — this is not another one of those posts.” Leave your favorite podcast in the comments!
  • Do Online Death Threats Count as Free Speech? – Suffice it to say, this article features a lot of graphic language about all the different ways one man wanted to kill his ex-wife. So, content warning. From Amy.
  • New antimicrobial edible films that increase the lifespan of cheese – “According to Chelo González, a researcher at the Institute of Food Engineering for Development of the UPV, the lifespan of commercial soft cheese treated with pimaricin is about 21 days in cold storage. ‘The most common causes of deterioration are excessive surface dehydration and the growth of micro-organisms such as fungus or yeasts, which produce a strange flavour or odour, a slimy texture and a significant visual alteration’, explains Chelo González. Applying the edible coating developed by these researchers, alternatives to the use of pimaricin and polyvinyl, commonly used on commercial cheese, can be obtained.”
  • Tech Dudes Take Credit For Female Scientist’s Work; Plan To “Hack” Vaginas So They Smell Like Peaches – “If Gome and Heinz ‘s pitch sounds equal parts stupid and sexist to you, you’re not alone: Sweet Peach’s ‘ultra-feminist’ founder Audrey Hutchinson agrees. As the sole creator of the company, Hutchinson has been working on the project in private in the hopes that it could one day free women from relying on doctor’s visits to monitor their reproductive health.” A surprising update on the story that you may have read a couple of weeks ago! From Amy.
  • Publishing: The peer-review scam – “In the past 2 years, journals have been forced to retract more than 110 papers in at least 6 instances of peer-review rigging. What all these cases had in common was that researchers exploited vulnerabilities in the publishers’ computerized systems to dupe editors into accepting manuscripts, often by doing their own reviews. The cases involved publishing behemoths Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis, SAGE and Wiley, as well as Informa, and they exploited security flaws that — in at least one of the systems — could make researchers vulnerable to even more serious identity theft.”
  • How Silicon Valley Created America’s Largest Homeless Camp – “Feid’s days in The Jungle are numbered. Next month, the city plans to bulldoze his fortress in a final attempt to clear the encampment. The city has done so many times in the past 10 years, only to watch it come back to life. This time, they have a different strategy: finding permanent housing for two-thirds of the camp’s residents and subsidizing their rent for a year or two. There’s just one big problem: It’s nearly impossible to find an apartment for less than the county’s average monthly rent of $2,128.”
  • The best graphic novels of 2014 – I always try to check these out–I love a good graphic novel. But it’s been a while because the last great graphic novel I read was Fun Home

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Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. Free speech? General Napier’s comment to the priests who protested his interference with their ‘strongly held religious belief’ in burning women might make for a model reply. To them he wrote:

    ‘Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.’

    We might say:
    ‘Be it so. You call threats of death and rape ‘free speech;’ chatter away. But we have free speech also. When creeps threaten and intimidate women, we expose their identities and turn the attention of law enforcement upon them. Our web hackers shall therefore prepare to expose and vilify all concerned when a threat is uttered. Let us all act to honor EVERYONE’S ‘free speech.’

  2. You’re absolutely right when it comes to exposing identities or engaging in other forms of free speech as a response to what others say. Free speech doesn’t mean freedom from criticism.

    There is somewhat of a problem, however, when you talk about turning law enforcement on people and (presumably illegal) hacking.

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