Sunday, 24 July 2011

10:12 – Here’s a torrent worth grabbing: a 32.5 GB file that contains thousands of pre-1923 articles by The Royal Society, all of them out of copyright in the US. It’s long past time that someone did something about JSTOR and similar organizations, which put up expensive paywalls around public domain information and guard it jealously. Now if only someone would do the same for old articles published by the ACS and other scientific organizations.

This archive contains 18,592 scientific publications totaling 33GiB, all from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and which should be available to everyone at no cost, but most have previously only been made available at high prices through paywall gatekeepers like JSTOR.

Limited access to the documents here is typically sold for $19 USD per article, though some of the older ones are available as cheaply as $8. Purchasing access to this collection one article at a time would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

All of these articles should be available for free on Google and other Internet sources. In fact, US scientific articles, including current ones, should be freely available, at least to US citizens, because nearly all of them were produced with US government funding. I’ve already paid for these articles through my taxes. I shouldn’t have to pay again to read them.


I’m going to have to do a bit of research on the actual chemical resistance of the polyethylene bottles I just bought. Checking various sources for the effect on polyethylene of concentrated sulfuric acid at 20 °C and 60 °C (the containers could get quite warm during shipping) tells me that the resistance may be anything from excellent to mediocre, depending on which source I believe.

I suspect this is because polyethylene is a class or classes of compounds rather than a specific compound. There are many, many types of PE, which are broadly grouped into LDPE, HDPE, and XDPE, but the exact characteristics of any particular PE may vary slightly, even from others in the same class.

It may be easier just to use glass bottles.


11:50 – On sexual dimorphism in humans…

Here is an actual, unretouched image of pairs of Barbara’s and my socks. (Mine are at the top, in case you hadn’t guessed; they were originally black, but I accidentally bleached them and liked the two-tone brown result.) No, I didn’t shrink Barbara’s socks. This is actually how they appear normally.



Now it’s true that I have occasionally been accused of having larger than usual feet. (Get your big, clumsy feet out of my …) But I think of myself as having dainty little feet. After all, I wear only a US male size 12 shoe, which isn’t bad for a guy my size.


13:34 – As a Viking-American, I found this article interesting.

If you can believe the article, past archaeologists had just assumed that Viking burials were all male because they all included grave artifacts like swords and shields. A new study reports the results of osteological examinations of a small number of Viking burials, which found that about half of the skeletons were female. Unfortunately, DNA analyses, which would have been definitive, were not done.

It makes sense to me that the Viking warriors would have taken their women along. After all, put yourself in the position of a Viking woman. Would you allow your husband to go off raping and pillaging without you?

Incidentally, don’t bother clicking the moron link at the bottom of the article, which reads “See photos of: Vikings“. I made the mistake of clicking it and it took me to page that featured–you guessed it–images of the Minnesota Vikings. Geez.

19 thoughts on “Sunday, 24 July 2011”

  1. “Here’s a torrent worth grabbing: a 32.5 GB file that contains thousands of pre-1923 articles by The Royal Society, all of them out of copyright in the US. It’s long past time that someone did something about JSTOR and similar organizations, which put up expensive paywalls around public domain information and guard it jealously. Now if only someone would do the same for old articles published by the ACS and other scientific organizations.”

    If it’s public domain then why doesn’t someone/organisation put them up on a free server? Yeah, I think 20 years should be the maximum for copyright. If you join some of these organisations you can download for free. Not sure what it costs though.

    Anyway, not my problem as I can just login to the local university library and get this stuff for free using their accounts. 🙂

  2. “Here is an actual, unretouched image of pairs of Barbara’s and my socks.”

    Okay, I refuse to believe that they’re *your* socks. Where are the holes?

  3. If your size is 12 US, that’s 11 UK. I’m 12 UK which is 13 US – and let me tell you its a pain in the proverbial getting shoes to fit. Most stores only stock upto size 10. Socks are even worse.

  4. I am unusual for a male. I wear 7.5 shoes. I am 5′ 11″ and weigh about 205 lbs. My wife, daughter and sons all have bigger feet than I do. My daughter’s feet were longer than mine when she was 12 and, at 15, she’s 5′ 6″ and about 105 lbs.

    Rick in Portland

  5. I have narrow feet, which makes it difficult to find shoes in my size. Or I should say I did have narrow feet. As I’ve gotten older, they’ve spread to the point that I can wear a standard width comfortably.

    Socks are no problem. The standard size I wear are usually labeled for sizes 10 to 13. My problem is hats, because I wear something like an XXXXXXL or XXXXXXXL, depending on the hat. Even big-and-tall men’s stores often don’t carry anything large enough. (Yes, yes, consider all the jokes about a swelled head made; I’ve been hearing them for years. I simply point out that there is a high correlation between hat size and IQ.)

  6. “My problem is hats, because I wear something like an XXXXXXL or XXXXXXXL, depending on the hat. Even big-and-tall men’s stores often don’t carry anything large enough. (Yes, yes, consider all the jokes about a swelled head made; I’ve been hearing them for years. I simply point out that there is a high correlation between hat size and IQ.)”

    I buy the largest Akubra (hat) that R.M. Williams sell. Pity I don’t have the stellar IQ to go with it. I never get head size jokes because I’m such a sweet, sensitive, thoughtful guy.

  7. That makes no sense. I, too, am a sweet, sensitive, thoughtful guy, as should be obvious to anyone who reads my journal.

  8. “It makes sense to me that the Viking warriors would have taken their women along. After all, put yourself in the position of a Viking woman. Would you allow your husband to go off raping and pillaging without you?”

    Viking women were often part of the burial process when their men died. Literally.

    If you were important enough you had a nice funeral with plenty of stuff to take to the celestial battlefield, and your wife/significant other/concubine was sacrificed too, along with a ship that was torched. Oh yeah, the woman bonked most of the men at the funeral, and they would say “tell your master for me that I do this (screw your wife) out of love for him.”

  9. That makes no sense. I, too, am a sweet, sensitive, thoughtful guy, as should be obvious to anyone who reads my journal. And gentle. I forgot to mention gentle.
    At least until you talk about religion. Or the current crop of politicians. Oh, and don’t forget those that are getting welfare in the form of Medicaid. And with some animosity to those of use that use Microsoft products. But so far no one has died although if you killed a politician I would not morn.

  10. I have no animosity towards users of Microsoft products. Where did you get that idea? I feel sorry for them, true, but I don’t recall ever expressing animosity. Nor do I have any animosity toward religious people, as long as they keep it to themselves. (I don’t count islam as a religion; it’s a totalitarian political system disguised as a religion, much like Nazism or Communism.)

    I’ve never killed anyone, as far as I know. It’s true that I’ve shot at a few people, but all of them shot at me first.

    You’ve never met me. If you had, you’d realize that I actually am gentle, quiet, polite, and soft-spoken. About the only time I scare anyone nowadays is unintentionally, which is a result of my martial-arts training. I move very, very quietly, and women frequently jump and scream (literally) when I appear behind them because my approach was completely under their radar. I really don’t do it on purpose, and fortunately Barbara has gotten used to it.

  11. ” I move very, very quietly, and women frequently jump and scream (literally) when I appear behind them because my approach was completely under their radar. I really don’t do it on purpose, and fortunately Barbara has gotten used to it.”

    You need to be fitted with a collar and bell like cats sometimes wear so they can’t catch wildlife.

  12. Ah, Bob, they jump and scream when you come up in front of them, too.

    /bazinga

  13. By the way, it is true that if you’re a member of ACS (or similar organization) you get access to all the old journals for which you subscribe. That is, if I am a current subscriber to J. Am. Chem. Soc., I can see, online, all of them, back to volume 1, page 1. However, if at any time I drop that subscription, I can no longer see them, including the years for which I was a paid subscriber. Additionally, there are limits in the TOS as to how many articles you can download and it isn’t unheard of for people/schools/companies to get busted downloading more than the TOS allows. Commonly with schools these are students who are trying to do what is implied above: download everything and save it or send it to friends. I don’t know that anyone has yet tried to post them.

    Scholarly publishing is a fairly slimy affair; I can’t really comment on the relative sliminess of it vs. any other sort of publishing.

  14. Ah, Bob, they jump and scream when you come up in front of them, too.

    Do you have data to back up that assertion?

    Take your wife as illustrative. Mary has never jumped and screamed when she saw me approaching, but has done so on at least two or three occasions when I unintentionally sneaked up on her. And for some reason she always smacks me afterwards.

    Of course, Mary does startle more easily than most. I wonder if she read that paper on the “startle gene” that I sent her the link to.

  15. Scholarly publishing is a fairly slimy affair; I can’t really comment on the relative sliminess of it vs. any other sort of publishing.

    Oh, yeah, it’s slimy. The government provides grants to the scientists, who do the research and write the papers, which are then peer-reviewed without charge by other scientists. The journals then take those papers, for which they pay nothing–and sometimes charge the scientists for publishing–and put them behind a paywall. So, the taxpayers pay for it all, the scientists do all of the work, and the journals make all the money. What a deal.

  16. I run the chemistry laboratory program at a large community college. The longer I do the job, the more I use plastic bottles. But I wouldn’t store con. sulfuric in any kind of polyethylene or polypropylene. Even if they work over a period of weeks, over long term the plastic will get brittle. I use teflon for con. sulfuric, nitric, and hydrochloric, but at $30 ea for a 125 mL bottle, it’s too much for kits. Go with glass.

  17. Who wears socks? I own 2 pair. Don’t wear shoes most of the time. Demonstrably bad for your feet, knees, hips, and back. Take a look at the recent research coming out of the U of Delaware. (Sorry, don’t have links.)

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