Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Should science only be funded if it makes money?

February 7, 2009

That’s the question posed by Lord Drayson (UK Government Minister for Science and Innovation) and picked up by the Guardian on Thursday, where it has already generated heated debate:

Should science only be funded if it makes money? | Science |

The responses so far can be largely summed up by “No! Are you joking?!” As someone who works in research funding, I can only shake my head and echo the words of “hungrydoug”: You can’t do applied science if you’ve got no science to apply.

The thing about research, in the true sense of the word, is that you don’t know if it’s going to give you the results you thought you were looking for. So how are you going to judge what will and will not yield a return?


Presidential Tag Clouds… Of The Future!

February 10, 2008

Remember the site which showed you all the buzzwords from the last two hundred-odd years of the US State of the Union? Here’s another I came across just now, but this time it’s a wry look at what the speech might look like in 70 years or so:

2080 State of the Union Address: Key Terms and Phrases (via

Highlights include ‘Engorged Benefactor Larvae’, ‘Iraq 2.0’, ‘September 11’ and ‘Metaeducation Implants’.

(By the way, here’s the real one for 2008 in case you were wondering…)

The CIA Infiltrates Wikipedia – SHOCK!

July 29, 2007

I came across the following slice of preposterous hyperbole via a Digg story:

Wikipedia and the Intelligence Services

Perhaps secret agents have “infiltrated Wikipedia“, speculates the article, and are spreading disinformation about the Lockerbie bombing — amongst other vital and current topics — even as you read this blog post! Let’s ignore the inherent absurdity of “infiltrating” a free open source website, because we have pressing matters to attend to. Quick: sound the Internet alarm! Somebody has been editing entries on Wikipedia, and others have even been *gasp* locked! Next it’ll be stories of black helicopters being edited out of Google Earth.

More shocking revelations follow:

“According to clues accumulated by ordinary citizens around the world, it could be that the CIA and other intelligence agencies are riding the information wave and planting disinformation on Wikipedia. If so, tens of thousands of innocent and unwitting citizens around the world are translating and propagating their lies, providing these agencies with a universal news network.”

Now, I don’t mean to state the bleeding obvious here, but Wikipedia has been a target of disinformation since day one; and the men in black are categorically not the main perpetrators. Before we get on to government conspiracies, why not consider the infinitely more mundane explanation that a couple of anal wikipedians have got into an edit war — or perhaps it was just an idiot. There are plenty of them to go round on the Internet; they even visit Wikipedia once in a while and post all kinds of nonsense. Some of them even write articles for web newspapers…

Two And A Half Centuries Of Presidential Buzzwords

November 5, 2006

Here’s a useful little tool showing the hot topics of the day for every US President from John Adams to George W Bush in the form of a tag cloud:

US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud
(via Boingboing)

Just drag the slider at the top to the left or right to zip through the years and get an impression of which issues were important.

What’s most interesting is watching how Public Enemy No. 1 changes from Indians to the Japanese to Germans to Vietnam to Saddam in less than a century. And what was the most used word in George W’s last State of the Union Address? Well, it starts with ‘T’…