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Philipp Birken


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Die Wiedervereinigung wird bis heute als Erfolgsgeschichte erzählt, die sie zweifellos auch ist: Deutschland ist stark und angesehen in der Welt, und wer heute in den Osten des Landes fährt, sieht eine saubere Umwelt, intakte Straßen, herausgeputzte Städte und Dörfer. Aus dem Blick geraten dabei die Menschen, die die Wiedervereinigung aus der Bahn warf. Das sind mehr als landläufig angenommen, und in den wenigsten Fällen sind das diejenigen, die zuvor in der DDR das Sagen hatten.

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Seven times yes!
As a regular user of the scholarly literature since before the internet (I started reading primary scientific literature for a high-school project around 1989), I have closely followed its digitization. I find it rather frustrating that some of the most…

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Wordy indeed, but superinteresting!
A deeply troubling long read on how not to manage risk. If we court disaster, it is often because we would rather bury our heads in the sand than deal with the fear of very real dangers. Easier to substitute other fears that we can claim to have easy answers to. Easiest of all to blame outsiders, and if necessary find or create more outsiders to carry the blame.

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"A new wind farm that could become the largest in the U.S. will be taking shape across the blustery plains of the Oklahoma Panhandle over the next three years, helping to wean four Southern states off of electricity produced with climate-polluting coal.
American Electric Power (AEP) and wind developer Invenergy plan to complete a $4.5 billion wind farm called the Wind Catcher Energy Connection by 2020, along with a 350-mile electric power line. The project, announced this week, will supply Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas with 9 million megawatt hours of wind power, enough electricity for about 800,000 homes.
AEP’s announcement is a sign that electric companies are gaining greater confidence in the future of renewables, even as the Trump administration casts doubt on established climate science and works to reverse many of the Obama administration’s energy and climate goals.
The Trump administration has aimed to slash or defund most federal support for wind, solar and other renewable energy. But energy experts say there is too much momentum behind the rise of renewables for those pro-coal policies to slow wind and solar farm development".

(Posted by +rasha kamel​)

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Another journal breaks free! The result of a lot of work by many people.

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The observations made match what I see with similar people alive today.
If you don't already know of Claude Shannon, this is a good introduction. The background to a new biography which looks very interesting.

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"Teachers and policymakers are missing a golden opportunity to show people the best ways to cut climate change and reduce their carbon footprint, a study says.
It identifies four ways of behaving that it says will have the most substantial effect in decreasing someone’s climate impact: eating a plant-based diet, avoiding air travel, living without reliance on a car, and having smaller families.
The researchers, from Lund University in Sweden, analysed 39 peer-reviewed papers, carbon calculators and government reports to calculate the potential of a range of individual lifestyle choices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They say their comprehensive analysis identifies what people can do to have the greatest impact.
Writing in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the authors say their study found the incremental changes advocated by governments may represent a missed opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions beneath the levels needed to prevent 2°C of climate warming, the goal set by the 2015 Paris Agreement".

(Posted by +rasha kamel​)

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Let's state it clearly: This is about putting someone into prison for the sake of protecting a business model. My problem with that is that said business model is obsolete and deeply immoral. Discuss this issue with your librarian!

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Now this is how you should negotiate with a big commercial publisher. (Jisc, I hope you are watching closely.)

Despite appearances, the link below seems to work. It is to a statement put out by German universities and one could summarize it by saying that if Elsevier are going to play hardball, so are they.

From my understanding of the text, the German universities want to move over to a model where journals and their content are owned by the academic community, and publishers are paid for the services they provide. This would create a much less distorted market, because if a publisher charged outrageous fees, the journal could simply switch to another publisher. Elsevier has shown little interest in an arrangement of this kind, but the German universities, to their huge credit, have not just capitulated. In fact, more universities are joining in.

It would be wonderful if this attitude could spread to other countries. At the moment, Elsevier will probably calculate that losing all their revenue from Germany is probably better than risking a new and obviously fairer business model becoming established. But if other countries get involved, then the calculations would change.

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Boaty McBoatface starts its work!
"Researchers at the University of Southampton have captured unprecedented data about some of the coldest abyssal ocean waters on earth - known as Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) - during first voyage of the yellow robotic submersible known as Boaty McBoatface, which arrived back in the UK last week.
The team, which also involved scientists from British Antarctic Survey and engineers from the National Oceanography Centre, captured data on temperature, speed of water flow and underwater turbulence rates of the Orkney Passage, a region of the Southern Ocean which is around 4,000m deep and roughly 500 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula.
In order to visualise the progress of Boaty and place the data in the context of the complicated terrain in the region, the team have created an animated fly-through of the Orkney Passage. The information collected will now be analysed to understand the complex process of ocean mixing and how it affects climate change.
The information was gathered as part of the DynOPO (Dynamics of the Orkney Passage Outflow) seven-week expedition, with the RRS James Clark Ross returning to Southampton last week. The DynOPO programme is funded by a grant from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
It was the first Antarctic voyage of Boaty McBoatface, one of the Autosub Long Range (ALR) class of unmanned submersibles, the latest type of autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) developed by the National Oceanography Centre. The Autosub was named following last year's campaign by the NERC to name the UK's new polar research ship. While the ship will be named after famous naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, the popular suggestion of the contest - Boaty McBoatface - lives on in the form of an unmanned submersible that will support the research ship to explore parts of the polar regions inaccessible to humans.
Welcoming Boaty McBoatface back from its first mission, Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson, said: "Fresh from its maiden voyage, Boaty is already delivering new insight into some of the coldest ocean waters on earth, giving scientists a greater understanding of changes in the Antarctic region and shaping a global effort to tackle climate change".

(Posted by +rasha kamel​)
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