Day: January 28, 2007

Arabic Strains of Islam hitting Kerala?

This can’t be great for Kerala, and something to keep an eye on.

Austere version of Islam finding a home in India – Los Angeles Times

The change came several years ago for Maryam Arrakal. Her husband brought a black, all-covering abaya back to this steamy, subtropical town from the desert sands of Saudi Arabia. It contrasted starkly with the pastel saris she normally wore. But in the 12 years that her husband, Kunchava, had been running a Saudi fabric shop, he had become detached from this melting pot of Muslims, Hindus and Christians, and more drawn to the Saudis’ strict version of Islam.

In general, a well written article. The combination of all the new money, influence and free time (when you come back “home”, you’re rich, you don’t have to work for a living) could be diverted to other things, but religion always seems to win out!

Kerala’s elders often boasted that Hindus, Muslims, Christians and a smattering of smaller religious groups were Indians first. Religious identity took a back seat to class interests. The Communist Party and the conservative Indian National Congress dominated elections.

This is the first time I have ever heard the Congress party being described as conservative. The author tries too hard to fit Indian politics into American clothes, and fails. The Congress is a left leaning market socialist party, if anything. Kerala’s politics are so far to the left of American politics that there is really no frame of reference.

“Muslims themselves are worried by the rise of the militant Islamic organizations,” said Ajai Mangat, Calicut correspondent for the Malayalam Manorama, the province’s largest daily newspaper. “If they become more powerful, the Hindu nationalists become more powerful.”

This is not the first time India has faced religious challenges, it won’t be the last time. I have faith in the giant melting pot to slowly rough the edges away. There will be tension, lives will be lost, as always, but life for the majority of Indians/Keralites will go on.

The Open Access "Debate"

Open access is a phrase used to describe the publishing of peer reviewed research in journals/websites which do not charge subscription fees. Since a bulk of published scientific literature  in the US arises directly from government, i.e. taxpayer funding, the public has already paid for this research. So, this is a debate in the sense that global warming is a debate, and yet another depressing indication of the plutocracy-protectionary principle!

Science & Technology at Scientific Open Access to Science Under Attack — Advocates of open access to scientific research may find themselves under fire from high-profile public relations flaks and high-powered lobbying groups.

The Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers hired Eric Dezenhall, head of Dezenhall Resources, a PR firm that specializes in “high stakes communications and marketplace defense,” to address some of its members this past summer and potentially craft a media strategy.

Yes, go ahead, use the same publicist types that brought you the “CO2 is life” campaign. If you read the article fully, you’ll see that these publicists suggest a simple message:

“it’s hard to fight an adversary that manages to be both elusive and in possession of a better message: Free information.” Finally, Dezenhall suggests joining forces with think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and National Consumers League in an attempt to persuade key players of the potential risks of unfiltered access. “Paint a picture of what the world would look like without peer-reviewed articles,” he adds.

Yes, of course, open access journals are not peer reviewed, cigarettes are not addictive, CO2 is life, 1+1=3 (just checking!)

I am ashamed to call myself a member of the egregious American Chemical Society, which is part of this lobbying effort along with Elsevier and Wiley.

Let’s review who’s getting paid for publishing their work with one of these wonderful journals

  1. The authors:
  2. The peer reviewers
  3. The editors of the Journal
  4. The people who own the journal
  5. The shareholders of Wiley and Elsevier

The divisions could not be more clearly drawn. The people who produce the work, and the people who check the work for scientific accuracy, readability, appropriateness and suitability don’t get paid, the man does!

For an alternative, check out the workings of PLOS.

I hope the whole current system dies a swift and painless death.