Congress shall make no law respecting.. what was that again?

*rolls eyes*.

On the 50th anniversary of our national motto, “In God We Trust,” we reflect on these words that guide millions of Americans, recognize the blessings of the Creator, and offer our thanks for His great gift of liberty.
From its earliest days, the United States has been a Nation of faith. During the War of 1812, as the morning light revealed that the battle torn American flag still flew above Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key penned, “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust!'” His poem became our National Anthem, reminding generations of Americans to “Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.” On July 30, 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the law officially establishing “In God We Trust” as our national motto.
Today, our country stands strong as a beacon of religious freedom. Our citizens, whatever their faith or background, worship freely and millions answer the universal call to love their neighbor and serve a cause greater than self.
As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of our national motto and remember with thanksgiving God’s mercies throughout our history, we recognize a divine plan that stands above all human plans and continue to seek His will.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim July 30, 2006, as the 50th Anniversary of our National Motto, “In God We Trust.” I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

I have just one question: which God, asshole?

Blogathon! 379 blogs, $56,678.94 so far, and a Special Offer for my tens of readers.

Last push! Blogathon is this Saturday; if you haven’t signed up to blog it’s too late for this year, but you can still sponsor a blogger from now until at least 48 hours after the event.
If you sort by funds pledged and scroll down, you’ll find (as I write this) 80-some bloggers who don’t yet have sponsors. If you’ve got a few bucks that ain’t working right now, how about helping one of them out?
Tell you what: if you do that, come back here and give me the name of another blogger with no sponsors, and I’ll sponsor them. Probably only five bucks, because I’m skint — but the little donations add up, that’s how grassroots works. That’s the beauty of the Blogathon, too — a few hundred bloggers you never heard of raising a dollar here and a dollar there, and pretty soon you have a bona fide international community premised on giving a helping hand wherever it’s needed.
Try it, you’ll like it.

linklog 060712

  • Your Daily Art: Blue Heaven II
    What is art? Can you invent a colour?
  • Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Can an animal rights activist accept medical treatment invented through animal testing?
    Not, if I understand “animal rights activist” correctly, without hypocrisy.
  • Luxuria / Jose
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! My eyes!! (Explanation here.)
  • Philosophers’ Playground: A Gender Puzzle

    I noticed that in place of the usual international symbols or linguistic indicators to let you know which was the men’s and which was the ladies’ room, they decided to use photographs. One image was of men in drag and the other was of women with fake moustaches in men’s clothing…

    So, where did Steve pee? And where should he have peed?

  • Sense About Science | “I don’t know what to believe…”
    “Our short guide, written with input from patients, pharmacists and medical practitioners, among others, lets the public in on the arbiter of scientific quality: the peer review process.”
  • Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals
    Note to Chandos: this is how it’s done, you gits. Author Charles W. Bailey, Jr. notes that while “most scholarly publishers would be delighted to sell 500 copies of a specialized bibliography”, the OAB has had far wider distribution: “over 44,500 copies of the complete book, over 29,500 chapters (or other book sections), and over 6,100 author or title indexes have been distributed to users worldwide”. Via Peter Suber.
  • 2006 Lavender Festival in Sequim Washington
    This looks kinda neat.
  • one red paperclip
    “The house was built in the 1920s and has been recently renovated. It is locate at 503 Main Street Kipling, SK Canada. It is approximately 1100 square feet on two floors. There are three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, kitchen, living room and dinning room. It has white vinyl siding, a new roof and eaves troughs that have been put on in the last few years.” And Kyle got it in a series of direct swaps, starting with one red paperclip.
  • The Origami Page
    Collection of origami galleries, including Satoshi Kamiya and Robert Lang. Truly extraordinary.
  • Dufttunnel
    “From April through to September, the Autostadt presents the Dufttunnel (scent tunnel) by Danish-Islandic artist Olafur Eliasson. The tube of the tunnel forms its own room and turns slowly along the longitudinal axis around the visitor. The scent pours from the flower pots attached to the tube.” That all makes sense once you see the picture. Way cool.

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Blogathon! (239 blogs, $18,699.42 — and counting!)

The 2006 Blogathon is up and running! Signups for bloggers close July 21, sponsorship stays open through the event itself (July 29). This post is for the Wednesday Publicity Push: if you have a blog, please consider posting about the Blogathon today, next Wednesday, and the Wednesday after, to help inflate our daypop/technorati/etc ratings. And of course, please consider taking part and/or sponsoring a blogger!
For those who don’t know what the Blogathon is, here’s the press release:

On July 29th, hundreds of bloggers from all around the world will stay up late and make a difference. That’s the slogan and the raison d’être of the Blogathon, an online fundraising event that began in 2000 with a case of insomnia and a case of Mountain Dew. Faced with certain sleeplessness, Portland, OR blogger Cat Connor1 decided, on a whim, to blog every 15 minutes for 24 hours. She made it, and the next year she invited others to join her — this time, with sponsorships. Hence “blogathon”, by analogy with “walkathon”, “telethon” and so on. Says Connor: “I’ve always felt the best thing about the web was its ability to affect the real world. The web can be a major force for good.”
The mechanics of the Blogathon are simple: bloggers sign up to blog for their chosen charity, and sponsors pledge either a lump sum or an amount per hour blogged. The goal is 24 hours, with one post every 30 minutes. Sponsors make their donations directly to their bloggers’ chosen charities. The Blogathon sends reminder emails but does not collect money, although Connor says that future plans do include registration as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and a system for collecting and disbursing donations.
The 2001 Blogathon saw about a hundred bloggers raise more than $20,000 (more than double their initial modest goal) for 77 different charities. The numbers roughly doubled in 2002, and again in 2003 when well over 500 participants raised more than $100,000 for charities ranging from the World Wildlife Fund to Heifer International, from local outreach centers to Médecins Sans Frontières. Project Blog substituted for the Blogathon in 2004, and in 2005 Connor continued her hiatus and Sheana Director of ran the Blogathon, raising almost $60,000.
It’s not all about the money, though. “What really makes Blogathon work,” says Connor, “is the sense of community that’s grown up around it.” Chat rooms, online forums and Radio Blogathon online broadcasts keep bloggers in touch during the event. This year’s front page will itself be a blog, continually updated by Connor and a volunteer team of “monitors” with games, contests and news and fun from around the event. Also new this year is a surfing frame which will allow onlookers to surf from blog to blog, and as always there will be a variety of prizes for most money raised, best writing, best visuals, and so on.
Previous projects are even more diverse than the chosen charities. Participants have written entire novels, translated ancient epic poems, recorded albums of original music, and spent 24 hours cooking all their favourite dishes. Others have written 48 posts about chocolate, shoes, toilets or outsider art, shaved their heads live on webcam, solicited panels for a virtual quilt, ridden a stationary bike for 24 hours or blogged by mobile phone live from a road trip.
This year’s Blogathon is now open for signups and pledges at; the event itself will take place Saturday July 29 at 06:00 Pacific Time, with an alternative Sabbath-observant schedule beginning at 21:00 the same day. Everyone starts at one of those two times, no matter where they are. As founder Connor puts it: “Creating an international community over the course of 24 hours — one with a single purpose — is something that can only happen on the web. It makes the web magical.”

1Aka spousal unit mine. (In case anyone was wondering, that’s why I won’t be blogging: I’ll be fetching and carrying behind the scenes.)

Shine On.

Remember when you were young,
You shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there’s a look in your eyes,
Like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught on the crossfire
Of childhood and stardom,
Blown on the steel breeze.
Come on you target for faraway laughter,
Come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!
You reached for the secret too soon,
You cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Threatened by shadows at night,
And exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome
With random precision,
Rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!
Nobody knows where you are,
How near or how far.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Pile on many more layers
And I’ll be joining you there.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
And we’ll bask in the shadow
Of yesterday’s triumph,
And sail on the steel breeze.
Come on you boy child,
You winner and loser,
Come on you miner for truth and delusion, and shine!

Wayback Weirdness

Peter Suber recently linked to a post on the LibraryLaw blog which asked why the Wayback Machine does not seem to archive National Science Foundation pages:

I was just looking on the National Science Foundation’s web site to try to find the Index of FOIA Frequently Requested Documents. The Index is mentioned in the NSF’s Public Information Handbook. When I couldn’t find the Index, I realized the Handbook was written in 1999, and perhaps an older version of the NSF website had a copy of the Index. So I went to the Internet Archive’s trusty Wayback Machine, and put in the NSF’s web address. Yesterday when I looked at the results page, there were no results, and the statement that the site had been blocked by robots.txt was the only information returned. Today, the Wayback Machine’s results page shows each instance when the site was archive, from 1997 to 2005, but when you click on a link, the resulting page is empty and has this message:”We’re sorry, access to has been blocked by the site owner via robots.txt.”

I thought this was weird, and wrote the NSF webmaster, who wrote back to say this:

NSF blocks all indexing of the site between 7AM and 7PM ET, our peak traffic hours, for the convenience of our users. However, there is no block on the site from 7PM to 7AM ET. This is standard policy for most high traffic sites. The owner of [the Wayback Machine] need only comply with our policy in order to index our pages.

So that made me wonder whether is aware that NSF has this policy, or whether there might be some other error somewhere. Searching the Wayback Machine for “” or “” produces a list of archived pages. Clicking on any of those links earlier today produced a file location error, but right now (some hours later) it’s working fine. The earliest available version of the relevant public information page says that the document Susan was looking for is “coming soon”, but I couldn’t find it even though I went through about six versions of the public information page from 1997 to 2005. The Public Info Handbook actually says

An index of FOIA Frequently Requested Records will be published, if applicable, on the Home Page under “Public Information – FOIA and Privacy Act Requests.” Where possible, this will include an electronic version of the actual records released.

(emphasis mine), so perhaps it was never added. Searching the current NSF site for “frequently requested” does not turn up the index in question, and neither does searching their publications for “FOIA”, but I did find a recent management plan (pdf) which includes “Review Agency posting of statements of policy, administrative staff manuals and copies of frequently requested records” in a list of areas “identified for review”. So perhaps it’s still “coming soon”, 9 years on. We are, after all, talking about a government agency.
Incidentally, the NSF’s robots.txt file is right where it should be:

# robots.txt for
# Change history:
User-agent: vspider
Disallow: /cgi-bin/
Disallow: /stats/
Disallow: /home/nsforg/
Disallow: /awards/
Disallow: /pubsys/data/
Disallow: /search97cgi/
Disallow: /seind98/topdemo.htm
Disallow: /nsf99338/topdemo.htm
Disallow: /home/ebulletin/archive/
Disallow: /sbe/srs/start.htm
Disallow: /web/
Disallow: /geo/
Disallow: /eng/
Disallow: /home/crssprgm/igert/survey/
Disallow: /staff/
Disallow: /ads-cgi/
Disallow: /awardsearch/
User-agent: *
Disallow: /cgi-bin/
Disallow: /nsf99338/topdemo.htm
Disallow: /home/ebulletin/archive/
Disallow: /home/crssprgm/igert/survey/
Disallow: /staff/
Disallow: /ads-cgi/
Disallow: /awardsearch/

The Wayback Machine uses Alexa crawlers, so as far as I can tell the file as shown allows vspider (a commercial spiderbot) more limited access, but every other robot can go to most of the site. It doesn’t change (I checked before and after 7pm ET; same file), so NSF must be implementing their block some other way. F’rinstance, .htaccess can serve/block pages depending on the time of day.
So, to sum up: NSF only restricts access during peak hours, and the Wayback Machine knows about this and archives the site just fine. The index of FOIA requests that Susan was looking for, however, does not appear to be available. The person to ask would appear to be the FOIA Officer.

linklog 060706

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Since you asked…

Philip of BioCurious (certainly one of the best blog names ever) wants to know: Does your office or any of your labs have windows? I hate love to gloat, so I just had to post this by way of an answer. Portland, yo.

view1.jpg   view2.jpg   view3.jpg

(I cheated a bit — the first one was taken from a lab window at my last job, and the others are from my current job. The sunset one is actually an underexposed sunrise from the front entrance, but is not substantially different from the shot I would have taken had I been in the shared postdoc office at the time.)


Peter Suber points to a new book from Chandos Publishing. It sounds interesting, but here’s a free clue for Chandos: I’m not about to pay GBP 39.95 (USD 73.86) for the paperback edition of a 250-page book about — you guessed it — Open Access.

Title: Open Access; Key strategic, technical and economic aspects
Editor: Dr Neil Jacobs
The authors are some of the leading experts in open access, and will be familiar to anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the debates in the field. They include academic researchers, librarians and publishers, and are all strategic thinkers with both breadth and depth of knowledge in scholarly communication. They have subtly different views on open access, and these come across in the book, which therefore documents the open access movement at a critical point in its progress. The editor is an experienced information professional and researcher, currently managing the JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) Digital Repositories development programme in the UK.

Peter says that many of the chapters are available, open access, on the web — but Chandos doesn’t seem to want me to know where they are. Look, I know there are no Publishing Fairies to leave free books under my pillow, and I don’t begrudge anyone an honest living; but come on, seventy smackers for a paperback? I’m going to take some convincing before I see that as anything but gouging.