In the Garden. FINALLY!

Giving myself a week off from brain-hurt-y articles, I’m just enjoying life today. Went to the gym and then it was finally warm enough to clean out the garden. It’s amazing how happy I am when I get a good night sleep and spend the morning of playing in dirt.

We’re nearly done with our kitchen and family room renovation. I’ll post pictures next week, after we unpack the boxes of books. The process took way longer and was way dirtier than we expected, but this is all first world problems. We’re super lucky and we know it.

Here’s what I read this morning:

Finland does everything better, even dealing with homelessness.

I love this essay by Jonathan Franzen about New York City in the 1980s.

Global warming. We’re screwed.

Should journalists allow scientists to review their quotes or text before publication? And the historians are pissed at the media right now, too.  I think I’m going to write about this at some point.

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12 thoughts on “In the Garden. FINALLY!

  1. I remember a Malcolm Gladwell piece, on some mathematical or scientific topic, where he referred repeatedly to Igon values. My daughter (the math major) and I thought that was hysterical. It confirmed every stereotype we have about journalists’ lack of intellect.

  2. ey81 said,

    “I remember a Malcolm Gladwell piece, on some mathematical or scientific topic, where he referred repeatedly to Igon values. My daughter (the math major) and I thought that was hysterical. It confirmed every stereotype we have about journalists’ lack of intellect.”

    There are a LOT of references to this slip.

    https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/igonvalue-com

    Embarrassing!

    That’s exactly the sort of thing your expert could save you from if they had a look at the text before it went to print.

    It’s not lack of intellect, I think, but sloppiness and lack of area knowledge.

  3. My husband usually does interviews only via email, which creates an automatic record and cuts down on the homophone disasters.

  4. That Igon Value (which I had not heard of before, but confirms my biases about Gladwell and his work, is hilarious. But, how could that mistake get into print in a book? Shouldn’t editing have corrected it? Eigenvalues are not very obscure math.

    The question of whether scientists should be able to review (and the article is sloppy about “quotes” v “text”, which are different, in my mind) shouldn’t be based on their status as scientists, but on what kind of information they are providing. Say for example, someone, scientist, energy executive, solar panel maker, venture capitalist, is being quote that the average US utility customer consumes about 10K kWh/year. That’ number can get corrupted i lots of ways (kW, kWh without a period of time, 10 v 10,000, . . . .). The simplest way to review that number is to ask the person providing the information. If, on the other hand, the controversy is over how that number is calculated, maybe independent verification is required (i.e. I left out “residential” in that sentence above, and that’s actually a big deal when talking about energy consumption).

    And, interestingly, the article talks about how all the people they tried to interview insisted on email.

      1. “It’s a perpetual problem to keep units straight, even if everybody involved is a technical person.”

        Mars Climate Orbiter!

    1. bj said,

      “The question of whether scientists should be able to review (and the article is sloppy about “quotes” v “text”, which are different, in my mind) shouldn’t be based on their status as scientists, but on what kind of information they are providing. Say for example, someone, scientist, energy executive, solar panel maker, venture capitalist, is being quote that the average US utility customer consumes about 10K kWh/year. That’ number can get corrupted i lots of ways (kW, kWh without a period of time, 10 v 10,000, . . . .).”

      Oh dear!

      It could even get corrupted in the editing process even if taken directly from email.

      “And, interestingly, the article talks about how all the people they tried to interview insisted on email.”

      I did a lot of interview transcriptions as a college student (print journalism was one of my majors) and it’s hard to turn even normal speech (which is choppy, incoherent, occasionally inaudible and full of stops and starts) into readable and faithful printed text. Throw in a subject area unfamiliar to the person attempting to transcribe it/summarize it and OH MY.

      Starting with a written text to begin with lessens the opportunities for corruption of content.

    2. bj said,

      “and the article is sloppy about “quotes” v “text”, which are different, in my mind”

      I just noticed this point. Yeah.

      You’re on pretty solid ground if you have an actual quote (with all the previously discussed caveats), but as a non-expert, once you start paraphrasing, there’s the potential of things going to hell in a handbasket.

  5. The global warming piece really hit home for me. I was raised in the land between the old and new climate dividing lines. Much of my dad’s side still lives there and that’s where the ancestral land is. Back when Obama was president, there was a program to assist farmers in shifting to types of irrigation that waste less water and I think the farmers in my family took advantage. Plus, the wells that irrigate that land aren’t fed by the deep aquifers (the ones that aren’t renewable in the time frame of human lives).

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