Japan TV chief dismisses wartime sex slavery – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

Japan TV chief dismisses wartime sex slavery – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

8. Blasphemy and offences against religion

8. Blasphemy and offences against religion.

Season’s Greeting!


Calming Signals: Understanding Your Pet’s Silent Language

Calming Signals: Understanding Your Pet’s Silent Language.

The death of copyright law comes closer

Re-posted: Insane English copyright ruling creates ownership in the idea of a photo’s composition

From archiarchive

In a bizarre ruling, an English court has ruled that in favor of a commercial poster company that argued that a photo that showed a similar (but different) scene taken by a different person in a different place nevertheless infringed the copyright of a poster. What the judge ruled was that photographing a scene that is “substantially similar” to a scene someone else has already photographed infringes the first shooter’s copyright.

Top Smartest and Most Intelligent Animals (re-posted)

I’m not sure how this ranking was devised, or whether it is entirely serious. The skills listed for each species are interesting but not necessarily indicative of intelligence. The photos are very cute, but does dressing up an animal like a human really mean it is intelligent?

Top Smartest & Most Intelligent Animals.

See my article Animal Intelligence.

Animal communication

Today’s edition of The Scientist contained this interesting report:

Gorilla baby talk


Gorillas communicate differently with their young than to other adults, much the same way humans do, according to a study published May 29 in the American Journal of Primatology. Instead of vocal signals, however, the team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology watched mother gorillas’ hand gestures and facial expressions for signs of baby talk. They found that the mothers used similar signals to those used in adult groups, such as a hand on the head to mean “stop it,” but used them far more frequently with youngsters.

Tactile gestures in general were more prevalent when Mom was talking to baby, and the researchers believe this is partly to help the youngsters learn to use the language of the group. The finding also hints that parent gorillas know that they have to communicate more carefully with infants who have fewer skills.

Does this mean that gorillas who have not been taught sign language by humans are using it themselves? How do the researcher know what each sign means? See my article about how to interpret animal body language. And for a more in-depth, philosophical reflection on the difficulties involved in interpreting animals’ mental states from their behaviour – as well as a whimsical exploration of whether animals can be held to be morally guilty – see my article Dogs and the “guilty mind”.

What babies need

Four legs good, two legs better!

Four legs good, two legs better! (Photo credit: dullhunk)

Dr Howard Chiltern, an experienced paediatrician from Sydney, was recently interviewed by Margaret Throsby on ABC-FM. He has written books about babies, and gives regular talk to parents, grandparents and anyone else who is interested, about how to look after babies in the first 12 months of life.

He starts with the interesting claim that human babies are born “premature” –  we stand erect, our pelvis is twisted, the hip joints need big buttresses, and so the pelvis is narrowed compared to other animals. This is an adaptation to walking erect as bipeds. It means that babies come out immature, with only 25% of their brain formed – so we need a tribe of people around to look after us.

A baby is not an independent little person who can make a decisions – there are all sorts of myths about teaching the baby what to do and not reinforcing undesirable behaviour, but the baby at birth is a foetus – and therefore should be kept in a fetal environment. You can’t teach him to sleep on his own and change has feeding times to fit in with you. 25% of the baby’s brain is formed at birth – the other 75% is the connections made between the neurones – which develop rapidly. The weight of the brain doubles in the baby’s first year of life, and this is all in the connections between neurones.  A lot of this depends on the environment.

Crying is their only means of communication  – it doesn’t mean they’re miserable – it is always a form of communication.

When the baby is crying, a parent goes through a checklist of things that might be wrong. Babies cry because of anything that threatens a baby’s survival – hunger, being lonely – which is a survival matter – and they want to be warm.

It is a myth that picking up a baby when it is crying reinforces crying, and you will creating  rod for your own back. It is the opposite. Picking the baby up quietens the baby and helps the baby eventually to individuate and become independent.

The most common reason they cry is because they are stressed. The main cause for stress is too much stimulation. Babies are not happy about coming out of the womb.

Babies are not all alike at birth. Temperament is on a normal distribution curve. 20% of babies are self-soothing. These are the ones whose parents say they are good babies, sleeping through the night – “isn’t yours?” At the other end of the spectrum, are the 15% of babies who are super sensitive. Others are in the middle of the distribution – for 2 or 3 days a week he’s a bit ratty. Parents learn to soothe the baby by seeing his signs and responding to them. That’s the essence of good parenting.

With 2nd babies parents are more relaxed. Parents treat their 1st baby as if it was made of crystal. Babies are as tough as old boots. They really are well adapted to dealing with the world.

There is no such thing as colic. At 4 – 6 weeks of age babies get upset and look like they are in pain. They cry and draw their legs up, as if they have a stomach pain. It’s nothing to do with pain. If you can calm the baby down, they will be OK. The pain lies with the mind not the gut. If you settle the baby down, he will settle. If you just cuddle them they will take time. You have to down-regulate it gradually. They have high cortisol levels, which take time to come down. “Bore your baby to sleep.” Don’t take him out into the living room in front of his brother or TV. Wrap the baby up, go into a quiet room, place the baby’s ear against your heart. Other things like going in car don’t calm them. Try to replicate life in the womb. Full flexion, swaddle, primitive reflex – startle – fling arms out – put against heart beat, put arms in, feed them if they are hungry or let them smell you. Create something like the environment inside the womb – reduce the visual stimulation level. They don’t have the off switch. They develop it at around 3 months They learn to switch off. Stick to plan for 3 to 5 days. It takes time to down-regulate. It needs an intense calming regime.

Sleep with mother because mothers sleep in a protective way, do not go into deep sleep – sleep with an awareness of baby – fathers sleep more deeply and are unlikely to be aware of the baby, although they can learn.

Women are nurturing, but for most women, nurturing doesn’t go any further than babies and partners, but does not extend to self. Women should do like the cabin staff tell them – first fit your own mask, then fit your child’s. Look after yourself first. Of course you have to get up when babies wake, even though you are tired, but many mothers lose themselves and become martyrs. Do not be the best mother you can be. Be the best woman, then mother. The best thing that grandparents can do is look after the mother, not the baby. We are designed to have grandparents. Baby’s first year is absolutely critical for the baby’s mental health. First 6 to 12 months is important. There can be other carers than the mother. In prehistoric times there were others caring for babies. If the child has carers, they must be loving, involved and interested in the child and keep the baby calm.

There are a lot of innate attractants to the breast. In developing countries the majority of babies are breast fed. Why are there so many mothers whose babies have trouble breastfeeding in the West?  If a baby is left between the mother’s legs after the birth, babies will take 100 minutes to crawl up the body to the breast. Encourage babies to latch. Give them baby-led latching. Do not do it by placing them. Mothers don’t have personal confidence about breast-feeding.

What about controlled crying in order to get into a routine? Controlled crying has a place after 1 year but totally inappropriate in first 6 months or 9 months. Crying is an evolutionary mechanism. If the baby is crying and the mother doesn’t come, crying extinguishes, the baby becomes silent, or you will be taken by a sabre tooth tiger. If crying, the baby has a high level of stress hormones, which remain high if the baby silences.

Co-sleeping – no alcohol, no drugs, no fatigue, so will drop into deep non-protective sleep. There must be a big bed, no toddlers, not too many covers, pick them up when they cry. Will create a nice confident reliable child who knows and trusts you.

Howard Chiltern’s latest book is Baby on Board (Finch publishing Sydney).

Elinor Ostrum, theorist of “the commons”, dies

I have recently re-posted an article about Open Access. Here I re-post from The Conversation a tribute to one of the theorists who  contributed to our understanding of what is known as “the commons” – the wealth or resources that are held in common by the community.

The grand philosopher of the Commons: in memory of Elinor Ostrom

By Matthew Rimmer, Australian National University

The grand philosopher of the Commons, Elinor Ostrom, passed away on the 12th June 2012. She was a brilliant, creative polymath; a theoretician of fine precision and great intellectual power; a deviser of masterful empirical studies; and an energetic collaborator and networker. Ostrom posed a formidable intellectual challenge to the fields of economics and the social sciences
– and the advocates of central regulation, privatization, and enclosure.

Elinor Ostrom was a distinguished professor at Indiana University. She was both the Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences, and professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Ostrom was senior research director of the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. She received a Nobel Prize in economics in 2009 “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”. Her Nobel Lecture, entitled Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems, encapsulated the elements of her conceptual framework.

Elinor Ostrom’s theoretical and empirical work on the Commons is of great importance and significance in the fields of economics, natural resource management, law, and the social sciences. Indeed, her research has an important legacy for education, open access, intellectual property, and scholarly communications.

Governing the Commons

In her classic 1990 work, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, Elinor Ostrom begins with the reflection: “Hardly a week goes by without a major news story about the threatened destruction of a valuable natural resource.” She notes: “The issues of how best to govern natural resources used by many individuals in common are no more settled in academia than in the world of politics.”

Ostrom provides a critique of three influential models – Garrett Hardin’s ‘tragedy of the Commons’, the ‘prisoner’s dilemma game’, and Mancur Olson’s ‘logic of collective action’. She observes that the three models are interesting and powerful because they capture aspects of the problem of free-riding. The models predict that those using common resources will not co-operate to achieve collective benefits.

Nonetheless, Ostrom argues: “What makes these models so dangerous – when they are used metaphorically as the foundation for policy – is that the constraints that are assumed to be fixed for the purpose of analysis are taken on faith as being fixed in empirical settings, unless external authorities change them.”

Ostrom identified key design principles underlying long-term, robust common-pool resource institutions. These principles related to clearly defined boundaries; congruence between rules and local needs and conditions; collective-choice arrangements; monitoring; graduated sanctions; conflict-resolution mechanisms; minimal recognition of rights to organise; and nested enterprises.

Ostrom concluded: “We in the social sciences face as great a challenge in how to address the analysis of common-pool resource problems as do the communities of people who struggle with ways to avoid common-pool resource problems in their day-to-day lives.”

Green from the grassroots: the environment, sustainable development, and climate change

Ostrom took a lively interest in applying her theories to the international debates over the environment, sustainable development, and climate change.

Ostrom has been critical of the intransigence of the United States on the issue of climate change. She lamented: “If only one country in the world tried to solve climate change — even one of the wealthier countries of the world — this would be a grossly inadequate effort.”

Ostrom has supported a multi-layered approach to the issue of climate change: “The advantage of a polycentric approach is that it encourages experimental efforts at multiple levels, as well as the development of methods for assessing the benefits and costs of particular strategies adopted in one type of ecosystem and comparing these with results obtained in other ecosystems.”

Not all are convinced by such an approach. Stephen Gardiner, for instance, in A Perfect Moral Storm, expressed reservations as to whether a Commons approach could adequately address climate change, especially given the technical complexity, political fissures, and global nature of the topic.

On the 12 June 2012, Elinor Ostrom wrote a final op-ed on the Rio+20 Summit entitled, “Green from the Grassroots”. There has been much debate over the draft text of the agreement– with many countries asking for deletions, caveats, and reservations. There has been particular controversy over the principle of common but differentiated responsibility; the green economy and green jobs; intellectual property and technology transfer; and finance.

Ostrom recognised that “inaction in Rio would be disastrous, but a single international agreement would be a grave mistake”. She argued, though: ‘We cannot rely on singular global policies to solve the problem of managing our common resources: the oceans, atmosphere, forests, waterways, and rich diversity of life that combine to create the right conditions for life, including seven billion humans, to thrive.”

Ostrom advocated a multi-layered, evolutionary approach to policy-making and maintained that “setting goals can overcome inertia, but everyone must have a stake in establishing them: countries, states, cities, organizations, companies, and people everywhere”.

Ostrom argues: ‘What we need are universal sustainable development goals on issues such as energy, food security, sanitation, urban planning, and poverty eradication, while reducing inequality within the planet’s limits.’ She warns: ‘Without action, we risk catastrophic and perhaps irreversible changes to our life-support system.’

Ostrom’s last words in her op-ed are: ‘Our primary goal must be to take planetary responsibility for this risk, rather than placing in jeopardy the welfare of future generations.’

It is a timely reminder – as Hillary Clinton and the United States delegation heads off to Rio de Janeiro for the summit.

The Knowledge Commons

The Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University – founded by Elinor and her husband Vincent Ostrom – was a great catalyst for collaborative and inter-disciplinary work on the commons. David Bollier praises her scholarly warmth and collegality, and community outreach: “Ostrom built a global network of colleagues and a vast literature that explores how people can actually cooperate in managing resources.”

In 2004, Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom hosted
a meeting entitled “Workshop on Scholarly Communications as a Commons”. From this initial meeting, Hess and Ostrom concluded that the Knowledge Commons could not be restricted to merely scholarly communication: “It became more and more apparent than any useful study of the users, designers, contributors, and distributors of this commons could not be cordoned off to the domain of the ivory tower.”

With Charlotte Hess, Elinor Ostrom edited the influential 2007 Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice. Hess and Ostrom observed that ‘an increasing number of scholars found that the concept of the “commons” helped them to conceptualize new dilemmas they were observing with the rise of distributed, digital information”. The pair noted that ’Commons became a buzzword for digital information, which was being enclosed, commodified, and overpatented.’

The theoretical and practical work of Elinor Ostrom remains influential for intellectual property law, digital libraries, open access publishing, and Commons projects, like the Creative Commons, the Science Commons, the GreenXchange and even the Eco-Patent Commons.

Her philosophy of the Knowledge Commons remains timely, as academics, scholars, and universities rise up against the barriers and strictures of the commercial publishers of scholarly works.

Elinor Ostrom’s legacy to education may well be that the walled gardens of commercial publishers will be torn down and replaced with open access, digital libraries.

Dr Matthew Rimmer is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, working on Intellectual Property and Climate Change. He is an associate professor at the ANU College of Law, and an associate director of the Australian Centre for Intellectual Property. Matthew Rimmer is currently an Australian Research Council Future Fellow working on a project entitled “Intellectual Property and Climate Change: Inventing Clean Technologes” and a chief investigator in an Australian Research Council Discovery Project, “Promoting Plant Innovation in Australia”.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

New open access journal

English: Open Access logo and text

English: Open Access logo and text (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have reproduced here for your interest an article about a new Open Access publishing venture. The Open Access movement is about having the results of scientific or academic research (which is usually funded by the taxpayer) published in a way that makes it affordable and accessible for people, rather than in the major peer-reviewed academic journals which are run for a profit by large publishing companies and can be prohibitively expensive.

For my general views on this, see my article in this blog The Death of Intellectual Property Law.

The Publishing Buffet

By Bob Grant

An open-access journal with an all-you-can-publish fee structure is born.

A new, open-access journal will charge contributors a one-time fee to publish papers in perpetuity. Officials at PeerJ announced yesterday (June 12) that the journal will begin taking submissions from the realm of biological and medical science research this summer and will publish its first articles in December 2012. The journal will employ an entirely new model of open-access publishing, with contributors paying a one-time membership fee for one of three levels of lifetime publishing privileges: $99 for one publication per year, $169 for 2 publications per year, and $259 for unlimited publication.

Peter Binfield, who was publisher of PLoS ONE, and Jason Hoyt, previously with the research paper sharing website Mendeley, are the brains behind the new journal. “PeerJ significantly moves the needle towards universal Open Access publishing for all academics,” Binfield, who will serve as publisher of the new journal, said in a statement. “We provide authors with publication at an affordable price, starting at just $99 for life; an inclusive venue in which to publish their peer reviewed research; and an innovative and dynamic approach towards academic publishing in the internet era.”

Articles submitted to PeerJ will be peer reviewed, but only for scientific soundness and not for impact or importance—a model of peer review already employed by some open-access titles. The new journal will require members to review at least one paper per year or engage in post-publication peer review.

The new open-access model is attracting the attention of others in the publishing game. “PeerJ is part of the assertion that this can be done cheaper—and for that alone it will be interesting to watch,” Cameron Neylon, director of advocacy at the Public Library of Science in San Francisco, told Nature. Neylon’s organization, which publishes all of the PLoS titles, charges authors up to $1,000 or more per published article. “The flexibility of payment options that PeerJ offers to authors should encourage more researchers to choose to make their articles openly available,” said Heather Joseph, head of The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, in a testimonial published on the journal’s website.

PeerJ is offering special discounts on memberships until September 1: Researchers can save $30 on the 2-publication-per-year plan and $40 on the unlimited publishing plan. “We are seeing a Cambrian explosion of experiments with new publishing models,” Binfield told Nature. “It’s going to be an interesting period for the next few years.”