Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Geosonnet 62



Charles Sturt believed there was an inland sea
Where westward winding rivers could discharge
This destination proved illusory
And yet his name’s on desert, gorge, litharge.
Among the rocky features labelled Sturt
An ancient glaciation bears his name
Geologists today wish to assert
Exactly when this global ice age came.
But Glac’ers oft erode what lies below
Entire sections thus are hard to find.
A dozen million years post-Inslay show
The isotope and ice are not entwined.
Seven one seven million years from then
Sturt chased mirage hypotheses again.


Other geosonnets: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Some quick thoughts on the current suite of Star Wars movies


I meant to post this last year, but never quite got around to typing it up, so on the eve of the next Star Wars film, here’s a few thoughts about two of the more recent ones.

On my last trans-pacific flight, I watched The Last Jedi and Rouge One back to back. It was an interesting contrast, as it clarified what I do and don’t like about the more recent versions of these films.

Rouge One was a brilliant movie. I can’t recall the last time I saw a Sci-Fi heist movie, but they pulled it off in style. It was also a great war movie- sort of like a futuristic Guns of Navarrone or Bridge over the river Kwai. The stakes were high, the Empire was evil, the heroes lay everything on the line to stop a terrible weapon from being unleashed- while at the same time it was similar enough to our own neverending wars that it felt pertinent and important.

The Last Jedi, on the other hand, I found to be pretty but implausible, with too many emotionally unsupported plot twists and a tiresome moral relativism. The “break with the past” embodied by Ren’s betrayal made the plot choices seem arbitrary. Furthermore, the Empire, for the first Star Wars movie ever, wasn’t particularly evil. They were fighting the rebels, and the rebels were fighting the Empire (or First Order, as the neo-imperials style themselves). But the rebels opened the movie by failing cheaply through petulance, and the Casino scene literally held both sides to be equivalent, so this was very much the Nazi sanitation Star Wars movie, which didn’t sit well with me. I suppose that’s what happens when Imperial merchandising is a billion dollar business, but the battle between good and evil was a big draw of the franchise for me.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I was turned off enough to skip the Solo movie. Dunno if I’ll see this one or not.

Monday, December 16, 2019

How the Grinch ruined reviewing

 

Everyone who has ever published scientific results knows about the dread Reviewer Two: The reviewer who is unduly harsh, or just doesn’t get it, or who is inappropriately negative. Yet although we all complain about having been harshly judged by reviewer two, we never talk about the reviews we dish out. So, because it is Christmas, I am posting my harshest ever review below. I actually had to do it twice- I was a naive sucker, and I sheepishly went along when they asked me to do their dirty work for them. Here is part one:


Dear G&G editors:
This paper appears to be plagiarized from Haggerty 2014 Carbonado: Physical and chemical properties, a critical evaluation of proposed origins, and a revised genetic model. Earth Science Reviews 130 49-72 (hereafter: H14).

The first sentence of this manuscript is directly plagiarized from the first sentence of Haggerty (2014), without citation:

"Carbonado-diamond is the most controversial of all diamond types and is found only in Brazil, and the Central African Republic (Bangui)." H14

"Carbonado is the most controversial of all diamond types." this paper

This pattern continues:

"Selected physical properties are presented and the proposed origins, diverse
in character and imaginatively novel, are critically reviewed." H14

"Selected physical and chemical properties are presented and the proposed origins, diverse in character and imaginatively novel, are critically reviewed."

Similarly, entire sentences and phrases from the introduction and descriptive sections seem to be cut and pasted from various parts of H14, while this paper is only referenced (and incorrectly as 2013) occasionally.

There is no author affiliation on the manuscript you sent me.  If it is anyone other than Haggerty, you should probably report them to their Dean, or misconduct board.  If it is Haggerty, then I guess it depends on your policy on large-scale self-cut and pasting and what constitutes an original paper.  I have attached the first page of H14 (just one page, to stay within fair use guidelines) as a comparison- please compare this abstract to the abstract and first introductory paragraph on the manuscript you sent me.

I thought I should inform you of this ASAP. Would you like me to continue with the review?
sincerely,
Chuck Magee



Anyway, the editors replied saying that Haggerty was in fact the author, and that a full review would be appreciated. So I provided the following:
 
Dear G&G editors:
This paper appears to be heavily self-plagairized from Haggerty 2014 Carbonado: Physical and chemical properties, a critical evaluation of proposed origins, and a revised genetic model. Earth Science Reviews 130 49-72 (hereafter: H14).

Specific, paragraph-by-paragraph notes:

The Abstract is heavily cribbed from that of H14, including an identical opening sentence.
The introduction is heavily cribbed from the second half of the H14 abstract. “Selected physical [and chemical] properties are presented and the proposed origins, diverse in character and imaginatively novel, are critically reviewed.”;
Point 2 in this manuscript is point 1 in H14 abstract;
Point 3 in this manuscript is point 2 in H14 abstract;
Point 4 in this manuscript is point 3 in H14 abstract.
Point 1 in this manuscript is the first sentence of H14 Introduction.

Paragraph 1 of this manuscript’s “Geological Setting” section is copied from paragraph 1 of the “Geologic Setting” section of H14.

Paragraph 2 of this manuscript’s “Geological Setting” section is copied from paragraph 2 of the “Geologic Setting” section of H14.

Paragraph 3 of this manuscript’s “Geological Setting” section is copied from the beginning of paragraph 3 of the “Geologic Setting” section of H14.

Paragraph 4 of this manuscript’s “Geological Setting” section is copied from the middle and end of paragraph 3 of the “Geologic Setting” section of H14.

Paragraph 1 of this manuscript’s “Carbonado” section is copied from paragraph 4 of the Introduction of H14.

The first half of the “overall appearance” subsection is copied from the “Overall appearance” section of H14. The second half is cribbed heavily from the “Surface and internal textures” section of H14.

The “porosity” subsection is copied with minor changes from the porosity section of H14

The “Hardness and toughness” subsection is copied with minor changes from the “Hardness & Toughness” section of H14

The “Mineralogy” subsection is copied and summarized from from the “Mineralogy” section of H14

The “Chemistry” subsection is copied virtually intact from the “chemistry” section of H14

The “Optical properties” subsection is copied with minor changes (1,2,3 becomes a,b,c) and condensed from the “optical properties” section of H14
The “synthesis” subsection is copied with minor changes from the “synthesis” section of H14

The Objections to Proposed origins section in this manuscript is somewhat mixed up from H14:
point 1 was point 5
point 2 was point 9
point 3 was point 1
point 4 was point 13
point 5 was point 14
point 6 was point 7
point 7 was point 2
point 8 was point 3
point 9 was point 3
point 10 was point 4
point 11 was point 8
point 12 was point 10
point 13 was point 11
point 14 was point 12
point 15-18 are the same.

The summarizing paragraph is cut and pasted from the summarizing paragraph of H14

The Extra-terrestrial Origin section of this manuscript copies 6 of the 7 ennumerated points from H14.

The first “stellar sources” paragraph is heavily cribbed from the third “Extra-terrestrial origin” section of H14.

The second “stellar sources” paragraph of this manuscript appears to be similar to the last paragraph of the “Extra-Terrestrial origin” section of H14

The third “stellar sources” paragraph of this manuscript is similar for the first paragraph of the “new cosmic model” section of H14.

The fourth “stellar sources” paragraph appears to be copied from the fourth “A new cosmic model” section of H14

The “Exoplanets” paragraph is cribbed heavily from the middle of the second “A new cosmic model” paragraph of H14

The 1st “solar system” paragraph is drawn heavile from the end of the second “A new cosmic model” paragraph of H14

The second “Solar System” paragraph is drawn from the last “origin in the solar system” paragraph in H14

The first “When and how did carbonado reach earth” paragraph Is based on the first and third “Transporting media” paragraphs of H14

The second “When and how did carbonado reach earth” paragraph is copied from the second “Transporting media” paragraph of H14

The first “Other host rocks” paragraph of this manuscript is copied from the second “Rarity of carbonado” paragraph of H14

The second “Other host rocks” paragraph is cut and pasted from the “Geological implications” paragraph of H14

The first “Industrial applications” paragraph of this manuscript is copied from the “Industrial applications” paragraph of H14.

The first “conclusions” paragraph of this paper is cribbed from the “Conclusions” paragraph of H14.

In summary, this manuscript does not contain a single paragraph that is not either a partial or complete restatement of part of H14. More importantly, it does not address any of the serious problems with H14.

The idea of glassy carbon forming from a melt is nonsensical; the melting temperature of C is so high that it has not yet been reliably snythesized, however the temperatures required are such that there is no expectation that an amorphous quench product can be contained.  Even if it could, there is no reason to expect it to look similar to a silicate glass.  So the argument that patina = molten carbon is baseless. Most carbonado researchers since Milledge et al. 1998 have favored the view that the patina is a surface layer amorphosed at low temperature by radiation damage.

Similarly, the pores have been known to be open to exchange with the environment since Trueb & de Wys 1971, so there is no way to determine whether or not they are primary, or what originally filled them. So it is not valid to infer that they are vesicles.

Finally, the author has a conflict of interest in that he owns the largest private carbonado collection around, so if he can convince potential buyers that carbonado is exotic, he stands to benefit financially.

This manuscript should be rejected.

Sincerely,
Chuck Magee



This was a dumb way to write a review, and like all reviewer twos, I only hurt myself. In addition to the time spent documenting all the repeated content, all I ended up doing was giving the editors and author a cheat sheet for redrafting in a way to better hide the lack of originality in the manuscript. As you can see from the published version of the paper, all the cuts and pastes were redrafted.

 Furthermore, listing pages and pages of plagiarism had the effect of de-emphasizing the substantive criticisms of science and conflict of interest that I squeezed into the last few paragraphs. In short, this was a lazy review written with the naive assumption that self-plagiarism was something that editors would reject a paper over.

All I did was to waste my own time and give the editors and author a how-to guide to destroy the evidence that the work was derivative. Being pedantically critical was not a useful reviewing strategy.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Geosonnet 61



When Shuram carbon isotopes decline
A Ocean’s Eight of suspects are proposed:
Deb oxidizes chemicals in brine.
Lou stratified the oceans unopposed.
An authigenic calcite? Nineball hack.
Designer alteration? Style by Rose.
Did Daphne have a clathrate gas attack?
A shell game mixing sources Constance knows.
Amita’s impact smashes carbon well.
Fence Tammy smuggles oil off the clocks.
Compound-specific isotopes will tell
A mineral-alkane offset in the rocks.
   Our primary producers stashed the score
   But oil maturation leaked once more.


Other geosonnets: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Geosonnet 60



A jello shot will rarely save a soul
In seedy university-based dive.
But can a hazard analog conjole?
Volcano model may keep kids alive.
An agar casting resonantly shakes
With mobile fluid reservoir below
Its wobbles tuned to simulate the quakes
Which might induce subsidence, or a blow.
When edifice and frequency are matched
The resonance will stimulate the flow
If gas and liquid flow regions detatched.
Degassing and subsidence are below
   To ring a great volcano like a gong
   The trigger earthquake must be very strong



Other geosonnets: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60

Friday, September 27, 2019

Geosonnet 59



Molybdenum is sulfur’s stable mate
Unfractionated isotopes preserved
Like genteel Dr Jekyll, sometimes fate
Disrupts the inner peace that is deserved.
When oxygen attacks stable sulfide
Molybdenate and sulfate are dissolved
Adsorption onto rust, like Mr Hyde
Wreaks horrid fractionation, unresolved.
The speciation in a rock controls
If seawater Mo isotopes remain.
A moly oxide, even in black coals
May fractionate the isotopes again.
  The near adsorption edge of XANES can tell
   If moly isotopes have gone to Hell.


Other geosonnets: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Geosonnet 58

Three narratives, like Roshomon they vie,

To frame suboceanic mantle growth.
Sea water infiltration cannot tie
The isotopes and concentrations both.
A diff’rent melt, cryptic in its disguise
Will spin the tale to take the starring role.
From clinopyroxene we can surmise
The melting source, not multiple, is sole.
Assimilation, favored by the Borg
Sees itself eating altered seafloor crust
This theory dies, is buried in the morgue
These melts are far too primitive, robust.
     Unlike the movie data can constain
     Remelted sulfides crystallized again.





Other geosonnets: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Belfast Girls

Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre through August 31


Belfast Girls, a play by Jaki McCarrick, is currently playing a The Q. This is a play about five women who were transported to Australia from Ireland at the height of the potato famine. Set entirely on the ship, from its berth in Belfast to the arrival in Sydney, it is the story of these refugees and their journey from starvation to salvation at the ends of the Earth.  Envisaged by the British sponsor as a noble humanitarian plan to save the innocent girls of Ireland from the depredations of the famine, the reality of these desperate refugees are shown on stage. As the ship sails and the story develops, the relationship of the women with each other, and with their pasts comes into vivid focus. Haunted by their pasts, and confined to a cabin by the nature of the voyage, their secrets and sins are gradually unmasked.

Director Best puts the play on straight up- Irish accents, a marvellous wooden ship set, appropriate period costumes and no pretentious reinterpretations or changes. However she excels at extracting the maximum drama from he cast in each scene. And the acting is great. Natasha Vickery is fantastic, as is Joanna Richards in their frequent tempestuous clashes, and the other three women are also compelling.

The play was written by an Irishwoman living in England. As far as I can tell, this is the first production in Australia. This makes it a bit of a treat for us, as the characters shown (and their compatriots) are the family of almost all of us Australians. While we have no idea how the Aborigine’s ancestors got here, from 1788 on, we have been peopled by convicts, refugees, swindler, liars, cheats, sadistic imperialists, and other opportunists. And it is riveting to see the desperate schemers, cast off by the old world, on their journey to a better place and a life remade. Of course, Irish refugees didn’t just go to Australia, they fled to other places as well, including the USA. As such, it reminds me of the poem which has been in the news of late, The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This play is a poignant reminder of the colourful, passionate, desperate beginnings of those who left Europe for a better future. In this age of refugee demonization and callous border militarization, it is a reminder that we are all the children of the unwanted starving masses, whose crimes and limitations were left behind when they crossed the seas to a new beginning.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Geosonnet 57

A black extrusive, collared for a crime
Won't flow, or run, or put up any fight.
When faced with doing geologic time,
Repeat offenders recognize their plight.
The good cop gives LIP service to concern
"We know you've had these outbursts in the past."
Bad cop cuts in, "A poisoner's return:
The mercury's more widespread than the last."
They double down- he's in the hot spot now,
"The plankton and the magnetite are slain
Effusive toxic volitiles are how
We know biotic crash occurred again."
   Defiantly, he scans the gloomy sky
   Where shines his cometary alibi.

Geology 44 171

Other geosonnets: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57

Friday, July 12, 2019

Geosonnet 56



White walkers turn the maple leaf to ice
A glacial edifice, three miles in height
Continuous, and ringed by edelweiss?
Or intermittent, phasing like a wight?
The sediment’ry basin, Hudson Bay
Has hollows which survived the glacial scours
So forty thousand years ago, they say,
The land had beaches, forest, meadow flowers.
A verdant corridor split west and east
The Hudson Bay was then an inland sea
Migration route for plankton, grass, or beast?
For many thousand years it was ice free.
   The Night King’s kingdom melted, split in two
   But when the Ice age deepened, it regrew.




Other geosonnets: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Geosonnet 55


A plotter’s pause to synchronize his watch
Is often preparation for a heist:
A bank vault? Tardy mail train full of scotch?
A drug syndicate’s freighter full of ice?
Geologists scheme on a grander scale
Where ice envelops Earth, a mile thick.
Should cryospheric pilfering prevail
The melting must be synchronous, and quick.
Boron reveals (in sonnet twenty five)
Cap carbonates have one last common flaw
A rapid deposition crooks derive
A catastrophic warming's last hurrah
   The zircons say less than a million years.
   CO2 melts the ice, then disappears.


Other geosonnets: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Geosonnet 54


A horoscope yon wand’ring planets make
Predictions of our facies, lives, and death.
Is graveyard orbital influence fake?
A sediment’ry burial shibboleth?
Milanković, that fortune-telling Serb
Used planet motions to predict the ice
Can continental weathering perturb
A fossilizing chemical device?
The Ordovician pyritized remains
Of soft parts every point one million years
Suggest orbit obliquity explains
Whether flesh is preserved or disappears..
   A fool’s gold coin beneath a dead worm’s tongue
   Exquisite fossil afterlife’s begun.




Other geosonnets: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54