Flotsam and Jetsam No. 1

  1. Pleuralistic – Cory Doctorow’s self described ‘old fashioned’ link-blog.
  2. Gender and Other Faulty Software by John Wiswell – Short Fiction from Fireside Fiction.
  3. British scientists too slow to sound the alarm on COVID-19 – Reuters special report

1. Pleuralistic


I discovered linkblogs for the first time a few days ago, when Cory Doctorow posted about his… somewhere. Months ago I was toying with the idea of doing something similar on this blog, to share the detritus I’d found while floating around the internet, but I was put off by the fact that I’d seen no other blogs do something similar. Then I stumbled on Doctorow’s – which he describes as old fashioned. Is it possible that the humble linkblog has died out? No? Got some favourites you want to share?

As for Doctorow’s, I’ve already discovered some great bits and pieces like this set of 100 ideas for Dungeon Masters, and a dizzy array of news items.

2. Gender and Other Faulty Software – short story


An engineer attempts to reclaim a derelict mining ship hit a bump when the ship takes issue with being designated male by the reclamation company’s OS.

John Wiswell’s short story, published on Fireside Fiction, is a neat little encapsulation of sometimes strangeness of being told you are [specific characteristic].

Fireside regularly publish good, thoughtful fiction, and I urge you to check them out if you haven’t already.

3. British scientists too slow to sound the alarm on COVID-19


Reuters have published a meticulously researched, disturbing report on the UK’s scientific adviser’s reticence in sounding the alarm on COVID-19. The second paragraph alone is particularly startling:

"[…] that was a prediction of over 500,000 deaths in this nation of nearly 70 million." The report goes on to say that on numerous occasions, the advisers had opportunities to raise the alarm with the government but didn’t until much later. Says Reuters: "the interviews and documents also reveal that for more than two months, the scientists whose advice guided Downing Street did not clearly signal their worsening fears to the public or the government."

I have this rosy view of scientists, I think, that they’re shining paragons of the truth, ensuring that they relay objective information and cleave to the truth, even when that truth is inconvenient. That obviously isn’t the case; they’re human, too. What I want to know now is, what human failing prevented them from adequately illustrating their fears to the government?

The other thing that struck me, as it often does when dealing with the British government on any press-related issue, is how starkly tone deaf statements from government department spokespeople are. They routinely fail to address concerns and instead state that the government is either infallible or things are going to plan. See the comments from spokespeople in this article, yes, but also in any other news item that you might care to read.

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