Monday, December 31. 2012
I’ve just read the timely recent observations in Hungarian Spectrum by Princeton University's international constitutional scholar, Professor Kim Lane Scheppele, as well as her earlier excellent lecture on the new Hungarian constitution (delivered at CEU nearly a year ago).
Professor Scheppele's insights were and continue to be astute. But one point on which she does not seem to be realistic is her insistence that the problem of undoing the profound damage being done in Hungary by the current governing party's electoral supermajority and its increasingly autocratic leader's use of that supermajority power can and hence must be solved by Hungarians alone.
On the contrary, Hungary’s long history of red/white polarization and scape-goating has clearly culminated, in the latest pendulum swing, in the entrenchment of the white side’s ideology — a primitive, parochial, petty, punitive and increasingly paranoid world-view — in a quackish new constitution drafted, adopted and since amended at will nearly 2000 times by the governing party's supermajority.
Undoing this systematic, cumulative and self-perpetuating damage would require far more substantial and unified internal opposition now than Hungary seems capable of mustering (including the election of a supermajority in the opposite direction, under increasingly self-serving election restrictions voted into law at will by the ruling supermajority).
If global scrutiny and support on behalf of democracy and justice are not ratcheted up dramatically, Hungary will become ever more inextricably engulfed by the opportunistic tar-baby that a plurality made the fateful mistake of embracing in 2010.
(International sanctions would certainly be infinitely preferable to an unopposed descent into dictatorship -- or to civil war.)
Friday, November 30. 2012
On Monday November 26 2012, a Hungarian MP, Márton Gyöngyösy, deputy leader of the extreme right "Jobbik" Party, called for the creation of a race-based list, on the grounds of risks to Hungarian national security.
This all-too-familiar burst of base bigotry from the Jobbik party in Hungary's parliament has deflected attention from an even more ominous event that passed unnoticed, in the very same place, on the very same day: Electoral gerrymandering designed to keep the governing Fidesz Party in power.
As Marton Dornbach points out below in his remarkably insightful commentary from the Hungarian Spectrum -- reproduced in full and slightly updated by the author -- Fidesz is just playing "good cop" to Jobbik's "bad cop".
The two right-wing parties are only distinguishable by the fact that Jobbik's hallmark is psychopathic bigotry, whereas Fidesz's hallmark is psychopathic opportunism. Both are sinking Hungary deeper and deeper, downward and backward, toward an ugly, resentful autocracy and xenophobia to which Hungary is no stranger, and from which it has not yet made the sincere effort to dissociate itself that has been made by the other nations of Europe.
Hungary has a majority of decent, fair-minded people, like every other nation in the world. It is not beyond hope that world outrage at this pair of incidents may help them to rally against these two pernicious parties, Fidesz and Jobbik, that have already done Hungary so much harm, and oust them decisively, once and for all, in the next election, despite Fidesz's shameless and disgraceful efforts to make this so much more difficult to do.
Here is some background reading on last year's symptoms of Hungary's downward trajectory already noted in this blog:
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Hungary's Philosophy Affair: Bringing It All Out Into The Open
Monday, December 19. 2011
The straw poll on whether or not to continue the American Scientist Open Access (AmSci) Forum (and if so, who should be the new moderator) is complete (the full results are reproduced at the end of this message).
The vote is for (1) continuing the Forum, under (2) the moderatorship of Richard Poynder.
The AmSci list has now been migrated to http://mailman.ecs.soton.ac.uk/mailman/listinfo/goal where the BOAI list is also being hosted.
AmSci Forum members need not re-subscribe. All subscriptions have been automatically transferred to the new host site.
The name of the list has been changed to the Global Open Access List (GOAL) to reflect the fact that Open Access is no longer just an American or a Scientific matter. It has become a global movement.
The old AmSci Forum Archives (1998-2011) will stay up at the Sigma Xi site (indefinitely, I hope -- though we do have copies of the entire archive).
The new GOAL archive is at: http://mailman.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pipermail/goal/
Below are the complete results of Straw Poll on whether to continue the Forum, and on who should be the new moderator:
AGAINST CONTINUING AMSCI:
ARIF JINHA: I believe it would be better to have one forum, the BOAI. This forum has developed a doctrinal bias defined by the values and personality of its leadership. Though the leadership is to be commended for its credibility and vigour, it is not without its blind spots. It has not always OPEN to a diversity of perspectives. AMSCI is driven by assertive and competitive advocacy for mandates over Gold OA publishing. The rush to conclusion on the right path is premature and overly authoritative in its expression, therefore it is alienating. In truth, we have only really got started with the web in the last 10 years and authority is completely flattened by the learning curve. The BOAI is much wider in its representation of Open Access alternatives, it is therefore more neutral as well as having a wider reach for the promotion of Green OA. It means less duplication and less work devoted to instant communication, giving more time to develop a rigorous and scientific approach to meta-scholarship in the digital age.
FOR CONTINUING AMSCI:
DANA ROTH: I would disagree with Arif Jinha, in that it is the 'assertive and competitive advocacy for mandates over Gold OA publishing' that make AMSCI such an interesting listserv.
Friday, November 25. 2011
In September 2011 the AmSci Open Access Forum went into its 14th year. I think I have been moderating the Forum long enough, and so I'm stepping down as moderator, effective the end of December.
Subscribers will vote on whether to continue the AmSci Forum or whether the other two OA Forums (SOAF and BOAI) are now sufficient to air views on OA.
I will of course remain active in OA and will be posting to the existing Forums (and AmSci, if it continues) and/or the OA Archivangelism blog whenever the spirit moves or the occasion calls!
Friday, July 22. 2011
Assuming the world has not gone entirely bonkers (and the US Attorney's Office has not contracted terminal wikileakimania), the charges against Aaron Swartz will be dropped...
[UPDATE (2013): Alas, they were not, with tragic results: Adam Swartz 1986-2013]
...as they have been by JSTOR once it becomes clear that he was (as I hope!) only data-mining what he downloaded, not redistributing it.
Breaking into a locked room and computer at MIT is not ethical except if something far more important and justifiable is at stake -- but Swartz will be pardoned for that peccadillo too.
Yet access to retroactively scanned journal article databases is definitely not the same sort of "primal right" as access to current, born-digital articles, where the access is willingly provided by their authors, at no cost to themselves or the user.
In other words, author give-away is not the same thing as user rip-off.
Back-scanning and archiving services may well be over-charging, substantially, relative to their expenses, and that should be challenged and remedied, but the remedy is not theft.
I hope the JSTOR downloading caper will not be conflated or even associated with the legitimate worldwide efforts by researchers to give and get open access to one another's own refereed research.
Friday, July 1. 2011
"Peter Suber: Leader of a Leaderless Revolution"
Open and Shut [& Information Today]
1 July 2011.
Congratulations to Richard Poynder for another timely, incisive and insightful OA interview.
And heartfelt admiration and gratitude to the undisputed leader of the leaderless OA revolution, Peter Suber!
…Which doesn't prevent me from mentioning two minor strategic matters!
(1) It is a good idea to recommend, as Peter does, that non-Green publishers channel any opposition or apprehension they may have concerning OA or Green OA self-archiving mandates into embargoing Green OA self-archiving instead of lobbying against Green OA self-archiving mandates.
But I don't think it's a good idea to encourage Green OA publishers like Springer (or Elsevier, or APS or any of the other 60% of publishers who are already Green on immediate, unembargoed Green OA self-archiving) to backslide into embargoes rather than lobby against Green OA self-archiving mandates!
Let those publishers who wish to lobby against Green OA self-archiving mandates do so, if they wish. The benefits -- to research, researchers, their institutions, their funders, the R&D industry, students, and the tax-paying public -- are so overwhelming that lobbying against Green OA mandates is extremely unlikely to be successful, especially regarding institutional mandates. For whereas not all research is funded, virtually all of it, funded and unfunded, originates from universities and research institutions. Anti-mandate lobbying has had some success in delaying the adoption of Green OA self-archiving mandates at the government funder level, but it has no leverage at the institutional level.
(2) The broad-spectrum, low-selectivity, pass/fail mega-journal certainly has a potential niche today (whether OA or non-OA), but not only is that not the only way, the best way, or the most economical way for researchers to provide OA for their articles (Green OA self-archiving is), but it does not provide the level of quality control that the users of the top journals in each field need and depend on: Deferring that for "postpublication" peer review is not only the equivalent of embargoing it (and with a much less certain outcome), but it deprives authors of the level of immediate scrutiny and feedback that they expect and need from today's top journals, while also depriving users of the immediate indicators of a paper's quality level.
The immediate purpose of OA is to free the entire hierarchy of peer reviewed journals, such as they are, from access-barriers for all potential users: the purpose is not to flatten the peer review quality hierarchy and wait for pot-luck thereafter!
Sunday, June 19. 2011
Open Access by Numbers
Open and Shut, 19 June 2011
Wednesday, February 23. 2011
Bohannon, John (2011) Hungarian Academicians Blast Government Over Inquiry Into Research Funds. ScienceInsider February 4, 2011
"An ugly political situation in Hungary has spilled over into academia, prompting an investigation of supposed financial misdeeds on one side and claims of harassment on the other. Humanities scholars are under investigation by the government for alleged misuse of research funds. But their supporters say they are the target of a government crackdown on critics..."First, heartfelt thanks to John Bohannon at ScienceInsider for being the first English-language journalist to give these sad and worrisome developments in Hungary the international attention they so urgently needed.
Let me try to describe the situation in a nutshell in 14 points, and then encourage all viewpoints to express themselves at the ScienceInsider site, openly -- and then let the world scientific/scholarly community draw its own conclusions.
1. Hungary is a small country with a difficult historical past and a language comprehensible only to its native populace and a very few courageous foreigners.
2. In this closed system an ever-repeating cycle has evolved in which there is extreme polarization ("us vs them") and blame for most problems is laid on the "enemy," with most efforts directed toward punishing the enemy instead of solving the problem.
3. The polarization divides roughly along right-wing and "left-liberal" lines, but these are not quite the same as they are in western europe and north america -- as will become evident if this discussion manages to bring the voices -- which are currently expressing themselves only in Hungarian -- out into the open.
4. I will point out only that the current government is right-wing, and has shown some inclination lately to control the press more than any other western democracy. I will also point out that the former government was left-wing, and highly corrupt. The government before that one was likewise corrupt, and that government happened to be the very same government as the current government. And before that was the communist government, for about four decades, likewise corrupt. And before that was the wartime Fascist government, likewise corrupt…
5. So mutual accusations of corruption are completely uninformative and unhelpful.
6. The present "philosopher affair" concerns this same recurrent pattern: The Hungarian research grant system is extremely inefficient (as it is in many countries, but probably even moreso in Hungary), as well as very low on funds (as it is in many countries, but probably moreso in Hungary) because of the global financial crisis. The philosopher affair concerns alleged irregularities connected with research funding.
7. All researchers, everywhere, complain about the funding system: It is unfair. It gives too much money to unworthy projects; it is biassed; some research and researchers are favoured over others. Let's call these complaints that rival researchers (and rival research fields) make about one another all the time, everywhere, the "generic" complaints.
8. Researchers (and their institutions, and also their funders and funding systems) are also notorious for being sloppy and inefficient (they miss deadlines, they over- or under-spend budgets, they make accounting and reporting errors, etc.). This too is familiar. But researchers are also mostly honest, everywhere, and they try to remedy their sloppiness once it is pointed out -- or if the system becomes sufficiently efficient to make sure slip-ups are prevented from happening in the first place. Let's call these complaints about the implementation and efficiency of compliance with the funding system "systemic" complaints.
9. In addition, there occasionally occurs a genuine instance of major and intentional misuse of research funds on the part of researchers. If researchers do something that is against the rules of the research funding, their funds are revoked and they may have to pay a penalty. Let us call accusations of having done something like this accusations of "rule-breaking."
10. If the intentional researcher malfeasance is not only rule-breaking, but against the law, then the researchers are taken to court. But such things are very rare, and serious, so charges of having done illegal things are not made lightly. Let us call accusations of having done something like this accusations of "criminality."
11. Now it can be stated what is at issue in the philosopher affair in Hungary: A small number of philosophers has been singled out and accused of a bundle of things, but it is not in the least clear whether the things in the bundle are in the first two categories (generic and systemic complaints) or the second two categories (rule-breaking or criminal charges). The evidence has not been made known. The accusations are blurred and keep mutating. What is aired is mostly just generic and systemic complaints familiar to every funded researcher in the world -- and those do not distinguish the accused philosophers in any way from any other funded researcher anywhere on the planet -- and yet the blurred bundle keeps being treated as rule-breaking or criminal charges, and indeed police have been called in to investigate (with no result, other than researcher harassment by police investigations). They have also been looked into by a governmental research funding overseer (Gyula Budai).
12. The researchers involved are reputable researchers of long standing, some of them world famous. It is not stated why they were singled out for these accusations. The accusations and their targets are not the result of a global, systematic, random audit to detect malfeasance, within or between fields: They are simply a heterogeneous and constantly changing bundle of ad hoc accusations, levelled against these philosophers out of the blue, and then turned into a sustained press campaign of presumptive criminality and vilification by the Government-associated right wing press.
13. Since all the accused are of the "left-liberal" persuasion, and the two that are widely known internationally are also prominent critics of the current government (but also of past governments, including left-wing ones), the most likely hypothesis is that the accusations are yet again the result of Hungary's unfortunate tendency to blame problems (in this case the inefficiency of the funding system? the corruption of the prior government?) on the "enemy," and to punish the enemy for them -- instead of solving the problem (by reforming the funding system, if that is the problem).
14. All indications -- and of course this is the most worrisome aspect of it all -- are that the campaign of accusation, police-intervention, and press vilification are taking place with the encouragement and involvement of the government, bent, yet again, on punishing its predecessors, critics and other "enemies" rather than on using their turn in office to solve the ongoing problems of the country -- and on setting an example of governing uncorruptly.
Discussion -- but temperate discussion only -- is now invited at the ScienceInsider site from all sides.
American Scientist Open Access Forum
NYIRI (full posting):
Quote/commentary on Nyri posting:
The following is posted with permission from a recent email exchange with Professor Nyiri:
NYIRI (Jan 28):End of email exchange.
The reader may wish to compare the end of the posted version of Professor Nyiri's statement with the end of the email version, below [emphasis added]:
NYIRI POSTING (Feb 4):HARNAD:
I leave it to the reader to judge the degree to which this sort of thinking is illustrative of the very sad and worrisome "us vs. them" score-settling tendency (stretching back 97 years or beyond, in the view of Professor Hornok) that I described in my opening posting "Bringing It All Out Into the Open."
(I will add only that it is not at all apparent how Professor Nyiri's response -- that he won top points in an impeccable and transparent selection process for a highly interesting and novel research project that was funded and for which he is very proud, no doubt justifiably -- answers Professor Mayer's observation that the size of the funding Professor Nyiri was awarded was no less than any of the "abnormally high amount of project sums" he refers to. But let us agree that bickering about this sort thing is common among rival researchers (COMP) and is clearly not about the high crimes and misdemeanors that we have agreed to call CRIM and about which we are concerned here.)
American Scientist Open Access Forum
HORNOK (full posting):
Quote/commentary on Hornok posting:
Professor Hornok’s posting gives what sounds like a very sanguine public statement about the health of Hungary’s current grant funding system (although he neglects to mention how Mr. Budai picks his targets!). But reading Professor Hornok’s account, one would wonder why Professor Palinkas, the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (in a statement whose URL is helpfully provided by Professor Magyar in one of his postings) wrote:
PALINKAS (Jan 31):HARNAD:
It is especially reassuring to hear the following from Professor Hornok:
HORNOK (Feb 4):HARNAD:One becomes, however, a trifle less reassured, when one hears the following words from the same Professor Hornok, spoken (in Hungarian) in a rather different context (the Batthyany Circle of Professors) only a few days earlier (translated here):
Hungary needs reform, not revenge. What foreign researchers and funders and expatriate Hungarian researchers need if they are to be attracted to Hungary is a clear, efficient, transparent new system of rules and procedures for research funding, with ongoing auditing to ensure that current and future research funds are indeed being spent according to the new rules and procedures -- not an arbitrary, retroactive, selective show-trial for research funds allegedly misspent long ago, under the old system of rules and procedures, under another government. (The same constructive focus on reform rather than the vindictive focus on revenge might help solve other problems Hungary faces as well...)
American Scientist Open Access Forum
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