It turns out evidence is not always a help.
Something that puzzled me about the resurrection was how a period of thirty-six hours or so became three days. There are other things too, but the period from death to Easter morning isn’t even forty-eight hours. Where does three days come from? Couldn’t ancient people count?
It turns out they could, but they counted differently.
In ancient Greece and Rome they used inclusive counting. This is where you count the first and last things in a series. For example, how often are the Olympics held? We would say every four years. The Greeks would have said every five years, and they called it a penteric festival. Here’s how you get five years for the Olympics.
Year one: Hold the Olympics.
Year two: The Isthmian and Nemean Games.
Year three: The Delphic Games.
Year four: The Isthmian and Nemean Games (again).
Year five: The Olympic Games.
The Romans also used this system of inclusive numbering for their calendar. Jerusalem at the time was in the Roman Empire.
Counting of the days where you start and finish is what gives three days. Jesus has to die before sunset on the Friday. The reason for this is at sunset a new day starts in the Jewish calendar. This second day carries on to sunset on what we could call Saturday. At sunset the third day starts. Now Jesus can rise any time he likes and he’ll have risen on the third day.
With careful timing he could have kept it down to just over twenty-four hours.
Whether or not it happened is another discussion, but inclusive counting shows why the ancients were happy to say ‘on the third day’, even though they knew it was well under two full days.
I wrote someone out of my will today.
It was five years ago I had chemotherapy for cancer. It should have been six, but I held off getting a diagnosis because I was in the last year of my PhD and helping out with elderly relatives. I wasn’t strictly in denial about having cancer, but the timing was bad. Relatives died which caused more problems. When another close relative was hospitalised it was obvious there wasn’t going to be a convenient time.
I was diagnosed on a Monday afternoon and operated on the following day. It wasn’t that bad a situation, someone else had cancelled their operation due to snow. I was offered either their spot, or else wait a few weeks for the operation. Hanging around with the tumour inside me seemed like a really bad idea, so in I went. The follow-up was a brief course of chemotherapy.
There’s been a lot written about how bad chemotherapy is, but I had no problem. Here’s a selfie from five years ago while I’m having chemotherapy.
I pottered around the house and had no trouble at all. I didn’t have any problem, though one day I did fancy some Jaffa Cakes and there were none in the house. So I went out to the shops to get some. This is a map of how far away the shop was.
I was tired well before the first corner.
…and other research too.
I have a working first release of a plugin to link to research in a ScienceSeeker friendly way in a WordPress blog. It will only work with self-hosted WordPress installs, it will not work on WordPress.com blogs.
The way it works is you enter the ID(s) of the thing(s) you want to include then, when you save the draft, the website produces a formatted citation that it will automatically append to the content of your post. It will also add a META tag to the head of the page. This will give a way to tell sites like altmetric.com what paper(s) your blog post is about.
It’s primarily built to work with DOIs, because that’s what we use most at AoB Blog. You can type in a DOI as 10.1093/aob/mct168 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mct168 and when the site saves it will get bulked out to the longer version. You can enter more than one entry, so sticking 10.1093/aob/mcp121, 10.1093/aob/mcs287, 10.1093/aob/mcq238 should work too.
Once the reference is parsed, it appears as a citation. When you have this citation, you can edit it in this box. You might need to do that if the parsing breaks. It’s possible some DOIs will give information in a different way to most. Currently the plugin works with standard DOIs and figshare’s DOIs. It’s very possible there are some other sites that have their own standards so, if you find one, let me know.
To clear the references and citations on a post, delete all the references and save. The plugin will wipe the citation box.
You can add arXiv references. I’ve set it so you copy and paste a URL from arXiv to the box to give http://arxiv.org/abs/1306.5148. If there’s demand it should be possible to send any nine character reference with a dot in the middle to the arXiv module. I’ve spotted a bug in the arXiv module putting together the screen shotes (look at the author name). I think I’ve fixed this.
It’s not so good for the Social Sciences and Humanities. Here monographs are still important research outputs, which means ISBNs. These are more of a problem. You enter them as a straight run of ten or thirteen characters. The only place I’ve found giving information from ISBNs in a friendly format is Google Books. But from here I can only get Title, Authors and Publisher. I cannot get Publisher Location from the data.
For DOIs and arXiv papers it’s obvious to link through to the paper. Books tend not to have a recognisable home page. I’ve linked through to Google Books because that’s where the data comes from. But it’s possible that LibraryThing or the Amazons would be better places to link to.
This system doesn’t handle book chapters yet, unless they have a DOI. Lying in bed I thought it could be handled as Chapter Authors::Chapter Title::Page Start::Page End::ISBN and anything with a double colon gets passed to a book chapter module for formatting. I’m not sure if this is useful, or if it’s getting to stage where typing the reference in is more effort than it’s worth.
At the moment the link is on the identifier, because that’s the way Research Blogging and ScienceSeeker work. Alan Cann has suggested making the whole reference clickable. I’m not sure if this is a good idea or not. It’s a bigger clickable target, and CSS styling makes the presentation a matter for whoever’s site it is.
The plugin doesn’t work for Research Blogging yet. Research Blogging needs references associated with a subject. The first way I’d written this meant that subjects would have to be hardwired in. Now I think it should be possible to tweak the plugin to add Research Blogging topics on a post-by-post basis, but not (yet) on a citation-by-citation basis. This would work for most people citing just one paper in Research Blogging posts, but some people cite multiple papers in one post. The way I’m thinking would label all citations in one post as being the same topic.
Finally, like me, it doesn’t fail gracefully. I’ve spent quite a while getting the damn thing to work. Deliberately breaking it, so I can make it fail nicely, hasn’t enthused me yet.
You can download it from my Dropbox at https://www.dropbox.com/s/kb0w02jr34agr2v/researchlinks.zip. You install it by going to your plugin menu and uploading the zip file. You make sure you upload it to your test site, because this is still beta software. I think this will be compatible with the final version, but I’m not willing to guarantee. If you have installed the previous version, this version is utterly incompatible and using the two at the same time will break access to your blog in a very emphatic way. This is why I test on a desktop server.
I’ll be testing this shortly, in particular the way it handles COinS. There may be a simple and elegant way of adding COinS to references, but I don’t know what it is.
I’ve written a plugin for WordPress that adds shortcodes to link to research. To use it you’ll need a self-installed WordPress blog. A blog at wordpress.com won’t be able to use it.
[doi id=“10.1093/aob/mct148”]link text[/doi] links the link text to http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mct148 It also does a few more things.
If there are research codes used, the blog checks to see if it has citations stored for them. If it does then it outputs a References section at the end of the post. It’s not in this post, because I’m not actually using the shortcode in this post.
If there isn’t a citation stored, the blog will go through each DOI and make one. It’s designed to make citations compatible with the ScienceSeeker website. If you’re a science blogger then you would do well to sign up to this.
It solves a problem with altmetrics too.
At AoB Blog we post about various papers, usually from Annals of Botany or AoB PLANTS. If people like what they see and tweet a link to the post, the post gets credit for the link, but the original paper doesn’t. It wasn’t the original paper tweeted, it was the post. I’ve talked with people at OUP and Altmetric.com and the answer we settled on was to add a meta tag in the header.
<meta name=“DCTERMS.isBasedOn” scheme=“DCTERMS.URI” content=“http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mct148”/>
This gives a way to connect a post to the paper it’s commenting on. It only works from the second time a page is loaded, but the first is usually a preview by the author, so that’s not critical.
Not everything people want to link to has a DOI. What do you do if you have a mix of DOI and http:// links and you want to use them in the same reference section? There is a url shortcode.
[url id=“http://aobblog.com/2013/08/brachypodium-is-not-arabidopsis/” author=“Chaffey, N.” date=“2013” title=“Brachypodium is NOT Arabidopsis(!)” website=“AoB Blog”]
…will output a citation in a similar style to the DOI citation, with a ‘date accessed’ note added, set to whenever you first run the shortcode. If you don’t specify a publication date then it sets this year. If you don’t specify an author then it is set to ‘Unknown’.
You can download the code from Dropbox and install it, or have a laugh the at code. The code is not sleek, because I wanted to see what was happening each step of the way. As a warning, I don’t know if this is secure code or not. That’s not likely to be a big problem if it’s just you on your site, but it’s an issue if you have a multi-author blog.
Also it doesn’t handle a few other things yet. There is a space for an [arxiv] shortcode. I haven’t added this yet because arxiv outputs metadata in a different way to dx.doi.org. Despite having DOIs, Figshare doesn’t work with it either. I don’t know why Figshare out their DOIs in a different way, because I haven’t spoken to them yet. There’s probably a good reason, so that might mean making a [figshare] shortcode to handle those links.
At the moment the code is up for discussion. Once I’ve understood this page and added arxiv and figshare support then I’ll see about adding it to the WordPress plugin repository.
Update: Thanks to Stack Overflow I now know how to get data for an ISBN, so an [isbn] shortcode will be possible too.
The new template for AoB Blog is now live.
Mick Aston was probably the best-known archaeologist in the UK. I’d also go so far as to say that he was the most influential archaeologist of the last 25 years.
The reason is Time Team, an archaeological series on Channel 4. If Sky at Night is Astronomy then Time Team when Mick Aston was in it was archaeology. Its success massively expanded the uptake of archaeology by students. Mick Aston’s idea was responsible supporting an incalculable number of jobs in university departments. It’s easy to overlook was an astonishing idea Time Team was.
The traditional documentary places the academic speaker at the authority speaking Truth. A recent example is Rise of the Continents, where Mantle Plumes are presented as unquestioned fact as noted in the post at The Theatre of Reason. A common grumble is that science is a process not a body of fact, so how do you show process? Mick Aston reckoned you could produce a usable brief evaluation of an archaeological site in three days and this became Time Team. A camera crew followed an archaeological team as they dug for three days.
Below I’ve embedded the episode from Blaenavon, which I hope 4oDDocumentaries have made widely accessible.* You could make a drinking game from the number of times someone says they don’t know something. To steal a line from Paul Bahn: it’s not about finding things, it’s about finding things out.
As a measure of impact, I offer another series, Bonekickers. Bonekickers was an attempt by the Life on Mars team to produce a drama around an archaeology unit. It was laughed out of the schedules because Time Team had demonstrated to a large chunk of the UK population how archaeology worked. To be fair Bonekickers was pretty awful in its own right, but it’s thanks to the impact of Time Team that it became truly risible. Can you imagine that happening with any other academic discipline?
Mick Aston’s influence meant that he became a stereotype of an archaeologist in his own time. That could sound snide, but rather it’s a measure of how loved by the public he was.
He also had the potential to keep innovating. After leaving Time Team, he’d been working with Timothy Taylor on Dig Village. In some ways he was in the twilight of his career, but he still could have shone for many years like the evening star.
*I’m not optimistic that it’s visible beyond the UK. You can search for Time Team on YouTube, but embedding those videos isn’t sensible. Uploading a programme wholesale, breaching the copyright isn’t negated by saying “No infringement of copyright is intended”. These videos will be coming down sooner or later. My personal favourite episode is probably Llygadwy / Celtic Spring, but that’s not so typical of the series.