Self-censorship

In the past day or so I have taken an action that I am not proud of. I changed the title of one of my blog posts from 2005 following criticism in the comments on that post.

There had been a Guardian article featuring predictions for the UK General Election by various astrologers, tarot card readers etc. I had checked those predictions after the election. The predictions were not very dependable or reliable and therefore I thought the term "bad", in the original title, was appropriate. Plus, it was a play on the title of Phil Plait's blog.

One of the astrologers I mentioned, did comment on that post. He was admirably good humoured about it considering that my page was ranked at the top of the Google results when searching for him. There was an implication that I should change the title but he explicitly said that he wasn't asking me to do that. I took him at his word. Despite what I feel about the morality of many astrologers (using imaginary versions of the universe to justify getting money from people), I did provide suggestions on ways he could constructively improve his ranking (getting a website for one thing) but those suggestions were not acknowledged.

In the past few days, following an appearance by the astrologer on day-time TV, I had a flurry of comments on that blog post. A few were people asking about their love lives (not sure if they were asking me or hoping that the astrologer reads the comments on my blog) but there were also complaints from someone using the name "Dee". They told me I was being "unecessarily [sic] obstructive" but did not say in what way I was being so. Dee's continued negativity, and lack of acknowledgement of my positive suggestions, got to me.

Last night I did what had been heavily implied (if not explicitly said) and changed the title. I do not wish to be deceitful though so I've included a statement at the top of the post explaining that I have done so. The title is certainly clearer now if less snappy.

Giving people what they want doesn't always solve the problem. Changing the title in this way compromises my integrity and I do not think it helps the astrologer. I actually think it would make things worse for them. Anyway, I can accept that I may be wrong so we'll see if changing the title helps.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Saturday 13th Feb 2010 (17:08 GMT) | Permalink

Cutaway

Unlike some people I don't see why there needs to be such a separation between the two cultures of Art and Science. Artists don't have to be scared of science and scientists are capable of being artistic. At school I used any excuse to included drawings and graphics in my coursework and I've tried to keep that up since becoming an adult. This has mostly been digital but I've kept drawing on paper too albeit not as much as I used to. I'm quite proud that I even managed to include a pencil drawing in my thesis which was inspired by illustrated books I used to borrow from the library as a child and by the great drawings of R.W. Porter.

OCRA-p
Cutaway illustration of the OCRA-p receiver CREDIT: Stuart
The drawing shows a cutaway of the OCRA-p 30 GHz receiver, on a telescope in Poland. I spent a long time working on and with this receiver. Getting it to work and do science was variously frustrating, annoying, exciting and joyful. I feel quite attached to it and I'm glad I captured it in this portrait.

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Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Wednesday 10th Feb 2010 (09:20 GMT) | Permalink
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