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2021-03-11, 08:55, Thursday

New diary entry. Hopefully this one is a bit cleaner and easier to read since it’s not a translation.

2021-03-11, 08:12, Thursday

And I still have no idea if there will be a class on x-ray diffraction or not - the professor just ignores all emails. Anyhow, I have enough on my to do list to keep myself busy.

2021-03-10, 08:26, Wednesday

One article, mind you. This is an actual problem.

2021-03-10, 07:20, Wednesday

“You know what we didnt have for a while?” my brain asked yesterday. “Uncontrolled anxiety! Yay!”

That wasn’t nice, honestly. I decided to hold off my caffeine consumption for this reason - it usually helps a lot. I should probably get to work - a lot of writing and programming to do today.

2021-03-09, 08:15, Tuesday

Getting back on track. Managed to write some notes on tensors and make a thesis for the conference. It’s a good practice of writing craft to fit a popular explanation of your work into one A4 page. Slightly frustrating since I don’t get to brag about how complicated things are, but you can’t get everything at once.

Actually, I might write about this part of my work here at some point. Would make a decent essay, even though a bit nerdy.

2021-03-08, 08:09, Monday

I’m off track with writing, work and studying because of the party. Now it’s time to catch up. The plan is to do the weekly review that I skipped yesterday and then go from there. Slightly frustrating but it’s fine, it should be that way.

2021-03-07, 19:25, Sunday

Oh well. Threw a party. 8 people in my countryhouse, we made a lot of bbq type food (not a traditional bbq, a russian variation). It was very nice and everyone stayed for the night, we played some board games, drank a lot of cidre and red wine. And today in the morning we were just sitting in the living room and watching the snowflakes fall for an hour. Charming night and a beautiful day, but my introverted ass is exhausted. Nonetheless, I’m grateful to finally have quite a few people to have fun with. This is new and wonderful.

2021-05-06, 08:21, Saturday

Day off, going to my country house to throw a party there. Not the most nerdy thing to do, but it’s a good way to unwind and relax. This will also make a good story. As a photographer looks for beauty around then to capture it for others, I now look for experiences to capture in my writing.

2021-03-05, 20:00, Friday

Great podcast with Jordan B. Peterson by Tim Ferris. Very interesting, a lot of things to think about.

2021-03-05, 06:40, Friday

I can’t work late at night. After 18:00 my cognitive functions drop to almost zero and I fall asleep by 21-22. It’s possible to shift this slightly if I wake up later, but most of the time it works this way.
This is why I have an hour and something like 10 minutes to study for today’s test. We covered the material yesterday and classes lasted ‘till 18:30 so there was no way I could revise. Anyway, time to study.

2021-03-04, 08:40, Thursday

I write a lot these days. Finally found a story I like enough to work on it for multiple days. There is also a piece of software I’ll need to work on… Actually, I might tell a story.

So I am writing this program, it’s basically a very advanced thermodunamic calculator. My work is to create a qt gui around someone else’s core library. And my advisor asked me to give some work to a younger student (currently 2nd year) on the project. Following best practices, I asked him to do some tests. Haven’t gotten anything out of the guy for the past few months. Another student, 1st year, joined the project later; actually, she installed the program a week ago. Yesterday she sent me some tests and filed around five bug reports on github. So much responsibility.

2021-03-03, 08:10, Wednesday
I decided to stop using alarm clock altogether, at least when there is no early class or it’s online. Yes, sleep hygiene will suffer since I’m unable to wake up at a consistent time, but overall anxiety goes down this way. I remember living with an alarm clock very well: waking up at 5 am for a few years. I now understand that I wasn’t really happy at the time, partly because going to bed early significantly constraied my social activities, partly because of unavoidable sleep deprivation. A good lesson nonetheless.

2021-03-02, 07:55, Tuesday

Yesterday @FailForward pointed out that the link to my blog is broken. Let’s give it another shot: link. Anyway, it’s, as always.

I started writing fiction in the mornings, 500 words every day for a week. I hope to turn it into a somewhat decent short novel. This helps to hone my craft and escape the unpleasant reality I find myself in from time to time.

2021-03-01, 12:15, Monday

My willpower is way too low to do anything decent today, so I organized my blogspot page. Here it is: link. I’ll be posting longer stuff there just in case. This will be moved to my website once I have time to actually build one.

2021-03-01, 06:53, Monday

Classes start again. I’m not font of the ones I’ll have today but it’s fine - there are things to do while ignoring my teachers. Like reading a textbook on the subject, for example.

There probably will be a break in my long-form posts since I want to try some fiction in Russian. Sorry to my English-speaking followers, I’m not yet comfortable enough to write something big in English; might translate it, though. Generally my idea is that I’ll spend a week writing around 500 words per day and release the result in the end of the week.

Also, I’m thinking of using the “blogger” website instead of making an actual site because I have relatively few free time now. Building a decent site can be done on holidays, though.

2021-02-28, 08:50, Sunday

Getting back to work. Yesterday’s podcast was sooo good, I might even go back and take some notes. But for now I’ll need to take notes on crystallochemistry and a couple other subjects. Thinking of using anki for this.

2021-02-27, 08:47, Saturday

Day off. Watching Lex Fridman’s podcast with Eric Weinstein, round 4. Beautiful conversation, highly recommend.

Got my birthday gift from my uni group, about 10 months late but it’s fine. Two small bags of good coffee and a bottle of amaretto. Never thought I needed one, but it seems like I did. Gonna give it a shot.

2021-02-26, 07:03, Friday

I’ll have to go to uni for a few classes today. Corona here seems to be slowing down, but it’s still a bit unnerving to go into subway during rush hour. And there will be a test on crystall chemistry, a very confusing subject. We’ll see how it goes.

Yesterday a new class started. The professor reminded me of something. The most important thing for teacher - for anyone - to remember is that we are all humans. Most of the time we do bad and annoying things not because we are evil but because we are forgetful and collectively dumb. I wish I could remind that to this professor, but this will basically grant me a failed class and it’s not like you can fail a class here in Russia.

Yesterday there was an interesting thought: we are always told that doing mistakes is fine, it is part of the learning process. And it’s true, but the sole existence of the word “mistake” implies consequences, doesn’t it? So I’d reframe it: mistakes are always punished and you’d better avoid the expensive ones. You’ll uninevitable make some because you are human, so don’t expect it to “be fine” somehow, instead be ready to pay the price.

On Publishing And Publishers

TLDR: a quick overview of the situation scientific publishers created and ways to partially solve the problem, or rather bypass it.


  1. Introduction

There is a problem in our world, that is not widely talked about, especially on media. These are scientific journal publishers, or rather the system that they have established a long time ago and keep using (and monetizing) to this day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for capitalism, it’s when it gets in the way of important things when I get slightly disappointed.

Let’s agree on the important stuff first: the era of lonely geniuses is long time over. The science and scientific advancements in the 21st century depend on cooperation of dozens, hundreds and thousands of people throughout the centuries. Information obtained years and decades ago is used to build new knowledge upon. A student in my faculty is required to have at least 20 citations in their coursework in the end of the first year, and it’s not an issue - we usually approach 30 mentioned sources and research even more while doing the literature review. This is a bare minimum to become acquainted with the material. Scientific knowledge can be represented as a tree graph, with it’s roots in ancient philosophy and it’s leaves reaching into quantum physics and abstract algebra. To cherish the fruit of this tree, one needs to reach it’s branches or, abstaining from the methaphore, to research everything that has already been done.

The access to this knowledge in the current model is pricey: one article costs between 30 and 50 dollars and journal subscriptions are expensive even for universities. Of course we violate the law and use Sci-hub extensively. This is very wrong, fundamentally wrong: people should be able to do their work legally, especially when this work is to solve humanities’ problems and improve peoples’ lives on the broadest scale possible. And don’t get me started on the trouble it takes to do the fact-checking on all the articles that are on the web. It would have been so much easier to just read the source. Tough luck!

So there is, as I have mentioned, Sci-hub: illegal, but convenient and free way to obtain most of the articles, otherwise paywalled. For downloading textbooks and various books libgen is very handy and very illegal. Sometimes useng orchid or researchgate is possible to contact authors and request a full-text and even ask a few questions, but this is slow and inconvenient; not everyone is on these plaforms, which makes things worse. There is no way to quickly dismantle the “rule” of publishers, the have been around since the beginning of 20th century. They claim to be important because of the peer-review but I am unsure whether the peer-reviewing is that expensive, especially in modern world.

  1. Analysis

So let’s list the benefits of scientific publishing. There are some, obviously, and I’m not here to deny them.
1) Peer review. The most important step to keep most of the junk out of the system. Here I refer to pseudoscience and badly written papers as “junk” to save some space.
2) Verification of scientists and institution affiliations. This makes the industry exclusive, but keeps junk out of the system, again.
3) Storing articles and providing a way to access them via identification system (doi).
4) Keeping track of citations.

Now let’s get to downsides. There is plenty, as mentioned above.
1) Paywalls.
2) Very slow system.
3) No way to communicate with authors.
4) Publishers have control over the entire thing.

Now It would be fair to have a look at alternatives and what they can provide. I’m writing this without references so please correct me if something is off.

Sci-hub: free way to bypass paywalls. Solves problem 1, creates legal problem.
Researchgate and orchid: a way to communicate with authors. Solves problem 3 partially.
oaDOI and similar sites: they keep track of open-access articles, this partially and legally solves prolem 1.

That’s it for the most part. It’s not like publishers are going anywhere, as well as doi system. Not in the near future. Maybe we’ll come up with something better than sci-hub, maybe torrent-like system for rticles, who knows. Verification of articles can theoretically be done using blockchain technology. I have no idea what’s next or how to solve the problem, but I am putting Alexandra Elbakyan in my “acknowledgements” list.


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