Friday Recommended Reads #14


Would you like to volunteer in a natural history museum collection but can’t find the time or opportunity? If you have a computer and 15 minutes, you have a chance to make a great contribution to the entomological collections of California. The web interface is really slick and you can make a real difference.

We have such a love/hate relationship with the freeway system in LA that we name our interchanges. I recently drove through the “Marilyn Jorgenson Reese Memorial Interchange” (It’s the 10-405 interchange for you Angelenos out there.) Who was she? Reese was the first female civil engineer in California, and she designed the interchange, which opened in 1964. While reading through her 2004 obituary in the LA Times, this snippet stood out:

In a 1963 story on “lady engineers” in a California Highways and Public Works publication, Reece said she felt that women had an advantage in the field of engineering and “if there’s any prejudice toward women, I’ve not encountered it. Men have always been very helpful; and being a woman has never hampered me in my career.”

This makes me wonder what has changed since 1963: working conditions for women, or the freedom to discuss working conditions?

It’s refreshing when rich and famous athletes give back to their communities by supporting the arts. Widely recognized as one of the three best football soccer players in the world*, Cristiano Ronaldo has fully funded a new museum…. about himself.

At this moment in the arc of the annual academic job search, those with two-body problems who are blessed with possibilities also are cursed with dilemmas. I enjoyed reading this bit of advice about handling this kind of situation.

I’ve never bought the notion that grades in the Ivy League are inflated because the students who are admitted are already so damn smart. But I haven’t taught in the Ivy League yet. Here’s a personal account of how grades get inflated in the Ivy League. Spoiler: it’s not because the students are smart.

Most weeks, I put together a list of links I like to share, like what you’re reading right now. Whenever I go through the wonder full reading items put forth by Dezene Huber, I realize I’m still something between a neophyte and an amateur. His latest set is here. It’s a collection of items that allow you to reflect, think, and appreciate.

Do you hate long-form journalism? I do — the label, that is.

Thought of the month on academic publishing, and how perverse incentives for academic publicity are akin to ratfarming, brought to you by Kate Bowles:

The idea of publication as a means of making funded research genuinely useful has been substituted by the work of counting and factoring up research outputs. The classic story told about perverse incentives is ratfarming under colonial rule in Hanoi: in an economy where peasants are paid per rat kill, the sensible response is to farm rats to kill and turn in for reward. In other words, the rational decision that the system triggers is the exact opposite of the system’s goal. The hyphenation of citation to rankings means that higher education is very close to perfecting in its workers its own ratfarming calculation, and we all know it.

Quality eggnog is about pH balance? Using science to perfect your ‘nog.

A little while ago I wrote a little introduction to Jeffrey Beall, the guy who runs the website keeping track of predatory publishers. Apparently, this anti-pseudojournal warrior doesn’t really have a beef with predatory publishing, but with the open access model in general. He just went full Repub (link is pdf).

If I were an agouti parent, I’d make sure that my kids keep to curfew.

Have a wonderful holiday, y’all.

*Number two would be Ibrahimović.

Thanks to Holly Dunsworth and John Coupland for links.

Through the holidays, things will be slowing down on the site. In early-mid January, things will be ramping up again.

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