Recommended reads #62


Poster session drinking game for the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology meeting.

A former meerkat expert at London Zoo has been ordered to pay compensation to a monkey handler she attacked with a wine glass in a love spat over a llama-keeper.”

Machines get broken. Human social systems don’t “break.” Academics should get back to discussing our systems and conventions in a more sophisticated manner.

The hardest part of academia? Moving.

A Japanese mathematician claims to have solved one of the most important problems in his field. The trouble is, hardly anyone can work out whether he’s right.

Wow, Lou Reed was horrible.

Whereas Tom Petty wasn’t horrible, (and picked up a heroin addiction when he was 50, which he kicked.) This is an interesting interview. Almost as interesting as Chrissie Hynde’s interview on NPR, which needs to be listened to rather than read.

California signed into law a ban on the use of the R-word for school mascots. There were four schools still using it, and they are (sadly) clueless about why it’s racist. It’s stunning how they just don’t get it. Anyway, this article about the how these schools are taking the loss of their mascot is informative and a bit tragic, but worth reading if only because the last two paragraphs are just so painfully ironic, in a “I can’t believe this isn’t The Onion” kind of way.

A protocol for data exploration to avoid common statistical problems‘.

Is Walden just cabin porn?

What it’s like to earn a living as a professional subject in clinical trials. This is not a good thing for medical research.

Did you see that story going around, about how an evil scientist saw a rare bird for the first time and then killed it? It took off without any context, and it was implied that this was a rare or endangered species, which is not the fact at all. It’s locally common, just in a really remote corner of the Pacific, and it just hadn’t made its way into a collection, which is really important. Here is an explanation from the person who did the fieldwork, which is a remarkably even-keeled, genuine, and nonjudgmental response to the trashy story you might have had to see on facebook.

Gotta love having an intellectual President. Barack Obama interviews Marilynne Robinson for the New York Review of Books. Just because he can.

Still anonymous, from the exceptional Women in Astronomy blog.

On serial sexual harassment: The Long Con

(By the way, if you’re inclined to hear more from me and HK Choi about the Geoff Marcy situation and his long history of harassment at UC Berkeley, it’s the bulk of the next Not Just Scientists episode that will that launch on Monday.)

A museum from the hometown of William Carlos Williams hosts a reception for all of the people that he delivered throughout his career as a pediatrician. You know, in his spare time when he wasn’t writing poetry. Love this.

Huh. The director of NSF has a blog that gets updated quite frequently.

It looks like there was at least one major omission in the Nobel Prize for DNA repair.

Speaking of which, The Folly of Big Science Awards.

Here is a story about a scientist serving as an observer on a fishing vessel who disappeared under suspicious circumstances.

These are hands-down the best lab manual/exercises for invertebrate zoology. At least, that I’m aware of.

The need for more professors of color: No matter what an institution does or how committed it is, the goal of developing an inclusive and equitable environment for students requires a diverse faculty.

While we’re on the topic: Being marked for speaking truth to power.

From the files of “No shit, Sherlock”: Publish or perish may discourage innovate research, a study suggests.

Is Snoopy a narcissist that destroyed Peanuts halfway into its 50-year run?

Should we do blind analysis, to reduce bias?

Dan Janzen is interviewed in La Nacion, the paper of record in Costa Rica, about the waning passion for conservation in Costa Rica. These stories you hear about enlightened conservation ethic in Costa Rica? Those might be relictual. (Note, the article is in Spanish.)

How to recommend reviewers when you submit a paper? This is more insightful than you might think, about the set of people you might suggest: “Give a list of people who aren’t the obvious “usual suspects” in the broad field. In terms of seniority, focus on mid-career (e.g. Associate Prof. level in the U.S. rank scale is often ideal); junior faculty or even postdocs can also be great if they’ve done interesting and insightful work in your area. Often younger researchers do the best reviews, and the ideal is someone who’s had enough experience to develop vision and perspective, but who still has the time in their life to commit to doing a thoughtful review. The perfect name is one to which my response will be ‘Ah ha, of course! I hadn’t thought of her, but she’d be great.’  Give me three of those, and I will be grateful and impressed. Never a bad way for the editor to feel when he’s beginning the process of determining your paper’s fate.”

Seeds that act like dung to get moved around by dung beetles.

This is an outrage: when women are hired into biomedical research positions, they get just a small fraction of the startup costs that men get. What the hell.

And probably not a surprise to those in the know: Harvard has trouble keeping women on the faculty: (who they call “female faculty.” Like the Ferengi.  “The report details a trend in the departure of female faculty members before they stand for full-time tenure review. Last academic year, only 66 percent of women up for the final tenure review—which determines whether or not junior faculty members will be promoted to full-time, tenured professors—actually stayed at Harvard through that review, compared to 78 percent of men, a difference the report calls ‘troubling. In interviews with tenure-track women who were leaving Harvard, administrators found a “striking” reason that they left was an uncomfortable culture in their respective departments, according to the report.” (emphasis mine)

If you saw this story, you could totally predict I would be linking to it: Prison inmates beat a Harvard debate team. Yes, in a debate.

I’m not posting those two previous ones in a row to pick on Harvard at all. I just thought I’d put my two Harvard links next to one another. For reals.

The NSF Division of Environmental Biology blog dispels some myths. One biggie, they say, is that the only difference between the PI and the Co-PI, in their eyes, is who does the paperwork. Huh. Do panelists and reviewers know this?

Why schools should exclusively use free software. (This has a little too much ethical absolutism, and clearly doesn’t choose to look through the eyeglasses of others, but anyway, here you go.)

Some sexist tropes in The Martian (book). I heard the book is amazing, and heard the book is horrible. Clearly a bimodal distribution of responses. I haven’t heard anybody claim it’s fine literature, though. A ripping science yarn, sure.

Why ancient Rome matters to the modern world.

Insect taxonomists have some bunched up undergarments over the description of a species without a voucher. This is not unprecedented, but nonetheless isn’t a good precedent to repeat.

8 thoughts on “Recommended reads #62

  1. No mention of whether the meerkats, monkeys or llamas suffered any kind of emotional trauma from this; clear gap in the story coverage there…..

  2. Thanks as well for the link to the piece on Thoreau. Like most Americans, I only know him through the famous extracts of Walden. The piece was eye-opening. One hears echoes of that Thoreau–sometimes faint, sometimes not–in lots of later environmental writing and environmental activism. Especially the bits that make other people sound like bad things.

  3. Could you consider requesting that your podcast be added to the TuneIn Radio app lineup? I use TuneIn almost exclusively for my podcast listening, and I know other people who like it too. I think the process is simple (basically, just ask them to add it). Aside from my own selfish reasons for asking, I think you could reach a wider audience through that app.

  4. P.S. No, I do not work for TuneIn. This is an earnest request. I would love to be able to listen to your podcast on my phone on the go.

  5. Mitch – done. We’ll see when they add it. Appreciated. We aren’t really marketing the podcast, other than mentioning it on social media. I’m not a big podcast-listener myself, so I’m not that familiar with how people typically access them. Thanks.

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