Recommended reads #67


What does the Paris Agreement mean? After a a few decades of knowing about the greenhouse effect as a real and serious thing, we as a species we are now finally trying to do something about it. Here are the three things I want to share about the Agreement:

A blog post by an economist with a detailed-enough take on the actual substance of the Paris Agreement, a little deeper than what you’d get in the newspaper.

How did the Paris agreement happen? This is a story about the French Foreign Minister and his masterful approach to negotiation.

Brenda the Civil Disobedience Penguin explains the Paris climate agreement: “The interesting thing is not so much what is in this agreement but the fact that they made it at all. It is the first time the voice of the climate movement has outweighed that of the fossil fuel lobby. And the free market is finally following the money.”

Meg Urry published an important commentary in Nature:

Every major criterion on which scientists are evaluated, for hiring, promotion, talk invitations or prizes, has been shown to be biased in favour of (white) men. These include authorship credit, paper citations, funding, recruitment, mentoring and tenure.


As long as we keep treating raising children as a mom thing and not a dad thing — like this piece does — then women will continue to experience inequity. Equity in the workplace is predicated on equity at home.

On our podcast in one episode, we talked about the Flooding of Miami and how action seems to be not happening. Maybe I was wrong, people seem to be taking note, as here is a New Yorker story about it.

Speaking of which, the two most recent episodes on (my) Not Just Scientists podcast are about applying and interviewing for academic jobs. I’ve heard from several people that it’s really helpful and informative, so if you’re applying and hopefully interviewing at a teaching-focused institution, these might be a good listen.

Myths in science that won’t die. This list includes the myth of “learning styles,” which don’t seem to be supported by data.

Why women don’t win (enough) science book prizes.

What the President secretly did at Sandy Hook.

When does tenure not protect a professor’s job? Apparently (and encouragingly), when that professor is a Sandy Hook “truther” who thinks that the terrorist attack was a staged incident, and directly told parents of a victim that their child never existed.

Cards Against Humanities is giving vacation to their Chinese factory workers who are not legally entitled to one.

Simon Levin is awarded the National Medal of Science. Sounds like a good call to me, and it’s great to see achievement in ecology on this stage.

Humanities crisis? What humanities crisis?

The wealthy truly have their own justice system. Like this guy in the UK who was cleared of rape charges. His defense? He tripped and fell and his penis just somehow got inside the girl he raped.

If you’re interested in understanding why people take the time to write blogs anonymously online, this is informative.

This a precious: when white people get all upset about affirmative action, they sing a different tune when they find out that white people get preferential admissions status compared to applicants of Asian descent.

The city of Los Angeles went through massive upheaval last week, when the superintendent of the LA Unified School District closed every school, just minutes before opening in the morning. It cost the district about $29 million in lost funds from the state, not to mention the costs incurred in the hubbub. Let me tell you, it was a frickin’ mess. The head of the school board panicked at an email that other school districts regarded as a hoax and not a credible threat. Wonder what email could take down the LAUSD? Here you go. Apparently you don’t need much in the brains department to run the second largest school district in the country.

The conflict between the people who sell fake christmas trees and those who sell chopped-down trees is pretty intense and, at a distance, mighty funny.

What alternatives are there to traditional peer review in scientific publishing? Here’s a paper evaluating the options, if that’s your bag.

A story made a splash with some discussion about how “elite scientists can hold back science.” If you can set aside that interpretation first, check out the data — they are interesting.

This 3 and-a-half minute video about guns in the US is incredible:

If you’re already seen the latest Star Wars and are interested in dialects and cultural code-switching, this might be something to nerd out on.

Michael Breed offers a memorial of Charles Michener.

If you’re eating shrimp, it’s probably peeled by slaves. Really.

Collegiality as pedagogy.

Americans have become less mobile in recent decades. The average person lives 18 miles from their mom. (Huh – after 15 years of being elsewhere, I’m now 16 miles from my childhood home.)

I don’t often link to scientific papers that wouldn’t be of broad social interest to scientists, but I’ll make an exception for this reaanalysis of cross-biome decomposition rates by Bradford et al.. By taking a more scale-explicit approach, they say that climate doesn’t matter as much as we’ve thought.

Evelyn Witkin and the road to DNA enlightenment.

Business Insider publishes a piece showing the massive disparity between executive compensation and faculty salaries. Universities are nowadays powered by non-tenure-track instructors, but they aren’t getting compensated fairly for their work.

The sad economics of being famous on the internet. I found this piece more enlightening than I thought it would be. How much do people make from having youtube channels and instagram accounts with a ton of followers? What does it mean for you, financially, to be famous on the internet?

It looks like farmed ostriches in the UK need people watching to get it on.

A tumblr of quotes from math professors.

Here’s a book of out-of-context quotes from researchers at La Selva Biological Station. I’ve got my copy! It’s pretty funny. There are some in there that I think are mine, but I’m not sure.

Have a great holiday!

2 thoughts on “Recommended reads #67

  1. Not to distract from the message of it, but that sex inequity in science graphic is interesting for a couple of other reasons: 1) more men are stuck in adjunct positions (the layout of the figure is misleading in the sense that the adjunct position is usually [though certainly not always] more a dead end in science than a step up the ladder while the other steps represent advancements, so I wouldn’t consider fewer women in adjunct jobs to be bad news for women on the whole), and 2) the % of women in postdocs and asst prof positions is the same, which suggests that women are being hired but they have a tougher time climbing the ladder. Of course, this is astronomy which is notoriously male-dominated. It would be interesting to see these figures in biomed, psych, etc. I wouldn’t expect much difference, but maybe?

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