Recommended reads #71


Old_book_bindingsKapow! Ecology. A weekly comic strip featuring ecological research, by Luke O’Loughlin.

“To reduce sexual harassment in scientific training, scientists should embrace the norm that trainers not date trainees.”

Did predation spark the Cambrian explosionHuh.

I feel obligated to share seven links about the 15-story-tall flaming paper bag filled with poo placed on the doorstep of the world that is the current US presidential election. I’m already mentally done with the whole affair and we don’t even vote in California for several months before having to wait several more months. But these I found these compelling nonetheless.

How America made Trump unstoppable. This is from Rolling Stone, and while they of late haven’t been able to journalism their way out of a paper bag (especially not a flaming one filled with poo), this is more about interpreting known facts and I think it has some useful insights.

Ben Carson is putting the pieces together and only now realizing that his entire campaign is a big scam. Seriously, this is pretty crazy, folks.

Democrats need to seriously and pragmatically assess their strategy for defeating Trump. A Clinton run would be disastrous; Bernie Sanders is their only hope.” I don’t know how true this is, but the arguments here need to be reckoned with.

America’s constitutional democracy is going to collapse…Very few people agree with me about this, of course. When I say it, people generally think that I’m kidding…But voiced in another register, my outlandish thesis is actually the conventional wisdom in the United States.” This piece by Matthew Yglesias spells out, in pretty clear detail, how the US’s outdated constitution is a real problem. There’s are good reasons that newer democracies have been using a parliamentary system.

Social media has turned Republican & Democratic Parties into host bodies for 3rd party candidates.

I wrote a thing on Facebook, intended for folks outside the US, to try to contextualize this mess.

Some progress on gender equity in science.

But on the other hand, “In my first 700 days working at a major publication, I received over 800 threats.”

A couple years ago, a paper came out in ProcA (which is funny to me, a ProcB kind of guy, to even think about ProcA as something that exists), about finding a “sunstone” that seafaring Vikings used to visualize the polarization of light, to locate the position of sun when sailing in cloudy skies.

This is pretty crazy. In mad dash to finish the school year before the money runs out, CSU (Chicago State University, that is) is canceling spring break. Putting the broader budgetary mess in Illinois in perspective is the Good Enough Professor: Winter is here.

It’s nice to hear from others who agree that the liberal arts are not just complementary with STEM, but critical for its success.

This interview with Maggie Smith (text and audio are available) is just so charming.

Why do academics drink so much? (no answers given)

A story in Science reveals a bit of surprise that scientists actually give a damn about their own families and don’t want to move to a new city if it would displace family members at critical stages of their lives.”The most interesting and original result in the study is the impact of children’s age on scientists’ mobility… Having at least one child of high school age reduced the likelihood that an elite scientist would move to a new institution.” Like high schoolers have said, “No shit, Sherlock.”

PhD recipients as a waste product of academia.

The lack of women in science: ‘A wicked problem,

Why only 19% of Cal State freshmen graduate on time

Tweet of the week:

Al Jazeera America was a thing, and it’s closing down. In its short existence, they did some good journalism. In its death throes, they’ve just dropped a truth bomb about the journalism crisis (or at least, disequilibrium).

R, the master troll of statistical languages.

“We have a societal zeitgeist that seems to communicate that simply not talking about race is equal to not being racist…This approach is untenable and unworkable.”

You know what’s wrong (in part) with academic publishing? How people work for free for for-profit journals. So long as one distinguishes between journals run directly by for-profit publishers, and those that are operated by academic societies that have their journals produced by publishers under contract, then yeah I agree with this.

I’ve been back in the US for less than a month after a spell of travel, and one consistent bummer about returning is having to tip people in the service industry who are underpaid for their work. This story in the Washington Post explains precisely how horrible we are for having a system in which people rely on tips to pay their bills.

The insidiousness of the frenzy to establish “priority” on scientific findings.

The US Park Service is culling bison in Yellowstone National Park to appease Montana ranchers.

In rec reads 70, I linked to the research paper showing how men in college underestimate the abilities of their women peers. Here’s the explainer in The Atlantic, with a more extended story, by Ed Yong, that is superb.

Why do we always have to say she’s a good mom too?

To Men I Love, About Men Who Scare Me

“I think there are a few seldom-acknowledged truths about tenure denials. First, there are many complicated reasons for not being granted tenure and in my experience it has little do to with how good of a teacher or scholar you are.  Second, it doesn’t mean you have to leave academia but it is intensely difficult to stay, whether due to the taint of denial or because of the logistics of moving away from where you’ve likely made a life for yourself. Third, tenure denial is traumatic. There is a kind of grief to it that has to be acknowledged.” Yup, Yup, and Yup again.

“How teachers and parents can identify and cultivate children who think creatively and unconventionally

Have a great weekend. If you’re within several hours of Death Valley National Park, word is out that winter rains have caused some spectacular blooms.