Recommended reads #79


Things the world’s most and least privileged people say. Including “I don’t vote — the system is too corrupt!”

A comprehensive and entrancing visualization of wind, weather and ocean conditions around the world. A data-rich lava lamp.

NIH gave an endowment to San Diego State University. Not a grant or a contract, but an endowment. This is a thing?

How to build a society of equally involved parents

To write better code, read novels.

We need more historians of the sixth century.

Europe still has an old growth forest. But it looks like it’s getting cut down.

Another case of sexual harassment at Berkeley is in the news. No, not the ones I’ve mentioned before. A new one from this week. And here’s a routine reminder that this isn’t Berkeley, it’s everywhere.

Amy Dalal reflects on what happens when you are working on campus for a semester, but not teaching. I relate to this a lot.

An experience with learner-centered pedagogy:

Looking back on that experience, I realize that it reflects a pitfall many professors fall into: mistaking “teaching” with “learning.” In my insecurity and desire to control the contact time, I dominated the classroom and filled it with the fruits of my own learning, rather than creating an experience that would enable my students to learn effectively. Those two brave students (grades had not been assigned!) helped me realize that my job is to facilitate learning. That means creating learner-centered experiences, and not classrooms dominated by the instructor’s (my) fear of losing control.

Bill Gates continues to be a reasonable and well-intentioned human being who can change his mind with evidence. The Gates Foundation has poured a lot of money into “school reform,” including the imposition of top-down changes on teacher and school performance in a way that, if you talk to actual education experts and teachers, just doesn’t work. Now they have recognized this fact and have changed their tune. It’s so encouraging to see the uber-wealthy philanthropists learn that their own opinions about what creates structural change in schools aren’t really all that relevant to reality.

New discoveries about Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Massive academic publishers need to change or die, because a system for instantly disseminating research that’s built out of driftwood and thumbtacks has sprung up, and the big news is not that it’s free, it’s that it’s better.” If you’re one of those people thinking a lot about the future of scientific publishing, you’ve probably already seen this. But if you’re not one of those people (which is fine, of course) then this has some huge obvious points, too often overlooked, spelled out in a clear way.

Climate scientists need to become social leaders.

I wrote for the Chronicle about how the credit system in science is outdated. Here are some folks with a very specific plan about how to bring it up to date.

EEB & Flow asks: What are we supposed to do when we read a paper that is bad and journals don’t have a clear policy for letters or commentary?

Organised crime against the academic peer review system“: A legitimate journal describes in detail how they were duped into publishing a fraudulent paper. I think my favorite line is, “We checked several and found that often their photographs and emails were fabricated. Readers can check for themselves, but it is hardly conceivable that a Brazilian female researcher has the picture of Henry Kissinger by accident.” Kudos to the editors who are going public with this and announcing it loudly, instead of sweeping it under the rug. I think this is an enlightening read for anybody who is doing editorial work.

Speaking of editorial work, I just noticed something this week: The journal Ecology has a lot of subject editors (as expected, as they publish a thick issue every month and also have a high rejection rate). In my scan of the editorial board, there were no PUIs (primarily undergraduate institutions) represented. (I do recall a specific person at a PUI who was within the last decade, but that person is no longer on the board and also no longer at a PUI.) I don’t think it’s intentional or malicious. Just a symptom of a problem.

Randall Munroe built a flowchart to help you date a world map.

Here is a wonderful story about Frog and Toad, and Arnold Lobel, in The New Yorker. (The four Frog and Toad books are so special.)

On unconscious demotions.

You know that scene at the end of Time Bandits with the Concentrated Evil? (Okay, I guess maybe not.) Regardless, here’s something similar — concentrated irony:

The Labor Studies & Employment Relations Department of the School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University, seeks a non-tenure track faculty member to provide teaching and support for its programs.  Working under the direction of the Department Chair, the main responsibilities of the position are to teach the equivalent of 7 courses per year in our undergraduate and graduate programs.  Instructors are also expected to assist with student advising, participate in scholarly and outreach events, and carry out other service duties as assigned.
We prefer someone who can teach large undergraduate labor/employment history courses and introduction to labor studies courses.  Since our labor history courses are writing intensive, we prefer individuals who are experienced instructors of undergraduate writing and who can mentor graduate students who assist faculty in writing instruction.  Experience teaching online is a positive, as is willingness to teach off-campus and/or in our non-credit adult education programs.
This position begins September 2016 and come with an annual contract that can possibly be renewed with successful performance, contingent on budgetary support:
-Graduate degree required.  A PhD in History or a closely related field is preferred.
-Evidence of successful teaching excellence with a student body similar to the one here at Rutgers.

Dreams stall as CUNY, New York City’s engine of mobility, sputters

Policies to help students pay for college continue to shift toward favoring the rich

Someone telling you that basic research isn’t a good investment. Here’s a 4-minute video that tangibly rebuts this concept.

Delaware North is making progress in keeping its trademarks on historic properties in Yosemite National Park, that they used to operate under contract of the National Park Service.

What is science journalism? What does it mean to be a science writer? With the evolution of media, this is a contentious question in the National Association of Science Writers. (I don’t know what a science writer or science communicator is, but I definitely don’t think of myself as one.)

This 11-year old paper about the futility of “interdisciplinary teams” just came to my attention. I kinda love it.

“An unnamed homeland security agency inked a contract with a pre-crime-like tech startup that claims it can spot if you are a terrorist, pedophile, genius or some other personality – judging a book by its cover with an 80% accuracy, by just analyzing your face.”

The news about the Great Barrier Reef isn’t good.

Meanwhile the Australian government pressured UNESCO to remove information from a new report about threats to World Heritage Sites. Because, you know, it would look bad.

Australia just laid off one of the world’s leading sea level researchers who works for CSIRO. As far as I know, they haven’t planned to move Sydney or Melbourne or Perth or Brisbane or Adelaide more inland. They’ve got maps of what will happen to those cities, though.

The dangerous acceptance of Donald Trump

At 96, Dr. Heimlich finally uses his life-saving technique

Shut up and take my money:

Taraji P. Henson hates math, and Octavia Spencer has a paralyzing fear of calculus, but that didn’t stop either actress from playing two of the most important mathematicians the world hasn’t ever known.

Both women are starring in “Hidden Figures,” a forthcoming film that tells the astonishing true story of female African-American mathematicians who were invaluable to NASA’s space program in the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s.

Ms. Henson plays Katherine Johnson, a math savant who calculated rocket trajectories for, among other spaceflights, the Apollo trips to the moon. Ms. Spencer plays her supervisor, Dorothy Vaughan, and the R&B star Janelle Monáe plays Mary Jackson, a trailblazing engineer who worked at the agency, too.

Useful advice about writing.

The Washington Post has what looks like a great idea: Dear Science: Introducing a new advice column that uses science to solve your problems

What happens when middle schoolers take to Twitter?

4 thoughts on “Recommended reads #79

  1. Speaking as the parent of a 5 year old to whom I’ve read a lot of children’s books over the years: Frog and Toad are sooooo much better than the vast bulk of children’s books. It’s quite an achievement, writing stories that both preschoolers and adults will enjoy.

    Re: Ecology subject editors based at PUIs, yes, they exist but they’re rare. Back in the 80s (and into the 90s?) my own undergrad advisor was an editor at Ecology. I’d think if you’ve a profile as a researcher commensurate with that of other members of the editorial board, you’ve as good a chance as anyone at being invited to join the board, even if you’re at a PUI. But I’m just guessing, I don’t really know how to quantify the distribution of researchers with that sort of profile across different sorts of institutions.

  2. There’s a long discussion that could be had (that I honestly don’t have the time for today because of a grant deadline, and also students in the forest) about what a commensurate profile would look like. It looks like a definition of commensurate could be either ‘comparable or similar’ or also ‘in proportion.’ I’m not suggesting that some kind of quantitative handicap be given, but it would be probably in everybody’s benefit if we assessed someone’s research chops and ability to serve as an editor qualitatively based on the quality of their work (whereas many think ‘profile’ as a partially quantitative thing). I think there many people at PUIs that have commensurate skills, quality, experience and ability to serve as SEs for Ecology. (But they do have fewer papers, and also aren’t invited as often to join in on big review papers that really increase perceived impact.)

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