Recommended reads #93


An argument for the funding of basic research makes it into the Wall Street Journal.

One way to teach critical thinking is to take a historical issue (in history, science, whatever) and look at the debates surrounding the issue by the people of the time, and then asking, “Who was right?” (I found this via Tavish Bell’s twitter account, where I see consistently interesting stuff about higher ed.)

The abduction of tortoise #1721

Nicholas Kristof once in a while writes a well-intentioned but not adequately informed column about higher education. Like this one about how colleges are liberal echo chambers. This guy just doesn’t seem to be familiar with the institutions attended by most students. A brief and spot-on rebuttal comes from Elizabeth Lehfeldt.

Ex-cons doing well at UC Berkeley.

One software developer explains why he’s not writing open source software anymore.

The pyrrhic victory of winning a Title IX investigation

The head of Massey University steps down after saying a very sexist thing based on dated and false assumptions.

4 Myths About Diversity in Science

The regulation of dopamine in social media use by rodents

An academic paper about gossip in the sciences – how people are policed by their peers using rumors.

Scientists Make Discovery About World’s Silt Deposits But Understand If You Aren’t Interested In That

Are you teaching differently because you fear your students might get violent?

I’d like to point out that Al Gore is consistently a man ahead of his time. He published Earth In the Balance, about global the threat posted by carbon emissions, in 1992. In 2007, he published The Assault on Reasonwhich its jacket aptly describes as “A visionary analysis of how the politics of fear, secrecy, cronyism and blind faith has combined with the degradation of the public sphere to create an environment dangerously hostile to reason.” I haven’t reread it since 2007, but it’s worth pointing out that our current predicament is precisely what his book was warning us about.

Beef contributes more to carbon emissions than cars.

Do you use Evernote? Holy crap do you know that their new privacy policy says employees can read your stuff? No caveats or anything, they can just read your stuff if they want. (So far, my organizer, Moleskineis secure.) [Update: It looks like they’ve temporarily backpedaled on implementing this, because of everybody bailing on them. Thank goodness for that one person who read the fine print.]

Endosymbionts alter the sex ratio of reproductives in ant colonies. Or at least, in these colonies. Huh, and similar microbes can radically alter the evolution of sex determination mechanisms.

The Breakthrough Prize in life Sciences is misguided.

A paper with five authors was just posted to arXiv entitled: “XMM-Newton Observations of the Peculiar Cataclysmic Variable Lanning 386: Hot, Sexy, and Magnetic?” (Apparently it’s an attempt at a pun involving SW Sextantis systems. Whatever those are.) What are the odds that one of the authors is not a man? Their first names are Mark, Paul, Peter, Michael, and Joel. I’m guessing they have the Nigel Tufnel rationalization in mind.

Sara Goldrick-Rab’s top 10 in higher ed list for 2016

Ta-Nehisi Coates writes at length about President Obama with brilliance in My President Was Black. Equally brilliant is the response by Tressie McMillan Cottom.

Some folks think there’s too much identity politics in the US. I disagree. This new piece of writing ties a tight bow on recent blathering and explains why liberty requires identity politics.

The Klan Never Ends.

This start of When Tyranny Takes Hold:

What is the precise moment, in the life of a country, when tyranny takes hold? It rarely happens in an instant; it arrives like twilight, and, at first, the eyes adjust.

How to support a scholar who comes under attack

This might be the most expensive poster tube:

How journalists covered the rise of Mussolini and Hitler. Sound familiar?

The day after Vanity Fair published a critical review of the Trump Grill (Grille), he fired of a hate tweet against the magazine. As negative reviews go, this one is a relative delight, almost Ebertesque.

Best wishes for a peaceful weekend and holiday season.

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