Recommended reads #98


Five practical ways you can help a first generation student succeed. If you’ve ever thought positively about anything I’ve written or shared on this topic, I bet you’ll really appreciate this piece by Abigail Dan. I bow to its wisdom and excellence.

Obsessed with smartness, by James Lang. I love this almost as much as the preceding piece.

Advice for my conservative students

Why facts don’t change our minds, by the inestimable Elizabeth Kolbert.

About keeping a course fresh, semester after semester.

Teen empowerment through citizen science. Check out this uplifting story about some of the great of my spectacular colleagues at the Natural History Museum of LA County, where I am spending my sabbatical.

A recent paper came out explaining how conservatives are more likely to give a damn about global warming if you focus on how the world used to be, rather than how it can be in the future. So, in this sense, conservatives are literally backwards.

A great op-ed about the EPA and climate change

The folks running the big International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) lost their marquee sponsor, Intel.

Here’s a story about scientific efforts to cool down the urban heat island of Los Angeles.

You know that story about robo-pollinators? Artificial pollinators are not the solution.

A story in Science Magazine about how first-year grad students get co-authorship opportunities. If they’re men.

An Uber engineer discusses her “strange, fascinating, and slightly horrifying story.” Which, we should remind ourselves and others, is a story that so many women could tell about their own places of employment.

The next time someone tells you sexism is over, show them these statistics

A misogynist’s guide to supporting women in STEM.

What’s it like to be a woman at Baylor? Six women speak out on sexism, feminism and campus chivalry.

How some men fake an 80-hour workweek

I just learned how the AGU (American Geophysical Union)  got totally punk’d by ExxonMobil. For many years, AGU has been feeding off of the teat of big oil, accepting money to support their conference (but not enough to make a dent because it’s still a very expensive conference). Many concerned members agitated for AGU to stop accepting payments from ExxonMobil, because a scientific society that prioritizes climate action shouldn’t be partnered up with the world’s biggest carbon polluter. Anyway, after a big to-do, the AGU board took a vote and said, “You know what? We’re okay with it. Keep that big oil money coming our way.” People got mad, protested more, and then AGU, said, “Okay, fine, we’ll vote again about that sweet sweet money from ExxonMobil. And then they voted yes again, right before flipping off their membership. Then, after all of that ruckus, ExxonMobil decided, “Nah, we won’t bother with you, we weren’t really giving you that much money anyway, but watching you fight over it was so fun! Hey, now we’re going to go put some cucumbers next to this cat while he’s not watching.”

How does Facebook collect data, and what are they doing with it? This is rather detailed and specific, and perhaps surprising.

How big data harms poor communities

Calling in the army to remove unwanted immigrant plants. Which are a known menace.

The antidote to rising populism is being grown in labs

Jacquelyn Gill on marching for science

Did you know that California is due for a massive rainstorm that will turn the Central Valley into a lake, what USGS calls ARkStorm – here’s their 2010 report about it.

An interview with Patricia Matthew, whose new book is about the written and unwritten rules of getting tenure, and the disparities that screw over faculty in marginalized groups.

Most tenure denials don’t hit the news, but this one at Beloit College did.

An activity that promotes engagement with required readings, even in large classes.

On the etymology of shitgibbons, wankpuffins, crapweasels, and other noncharismatic megafauna.

George Saunders is interviewed by Zadie Smith. Could this be any less awesome? I don’t know, the baseline level of awesome involving Saunders and Smith is inherently sky high.

Here’s a story that was a total surprise to me, I had never heard anything about this history: In Los Angeles, Little Tokyo was cleared out in the early 1940s, as the result of an Executive Order that sent Americans of Japanese descent into concentration camps. During that time, while so many buildings were left unoccupied, the neighborhood was converted to Bronzeville, an African-American enclave developing out of the Great Migration. Then, when the original residents came back, it turned back into Little Tokyo again, as the residents of Bronzeville were essentially kicked out by the landowners who favored one ethnicity over another. I thought I knew a decent amount of LA history, but, apparently not that much.

A crazy Mission Impossiblesque caper resulted in the theft of two million pounds worth of rare books.

Oooh! Philip Pullman announced a three-book sequel to follow up on His Dark Materials. Okay, it’s not a “sequel,” and not a “prequel,” he says it’s an “equal.” (Two of them are earlier in the chronology, one afterwards.)

Several years ago, when I was reading the Little House series with my kid, I could help but notice that Pa had a thing for moving on. Once they got settled, they moved West. Again and again. Once, they had to be removed because he was illegally on Native American land! Smithsonian did a good story looking critically at this aspect of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s work, on the 150th anniversary of her birth.

(Beware, there are some graphic descriptions of a most disturbing nature.) The ethics of using data from Nazi experiments. Some of the hideous experiments conducted by Nazi scientists generated data relevant to physiological and biomedical applications. What are the ethics of using this data, now that it exists?

Ordinary Americans carried out inhumane acts for Trump.

What Trump said when signing nomination papers for DeVos.

I hope you have a peaceful and enjoyable weekend, that includes some acts of resistance.

2 thoughts on “Recommended reads #98

  1. I think Pullman’s actually calling it an “equel”, which may be a neologism. Either way, it’s exciting; when we visit Oxford Botanic Garden with our first year students I point out that it inspired both Tolkien and Pullman, and directly features in the latter’s books.

Leave a Reply