Recommended reads #102


The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America

“To teach, we must believe in the potential of each person in the room.”

The founders of the field of cryptanalysis, William and Elizabeth Friedman, had a cipher on their tombstone. Which was just solved.

Maggie Hardy, on addressing sexual violence in science.

The journal Tumor Biology found evidence of massive peer review fraud. What tipped them off is that the reviews were submitted on time.

A Qiagen Mo Bio sales rep goes off on a ragingly sexist diatribe in the comments section of a blog hosted by Nature. (It’s the fifth comment down).

The RELATE team at the University of Michigan is running a short online course in communicating science that starts next week that looks quite useful.

Some information about literacy in college students, which might surprise you. Please please read this:

I know some readers may see these findings and think that our schools just need to be more selective. Maybe other readers dismiss this study entirely because they work at an elite school with a (presumed) higher caliber of student. It’s important to note that the researchers did not find significantly different literacy levels when comparing students at public vs. private institutions or at selective vs. nonselective institutions. While the findings may be a little disheartening, the report shows that ALL institutions of higher education need to be aware of their students’ literacy levels.

The University of California maintained a secret $175 million slush fund, making its financial situation appear more dire than it actually was, and this malfeasance was just uncovered this week.

A new hire for a high-profile visiting position at Pomona College is in the news. There are protests from a variety of quarters (students, faculty, community) because the Sociology Department hired Alice Goffman, who has attracted attention for her ethnographic work on black communities, which has been unconventional and perhaps illegal. At a distance, the optics (of hiring a white ethnographer of black communities over the other interviewing candidates who were black) represent a challenge for the Claremont Colleges, which also have had other high-visibility challenges in the realm of social equity.

Whiteness and perceptions of math ability

Can any science TV show go beyond preaching to the converted?

An ongoing fact: stopping the tenure clock for parental leave hurts women and helps men. (In part, because guys are still productive in the time when the clock is stopped, and in part, because of old school bias.) As Linda Richman would say, “Discuss among yourselves.”

The NSF gave the Waterman award to a man. Again. Actually, TWO men. That’s 15 guys in a row, I think. Joan Strassmann has some thoughts on equity in the awards process.

When given the chance, will wealthy parents ever choose to desegregate schools?

Harvey Mudd College, the STEM-intense institution among Claremont Colleges, is being roiled by protests over the content of an internal report that was recently leaked by the student paper. The campus has done an admirable job of switching from a mostly-man campus to one that approaches gender equity, and also has increased the enrollment of students from underrepresented ethnic groups. This isn’t shocker, but it is nonetheless disappointing, that not all faculty are on board with this and some have complained of a “decline in the quality of students.” It’s a bummer that these folks will throw the women and minorities under the bus because the faculty aren’t prepared to teach students who aren’t white men. These students getting admitted to Harvey Mudd are just as smart as the white guys who have been going there for decades. They might not be as familiar with the White Guy Code under which some faculty operate to assess student quality. I am confident there are lots of faculty at Harvey Mudd who are on board, but it doesn’t take a large proportion of faculty members who are overtly hostile to equity to poison the environment for the community. Equity requires both diversification and inclusion, which is a lesson the admins at Harvey Mudd are experiencing.

Everybody at Deep Springs College wants to admit women, but it’s been held up in the courts by one very annoying person. An appeals court has decided women can be admitted. Almost there.

If you’re ever wondering how uber-rich people rationalize (or fail to rationalize) the massive income inequality in the United States, here’s a case in point.

The museum of failure.

25% of undergraduates are parents.

Are you one of those people that doesn’t like LA? Please do me the favor of listening to Werner Herzog, one of LA’s biggest fans.

For most people in the US, the country is receding into a developing nation.

Science For The People.

Bill Nye used to be sour on philosophy, but no longer.

Commentaries on scientific eminence.

The public universities in California (CSU, UC, and community colleges) are governed by a state Educational Master Plan that’s horribly out of date and is now harming our students.

Jeremy Yoder just got hired by the CSU, and wrote a piece — with a pretty infographic — about the amount of time and energy involved in the job search that got him here. Which is both an odyssey and par for the course.

Cormac McCarthy on the origin of language.

Every American needs to sit down and read this transcript of the AP interview with our President.

This piece make the point well: Enough about grit, already.

While folks are shutting up about grit, also shut up about financial literacy.

A blog about navigating the ups and down of grad school

Justin Trudeau is a disaster for the planet.

Have a nice weekend, y’all! (And get ready to call your reps because zombie trumpcare is coming before the house again)

4 thoughts on “Recommended reads #102

  1. That first link is like a cross between Fuck You, Penguin and WTF Evolution. Back in grad school I shared an apartment with an ornithologist. He kept a list of his recent bird sightings on a little whiteboard on the fridge. One day as a joke I added some silly made up birds. “Foul-smelling Warbler” and so on. I could’ve started a Tumblr, if only Tumblr had existed back then. ;-)

  2. Thank you for posting the Trudeau article. Great read.

  3. Lost in the discussions of Watermen going to men again is that one if them is an URM – only the second ever, I think. I was surprised to see so little celebration of this milestone, which perhaps reflects…I don’t know. But I personally was both dissapointed and very happy with the choice, if that’s possible.

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