Recommended reads #119


Here is a Digital Studies 101 lab, to guide students in a direct exploration of the Dark Web.

This three-part story about data storage is amazing and important. I had no idea how much of the data being stored today is still on magnetic tape, nor an idea of the consequences.

Surviving the pre-tenure years

Pedagogy first, technology second. And an example of what tech can do for pedagogy.

2017 was a weird year for book sales.

Women receive fewer invitations to give talks at “top 50” universities. And not because there are fewer women in the field — the just get invited less often.

The abuses and perverse effects of quantitative evaluation in the academy

When social class chooses your college major

A year-old post on the Scientific American site is making the rounds again, explaining how Einstein’s first work on special relativity was apparently a collaboration with his wife.

Find it hard to grasp or explain relativity? Here’s an award-winning explanation.

“There’s always this talk about getting girls and women into STEM. That’s really a myth. It’s really about stopping them from getting pushed out.”

Permanently bookmark this piece of writing for the next time someone asks you about broadening participation in STEM. This really gets it, I think.

At UCSF, the head of the sexual harassment prevention office was just fired, because they were hiding files from an audit and falsified dates to hide their inefficiency.

At UC Berkeley, a story about the failure to create an inclusive environment in the Integrative Biology department just came out.

“The majority of my peers chose their profession because they believed scientific facts, calculations, hypothesis and laws were colour blind; that personal subjectivity with respect to gender, race, and sexual orientation had a minimal impact. Unfortunately, these groupings do matter when it comes to career advancement, acceptance of ideas and being a full participant in the modern economy.”

Bullies have no place in academia

This interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones has so many delicious moments, and she doesn’t try to make the editor-in-chief of The Atlantic look like a oblivious fool, but he nevertheless volunteers for the role. It was generous of him to allow the transcript of this to be run without redacting the parts where he looks bad, because I think it’s important for people to learn from this lesson that, hopefully, he learned.

I previously shared a PNAS paper with a study about how short-term workshops aren’t as effective as folks claim. The folks from Data Carpentry have some thoughts. (I think boot camps like this can be extraordinarily helpful and the perfect prescription, if they’re giving you skills that you really need and apply promptly. But if the training is done on spec for those who may not need it right away, then, well, lessons fade.)

I really liked the new Star Wars. I’ve read about 10 or so reviews, and this I thought this one (beware, it’s all spoilers) was the most interesting. As a chaser, try this shorter piece, which ends with: “What The Last Jedi does—amongst many other things—is present its audience with more than one mode of female power.”

It looks like we’re entering an the post-social-media era. (Kids don’t instagram one another as much as they just stay in touch by text. Social media is just media nowadays. Speaking of which, you know you can get Small Pond Science by email for free? Just subscribe. There’s no catch whatsoever.)

Social and media will split.

How small biological collections matter.

The biases in what the public sees in natural history exhibits

This story about permafrost no longer being permanent is from months ago, the New York Times thinks it’s their best science story of the year. It’s well done.

The most striking feature of this review of radical new translation of the scriptural New Testament is to see how Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are used as foils for people of faith to portray atheists as irrational bigots. Like it or not (and I don’t), we’ve allowed hateful men like Dawkins and Harris to become the public face for atheism. This is ironic, because they portray themselves as rational and skeptical, but their own arguments against religion often fall short in this regard. What a shame.

“I study liars. I’ve never seen one like President Trump.”

“Tell me how Trump’s North Korea gambit ends.” One thing not mentioned in this piece is that China is now building refugee camps near the border of North Korea. I don’t think they have calculated a low probability of war refugees pouring across their borders.

On an implicit bias workshop:

What to do about trainings that don’t work? “Sexual harassment training doesn’t work. But some things do.”

Here’s a story about how millennials have been screwed over by previous generations that has a solid narrative. (I found the art design of the site to be supremely annoying, distracting from the message, and poorly executed, but I guess this kind of attitude is supposed to be expected from a GenX dude such as myself?)

Since the publication of JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy…, the people of Appalachia have been discovered again. Perplexed by the specter of white poverty and apparent backwardness, liberals and progressives turned to Vance’s Elegy to understand Appalachians. Instead, what they found was a blame-the-victim and culture of poverty narrative that wouldn’t pass the smell test of racism in any other case.”

The assault on higher education is happening in the UK, too.

Here’s a story on US and US-based scientists who are moving to France funded by the “Make Our Planet Great Again” initiative. This brain drain is a result of the deprioritization of scientific research by the US Congress.

This is story is difficult to read, but important. It’s profile of the work in the SAFE13 study and the “horrifying culture of sexual assault” in research labs and at field sites.

The style guide for the US-based nazis.

It’s kind of surprising that last week, there was an explosion of discussion about a piece of short fiction published in The New Yorker. Apparently by folks who don’t seem to read much literary fiction. The interview with the author is illuminating, and this link can lad you to the story itself too.

An English professor on facing the extinction of their profession

What I know about my students: “My students have minor-in-possession, misdemeanor, and felony convictions, and at least two of them have killed people with their cars. They have been sexually abused in their own bedrooms and kicked out of their homes. They’ve been told they’re stupid, ugly, and hopeless, dyed their hair green, come out as gay, changed their personal pronoun to ‘they.’ They have been beaten by their fathers, mothers, siblings, cousins, stepfathers, and boyfriends.”

If you haven’t seen this year’s winners of the Comedy Wildlife Photography awards, this is a good way to start your holiday.