Recommended reads #129


One hundred twenty nine. I’ve been doing this, every other week, for a while now.

Students learn by doing, not from listening.

The extraordinary life and death of the world’s oldest spider.

A spectacular commencement address by George Saunders.

Holy crap, by the end of the year Bitcoin is expected to consume about 1/200 of the global electricity supply. Here’s the peer reviewed paper with the details. Can we shut these clowns down already? I think clown is a good metaphor here, because they’re kinda funny, but also really scary.

A Lyme disease vaccine exists. But not for you.

This new paper in PNAS is pretty cool, describing at rather fine temporal scales the period of economic boom in the Roman Empire, using records in Greenland ice sheets. The writeup in the Atlantic is pretty good.

A different writeup in the Atlantic, which is downright horrific, puts a mostly positive spin about about a proposed nutritional experiment on men incarcerated in private prisons.

Why income caps on free tuition in public education are a bad idea.

David Foster Wallace and the dangerous romance of the male genius. I really didn’t have any idea that he was abusive. I didn’t know about Junot Díaz either – who just made an appearance on our campus recently. Apparently, in the circles they traveled, it was well known. (I am aware of some scientists who fall in the same category. I wish we had a mechanism to protect people and to remove them from power, but I am not positioned to tell stories which are not mine, nor to expect others to put themselves at further risk.)

Scientific integrity needs to apply to how researchers treat people, not just to how they handle data, says Erika Marín-Spiotta. This is so, so good.

Here’s a story in The Scientist about a petition to the National Academy of Sciences, requesting that they revoke membership from those who have committed serious sexual misconduct in the scientific workplace. Please consider signing on.

MENSERC continues: men still dominate NSERC’s prestigious prizes

A few years ago, here I shared a research article about massive disparities in startup funding for men and women running biomedical research labs. Here’s a nice essay informed by that study. The difference in startup between men and women is so staggering, you might even be surprised?

There was a segment on 60 Minutes, about how Princeton University is part of a cutting-edge movement in socioeconomic mobility and educating first-generation students. Yeah, I laughed too. But the President of CSU Fullerton stopped laughing and got serious and wrote this spectacular response. Man, I love working in the California State University system. Here’s a short take on this letter, too:

And here’s a new article in The Atlantic about how the UC is doing mighty fine job at this as well. (No, no, not the University of Chicago, ha ha.)

Have a nice weekend. I’m going to commencement! And then a rainforest! And this weekend is the rerelease of a newly restored version of 2001: A Space Odyssey – you might be able to catch it, if it’s not sold out yet. I think seeing it on the big screen is awesome, in the traditional sense.