Recommended reads #156


An open letter about sexual harassment and retaliation at UC Irvine.

Among the many layers of horrible events In These United States, the dismantling of the USDA, via translocating the agency to Kansas City (though where in Kansas City, they have no idea), is not getting much attention. Here’s a recent update on this from the Washington Post.

A big meta analysis is showing that, as the ocean warms, fisheries decline. Every degree celsius corresponds to a 5% loss in biomass.

Some folks went to the trouble of assembling data on the identity of invited speakers in Economics departments over several years, and assembled an app for you to you explore the data: “So far, our team has collected data on 2,393 seminars at 11 schools, which equates to 1,847 unique speakers.”

The fiction of an ‘article processing charge'” This has more nuance than you might expect, and deals with the reality that operating a journal costs money, and the reality that there are problems or challenges with making any particular party pay for it.

The extreme efforts that are being taken to prevent experts from talking about climate change in government hearings.

It’s happening in Brazil, too. The Director of the Space Institute was dismissed because he was talking about remote sensing data and deforestation.

The end times are here, and I am at Target. This is a earnest and helpful reflection on how we live our day to day lives as things, well, you know.

If the genre of “outrageous letters sent to advice columnists” is your thing, then you’ll want to be sure you haven’t missed this one, involving mushroom powder.

The Crane Wife [highlighted read]

Don’t want to pay for your child’s college expenses? Apparently, some folks transferred their guardianship to someone else, and they didn’t have to pay. That’s an astounding loophole. (Speaking of which, the image at the top this page is from the library at Reed College, which was among a number of colleges I visited this week in parental-tour mode. I have lots of thoughts.)

Americans trust scientists, until politics gets in the way.

Two professors leave Johns Hopkins over misconduct. It looks like Sin Urban is still being highlighted and funded by the Packard Foundation. They know how and why he left Johns Hopkins, because they promptly removed his Johns Hopkins affiliation from their website! It’s a damn shame when a charitable foundation knows that a professor was dismissed for misconduct, but they still keep funding his lab?

The newest EIC of PNAS, May Berenbaum, has written a compelling editorial about journal impact factors. [highlighted read]

Some good journalism describing how it came to be that a guy used CRISPR to create babies in the midst of his scientific community.

Here’s a preview of a new book about teaching STEM to first-generation college students.

Did you hear that Yosemite got its names back? So now we can call The Ahwahnee “The Ahwahnee” again?

I just discovered that The Guardian has a whole article category featured: “Oxbridge and Elitism” with several articles per month.

If you’re wondering why the media is bizarrely focused on rural white voters to the exclusion of everybody else, here’s a start: “How America’s top newsrooms recruit interns from a small circle of colleges

This thing about employers, such as Starbucks, providing access to college as a benefit of employment? Good, right? Well, maybe not: “While it is easy to appreciate both the good intentions and the opportunities represented by these arrangements, we should be concerned if they become the new standard pathway to college. Doing so could replicate the problems created decades ago when access to health care became linked to employment.”

I am against identity politics, which means I am in favor of white identity politics

Counselors engage parents before vaccine doubts harden.

Elizabeth Warren is the most professorial candidate ever. [highlighted read]

“As part of The Trouble’s commitment to analyzing political strategies to make progress on climate policy, we’ve set out to interview leaders in the world of climate politics. For this spotlight, we interviewed Leah Stokes, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Over the past few years, Prof. Stokes has become an outspoken advocate of climate action, helping to bridge the gaps between theory and practice. We sat down with her to discuss her thoughts on what her research can teach activists, what she thinks of emerging forces such as the Sunrise Movement, and the role of advocacy in academic life.”

Kary Mullis just died. (He’s the guy who developed PCR as a thing.) He’s sometimes been called eccentric or unconventional. That’s beyond charitable. He was a serial sexual harasser and a total creep. So if you’re discussing or writing about him and want to discuss his legacy in a nuanced fashion to balance his accomplishments with his misdeeds, please make it very clear that his science does not excuse his behavior, and that his victims are not a price that anybody had to pay so that we could have advances in molecular biology research. I ask that you read this Esquire piece about him from 1994, as a part of contextualizing his legacy.

This long-form biographical piece about a professor who gets scammed (or, perhaps that’s not the right word for it, but I don’t know what the right word is, or if one exists in English) is a compelling read. It just gets weirder, more boggling, outrageous, and wtf?

If you’ve noticed things are quiet around the blog, know that it’s primarily because I’m working on the final touches on my book, which if I’m prompt, will come out in time for you to buy it before [checks calendar] the start of academic year 2020-2021. And because it’s summer.

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