Recommended reads #159


Hitman 2’s new game lets you quit being an assassin and become an ornithologist: “Here’s how it works: After using your trusty piano wire to kill an ornithologist and swap into his cargo shorts and binoculars, all you have to do is press X to toss aside your silenced pistol, point out the nest of a plum-throated cotinga to your research assistant, and embark on a full-fledged research career in the King’s College Avian Biology Department.”

Color me surprised. A new study claims that in laboratory-oriented fields, mentoring from postdocs is impactful for PhD students, but not for mentoring from the PI. And that PI tend to ignore established best practices for mentoring, and just go from the hip based on their own prior personal experiences. (As a disclaimer, I haven’t actually read this article, by the way, just saying what the abstract and folks have been saying. Since it’s in a fancy journal, be primed to expect big claims that may or may not be appropriately generalized from the actual findings.)

Working from affirmation, not for affirmation.

Here’s a great piece of qualitative research about the experience of tenure denial, and the consequences for institutions and individuals. I feel like everybody who is on a tenure committee should be reading this, and if anybody in your professional realm is going through tenure, then you should read this to know what they’re going through. And since that basically means most faculty, then, yeah, you need to read this. highlighted read

A brief and very well executed viewpoint from a grad student at Caltech: “Feynman, Harassment, and the Culture of Science.” Considering the level of reverence that Feynman’s memory still manages to evoke in Pasadena, this is a brave and important piece of writing. And I continue to be disappointed that it’s always the people who are most at risk are the ones who are putting themselves on the line. Where are the tenured Caltech faculty on this? Your students are counting on you to create a safe environment.

Adriana Romero-Olivares wrote a great opinion bit for Science: “Reviewers, don’t be rude to nonnative English speakers.” Wherein, “here are three principles for providing constructive reviews, even when you think an article is poorly written.”

Middle-class students are enrolling in college less, relative to low-income and rich people. And closely related: How tuition pricing at colleges deepens class divides. Now that I’m looking at this from the parental angle, it’s interesting how some well-endowed private institutions meet full financial need as calculated by the FAFSA but don’t do discounting, essentially creating a bimodal campus filled mostly with very wealthy students, and a smattering of low-income students, and the only people in the middle are those who have families who are willing to pay through the nose (which is a narrow opening through which to squeeze so much cash) to purchase the imprimatur of a fancy name.

The University of California is divesting from fossil fuels.

The president of Harvard apologizes for likening the “ownership” of wealthy donors by Harvard to the ownership of slaves. Seriously, he used an analogy involving human bondage to discuss more effective ways to separate wealthy donors from their money.

Consider volunteering to catalog comments on the proposed changes to Title IX.

This epic tenure announcement came out in April, but is only making the rounds now.

The media figured it out, just in the nick of time. (I would say they are too late, though.)

“‘Hacking’ your work only works if you’re a person who would be congratulated for your ingenuity. If you’re not, here’s what to try instead.”

How to buy clothes that are built to last

Trump’s getting impeached? I defy you to convince anyone at this cursed truck stop.

The rules of the DEI racket. highlighted read

Did you know that Dian Fossey’s “active conservation methods” involved torturing illegal hunters? I didn’t until last week.

From Cormac McCarthy (albeit indirectly) about writing good manuscripts. highlighted read

How damaging is sexy soundbite science communication?

The U.S. Government’s Weirdest Twitter Account Is Postmodern Internet Art