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Weekend Reading: New Boxer Edition

Ajax and Athena This year, spring break has brought a surprise guest, as a variety of factors combined to add a new boxer (from a rescue service) to our house. This is a mostly good thing, but it also makes it hard to get adequately caught up on all the other things. Good thing there’re about 60 hours of break left . . .

On to this week’s links!

  • Friend-of-ProfHacker Virginia C. McGuire has a great essay on an important topic–“Saving for Retirement as an Act of Wild Optimism”: I confess, I did a little therapeutic overspending after my cancer returned. I bought a fancy ice cream maker and made plans to take Leo to Hawaii. But there is a frenzied feeling to that kind of self-indulgence, a fatalistic, forced happiness that made me feel sad underneath.
  • Kevin Smith wrote a useful post about disrupting privilege (of all sorts) at meetings: This isn’t just a gender thing… privilege can manifest itself in lots of ways, including class, race, age, ability and so on. When I was discussing it with another colleague she told me that she had dealt with similar situations in the context of age and race, where she as an older White woman in a (often) multiracial situation with younger people of colour, would be getting the questions and eye contact from another White person in the meeting.
  • Although the post is Mac-specific, Brett Terpstra’s explanation of his thought process in setting up a new machine is in principle platform-independent: The best tip I can offer is to keep notes on your setup as it changes. This makes the whole process require 90% less thought and lets you get right down to the drudgery of building an awesome system from scratch.
  • In Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson has a great throwaway line about the casual sexism of people who’re too smart to think they’re sexist. Alice Marwick fleshes out this observation in “Donglegate: Why The Tech Community Hates Feminists”: Yet the myth of equality persists, since the technology industry considers itself a meritocracy where the “good” ones — for example, talented engineers and programmers — will rise to the top regardless of nationality, background, race, or gender.
  • In “Steering Into the Skid”, Zen Faulkes argues that not everything that’s wrong with academe can be fixed by throwing some training at grad students: Giving a grad student formal ethics training and expecting them not to be even a little tempted to take shortcuts in their research to get those highly rewarded papers in Nature, or Science, or Cell is like admonishing someone to cut down on calories while leading them through a cupcake shop giving away free samples while everyone’s back is turned.

In this week’s video, Penn’s Jonah Berger describes his research about why things catch on:

Bonus video: In honor of Ajax’s arrival, here’s an older video of a boxer taking on some cows.

Bonus photo: Bill Porter reminds us that it’s always useful to watch what you name your event!

Photo “New friends” by me / Creative Commons licensed BY-2.0

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