Linkage

Being hungry sounds dangerous for your brain.

Celphalopod color and texture camouflage. Amazing. [via]

Clarence Darrow on eugenics. [via]

My friend Erik is starting a brewery and has been doing a series called Pint/Counterpint about the process of running a local brewery. Someday I will make it down to North Carolina…

More depressing news about our obsessive need for tests.

Linkage

Between travel and lingering reviews, I have not had any time to really write anything particularly interesting or technical. I have a lot of thoughts, just not much willpower to write them down at the moment. In the meantime, be amused/saddened/scared/entertained by these links…

Out of Context Science.

Rep. Keith Ellison testifies at Rep. Peter King’s McCarthy-esque “hearings.” I’m sure people have seen the terrifying video from Orange County.

The Dayenu Principle applied to films beating you over the head. Enough already!

David Rees on America’s Next Great Restaurant: “Life’s too short not to eat kale every five minutes.”

The way we are treating Bradley Manning is immoral and illegal. If the first doesn’t bother you, the second should.

Goodnight, Dune, goodnight, Shai-hulud bursting out of the dune.

I should eat more cauliflower.

My friend Reno is famous on the internet!

some slightly more recent reads

Suspended in Language (Jim Ottaviani and Leland Purvis) — a graphic novel about Niels Bohr, his life, his theories, and the birth of modern physics. This was a great read and wonderful introduction for those with a scientific bent but perhaps less physics background (me in a nutshell).

Logicomix(Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou) — continuing with the intellectual comic book trend, this was a semi-fictionalized history of the foundations of mathematics from the perspective of Bertrand Russell. There’s a lot going on in the book, which tries to examine the connections between logic and madness, maps versus reality, and Russell versus Wittgenstein. I very much enjoyed the beginning of the book but it sort of rushed into the ending : I wanted more about Gödel!

Botany of Desire (Michael Pollan) — this is a lyrically written book about the relationship between people and plants. Pollan goes through 4 case studies : the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato, and describes how the plants satisfy human desires and how humans have shaped the course of their evolution. The writing in this book is beautiful, but his favorite words seem to be Apollonian, Dionysian, and chthonic, which lends some of the text an almost 19th century feeling. His dissection of the issues with GMO farming and Monsanto in the potato chapter is great, but I wish it was more accessible to the average reader. Ah well, it’s a book for elites, and a very pretty book at that.

Interracial Intimacy: The Regulation of Race and Romance (Rachel F. Moran) — This was a slightly more legalistic and policy-oriented analysis of how interracial relationships were regulated by the state in the United States. Unlike Kennedy’s book, it has a fair bit more about non black-white relationships, and highlights the differences faced by different ethnic groups. Also unlike Kennedy’s book, it is not aggressively arguing an a particular agenda. Kennedy was building up an argument against race-matching in adoption, and Moran is a little more circumspect and seems (at least to my mind) to be more attuned to the dangers of being prescriptivist. It’s definitely a dry read, but I found it quite informative.

UC Libraries vs. the Nature Publishing Group

Earlier this month, a letter was circulated to the UC Faculty regarding the Nature Publishing Group (NPG)’s proposal to increase the licensing fees for online access by 400%, which is pretty dramatic given a) the high cost of the subscription in the first place and b) the fact that library budgets are going down. There was a suggestion of a boycott.

NPG felt like they had been misrepresented, and issued a press statement saying “you guys are a bunch of whiners, our stuff is the best, and 7% price hikes per year is totally reasonable.” Furthermore, they said “you guys have been getting a crazy good deal for way too long anyhow and its time you paid your fair share.” I suppose behaving like complete jerks is an ok way to react when you are trying to sell somebody something, especially something that is made up of stuff written by your potential buyers. I wonder what their profit margins are like.

The University of California responded, pointing out that 7% increases, compounded, starts getting out of hand pretty fast. “Plainly put, UC Faculty do not
think that their libraries should have to pay exorbitant and unreasonable fees to get access to their own work.”

Looks like PLoS better start rolling out some new titles!

More info can be found at the OSC website, which oddly doesn’t say what OSC stands for.