Friday, October 19, 2012

Weekend Reading: The Hodgepodge Edition

I have another hodgepodge of links for you. Maybe I should just give up and admit that most weeks, I have a hodgepodge of links... but no, I think I'll cling to the fiction that I do themed links posts a little while longer.

First, I have a couple of work related posts: First Generation American has an awesome post about networking, and my friend @smbaxtersd send me a link to a great post about how there really isn't a shortcut to  learning the skills required to be a data scientist. I think that last one is broadly applicable to many fields- as we discussed last week, you have to put in the effort to build the skills.

On a completely unrelated note, I love the recent article in the Guardian from Ariel Meadow Stallings, which completely captures why I dislike the almost reflexive calling of privilege that I run across sometimes, particularly on feminist sites. You should go read the whole thing, but here is one particularly good quote:

"My priorities with online discourse are dialogue and respect. In my little corner of the online world, I keep my focus on constructive critique and articulate, compassionate communication. Shouting down people who disagree with you (even if I agree with your argument) simply doesn't feel productive or helpful. If I had a dollar for every time we have to delete a blog comment that I personally agreed with because it was stated as an attack … I could shift my whole business model. Being an asshole: it's not just for the GOD HATES FAGS people any more."

She also ends with a great checklist to use before writing a comment. Really, go read that article. It is great.

And of course, there have been lots of posts about Mitt Romney's unfortunate binders full of women. Here are some of my favorites:
And finally, I end with dolphins, who can apparently sleep half of their brain at a time. (Found via this article, which I found via slashdot.) How cool is that? I want to do that! But alas, I cannot. So I should go do the dishes so that I can get to bed and let my whole brain sleep. Happy weekend, everyone!


  1. Thanks for the link to the Guardian article! It captures well what I have grown to hate about the academic blogosphere, and it seems like there is political-correctness or the-right-way-to-be-progressive police in all sorts of online communities (the feminist one you mentioned comes to mind, I would never dare engage there, it seems very hostile).

    Someone writes something that is a bit off, and there comes the pile-on and public shaming. When the writer complains that the perceived effect was not their intention, there is the chorus "It doesn't matter what you intended (or what your background or context may be) it matters how we perceive it came out!!! And this is a teachable moment!!! WAAAAAH!"

    This is ridiculous. With me, the only effect it has is that it makes me stop writing about certain topics because I can't afford the emotional upheaval (and the associated drop in productivity at work and home) that these little kerfuffles inflict on me.

    Even with little children, when they do something bad on purpose (e.g. hit a sibling) they will be punished, but if it wasn't intentional then they may not. To make a dramatic comparison, premeditated murder is punished differently than manslaughter. But intent and context are not important in online discourse, only the outcome? Puhleez.

    People say insensitive things all the time, and very often because they have no clue they are being insensitive. Often it's the perfectly well-meaning reasonable people, and they are more likely to take your point into account if you bring it up calmly. Maybe something like "Hey, what you wrote here is not OK. It hurts [me, the likes of me, or some specific group of people] because such and such. I trust you are a decent human being and sensitive to this issue, but as an FYI this sounded really bad and make sure you don't use it again." Something like that.

    But it never plays out like that. As the Guardian article says, people in online communication should first have compassion and tolerance, and it tends to be sorely lacking in many (most?) communities that I frequent. This has resulted in me drastically reducing commenting overall to only those blogs where the discourse is civilized (btw, calling for civilized discourse will also get you laughed at on many scientific blogosphere sites). Coming to think of it, I could count on one hand the number of blogs I comment on any more... I don't know if the fact I don't comment is detrimental to the many blogs I avoid, but I am guessing there are many many people who feel like me and don't engage, and overall that effect on the quality of discourse may not be negligible...

  2. Thanks for the links to articles on issues particularly important to women in this election. Thanks for sifting through, and sharing, articles you've "tripped over". You make it easy for information to be shared/forwarded.


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