Friday, September 12, 2014

Weekend Reading: The Release Week Edition

Obviously, I've been a bit distracted this week by the release of my latest book. (There is a raffle in that post, by the way....) There are a couple of reviews up on the Amazon page, and Actuarial Eye published a really nice review on her blog.

Over at It's a Jumble, Vanessa Fogg has some new releases to announce, too.

And of course, Apple announced some new releases this week. Zeynep Tufekci has a great write up about how bigger isn't always better in a phone, and how the fact that everyone in the tech world seems to think that it is provides yet another indication of what a male-dominated world that is.

John Dick from Civic Science analyzes some of his firm's poll results about parents vs. non-parents, and finds that parents report having every reason to be less happy than non-parents, but actually are more likely than non-parents to report themselves as being happy. When looking at these numbers, particularly the time use ones, keep in mind that these appear to be from self-reporting, a notoriously error-prone way of finding out anything, including how people use their time (i.e., results tend to be skewed by our own expectations).

But let's assume the self-reporting in that previous link is all qualitatively true. I think this next link might hint at what makes parents happier. Can you imagine how happy and proud you'd feel to read an article like this awesome article about the importance of Hermione written by your 14 year old daughter?

On a less happy parenting front (but still in the slightly suspect realm of self-reporting), Brigid Schulte writes at the Washington Post about a new study that finds that male scientists want to be involved fathers, but mostly aren't. I can't access the study to read it for myself. Maybe next time I'm on campus, I'll get it. (Too bad I didn't see the article earlier today- I was on campus doing some old school marketing for my book.)

I continue to hope that maybe someday all of those "too busy to have any life outside of work" people who make it hard for the dads in the previous link and for moms and for anyone else who wants to have more in their life than their work will someday read the research that indicates that their "all in" mode of working tends to produce worse overall results. Here's the latest- long hours make you less likely to follow the rules.

Here's a thoroughly depressing round up of the many reasons women struggle to advance in tech (and I suspect, in other fields). Spoiler: there's still a lot of implicit bias against us.

Speaking of implicit bias and its pernicious effects... Vanity Fair released another list of media disruptors. Annie Lowrey asks why the disruptors are always white guys- pointing, among other things, to the fact that was founded by her husband Ezra Klein (white dude), Matt Yglesias (hispanic dude), and Melissa Bell (white, not a dude). Ezra Klein makes a point of emphasizing that they are equal co-founders. And yet Ezra Klein is always the one listed as the disruptor. I wonder why?

Speaking of white guys who are disruptors, Clay Shirky's take on the Amazon vs. publisher fight is really worth a read. Here's one quote from it, but I encourage you to go read the whole thing.

"It used to be that if you were OK with the residents of Podunk having inferior access to books than people in Brooklyn, you were just a realist about the difficulties of making and shipping physical stuff. Now if you’re OK with that, you’re kind of an asshole. In the twenty-first century, not being able to correctly stock or distribute a product whose main ingredient is information suggests a degree of technical and managerial incompetence indistinguishable from active malice."

Speaking of access (in a sense)... Tressie McMillan Cottom's post about John Oliver's epic takedown of the for-profit college sector is simply great. As she points out, people choosing for profit colleges aren't idiots. They're people trying to solve problems and who don't have a lot of options. Taking away the crappy, sort of exploitative solution that is what the for-profit college sector seems to have become doesn't take away those people's problems.

I am dismayed by what has been happening in for-profit colleges. It seems to me that they used to serve a reasonable role: they provided trade school like education and a path to a basic college degree for working adults whose advancement was being blocked by the lack of that credential. I have worked with (and even hired) systems administrators with degrees from for-profit colleges, who got into the field via the hands on and specific training their programs provided. I have worked with administrative assistants who needed to get that degree so that they could continue to advance in our company. These people got value from those degrees.

But then the sector exploded out of control, and began to offer and aggressively market degrees that are in some cases worse than useless. I don't argue with the assessment that the industry is now dominated by companies that can be fairly described as predatory. I'd be happy to see those institutions go away. But what will take their place? Are we going to finally fund our community college system well enough to do this job? I wish we would, but I am not sanguine about our chances of doing so.

Ah, but it is the weekend. Enough ranting. Let's end with some lighter things.

OK, this is a sort of freaky thing: an artist makes animated gifs out of historical photos.

But this is just sweet:


  1. Alexicographer7:35 PM

    I sent you a pdf of the article the WaPo cited, in case you really DO want to read the whole thing ;) !

  2. Awww, that pic of the birds really is sweet!

    Congrats on the new ebook making its way out into the world! I just looked it over last week, and I think the finished product is great.

    And thank you so much for linking to my stories! Er, I actually had another story out in early Aug that I think is actually better than the ones mentioned in the linked post. I know you're not supposed to confess to favorites out loud, but. . . it's a novelette over at the web journal GigaNotoSaurus, which specializes in longer works.

    Ok, enough of that. No studies on a academic life and work/life/family balance surprise me anymore!


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