Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cathy Oliver

Cathy Oliver is a mother, but has also experienced the heartbreak of pregnancies that did not result in live births. She is also an atheist. Thank you, Cathy, for sharing your story.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Occupy wall street

My dad posted this commentary by famed economist Dave Ramsey about Occupy Wall Street (OWS).

I have to say, I think he (Dave Ramsey) completely misses the point. I thought the essay was snarky, disingenuous, and sometimes just downright mean.

It is a very easy target, and not at all unique for Dave Ramsey to say that OWS has no specified goals. I am unimpressed. He starts this way so he can be open to choose individual signs here and there that he can point to and ridicule. But he fails to acknowledge that there is something very real pulling so many thousands of people together across the US, and after some real journalism, I was very impressed with recent NPR reports about what that is:

Participatory Economics

Or heck, just direct participatory government.

Even though there are a hundred different viewpoints, the reason they haven't just dispersed is that they've found common ground in the shared desire to come together and make decisions based on consensus.

Is this the best way to govern (versus the representative government that we have now)? I don't know. On one hand, who has time to participate, and make informed decisions about everything? On the other, how many representatives and senators actually make informed decisions? I have to think about this more, and am sure I could find some research that's been done on direct participatory government that would have more to back-up their claims that I have now.

The point here is that OWS is not about wall street, or the New York Stock Exchange, as Ramsey snidely distinguishes (Of course no one thinks the actual street is evil - Ramsey is especially dishonest in misrepresenting his opponents' view here). OWS is, I think, resulting from a desire to be involved directly in government and economics - likely as a result of the internet, social media and all of our options for instant-input (text messages, phones, video chat, facebook, twitter, flicker, and on and on).

To support his own movement, Ramsey ends his rant by claiming OWS is actually for something, that they are "protesting rich people who actually earned their money". This is patently not true, and yet another case of Ramsey building up a straw man, just so he can cut it down. Here he suggests that no OWS people are "rich", and further implies that none of them "actually earned their money". Furthermore, he makes other incorrect assumptions to make his own arguments seem stronger, such that most OWS protestors do not have jobs, and continually refers to the protestors as stupid. In direct contrast to this, survey results of respondents show that nearly 70% of respondents had full (50%) or part-time (20%) jobs, over 92% have some level of college education. In addition, nearly 30% of OWS protestors earn over 50,000 a year. But even that is unfair because who is to say the 70% that make less than 50,000 do not

Ramsey is a wonderful writer, however, so I'll end by paraphrasing Ramsey. Regarding his own writing:

I'm not very impressed at the moment. I'm not impressed by your temper fit. I'm not impressed at your disingenuous representations and lack of genuine inquiry into the controversy. I'm not impressed by the fact that the only thing I see about your opinion article is ignorance and immaturity. Grow up.

October is National Shelter Month

We have two rescued chihuahua mixes. Although they (especially one) cause some frustration, they are a joy to have, and are definitely part of the family.

The first thing that comes to mind is a post by my friend, about National Dog Day, back in August: about her dog, Tootsie, finding her forever home.

I also wanted to draw attention to the Northern California Chihuahua rescue (please forgive their terrible web design).

Also, of course, the Centre Country PAWS shelter where we got both of our furbabies.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

science-related posts

I've gotten a kick in the pants to start writing more science-related posts at my new lab's blog ( I think I'll try to post something science-related there once a week, and give you a link here. So far, I've written three posts:

Peer review: not as dark as some might propose

Postdoctoral fellowships

Which exome platform is best?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Feminism in the 21st century

I'm often torn about the f-word. To me, feminism evokes images of bra-burning women, fighting against butt-slapping, boob-watching men. Because the sexism I experience today is so different from what I think of feminists fighting against, it's hard to call myself a feminist, or to want to be a feminist. Day to day, I would generally say I don't experience overt sexism (except for one glaring example during graduate school, which I'll tell you all about later). But, if I sit down and think about how the media reports on and portrays women, it makes me frustrated.

How am I supposed to teach my daughter that she can be anything she wants, when there are so few examples for her to look up to (e.g. only 3.6% of career firefighters are women)?

How do I deal with the information that wearing make-up (i.e. being more beautiful) makes me appear more trustworthy?

What do I do with the information that women across all fields still earn less, on average, than men (no, I don't think it is all blatant discrimination, but there is, as the article states, a higher likelihood of women working lower-paying jobs, and men working higher-paying jobs - why is this?).

Is it fair, to women or men, to expect such ridiculous body standards?

Oftentimes when I think of gender biases, I find myself drawn to thoughts of how changing standards for men and women will reduce biases, and make life better for all sides. Certainly all people are not the same, and I don't want everyone to conform to some idea. I do, however, think that it should be okay for men to speak softly or have dyed hair, or wear frilly clothes. But burly, buff, jocks, can be just as much of an ally in making sure everyone has similar opportunities. Petite, busty women should be able to pile on the makeup and miniskirts, if they wish. But a woman with a crew cut shouldn't given any fewer opportunities (assuming they both have the same skill set), because she someone doesn't think she's as pretty.

Maybe one of the biggest challenges with gender equality is that ensuring equal opportunities doesn't mean everyone is equally qualified for every opportunity. What I mean by that is that we all have different interests and talents, and we shouldn't try to change the system so anyone can get into medical school. Instead, we should start from the ground up, in pre-school/kindergarden, and make sure every student has the training (perhaps even extra attention, given different home/economic situations), to be prepared for, and encouraged to pursue, whatever life path they choose. Especially we need to make sure that the options are known. I was aware of pathetically few options for my life when I was in high school - and maybe I wouldn't have cared about them if they'd been in front of me - but at least some of them might have stood out. Are there people who study this? The advantages of being well-informed early in life?

Ah, clearly, I have a lot of thinking to to about it still, and will try to work out some of those thoughts here, but in the meantime, I think I'd like to see this movie:


But what if its the wrong thing?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

For your listening pleasure

While looking for the original version of this song, I came across this cover, and I really like it!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What to do when your paper is rejected

You have just spent the past several months (or years) of your life preparing a research manuscript for submission to Journal XX, waiting while it was out for peer review, only to have it rejected. What to do now? Well, read more here from the editor of Molecular Ecology.

Back in the saddle again?

It's been awhile - longer than I like to go without posting, and unfortunately I don't have anything in depth to post her now, so I'll placate you with some pictures. In the past several weeks we've been busy.

We've gone hiking at Tilden Park, giving the doggies some outdoor time:

Attended a wedding of some good friends from State College, who got married right here in Berkeley:

Went to Jake's Steaks to watch Penn State barely pull off a win against Temple (although I was secretly rooting for Temple because they were so very excited and did play very well):

Visited Pier 39 and took baby girl to see the Aquarium, where she loved watching all the fish swim overhead:

And last week had a wonderful visit from my mom:

This past weekend we were in Little Rock, Arkansas for a wedding, but I haven't downloaded the pictures yet, so I'll leave that for another post. More pictures are surely to come, along with many visitors (yay!!) in the next few weeks. First we have a very good friend of ours is coming to visit from PNNL, then my friends from Denmark are stopping by for a couple days, and it rounds out with my dad and stepmom coming up for some baby time and to spend Halloween weekend. I am so, so excited! It's wonderful to have so many visitors, and I'll be feeling lonely when they all leave, so if anyone else wants to come visit, I can guarantee that you won't be bored in Berkeley!