Author Archives: Josh Witten

Putting his money where his mouth is on gender equality in science

Doing it right. UC Davis microbiome researcher Jonathon Eisen not only turned down an endowed lectureship because the series was too male dominated, but also engaged the lecture series leadership and suggested replacements (hat tip to Evelyn Padilla).

For a more journalistic account, check out Elizabeth Case (hat tip to Jonathon Eisen).

Battle for the Net

According to this scorecard, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has not picked a team in the Net Neutrality fight. This form letter* seems like an attempt to appear like Tom Wheeler is leaning toward the side of goodness and light:

Thank you very much for contacting us about the ongoing Open Internet proceeding. We’re hoping to hear from as many people as possible about this critical issue, and so I’m very glad that we can include your thoughts and opinions.

I’m a strong supporter of the Open Internet, and I will fight to keep the internet open. Thanks again for sharing your views with me.

Tom Wheeler
Chairman
Federal Communications Commission

While it is reassuring to have independent confirmation that my comment was registered with the FCC, I did notice the use of “Open Internet”, not “Net Neutrality”. Call me cynical, but I’m slightly concerned that Chairman Wheeler’s definition of an “Open Internet” is not the same as our definition of “Net Neutrality”.

*I have a [bad] habit of publishing any correspondence I receive, particularly of the form variety, from government officials that do not pertain to my tax liability.

You call yourselves nerds?

Last Thursday (or as Thursday was migrating into Friday), I was revelling in the Frazetta covers collage posted at BoingBoing and discussing how Conan the Barbarian (1982) was a truly great swords & sandals movie with Natalie Willoughby (Leia Shot First, which she did), when I saw that Conan the Barbarian was on TV.

In the spirit of #SciWars, I thought retooling Conan the Barbarian quotes to represent scientific experiences would be a great idea. It was fun for me, but almost no one else (Storify of tweets here).

Continue reading

The Mobiest of Dicks

I know that title doesn’t sound right…or does it.

Thanks to a tweet by Jimmy Stamp that was retweeted by Alexis Madrigal, I found this delightful post by Robin Sloan entitled “The Moby Dick Variations” that speculates about what it means to be a novel as a unique work of art. In the post, Sloan investigates how a novel can vary and still maintain its identity. The post instantly connected to two divergent thoughts in my brain. Continue reading

On the underrepresentation of cheese in literature…

GK Chesterton expounds on the poetic nature of cheese and condemns its notable absence from poetry. The essay is well worth reading, and I a particularly endorse this line with the proviso that it is applicable to man, woman, or child*:

…nor can I imagine why a man should want more than bread and cheese, if he can get enough of it.
-GK Chesterton

*My four and five-year olds are extremely fond of Stilton, which is how we know they are mine.

Hat tip to Steve Silberman.