Posts

August 20, 2014

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5:01 PM | My thought of the day, Mary McCarthy version
Every word that guy says needed to be checked, including 'and' and 'the'. - CJliterary context here
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11:15 AM | Nafeez Ahmed to join Alt Banking this Sunday
I am super excited to announce that best-selling British author Nafeez Ahmed will be speaking at the Alt Banking group this Sunday. The title of his talk is Mass Surveillance and the Crisis of Civilization: The inevitable collapse of the old paradigm and the potential for the rise of the new. Ahmed is an international security […]

August 19, 2014

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3:42 PM | Peter Cappelli on the skills gap
Peter Cappelli is a Wharton School professor and the author of Why Good People Can't Get Jobs. He has written a long National Bureau of Economic Research working paper on the so-called "skills gap." It's worth noting that Professor Cappelli is a 'skills gap' skeptic. Here's a small excerpt:More generally, if the labor market is not enticing students to pursue particular fields, should public policy push them to do so? Manufacturers, for example, have long complained about the shortage of […]
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11:28 AM | Advertising vs. Privacy
I’ve was away over the weekend (apologies to Aunt Pythia fans!) and super busy yesterday but this morning I finally had a chance to read Ethan Zuckerman’s Atlantic piece entitled The Internet’s Original Sin, which was sent to me by my friend Ernest Davis. Here’s the thing, Zuckerman gets lots of things right in the […]

August 18, 2014

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3:42 PM | This week's C&EN
Some interesting articles here:I had no idea that Sally Evans (Dave Evans' wife) was responsible for ChemDraw; it's really a remarkable #altchemjobs story, when you get down to it. (story by Bethany Halford)Someone doesn't like that C&EN has a paywall. I'm still finding the rail car safety debate fascinating - DOT wants DOT-111 tankcars retrofitted and that's catching the ethanol industry by surprise. I think I'm okay with this, but I understand why folks who own these cars are […]
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11:10 AM | What can be achieved by Data Science?
This is a guest post by Sophie Chou, who recently graduated from Columbia in Computer Science and is on her way to the MIT Media Lab. Crossposted on Sophie’s blog. “Data Science” is one of my least favorite tech buzzwords, second to probably “Big Data”, which in my opinion should be always printed followed by a […]

August 17, 2014

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2:56 PM | I'd be happier if I didn't write this stuff!
Thus happiness depends, as Nature shows,Less on exterior things than most suppose.                   --William CowperFor years my father--who is a really great guy--has been telling me that I'd be a happier person if I didn't write about all the converging threats bearing down on the human race. Turns out he's right!Here's what a new study said on the matter:Recent evidence suggests that a state of good […]

August 16, 2014

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11:03 PM | A week of links
Links this week: An awesome looking conference – Complexity and Evolution: A New Synthesis for Economics Hybridisation – what does it mean for conversation and the future of species? Picking up in a Lamborghini Status wars How far are we from designer babies? Neuroscience and marketing

August 15, 2014

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2:30 PM | The Jones Group Gets Serious
Apply for your own armored tactical vehicle here. 
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11:23 AM | I love math and I hate the Fields Medal
I’ve loved math since I can remember. When I was 5 I played with spirographs and learned about periodicity, which made me understand prime numbers as colorful patterns on a page. I always thought 5-fold symmetry was the most beautiful.   In high school I was incredibly lucky to attend HCSSiM and learn about the […]
Editor's Pick

August 14, 2014

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3:06 PM | Quote of the day: penicillin frustration
For some reason, I was reading about the scaling-up of penicillin and came across this wonderful quote, via an ACS writeup:Pfizer's John L. Smith captured the complexity and uncertainty facing these companies during the scale-up process: "The mold is as temperamental as an opera singer, the yields are low, the isolation is difficult, the extraction is murder, the purification invites disaster, and the assay is unsatisfactory."You know, that gives me a bit of perspective.  
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11:54 AM | Love StackOverflow and MathOverflow? Now there’s StemForums!
Everyone I know who codes uses stackoverflow.com for absolutely everything. Just yesterday I met a cool coding chick who was learning python and pandas (of course!) with the assistance of stackoverflow. It is exactly what you need to get stuff working, and it’s better than having a friend to ask, even a highly knowledgable friend, because […]

August 13, 2014

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5:51 PM | ACS San Francisco Career Fair numbers: 94 positions, 651 job seekers
Reported to the ACS Council today:Onsite employers: 38Onsite seekers: 651Onsite jobs: 94 Virtual employers: 11Virtual registered seekers: 720Virtual jobs: 36That's a jobseeker-to-onsite positions ratio of ~7:1, which is slightly better than the 8:1 reported for the 2014 ACS Dallas Career Fair. Please note, registered seekers for the Virtual Career Fair are not representative of actual attendance. 
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3:18 PM | Bonus Process Wednesday: You Can't Make A Baby In One Month with Nine Women
What do you mean, we've run out?Credit: happy otterMapp Biopharmaceuticals is the company that has a very experimental Ebola treatment. They've run out of manufactured supply, which is an interesting problem that was not discussed in the visual literature, i.e. the 90s movie "Outbreak.". Here's what The Hill (the paper that covers Congress) has to say about that:It will take months to produce even a small batch of a promising new drug to counter Ebola, according to U.S. health […]
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2:50 PM | Process Wednesday: overdried a hydrate? You can rehydrate it!
If I am overdried, re-hydrate me!Credit: Rassias et al., OPRDFlipping through Practical Process Research and Development, I happened upon an interesting entry in the index: "overdrying." Here's what Neal Anderson has to say about it: Polymorphism undoubtedly will continue to be an issue for developing drug substances and for continued manufacture of drug products... Solid-state transformations should not be overlooked. Hydrates may be overdried; rehydration of a dried phosphate salt was […]
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11:21 AM | Illegal PayDay syndicate in New York busted
There’s an interesting and horrible New York Time story by Jessica Silver-Greenberg about a PayDay loan syndicate being run out of New York State. The syndicate consists of twelve companies owned by a single dude, Carey Vaughn Brown, with help from a corrupt lawyer and another corrupt COO. Manhattan District Attorneys are charging him and his helpers with usury under […]

August 12, 2014

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3:44 PM | Chemist spam is fascinating: "3 Day MBA"?
"will teach you all you need to know about the stem cells industry." Well, sign me up. (Not.) 
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2:59 PM | ACS San Francisco tweetup, tonight, 8 PM, Thirsty Bear
From an e-mail:"We have landed on the Thirsty Bear Brewing Company at 8pm Tuesday night. 661 Howard Street, right near the W Hotel. Invite anyone you know who cares about hanging out with awesome people."Go have fun, folks! 
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11:30 AM | Weapon of Math Destruction: “risk-based” sentencing models
There was a recent New York Times op-ed by Sonja Starr entitled Sentencing, by the Numbers (hat tip Jordan Ellenberg and Linda Brown) which described the widespread use – in 20 states so far and growing – of predictive models in sentencing. The idea is to use a risk score to help inform sentencing of offenders. […]
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10:30 AM | Shaping the brain and humans as complex systems
I linked to this interview with Robert Sapolsky a couple of weeks ago, but after glancing through it again, I felt it worth highlighting two paragraphs (both for your interest and so I can find them again). First, on the evolutionary purpose of the teenage brain: What I’ve been thinking might actually be going on is […]

August 11, 2014

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4:57 PM | StripeyNanoparticleMania 2015!
Also in this week's C&EN, this letter to the editor:Having read “Big Tussle over Tiny Particles” with great interest, I suggest that ACS sponsor a meeting between the parties involved and provide objective observers (C&EN, May 26, page 43). Francesco Stellacci would bring his nanoparticles, and Philip Moriarty would operate the scanning tunneling microscope at various gain settings. Everyone present would see for themselves whether the nanoparticles were actually striped or […]
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3:41 PM | This week's C&EN
Lots of interesting things in this week's C&EN:Big feature on the 100th anniversary of crystallography this week, including a fun editorial by Greg Petsko: "Clearly we are still a long way from the day when all structures of all molecules will simply be calculated from first principles. But if you seriously think that day will never come, I suggest you think again." This would make a great long bet, as to when that day would come. As a non-biologist, I learned a lot from this Matt […]
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1:52 PM | White people don’t talk about racism
Here’s what comes up in conversations at my Occupy meetings a lot: systemic racism. Maybe once a week on average, whether we are talking about the criminal justice system, or the court system, or the educational system, or standardized tests, or chronic employment problems, or welfare rhetoric, or homelessness. There are many very well-informed people […]

August 10, 2014

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3:18 PM | Ebola and the weak link of public health
It has long been my contention that one of the chief symptoms of the age of constraints we have now entered would be the decline of public health systems globally. This comes at a time when our vulnerability to a worldwide epidemic is increasing because of widespread international travel, the proliferation of densely populated megacities and the general trend toward urban living. Of course, urban environments are ideal for spreading disease because of the proximity of the residents.The sudden […]

August 09, 2014

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12:20 PM | Aunt Pythia’s advice: delicious crepes edition
Aunt Pythia is going to brag about something this morning. Namely, how delicious her crepes are. And here’s the thing, she’s generous and like to share. If you were willing to get to her house at 8:06am on a weekend morning, she’d also make you some crepes with fresh fruit. You could sit right there, […]

August 08, 2014

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5:08 PM | Dude, what is this!?!?
A German song about silicon. Truly catchy/strange. Here's a version with an English translation, for those who spreche nicht Deutsch.h/t @dange82.
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3:22 PM | Cursed labs?
Via Medium, the story of a U.S. Navy vessel, USS Cowpens, which seems to have suffered a number of unfortunate incidents, including:Two accidents that resulted in the deaths of sailorsOne captain who ruled the ship with an iron fist, including having sailors walk the captain's dogOne captain who was relieved for adultery with another officer's spouseThe latest: a captain who fell ill in the middle of a deployment, handed over their duties to an inexperienced executive officer and then holed up […]
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11:23 AM | Navigating the mindset for data journalism
I’ve been working my butt off this summer starting up a data journalism program and teaching in it. I couldn’t ask for a better crew of students and instructors: engaged, intelligent, brave, and eager to learn. And my class has been amazing, due to the incredibly guest speakers who have given their time to us. On […]
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11:00 AM | A week of links
Links this week: Academic urban legends spreading through sloppy citation. In PhD land, I have constantly found myself following citation chains that don’t lead to what they claim. Some progress in the replication wars. I’ll post about some of the specific examples over coming months. The evolutionary emergence of property rights (ungated working paper). HT: Ben […]

August 07, 2014

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3:08 PM | Benefits: a favorite small company memory
So there we were, some years and some moves back, gathered for an all-hands meeting in the conference room with the new CEO and our local health insurance provider's representative. And he starts off with announcing some Great News! for the company: now, instead of employees paying 50% of their health insurance tab, the company would cover the entire cost except for $50.Great news!And then there's something mentioned about changes to the company's willingness to pay for health insurance for […]
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