🔖 Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science by Alice Domurat Dreger

Bookmarked Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science by Alice Domurat Dreger (Penguin)
book cover of Galileo's Middle Finger by Alice Domurat Dreger

An impassioned defense of intellectual freedom and a clarion call to intellectual responsibility, Galileo’s Middle Finger is one American’s eye-opening story of life in the trenches of scientific controversy. For two decades, historian Alice Dreger has led a life of extraordinary engagement, combining activist service to victims of unethical medical research with defense of scientists whose work has outraged identity politics activists. With spirit and wit, Dreger offers in Galileo’s Middle Finger an unforgettable vision of the importance of rigorous truth seeking in today’s America, where both the free press and free scholarly inquiry struggle under dire economic and political threats.

This illuminating chronicle begins with Dreger’s own research into the treatment of people born intersex (once called hermaphrodites). Realization of the shocking surgical and ethical abuses conducted in the name of “normalizing” intersex children’s gender identities moved Dreger to become an internationally recognized patient rights’ activist. But even as the intersex rights movement succeeded, Dreger began to realize how some fellow progressive activists were employing lies and personal attacks to silence scientists whose data revealed uncomfortable truths about humans. In researching one such case, Dreger suddenly became the target of just these kinds of attacks.

Troubled, she decided to try to understand more—to travel the country to ferret out the truth behind various controversies, to obtain a global view of the nature and costs of these battles. Galileo’s Middle Finger describes Dreger’s long and harrowing journeys between the two camps for which she felt equal empathy: social justice activists determined to win and researchers determined to put hard truths before comfort. Ultimately what emerges is a lesson about the intertwining of justice and of truth—and a lesson of the importance of responsible scholars and journalists to our fragile democracy.

hat tip: Last Week at Wellesley

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🔖 Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky

Bookmarked Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky (Penguin Press)

From the celebrated neurobiologist and primatologist, a landmark, genre-defining examination of human behavior, both good and bad, and an answer to the question: Why do we do the things we do?

Sapolsky's storytelling concept is delightful but it also has a powerful intrinsic logic: he starts by looking at the factors that bear on a person's reaction in the precise moment a behavior occurs, and then hops back in time from there, in stages, ultimately ending up at the deep history of our species and its evolutionary legacy.

And so the first category of explanation is the neurobiological one. A behavior occurs--whether an example of humans at our best, worst, or somewhere in between. What went on in a person's brain a second before the behavior happened? Then Sapolsky pulls out to a slightly larger field of vision, a little earlier in time: What sight, sound, or smell caused the nervous system to produce that behavior? And then, what hormones acted hours to days earlier to change how responsive that individual is to the stimuli that triggered the nervous system? By now he has increased our field of vision so that we are thinking about neurobiology and the sensory world of our environment and endocrinology in trying to explain what happened.

Sapolsky keeps going: How was that behavior influenced by structural changes in the nervous system over the preceding months, by that person's adolescence, childhood, fetal life, and then back to his or her genetic makeup? Finally, he expands the view to encompass factors larger than one individual. How did culture shape that individual's group, what ecological factors millennia old formed that culture? And on and on, back to evolutionary factors millions of years old.

The result is one of the most dazzling tours d'horizon of the science of human behavior ever attempted, a majestic synthesis that harvests cutting-edge research across a range of disciplines to provide a subtle and nuanced perspective on why we ultimately do the things we do...for good and for ill. Sapolsky builds on this understanding to wrestle with some of our deepest and thorniest questions relating to tribalism and xenophobia, hierarchy and competition, morality and free will, and war and peace. Wise, humane, often very funny, Behave is a towering achievement, powerfully humanizing, and downright heroic in its own right.

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🔖 [1806.00871] A Framework for Aggregating Private and Public Web Archives | arXiv

Bookmarked [1806.00871] A Framework for Aggregating Private and Public Web Archives by Mat Kelly, Michael L. Nelson, Michele C. Weigle (arxiv.org)
Personal and private Web archives are proliferating due to the increase in the tools to create them and the realization that Internet Archive and other public Web archives are unable to capture personalized (e.g., Facebook) and private (e.g., banking) Web pages. We introduce a framework to mitigate issues of aggregation in private, personal, and public Web archives without compromising potential sensitive information contained in private captures. We amend Memento syntax and semantics to allow TimeMap enrichment to account for additional attributes to be expressed inclusive of the requirements for dereferencing private Web archive captures. We provide a method to involve the user further in the negotiation of archival captures in dimensions beyond time. We introduce a model for archival querying precedence and short-circuiting, as needed when aggregating private and personal Web archive captures with those from public Web archives through Memento. Negotiation of this sort is novel to Web archiving and allows for the more seamless aggregation of various types of Web archives to convey a more accurate picture of the past Web.
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🔖 Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science from Rajiv Jhangiani, Robert Biswas-Diener (eds.)

Bookmarked Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science by Rajiv Jhangiani, Robert Biswas-Diener (eds.) (Ubiquity Press)

Affordable education. Transparent science. Accessible scholarship.

These ideals are slowly becoming a reality thanks to the open education, open science, and open access movements. Running separate—if parallel—courses, they all share a philosophy of equity, progress, and justice. This book shares the stories, motives, insights, and practical tips from global leaders in the open movement.

It’s not just the book about which there’s so much to find interesting, but the website that’s serving it is well designed, crafted, and very forward thinking in what it is doing.

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🔖 Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber

Bookmarked Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber (Simon & Schuster)

From bestselling writer David Graeber, a powerful argument against the rise of meaningless, unfulfilling jobs, and their consequences.

Does your job make a meaningful contribution to the world? In the spring of 2013, David Graeber asked this question in a playful, provocative essay titled “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs.” It went viral. After a million online views in seventeen different languages, people all over the world are still debating the answer.

There are millions of people—HR consultants, communication coordinators, telemarketing researchers, corporate lawyers—whose jobs are useless, and, tragically, they know it. These people are caught in bullshit jobs.

Graeber explores one of society’s most vexing and deeply felt concerns, indicting among other villains a particular strain of finance capitalism that betrays ideals shared by thinkers ranging from Keynes to Lincoln. Bullshit Jobs gives individuals, corporations, and societies permission to undergo a shift in values, placing creative and caring work at the center of our culture. This book is for everyone who wants to turn their vocation back into an avocation.

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Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David Christian

Wished for Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David ChristianDavid Christian (Little, Brown and Company)

"I have long been a fan of David Christian. In Origin Story, he elegantly weaves evidence and insights from many scientific and historical disciplines into a single, accessible historical narrative." --Bill Gates

A captivating history of the universe -- from before the dawn of time through the far reaches of the distant future.

Most historians study the smallest slivers of time, emphasizing specific dates, individuals, and documents. But what would it look like to study the whole of history, from the big bang through the present day -- and even into the remote future? How would looking at the full span of time change the way we perceive the universe, the earth, and our very existence?

These were the questions David Christian set out to answer when he created the field of "Big History," the most exciting new approach to understanding where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. In Origin Story, Christian takes readers on a wild ride through the entire 13.8 billion years we've come to know as "history." By focusing on defining events (thresholds), major trends, and profound questions about our origins, Christian exposes the hidden threads that tie everything together -- from the creation of the planet to the advent of agriculture, nuclear war, and beyond.

With stunning insights into the origin of the universe, the beginning of life, the emergence of humans, and what the future might bring, Origin Story boldly reframes our place in the cosmos.

As many will know, I’m enamored of Christian’s thesis of Big History, so this is going to be a must-read, though I suspect it will be a shorter and more accessible version covering a lot of similar ground to his prior heroic effort Maps of Time.

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🔖 Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom by Thomas E. Ricks

Bookmarked Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom by Thomas E. Ricks (Penguin Press)

New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2017

A dual biography of Winston Churchill and George Orwell, who preserved democracy from the threats of authoritarianism, from the left and right alike.

Both George Orwell and Winston Churchill came close to death in the mid-1930's—Orwell shot in the neck in a trench line in the Spanish Civil War, and Churchill struck by a car in New York City. If they'd died then, history would scarcely remember them. At the time, Churchill was a politician on the outs, his loyalty to his class and party suspect. Orwell was a mildly successful novelist, to put it generously. No one would have predicted that by the end of the 20th century they would be considered two of the most important people in British history for having the vision and courage to campaign tirelessly, in words and in deeds, against the totalitarian threat from both the left and the right. In a crucial moment, they responded first by seeking the facts of the matter, seeing through the lies and obfuscations, and then they acted on their beliefs. Together, to an extent not sufficiently appreciated, they kept the West's compass set toward freedom as its due north.

It's not easy to recall now how lonely a position both men once occupied. By the late 1930's, democracy was discredited in many circles, and authoritarian rulers were everywhere in the ascent. There were some who decried the scourge of communism, but saw in Hitler and Mussolini "men we could do business with," if not in fact saviors. And there were others who saw the Nazi and fascist threat as malign, but tended to view communism as the path to salvation. Churchill and Orwell, on the other hand, had the foresight to see clearly that the issue was human freedom—that whatever its coloration, a government that denied its people basic freedoms was a totalitarian menace and had to be resisted.

In the end, Churchill and Orwell proved their age's necessary men. The glorious climax of Churchill and Orwell is the work they both did in the decade of the 1940's to triumph over freedom's enemies. And though Churchill played the larger role in the defeat of Hitler and the Axis, Orwell's reckoning with the menace of authoritarian rule in Animal Farm and 1984 would define the stakes of the Cold War for its 50-year course, and continues to give inspiration to fighters for freedom to this day. Taken together, in Thomas E. Ricks's masterful hands, their lives are a beautiful testament to the power of moral conviction, and to the courage it can take to stay true to it, through thick and thin.

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🔖 Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier

Bookmarked Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier (Henry Holt and Co.)

You might have trouble imagining life without your social media accounts, but virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier insists that we’re better off without them. In Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, Lanier, who participates in no social media, offers powerful and personal reasons for all of us to leave these dangerous online platforms.

Lanier’s reasons for freeing ourselves from social media’s poisonous grip include its tendency to bring out the worst in us, to make politics terrifying, to trick us with illusions of popularity and success, to twist our relationship with the truth, to disconnect us from other people even as we are more “connected” than ever, to rob us of our free will with relentless targeted ads. How can we remain autonomous in a world where we are under continual surveillance and are constantly being prodded by algorithms run by some of the richest corporations in history that have no way of making money other than being paid to manipulate our behavior? How could the benefits of social media possibly outweigh the catastrophic losses to our personal dignity, happiness, and freedom? Lanier remains a tech optimist, so while demonstrating the evil that rules social media business models today, he also envisions a humanistic setting for social networking that can direct us toward a richer and fuller way of living and connecting with our world.

This looks like an interesting book to read for some related IndieWeb research. Perhaps something Greg McVerry could use in his proposed talk?

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🔖 The Lifters by Dave Eggers

Bookmarked The Lifters by Dave Eggers (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Journey to an underground world where adventure awaits and heroes are made in this middle grade novel from the bestselling, Pulitzer-nominated author of The Monk of Mokha and Her Right Foot.

When Gran and his family move to Carousel, he has no idea that the town is built atop a secret. Little does he suspect, as he walks his sister to school or casually eats a banana, that mysterious forces lurk mere inches beneath his feet, tearing up the earth like mini-hurricanes and causing the town to slowly but surely sink.

When Gran's friend, the difficult-to-impress Catalina Catalan, presses a silver handle into a hillside and opens a doorway to underground, he knows that she is extraordinary and brave, and that he will have no choice but to follow wherever she leads. With luck on their side, and some discarded hockey sticks for good measure, Gran and Catalina might just find a way to lift their town--and the known world--out of danger.

🔖 How To Code in Python: Using Manifold to Deliver an Open Educational Resource | Building Manifold

Bookmarked How To Code in Python: Using Manifold to Deliver an Open Educational Resource (blog.manifoldapp.org)

Recently, my eBook on Python programming, How To Code in Python 3, was made available as a Manifold publication. I would like to offer my perspective to the Manifold community to give some background on the work and how I believe the Manifold platform provides additional layers of value to the text through providing a place for learning and idea exchange in both university communities and broader publics.

An interesting article about OER relating to a book that looks interesting to read.

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Acquired The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World by Simon WinchesterSimon Winchester (Harper)

The revered New York Times bestselling author traces the development of technology from the Industrial Age to the Digital Age to explore the single component crucial to advancement—precision—in a superb history that is both an homage and a warning for our future.

The rise of manufacturing could not have happened without an attention to precision. At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in eighteenth-century England, standards of measurement were established, giving way to the development of machine tools—machines that make machines. Eventually, the application of precision tools and methods resulted in the creation and mass production of items from guns and glass to mirrors, lenses, and cameras—and eventually gave way to further breakthroughs, including gene splicing, microchips, and the Hadron Collider.

Simon Winchester takes us back to origins of the Industrial Age, to England where he introduces the scientific minds that helped usher in modern production: John Wilkinson, Henry Maudslay, Joseph Bramah, Jesse Ramsden, and Joseph Whitworth. It was Thomas Jefferson who later exported their discoveries to the fledgling United States, setting the nation on its course to become a manufacturing titan. Winchester moves forward through time, to today’s cutting-edge developments occurring around the world, from America to Western Europe to Asia.

As he introduces the minds and methods that have changed the modern world, Winchester explores fundamental questions. Why is precision important? What are the different tools we use to measure it? Who has invented and perfected it? Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Are we missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be? And can the precise and the natural co-exist in society?

One of my favorite all-time writers and somehow I had missed any news about its pending release and hadn’t seen it despite having just been to the bookstore. What a fantastic surprise!

Received as the most perfect gift. Originally purchased at Vroman’s.

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🔖 An Introduction to APIs | Zapier

Bookmarked An Introduction to APIs by Brian Cooksey (Zapier)
APIs (application programming interfaces) are a big part of the web. In 2013 there were over 10,000 APIs published by companies for open consumption 1. That is quadruple the number available in 2010 2. With so many companies investing in this new area of business, possessing a working understanding of APIs becomes increasingly relevant to careers in the software industry. Through this course, we hope to give you that knowledge by building up from the very basics. In this chapter, we start by looking at some fundamental concepts around APIs. We define what an API is, where it lives, and give a high level picture of how one is used.

I found this downloadable e-book a while back at Zapier’s resource page, which has some other interesting things, but this overview and layout of APIs seemed fairly simple but powerful for folks interested in the topic.

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🔖 Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith

Bookmarked Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era by Tony Wagner, Ted Dintersmith (Scribner)

From two leading experts in education and entrepreneurship, an urgent call for the radical re-imagining of American education so that we better equip students for the realities of the twenty-first century economy.

Today more than ever, we prize academic achievement, pressuring our children to get into the “right” colleges, have the highest GPAs, and pursue advanced degrees. But while students may graduate with credentials, by and large they lack the competencies needed to be thoughtful, engaged citizens and to get good jobs in our rapidly evolving economy. Our school system was engineered a century ago to produce a work force for a world that no longer exists. Alarmingly, our methods of schooling crush the creativity and initiative young people need to thrive in the twenty-first century.

In Most Likely to Succeed, bestselling author and education expert Tony Wagner and venture capitalist Ted Dintersmith call for a complete overhaul of the function and focus of American schools, sharing insights and stories from the front lines, including profiles of successful students, teachers, parents, and business leaders.

Most Likely to Succeed presents a new vision of American education, one that puts wonder, creativity, and initiative at the very heart of the learning process and prepares students for today’s economy. This book offers parents and educators a crucial guide to getting the best for their children and a roadmap for policymakers and opinion leaders.

Marked to read after seeing reference in Venture capitalist visits 200 schools in 50 states and says DeVos is wrong: ‘If choice and competition improve schools, I found no sign of it.’ by Valerie Strauss.

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🔖 Neural Networks and Statistical Learning by Ke-Lin Du,‎ M. N. S. Swamy | Springer

Bookmarked Neural Networks and Statistical Learning 2014th Edition by Ke-Lin Du,‎ M. N. S. Swamy (Springer)

Providing a broad but in-depth introduction to neural network and machine learning in a statistical framework, this book provides a single, comprehensive resource for study and further research. All the major popular neural network models and statistical learning approaches are covered with examples and exercises in every chapter to develop a practical working understanding of the content.

Each of the twenty-five chapters includes state-of-the-art descriptions and important research results on the respective topics. The broad coverage includes the multilayer perceptron, the Hopfield network, associative memory models, clustering models and algorithms, the radial basis function network, recurrent neural networks, principal component analysis, nonnegative matrix factorization, independent component analysis, discriminant analysis, support vector machines, kernel methods, reinforcement learning, probabilistic and Bayesian networks, data fusion and ensemble learning, fuzzy sets and logic, neurofuzzy models, hardware implementations, and some machine learning topics. Applications to biometric/bioinformatics and data mining are also included.

Focusing on the prominent accomplishments and their practical aspects, academic and technical staff, graduate students and researchers will find that this provides a solid foundation and encompassing reference for the fields of neural networks, pattern recognition, signal processing, machine learning, computational intelligence, and data mining.

h/t

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🔖 The Theory of Quantum Information by John Watrous

Bookmarked The Theory of Quantum Information by Tom Watrous (cs.uwaterloo.ca)

To be published by Cambridge University Press in April 2018.

Upon publication this book will be available for purchase through Cambridge University Press and other standard distribution channels. Please see the publisher's web page to pre-order the book or to obtain further details on its publication date.

A draft, pre-publication copy of the book can be found below. This draft copy is made available for personal use only and must not be sold or redistributed.

This largely self-contained book on the theory of quantum information focuses on precise mathematical formulations and proofs of fundamental facts that form the foundation of the subject. It is intended for graduate students and researchers in mathematics, computer science, and theoretical physics seeking to develop a thorough understanding of key results, proof techniques, and methodologies that are relevant to a wide range of research topics within the theory of quantum information and computation. The book is accessible to readers with an understanding of basic mathematics, including linear algebra, mathematical analysis, and probability theory. An introductory chapter summarizes these necessary mathematical prerequisites, and starting from this foundation, the book includes clear and complete proofs of all results it presents. Each subsequent chapter includes challenging exercises intended to help readers to develop their own skills for discovering proofs concerning the theory of quantum information.

h/t to @michael_nielsen via Nuzzel

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