Friday Tab Clearance

This has been a pretty brutal week– classes are in full swing, and we had a candidate interview for our visiting faculty position which always eats up a bunch of time. And then Kate was out of town for work Wednesday night. So I haven’t had time for substantive blogging, and don’t really have the brains for anything deep. The kids are at Grandma and Grandpa’s all next week, though, so maybe I’ll finally get to do some of the little experiments for the blog that I’ve been kicking around in my head.

Until then, though, here are some links to thing I’ve had open in tabs for a while, and won’t actually write about in detail:

– This study of non-academic careers for Ph.D.s (PDF) came out a little while ago, and is about what you’d expect if you know anything about the real situation (as opposed to myths promoted within academia): more than half of all Ph.D. holders in STEM fields work outside academia, mostly for private companies, about half of them doing R&D the rest doing managerial sorts of things. Some of the reporting on this was phrased really oddly, though– this news article, for example, was promoted via tweets talking about “race and gender gaps” in Ph.D. employment, which creates a very particular expectation as to the results. In reality, though, it’s kind of a muddle– they highlight the percentages of non-white groups in various categories of jobs, but you have to read really carefully to see that there’s not much of a difference, and not a very clear pattern that fits any of the usual narratives. Which is probably why it hasn’t gotten a lot more play in the week or two I’ve had the tab open…

– In the not-too-distant past, Nate Silver’s new Five Thirty Eight site launched, promising to bring “data journalism” to a wider range of fields. A lot of their initial efforts were met with derision, but as a casual follower of the site, I mostly like the stuff they’re putting out. This is in no small part because a lot of their articles remind me of the sort of quick-and-dirty number-crunching things I sometimes do here (see the playing-with-graphs category. If I had free time, I’d try to figure out how to pitch them something. I think the problem is that they seem to be doing two kinds of things: one is taking data sets of various types and doing a little math on them to tease out some results, and these are mostly very good, like the economic analysis of the Bechdel Test. The other is running short reports on any news story with a statistical component, involving basically no original reporting, like the college ROI piece Chris Chabris hated. Less of that sort of thing would be good, but they’re still in the early stages, so we’ll see where the site lands.

– Speaking of public wonkery, the other high-profile new journalistic endeavour from Ezra Klein et al., Vox.com launched even more recently than Silver’s site. I haven’t really had time to read much from them, but I’m in favor of more in-depth explanations of things, so I’ll be checking it out.

– I generally like this Atlantic piece on “The Culture of Shut Up” but explaining why in a manner that isn’t easily misread leading to outrage would take too much work. There’s irony in that.

– This kerfuffle in literary academia seems relevant to my interests, but I haven’t had time to really dig into it.

– Chuck Klosterman wrote a really long thing about Kiss at Grantland. I’m largely indifferent to Kiss, but I’m a sucker for anything Klosterman writes.

– Craig Finn and Tad Kubler of the Hold Steady pick their favorite songs off each of their six albums (their new record, Teeth Dreams, is outstanding), and it’s pretty awesome. I can’t help wondering, though, if Galen Polivka (the bass player and the other member of the band who’s played on all six records) isn’t sitting at a computer somewhere muttering “I have opinions too, y’know…”

Also, Kate and I are going to see them in Albany tonight, and I’m extremely psyched for the show. I saw them in a tiny bar back in 2009 and it was awesome.

So, that’s enough to put a significant dent in the number of tabs I have open making me feel guilty about not blogging about any of these topics. I hope to have some actual science here next week.