Five Good Things – Thursday Longreads Edition

Five things I encountered today that were interesting, educational, beautiful, edifying or that I otherwise found to be…well, good. None of these are promotions and I do not receive any benefit from sharing them. I just like them.

Today instead of the usual assortment of randomness, I have a collection of longer articles I found interesting. Hope you all enjoy!

download (3)1) The Washington Post has a great article and interview with George Lucas about Star Wars, past and present, and how he views his role in the franchise. A little sad, to be honest, but really interesting stuff.

download (4)2) Buzzfeed has an anonymous account from a Mormon who is also a lesbian about her experience growing up queer in the church and why she is staying in the church, and staying out, for as long as she can despite their draconian policies regarding same sex couples. It’s a very moving read.

download (5)3) As I was listening to a friend help her son with his spelling homework yesterday, I was once again struck by what a weird, messy language English is. Aeon magazine helps unravel why this is.

download (6)4) The Atlantic has a great run down of where our gene-editing technology is, and what we might do with it in the future. There’s a ton of potential for its use, both good and bad – as any sci-fi fan knows well enough.

d739b8b7035) The journal Nature offers some ideas for what to do about the fact that there are way more PhD students than there are suitable jobs for them. Unfortunately using a giant donut to lure them off a cliff and reduce their numbers isn’t one of them.

Five Good Things for 11/30/2015

Five things I encountered today that were interesting, educational, beautiful, edifying or that I otherwise found to be…well, good. None of these are promotions and I do not receive any benefit from sharing them. I just like them.

Oh, the cruelty of the Monday after a four day weekend! Although I shouldn’t complain, as many people (particularly those in retail) did not get a four day weekend or even a weekend at all. And mine was delightful and relaxing, although that does make coming back to work all the more jarring. If you’re feeling the same, here are some pleasant diversions to ease you back into the routine.

1 & 2) This weekend I was introduced to two amazing webcomics I just have to share, both by trans artists/writers. The first, The Satrians, is about a family of telepathic aliens who adopts a human child. Humans aren’t telepathic, so in their world the child is disabled. Super cute and using all gender-neutral pronouns (Satrians have no concept of gender) it’s both entertaining and a real interesting perspective on gender and disability. Star Trip is an adventure comic about a girl traveling the galaxy with a shapeshifting companion, which is gender and race inclusive as well as just plain fun.

MV5BMTg2NjI2MTMzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTcwODIwNjE@._V1._CR80,50,1280,1800_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_3) Jemaine Clement (of Flight of the Conchords and What We Do in the Shadows fame) has a new movie, available on Netflix, called People, Places, Things. I watched it last week and really enjoyed it. It’s a small indie romantic comedy about love, family, and divorce, with a very sweet heart. Funny and cute, but not saccharine, it’s a great pick if you’re in the mood for something lighter but not devoid of meaning.

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Five Good Things for 11/23/2015

Five things I encountered today that were interesting, educational, beautiful, edifying or that I otherwise found to be…well, good. None of these are promotions and I do not receive any benefit from sharing them. I just like them.

I’m a little late getting this up, but I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I had a very relaxing one myself – saw friends, went to the farm market, binged watched all of Jessica Jones… Of course all my relaxation was erased by waking up at 3 am this morning after sleeping perfectly well Friday and Saturday nights. But that’s just how I roll. Here’s some goodness to ease you into your (abbreviated) week!

31) Horseback riding and fishing may not seem like related activities, except maybe if you ride a horse to your favorite fishing spot. But these fishing horses of Belgium do much more than just provide transport – they help trawl and haul in the catch. What cool and strong animals!

download (2)2) Arrested Development might be the funniest sitcom ever made and is certainly queen of the running gag. The gags are so on-going and complex, in fact, that you might despair of ever catching all of them. NPR has a solution for this – they’ve developed an interactive chart of all the repeating gags and how they relate to each other over the course of all four seasons. Impressive. I think my favorite running joke, though, is that Tobias is actually a Black man.

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Five Good Things for 11/18/2015

Five things I encountered today that were interesting, educational, beautiful, edifying or that I otherwise found to be…well, good. None of these are promotions and I do not receive any benefit from sharing them. I just like them.

I can’t believe we’re nearly halfway through the week. I feel like I’ve spent most of it so far being anxious about one thing or another. Hopefully the second half of this week will be calmer. Here are some things to take your mind off whatever is stressing you out this week.

albert-einstein-messenger-portrait1) The Atlantic has a great history of science article on how Einstein’s Theory of Relativity came to be accepted. The story  also goes to the broader point of how bias in science can stall progress for decades. Scientists are just as vulnerable as anyone else to bias, and if you’re working off the wrong set of assumptions, you’re gonna get the wrong answer. Which, I think, is something we could all do to remember.

ArmedAndSexyLeia-OfficialPix2) “Can We Talk About Why We Really Love Princess Leia?” is a great little essay on the true strength and allure of Leia Organa. Despite in some ways falling into a very traditional mythological role in the original trilogy, she’s really a subversive figure, and even more so in the Expanded Universe. I hope some of our new lady characters in the upcoming films can carry on her legacy.

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Five Good Things for 11/11/2015

Five things I encountered today that were interesting, educational, beautiful, edifying or that I otherwise found to be…well, good. None of these are promotions and I do not receive any benefit from sharing them. I just like them.

I know I’ve been sparse with the regular content this week, but I hope to have a few things up later. Work’s been crazy but at least I’m off today so I can stop writing boring technical papers and start writing fun blog posts. Man, I need to find something to do that doesn’t involve sitting in front of a computer.

Women_Vets_Served1) Today is Veteran’s Day, which is why I’m not at work. For most of us, it’s just a day off work (if that), but I think it’s important to at least take a sec to remember the people who fought in wars on our behalf and who keep us safe in peacetime. However you feel about the military or about any particular war, I think we can all agree that those who have served deserve respect and help they don’t often get. I’d like to bring attention to our woman veterans, particularly, who face unique challenges and often don’t have support services tailored to their needs. There have always been woman veterans but today there are more women than ever who are dealing with the aftermath of combat. A great program that help woman veterans is Final Salute, and I encourage you to visit their website, learn about the issues woman veterans face, and donate.

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Turkish Honey, Trader Joe’s, and an Entomology Lesson.

turkish-honey
 The suspect.

So, I was at Trader Joe’s last night for some groceries. I grabbed a bottle of their “Turkish Honey” and was about to toss it in my cart when something on the label caught my eye. It read: “Produced by bees foraging nectar primarily from Rock Rose, Citrus, Wildflowers, & Turkish Pines.”

If you know anything about plants, your head may have just exploded.

Tree_on_a_mountain_-_from_monastry_of_Semen_Stolbnik_near_Aleppo_-_Syria
 Pinus brutia (Turkish pine)

If you don’t, let me explain. Pine trees belong to a branch of the plant lineage called conifers, and one of the defining characteristics of a conifer is that it doesn’t have flowers. Not ever. Not even a little. This group split off from the group known as angiosperms, which contains all flowering plants, before flowers even evolved. No flowers, no nectar. As a botanist, the suggestion that bees might be getting nectar from any kind of pine tree caused a minor meltdown in my circuits, right there in the dry goods aisle.

Continue reading “Turkish Honey, Trader Joe’s, and an Entomology Lesson.”

Five Good Things for 11/5/2015

Five things I encountered today that were interesting, educational, beautiful, edifying or that I otherwise found to be…well, good. None of these are promotions and I do not receive any benefit from sharing them. I just like them.

4fabb1873570a6b1b4a1976fe1d33d1fToday is grey, rainy, cold, and slow at my job. It’s too early to start the weekend but I’m so over this work week. I’m really feeling Arthur Dent’s famous sentiment. Thankfully, I’ve got some great diversions to get us through this one.

Screen-Shot-2015-05-29-at-10.22.54-AM1) Okay, this is local news but I’m still excited and I think it’s relevant nationally. It looks like Salt Lake City has elected a new mayor, Jackie Biskupski, who is only the second woman to hold the position, and the first openly gay (and first single mother) mayor in our city’s history. Those of you who haven’t spent much time in SLC are probably shocked by this, but despite the often rightfully deserved conservative and bigoted reputation of the state of Utah, SLC actually is very welcoming to the LGBT community. And while I’m excited Jackie is making history here, outsiders will also be surprised to learn how little of a deal her orientation was in the campaign. I think that’s the best part of all – we didn’t elect a lesbian mayor, we elected a mayor who just happens to be a lesbian.

2) I feel totally vindicated by this Aeon Magazine article about how the indecisive often make better decisions that those who choose immediately. I’m notoriously indecisive and I always want more data to be sure I’m picking The Best Thing, whether it’s an entree or an apartment. The few times I have made a spur-of-the-moment decision on a big purchase (my last car and my last computer) I regretted it. So stop getting annoyed with me at restaurants, already!

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