Friday links: readme and weep, overly honest index, and more

Also this week: overhead vs. grants, wear your heart Hegel on your sleeve(less dress), the joy of fishy math proofs, “it’s the real numbers, but multiplied,” and more.

From Jeremy:

The joy of slightly fishy math proofs. I’m reminded of Phil Plait’s trick for calculating the area of the sky.

A suggestion that the US federal government should slash and cap overhead rates on research grants, and reallocate the money to giving more grants. For some comparative perspective, my US colleagues may be interested to know that that’s more or less how things work in Canada: overhead rates are fixed at the Federal level, and paid out in a lump sum each year to each university based on how many federal research grant dollars the university was awarded. I’m skimming over details, but that’s the gist. And if memory serves (which it may not), overhead rates in Canada are below what US universities usually charge. To be clear, I’m not approving or disapproving of the linked suggestion. It just seems worth thinking about to me.

A former PhD student in evolution at the University of Colorado is suing his ex-adviser for defamation, and suing the university for breach of contract. The student had a falling-out with his supervisor in 2015 and was subsequently unable to secure a new PhD adviser, eventually leaving the program with a master’s degree. Just passing on the news in case you are interested. I have no further information beyond what’s in the link, and no opinion on the case because I can’t form an informed one based on the information available.

As the Software Carpentry saying goes, your most important collaborator is you six months from now, and your past self doesn’t answer emails. 🙂 (ht @kjhealy, from whom I shamelessly stole the “readme and weep” joke in the post title)

This week in figures don’t lie but liars do figure: “Everything he said was true, up to a linear transformation.” 🙂

Somebody should make these for Princeton Monographs. Orange would become the new black. 🙂 (ht Marginal Revolution)

And finally:

(ht @jtlevy)


5 thoughts on “Friday links: readme and weep, overly honest index, and more

  1. Cutting overhead is a worthy discussion, but we should then consider starting with unfunded federal mandates that overhead does fund. For example, in the US, we are now required to complete 10 hours of Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training every 2 years. That’s not a big deal for any individual scientist (though it applies to all technicians and students too), but it is an opportunity cost of 25% of one work week (at least for techs), plus someone has to develop the RCR modules, someone has to deliver the RCR modules (cannot be online only unless live), someone has to account for the hours and report them. It’s an unfunded mandate. There are others too, for example, on summer averaging of fieldwork time for undergraduate interns that was apparently caused by new Obamacare rules. The new regs require substantial new reporting, and that requires someone to do the reporting. One complaint about US Universities is that they continue to become admin-heavy. At least some of the fault is from unfunded mandates from the federal government. Most of the mandates have good intentions. Who doesn’t support responsible research? But who pays for the mandate?

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