Friday links: Brazil’s National Museum gutted by fire, and more (UPDATED)

Also this week: niche poetry, scientist confessions, new NSF grad student supplemental funding, and more.

From Jeremy:

Everyday authoritarianism is boring and tolerable.

Google’s new Dataset Search tool. (ht @noahpinion)

Postdoc Jiaqi Tan on adapting to America as a Chinese student.

Inspired by this: hello, my name is Jeremy, I’m a PhD ecologist who’s been using R for 10 years, and I still have to google how to do pretty much anything in R.

Steve Carpenter shares a limerick about niches. Had me thinking back to our epic comment thread of dueling clerihews. If you missed that thread, do yourself a favor and click through. Our commenters are amazing. 🙂

From Meghan:

Brazil’s National Museum burned last weekend, leading to catastrophic losses. I can hardly wrap my head around these pictures taken by Fernando Sousa of ADUFRJ, yet I also can completely envision people I know doing the same:

Some folks from the museum are hoping to collect photos taken at the museum. People are encouraged to send photos and videos from the exhibits (even selfies!) to thg.museo@gmail.com (Jeremy adds: Absolutely terrible news. The museum housed the oldest human skeleton discovered in the Americas, the original proclamation of Brazilian independence, Egyptian and Greco-Roman collections, paleontology and natural history collections, and other irreplaceable artifacts. I can only imagine how devastated Brazilians feel.) (UPDATE: see the comments, where Emilio Bruna elaborates on and slightly corrects my summary of Brazil’s declaration of independence. The documents were not housed at the National Museum.)

The US National Science Foundation has announced a supplemental funding opportunity to provide up to 6 months of support for graduate students with these goals:

  1. To provide graduate students with the opportunity to augment their research assistantships with non-academic research internship activities and training opportunities that will complement their academic research training;
  2. To allow graduate students to pursue new activities aimed at acquiring professional development experience that will enhance their preparation for multiple career pathways after graduation; and
  3. To encourage the participation of graduate students from groups that have traditionally been underrepresented and underserved in the STEM enterprise: women, persons with disabilities, African Americans/Blacks, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Native Pacific Islanders, veterans, and persons from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

9 thoughts on “Friday links: Brazil’s National Museum gutted by fire, and more (UPDATED)

  1. I always appreciated the part in Chase and Leibold (2003) when they discussed niche-related curlews. It was a well-needed dose of satire in a pretty dense (and fascinating) book.

  2. The National Museum did not house the original declaration of Brazilian Independence. The formal declaration of independence was signed by Dom Pedro in 1822 is in the National Archives (also in Rio de Janeiro).

    It’s a bit complicated, but the TL;dr version is that Princess Maria Leopoldina, in her capacity of Regent of the Kingdom of Brazil, made the decision to sign a decree of Brazilian independence on 2 September 1822. She signed the decree at the Imperial Palace of São Cristovão, which in 1892 became the new home of the National Museum. The National Museum wasn’t just any building – it was the Imperial Palace of the King of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves.

    Incidentally, Princess Leopoldina’s signed declaration didn’t make it to her husband Dom Pedro until 5 days after she signed it, at which time he read it and shouted “Independence or Death!” That’s why Brazil’s Independence Day is September 7th.

    • PS Leopoldina spoke 11 languages and was a savvy politician. Brazilian independence is a spectacular example of “Smart Woman makes the tough call, does all the hard work, and Dude gets all the credit”.

      • Hey, I think my explanation may have confused further (though to be fair it is pretty confusing). To clarify – neither the proclamation signed by Leopoldina nor the ‘official’ proclamation of independence were housed at the National Museum or lost in the fire. Well, I guess Leopoldina’s proclamation was housed in the palace, but only for the 5 or so minutes between her signing it and it being handed to Paulo Bregaro, who then hopped on a horse and galloped with it to São Paulo.

        The destruction in the fire of the Lei Áurea and of documents related to independence were among the more pervasive rumors floating around social media. The National Archives eventually put out a statement to clear this up and explaining the independence archives are kept by them. http://arquivonacional.gov.br/br/component/content/article.html?id=1248

  3. I am still struggling to think about the National Museum and not crying.
    It was not just our most important museum, but also a milestone of Brazil as a Nation. When it was founded by Dom Pedro I, it was intended to be a symbol that Brazil was no longer just an exploitation colony, but a country. It was our first academic institution.
    I feel like part of my identity as a Brazilian, and more specifically, as a Brazilian scientist has burned. And worst, being from a small town in another state and from a low-income family, I had never the opportunity to visit it.

    • My heart goes out to all Brazilians. As someone from the US, I’ve been struggling to imagine what the equivalent experience would be for me. The closest I can imagine is if the entire Smithsonian museum complex, plus some National Mall monuments, plus the White House burned down. And devastating as that would be to me, even that wouldn’t really be the same, because none of those buildings or their contents is as central to my identity as a scientist or an American.

      • If the NM burning were a completely unpredictable incident in a moment of prosperity and development, it would still be a disaster, but I think I would feel differently. However, that is not the case. This incident is just one more symptom of the extreme underfunding of the universities, academic institutions, museums and science going on in Brazil over the last years.

        So, if the foundation of the NM was a symbol of Brazil as a Nation, now many of us see its destruction as a symbol of our failure in such an objective. It’s a terrible reminder that everything we already achieved, can be lost in the blink of an eye.

      • Yes, you’re absolutely right of course. A better US analogy (though still a very imperfect analogy), would be for much of the National Mall to burn after an extended period of neglect due to broader economic decay and/or political dysfunction.

        It’s disturbing that that this is not a completely far-fetched hypothetical, and illustrates the importance of acting to prevent or reverse the underlying decay that would lead to such an awful event.

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