Science Seminars from Harvard

Oooh Harvard is doing some pretty interesting free seminars. I love things like this and wish these types of things could happen more often. Science doesn’t deserve to get locked into an ivory tower.

Most of the topics are pretty popular right now, but someone aren’t, and this is all really cool, guys :D. The topics and their dates are (along with my commentary)

Antibiotic Resistance: Super drugs for superbugs (9/25)

I’m kind of sad this one’s already passed, because antibiotic resistance is pretty damn important.  The CDC on antibiotic resistance.

Earth Formation: The making of planet Earth (10/2)

….I’m a biologist, I have little clue, I’m sorry!

Sparking Scientific Curiosity: (R)evolutions in the way we teach and learn (10/9)

Communicating science is one of the things I think isn’t taught particularly often and is often not emphasized enough, which is kind of why I’m glad Harvard is doing this entire thing after all :D.

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Monday Miscellaneous

Kansas picks the “I can’t hear you!” method for combating climate change.

Now the state’s “Committee on Energy and Environment” is proposing a law that would prohibit spending on anything that won’t set Kansas on a course to self-destruction. House Bill No. 2366 would ban all state and municipal funds for anything related to “sustainable development,” which it defines as: “development in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come.”

This guy makes beer in his gut. I’m not sure what to think of this.

The patient had an infection with Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Cordell says. So when he ate or drank a bunch of starch — a bagel, pasta or even a soda — the yeast fermented the sugars into ethanol, and he would get drunk. Essentially, he was brewing beer in his own gut. Cordell and McCarthy reported the case of “auto-brewery syndrome” a few months ago in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine.

In less pleasant news, brain-eating amoeba discovered in Louisiana.

An oldie-but-goodie: Gay marriage and databases.

Boston’s MBTA is switching up its maps [HT: AmiableBowfin].

Cliff on gender presentation and how other people treat you:

I used to think a certain level of trolling and insulting was just the base state of the Internet, just something you had to thicken your skin to because Internet’s gonna Internet.

Then I changed my name from Holly to Cliff.

This dad is awesome: My Son Wears Dresses; Get Over It

I’m a father. I signed on for the job with no strings attached, no caveats, no conditions. I can name every Disney Princess and her movie of origin. I’ve painted my son’s nails and rushed to remove it when he was afraid that he would get teased for wearing it. I didn’t want to remove it, I wanted to follow him around and stare down anybody who even thought about teasing him. I only removed it because he started to have a panic attack. It was his decision and if he wants to edit himself to feel safer, I’ll do it. Every time. No questions asked.

Brute Reason: Why you shouldn’t use mental illnesses as metaphors. This entire essay is totally worth reading.

But the dilution of mental illness terms might have another, more insidious effect, and that is changing our mental schemas of what mental illness looks like such that it’s less and less serious, and treating it accordingly.

Wikileaks leaks movie script about Wikileaks:

In an internal memo posted alongside the screenplay, WikiLeaks calls the film “work of fiction masquerading as fact” and offers a point-by-point listing of its concerns with the film’s creative liberties, including depictions of harm caused by WikiLeaks, the role of Daniel Domscheit-Berg, and the discussion of charges against Assange. It notes that “there are very high stakes involved in how WikiLeaks is perceived.

And a minor personal update: Turns out growth lights – yes, the ones you buy if you want to grow plants indoors – roughly approximate SAD lights, but are so much cheaper.