Archive for the 'Positive Actions' category

ScienceOnline and Followup to #ScioSafe

Let's start by acknowledging that I was not at SciO14, so obviously I was not at the impromptu/spontaneous #ScioSafe session. Had I been at SciO14, I am sure I would have been at #ScioSafe. I hope that I would have done a good job of listening and doing my part to help create an environment where people felt safe to speak up and share.

I have the greatest admiration and respect for EVERYONE who participated in that session. And I have great sympathy for those who might have wanted to be there, but didn't find out in time. It's too bad they couldn't have had access to such a session on the regular conference agenda, as many have noted.  I do think it's entirely possible that what occurred in #ScioSafe could only have taken place outside the official boundaries of SciO14. Okay, in an ideal universe, the board of ScienceOnline spent the past year dealing head-on with their Boron-issues, got a lot of professional advice, and brought in some top-notch facilitators to help the heal the community. They had a plenary session in which they reviewed what happened, explained exactly what steps will be taken to change the culture, and outlined concrete plans for improved communication.

Roseanne Connor once said "I'm still waiting for chocolate air!" in response to sister Jackie's statement that she was waiting for Roseanne to say she was right. Organizations will be direct, effective, and rapid in their response to Boron-like disasters sometime shortly after we have chocolate air. They have to be pushed, nagged, prodded, dragged, "incentivized", and sometimes, reinvented, to make things better. Oh, you think you are hoping to just slide by this year with the "recent events" euphemism and some hand-waving in the direction of "boundaries" and then whoosh! back to "real" scicomm and on to 2015!  Well, maybe. Except, no. ScienceOnline as an organization should be thanking its lucky stars that it has dedicated and passionate members who want to make it into what it should be - a welcoming space for everyone who wants to talk about science online.

It's easy-peasy to be just one more unwelcoming, non-inclusive, harmful kinda conference. Nobody needs to attend a Scio conference. They aren't part of professional organizations, universities don't necessarily support attendance costs, the eclectic mix of professionals, students, and academics thus far drawn to SciO have to be choosey with their conference dollars. Why go someplace where you know there are serious issues that are festering and unlikely to be fixed, especially if it's an informal sort of get-together? Might as well go to the usual unwelcoming places that are official career-builders. So kudos to the people trying to do SciO a favor and make it better.

If you haven't already, read the summary of the #ScioSafe session here at Doc Freeride's blog and give some serious consideration to the seven items listed in the document session attendees produced. As far as I'm concerned it's all pretty much a no-brainer, except for part of #5. I think the SciO org desperately needs to clarify what, if any, relationship they still have with Bora Zivkovic, and what, if any, they currently plan to have with him going forward. Then let the community descend with pitchforks and torches decide how they feel about that. In my dream world, Boron is invited to be the keynote speaker at a conference on using social media for science communication but when he shows up, he is put on a rocket ship and sent to Neptune. I will admit that the rocket ship to Neptune is my preferred, albeit impractical, solution for dealing with all harassers. If SciO does its job right in creating a community that is truly welcoming and inclusive and safe, and that does not support or reward bad behavior, there will be no need to ban the Borons of the world. The community will make their existence so difficult they'll seek easier places to do their dirty work.

That's what I would like to see, beyond creating a community where people feel safe to report bad things that happen to them, knowing the perpetrators will be dealt with: I would like to see a community that makes bad actors less likely. I would like to see a community that plays a role in building better communities. Not just the stick, and punishment after the fact, but something like a carrot. Actions to prevent occurrences are a start, and then it would be wonderful to be part of growing a crop of folks who create inclusive environments wherever they go, because they have the tools to do so.

I think this is part of science communication, and part of what science online can and should try to accomplish. The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) offers a rotating series of mini-courses that can be taken for accreditation, to develop skills that medical writers need. There are skills that science writers need, and of course there are places you can go to take such courses. But ScienceOnline could offer something no one else does. I would like to see development of a set of courses that are offered on a rotating basis, maybe for some sort of accreditation, if SciO becomes a member organization. Participants would learn how to foster inclusivity through communication. Here are some topic ideas:

1. What is inclusive language - and will it ruin my beautiful prose? (Subtopics to be covered include: his/her is so awkward!; you people can't take a joke; lame is just an expression!; what's wrong with talking about hard & soft skills?; we just want "the best and brightest")

2. What is an inclusive lab group and what communication skills does it need?

3. How do I write about a scientist who is a woman without mentioning her knitting?

4. Is it ever okay to mention the knitting of a scientist who is a woman?

5. There's more to February and March than George Washington Carver and Marie Curie

6. Got privilege? Leverage it as an ally online!

Those are just some off the top of my head ideas, I'm sure you people working out there in real science communication can think of better ones, but you get the idea. Now go forth, my friends, and get to work. ScienceOnline isn't going to invent chocolate air without your help.

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Young and Healthy? Your New Year's Resolution: Buy More Insurance!

Welcome to 2013, Zuskateers, and yes, I want you all to buy more insurance, pronto!

I'm not talking car insurance; if you have a car, you no doubt already have it insured. I'm just going to assume you have it insured properly. I'm not talking health insurance either because whatever your situation, there's probably not a whole lot you or I can do about it, even with that socialist Obamacare that's ruining America even as we speak.

And I'm not even talking about gun insurance, which is a dream that may yet some day come true.

Nay, the insurance I speak of is life and long-term care insurance.

If you are really young and healthy, you probably have neither, and this is not good. Every day that goes by increases the risk that you/your family members will need to use this type of insurance, and decreases the likelihood that you will qualify to purchase it, at least at anything like an affordable rate.

Let me give you an example. Some time in my late thirties, my employer offered employees the option to purchase long-term care insurance for themselves and/or for family members, including parents. The insurance was also portable, meaning I/family members could take it with us if/when I left that employer. I was concerned about planning for my mother's future and so we applied for the long-term care policy for her. Myself? I was hale and hearty, and saw no need to "waste" my salary on long-term care insurance premiums. Within two years I had a stroke and that, Zuskateers, was the end of my lifetime opportunity to buy long-term care insurance.

Mr. Z's company recently offered a policy to employees and spouses. Before filling out the application proper, I had to answer three questions, one of which was "have you ever been denied for long-term care insurance?" and another of which was "have you ever had [cancer, heart attack, stroke, etc.]?" A yes answer to any of the three questions leads to this instruction in large bold print: Do Not Fill Out This Application. That's because a yes leads to  automatic denial.  And you don't want to be denied for long-term care insurance if you hope to someday get long-term care insurance. Not that you will be able to get it, what with the cancer/heart attack/stroke stuff. This is known as irony. Of the two of us, I am more likely to need long-term care, and need it sooner, therefore of course the insurance companies will only sell it to Mr. Z. This is why you must buy the insurance when you still can't foresee any need for it.

So Zuskateers, if you are still pre-cancer/heart attack/stroke/other medical disasters, and you have a chance to get yourself some long-term care insurance, you buy it. You make room in your budget, and you buy it. (After you make sure that it is a good policy that actually provides useful benefits.) Do you have any idea how much assisted living costs? I'm not talking nursing home care, I'm talking assisted living. Or in home care? This stuff is pricey. I assure you, it is not too early to start learning about the various types of senior living options. If it's still awhile till you need this information for yourself, you may need it for a parent or other elderly relative sooner than you think.

Just don't kid yourself that you are going to stay your same hale and hearty present self for the rest of your life. This is known as magical thinking.  Injuries, accidents, illnesses can happen in a flash and change your life forever.  Yes, you can eat well and exercise and take care of yourself the best you possibly can, but Fate can have its way with you, and that you can not control. So: long-term care insurance.

The other piece of the insurance pie is life insurance. You're young, you can't imagine what's the need. What will you do with it? You'll be dead after all, won't you? Okay, first of all: life insurance pays out immediately after a death. Those folks are prompt. So if nothing else, your family members will have ready cash on hand to cover your burial expenses. Second: are you a two-income family? You are, right? I don't think there are many 1-percenters reading this blog. What will your family do if one of those incomes is suddenly lost through death? How will your surviving partner/kids cover the bills, the rent/mortgage, everything? Hint: life insurance will help.  Are you a single parent? How do you expect your children to be cared for if something happens to you? I'm sure you have someone in mind to look out for them if the unthinkable happens, but wouldn't it be much better if these kind souls had an insurance benefit to help provide for them?  Yes, it would.

Again I use myself as an example: I have a life insurance policy that is provided through my disability insurance (that itself came through my last employer). If something happened to me, this would help Mr. Z compensate for the loss of my disability income. This insurance policy, however, is only in effect until age 65. Ideally I would purchase something else to compensate for the fact that this policy will go away someday - except, of course, insurance companies aren't thrilled about insuring people who have had strokes. Safe to say it's best to buy your insurance before you've had any major health issues.

So my young and healthy Zuskateers, your New Year's resolution: get thee to an insurance agent. Get some quotes from several agents. Learn about long term care policies, learn about life insurance, learn about the level of coverage you need now to protect yourself and your loved ones.  I mean it.

The gyms are all going to be way too crowded the first two weeks of January anyway. You might as well take this time to begin your insurance research.

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Are You A Mentor? Or A Dementor?

Contrary to popular belief, dementors are not just imaginary creatures who live in J. K. Rowling’s imagination and the Harry Potterverse.  Anyone can be a dementor, at any time, to anyone.  Most of us, given the choice, would likely rather be a mentor than a dementor, I think.  But can you recognize the signs – in yourself, or in another?  Herein I offer a wee guide.

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When to Tell? Who to Tell?

The most awesome Hermitage asked in a recent post

Ignoring the fact that knowing who to even complain to, and to what purpose, is not always clear, how bad does something have to be before you are compelled to take a stand? Should the criteria be severity, or simply how easy something is to prove? Should you always do the right thing, or should your career come first?

I wrote a long comment that sort of turned into a mini-post.  I'll reproduce it here. My answer was written assuming that what was being complained about was harassment or discrimination.  One main point I wanted to get across is this:  DO NOT WAIT until you have been harassed or discriminated against to try to figure out what you should do when you have been harassed or discriminated against.  Read and educate yourself about your school or workplace's relevant policies and procedures, understand how things would officially be handled and what that would imply for you.  Go talk to someone at the office of diversity or the equal opportunity office (where a complaint might be likely to be handled).  If your university has a women's studies department, ask them for resources to help you understand the situation women in science face in academia and how to respond to harassment and discrimination (tell them you don't need to read high theory, you need practical stuff about dealing with douchebags).  An informed woman scientist is one who is less likely to be harassed, and more likely to be able to aid a colleague who is dealing with a problem.

Okay, here's the rest of what I wrote over at Hermitage's place.  I encourage you to go read her post and the comments there, too.  Continue Reading »

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Smart Girls at the Party

Via Gerty-Z - thanks so much for alerting me to this site!

Smart Girls At The Party!

As Gerty-Z notes,

the tagline [is] "change the world by being yourself". Now, that already sounds pretty awesome. BUT, if you poke around you will find that it is set up by three super-awesome women: Amy Poehler, Meredith Walker and Amy Miles. They interview women and girls who do cool stuff

Valentine is a gardener.  And there are many, many more cool videos and other things on the site.  Share this with every young girl you know!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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Hunger Relief vs. Poverty Relief: I Vote For More of Both

Last Saturday I came home from the farmer's market, made mega-veggie eggs for me and Mr. Z, and blogged about it.  Zuskateer Kea commented

All very well if you can afford it.

And she's right.  I am extremely fortunate both to be able to afford nutritious fresh produce, and to have good sources of it readily available to me. In parts of Philadelphia with high poverty rates, there are no grocery stores at all, and corner bodega shops may carry little or no fresh produce.  A recent series of articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer about efforts to support community gardens and teach young children about gardening and good eating habits revealed that many young kids in the city don't even know what fresh fruits and vegetables look like, and can't identify them by name when they are shown them.  This is an abominable situation.  Our young children, and the parents struggling to raise them, deserve better. Continue Reading »

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Life, With More Pancakes

Now is the time when all good people make rash vows with a eye towards extreme personal makeovers.  I will go to the gym eight times a week, lose seventy-five pounds, cook a nutritious meal from locally sourced whole foods every night, and read Proust rather than follow the appalling antics of those housewives on Wisteria Lane!

Well, let's be realistic, shall we?  You've been watching Desperate Housewives all these years, and haven't been able to take your eyes off the train wreck yet. You're not going to stop now, no matter how stupid and offensive the storyline gets.  Really, Susan?  Holistic medicine instead of dialysis?  It was on the internet, though, so it must be a viable alternative.  If you don't get around to the Proust, at least read the TWOP commentary on DH: "Mary Alice starts off on this tangent about broccoli but ends up in this super weird, Monsters Are Due On Maple Street kind of Red Scare Paranoia thing that is, no doubt, the reason Republicans love this show so much. That and the Mexican jokes. "It's a question we all ask ourselves: Do I trust the folks who live next door? Can I count on the woman who lives down the block?"  That is not, Mary Alice, a question or set of questions that "we" all ask ourselves, with any frequency really at all. I understand that, as a murderess and kidnapper and wife of a lunatic and victim of blackmail and chopper-up of toy box-crammed corpses and associate of drug addicts you might think that this is healthy paranoia but it's really not. Not even with Paul Young's spicy self buying up all the property like we're on Park Place do those questions really count. This sort of thinking is how somebody like Bree ends up with guns."

Ah, internet. I love you, I love you not.  Connectivity to like minds, a blog to exercise the brain since chronic migraines pushed me out of the workforce, and Television Without Pity. All good. Online seduces, of course, precious sands of time dropping one by one down the hourglass - a quick login to Facebook here, a fast check of three email accounts there, just browse by that forum to see what's doing and post a comment or three, catch up on the blogs, a TWOP show summary, and call it a day. Literally.

Over the past couple of years, more and more of my life, and the interactions that have mattered to me, have moved online.  There's nothing special about me in that regard, but I've spent some time in the past month thinking about it, and whether or not I want it to continue that way.  Of course, here I am online to tell you about it.

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Nearing the end of DonorsChoose: Can we help Mrs. T's Kids????

Nov 09 2010 Published by under Donors Choose, Positive Actions

Zuskateers, you amaze me.  Together you have donated $822 to help 638 kids discover the joys of science and math.  Does $822 not sound like a lot of money?  Consider that your $822 will be matched, dollar for dollar, by the folks at HP, so it's really $1644.  And consider that the Zuskateer total is 8% of what the Pharynguloid hordes of Secular Scientists for Education have managed to cough up.  Given that I am pretty darn sure that PZ's traffic is approximately eighty bazillion times mine, I think we can be pretty proud of ourselves.

But let's not quit yet!  Because Mrs. T's classroom needs help, and there is only one day left on her project, Science Is Fun When You're Learning With Pflumm!  A mere $252 will bring the following into reality:

My Students: Science should be FUN! The Agnes Pflumm books provide students with an opportunity to read about science and the scientific method while truly enjoying what it is they are reading.

My students come from a diverse array of backgrounds and cultures. The school I teach in is a Title I school so many of my students come from an inner city home. These 7th graders are eager to learn and are at the perfect age to truly experience science. I see 7th grade as a perfect time to get them excited about science by encouraging them to explore and investigate the world around them. I want these students to have an opportunity to experience science, to do science and to develop a love of science at a young age. I try to incorporate opportunities for each child to experience successful learning and these books provide many students with that success.

My Project: By utilizing the Agnes Pflumm books, students learn about the scientific method, an essential concept in science, all the while enjoying the experience of reading in the content area. Students start to develop ideas about their own research projects and begin to visualize themselves as young scientists in the making, all the benefits of a true learning experience. Students become problem solvers while learning.

These students are tomorrows engineers, technicians, scientists. Inspiring a love of science and learning now, will help them to realize that they can pursue a career in science in the future. Part of inspiring that ambition is to make learning fun.

ZOMG I would so love to see this project fully funded!  ONE DAY LEFT!  November 9 is the last day!

Find this project on my giving page here.  Or follow the link in the sidebar widget.

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OMG! 2 Days Left For Math Success!

Nov 05 2010 Published by under Donors Choose, Positive Actions

You are all so wonderful! Apparently many of you felt that WWABD is what you would do, too - the "Put Money Into Our Hands" project now has only $179 to go to be completely funded!  Yay! (And for those of you who are not able to give, I understand that, too.)

And this morning I see that the Math Success project, with only two days left till it expires, needs $51 more to complete its funding.  I just donated $25 to it (which won't show up immediately on the giving page) so all we need is $26 more and Mrs. K's classroom in Concord, NC will have the following project funded! (Giving page link in the widget at the sidebar, or go directly here.)

Math Success!

My Students: Imagine learning how to count money and tell time by doing worksheets. Now imagine being 7 years old and having to sit in one place for the duration of the worksheet. I know many adults who struggle to do this and the same is true for children. My students need hands on math experiences to succeed.

My students live in rural low income neighborhoods. They attend a Title 1 school, where many of the children receive free or reduced lunches. Many of my students live in government-supported homes. Their parents often work late to provide for them. Although they want the best for their child, they struggle to keep up with their child's learning needs. They lack the money and resources to practice the skills they learned at school. My students rely on me to provide them with adequate resources to grow as a learner.

My Project: The materials I'm requesting include a variety of math games that cover many of the skills they will need to master at the end of second grade. These skills include number sense, telling time, geometry, measurement, and fractions. The games can be played individually or in small groups. I can also send the games home as homework for my students to play. The games are also multi-leveled so I can use them to challenge my high students and support my low students at the same time. They include all the materials my students will need to complete the assignment. My students will be able to practice and apply the skills they learned in math. This will ensure that they don't forget or lose those skills later in the year.

Like many adults, children need to see the value of math in real life to truly understand and appreciate it. These games provide real life situations where my students need to apply their math knowledge. Mastering these skills in second grade will build a solid foundation in math for the rest of my students' lives. hide»

My students need Help-Yourself Multilevel Math Centers to practice their math skills.

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WWABD? Help This DonorsChoose Project!

Nov 04 2010 Published by under Donors Choose, Positive Actions, WWZD

On a recent trip to my hometown area, I had a chance to chat with my beloved Aunt Betty.  She ran a small drygoods store in a town by the river for well over 50 years.  She only very recently retired, and handed the reins of the store, which is mostly unchanged by time, to a local potter who now displays her wares and those of other local artists there.  Aunt Betty's store was beloved among generations of children for two things: milkshakes, and "penny candy".

In our chat, Aunt Betty told me that young children would often come in to the store with a handful of coins and ask, "what can I get for this?"  Aunt Betty would tell them, "well, you have a quarter, a dime, and a nickel there.  That makes 40 cents." Then she would tell them what each type of candy cost and let them pick and keep track of how much their choices had added up to.  Sometimes they would pick something that took them over their total. So she would say, if you want that, you have to put something back.  Always she would guide them through the choices - and the math involved.  In this way she helped them learn to add and subtract, and how to count money, make change, and make choices on a tight budget.

So what would Aunt Betty do?  What would you do, if you didn't have the opportunity to help kids the way Aunt Betty did through her store, but you read about a project like Mrs. T's:

My Students: Counting money is not only a skill taught in school, but it is a skill vital to everyday life. Children tend to have a hard time with counting money, particularly calculating change. Please help put money in the hands of my students!

My class is a diverse group of learners! I am a second grade teacher in a public inner city school. Most of my students come from economically disadvantaged families. My classroom is an inclusive classroom serving regular education students, special education students, mentally gifted students as well as many of them being English language learners. Many of my students' parents do not have the money to provide their children with even basic school supplies. Thus, the financial burden of supplying 20-plus students with these materials falls on me. After spending the money on these everyday necessities such as paper, notebook, and pencils, it is not possible to purchase other materials that can assist and enhance learning.

My Project: I am requesting a class set of play, but realistic looking, coins and paper money, as well as coin stampers. This will allow my students to hold money as they learn to count and make change, not only making the lesson more enjoyable but more realistic. The coin stampers will be used independently by the students working in small math centers. I am also asking for a class set of large magnetic coins and paper money so that I am able to use them in the front of the class and be seen by all of my students. This request also includes geometrical shapes that once again can be used to enhance an otherwise paper and pencil lesson into a hands on experience for my students. Finally this proposal calls for various math games to increase active engagement and enthusiasm in the classroom.

With your help, I will be able to provide my students with various hands on experiences throughout our math lessons. These materials will not only serve to create an enthusiasm for learning but will enhance participation and learning on a daily basis. I appreciate the time you have taken to read my proposal. Thank you for your consideration. My students are definitely worth the effort!

My students need 12 Math supplies to enhance math skills, particularly, in the areas of counting money, and geometry.

Only $304 is needed to completely fund this project, but any amount you give will help.  Remember that your dollars will be matched by the good folks at HP!!!!!  Five dollars is ten dollars!  If you have already given I thank you most kindly, and if you have been thinking of giving, maybe today you can ask, WWABD, and go for it!!!

My giving page is here, or use the link in the sidebar widget, and you will find Mrs. T's project on the giving page.  If this project doesn't interest you, there are lots of other good ones on other Scientopia bloggers' pages or other science blogger giving pages.

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What Could You WIN If You Donate To DonorsChoose???

Oct 21 2010 Published by under Donors Choose, Positive Actions, WWZD

Maybe you've read my initial post on the Science Bloggers for Students DonorsChoose 2010 challenge, maybe you've seen the widget in my sidebar that takes you to my giving page.  Maybe you've already donated at my giving page (thank you!) or another blogger's (thank you!), or are thinking about doing so.  You wanna help the kids!

But hey, there's something in it for you, too!

I have been reading (and will soon be reviewing here on the blog) Lise Eliot's very interesting new book, Pink Brain Blue BrainZuskateers who donate toDonorsChoose via my giving page will have the opportunity to receive a free copy of this book! Free!  Book!  FREE!  BOOK!!!

Here's how:

Donate.

Get your receipt from DonorsChoose via email.

Forward a copy of your receipt to me at:  bobtownsuz AT yahoo DOT com.

All donors will be entered into a random drawing to win a free copy of the book.  Up to five books will be given away, so you've got a great chance to win one!!!!

Why You Want This Book:

The book synopsis says, in part, " By appreciating how sex differences emerge - rather than assuming them to be fixed biological facts - we can help all children reach their fullest potential, close the troubling gaps between boys and girls, and ultimately end the gender wars that currently divide us."  Wow, that's a lot of promise for one book!  You gotta read it and see what's in it.

But mainly, until you get my full review, here's the one sentence Zuska take on it:  It's the geektastic version of "what to expect when you are expecting" - now with satisfying smackdowns of science woo-peddlers!!!

So donate.  Remember, skip that half-caf pumpkin latte today, give $5 to DonorsChoose which becomes $10 through the generosity of our friends at HP, and presto!  you're in the running for a FREE! BOOK!   

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What Could Your DonorsChoose Dollars Do?

Oct 20 2010 Published by under Donors Choose, Positive Actions, WWZD

If you were so inclined to lay down a few bucks at my giving page, just what kinds of good might you be doing?

A classroom in New Castle needs calculators.

Remember coloring with crayons when you were six?  How nice if your school could afford them.  $173 to go, and a bunch of six-year-olds in Reading, PA will have crayons and art supplies.  Just $251 to go to help some kids in Pittsburgh learn through the senses!

You know you don't have to fund the whole thing.  Your little bit will be added with someone else's little bit.

PLUS!!!!!!!!!!  GUESS WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

EVERY donation to "Science Bloggers for Students" will be MATCHED by the good friends of DonorsChoose at HP!  Yes!  You give $5, it's like giving $10!!

How it works:  At the end of this blogospheric philanthropic craziness, DonorsChoose will automatically double the amount of dollars donated to the Giving Page of every participant.  Every one of you fabulous souls who donates, whether to my giving page or another in the SBforS showdown, will receive a gift code via email.  You can then redeem that gift code on a project of your choice.  The gift code will be for a portion of the total match.  For example, if the challenge raises $30,000 overall, and there are 1,000 donors, each donor would receive a $30 gift code.  Is that not fantabulous???????

We're already at about $20k from all the participating blogs so you could have some nice fun money to be philanthropically generous with at the end of all this just by giving $5 or so.  Wouldn't that be nice???  I think so!!!

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DonorsChoose 2010: Science Bloggers Raising $$$ for Students!!

Oct 20 2010 Published by under Donors Choose, Positive Actions, WWZD

October means Halloween, but it also means, for many science bloggers, DonorsChoose!

Because a lot has been going on IRL for me, and I am feeling not creative, I am totally going to swipe all of Janet Stemwedel's introductory prose about this worthy philanthropic challenge. If you don't want to read the whole thing, the short message is: kids & teachers in public schools need your help.  Donate.  Or spread the word, if you can't donate.  My giving page here. Other participating bloggers here. Info on prizes for those who donate will be forthcoming.

In the science-y sectors of the blogosphere, folks frequently bemoan the sorry state of the public’s scientific literacy and engagement. People fret about whether our children are learning what they should about science, math, and critical reasoning. Netizens speculate on the destination of the handbasket in which we seem to be riding.

In light of the big problems that seem insurmountable, we should welcome the opportunity to do something small that can have an immediate impact.

This year, from October 10th through November 9th, a number of science bloggers, whether networked, loosely affiliated, or proudly independent, will be teaming up with DonorsChoose in a philanthropic throwdown for public schools.

DonorsChoose is a site where public school teachers from around the U.S. submit requests for specific needs in their classrooms — from books to science kits, overhead projectors to notebook paper, computer software to field trips — that they can’t meet with the funds they get from their schools (or from donations from their students’ families). Then donors choose which projects they’d like to fund and then kick in the money, whether it’s a little or a lot, to help a proposal become a reality.

Over the last few years, bloggers have rallied their readers to contribute what they can to help fund classroom proposals through DonorsChoose, especially proposals for projects around math and science, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, funding hundreds of classroom projects, and impacting thousands of students.

Which is great. But there are a whole lot of classrooms out there that still need help.

As economic experts scan the horizon for hopeful signs and note the harbingers of economic recovery, we should not forget that school budgets are still hurting (and are worse, in many cases, than they were last school year, since one-time lumps of stimulus money are gone now). Indeed, public school teachers have been scraping for resources since long before Wall Street’s financial crisis started. Theirs is a less dramatic crisis than a bank failure, but it’s here and it’s real and we can’t afford to wait around for lawmakers on the federal or state level to fix it.

The kids in these classrooms haven’t been making foolish investments. They’ve just been coming to school, expecting to be taught what they need to learn, hoping that learning will be fun. They’re our future scientists, doctors, teachers, decision-makers, care-providers, and neighbors. To create the scientifically literate world we want to live in, let’s help give these kids the education they deserve.

One classroom project at a time, we can make things better for these kids. Joining forces with each other people, even small contributions can make a big difference.

The challenge this year runs October 10 through November 9. We’re overlapping with Earth Science Week (October 10-16, 2010) and National Chemistry Week (October 17-23, 2010), a nice chance for earth science and chemistry fans to add a little philanthropy to their celebrations. There are a bunch of Scientopia bloggers mounting challenges this year (check out some of their challenge pages on our leaderboard), as well as bloggers from other networks (which you can see represented on the challenge’s motherboard). And, since today is the official kick-off, there is plenty of time for other bloggers and their readers to enter the fray! [Note to TSZ readers: I am totally getting in the game late.  But you still have time to join in!]

How It Works:
Follow the links above to your chosen blogger’s challenge on the DonorsChoose website.

Pick a project from the slate the blogger has selected. Or more than one project, if you just can’t choose. (Or, if you really can’t choose, just go with the “Give to the most urgent project” option at the top of the page.)

Donate.

(If you’re the loyal reader of multiple participating blogs and you don’t want to play favorites, you can, of course, donate to multiple challenges! But you’re also allowed to play favorites.)
DonorsChoose will send you a confirmation email. Hold onto it; some bloggers (including me) will be offering donors nifty prizes. Details about the prizes and how to get them will be posted here soon!

Sit back and watch the challenges inch towards their goals, and check the leaderboards to see how many students will be impacted by your generosity.

Even if you can’t make a donation, you can still help!
Spread the word about these challenges using web 2.0 social media modalities. Link your favorite blogger’s challenge page on your MySpace page, or put up a link on Facebook, or FriendFeed, or LiveJournal (or Friendster, or Xanga, or …). Tweet about it on Twitter. Sharing your enthusiasm for this cause may inspire some of your contacts who do have a little money to get involved and give.

Here’s the permalink to my giving page.

I’ll be sharing links to other giving pages, plus details about some fabulous “thank you” prizes, soon. Thanks in advance for your generosity.

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Zuska's Dreamy New Hunka Burning Love

oh. my. fucking. god.
I sooooooo wish I had thought of inventing FEMINIST HULK!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am in love with Feminist Hulk. In love. LOVE! Love, I say!
Hat tip Rebecca of Adventures in Applied Math.
UPDATE: Ms. Magazine interview with my new love!

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Solving Gender Equity Issues One Long, Slow, Pleasurable Step At A Time

We are a mere ten years into the 21st century. No jet packs for all yet, but things are moving at a lightning pace at Yale in the policy area.

After more than a quarter century of debate, Yale faculty members are now barred from sexual relationships with undergraduates--not just their own students, but any Yale undergrads.

Well you may ask: can we still nail grad students and postdocs?
Look: PI's and/or faculty really should just satisfy their sexual needs elsewhere. Not with the students, not with the grad students, not with the postdocs. It is not good for anyone. I know, I know, you know a prof who screwed his grad student and they got married and it was a dreamfest. Spare me. You are completely unaware of all the collateral damage such relationships inflict, and the fact that even such "happy outcomes" are not without conflict and cost for the blissful Mrs.Biggy McSchwingerdick.
But oh, the humanity. What are we to do? Especially now that spring is upon us, and the sap is rising!
For god's sake, just siphon off a little of that overhead money everyone contributes and give all the d00ds a Travel Jackmaster. At home, in the lab, in the car, the restroom after teaching class with all those horny coeds, whatever. Ladeez may choose from any of a wide selection of vibrators. The Original Venus Butterfly is pretty in pink and oh-so-discreet. Committee meetings will be ever so much more fun.

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