Clearly this is quite a bit later than it was supposed to be but, since I had already picked out the links, I decided I would finish it. However, I’m giving up on the weekly quicklinks; they were supposed to help me get some easy writing done in my spare time but they turned out to be a lot more effort and stress than they are worth.
The Japanese name for the wolf also means “great god.”
This article suggests that giving wild animals names, instead of just numbers or other designations, helps reduce the sense that humans are separate from the rest of nature.
I’ve seen this in quite a few places, it’s a piece arguing that PhD training needs to be reformed. Now I’m not saying that PhD training (or universities in general) are perfect, they’re not. There are many things that can be improved but I don’t think this article is on the right track. In my opinion, many of the sort of issues that the article talks about are neither failings of PhD nor university education but a failure of society and expectations. A degree at any level is not supposed to prepare people for jobs. It’s supposed to provide domain-specific knowledge while building general skills in critical thinking, research and learning. It’s up to employers to provide job-specific training. There is also a problem of credential inflation where even basic jobs now require a degree, no matter how unnecessary that is. Furthermore, while I fully agree that we should value PhD graduates and that they can help find solutions to various problems, I think framing that as a key role of PhD training is sorely misguided. I say that because we don’t need more solutions! Look at the biggest problem of today – global warming. We already have renewable energy options, we know how to build public transport, we know how to make food more sustainable, we know we can cut back on consumption. The problems are not scientific, they are political. There is no political will to make the necessary changes. Most other big problems, from Russia’s war in Ukraine, censorship, human rights, equality and so on, those are all political problems that we can, in principle, solve today.
In the early years of my blog, I occasionally did a “quicklinks” post which just included links to items of interest and a brief description. I didn’t do too many and that sort of short interaction was later taken over by Twitter. In an attempt to boost my activity, if not full-length posts, I thought I might try doing a weekly set of quicklinks that I’ve shared on Twitter. It will not necessarily include everything I see and share there but, hopefully, the most interesting and informative links.
The Royal Society reports that Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer of evolution by natural selection, was born yesterday in 1823.
When I was in Port Elizabeth last week, I went, with friends, to the Tsitsikama Wolf Sanctuary. It is currently the only wolf sanctuary in South Africa and houses a number of wolves from zoos or that were originally kept as pets. Because of how they were raised, they can no longer be released into the wild. Even if they could be, they are not a native species to South Africa. It’s nice to know that there are people that are looking after these beautiful animals and, if you are in the area (It’s about an hour and forty minutes drive outside of Port Elizabeth), I would recommend a visit to support them. You can see some of my own pictures from the day below. Continue reading →