Thursday, May 24, 2018

POLL: Support for marriage equality now 67% Yes 33% No

I'm still on vacation in Iceland but could not resist posting the information that public support for marriage equality has now been completely inverted in the last two decades, from 2:1 opposition to 2:1 support! I have been working for and involved with the freedom to marry movement since the early 1990s so this result is quite heartwarming.


Monday, May 21, 2018

EYE CANDY: Raciel Castro (4th Time)

Raciel Castro is one of my all-time favorite models who has appeared on Eye Candy. Today is my birthday and Raciel was the first person I thought of (closely followed by Simeon Panda and Mike Thurston) as my favorite male models to appear as Eye Candy on this special day.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

#IDAHOT: May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia

Today is May 17, the day selected to celebrate sexual and gender diversities. Officially it is known as the "International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia" or #IDAHOT.

May 17 is chosen to commemrate the anniversary of the date in 1990 when the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

#NSF REPORT: U.S. Doctorate Recipients At Near All-Time High (2016 Data)

The National Science Foundation has released its annual Survey of Earned Doctorates and there are some interesting nuggets in the data (up to 2016):

  • The largest share of doctorates awarded in 2016 was in the life sciences (nearly 23 percent), followed by engineering (17 percent), and psychology and the social sciences (16.5 percent). All fields of humanities and arts made up 10 percent of doctorates awarded.
  • The time between students entering graduate school and receiving doctorates has fallen in all fields of study over the past 20 years, but, on average, it still takes years longer to earn a doctorate in non-S&E fields than in S&E fields.
  • The number of S&E doctorates awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents grew 2 percent since 2015 and 39 percent since 2006. The number of doctorates in S&E fields awarded to temporary visa holders grew 2 percent since 2015 and 20 percent since 2006.
  • The number of doctoral awards to temporary visa holders is highly concentrated -- 10 countries accounted for 71 percent of the doctorates awarded to temporary visa holders from 2006 to 2016. The top three countries -- China, India and South Korea -- accounted for 54 percent of the doctorates awarded to temporary visa holders.
  • Women have earned a slight majority of all doctorates awarded to U.S. citizen and permanent residents each year since 2002, and women have earned more than 30 percent of all doctorates awarded to temporary visa holders over that period.
  • From 1996 to 2016, the number of women earning degrees in S&E fields increased by 84 percent.
  • The number of doctorates awarded to blacks or African Americans who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents increased by 32 percent from 2006 to 2016. For the same period, the proportion of doctorates earned by Hispanics or Latinos increased by 67 percent.
One key take-away for me is that 1) Latino doctoral recipients now outnumber African-American and that the gap between male and female STEM doctorates is actually slightly widening, even as both numbers increase (see the graphics at the top of this page).

Hat/tip STEMPROF newsletter edited by Mark Connolly.

Monday, May 14, 2018

2018 Vacation: Reykjavik, Iceland and Paris, France (May 18-30)

I'll be on vacation from May 18th through May 30th as I celebrate my birthday. The Other Half and I will be traveling to Reykjavik, Iceland (6 days) and Paris, France (5 days). On this trip I will be attending the 2018 French Open!

Posting on the blog will be light, but I invite you to follow me on Instagram (@ronbuckmire) and Twiiter (@madprofessah)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

2018 MADRID MASTERS: Thiem Hands Nadal His 1st Clay Court Loss Of The Year

Rafael Nadal lost his first match on clay in over a year in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open. Last year Nadal had won the tournament by defeating Dominic Thiem in the final, but this time he lost to Thiem in the quarterfinals. The King of Clay had won a record 50 consecutive sets on clay before losing two in a row (7-5 and 6-3) to the Austrian resident of the World Top 10.

Nadal's loss means that Roger Federer will regain the World #1 ranking, but if Nadal wins the Rome Masters, he can regain the Top ranking before the French Open begins on Sunday May 27. (NOTEMadProfessah will be attending the tournament in person this year!)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: One Damned Things After Another (Chronicle of St. Mary's, #1) by Jodi Taylor

I’m glad that I finally got around to reading one of Jodi Taylor’s time-traveling comedic novels known as the Chronicles of St. Mary's series. I started with he first book in the series, Just One Damned Thing After Another.

Although it didn’t resonate for me as much as it has with other readers I definitely appreciate the craft it took to pull off a book which is both explicitly funny, action-packed and pure speculative fiction. There's a reason why every entry in the series has a Goodreads average rating  score in the 4.0 range, often with 10,000+ ratings.

The main character in 
Just One Damned Thing After Another is Madeleine Maxwell (everyone calls her “Max”) and JUST ONE DAMNED THING AFTER ANOTHER follows her as she joins the St. Mary Historical Society, discovers time travel is real and has lots of exciting (and dangerous) adventures. Max is great and one of the primary strengths of the book. The other important characters in the book include her boss Professor Bairstow, her immediate supervisor Leon Farrell and the other historians she goes on excursions into the past with.

I do think the writing is well done (although at some points it seems a bit stenographic  in nature with the inclusion of an excessive level of detail in the minutiae of the characters regular daily tasks, including their morning ablutions). It’s very hard to get snark and clever asides with exactly the right tone and I think the author successfully accomplishes that throughout. However, what didn't work for me was the general angst of the main character and her obtuseness about her relationships with other people. In addition, although it is somewhat admirable, I also became tired at the author's penchant for killing off rather important characters, people she had spent a significant time letting the reader get to know. If this what happens in Book 1, I'm mildly curious about how she is able to sustain this as the series continues.

Unfortunately, the book as a whole didn’t really resonate with me and I don’t think I’ll be reading any of the many sequels (up to Book 8 as of this writing). I do think it’s a great premise and would make a very compelling screen adaptation. In the end, though, I appreciated the book more than I actually enjoyed reading it. I suspect I may be in the minority of readers for whom that is true and that is quite alright with me.

Title: Just One Damned Thing After Another (Chronicles of St. Mary's, #1)
Author: Jodi Taylor
Paperback: 348 pages.
 Accent Press.
Date Published: June 1, 2013.
Date Read: April 29, 2018.

★★☆  (4.0/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).

Monday, May 07, 2018

EYE CANDY: Pierre Vuala (reprise)

Pierre Vuala is a bodybuilder and model who has appeared as Eye Candy  before (August 25, 2014). He has well over 26,000 followers on Instagram (@pierre_vuala). These pictures above are examples of why. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 03, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library is the first book in the long-running series by the same name written by Genevieve Cogman. I had been looking forward to reading this book because the series tends to have relatively high average ratings on Goodreads as well as a LOT of ratings. I ended up being somewhat underwhelmed by The Invisible Library as a whole. 
The world building is somewhat interesting and the main character is sympathetic (although definitely annoying at times). The story is based around a mission by a librarian named Irene who is given an apprentice named Kai and together the two travel to an alternate reality to retrieve a work of fiction that the interdimensional Library  wants. There are all sorts of interesting aspects of the story which clearly can be developed further in subsequent volumes: there is a special "language" librarians use that allows them to do the equivalent of magic. The alternate realities have different manifestations of technology and magic. There is a dissident ex-Librarian who is now persona non grata  but who clearly has special powers and disturbing information about the mysterious Library. But the plotting is uninspiring; this is one of the few books where I could clearly predict what was going to happen and had figured out key plot points dozens of pages before the characters in the books did. 

However, the writing is spiffy and humorous and that’s why this is a solid 3.5 stars. But there’s something about the whole affair that just seems juvenile, in a way that made me feel that, as a middle-aged reader, I was most definitely NOT the target audience for this book. That’s fine, other books have provided me that feeling and I have still enjoyed reading them (most notably Rachel 
Caine’s The Great Library series which utilizes a somewhat similar premise of an all-powerful library dominating world events and also seems to be either eared towards young adult readers or at the very least is YA-adjacent).

I’m aware that this is the first book in a popular series and I’m happy that there are more books by the author that others are enjoying but I don’t feel a strong desire or need to read any more of them.

Title:  The Invisible Library (Invisible Library, #1).
Genevieve Cogman.
Paperback: 320 pages.
 Tor UK.
Date Published: November 15, 2015.
Date Read: March 20, 2018.

★½☆  (3./5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: B (3.0/4.0).



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