open science enthusiast ~ software developer ~ under the sea code monkey
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Some resources for the data science ecosystem

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ref my talk at CSUPERB, "Data Science is, like, the new critical thinking!" --

Training and teaching

Datacarpentry.org - the home base for Data Carpentry, which runs two day workshops around the world and has an instructor training program that teaches people to teach their materials.

data8.org - the home base for the UC Berkeley "Foundations of Data Science" course. All open/free materials running with open source tools.

Reading and background

Influential works in Data-Driven Discovery, a paper by Mark Stalzer and Chris Mentzel, that outlines topics that probably fit within the "data science" field.

Project Jupyter: Computational Narratives as the Engine of Collaborative Data Science, a grant proposal by the Jupyter team.

Some Web sites worth visiting

mybinder.org - a Web site for running Jupyter Notebooks in the cloud, for free! Try out my Monty Hall problem notebook! (or see the source).

Media for thinking the unthinkable by Bret Victor - an inspiring video lecture that I happened across as I was preparing my talk...


Please add resources below in the comments!

--titus

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codersquid
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WE'RE HIRING! JOIN THE JOOJOO AZAD TEAM

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ANNOUNCING TWO NEW *PAID* INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES!

Want to be working on an activist fashion blog, producing an ethical clothing line, working to organize a Chicago-based sewing co-operative of refugee women, building an online community platform to share voices from around the world, building a network and collaborating with Muslim creatives and creatives of color internationally, spending time with someone who is perpetually craving ice cream (that's me), AND making money? Read on.



The long-awaited Winter/Spring JooJoo Azad internship is here! Due to high volume of applications/interest and larger project needs, there is not one but TWO internship openings for Winter/Spring: Marketing Editor & Project Assistant! Both internships are 20 hours per week for 6 months and interns are paid a stipend at the completion of the internship.

While the Project Assistant internship is only open to Chicago-based applicants (as you'll be working directly with the refugee sewing co-operative), the Marketing Editor internship remains open internationally! 

The JooJoo Azad internship is designed to support AMEMSA (African/Middle Eastern/Muslim/South Asian) women/femmes who are building their empires -- in entrepreneurship, journalism, media, and personal creative projects--and work with them in developing and furthering their networks, connections, portfolio, writing, community organizing, and leadership. We cannot rely on our oppressors to tell our stories. We must document our own narratives. 

Creative, activist-minded AMEMSA women/femmes who are ready to take sh*t down--online and offline--are encouraged to apply! 


Note that you do not have to be a USA citizen to apply!

Application deadline is January 31, 2018 and interviews will take place the following week. The position will begin early February 2018 and interns are expected to work a minimum of 20 hours a week for 6 months, and after completion of the internship will receive a stipend. Click the link below to learn more about each position, as well as more information on application information.


POSITION DETAILS + APPLICATION INFORMATION


Happy applying, and can't wait to read your apps! 

P.S. Have unanswered questions? Join me on Instagram live on Saturday, January 20th at 10am CST for a Q&A session! 


<(')
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codersquid
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From Science to SciComm

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I made a downloadable workbook/guide for science PhD students and postdocs who are interested in a future career in science communication. Why? Because this didn't exist yet, and until now everyone just had to figure it all out on their own.

When I first joined MetaFilter many years ago, I was a grad student in biochemistry. I was mostly interested in a non-research career, and had a vague sense of "science communication" as a thing, but it took me over a decade of struggling, attending conferences, blogging, moving countries, and working on various projects to finally get to a point where I had a good grasp of what a career in science communication entails.

So I wrote this guide to help other people, and they seem to find it useful!
The main thing I learned in the past decade, and what I try to convey in the workbook, is that a career in science communication requires a completely different way of thinking about yourself, your skills and your audience than scientists are being trained to do.

MeMail me to get a discount code for 40% off, just for MeFites :)

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codersquid
2 days ago
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It’s Been That Kind of Day, So Please Accept This Picture of a Cat Who Is, Frankly, All Over Your Brand of Nonsense

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I feel you, Spice. I truly do.

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codersquid
2 days ago
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this cat is, frankly, not going to put up with your shit.

speaking of cats, my cat was totally bad-ass yesterday. he's an indoor cat, but one of the morning rituals is to let him go outside to poke around the backyard a bit. He occasionally does a pee or poo, but mostly he likes to walk around and chew on some grass before dashing in.

Mr Goofy looked over the snow covered lawn then hopped out and ran through the snow to do his thing. You be you.
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Most children and teens with gender dysphoria also have multiple other psychological issues

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GettyImages-811322022.jpgBy Alex Fradera

New research on gender identity disorder (also known as gender dysphoria, in which a person does not identify with their biological sex) questions how best to handle the condition when it arises in children and adolescents. Should biological treatments be used as early as possible to help a young client transition, or is caution required, in case of complicating psychological issues?

Melanie Bechard of the University of Toronto and her colleagues examined the prevalence of “psychosocial and psychological vulnerabilities” in 50 child and teen cases of gender dysphoria, and writing in a recent issue of the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, they argue their findings show that physicians should be considering these factors more seriously when deciding on a treatment plan. Salting the situation, one of the paper’s co-authors is Kenneth Zucker, an expert on gender dysphoria who was last year considered too controversial for Canadian state television.

As recently as 2013, Zucker headed the American Psychiatric Association’s group deciding the diagnostic criteria for gender dysphoria, but he fell from grace in 2015 when he was fired from his clinic at the Toronto Centre for Addiction and Mental Health for failing to follow the now prominent “gender-affirmative” approach that places a clinical emphasis on smoothing the process of gender transition for children and adolescents who say they no longer identify with their biological sex.

Zucker’s approach, in contrast, was more hesitant and he questioned the ease with which young people can draw conclusions about their gender identity during a universally tumultuous stage of life. He also placed more emphasis on the costs that transition may bear upon an individual. To say that he considered transition a last resort would be as much of a caricature as saying the gender affirmative approach considers it a first resort, but they clearly represent different points on this spectrum.

To Zucker’s critics he was a transphobe, his approach analogous to gay conversion therapy (the now widely condemned use of psychological therapy to attempt to alter a client’s sexual orientation) – for example, he reportedly advised some parents to discourage their younger children from behaving in ways that contradicted their assigned gender.

Last year, hostility toward Zucker’s views was substantive enough to lead the Canadian broadcaster CBC to pull a BBC documentary that reported his perspective. For his part,  Zucker continues to maintain that his priority has always been the wellbeing of his clinical charges. The recent article that he co-authored with Bechard and others puts into the scientific record one of the concerns of his clinic, that gender dysphoric youth are a psychologically vulnerable population.

The paper examines the case files of 17 people assigned a male gender and 33 people assigned a female gender, at birth, based on their biological sex. Following their experience of gender dysphoria, the clients had been referred to a specialist gender identity service for young people, at which time they were aged 13 to 20. Sixty-four per cent of the clients were homosexual with respect to the gender they were assigned at birth.

The researchers looked for evidence of 15 factors that can signify or contribute to psychological issues, from self-harm to a previous outpatient therapy visit, and found that over half their sample had six or more of these factors. The majority had two or more prior diagnoses of a psychological disorder, the most common being a mood disorder such as depression. More than half had reported thinking about suicide, a third had dropped out of high school, a quarter had self harmed. A history of sexual abuse was rarer, observed in ”only” 10 per cent of cases.

All these measures are likely to be underestimates because they depended on the clients’ own descriptions during their initial interview at the gender identity clinic. Without a control group, it’s hard to say whether these rates of psychological distress are higher than for other client groups. Certainly though, the findings are consistent with the sense that these individuals were already in a state of psychological vulnerability when they were referred for gender dysphoria.

Bechard’s team present in-depth examples of two clients, both assigned as female at birth, that bring these psychological complexities to life, demonstrating the kinds of situations these cases often involve.

The first individual was very intelligent but struggling socially, especially around girls. They were fixated on emphasising their femininity in selfies, leading the parents to suspect body dysmorphic disorder (a troubling belief that there is something wrong with one’s body). This individual’s boyfriend then came out as gay. Sometime following this, the client disclosed that they identified as a boy. This change in identity happened “overnight” with no developmental history of cross-gender identification.

The second client’s history is more convoluted: at around age 12-13 this individual had disclosed that they were transgender (now identifying as male), and had felt this way for a while. This individual also had a history of anxiety, social problems interacting with girls, and extreme anxiety about sexuality. From the point of disclosing their gender dysphoria, they also reported that they were gay (oriented towards men) but had no interest in romantic/sexual relations.

In both these cases, after an initial assessment the individual was given testosterone treatment by a physician against the wishes of the parents – in the first case, the physician actually refused to meet the parents, and in the second, the physician recorded that the issues raised by the parents regarding anxiety, sexual and social problems weren’t relevant for the course of action. Sadly, in the case of the second individual, a few months after the start of the hormone treatment, they made a suicide attempt that required hospitalisation; the reasons for this were not reported.

Are the indicators of psychological vulnerability identified in these case histories the consequence, cause or simply coincident to gender identity disorder? If they are all solely a fall-out from the gender dysphoria, then the decisive approach of the physicians described above has a certain sense to it. But if some of the psychological complications pre-dated the gender dysphoria, or were separate from it, then at the very least this would suggest that the consulted physicians should have considered a broader treatment plan, and considered the psychological complications when judging their clients’ “readiness” to commence biomedical treatments.

The possibility that disclosure of gender dysphoria may in some cases be driven by earlier psychological vulnerabilities and social problems seems likely to be greater than zero. This is a controversial idea among many online trans activists, but actually it isn’t among health practitioners, even those who espouse the gender affirmation philosophy, who recognise that some young gender identity referrals may be transiently mixed-up individuals.

The issue of pre-existing or concurrent psychological vulnerabilities also speaks to the fact that a substantial proportion, perhaps even the majority, of children who experience some form of gender identity challenge, later come to endorse the gender they were raised as (further commentary and discussion); the new findings may also be relevant to the experience of detransitioning individuals, who reach similar conclusions, but often after a much greater investment in the process of transition – a phenomenon that is struggling to get scientific attention.

However, when a child with gender dysphoria is “insistent, persistent, and consistent” over an extended period, then (under the gender affirmative approach) this is typically treated as a good indicator that it is appropriate to begin facilitating the transition process. The trouble is, psychological vulnerabilities can also be persistent, and if a young person feels like they’ve found the solution, it’s understandable that they might not want to let go.

Life can sometimes feel as complicated as the Gordian knot, the legendary challenge that was seemingly impossible to disentangle. It’s understandable to weigh up a radical solution, like Alexander the Great cleaving the knot with a single sword-stroke: to abandon your external environment for a new home, to step outside of the confines of an identity that may be the source of the myriad issues plaguing you.

This research from Bechard, Zucker and company provides preliminary evidence about the psychological vulnerabilities of children and teens with gender dysphoria, extending previous work that’s shown high rates of self-harm and suicidal ideation in this group, but more research is required to give us the full clinical picture. As such, this new paper represents just the latest sally in a difficult, complicated conversation that’s far from over: a conversation about how we can most compassionately treat those who feel out of step with where they find themselves in the social world.

Psychosocial and Psychological Vulnerability in Adolescents with Gender Dysphoria: A “Proof of Principle” Study

Alex Fradera (@alexfradera) is Staff Writer at BPS Research Digest





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codersquid
2 days ago
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This article is problematic on so many levels and I haven't had time to chase down all of the links to challenge them. I don't even know if it is worth the time to do that.

Back when trans friends came out to me, I read trans 101 articles and FAQs so I'd know more. I also was interested in how children can be supported so I dug a tiny bit and found https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20646177 which to me indicates that the best practice is to allow children to take puberty suppressing drugs to give them time. In that article, all of the children decided to go forward with gender reassignment. "No adolescent withdrew from puberty suppression, and all started cross-sex hormone treatment, the first step of actual gender reassignment." Perhaps by now (or soon?) there is (will be) enough medical understanding to let kids have puberty when they want (say, at the same time as their age cohort instead of making them wait).
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Beyond "MLK-lite": MLK Day 2018

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Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day here in the United States.  As I've discussed in previous years, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is my favorite American holiday because it's a holiday about hope for a better world.

I think King's ideas are as relevant as ever in our current Trumpian, bigotry-resurgent times.  These days it often seems that my country and other parts of the world are deliberately moving against everything King stood for, which makes being familiar with King's actual ideas all the more important.  As his daughter Bernice King said in a recent tweet,  "Let's be weaned off of MLK-lite."






The encouraging of "MLK-lite" is one of the regrettable effects of the King holiday, what Cornel West and others have also called "the Santa-Clausification" of King.  We choose a few inspiring quotes, often taken out of context, to turn King into a non-offensive feel-good motivational speaker.  We conveniently forget that he was jailed dozens of times, blocked traffic, spoke out against the Vietnam War, empathized with rioters, worked with organized labor, and died in Memphis while supporting a sanitation workers' strike.

But worst of all in my opinion, we forget his ideas.  We turn nonviolence (a specific philosophy as challenging as it is inspiring) into a fluffy, Disneyfied toothless individual sentiment.  We (especially, it must be admitted, my fellow white Americans) turn King's trenchant critiques of racism, classism, materialism, economic injustice, and militarism into "I don't see race" and "I judge everyone according to the content of their character."

But don't take my word for it.  Please read King's work for yourself.  I recommend starting with the speech, "Where Do We Go From Here?" which includes the famous bit about "the arc of the moral universe," a quote that is often taken out of context.  I also recommend actually reading the entirety of "I Have a Dream" (not just the quotable bits) as well as his masterful (and deeply philosophical) "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."  And of course his books are all well worth reading.  My favorites are Strength to Love (which includes the idea of a "tough mind and a tender heart" - a chapter I often assign in my philosophy classes) and Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (his last and most challenging book).

I have some other ideas in my MLK Day posts from previous years: "A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart" from 2015 (on the importance of both critical thinking and compassion), "MLK, Social Justice, and Science Fiction" from 2016 (which includes the story of how King convinced Nichelle Nichols to say on Star Trek), and "The Moral Arc, Philosophy, and Science Fiction" from last year (where I get into the deeper meaning of the notion of a "moral arc").

My wish for MLK Day 2018 is that we stop making this about holiday about imagined nostalgia and rose-tinted worship of an American hero-saint (which King wouldn't have wanted in any case).  My wish is that we can make this day into an honoring of the struggles of the past and a frank appreciation of how far we have yet to go.  But most of all I would like to see MLK Day become a holiday of hope that, despite so many contemporary appearances, we do have what it takes to get to the mountain top.

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