Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Family Leave, Nerdy Babies, Feline Guest Post

For some reason that is probably related to my shortcomings as a blogger and a human, I typically ignore requests to post announcements and links of various sorts, and, strangely enough, I do not respond to requests for guest posts from people who are clearly sending out form letters and have absolutely no clue what this blog is about.

But today I am going to change all that, at least for today, sort of. I am going to post an announcement, a link for a shopping site, and I am going to allow a guest post from one of my cats, all in one post. It is pretty incredible, I know, but I am feeling festive today. Not so much, though, that I am ready to do one of those meme-things (yet).

Perhaps I am feeling happyish today because someone wrote to me asking if they could quote one of my posts about having a Christmastime Birthday. This is not the first such request. If I am remembered for anything, it seems that it will be for this statement:
In fact, I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for the creator of "For Your Christmas Time Birthday" cards (especially the ones with birthday cakes surrounded by poinsettias and holly). (FSP 2006)
Anyway, here is an important announcement about a topic of interest to astronomers and others:

Would you be interested in posting about our effort to improve family leave policies for graduate students and postdocs in our field (astronomy)? 

Since posting our petition to encourage the establishment of family leave policies by departments and fellowship committees only a few hours ago, we already have over 300 signatures. As in all fields, supporting early career scientists is a hot topic for us. 

from: the American Astronomical Society Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy

p.s. In addition to the petition, we recently sent a survey to all astronomy department chairs in an effort to catalog current formal policies and existing practices. (We already know that most grad students and postdocs fall through the cracks). We will use these two pieces of information to create a formal recommendation from our American Astronomical Society. We will also share examples of departments which have succeeded in funding more progressive family leave policies for graduate students and postdocs in our field.  

And here is a link to a site where you can acquire some nerdy baby gifts, as described in this e-mail message to me:

We're two MIT grad students who noticed a lack of baby apparel for the discerning academic or scientist. As someone who's into science, math and possibly nerdy gifts, we thought you might like some of our designs:


And here is a guest post from one of my cats (I can't say which one, as he prefers to be anonymous, but it is the one who does most of my grading and editing). This cat has kindly agreed to write a thoughtful essay on what it is like to be a feline who secretly grades science problem sets and exams, not to mention editing dissertations and manuscripts. As you might imagine, this situation raises some tricky ethical and other issues, and I think it is worth discussing from the point of view of the cat.

Note: I am not paying my cat to do this guest post (nor do I pay him in money to grade and edit), but I have agreed not to edit or alter in any way his guest post.

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