Right and Wrong in 40 Countries: Pew’s Global Attitudes Survey Tracks Values by Country

One of my absolute favorite subreddits is currently r/dataisbeautiful, a community of data lovers that brings you a daily stream of interesting research in digestible, visual bites. On any given day, you may find infographics on which news topics female writers are most likely to cover, attitudes towards Jewish and Muslim peoples in different countries, or even one couple’s dedicated logging of sexual activity over a year (a dream for Kinsey, or any modern day sexologist).

Most recently, r/dataisbeautiful brought me the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Survey, which asked respondents in 40 different countries to state their moral attitudes on eight issues. These eight topics, which are often the subject of moral debates, ranged from homosexuality to premarital sex to alcohol use. For each topic, participants answered whether they found it morally acceptable, morally unacceptable, or not a moral issue. The results give us a big picture view of how value systems differ by country and by cultural region.

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Why blogging and popular writing are crucial to academia

Since I discovered literary-minded psychologist and writer Maria Konnikova, I’ve been reading through her long history of blogs for Scientific American and Big Think. As a published writer who crosses genres and also holds a doctorate of psychology, Konnikova is right up there on my list of “people I want to become.”

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Free Online Courses from the Saylor Foundation

Saylor Foundation
300+ free online courses at saylor.org








I’m a huge fan of Coursera, but have been waiting for awhile for an Introduction to Sociology course to start-up. When I was looking around online for other free sociology self-study options, I stumbled upon the
Saylor Foundation, a DC-based nonprofit dedicated to providing and supporting free education. In 2008, Saylor started an initiative to provide free educational resources online. I hadn’t heard of the project before, so I was pleasantly surprised to find such a range of high-quality educational content on their website.

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Free Scholarly E-books from UC Press


As an insider to the academic publishing field, I’ve long been enamored with the University of California Press. Somehow they’ve avoided many of the common mistakes of scholarly publishers, such as locking down intellectual property and restricting new, alternative ways of accessing content. Their website is current and belies a keen business sense, which is especially impressive considering they’re a university press. The homepage features videos and podcasts of the authors discussing their works. And their content is stellar, covering fascinating, not-just-for-the-academics topics such as a sociologist’s undercover analysis of the economics of beauty in the modeling industry, and retellings of Californian Indian legends.

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“A Book Full of Death” – Freewrite/Vignette

I’m currently working on a short story about a character who works at an antique shop and who is obsessed with collecting (or in reality, stealing) old objects that are imbued with stories and secrets. It’s still very much a work in progress, so it’s not ready to post yet, but I would like to share this vignette that I’m planning to incorporate into the story. Here goes.

A Book Full of Death

This isn’t an old wives tale, or a ghost story or anything made up just to send goosebumps up and down your spine and add a little chill to the night. It is as real as death. Death, which was the only thing old Ralph could count on in life. There would always be another death for him to walk in on, uninvited but not unwelcome.

Old Ralph was a Witness, a hoarder of others’ secrets. When you were stricken with some malady and only had an hour left to live, in came old Ralph – his puce-green tweed suit and orange paisley bowtie at some odds with the black atmosphere of the sick room. He was reassuringly portly, as you’d expect anyone to be when they’re brimming with secrets; he had some weight to him. He was there after the Priest and before the Reaper (or rather, the Mortician – if you’re determined to be a realist), sneaking in at the twilight hour to sit next to the dying and hear their last unutterable words. No one knew where he came from, or who he was exactly, but somehow he’d appear by your bedside at just the right moment and smile, his tiny beaming eyes disappearing under folds of skin. “Tell me the words unspoken,” he said. “Tell me your secrets and I’ll keep them safe for you.”

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Best Reads of 2013

A few of my favorite books read in 2013Happy New Year! In celebration of the new year (and this new blog), I’ve decided to make this first post about my favorite reads from 2013, and an annual book-lover’s tradition. For the past couple years, I’ve been using the new year as an excuse for a “New Year Book Exchange” with friends and family. I share a list of the best books I read in 2013, and then ask for contributions from others. The idea is to reflect back on what you’ve read over the past year, and start the new year off with a solid list of personally-recommended books to read.

Here’s how it works: anyone who wants in can pick between 1 -10 of their favorite reads from the past year and write very brief descriptions of why they liked each book. These reviews can be as short and simple as you want (they definitely do not have to be as long as mine!). Found a review of the book that sums up your thoughts? Just provide the link to the review. Think the Amazon book page provides a fine content summary?  Just include the link.

After I get a few responses, I compile everything into a google doc and share it with the group. Voila! A personalized, eclectic, and often very relevant list of good reads to start off a new year.

Anyone who reads this is welcome to post their best reads of 2013 in the comment section, or just steal the idea and start you own exchange.

And with that, here are my favorites from my 2013 reading list.

Teresa’s Best Reads from 2013

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

This book will make you a better person. Technically, this book is a collection of letters from a popular advice columnist (called Sugar, and only recently revealed to be Cheryl Strayed) on The Rumpus. But Strayed is not really an advice columnist in the way you expect; she doesn’t dole out lessons in etiquette or give clear directions to complex situations as if they are black and white. She responds with stories, often incredibly personal ones, filled with heartbreak and resilience and frankness. Despite her name, she doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and you’ll often find yourself pleasantly shocked by the bluntness of her responses. At the same time, she refers to correspondents as “Sweet Pea,” and writes with an eloquence and sense of empathy that will have you desperate to call her up and ask her to be your best friend. If you don’t read anything else on my list, read this.

See Brainpickings for the original review that got me onto this book.

TLDR: Read this if you want to be a better person.

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