March 30, 2009

Junto 2009: A Report

Count yourself unlucky if you missed last weekend's History of Science Junto at the Linda Hall Library. The folks at the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City were great hosts, supplying everything we needed from venues to food recommendations. They should be particularly applauded for their selections of the Boulevard Brewery for the reception on Friday night (which also doubled as Alan Shapiro's retirement send-off) and their restaurant selection on Saturday night for the banquet. Coming from someone who takes their food and drink seriously, these places were really top notch.

Minnesota represented well. Eight grad students made the trip down along with a few faculty. Kate, Joe, and Hyung Wook all gave great presentations that should give the rest of us incentive to get our butts in gear and present at next year's Junto. I also enjoyed this year's banquet speaker, Lynda Payne who gave a witty talk on physician quackery in 18th century Europe. It was both interesting and funny; a perfect talk for a crowd of toasted historians of science.

The rest of the presentations were all interesting in their own rights. If I had any complaints it would be that the majority of the presenters at this year's Junto spoke for most of their 20 minute talk giving little, if any, time for questions by the audience. It seems to me that everyone, presenters and audience alike, would get more out of the talks if there was a good 5 mins of Q&A. Luckily, there was plenty of break time built in throughout the conference so I think that anybody who had a specific question for a speaker was able to ask it afterwards.

Next year the Junto will be held in Norman, OK sponsored by the University of Oklahoma HST program. Not that I need to give them any advice, but I will say that they should just stick to the three things that guarantee a successful Junto: Free alcohol, good food, and alcohol.

March 25, 2009

New Blog Shout Out

First off, sorry about the dearth of blog posts in general. It's been a hectic year (though, what year isn't hectic when you're realm of academia). I'll try and post more myself and see if I can poke more people to contribute as well. Thanks to Sara for actually keeping some fresh content on here from time to time.

Secondly, and far more importantly, I need to call your attention to the new blog, Entangled Bank, started by our very own Rachel Mason Dentinger. Instead of me summarizing, I'll just cut-n-paste her own words (which she grabs from Darwin himself):

Entangled Bank takes its name from the first sentence of the final paragraph of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859):

“It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.”

Rachel is currently living in Toronto and is a self proclaimed "muddy-boots historian of science," writing her dissertation on the history of coevolutionary studies. Also, you should envy her since she seems to take frequent trips to tropical countries with her husband in search of mushrooms.