Ralph Haygood

Ralph Haygood

I'm an entrepreneur and scientist. As an entrepreneur, I founded CardVine. As a scientist, I study evolution, ecology, genetics, and genomics. Learn more about me at http://ralphhaygood.com/.

On The Fall of the Humanities and the Tyranny of Recommendation Letters: A Novel and a Chat

Once upon a time, I was a postdoc who decided not to become an ass prof, for a number of reasons including the realization that if I did, my colleagues would undoubtedly consider me a loose cannon because, for example, I would refuse to pay the slightest attention to letters of recommendation (on behalf of prospective grad students, faculty members, etc.). I'm a biologist, but rest assured, they're generally as absurd and tedious in the sciences as in the humanities.

Posted on August 23, 2014 at 12:09 am 0

On Worst Man: I'm the Friend You Didn't Invite to Your Wedding

@alicesherman: My domestic partner of 14 years and I agree that the only thing that tempts us to get married is the excuse to throw a big party for as many of our friends as possible. Of course, we could skip getting married and throw a party anyway, but many of our friends probably wouldn't come from far away "just" for a party. It's sad.

Posted on August 17, 2014 at 1:43 am 0

On "Sketch" Is a Lie

"and what are comments threads but catnip to those most eager to judge most harshly, and most unfairly?": Oh come now, we're not that bad, are we?

I think I agree with Biddle. The notion of consulting an app to find out where I might be in danger from "sketchy" characters strikes me as comically preposterous. I hope I'm dead before my instincts get that dull.

"'I live in New York now,' the doomed entrepreneur - a Los Angeles native who now lives in the West Village - added 'with a laugh.' 'So almost nothing's sketchy to me anymore.'": This too strikes me as comically preposterous. I too am a Los Angeles native. As it happens, I spent several days in NYC last month, my first extended stay there after years of just passing through on my way elsewhere. And I walked for many hours and miles all over Manhattan from Central Park south and for a day over in Brooklyn. What struck me most forcefully was just how un-sketchy practically everywhere I went was. It's a far cry from the NYC of 1970s movies like "The French connection" and TV shows like "Kojak". That NYC, fairly drenched in sketchiness, held a certain fascination for me as a middle-class child in suburban LA; it seemed a lot more interesting, albeit a lot more dangerous, than my bland environs of tract houses, strip malls, and freeways. I'd heard the city's greatly changed, and sure enough, as I walked around it, parts of it felt almost Disneyfied to me. I was left with the impression that a great tsunami of money has washed over the city, drowning nearly all the sketchiness and probably more than a little of the liveliness, although it's still a fairly lively place.

Posted on August 15, 2014 at 4:00 am 1

On My Short Career in the Internet Outrage Business

"None of these people were essentially bad.": The phrase "the banality of evil" comes to mind. Not that this stuff is Eichmann-grade iniquity, of course, but it does have consequences. The cumulative consequences of this kind of thing include arguably the most dysfunctional House of Representatives in the nation's history. It's dominated by a mob of grifters and lunatics who've ridden the waves of ginned-up outrage into positions of real power, which they're using not merely to enrich themselves but to blight the lives of millions of people (e.g., unemployed people for whom extended unemployment benefits have repeatedly been blocked by House Republicans).

Capitalism - or whatever we're calling the socioeconomic arrangements that largely prevail in this part of the world at the moment - is remarkably good at getting people who are not yet very evil people to do fairly evil things.

Posted on August 12, 2014 at 12:43 pm 3

On Block More, Fix the Stupid Internet

"If you grant that actively using Twitter and maintaining mental hygiene are not mutually exclusive": I'm not sure I'm willing to grant that.

However, yes indeed, block early and often! Do it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else you can. (Blocking is the one genuine virtue of Facebook commenting on blogs and other sites. When a troll has laid a doodie in a comment thread you're reading, you don't have to wait for a moderator to ban them, you just say "bye bye" and never see them again.) The Internet, like "real life", is infested with savages. Unlike "real life", on the Internet, they're easy to get rid of.

Posted on August 5, 2014 at 2:50 pm 1

On The End Arrives in a Paper Cup

"[A]fter leaving behind soulless corporate lives," the web presence of their newest project is a Facebook page, so I gather that despite "all of that painful earnestness," The Mast Brothers have a taste for irony.

Posted on August 4, 2014 at 6:00 pm 0

On Moral Calculus Elucidated

@KarenUhOh: "price elasticity" or, more precisely, "price elasticity of demand" is a standard, reasonably well defined thing in economics (e.g.,


). Whether Amazon has measured it as they claim is, of course, another matter, and whether it implies what Amazon asserts it does is, of course, yet another matter.

Posted on July 30, 2014 at 9:42 pm 1

On Habitat Unnatural

I grew up in that room. I left it some time ago, and I won't be going back. Nothing could possibly induce me to live again in houses or neighborhoods like the Los Angeles suburbs where I was raised.

Posted on July 30, 2014 at 7:51 pm 0

On Who Will Disrupt the Public Good?

What is this "public good" of which you speak? I have dwelt here in The Land of the Free (TM) since the reign of Saint Ronald of Friedmanshire, and I have never heard of any such thing.

Posted on July 29, 2014 at 4:07 pm 1

On The Borowitz Problem

I have no sympathy for anyone so dull-witted that he or she cannot recognize Borowitz pieces as satire. Whether you think they're funny or not - I sometimes do find them funny - they're very obviously jokes.

Posted on July 24, 2014 at 10:49 am 1