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Why, you might ask, could I possibly be cranky on a beautiful Friday afternoon just before a three-day weekend?

Well, let me tell you.

More on sexism (comments: rage-inducing) in science.

And then there’s the US House Science Committee. What the fuck? “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell,” said Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), a member of the committee. Akin is also a member.

I don’t even. How can we hold our heads up in the world with this kind of bullshit going on?

Sexism in science, or not

A perennial favorite topic around here, you know.

First off, an unsurprising finding: the same resume with a male name is more likely to garner a job offer as an academic lab manager than if it has a female name AND the salary offered is $5000 higher.

On the bright side, the Royal Society is planning to do a bit to increase awareness of the contributions of women to science. They’re planning a Wikipedia editing campaign for October 19 to add or improve articles on female scientists. Good for them: these women deserve to be known.

(Note: In both cases, but especially the second, don’t read the comments. Discover attracts a better class of commenters than Yahoo, but there are still some aggravating things being said.)

Ada Lovelace Day is October 16 this year. I need to come up with someone to write about. In previous years I’ve covered Beatrix Potter, Elizabeth Blackwell and Maria Mitchell. Hm. Rachel Carson maybe?

Personally, I’m taking the day off from science. Yesterday was effectively the last day of the year for me and I made all my deadlines, but I need a break. I’d be playing Torchlight 2 if I could get it to run…

Seven minutes

Science! Fucking! Rocks!

Up up up

Via my friend Steve:

Grand Finale 2010-11 from McLean Fahnestock on Vimeo.

Coming soon to a planet near you

Forget all that lipstick crap. Show your prospective scientists and engineers this!

(via matociquala)

Getting my Friday cranky on

I’d like to believe that this is a new viral makeup ad.

(Note: As of Saturday afternoon, the original official video has been taken down, but someone saved it and put it back on YouTube.)

But it seems to be an entirely serious attempt by the European Commission to entice young women into the glamors of science.

You know, by making it all about appealing to men (the “real” scientist in the video: note the lab coat and microscope), and makeup, and high heels.

About which, nobody wearing those shoes would be allowed to set foot in my lab.

I didn’t spend much time on the website, but one thing jumped out: the pink heart-adorned text box that said, “Why you’ll LOVE science: You can really improve people’s lives.” Because women should be taking care of others. That’s the only possible reason that women could or would be interested in science: we’re the nurturing caretakers.

Pardon me while I barf in the corner.

There is a problem with recruiting and retention of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM fields). But did the marketing agency that came up with this campaign ever talk to a scientist about it? Or even a woman? Perpetuating stereotypes is never the way to increase your appeal.

(I picked this piece of pink-tinged crap up from Ferrett, who has some interesting things to say.)

Edit: And here’s a discussion of why this video will fail, with citations, from New Scientist.

Science asks you questions

Over at Science in My Fiction I ask about what you think would make the site more awesome. Comments there, please.

Call your climatologist

Continuing the discussion on legislating sea level rise:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Sink or Swim
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Nothing boosts the economy like becoming a national (international?) laughingstock. Right, North Carolina?

Gray and grayer

There was a brief break in the clouds, so I ran outside with the binoculars, a sheet of cardboard, and the camera.


It took some juggling. A tripod, fr’ex, and another pair of hands, would have made these better. Nick helped too, but time was very short.


But look! Look! Venus!

And then the clouds closed in.



I earned a science PhD from a North Carolina university (Duke ecology, 1998). Which makes the current piece of anti-science idiocity coming out of that state particularly appalling. Briefly, NC is trying to legislate the scientific methods that can be used to estimate future sea level rise for planning purposes. Their chosen methods are wrong, and put sea level rise considerably below more nuanced estimates, thus maintaining property values while likely screwing whole segments of the population.

Willfully inaccurate planning means that coastal development, roads, bridges, and people are all at risk. Not to mention research at the state’s many fine colleges and universities: it would apparently be illegal to use any methods other than those specifically legislated to predict sea level rise.

The legislated method: linear extrapolation from sea level records since 1900. That method predicts an 8-inch rise, and NC wants to use 16 inches as their worst-case scenario. The best scientific estimates from the IPCC put likely sea level rise at about 39 inches, if not more.

I see a problem here.

I really wanted to write something witty and insightful about this, but I can’t manage anything but a great deal of ARRRRRGGGGHH. So why don’t you go read Scott Huler’s SciAm rant instead?

ETA: Or Eric’s.

And if that’s too much for you, I enjoyed these two comics today, and wanted to share.