odditycollector: Supergirl hovering in black silhouette except for the red crest. Cape fluttering. Background is a roiling, raining sky. (SafeWater)
( Jan. 18th, 2005 08:02 pm)
So after I calmed down a little, I looked at some other articles on the Harvard scandal. And... I really wish there was a record of his speech, so I could know what he really said - the quotations from the Guardian article were what people in his audience said Summers said, and are repeated inexactly between newspapers, (although the gist is the same).

After reading a few articles that agree with the Guardian, a few that are at least *attempting* a balance but not succeeding very well, and a few that don't see why women are overreacting anyway, I'm sticking with my initial reaction of flailing rage.

Also, I'm left with even *more* of an impression that Summers doesn't know what he's talking about - there's quotes from other professors applauding his willingness to make unpopular hypotheses, but they all seem to be from faculties that have nothing to do with the topic. Professors in fields that actually *research* the innate math/science gender differences are saying, WTF we already did these studies and [given the required disclaimer] this is not the case, and absolutely is less the case than discrimination and socialization.

And there's the little fact that since he's been in charge, the hiring of women at Harvard has plummeted. (Last year, 4 out of 32 tenured positions were offered to women. This does Not Impress.)

Which says something, really. But it just leads back to me ranting, and I'm sure everyone's had enough of that today.
via [livejournal.com profile] daegaer:

Why women are poor at science, by Harvard president

...In a lengthy address delivered without notes, Dr Summers offered three explanations for the shortage of women in senior posts in science and engineering, starting with their reluctance to work long hours because of childcare responsibilities....

...A Harvard spokeswoman declined to comment yesterday, or to release the transcript of Dr Summers's remarks. Richard Freeman, who invited the Harvard president to speak at the conference, said Dr Summers's comments were intended to provoke debate, and some women over-reacted....

and, because I'm fair like that, his subsequent attempt at spin, because at no point does it resemble an apology.


Goddammit. You know, there is something seriously wrong with the world when the President of fucking Harvard sounds like my high school guidance councilor (Don't *worry* about the language requirement. You don't have to go to University anyway.).

I've heard rather disturbing things about Harvard before now, but this seriously worries me. I think what pisses me off the most isn't even that they gave an idiot like that the presidency of a university, but that other people are going to *believe* his BS, just because 'Harvard President' has that ring of authority.

If I was attending there right now, I'd put some serious thought into transferring. I wonder how many women who *are* feel the same way.

And no, I don't believe he meant to 'provoke debate' - after *how* many years in an academic setting he should have known that that is NOT how you do it.

So these are the options I can see. If he's serious about not believing his own words, that makes him either a troll, at the same level as someone who posts insults online and then steps back to laugh at the resulting 'furore', or someone way too inept to be running a university.

Or he really *does* believe it and is now backtracking for political reasons.

Guess which option I'm willing to bet on.

*seethes for a few minutes*

And now I'm going back to work on my &*%# cpsc assignment, even though an economist from Harvard believes I may not be biologically predisposed towards that sort of work. Maybe if I calm down later I'll send him a polite letter and some gender studies material and an outline of the proper way to do a sociological experiment, because "My daughter likes to play with dolls" a) says absolutely nothing about the population of little girls as a whole and b) has no bearing on her potential math skills.

odditycollector: Supergirl hovering in black silhouette except for the red crest. Cape fluttering. Background is a roiling, raining sky. (School)
( Jan. 14th, 2005 01:46 pm)

Gender Theory. Now with added multivariable calculus!

There are many reasons why I fangirl [livejournal.com profile] foreverdirt, and not just because the idea of a hypercuboid Kinsey scale makes me happy.

So I had this dream... no, no, come back. This isn’t about the dream. (Well, except for how it totally is. But it isn’t the important part.) Anyway, in this dream I’m in a vast old-fashioned library-style chamber, with huge faux antique mahogany tables and low lighting and less bookshelves than you’d think. The whole dream feels aged slightly – like it’s tinged yellow and has crisped edges and smells like a second hand bookstore.

About twenty people, including me, have just entered the room. We’re following a tour guide – a middle aged woman dressed as Professor McGonagall, or who perhaps just resembles Minerva in long black robes. We crowd around an empty table and our guide says a few words, but I’m not listening or at least not remembering.

There’s a book on the table. Like everything else, it’s pretending to be old – the cover is moulded to give the impression of leather and the title is stamped into it. The paper is darkened at the corners, like it had been printed decades ago or like some aspiring publisher thought it could do with some extra authenticity.

Maybe it could. It’s Harry Potter - one of them, anyway - and it would be a bit disquieting to learn my subconscious has HP on my brain if it wasn’t the most logical choice.

I open the book to a random page. It’s a new illustrated version, but movement catches my eye – the detailed black-inked sketches are animated. It’s very exciting. Some pages are plain text, of course, but towards the middle I flip to a double page spread of a moment from a Quidditch game. Harry Potter swerves near the binding a few times. It’s the same general action, but his mannerisms are slightly different each time. Ink blobs in the stands below move and shake banners, too small to read.

The guide is talking about how many hours were spent designing the pictures to look alive, not just like short cartoons on an infinite loop. She talks about how the book knows which page is being viewed – and why they had decided on crafting an actual *book* instead of just having a couple paper sheets that would load any page one might desire. (At least, I recall her saying these things. Who knows what I really filled in myself, after.)

There’s more functionality as well. I call up the Marauder’s Map, and it ‘opens’ over my page. The little names are moving around, interacting with each other (They will have the same behaviours on every reading, but their script itself was decided by a few key events in the story and a computer program. I’m left with the impression it works a lot like The Sims, or the soldier program they used for the LoTR movies). There are cross-references, and one might look at the Herbology text, and there was some debate over having scenes from the movies, but it was decided against including them (It would date the book, the guide explains, and make it difficult to ever remake the films for legal reasons).

It is, without argument, the Greatest Book Ever in the History of the World (one might not think it’s the greatest story, but this is book porn people).

And that’s about the end of the dream. You can tell, because it was becoming oddly detailed, so at least part of my mind must have been awake. When my mind was more awake, it wondered about things like my priorities for technological advance. I mean, I never have dreams about spaceships or medical nanites, but I get one going into the possibilities of electronic paper?

*shakes head*

But you know, that was a damn cool book. Maybe the question should be why no one else gets excited about the possibilities? (Like, possibly, after the HP epaper book makes billions of dollars, they’ll put out a LoTR one…)
Well, Philosophy class was unexpectedly interesting tonight. I kept translating the abbreviation for Well Formed Formula to What the Fucking Fuck in my head.

Prof: *writes something like*  ~(a*b -> (=(a,b)*(c+d)))  WFF?
Me: *thinking* Yeah, that sounds about right.

But there's always *something*. This is the same course that invented the gay-conditional a couple weeks ago.

Prof: ...the bi-conditional is your friend. And, perhaps like some of your other friends, it also swings both ways.
Me: *snort* Bwa? Should I have been awake?*
Girl Beside Me: *snigger* No... that isn't right.
Me: What?
Girl: The bi-conditional is only true when both the values are the same. Both true or both false. It should be... the gay-conditional!
Me: heh.
Other Kid: You are waaay too immature for this stuff. *adds GAY-CONDITIONAL in really BIG letters to his notes. And underlines it*

*The class is from 7 to 10 pm, in a dark theatre with cushioned seats. I make no apologies.
While reading a textbook, you come across the definition
...palinopsia, in which patients report that when an object moves, it leaves behind multiple copies of itself...
and your first thought is:

a) Oooh. Cool!

b) I hope I never suffer from that.

c) Will this be on the test?

d) I wonder what it is about the Speed Force that Bart or Wally or Barry or Whoever cause such an effect in otherwise normal observers.


Um, yeah. I really, really miss my poll privileges right about now.
odditycollector: Supergirl hovering in black silhouette except for the red crest. Cape fluttering. Background is a roiling, raining sky. (Vetinari)
( Sep. 15th, 2004 10:47 pm)
Anyone who believes that physical scientists now completely understand the wonders of this world need only look at history to find a contradiction. Theories assumed to be the "final" explanation for nature have been superseded in rapid succession during the past century.

... Yes. And you just know it bodes well when your $150 (plus tax) Math text has a logic mistake on the second page.

*crosses out contradiction and pencils in relevant thought parallel, plus several other choice phrases*

Nope. I still feel gypped. (Although now I have reason to return it for next term.)
odditycollector: Supergirl hovering in black silhouette except for the red crest. Cape fluttering. Background is a roiling, raining sky. (Default)
( Apr. 15th, 2004 12:55 pm)
64(b) Find the chirping rate to be expected at 14.0 degrees Celsius. Compare the result with the rule that the Fahrenheit temperature equals 40 plus the number of cricket chirps in 15 seconds.

This is either evidence that strange things happen when scientist people have too much free time, or that it's far time America finds a new temperature unit. I haven't quite decided.

(The answer, in case anyone was wondering, is about 80 chirps - or 60 degrees F.)

I'm sort of disappointed. I found this great line the other day, and I bookmarked it so I could come back and laugh at it properly when I had more time, and they went and changed it.

Oh, well. I shall laugh anyway.

The original line ran "We are thankful for the technology that brought us fluorescent fish,"

There was such a weird ring to that, like bordering some Pratchetty religious chant. I was entertained for hours afterwards by repeating it in my head in the stereotypical monkly monotone, substituting various nouns.

Can't you just see a group up near the History Monks and the Brothers of Cool, gathering together at the Holy Hour to chant things like "We are thankful for the god who brought us funny hats"?

Hmm. Could be just me then.

Anyway, someone else must have thought the same, because now it reads "We value the potential of the technology that brought us fluorescent fish," which doesn't have the same ring at all.
Well, crazy hard exam the first is over, which is good in the sense that I think I passed and now don't have to worry about that course ever again (until next term, when it'll be taken for expected knowledge), and not good in the sense that I've got two other crazy hard exams this week, and they're closer.

So expect me to be pretty much gone for the next two weeks, and then suddenly bounce back with a whole lot of unrelated gibberish I've been saving up until then. There'll probably be a few days of posts along the lines of "Squee! I finally managed to see Die Another Day for, erhm, research purposes and all and OMG, Mel, you're right, they're soinloove! And Yune is so very very hot, and you have to grin evilly at the thought of SN2 type reactions between them, if you know what I mean!!11!" And absolutely no one will know what I mean (although this may be for the best).

They met each other's gaze across the crowded hall, and time seemed to slow for them, I shall write, as though they were travelling at a constant velocity of .8c relative to an observer stationed in the frame of the earth, with c given as the speed of light as measured in a vacuum. Or, Aziraphale reached for the last doughnut with fingers like the pseudopodia of a hungry amoeba. Or, "I never knew it could be like this," Clark whispered. "It feels like, my whole life I've been bounded in a shallow state potential well, and I've finally tunnelled through."

This is actually quite fun. Much more fun than studying, anyway, which is my other option.

Also, I am somewhat shocked to see that a few people have recently friended me, without me having made them feel guilty for neglecting me first. Um, welcome. It's oddly validating to think that reading me state my mind makes other people feel better about the state of their minds.
odditycollector: Supergirl hovering in black silhouette except for the red crest. Cape fluttering. Background is a roiling, raining sky. (School)
( Nov. 21st, 2003 07:54 pm)
So today in physics we were talking about the bastard children of cosine or sine waves and decaying exponentials.

Anyway, as in my notes:

The second bound state has a sine function. Its E is bigger than the cosine, so the wave penetrates deeper into the forbidden region.*

It didn't help that for the rest of the class, the Prof kept using the phrase "penetrates the forbidden region" to describe the little tail pieces of the graphs. I am too immature for this stuff.

And then, in chem, I read slash undertones into orbital theory. Sigh. Electrons with the same spin state can't go in the same orbital. It's Forbidden. (Except when it isn't.)

Forget "Empirical evidence" in Harry Potter - you know you're corrupted when...

Right now, I should be studying this fun stuff, instead of playing with LJ and listening to random songs and trying to make music vids in my head. Endless entertainment. (Even if it doesn't work well with comics.)

But, okay, has anyone ever heard "On the way up" (Peter Mulvey)? So Crowley & Aziraphale's theme song.**

Lyrics )

Can't you just see how the vid would go? Crowley in the Bentley, the sun glinting off his glasses as he drives by, and the camera pulling away like a car commercial, leaving us with a painfully bright view of the English countryside and a lone black car vanishing in the distance. Aziraphale in the dusty store, carefully shelving books, looking thoughtful and not quite content. And scenes from the Last Days, ducks and wine, and facing the apocalypse with a flaming sword and tire iron, and a Young boy smiling in a way that wouldn't be disturbing on anyone else.

*Not an exact quote, but I figured no one but me would see hilarity in the math part.

**If, you know, they needed one. Which they don't.
From the SUS paper, under the headline: Bush Declares Canada Un-American

..."Canadia," Bush continued, "has eluded our detection by cleverly altering our maps to stop at the 49th parallel. Our intelligence has determined that our country not only extends past that parallel, but is being occupied by the Canadians!... and then it goes on about "Operation Free Beaver." snerk.

Not nearly so amusing as, for example, the article on parking tips, but you'd have to go here to get it.

But now I want to eventually watch Canadian Bacon, which occasionally I see in a rental store. (Does anyone know if it's worth it?)

My favourite physics prof. quote this week was "Photons are not nearly so smart as you might think," until today, when he said, "Well, we're out of time, but I'm sure you can derive the rest [of Schrodinger's equation] in your head," which is almost as amusing.

Also, I think I've fallen for math again. There were a few rough months in our relationship, as partial derivatives give me a headache and for a while that's all that seemed to do together. But now it's all about the multivariable derivation, tracing the illusory play of shadow between peaks and valleys of lazy quadratics and elegant polynomials, imagining supple curves which writhe into the infinity of spacetime.

(And there are radii larger than the circumference over 2pi, if you know where to draw the circles, and infinite shapes that can be held in a hand with enough dimensions...

Terry Pratchett occasionally writes about things in his universe like, perfect triangles with three right angles, and it's rather unnerving to realize that they could exist in our own.)

They say the universe is written in math. I've always found that vaguely frightening.
odditycollector: Galaxy with "It's All Temporary" written above it. (Temporary)
( Sep. 27th, 2003 02:19 pm)
In JK Rowling's world, pictures in books can have a life of their own.

It makes one wonder if, by the time the last HP book comes out, we're going to have flying cars too...
odditycollector: Supergirl hovering in black silhouette except for the red crest. Cape fluttering. Background is a roiling, raining sky. (School)
( Sep. 5th, 2003 08:04 pm)
Bottled water has become a multi-billion dollar industry, largely because people don’t quite trust tap water and fountains to be free of additives.


Significant concentrations of the hazardous chemical dihydrogen monoxide are routinely added to virtually all brands of bottled water. This is a chemical that has been responsible for THOUSANDS of deaths each year; young children and teenagers are especially at risk when exposed to a large amount, and in its gaseous form it can burn- in extreme cases even searing flesh off bone.

So why do bottling companies persist on contaminating their water with dihydrogen monoxide? It’s responsible for the smooth texture and colourless clarity of their product, and they don’t think bottled water would sell as well without it.

Go here to find out more about the dangers of dihydrgen monoxide.

On a lighter note, this is the best! quiz! ever!


Neutron -- You don't take sides, you just sort of
hang out and blend into the crowd. If someone
lets you loose though, you can cause some
serious damage. If you are around too many
other neutrons you get bored and start to

What kind of subatomic particle are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Also, physicsissocool!1!!1!

Prof: (doodle, doodle) You all remember random bits of calculus right? (draws squiggly, vaguely-math-like markings) You know, my grad students had trouble with this part… Isn’t that amusing?
Me: (smiling happily)
Other Student: You’re following this?
Me: Not a bit. But, look! He derived the speed of light. How awesome is that?
OS: …

And it doesn’t help that my Prof has the wild grey hair and the scary-excited eyes of any poster-material physicist. Yay for the first week of second year, at the end of which I have yet to do any proper homework.


odditycollector: Supergirl hovering in black silhouette except for the red crest. Cape fluttering. Background is a roiling, raining sky. (Default)


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