Skepchick Quickies 7.16

Today is July 16th and I have a few interesting anniversaries to share with you all: Apollo 11 was launched (1969), Comet Shoemaker 9-Levy began to collide with Jupiter (1994), the first nuclear bomb was detonated in the Manhattan Project (1945), AND the world’s first parking meter was placed in Oklahoma City (1935). Thanks, Wikipedia!

Today is also National Hot Dog Day and International Juggling Day, but you don’t have to celebrate those at the same time. International Juggling Day was LAST month. I guess I’ll have to console myself with my hot dogs.

    • Make the World Better – Pamela Gay gave one of the best talks at TAM2012 on scientific activism, harassment, trolls, and issues involved around being a woman in science. She received a standing ovation. (If you only click on one link, make it this one.)
    • Diet Pill Company Threatens to Sue Medical Expert – “A Melbourne lawyer is calling for a change to Australia’s defamation laws after a diet pill company threatened to sue a medical expert who criticised its products. The company, Undoit, claims its pills can reverse the effects of junk food.”  From Jack99.
    • Catch Me If You Can – “When Robert Wood Jr. disappeared in a densely forested Virginia park, searchers faced the challenge of a lifetime. The eight-year-old boy was autistic and nonverbal, and from his perspective the largest manhunt in state history probably looked like something else: the ultimate game of hide-and-seek.”
    • Carl Sagan’s Reading List – “Few are the heroes of modern history more ‘successful’ and inspired than the great Carl Sagan, and his 1954 reading list, part of his papers recently acquired by the Library of Congress, speaks to precisely this blend of wide-angle, cross-disciplinary curiosity and focused, in-field expertise […] .”
    • The Most Important Tech Company You’ve Never Heard Of – “A Delaware-based company that didn’t exist 20 years ago has quietly become one of the major players in surveillance infrastructure — but they’ve been so under the radar that leading online privacy and security expert Chris Soghoian, a fellow at the Open Society Foundations, calls them the ‘Keyzer Söze of surveillance.’ Meet Neustar, one of the most important companies you’ve never heard of.”

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Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. International Juggling Day was last month. Sorry. You can still celebrate it today if you want, though. I’m sure nobody will mind.

    1. World Juggling Day was last month, but the International Jugglers Association annual convention indeed begins today. Since you said “International” instead of “World,” you can still gloss over the “World Day” vs. “International Convention” distinction and indignantly claim to be at least somewhat correct.

      (I’m headed there now – If anyone is near Winston-Salem and wants tickets to some of the shows, let me know.)

  2. Can Pamela Gay be awarded an honorary (because she didn’t post it here) COTW? If so, I nominate.

    I can’t help but see the harrassment problem in juxtaposition to the FBI report on the Penn State scandal. Jo Pa was not at risk of losing his job if he had outed Sandusky and let the justice system deal with it. Underlings are at risk, not only of job loss and that sort of thing, but also things like the Avalanche of Awful that Rebecca Watson has been deluged with since elevatorgate.

    It is obvious to me that it is vitally important that there be an environment where people can speak up safely (and know that it is safe). Why do so many people resist this? What are they afraid of? So many of the resistors are probably not offenders, so WTF? I don’t get it.

    1. “JoPa was not at risk of losing his job…”

      Although the Sandusky scandal broke recently, the shower incident witnessed by Mike McQueary was a decade ago – 2002. Around that time, Penn State football had some very poor years. After a long string of consistently winning anywhere from 9 to 12 games per season, they suddenly started losing badly. After ten wins in 1999 they did this:

      2000 – 5 and 7
      2001 – 5 and 6

      That led to some talk that Paterno had finally become too old and had lost his edge. There was a real chance that he could have been fired or moved into a figurehead position that would actually be a forced retirement in disguise. His replacement would likely bring in a lot of new assistant coaches, so Paterno was under considerable pressure to save his job and save the jobs of long-term close associates. (He would also have to worry about a scandal hurting his recruiting, setting him up for additional bad years that would certainly get him “retired.”)

      Football fans have short and fickle memories.

      There’s no way to know for sure how much the poor seasons in 2000 and 2001 made Paterno more willing to suppress a scandal. Nor could we really know whether that pressure made him deliberately suppress the scandal in a conscious attempt to save his job and his program, or whether it unconsciously distorted his thinking into bad self-deceptions and rationalizations. But the timing sure wasn’t helpful, and in 2002 Paterno was feeling a reasonable threat of being “gently pushed” into retirement and didn’t need to be giving critics additional ammunition.

  3. “The company, Undoit, claims its pills can reverse the effects of junk food.”
    I know of a pill that can do that, it’s called a laxative!

    I better not post this, else I could get sued…

  4. I just finished reading the transcript of Pamela Gay’s presentation at TAM and I was impressed at many levels; mostly by its honesty, its excellence, and its complete necessity. I admire her immensely.

  5. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt (literally.)

    Pamela was amazing and brilliant.

    And already the crap has started. The second comment she received started out “I haven’t read the transcript of your talk yet, and I don’t want to be a dick, but…” :-( :-(

      1. The privilege was totally mine! (There’s that word again.)

        I also got to meet MadArtist Smashley and Katie from the organization formerly known as WTF. (We compared Wakefield scars, just like the guys on the boat in Jaws.) And Jamie again and … (OMG, forgetting people’s names again) at the vaccine table right next to the SurlyRamics table, so I met up again with Amy (and her mom), and a bunch of the Surly Grant winners, and Nicole, of course.

        Also met a bunch of frequent commenters (is that a word, my spell-checker doesn’t like it?) and had a lot of great conversations. Still, it wasn’t quite as much fun as last year. Maybe next year in Minnesota?

        It was great meeting all you, Skepchickcon would have probably been an overdose, but too much of a good thing is always a good thing, isn’t it?

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