## Archive for April, 2012

### He Had a Good Run

Facts, 360 B.C.-A.D. 2012

Facts is survived by two brothers, Rumor and Innuendo, and a sister, Emphatic Assertion.

Services are alleged to be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that mourners make a donation to their favorite super PAC.

### It's Later Than You Think

Gender Issues Start Sooner Than You Think

It’s a good post, linking to another good post. Go read it/them.

The more of this stuff I see, though, the more I think that many women-in-STEM initiatives in higher ed are aiming at the wrong target. If you want to really change things, you need to start earlier. About eighteen years earlier, probably more (since the minds you really need to change are the parents’).

(Of course, to be fair to those initiatives, they’re working on changing what they can. College faculty have a fairly minimal ability to affect the conditions even at their own children’s schools and day care centers, but they have a good deal more flexibility to affect their own classes and departments. And even too little, too late is better than nothing at all.)

From my own perspective, I used to observe and even weigh in on some of the STEM gender discussions, only to have the attitude that “it’s university-level discrimination, and only university-level discrimination, dammit” prevail, and anyone not toeing the line getting lambasted, regardless of the validity of their argument. This happened too many times, in a setting of a bunch of scientists, which I found to be dismaying. Thus I usually duck or run the other way when the subject comes up these days. I have no use for conversation where volume is substituted for facts.

### Attention, Private Casper!

FUSAG: The Ghost Army of World War II

The Allied intelligence services created two fake armies to keep the Germans on their toes. One would be based in Scotland for a supposed invasion of Norway and the other headquartered in southeast England to threaten the Pas-de-Calais. The northern operation relied mainly on fake radio traffic and the feeding of false information to double agents to create the impression of a substantial army. Fortitude South, though, was well within the range of prying German ears and eyes, so fake chatter alone would be uncovered too quickly. The Allies would have to make it look and sound like a substantial army was building up in southeast England. They needed boots on the ground there, without actually using too much of their precious manpower.
When intelligence officers learned that the First U.S. Army Group (FUSAG) was to be redesignated the 12th Army Group, they knew they had their Pas-de-Calais invaders. The FUSAG was kept alive on paper, and the phantom army was given a few real soldiers and placed under the command of one of the era’s great military leaders.

### Don't Take a Slice of My Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai

Canada’s New Quarters Will Have Glow-in-the-Dark Dinosaurs on Them

Each of the quarters, which will retail for $29.99, will feature an image of a Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai, a dinosaur discovered in Alberta. But take it into the closet under the stairs or wherever your favored glow-in-the-dark viewing site is, and the creature’s skeleton glows. But hey, we have presidential dollars that you can buy for$2. And they’re invisible. You don’t see any in circulation, do you?

### Still True Today as it Was A Century Ago

Things Don’t Seem Wonderful If You’ve Seen Them All Your Life which is a political cartoon published in April 1912.

### Stupidity Captured at 2500 fps

The post title is the subtitle of the video, with the obvious disclaimer of don’t try this at home (or work). The flour catching fire and waterbed defect propagation are particularly cool, and there’s something surreal about a chunk of watermelon flying directly at the camera in slo-mo.

(A little peeve of mine — I know that a camera capable of this level of speed and quality is not something that my allowance will permit me to buy, but I really hate websites that tell you request a quote rather than just giving the list price of the item. I ran into this a bit when I did purchasing as a collateral duty, and it just meant I was going to try and buy from someone else. Anyone, as long as I could place the order and be done with it.)

### Tasty Math

Not just that — all logical combinations of eggs, flour and milk.

### The Porcupine Handshake Effect

Anyone else nervous that they quote “miles per hour”, worried perhaps there’s a metric conversion they missed? I kid, JPL, I kid. I kid because I love.

Along those lines, nobody I talked to at JPL (way back when) thought this was funny