I’m good at science because I’m not good at listening.
I have been told that I am intelligent, and I have been told that I am simple-minded. I have been told that I am trying to do too much, and I have been told that what I have done amounts to very little. I have been told that I can’t do what I want to do because I am a woman, and I have been told that I have only been allowed to do what I have done because I am a woman. I have been told that I can have eternal life, and I have been told that I will burn myself out into an early death. I have been admonished for being too feminine and I have been distrusted for being too masculine. I have been warned that I am far too sensitive and I have been accused of being heartlessly callous.
But I was told all of these things by people who can’t understand the present or see the future any better than I can. Such recurrent pronouncements have forced me to accept that because I am a female scientist, nobody knows what the hell I am, and it has given me the delicious freedom to make it up as I go along.
I don’t take advice from my colleagues, and I try not to give it. When I am pressed, I resort to these two sentences: You shouldn’t take this job too seriously. Except for when you should.
With baseball season comes baseball writing — two interesting pieces on pitching:
Tyler Kepner focuses on the coefficient of friction, and things (substances?) which affect it (“The Secrets of Pitching’s Outlaws,” The New York Times (Mar. 29, 2019) [link]):
Next time you go to a game, notice all the surfaces a pitcher touches with his hand. Pitchers are fidgety creatures, constantly tugging and swiping and scratching their caps, their sleeves, their skin, something. Corey Kluber, the two-time Cy Young Award winner for Cleveland, grabs his tongue on the mound before every pitch — which became legal again years ago — then wipes his hand on the side of his pants.
(Kepner does not suggest that Kluber is doing anything illegal.)
Tom Verducci turns to spin rates and pitch shape (“From Trackman to Edgertronic to Rapsodo, the Tech Boom Is Fundamentally Altering Baseball,” Sports Illustrated (Mar. 28, 2019) [link]):
Pitch shapes, break charts, leveraging the ball, hoppy fastballs, sloppy wrists . . . this is part of the language of the game now, a language that didn’t exist a few years ago. [Houston Astros’ minor leaguer Forrest] Whitley speaks it fluently, not because he picked it up as a high school requirement, but because he grew up with it, organically. He and his fellow disrupters are only getting started.
Do you have trouble going to sleep (or staying asleep)? I have friends who wake up in the night to take melatonin (which seems counterproductive, though I don’t want to be discouraging). My method is to make sure that the temperature in the house starts with a “6” in fahrenheit (“5” would work better, but my family would protest from under their mounds of elk skins).
In any case, The New Yorker (“Annals of Insomnia”) has an amusing article for anyone who has (or fears) sleep issues:
Patricia Marx, “In Search of Forty Winks: Gizmos for a good night’s sleep” The New Yorker (Feb. 8 & 15, 2016) [link]
Read it tonight — not on your computer, silly, avoid that blue light! Print it out and leave it on your bedside table.
“This is theft. And this — stealing the color white — is a very good example of the problem. It’s not a national security secret. It’s about stealing something you can make a buck off of. It’s part of a strategy to profit off what American ingenuity creates.”
John Carlin, Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice (National Security Division. Del Quentin Wilber, “Stealing White: How a corporate spy swiped plans for DuPont’s billion-dollar color formula” Bloomberg Businessweek (Feb. 4, 2016)[link]
This story has everything—simple chemistry, industrial espionage, criminal prosecution, and international travel! The details seem criminal—hacking private computers, bribing disgruntled ex-employees, secret safe-deposit boxes, lying to federal agents—but there is something about the basic chemistry which seems like it should not be protectable. So simple: Ti + O + O. But like many things it is more complicated than that.
Further reading: FBI press release: “Walter Liew Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Economic Espionage” (7/11/2014) [link]; “U.S. v. Liew: Opening Statements and FBI Testimony Kick Off Seven-Week Industrial Espionage Trial” Orrick (1/8/2014) [link].
Katharine Hayhoe is a Christ-follower and a believer in climate change. Apparently these are not contradictory positions.
I don’t think there are any churches that have “Thou shalt not believe in climate change” written in their actual statement of faith. However, I think it’s become an unspoken article of faith in many churches because of what we have been told. I’ve even had people tell me that I must not be a Christian because I think climate change is real. But you know, there’s nothing in the Bible that says that. The sad truth is that our thought leaders—many of them in the conservative media and politics—are the ones telling us this isn’t real, and we are believing them.
Ann Neumann, “God’s Creation Is Running a Fever,” Guernica (12/15/2015) [link].
The serious magical endeavor and the serious scientific endeavour are twins: one was sickly and died, the other strong and throve. But they were twins. They were born of the same impulse. . . . There is something which unites magic and applied science while separating both from the ‘wisdom’ of earlier ages. For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men: the solution is a technique; and both, in the practice of this technique, are ready to do things hitherto regarded as disgusting and impious—such as digging up and mutilating the dead.
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man 48 (1947). Lewis, of course, does not so condemn all scientists, or even all technique, but points out (as have many others since) that the parallels between magic and science are striking and perhaps more striking than their differences. The alchemists did experiments, too.