John Scalzi’s "Creation Museum" report

John Scalzi has weighed in with Your Creation Museum report.

Women in the sciences

I’m reviewing Aetiology for “posts of the year” and the first thing I came across was a discussion of women, stereotyping of and discrimination against, in science. I do recall in the 1970s when I went to apply for a job as a lab assistant at Connaught Labs, the secretary told me that was a man’s job and the interviewer was concerned that I wouldn’t have the strength required. For whatever reason, I didn’t get the job.

Bad book of Irish Slang

Lexicographer Grant Barrett has pointed out that Daniel Cassidy, author of How the Irish invented slang, is a Humdinger of a bad Irish scholar. Judging by Grant’s detailed review, Daniel uses creationist (or crackpot) tactics: misrepresent, jump to conclusions, fail to look for evidence, and whine about how everyone’s against him:

I challenged Cassidy to present all of his evidence. I told him that I’m the descendant of three strains of Irish, four strains of empiricist, and the son of a bluster-catcher, and I said he was going to have to do better than trot out the same-old “they’re all against me!” argument of every perpetual motion inventor.

Read Grant’s article for a decisive repudiation of what amounts to a collection of folk etymologies.

Is this an odd kind of sexism?

I know that noting the unrealisticness of animated movies is ridiculous, but the opening two weeks ago of Jerry Seinfeld’s Bee Movie reminds me of an odd theme it seems to represent.

The protagonist of Bee Movie shares with the protagonists of two other animated-insect movies (Antz and A Bug’s Life, both released in 1998 ) three important characteristics:

You don’t have to know a lot about Hymenoptera to know that the last characteristic doesn’t go with the first two: workers are always female. (Additionally, in Antz the soldier ants are hypermasculine.)

Once you give an insect character a voice and the sentience to use it, you’re well into fantasy land, and not subject to the laws of nature. But it does strike me as, well, interesting, that these characters had to be male. Why not female? What in the plots of any of these movies requires that the protagonist be male?

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