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random musings of a crazy cat lady

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

F*&^ You, ACS 2016 Awards

The 2016 American Chemical Society (ACS) national awards were posted recently. 
Of the 77 people who received awards,* a grand total of of 5 were women.  One of those was an award specifically for a women, and another was for high school teaching.  So a grand total of three women got a research based award that was not gender specific.
I am really livid about this.  As you might guess from the sheer number of awards, it's not just the future Nobel laureates getting them. No.  There are a lot of prizes for a specific subdiscipline, awards for industrial chemists, and awards for grad students and assistant professors.  As a result, many of the awards go to people who are good chemists but not necessarily at the top of their fields.  Even with the abysmal hiring record for women in the 90's-early 2000's, I can still think of a lot of women who are as deserving or even more so than the people who got the awards.  Even the most backwards chemistry departments have more than 5% women faculty, and in industry and in some of the more diverse department the number is much higher. 
Fuck you, #2016ACSawards.

On a better note, here's an epic all-Cornell takedown of the recent Williams/Ceci study that claims women have an advantage in STEM hiring decisions.

*Some awards went to teams, so the total number of recipients is higher than the number of awards.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Molly 2015

Molly's my little badass.  She is going to get herself eaten one day if she is not careful.
The cats are currently under house arrest due to coyotes.   I saw a coyote in the yard two weeks ago and have heard them yip yapping a lot nearby.  I've also seen a few by the road and on the pictures from my wildlife camera.  Lucy was on the deck when the coyote was in the yard and was all nervous and fluffed up.  Molly was about 15 feet closer to the coyote and was just watching it with interest, like a badass.  I brought the cats in and had to deal with non-stop begging from Molly to go back outside.
Somewhere along the line, Molly has turned into Luna's reincarnation.  Sure, she's a fluffy, affectionate goofball like Rugrat, but her core personality is very much like Luna.  She's a one-person cat and mopes when I'm out of town.  She has a great deal of confidence that she is the queen of the yard and gets a lot of enjoyment from sitting outside watching her territory, and wanders the neighborhood and visits the neighbors yards a lot.  One time she got stuck 25 feet up in a tree at midnight in the rain.  She was not nervous at all after seeing the coyote two weeks ago, but I have seen her come in very skittish.  Nonetheless she seems to be a thrill seeker.  This is reminiscent of Luna staring down dogs and then strutting into the house like she just had a most awesome experience, or exploring quite a wide swath of her new neighborhood at age 15.  I do not doubt that Molly has had multiple coyote encounters and may have also seen the neighborhood bobcat.  Knowing Molly, she might've even hung out with it.  It's not aggression, just extreme self-confidence. 
It's been interesting to see Molly's personality develop.  Unlike most cats I've owned, she had a very long adolescence and her personality is still changing at age 3.  My vet said that cats reach emotional maturity at 3, and that Maine Coons develop more slowly than shorthaired cats, but Molly is the first cat I've had where the changes were still noticeable past age 2.  I don't know how she got to be so much like Luna in the last year and a half.  The simplest explanation is that is just how she is, and that's why she and Luna got along so well.  These traits became apparent to me once Molly was not longer a kitten.  But there is a superstituous and anthropomorpic side of me that thinks that there is more to it than that.
Luna was 17 years old when I got Molly.  Rugrat's death had been very hard on Luna and her health was declining rapidly.  Somehow, this quiet little kitten cheered Luna up a lot and she bounced back a bit.  At the time, Luna like to sleep on an armchair, and Molly soon began hanging out on the cat tree next to Luna.  Eventually they started sharing the armchair, which was really unusual since Luna did not like to have her personal space encroached upon.
After Luna died, Molly still sat in the chair and would always leave a space open on Luna's side.  It was like she was saving a spot for Luna, or like Luna was there in spirit.  After a year or so, she stopped leaving a space, and then stopped sitting on the chair.  Around the same time, she started reminding me of Luna.  It's like Luna is in Molly now, and that's why she doesn't need to leave a spot for her.  It is kind of comforting to think that Molly picked up some of Luna's spirit, either by becoming friends and spending Luna's last few months together, or by something more difficult to explain.  I'm not religious anymore, but things like this remind me why people take comfort in religion.