Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

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Utopia and Distopia
When I applied to graduate school the first time, I initially registered as dual-major, the second being Literature. The university had a course on "Utopias and Distopias" that I would have liked to fit in, but didn't get to.

As a SF fan, I've read more than a few of both genres. I find it interesting to see how the two fit together: nothing is ever wholly perfect, or imperfect. Most utopias have distopian elements to them.

A roommate spoke to me once about Gene Roddenberry's vision, brought out in Star Trek. A world in which a diverse group of human beings could, and did, work together. A world that in the 1960's was revolutionary. But in the corporate world, at least, this vision seems to have largely become reality in the 1990's. It's as if the corporate world woke up and said "Wait, we need the best talent we can get. And if the best person for the job just happens to be African-American, or female, or gay, they are still the best person for the job."  Alas, we're still working the bugs out of the system, but I'm VERY grateful for the progress that we've made.

I'm not as fond of the apocalyptic literature, but some of the near-future stories do seem quite timely. Levar Burton's Aftermath tells the story after the next "big one" strikes the New Madrid fault. That's not something we can predict with any certainty.

Piers Anthony's "Geodyssey" series provide an intriguing storyline across history and on to the near futures, each novel exploring a different path we could take. One suggests flu.

This H1N1 type A flu worries me. Not as much this spring, when it seems to be a mild case, as what will happen come fall when the flu season moves north again. News articles about the 1918 flu pandemic and similar historical cases say this is how they often begin. Only time can tell us if this one will fizzle or explode. But in an earlier post, I alluded to the importance of sick leave for dealing with these cases. A colleague has this cartoon posted.

Tennessee bookstores are selling survivalist literature. My sister pointed out that hate groups are recruiting. And people have been buying guns and ammo.

The LAST thing we need is people buying into the 2012 myths. Which fall in so nicely with the Christian history of millenialism. As the Encyclopedia of millenialism and millenial movements says (pg 402)

Survivalists do not automatically pose a threat to civil order since their intent is to take defensive precautions.  Yet the potential for confrontation exists when survivalism mixes with apocalyptic fears or millennial expectation.  Estimates of the number of survivalists are hard to verify, partly because many survivalists value their privacy to the point of paranoia.  Survivalism, however, has grown to where it supports a thriving commercial subculture indicating many tens of thousands of regular participants, and probably more than one hundred thousand casual participants.  These figures predate popular awareness of the Y2K computer glitch, which propelled millions into an awareness of survivalist issues.

Oh goodie (NOT!)... that means the number predate 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina...  I suppose I'd better end with another SF reference:

Don't panic.

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