No Gays please, we’re CaSE

There is a report available online, published (May 2014) by the Campaign for Science and Engineering with King’s College London, entitled “Improving Diversity in STEM”.
The UK needs thousands of extra scientific personnel, and one problem is that the sector is viewed as being unfriendly towards minorities.
The report runs to 47 pages and gives chapters to disability, ethnicity and gender: but carries not a single mention of ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’, ‘LGBT’ or ‘sexual orientation’.

Not that diverse, then.


The Fluxateria, where Paradigms Converge..


A few years ago, the Grauniad carried an article which explained that science is not purely a matter of facts, and order, and reason…indeed, it may even have something to do with art and poetry.

And a few days ago, on the BBC ‘Breakfast’ show featured Lucy Hawking, daughter of the legendary Stephen, talking about her new book. The presenter Bill Turnbull made the old point that ‘science is about order, while storytelling is about imagination’. Nonsense: try browsing through ‘The Secret Anarchy of Science’ by Michael Brooks, in which he mentions the various intellectual skirmishes between supposedly mature, responsible scientists. Bias, career sabotage, skulduggery; the people who carry out high-end research are presented as being reassuringly human. And not always in a pleasant way.

Journal entry, 28 Oct 2010:

My life is like a low-budget drama, the kind of thing
You’d see on Tuesday nights in ’74, when Beeb 2
Scared us all with tales of drunken yobs
In council flats, on motorbikes, in love. Watching the pigeons
Eat discarded mince outside the butcher’s shop, while
Down the road in Eccles they’ve demolished
Four great concrete silos full of dark.

Journal entry, 21 Aug 2010:

Sent message to Steve saying that I used to attend the MAG meetings at the Fringe. Just got back from My Hideous Laundrette, the ‘Leisure Wash’ place. Now, the idea of laundry as a leisure activity probably belongs to the narrowest of demographics; six-year old girls?

Anyway, the place has the obligatory fake wood panelling, and the large-load machines are all in a recess; this recess has a rear wall and its own ceiling, which are both papered with a very heavily embossed metallic-finish anaglypta, uplit by concealed fluorescent strip lights.
The effect is completely surreal.
There are large windows hung with slightly torn net curtains; the window ledges (inside) are guarded by wrought-iron railings. Thirty or forty dead wasps lie on the windowsill.

Journal entry, 4 Nov 2010:

At work we have had a major communications breakdown – one of our clients has sent us 17 items for salt-spray exposure, which has been carried out. However, he had erroneously labelled four of the items so they got mixed up, causing great confusion.
An excellent case-history for project management skills.
Bizarre, these Flowserve Actuators; supposed to be epoxy-coated aluminium endcaps, but these delaminate severely in salt-spray. And nitride steel pinions (allegedly) which disappear in a cloud of rust.
Their senior project engineer is a guy called DS (crazy name, crazy guy!) who has only a single contact in his Linkedin network. And he steadfastly refuses to accept that their despatch department had not packed the four missing items which weren’t in the case.

3 Aug 2010: Last night went to see ‘Inception’ at pictures: a big-budget remake of Dreamscape, starring Leo Di Caprio. I’d booked an extra day off work in case I got invited to stay at wedding or in London, but now back to normal. Rang Lesley last night to tell her I was back up North, sent message on Facebook.

On the way to work I listen to one of my 5 CDs (via my H-pod): Doves, Elbow, Vampire Weekend, Busoni or LCD Soundsystem. Today at work we started on the final bit of our water vapour transmission work – the fearsome calculations. Well, I always wanted a job full of enigmatic equations…

“Welcome to the fluxateria, it’s only where the paradigms converge.”

Well, I now have a carpet in the lounge and hallway – and some nice pictures on the walls. Today at work adjusted the LIMS certificate data. I must be cracking up – watching the end credits for The Simpsons, I’m sure it said ‘guest voice: Thomas Pynchon’.

7 Aug 2010: Well, I now have furniture in my flat – 2-piece suite, coffee table, bookshelves and dining table. Paintings. Two pot plants. A television set. How decadent.
Last night went to visit Andy P for tea and smoked salmon bagels, then went to meet B- at the Sports Club. Some woman (long-standing member) was effing and blinding but all too scared to complain. Had roast turkey and chicken dinner at midnight. ‘Just think’, I said, ‘this could be our Xmas we never had this year.’

10 Aug 2010: GMTV has a weather presenter who always begins with a hearty “Good MORNING!” and this annoyed me a few weeks ago when the main news item was a guy called Raoul Moat who went on the rampage, shooting several people and then himself.

15 Apr 2009: Today’s news (Telegraph) – FTSE 100 is at 4002 points. Over past four months, 123,700 jobs have been lost in the UK: RBS, Yougov, Norwich Union, Bombardier, AVX, Filtrona, Visteon, Jarvis, Nortel, Man Group, HSBC, Riley’s, JJB, Renishaw’s etc.

Went to laundryette, on way saw a kestrel hunched over a fallen pigeon in one of the gardens. To distract my mind, I took with me a paperback (Asta’s Book) which had as a bookmark a bar receipt from the Pride of Bruges ferry, when B- and I travelled over to Cologne for the Xmas market.

Oceans of Rust

He keeps his wealth
(Although there isn’t really all that much to keep)
In a battered shoe that lies forgotten
On the windowsill in a scruffy rented room
With some old cassette tapes and a floppy disc
That holds the pinnacle of his life’s joy
Impossible to read; even if we were to suspect
That anything was there concealed…

Today I called into the Museum of Science and Industry, which is to be the venue for Manchester Section OCCA Seminar – The Three Cs, Colour, Coatings and Corrosion. Part of the museum is given over to the aerospace and aviation sector, with items relating to the development of the first jet engine.
The various displays are housed in separate buildings, one of which is the first ever railway warehouse, built in 1830; and here, on the upper floor, was an exhibition of works by Tania Kovats called ‘Evaporation’. This is a survey of marine science, with one room given over to three immense steel bowls which replicate the shapes of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The bowls had been filled with sea water, which evaporated to leave a glinting residue of salt crystals.
The gallery was empty; a few prints and charts on the walls showed some aspects of the three oceans, while the rusted bowls stood on their white circular plinths surrounded by elegant, jagged shadows. The names of the oceans evoke ideas of vast, raging turmoil, while the room itself was calm to a point beyond silence.
Manchester OCCA Seminar, 14 March 2016; registration at 12.00, presentations begin at 1.00

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