This week

I have not yet posted anything on the subject of the assassination of Dr. Tiller, though I have been very upset about it. I encourage you to read the many great posts about it around the internet. I can’t come up with a whole lot more to say than has been said in posts like these. It was a terrorist act, an infuriating piece of violence, and it’s exactly the kind of thing people have been warning that inflammatory rhetoric by the right is encouraging.

I also want to point everyone in the direction of the Silence is the Enemy project. There are already quite a few great posts up about this initiative to actively draw attention to the systematic rape occurring on a truly massive scale in Liberia and elsewhere around the world. It’s a crushingly devastating thing to think about, and it’s hard to know what to do to help. But talking about openly so people can’t pretend it isn’t happening might do a little bit.

May 18, 29 years ago

Erik Klemetti at Eruptions reminds us that today is the 29th anniversary of Mount St. Helens erupting. There are some great pictures up at Wired, and this video of the newscast following the eruption:

Why indeed

(That’s sarcasm, btw.)

White guys

It’s true, when I look at that graphic, I think, good god, could these damn liberals limit the bench to exclude white guys any more than they are already doing? It’s discrimination!!!!!11111!!!

OFFS

[image removed]

This piece of garbage cartoon came to me via Shakesville, Womanist Musings, and Pandagon. I kind of like (= hate) how it encapsulates all the stupid racist bullshit that has come up in this latest health hysteria whipped up by the media. But seriously, people, get OVER yourselves. That’s about all I have the energy to say about this today.

ETA: Donna Barstow has contacted me (see comments on this post) with a takedown request, with which I’m happy to oblige. The cartoon can, however, still be seen on her site at Slate. And my criticism that it is deeply and unthinkingly racist firmly stands.

linkaround

Posting has continued to be slow here for a variety of reasons (busy at work, not a lot I want to comment on, and what I do want to comment on has been covered much better already). But I can at least share smart links.

The SP ladies have been on FIRE lately. Kate was on CNN, which led to the arrival of some new, exciting trolls over there, and quite a few posts and threads on the always hot obeses-on-a-plane topic. Sweet Machine covered the news that Bush administration legal council argued that keeping detainees’ daily diets at or below 1000 calories is not torture because that’s how little many people voluntarily eat on diets (the more likely explanation, of course, is that diets are bad for you and yes, it’s torture to force someone to eat so little). But I want to give an extra big link to Fillyjonk for perhaps the funniest ever takedown of lazy “obesity” research. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard and simultaneously nodded my head so vigorously.

Shakesville: on the suggestion that torture works and so we should keep doing it. They also reported on the suicide of an 11-year-old boy, likely motivated by unchecked and homophobic bullying.

No one at my favorite blogs (though I’m sure it’s all over the blogosphere) has discussed in much detail the Supreme Court case getting so much attention this week, so as a midweek recap I’ll do that one. I’m a wild and crazy liberal who thinks that violence in schools is a terrible thing, and that schools do have some responsibility to keep kids from dying in large numbers under their watch, but turning schools into prisons is not the solution. The war on drugs doesn’t work any better in a school yard police state than anywhere else. And I understand that letting kids give themselves their own goddamn prescriptions and OTC meds is probably illegal for some good reason or other, so okay, I’ll give you that. There are all kinds of real problems with that policy, but wev. But strip-searching for ibuprofen is not only extreme, this girl was clearly deeply traumatized by it (I mean, duh), and I’m fucking mad. I might like to have kids someday, and I would want to send them to public schools, but this kind of shit makes me think twice.

OFFS

From Shakesville: Rush is uncomfortable with the use of the word “dike” to describe, well, dikes. *headdesk*

The Fembots Are Here!

This post started as a quick link I emailed to Liss at Shakesville, and she suggested I do a guest post on it. Cross-post!

So today I saw this TOTALLY awesome article in Newsweek. You can tell from the title that this is going to be an awesome bit of writing: “A walking, talking female robot to debut on a Japanese catwalk: not ready to help with chores.” HA that is SO funny.

I have a problem with no less than three (3) parties on account of this article: 1) Yuri Kageyama, Business Writer, 2) the robot-makers, and 3) the fashion industry representatives quoted. It is a fabulous trifecta of mysogyny, made only more glorious because it is about ROBOTS. Who doesn’t love robots!!

I’m going to address those out of order. So first, makers of robots.

Now, this is stealing a little of my thunder from later in this post, but Kageyama does not address the body types of a few of his other robot examples, and for all I know they are male or non-gendered. One is non-humanoid. But his writing sure suggests that many of them are meant to be or seem female (well, isn’t that what everyone wants?), and they are certainly being designed for traditional female roles – receptionist, runway model, in-home care or nursing assistant, etc. More importantly is this particular robot, which has a female body even though apparently it’s much more difficult to make a functional (in this case, walking) robot with an “average” female shape. But having a female robot body was too important to let that stop them! They devoted all their robot-making resources to making it this way – I mean, who would want a male receptionist robot? HA! Don’t be silly! This way we can use them for fashion!

Next up is the fashion industry, of which Hirohisa Hirukawa, “one of the robot’s developers,” says, “Even as a fashion model, people in the industry told us she was short and had a rather ordinary figure.” I mean, I guess at least they’re being honest – they don’t WANT an ORDINARY figure, because that might… show what clothes would look like on an everyday kind of person. OOPS I MEAN it might look hideous!! So boring and ordinary, these robots that look like ordinary people! Besides, what’s the point of a female robot if it’s not cartoonishly sexified? Don’t these people play video games?

Finally, on to Kageyama. I love how she manages to slip one or two completely gratuitous and sexist – I mean HILARIOUS – jokes into the article. Take the first sentence: “A new walking, talking robot from Japan has a female face that can smile and has trimmed down to 43 kilograms (95 pounds) to make a debut at a fashion show.” Oh HAHAHA get it? She lost weight! What a sexy robot! If only all women weighed 95 pounds. If only she wasn’t so short and ordinary! And maybe there are some male humanoid robots out there that Kageyama just didn’t think were terribly relevant to this article, even though, you know, they WOULD be. So, too, would be a discussion about how a male robot might be equally useful (it could shoot things!). But hey, it’s not really an article about robots and new technology or anything – it’s an article about fembots! It’s about fashion and robot receptionists! How funny!

I wonder what “fun moves” people will program for her! What fun. Gah.

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