“Technology is usually fairly neutral. It’s like a hammer, which can be used to build a house or to destroy someone’s home. The hammer doesn’t care. It is almost always up to us to determine whether the technology is good or bad.”—
Noam Chomsky, answering a question from an 11-year-old named Honor on whether technology is always good. It’s the perfect answer, if you ask me.
Chomsky’s words come from Does My Goldfish Know Who I Am?, a collection of young people’s questions answered by great scientists and thinkers. It’s ample proof that many of our greatest questions are simple ones, and their answers delight minds both brilliant and new.
Remember, remember! The fifth of November, The Gunpowder treason and plot; I know of no reason Why the Gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot! Guy Fawkes and his companions Did the scheme contrive, To blow the King and Parliament All up alive. Threescore barrels, laid below, To prove old England’s overthrow. But, by God’s providence, him they catch, With a dark lantern, lighting a match! A stick and a stake For King James’s sake! If you won’t give me one, I’ll take two, The better for me, And the worse for you. A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope, A penn’orth of cheese to choke him, A pint of beer to wash it down, And a jolly good fire to burn him. Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring! Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King! Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!
There has been a lot of criticism in the academic literature of the research supposedly showing evidence of ‘innate’ sex differences in psychological tendencies. Even setting that aside, I think it’s a misconception to think of hormonal contributions to behaviour as being somehow more ‘real’ or fundamental than social ones. Studies that manipulate the gender labelling of toys find clear effects on children’s preferences, and it has also been found that making gender psychologically salient increases in-group favouritism and out-group prejudice.
It’s also interesting to think about children’s toys in the context of relevant psychological traits. Nurturance is strongly associated with ‘girl toys’, and aggression and competitiveness with ‘boy toys’. Yet girl/boy differences in nurturant and aggressive behaviour are surprisingly small, with huge overlap, while sex differences in competitiveness aren’t consistently seen. In other words, the sharp gender segregation of toys simply doesn’t reflect the psychological similarities between girls and boys.
”—Cordelia Fine, neuroscientist and author of Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences in an interview at Let Toys Be Toys
If you loved science, you’d vote based on candidates who want to increase funding for it. You’d make it an issue that actually generates media debate, that sees equal time with the wars we fight and the bills we pay our aging workforce. These other things are priorities, too. But if you think science comes after these things, you’re dead wrong: Science is the reason we’ve gotten so damned good at these things.
If you really love science, you’ll start making noise about this issue. You’ll start asking why the U.S. is shooting itself—and the world—in the foot by putting science on the back burner. We can spend as much as we want on other things, but in the end, if we’re not funding science, we’re moving backwards.
“Well, there is some genuine wondering as to what the fox really says…I mean, who cares what the shark says?”—Bård Ylvisåker (one of the guys behind “The Fox,” the summer’s funniest viral music video) talks to us about his work and going viral. (via motherjones)
“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me,” Manning said in a statement. “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way I have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.”
Here is what I am going to say about this:
I think Manning is probably one of the bravest people in the world.
We already plenty of evidence of bravery — Manning took great personal risk in an attempt to expose injustice (though perhaps clumsily via Wikileaks).
And now this — making a public statement about identity to a world that is hostile to such identities.
I am more afraid for Manning than I was even yesterday, but awed all the same by this brave, brave act.
“When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system. A legal system that doesn’t distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability. ”—ACLU Report on Bradley Manning Prison Sentence
“The first thing that needs to be said historically about Jim Crow voting laws is that they have never been (to my knowledge) explicitly racist. Even at the height of segregation, no law ever said that black people could not vote for being black. Jim Crow has always been about finding “justifiable” means (albeit fantastically ludicrous and farcical ones) of rigging the voting pool to the advantage of the party in power. In the segregated south, these means included poll taxes (since it costs money to count votes) and civics and literacy tests (since a democracy requires educated citizens). These laws were then enforced selectively so that poor whites did not get tripped up by them. In our present sociopolitical environment, it is no longer possible to systematically disenfranchise an entire race at the level that could be accomplished in the Old South. But what the new voting laws can accomplish is to suppress enough of a percentage of voters to tip the balance in a close election.”—Why you shouldn’t growl when people cry “Jim Crow” about NC’s new voting law (via azspot)
Dude. Every time this stuff surfaces, I feel validated for the general sense of displeasure that I had when I first read Ender’s Game. I knew I was “supposed” to like it (it was been given to me by The Ex who was/is a true sci-fi devotee) and it had elements that I found enjoyable, but something about it just rubbed me the wrong way. And when I found out that Orson Scott Card was a homophobicanti-semite crazy person, I was like “OHHHH THAT’S WHY I DIDN’T LIKE IT”.
Fox News host Neil Cavuto has a special message for living-wage activists: Deal with it. “It’s like jobs aren’t enough these days,” he said on Tuesday. “They better pay well, or folks just aren’t applying for them at all.” As proof, he cited his own teenage years serving fried fish in Connecticut:
Only in America today, can our politicians bemoan a livable wage, forgetting a lot of folks would be grateful for any wage, any chance, any job, anytime. All I know is as soon as I turned 16 and heard a fast food chain called Arthur Treacher’s was opening a store in my town of Danbury, Connecticut. I stood in a line for a position—any position. I got the job, and soon rocketed to relief manager, then weekend manager, then by 16 and a half, full-time store manager! And it all started at two bucks an hour. And all the fish I could eat.
That’s a good story. But the math makes the opposite point Cavuto intended—adjusted for inflation, he made a lot more money as a teenager than the fast food employees who walked off their jobs in seven US cities this week. Cavuto says he made $2 per hour when he was 16, which would have been around late 1974. That’s $9.47 per hour in today’s dollars—or $.28 per hour more than Washington state’s minimum wage, which is the nation’s highest. Cavuto made the equivalent of $1.02 per hour more than the current minimum wage in Connecticut today and $2.22 per hour more than the current federal minimum wage. His starting wage was $2.17 more than Saavedra Jantuah made at the Burger King on 34th St. in New York City before she walked off the job in protest last November because she was unable to feed her son.
Cavuto’s riff also misses the larger point, which is that the living-wage fight isn’t about 16-year-olds with no kids whose parents cover their basic living expenses. The median fast food worker is 28 years old, and the median female fast food worker is 32. Their wages have dropped an average of 36 cents since 2010. And they’re making less than Neil Cavuto ever did.
“The truth is that he [Bradley Manning] did not deserve a day in prison for informing the public here as he did. He certainly does not deserve an additional day after the abusive treatment he’s received here of three years awaiting trial, 10½ months in solitary confinement, part of that nude, a treatment which was described by the UN Rapporteur for Torture as, if not being torture – and he didn’t have all the facts there because he hadn’t been allowed to speak to Manning alone – but he said at the very least it was cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment, which is the definition of a crime under the Geneva Conventions we’ve signed and under domestic law. So he should have been released on the grounds of governmental misconduct, as was the case in my trial, but wasn’t.”—Daniel Ellsberg (via azspot)
“Yes, the Bechdel Test. It’s named for Alison Bechdel, who is a comic book creator. The test is, are there two named women in the film? Do they talk to each other? And is it about something other than a man? I actually think the Bechdel Test is a little advanced for us sometimes. I have one called the Sexy Lamp Test, which is, if you can remove a female character from your plot and replace her with a sexy lamp and your story still works, you’re a hack.”—Comic book writer Kelly Sue DeConnick (Captain Marvel, Avengers Assemble)
In seven cities across the nation– New York, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City and Flint, Michigan– fast food workers are walking out in protest of low wages. It is expected to be the largest fast food walkout in American history.
The workers in New York City are fighting for a wage increase from $7.25 an hour to $15, which is probably not even close to the least one needs to live on in that city. The strike is being organized by Fast Food Forward, an organization dedicated to fighting for fair wages for fast food employees. The organization also has a petition you can sign to support the workers, if you are so inclined. The strikes are being backed by unions, clergy and the Service Employees International Union.
In 2012, while the rest of the country was struggling to make ends meet, trying to get over a crippling recession, Corporate Executives got a collective 16% pay raise. Mind you, this was at the exact same time that they were telling us that they could not possibly afford to provide health care for their workers. Mind you, these are the people insisting that they cannot possibly pay their workers enough to live on.
A CEO at a fast food chain makes $25,000 a day, which is more than double what the average fast food worker makes in a year ($11,000). It should be abundantly clear by now that the rich have absolutely no intention of letting their wealth “trickle down.”
At some point, we all have to start saying “no.” We need to be sickened by this. Our collective jaws need to drop when CEO’s give themselves a raise while at the same time telling their workers that there just isn’t enough money to pay them a decent wage. We need to be appalled by the fact that these people are so greedy that they do not bat an eyelash over the fact that our tax money has to go to social programs to supplement these paltry wages that no one can actually live on. These companies are, in effect, stealing from us.
“This is a troubling trend to an experienced educator like Gerzon, who knows how much a child can soak up in the right environment. After years of study and practice, she’ll tell you that 5-year-olds don’t learn by listening to a rote lesson, their bottoms on their chairs. They learn through experience. They learn through play. Yet there is a growing disconnect between what the research says is best for children — a classroom free of pressure — and what’s actually going on in schools.”—from Pressure-cooker kindergarten by Patti Hartigan at Boston.com