He also has sent up the call for people to tell the FCC how horrible of an idea their current attempts at smashing Net Neutrality really is.
Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere
LeVar Burton is attempting to raise funds to re-start Reading Rainbow as a multi-pronged internet venture, targeting tablets and the internet. Which seems incredibly smart to me. I’ve seen the recent upcoming generations and at least a good portion of them are being weaned on tablets. Being on the web will make it very accessible for schools to incorporate it in the classroom. Not that this campaign mentions it, but this could also be the step to getting it back on television.
Either way, look it over, and see what you can afford. This is definitely one of those projects worth donating to.
So here is a hilarious video about a technology someone is developing that needs some financial support.
Personally I’d love to see this, or something like this, instituted. We are at a time where technology can solve a significant amount of our problems but we’re being held back by commercialism and the need to make a profit. For profit corporations, who have the capital do things like this, can’t because it wouldn’t be economically feasible, but we, as a society, can use crowdfunding to give money to the people who are willing to make today and tomorrow a better place, even if they don’t make a profit.
That isn’t’ to say I’m not hesitant myself. Their prototypes honestly look kinda ugly close up, and the LED idea is really neat but I’d like to see actual pictures of the LED system, in broad daylight, and up close. But when I think about it, asphalt really isn’t all that pretty either. And there are questions of maintenance. How often will streets need to be cleaned to keep them energy-efficient, for example? Plus there are people who staunchly feel solar technology is the savior people like to make it out to be. What happens when newer technology comes out?
The best I can say is that these questions will be addressed, or this will never catch on, but we won’t find a perfect solution, nor any solution without trying. Solar panel technology been progressing steadily in both efficiency of energy gathering and efficiency of cost over the last decade. The proposed hexagonal system appears modular enough to be upgradable as newer breakthroughs are made. Cleaning might be easily done with current street sweeping technology.
Ultimately I think this could be a significant investment in the future, and it is worth taking a gamble on.
This video is rather long, for an internet video, but well worth watching. It will help you understand an aspect of U.S. society you may or may not be aware of.
You don’t have to look very far these days to see sexism but you do have to know what you are looking for. The problem is that most of us are effectively blind to it, both because it is kept behind close doors and because it is hiding in plain sight. And when people, particularly women, call attention to it, they’re often labeled misogynist, or simply told to “laugh it off”. Even when sexism is dragged out from behind doors for all to see, it is easy to claim that it is happening to just one person, or a small group of people, hidden away, and not a systemic problem within our society.
Noted and award winning author Mary Robinette Kowal was slandered by some of her peers in the Science Fiction Writer’s Association (SFWA) the other day. Male members of the organization made comments via the organization’s public email listserv. One called her a hypocrite based upon her public views as a feminist and what clothing she chooses to wear to award ceremonies, as well as simply calling her phony and incompetent.
To her credit, Mary has offered a response which, rather than simply attacking back, called attention to this attack and focused instead on making it an example of sexism and to make note that this is not an incident she is facing alone, but that women inside and outside the SFWA suffer all the time from what is effectively verbal abuse.
In her response entitled”Me, as a useful representative example“, she says the following:
Then I replied to the messages saying, “Honestly, I’m fine. Four years in office inured me to this so mostly I’m just laughing.”
And this is the part that I feel I should draw attention to — I was “mostly” laughing. I was also having mild stress reactions. Dry sweats, elevated heart rate. I was ready to shrug them off as, “Meh, doesn’t materially affect me. I’ve seen worse.”
Until someone pointed it out that I was basically saying, “I’m inured to being abused, because I was abused for years.” See… the things those folks are saying in that public forum? When I was in office, they would email that bile directly to me and because I was an officer, I could not choose to ignore it. I had to read every single one. And I had to reply politely to them. Strangely, sometimes I had trouble doing that, but a polite response was the one that was expected. Now? Being out of office for two years, I can say whatever the fuck I want, but most beautifully, I don’t have to read the emails.
So this is why I feel weird about writing about this. My impulse is to tell you all that I’m fine and that this has no material affect on my life. And that is true. But I also know that I am a useful representative sample of the abuse that happens to other women.
Too many places, too many women, get this sort of unwelcome attention and commentary about what they were wearing but no one does anything. It’s always, “Laugh about it” or “Just shrug it off,” or “Ignore it and he’ll go away.”
You see how well that last is working?
So, I really, truly am fine. But watch what happens to me now that I’m posting. Read the comments when they happen. Note the people who say that because I’m talking about the abuse, I must be begging for attention.
Take me as a useful representative example. And know that I am not an isolated case.
It is sad that we need examples and I applaud Kowal for providing one. And we do need one. I recently was reading an online article about a video game that was in no way related to gender equality. In the middle of this author’s article, he says the following:
…this is, after all, a game where half the punchlines are “ogling women is funny” (and I say that as a staunch anti-feminist)…
It stopped me reading right in my tracks. It took me awhile to comprehend that the initial statement meant that the game wasn’t necessarily to be taken so seriously as it relied upon humor like men staring at women. Yet I couldn’t understand why he felt compelled to add the anti-feminism qualifier, to declare that he was staunchly opposed to a society where men and women are treated equally without discrimination or abuse, be it physical or emotional.
Actually it seems unlikely that the author is an active proponent of sexism. Instead he is likely ignorant of the amount of sexism that exists in our culture and the harm that it does. Instead he is reacting to the backlash that accompanies attempts to educate people regarding this harm, shielding himself from it by claiming that he is not a feminist. This backlash is what Mary Robinette Kowal wants you to look for in the coming days.
That backlash will be just some of the sexism that hides in plain sight.
Apparently, these guys don’t want women to write science fiction by Aja Romano [DailyDot.com]
Me, as a useful representative example by Mary Robinette Kowal [MaryRobinetteKowal.com]
Cheap Arts by Silvia Moreno-Garcia [Silvia Moreno-Garcia.com]
Mary Robinette Kowal Offers Herself Up as a Useful Representative Example by John Scalzi [whatever.scazli.com]
Does Bravely Default Hate Atheists? by Geoff Thew [HardCoreGamer.com]
Here’s a video fo Katee Sackhoff and Jamie Bamber, actors of Battlestar Galactica fame, discussing sexism in Hollywood and the television industry. You don’t have to watch the entire video:
“We expect women not to age, which I find offensive to me.”
“And how roles just disappear for women when they approach 40, and I think that is a problem.”
“I was told I was overweight and needed to lose weight from the day I got to California.”
“And I’ve always kind of wondered if I had lost 20 lbs would my career would be here [motioning to higher] rather than here [motioning to lower].”
It is also kind of telling how prevalent this kind of sexism is, when you hear a part of the crowd start to applaud Katee for saying that she has been the same size since she was seventeen. Somewhat amusingly it apparently became obvious to some of the crowd that wasn’t something to necessarily cheer about.
Perhaps old news for some but this caught my eye and I felt like commenting on it.
Popular Science, the website/magazine, is turning off comments on their website’s articles citing that comment sections no longer support their goal of fostering discussion and debate about emerging science and technology. How is that? How can having the ability to comment on an article somehow making discussion worse? Well blame the trolls.
The article cites a study which show that readers who read civil comments after an article are unfazed in their opinion of the article, however readers who reads negative or uncivil comments have their opinions polarized, that is they grow a strong opinion, one way or the other, about the article and its content.
“Simply including an ad hominem attack in a reader comment was enough to make study participants think the downside of the reported technology was greater than they’d previously thought.”
This is what I call the theater effect. If you watch a film in a theater with a bunch of friends and then discuss it afterwards, it is often the case that if at least one person disliked the film then the entire group will generally come to a negative consensus about the film, even if there is at least one person who vehemently liked the film. And in many cases, if such a person existed within the group, their opinion would not have been so overwhelmingly positive without the negative to spur it.
Popular Science points out that this gives a lot of power to relatively small amount of people, who can effectively interfere with the opinions of people on new ideas, new science, and new technology, by attacking the technology with baseless lies and irrational arguments. Combine this with the current state of social upheaval in regards to science and education and you get a rather stinky concoction.
“A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.”
And there is the meat of the argument. Popular media and the internet has made it easy for people to talk but not everybody is informed and some even actively attempting to sabotage discussion. These types of people can and are taken as rational debaters in debates that shouldn’t even exist, and Popular Science feels that their comments section only aggravates the situation, which I can completely understand. It makes me sad, of course but perhaps it is a step in the right direction. Now readers can form their own opinions of a given article without immediate influence, and can discuss it elsewhere.