Today’s Found on Facebook – the princess effect

June 28, 2016

Lots of articles about it now but I’ll use the Time one I saw first:

A new study from Brigham Young University found that engaging with Disney princess culture could make young children more susceptible to gender stereotypes.

The small study, by family-life professor Sarah M. Coyne, looked at how much 198 preschoolers interacted with Disney princesses—through movies, toys and merchandise—and then assessed their behavior through reports from parents and teachers and a task in which the children were asked to rank their favorite toys among stereotypical “girl” options such as dolls, stereotypical “boy” options such as tool sets and gender-neutral options such as puzzles.

Now, from The Mic, people are pissed over the stereotypical portrayal of Maui in the new Disney movie Moana:

While Disney’s upcoming animated film Moana — in which Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson voices the boisterous Polynesian demigod Maui, who helps guide the young protagonist Moana to completing her coming-of-age quest — has been heralded for its diversity, it’s also now come under fire for what some people feel is a racist depiction of Polynesians.

Critics said Maui’s larger physique is misrepresentative to real Polynesian culture, and instead reinforces harmful stereotypes of Polynesians being obese.

Point being, it’s not just the ladies, ladies and gents. Think of Gaston. Think of Arial’s dad. Giant men, intended to be thought of as heroic and brave, if not the actual heroes of the films. Think of Belle’s dad. Think of Jasmine’s dad. Short, squat, prone to flights of fancy and silly behaviour. Adored by their only daughters, but hard to imagine they were ever sensible enough to get the bills paid or run a country.

Back to the princess study –

The researches found that 96% of girls and 87% of boys had viewed Disney princess media, and more than 61% of girls played with princess toys at least once a week, compared to 4% of boys. For both boys and girls, engagement with Disney princesses was associated with more female gender-stereotypical behavior a year later.

A New York Times blogger goes into more detail. Part of the concern is the future effect of princess mentality affecting girls in what could be considered negative ways, versus boys benefiting from a push toward traits and abilities long thought to be best suited to women. It’s useful for a boy to know how to care for a baby or cook meals or clean house, as it were.

The overall takeaway from this study has more to do with encouraging parents and guardians to be less passive about what kids are interested in. If a girl likes Belle, perhaps emphasize the intelligence and love of learning she has and the bravery and family love she shows. She’s not just a pretty face with a pretty dress on.

Which reminds me of this picture:

hotdog princess

Maybe the family is a fan of Adventure Time?


Today’s found on Facebook – Matthew McConaughey’s thoughts on religion

June 23, 2016

He has a new movie out (Free State of Jones) where he plays Newton Knight, a Confederate soldier who rebelled against the Confederacy. The Daily Beast provides this quote from the actor talking about the film and explaining what he thinks is wrong with America (and everything else):

“It is my personal belief that mankind has bastardized religion,” he says. “Religion actually means, if you look up the Latin root, ‘re’ which means again, and ‘ligare,’ which means to bind together. It means exactly the opposite of what and how we are often practicing it these days!

“All of this, the abolition of slavery in the Civil War at this time, they were almost all led by religious movements—Christian movements—that were trumping the ideals that everyone else had. They went further into it and said, ‘No, this is not right—because of the Bible.’”

Sigh. First, we’ll sort out the etymology of “religion” – turns out a few different thoughts on its origin are around. Related to monastic vows, belief in divine power, piety, respect for the sacred, etc…

However, popular etymology among the later ancients (Servius, Lactantius, Augustine) and the interpretation of many modern writers connects it with religare “to bind fast” (see rely), via notion of “place an obligation on,” or “bond between humans and gods.” In that case, the re- would be intensive. Another possible origin is religiens “careful,” opposite of negligens. In English, meaning “particular system of faith” is recorded from c. 1300; sense of “recognition of and allegiance in manner of life (perceived as justly due) to a higher, unseen power or powers” is from 1530s.

So, I’ll just throw a minor correction at Mr. McConaughey: mankind invented the idea of religion and, as evidenced by its changing definition, people have been changing their minds for centuries on what it means on a personal level and what it means culturally. It stands for different things at different points of history.

Much the same way as people for all of written history have reinterpreted the Bible and rewritten the so called Word of God for “modern” audiences. Tyndale Archive lists a shit ton more than a hundred of the ones in English alone. Old souls love to stick to the King James (1611) but I know the New International Version (1978) is also commonly quoted.

I love how he’s pointing to the Bible as the reason Newton decided to go against his compatriots and for the reason people aboloshed slavery. Have you read a Bible lately, Mr. McConaughey? Or thought to Google how often slavery is condoned and encouraged in there? The guys who wanted slaves could also point to the Bible as proof they were right to be White and continue to mistreat anyone who wasn’t. A couple easy finds right here:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. (Peter 2:18:)

However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46)

It’s called cherry picking, and everyone can use it to point to the Bible and claim they’re correct in whatever manner of thinking they feel is correct, all because they found a line or two in one of the books they happen to agree with.

The Smithsonian has a great article explaining the history of Knight and how the film got made, and what people around Jones County have to say about this man and this bit of local history. Sounds like his descendants are still struggling under his name and legacy. At least, the black ones.

Dorothy Knight Marsh and Florence Knight Blaylock are the great-granddaughters of Newt and Rachel. After many decades of living in the outside world, they are back in Soso, Mississippi, dealing with prejudice from all directions. The worst of it comes from within their extended family. “We have close relatives who won’t even look at us,” says Blaylock, the older sister, who was often taken for Mexican when she lived in California.

Both women appear in the film in a courthouse scene.

This is probably not a movie I’ll watch. I’m not much for historical drama. I will be listening to The Dollop later today, though, because they have a piece on this guy and if it’s anything like what they did for the story of Hugh Glass from The Revenant, it will be terrific.

Banned Book Club reads Fahrenheit 451

June 21, 2016

I got tricked into thinking it was a longer book; the 60th Anniversary Edition I snagged from the library is 2/3 story and 1/3 commentary and essays about the book and author, Ray Bradbury.

Montag lives in a future where the purpose of his job as fireman has less to do with saving lives and more about saving people from the ideas in books. After a chance meeting with a young girl who questions his purpose, Montag starts to consider the possibility that Clarisse was right. She knows pieces of their cultural history that she could have only gotten from books and she’s a stark contrast to his wife, Mildred, who spends every waking moment either hooked up at the ears to what passes for the internet in this dystopia, or watching the reality tv programs on every wall of the house. Clarisse vanishes and Montag steals a book he’s supposed to burn. This helps set off a domino effect of problems for himself and those he knows. He winds up escaping into the woods before bombs obliterate his hometown, finding a possible future among men who’ve also committed the crime of wanting to learn from the past and agrees to devote his life to memorizing the book he read, which turns out to be a piece of the Bible — Ecclesiastes.

Full of irony, that bit he remembers — here’s part of Chapter 1, bits bolded by me:

1 The words of the Teacher,[a] son of David, king in Jerusalem:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.

The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.


The book is filled with allusions and quotes to literary history – most of which went over my head on reading. I’ll quote this one from Heliweb:

First Fireman: Benjamin Franklin: Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), statesman and philosopher, is said to be one of the fathers of the American Dream and famous for his Autobiography . At the same time he is the founder of America’s first fire brigade, which came into being in Boston in 1736.

— at which point I simply must point to The Dollop podcast, which did an excellent rundown of the history of firefighting in the States. Amazing, crazy shit and totally worth a listen.

More from Heliweb:

Bradbury was obviously haunted by the idea of an atomic war: when he wrote his novel it was a few years ago only that the Americans dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet, the novelist is somewhat optimistic, if not naive, concerning the possibility for mankind to survive such a catastrophe: this seems to be possible for the so-called book people in the end, who live just a few miles away from the city which is destroyed by atomic bombing: however, they do not care about their being exposed to nuclear radiation.

And I never got the sense at the end of the story that it was atomic bombing that went on; I just thought whatever enemy blew the crap out of the town did so for no particular reason beyond there being a war going on. Which reminds me, wasn’t it Nagasaki that wasn’t even the intended target, but it was too cloudy for the first choice hit? (“Lucky” Kokura.)

I felt like I had read it before, but most of it still took me by surprise. What I did remember reading was a piece by Bradbury from the Coda about schools wanting to include the book in the reading syllabus but also wanting it heavily censored. From Villanova University:

Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953 by Ballantine Books, immediately captured the reading public’s imagination. A shorter version in novella form, “The Fireman,” had appeared in 1951 in Galaxy, a science fiction magazine. The novel takes place in a society that bans books which, if discovered, are then burned by firemen. The protagonist, Montag, a fireman, progressively becomes a believer in the value of books.

Ironically, Fahrenheit 451, an indictment of censorship, was itself censored by its publisher for thirteen years before Bradbury himself became aware of that. In 1967, Ballantine published an expurgated version of the novel to be used in high schools. Such words as “hell,” “damn” and “abortion” were eliminated.

In a novel of approximately one hundred and fifty pages, seventy-five passages were modified. Two episodes were actually changed. In one episode, a drunken man is changed to a sick man. In another, cleaning fluff out of a human naval becomes, in the expurgated version, cleaning ears.

Thus, part of the reason we include it in our banned book reading lists. Also, for content in general and the idea that the ideas in a book may be dangerous to read and share with others and may cause mass hysteria or confusion or trouble.

Makes me want to re-read Margaret Atwood’s classic, A Handmaid’s Tale, which we did as a banned book title some years ago. That was similar, at least in terms of creating a world where people were actively discouraged from learning anything. Same I suppose for 1984 and Brave New World, though in different ways, all books we’ve previously tackled as a group, which is why those links lead to previous posts of mine. Plug plug plug…

Question of Atheist Scruples – real life edition

June 20, 2016

An ex reaches out with this suggestion — what would you think of donating sperm?

A bit of anonymous backstory —

Relationships can be complicated and long lasting, even if the participants aren’t really in each other’s social circles anymore. A ten year anniversary apart, in this case, with several years in there of little to no contact at all.

But, this girl’s been involved for some years with a guy who has a history of putting off (and continues to put off) the notion of starting a family due to work or education or whatever may be the reason of the day. They’ve been rocky for this and other reasons from the sounds of things. It also sounds like the girl may just cut her losses and go on alone.. sort of.

She texted the 10 year anniversary guy to pose the question. The Man, being the sweet and honest man he is, let me know what had been going on in his messages yesterday regarding this. We had a good discussion.

I knew the girl briefly; we’d worked at the same place for a while. Saskatoon is smaller than it seems. I didn’t know she knew the Man until I’d known both of them for a while. Different social circles.

Life is fun.

Anyway, obviously nothing of this magnitude should be – or would be – agreed to in 5 minutes by text. It seemed more like “what if” kind of thinking, a contingency plan maybe.

On the topic of thinking, he already has one son from a previous relationship but we have no plans on adding a sibling ourselves. Anything he and the girl may decide to do winds up being between them as an arranged and legal contract agreement stipulating to whatever rights or the waiving thereof that they collectively would agree to.

There’d still be their folks and the Little Man to consider, though. Not that they need parental permission, being in their thirties, but would anything be said – or need to be said – to LM about his big brotherness here? It’d be shocking to discover later that a half-sibling’s in the world, though, wouldn’t it?

I’m reminded of some family history now, of a cousin whose kids learned their dad had a second family in town because those kids were going to the same damned school. The cousin didn’t know about it either but she was married to (or at least living with) the Sperminator at the time. It sounded like a hell of a mess, though.

The girl got her Master’s degree in some kind of biological science, I think, which doesn’t matter per se, except in terms of demonstrating her ambition. She’s no slouch. I’m sure she’s thought about what kind of impact single parenting would have on career prospects. Or at least, easy opportunities. She also has a history of “issues” to use a description that isn’t very explanatory. I can’t elaborate since I have no details, and should just leave it out, actually, but won’t. Everyone has issues that affect how they think or behave in certain situations. Thinking things out in this Q of S kind of way can’t prove you’d behave that way if that situation really happened to you.

I’ll leave it here. Thoughts?

Question of Atheist Scruples – trust in the workplace

June 20, 2016

You think you are a trusted employee. But after a theft, you are asked to submit to a lie detector test. Do you?

The point of a polygraph machine is to measure physiological changes. It’s not catching lies so much as it’s measuring reaction based on previously established baselines for heart rate and other things. Via Live Science:

When you’re taking a polygraph test, the machine first registers the baseline of your vital signs. Examiners then trick you into lying by asking you a series of “control” questions that are only distantly related to the issue they’re investigating, such as “Did you ever lie to get out of trouble?” or “Have you ever committed a crime?” Most examinees will answer “no” to such questions they’re trying to come across as honest but examiners assume that the answer to at least one control question will really be “yes” (after all, you’ve probably lied at some point or another, and jay-walked). As soon as the examinee tells such a white lie, it puts a blip on the polygraph machine that serves as a signature of that examinee’s lies.

Must be a pretty big theft to be bringing in experts. I’d probably wind up admitting to bringing a pen home and maybe not paying for a bit of personal photocopying (yet), but whatever kind of big ticket thing went out the door.. wasn’t me…

But now I’m reminded of my Walmart days. Fuck, I hated that job. (Meeting the Man there is the highlight of the years of long service.) Well, more I hated it after I got booted out of Electronics into Fashion. Why was I moved? I suspect it was (partly) because of this:

The video games were kept in cabinets for obvious theft reasons — although personal DVD players weren’t and many empty boxes were found in Infants’ Wear, a popular spot for people to hide their thieving because many days/nights nobody would be working in there. I digress…

I’d opened the Playstation cabinet (I think it was) to get a system for a guy and (yes, this was against store policy) handed it to him while I locked the case, probably because someone else needed into another one, but I don’t remember anymore. The game area was always busy.

He wandered off and I, Honest Minion, assumed he took it to the till to pay for it. Most people would. I find out later that he actually did a runner. Huh. How ’bout that.

I get called into a meeting with my assistant manager a few days later, having already forgotten that happened, and he asks me if I know why I’m there. I say I don’t know. He reminds me. “Oh, that,” I said. I guess I wasn’t contrite enough. I didn’t grovel enough or flog myself or kiss his boots and beg for mercy.

Shit went missing there all the time. There wasn’t proof that I was in cahoots with the dude. I honestly assumed he’d gone to pay for the thing.

Anyway, back to the question. I’d probably be annoyed to be wired up but hopefully everyone else would also be getting questioned, that all the suspicion wouldn’t be centered on me. That’s all I got, really.

Pop culture stress and theft — Sliding Doors did a neat thing as a movie, featuring a scene where Gwyneth Paltrow’s character gets fired for “stealing a bottle of wine” she intended to replace. The movie is set so that the audience can watch two futures unfold, one where she catches the train home after getting sacked, thus catching her boyfriend in bed with another woman and one where she misses the train and has no idea what’s going on without her knowledge. I thought it was pretty well done.

The from The IT Crowd:

Swiss tunnel opening ceremony deemed “satanic”: features guy dressed as goat

June 13, 2016

You should be listening to No Such Thing as a Fish and watching No Such Such Thing as the News, the QI Elves’ foray into television. I just learned a very interesting fact in a recent episode. Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland ran a very unique opening ceremony.

I don’t know what’s going on here.

Breitbart attempts to explain:

The ceremony was intended to represent various aspects of Swiss culture. But, men in masks, others in costumes made of long brown grass, weird angels descending from the ceiling, even a man in a goat mask that others seem to be worshiping are all said by some to be from the pits of hell…

The part that has most galvanized the worldwide web is when a goat man emerges and appears to be worshiped by the dancers, some dressed in grass costumes, others wearing horrifying masks.

It is all a mishmash that is odd and confusing to any casual observer, modern dance that is likely not the taste of the men who built the tunnel, some of whom lost their lives…

Google “Demons of the Alps” and you will see the most troubling part of the show, the men in grass consumes and others in scary masks and even the goat man, are part of Swiss Christmas tradition.

Every year on the December 6th Feast of St. Nicholas of Bari (a Catholic saint who provided the dowries of poor girls so they could get married rather than end up in prostitution and upon whom Santa Claus is based), St. Nicholas wanders around town giving out gifts and money. He is followed by Krampus (Demons of the Alps) who try to scare the children, not unlike what happens at Halloween.

So if you come across anyone claiming it’s demonic, it’s not. It’s just a different culture showing off how they celebrate notable things. Weird as hell, but think about what other cultures must be thinking of yours around Turducken time…

Today’s Facebook Find – Maisie Williams is media savvy

June 7, 2016

I saw this yesterday, actually, but I’d already listed a Facebook find so saved it until today. Via Huff-Po (sorry), although seen on other sites.

Maisie had no patience with the Daily Mail and their obsession over her lack of bra at a recent charity event. Never mind what she was doing there in the first place and how much money the charity raised. Hell no. Girl has no bra on, man! This is headline news! At least, online headline. Did it make the paper itself? I’m in Canada so I don’t know.

The clever girl tweeted back with some sense and a better story lede:

Game of Thrones actor, Maisie Williams, helps raise thousands at a Summer Masquerade Ball for @NSPCC 🐸☕️

So there.

Attagirl. It’s great to see people stand up to media idiocy and I’m sure she will continue to inspire and be a model for the future of women and all humankind, frankly.