She’ll need Steven and Brian’s help

Oh good, a “girls can” book that actually says girls can’t. Helpful.

The latest affront to basic decency in gendered toy marketing comes from a Barbie book that tells girls they can’t be game developers or programmers.

The book is bafflingly called Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer. It was written by Susan Marenco and published by Random House. Despite its encouraging title, Marenco’s book actually tells pre-teen girls that Barbie can only contribute to the design of the game she’s building. [Read more…]

A fish notices the water

At Slate: Phil Plait on The Shirt and the fallout after The Shirt and the apology and the moving on.

To be clear, I don’t think Taylor is a raging misogynist or anything like that; I think he was just clueless about how his words might sound and his shirt might be interpreted. We all live in an atmosphere steeped in sexism, and we hardly notice it; a fish doesn’t notice the water in which it swims. I’ve lived in that environment my whole life, and I was well into adulthood before I started becoming aware of it and figuring out how to counter it. I’m still learning.

*raises hand* I notice it! [Read more…]

Guest post: An observation from St Carl of Ithaca

Originally a comment by Blake Stacey on The most shameful ontological status.

I felt a little of that when the Mars Rover landed safely. I was disappointed there weren’t more women in the room. I hoped there would be more in the future. I was glad to see the few who were there.

This reminded me of something, so I went and looked it up. Everyone open your hymnals to St. Carl of Ithaca, Pale Blue Dot (1994), p. 243, describing the collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter:

The impact of the millennium was beginning to look very much like a fizzle. [Read more…]

Life in prison for selling $10 worth of marijuana

The ACLU has a report on life sentences in prison without parole. Many such sentences are for non-violent crimes.

The number of people sentenced to life without parole
has quadrupled nationwide in the past 20 years, even
while violent crime has been declining during that
period. Not only has the use of life-without-parole sentences
exploded, but the punishment is available for a broader
range of offenses, and those sentenced to LWOP include
people convicted of nonviolent crimes, including low-level
nonviolent offenses. [Read more…]