Nel's New Day

November 22, 2014

What Were They Thinking!? Barbie and Palin

Filed under: Feminism — trp2011 @ 9:20 PM
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What were they thinking?! To sell more dolls and make money from females, Mattel came out with a book showing the sexist toy completely dependent on males to be a computer engineer. In a blog about Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer, Pamela Ribon pointed out that Barbie tells her sister, Skipper, that she’s “designing a game that shows kids how computers work .” That’s before she tells Skipper that she needs “Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game” because she’s “only creating the design ideas.”

Wearing her flash drive on a pink heart-shaped necklace, Barbie’s computer gets a computer virus that infects Skipper’s hmework. When she tells Steven and Brian about the problem, Steven says, “It will go faster if Brian and I help.” Barbie is only too grateful to let them do the work although Barbie’s teacher has already explained how Barbie can fix the problem. The book then culminates in Barbie’s taking credit for the work that the two boys did.

The book came out in 2010 but drew little attention until Pamela Ribon’s blog that includes pages from the book. The embarrassed Mattel published an apology before it pulled the book from amazon.com:

“We believe girls should be empowered to understand that anything is possible and believe they live in a world without limits. We apologize that this book didn’t reflect that belief. All Barbie titles moving forward will be written to inspire girls’ imaginations and portray an empowered Barbie character.”

The apology has jacked up the price of the book for those who have used copies. Prices range between $200 and $290.

After the fact, author Susan Marenco noted problems with the book. She said, “Maybe I should have made one of those programmers a female – I wish I did.” Mattel had requested that Barbie be a designer. Marenco added, “Maybe I should have pushed back, and I usually I do, but I didn’t this time.”

Casey Fiesler pushed back by remixing the book for a new version. The dialog includes this exchange between Barbie and Ken:

Ken: “If girls start making videogames, they’ll take out all the hot chicks, and they’ll all be about puppies and picking out hairstyles.”

Barbie: “Don’t be a moron, Ken. You spend more time on your hair than I do.”

In an article about the book, Fiesler wrote:

“In the end, we don’t need a book (or a doll!) to show a young girl that STEM is just as much for them as for boys. Tell her, or show her! Find out what she’s interested in and tell her how technology relates to it. Point out that computers aren’t just passive by getting her started in a kid-friendly programming environment like Scratch.”

Kathleen Tuite has created a site where people can create different versions of the book. One of the first of over 2,000 submissions switched roles in the book so that Barbie is the game programmer.

Before the Mattel pulled the book, amazon.com reviews in the United Kingdom averaged one star. Respondents in the U.S. were kinder—or perhaps more clueless—although it brought responses like these.

“The first computer coders were women, not men. A woman, Ada Lovelace, invented the idea for general programming language in 1843, for crying out loud, and had other visionary ideas about what would become computing.”—Caroline Farr

“Only Mattel and Barbie could send the message that a pretty young bimbo has to leave the real work of coding to the guys.”—Judy Stoodley

This is not the first time in Barbie’s 65-year history that people have pointed out Mattel’s gaffes in the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). An a 1992 release, Teen Talk Barbie babbled “Math class is tough,” and “I love shopping.”

Barbie is modeled after Bild Lilli, a doll intended for adult men—sort of a sex toy. Sometimes given as bachelor gifts, the dolls’ wardrobe was composed of negligees, tiny top, and tight pants. Men put them on dashboards, and others bought them for the thrill of peeping under her ensembles.

Another terrible gaffe comes from the Smithsonian Magazine list of the 100 most significant Americans of all time, over four centuries of history. The usually revered people are on it: presidents such as Lincoln, FDR, and Washington; activists such as Frederick Douglass; entrepreneurs such as Henry Ford and Steve Jobs; and other icons such as John Muir, Frank Sinatra, Mark Twain, and Babe Ruth.

One name sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb–Sarah Palin. No, this is not a joke—unless the Smithsonian meant it as such. George W. Bush is there, and Barack Obama is not. Steven Skiena, Distinguished Teaching Professor of Computer Science at Stony Brook University, and Charles B. Ward, an engineer at Google, devised “an algorithmic method of ranking historical figures, just as Google ranks web pages,” and “their concept of significance has less to do with achievement than with an individual’s strength as an Internet meme — how vividly he or she remains in our collective memory.” Smithsonian took their list and edited it by assessing how well the individuals’ achievements are remembered and valued in the present day.

As Stephen D. Foster, Jr. wrote:

“Palin, America’s village idiot known for quitting as Governor of Alaska and engaging in drunken brawls and incoherent speeches full of factual errors such as not knowing the actual address of the White House, is on the list, while the first African-American president in American history is not.”

Palin made the “First Women” category with Pocahontas, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton, Martha Washington, Hellen (sic) Keller, Sojourner Truth, Jane Addams, Edith Wharton, Bette Davis, Oprah Winfrey. The magazine didn’t even spell Helen Keller’s name correctly.

People have long known that Barbie should not be a role model for young girls, but until now the Smithsonian has been an honored institution. James Smithson left his entire estate worth over $500,000 in 1829 (almost $11 million today) to found an institution “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” The Smithsonian should be embarrassed by its choice and issue an apology just as Mattel has. Including Sarah Palin on this list has destroyed any credibility of the Smithsonian. Girls in the United States need to aim higher than Barbie and Sarah Palin—much higher.

March 13, 2013

Palin Enters War on Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:39 PM
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After being released (fired?) by Fox News, past half-governor of Alaska and failed vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin will be writing a new book. Or at least her ghost writer will be again employed. Considering all the issues that she could approach—deficit, tax cuts for the wealthy, terrorism, mass killings, drugs, etc.—it is perhaps surprising that she has chosen to write about The War on Christmas. But that’s Sarah Palin.

Thus publisher HarperCollins’ announcement that “#1 bestselling author…Sarah Palin” will tackle the pressing concern of those who want to destroy that most secular of all religious holidays, Christmas:

“Now, in A Happy Holiday IS a Merry Christmas, Palin defends one of the most sacred holidays of the Christian faith against the politically correct elite who have hijacked the season. In her book, Palin defines the case for holding traditional Christmas dear to our hearts and for bringing back the freedom to express the Christian values of the season. Palin asserts the importance of preserving Jesus Christ in Christmas—whether in public displays, school concerts, pageants, and to each other—and laments the over-commercialization and homogenization of Christmas in today’s society.”

The press release continues:

“This will be a fun, festive, thought provoking book, which will encourage all to see what is possible when we unite in defense of our faith and ignore the politically correct Scrooges who would rather take Christ out of Christmas. In a time where Christian values are challenged, A Happy Holiday IS a Merry Christmas will be a call to action for readers to openly celebrate the joys of their Christianity, and say Merry Christmas to one another.”

John Viall wrote on Addicting Info:

“First the liberals came for the Christmas cards and we said nothing. Then they came for the lawn decorations, the plastic angels and such. And still good Christians said nothing. Then they came for the tinsel and right-wingers failed to speak up. Then they came for Santa Claus and Rudolph and Bambi.”

He continued by recommending a banner with the slogan “live free and drink eggnog” that has a Christmas tree in the middle—sort of like “life free and die” with the coiled snake. He imagines a bumper sticker: “You’ll have to pry my cold dead fingers off my fruit cake.” Palin can move from her past focus on “unplugged grannies” to one on “unplugged Christmas trees.”

You have just seven months to wait until Palin’s third book is released in November—just in time for the commercial Christmas season. Of course, if you want to avoid the commercialization of Christmas, as Palin recommends, you won’t buy the book.

August 30, 2012

GOP Convention 2012 – Day Two, Mendacious

The GOP convention soldiered on into Day Two yesterday. Mitt Romney managed his usual “thumb-his-nose-at-the-poor” gaffe when a Florida developer held an event to thank people who had raised over $1 million for Romney—on a 150-foot yacht flying the Cayman Islands flag. Romney refused to give the names of these top “bundlers” who mostly hid their name tags when they were off the yacht. “He is the first nominee in 12 years to withhold these names,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political money.

In a pre-convention speech, Condoleezza Rice was heckled by protesters when she talked about her conversations with George W. Bush when they pondered “what could be done to show that America was compassionate about the poorest people.” People have wondered what would happen when the GOP finally brought up the joint specters of Bush 43 and the ill-conceived wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Rice also couldn’t remember one specific foreign policy in the past three years.

When Ann Romney spoke at a luncheon to persuade women and Latinos/as to vote for her husband, she said that Hispanics should get past their biases because her husband is better for them than President Obama. She didn’t mention that her husband said that he would get undocumented people to “self-deport,” veto the Dream Act that would provide a path to citizenship to young people brought to the country illegally as children, and use the virulent Arizona anti-immigrant laws as a model for the nation.

After the hoopla around Mike Huckabee’s support for Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) following his comment about “legitimate rape,” Huckabee’s speech was pretty pro forma: he grew up poor without government help, Romney gave 16 percent of his money to the church, etc. His reason for supporting Romney hit a new low bar; people should support Romney because he has been faithful to his wife and his religion. And how does Huckabee know how much Romney gave his church? Has Huckabee seen Romney’s tax returns?

The most tepid endorsement of Romney—and that’s saying a lot!—came from John McCain who moved back to basic Republican orthodoxy, using his speech to lie about President’s foreign policies and call for war in the Middle East. He wants a more aggressive stance against Iran, a more aggressive defense of Israel, a more aggressive whatever in Syria. He didn’t talk about Iraq or Osama bin Laden, two huge failures for the GOP. His recommendation is that the United States save all the oppressed people in the world, and he trusts Romney to do all these things without any funding. There’s a lot of trust of Romney going around the conservative world these days.

The highlight of the evening was actually Condoleezza Rice in a speech that some more liberal pundits declared as “presidential” and made up for problems earlier in the day. The beginning was what one might expect: 9/11, foreign policy, trade, energy independence—all standard Republican speech topics. It was when she moved to discussing civil rights, beginning her own experiences of racism as a child, that she sounded like a moderate. She supported compassion for immigrants who wish to come to the United States. Once again Romney’s name got short shrift. A question is whether her speech is a precursor to plans for 2016; she certainly made up for earlier disasters during the day.

The purpose of Day Two was to “introduce” Paul Ryan as the VP candidate. The nicest thing that a journalist said about his speech is that Ryan was “factually challenged.” Another asked the question about what word could be used when he went beyond lying. A Fox News column described him as dazzling, deceiving, and distracting with the statement: “Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was  Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.”

Even the right-leaning Washington Post referred to the speech as “a misleading indictment of President Obama” and lambasted Ryan for not spelling out some of the “tough choices” that Romney’s administration will require from the people.

Ryan’s speech dismissed the Obama $831 billion stimulus as “wasted money” while he failed to mention that his home town of Janesville (WI) is far better off because of what they received from the stimulus. He repeated his lie that Barack Obama didn’t help the GM auto plant that closed in Janesville in 2008 when he was a candidate. George W. Bush was president in 2008, and the plant may reopen if GM decides to do this.

Ryan blamed the president for not adopting the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles Commission. After Ryan voted no on the commission’s conclusions and walked out, Congress could not take action. Ryan also voted against job creation when he opposed the president’s 2011 American Jobs Act that would have created 1.5-2 million jobs.

One of the biggest lies from Ryan and the Romney campaign is that the president has stripped Medicare while the Republicans will keep it intact. Both parts of this statement are false: the president will save the country $716 while retaining Medicare because of the Affordable Care Act, and the Republicans will destroy the entire program the minute that they have any control.

Ryan blamed the president for the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating instead of explaining that the Republicans’ games brought the country close to defaulting on its foreign debt. He gave Romney credit for raising the credit rating in Massachusetts when Romney raised taxes (that he called fees) and had the support of a Democratic legislature. Another Ryan lie in the speech was that the president is totally responsible for $5 trillion of the national debt while the bulk of this was caused by the Bush recession, the Bush wars, and the Bush tax cuts—all of which Ryan supported.

Ryan said, “College grads shouldn’t have to live out their 20s in childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters.” Ryan opposed legislation to keep student loan rates from doubling.

Close to the finish, Ryan addressed what Romney brought up Romney’s role in saving the 2002 Olympics in Utah but failed to point out that the U.S. government poured $1.5 into this event after Romney went to the public trough to be bailed out. Even McCain called Romney’s move, “federal porkbarrelling.”

Ryan said, “We have a plan to create 12 million jobs in four years” and that their administration would reduce the Federal Budget to 20% of GDP “because that is enough.” There was absolutely not one specific about how they would accomplish this, including how they could create 12 million jobs when every government program would be cut except for defense. “We will not duck the tough issues,” he said while failing to describe what these are. His position was identical to Romney’s “trust me, I paid lots of taxes.”

Ryan’s biggest lies came at the end when he talked about “protecting the weak.” It is “the responsibility of the strong to protect the weak,” and “the mark of a society is how it treats people who cannot help themselves.” Etc., etc., etc.:

“We have responsibilities, one to another–we do not each face the world alone. And the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak. The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.”

As Jamison Foser wrote, “The man who utters these pretty words is, in fact, a stone-cold [Ayn] Randian.”   Ryan wants to slash the safety net for everyone in the country to give to the wealthy. Sixty-two percent of Ryan cuts are directed at programs for the low-income. Loser continued, “These aren’t just lies. These are the pronouncements of a sociopath, someone who knows what he stands for and knows precisely why it shocks the senses, and persuades you that he believes the exact opposite, and maybe even persuades himself.”

Ryan concluded with the statement, “Our rights come from nature and God and not from government.” Ryan will wait for God to take care of all of us. If he doesn’t, then we will have less of a population problem.

Comedian Andy Borowitz was on target when he said the only truth that Ryan told in his speech was the names of his wife and children. My descriptions provide just the tip of the iceberg of the media pushback to Ryan’s speech. DailyKos has a long list, including “hypocritical,” “new Nixon,” “Ryan and the post truth convention,” “stunning for its dishonesty,” “brazen lies” complete with links.

A conservative on last Sunday’s Meet the Press said that both conventions, Republican and Democratic, would be about Romney because the Democratic convention would concentrate on bashing Romney. Thus far, most of the GOP convention has bashed Obama either directly or through all the personal stories of how hard politicians worked to get to the GOP convention.

Asides: Fox canceled Sarah Palin’s interviews last night; evidently they didn’t want her to talk about the media attacking John McCain in 2008.  And, to quote Rachel Maddow, the best new thing? Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer endorsed President Obama, hoping that he would secure the borders. Of course, he has worked on that already, but Brewer has not given him any credit for doing this. Her office explained later that she misspoke, but it’s lovely watching her honor the name of President Obama!

U.S. small-business-owner satisfaction is up sharply to 39 percent in the third quarter of 2012 from 26 percent in the third quarter of 2010. Even small businesses know that things are getting better for them.

Romney flew to Indianapolis yesterday to speak at the American Legion convention. Ari Shapiro of NPR interviewed some of the people who attended. Bobbie Lucifer of Virginia said, “I don’t like [Obama’s] wife. She’s far from the first lady. It’s about time we get a first lady in there that acts like a first lady and looks like a first lady.” Ms. Lucifer, what does a first lady “look” like? White and blonde?

April 3, 2012

Palin’s Love for the Media

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:14 PM
Tags: , ,

Sarah Palin’s appearances on Fox News are understandable but guest host, interviewer, and interviewee on NBC’s Today Show?! What’s up with that? They need work on their ratings? At least Palin is predictable—self-serving and ignorant.

Before the show: Palin said that it doesn’t make any difference if any GOP vice presidential candidate has national level experience or not. “They’re going to get clobbered by the lamestream media.” Is that a reference to Katie Couric, guest host of ABC’s Good Morning, America at the same time as theToday Show?

Advice for picking a running mate: “Don’t play it safe, that is, somebody who is just going along to get along–who’s not willing to go rogue and shake it up,” Palin said. Does that mean “rogue” like Palin? Does she want the Republicans to lose?

Realty television shows: Palin wants the marketplace to see new ones that are the antithesis of the current crop. Would those be like the one in which Palin’s daughter plans to star?

Focus on Palin: She asks other panelists, “Do you have experience of people being paid a lot of money to pretend they’re you?” Let’s move the subject back to Palin because the topic was about Ashton Kutcher being cast to play Steve Jobs. She points out that she hasn’t seen Game Change, an HBO movie about Palin because “I don’t want to waste my time on…lies.”

Romney as Republican presidential nominee: Matt Lauer asked Palin twice if she was “happy with Romney as her party’s nominee. Twice because her only response was that “anything but Obama” would be better. Lauer decided not to try a third time to get a more ringing endorsement—or truthful response.

Overall she did a better job than she did a few weeks ago when discussing President Obama on Fox News’ Sean Hannity Show. She accused the president of taking people back before the Civil War, the war that she said created equal opportunities for everyone and did away with “different classes, based on income, based on color of skin.”

Palin missed the century after the Civil War with its Jim Crow laws preventing blacks from voting and allowing lynching, with the segregation that kept blacks in oppression, with the few extremely wealthy and the millions of people in severe poverty, with suffrage only for men. “Why are we allowing our country to move backwards instead of moving forward with that understanding that, as our charters of liberty spell out for us, we are all created equal?” asked the woman who wanted to be vice-president.

One thing that Sarah Plain understands is the importance of media. Perhaps she recognizes the need to make up with the “lamestream” media to move ahead because  she can’t get where she wants with only Fox News. The presidential nominees for 2012 seem pretty much determined even if Rich Santorum keeps trying, but the 2016 field is wide open.  Yet Ann Coulter has said that Palin is promoting the idea of a brokered Republican convention because she wants to be considered for the GOP nomination.

It has been said that there is no such thing as bad media. That statement, however, may not be true for all politicians. And not for Palin.

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