7 Quick Takes (9/30/11)

7 Quick Takes (9/30/11) September 30, 2011

— 1 —

I finally wrote the long promised reply to “Soup Nazi Approach to Sex” and “Sexual Responsibility and Culpability.”  So here’s hoping that the new post, “Worlds We’re Not Having Sex In” helps clear up why I want to make it hard for men to opt out of responsibilities to a child they fathered.

One thing’s for sure, I’m pretty sure all the posts in this sexual ethics series earned the “I am a fuddy duddy” tag I assigned them.  Now, on to the Takes!


— 2 —

I hope all of you are already following xkcd and saw this cartoon on Wednesday:

The cartoon references Piaget’s stages of cognitive development, and I found this cartoon riotously funny.  That wasn’t because I’m a Piaget aficionado, but because, many years ago, I was at summer camp taking a cognitive science class.  I have a summer birthday, and parents were allowed to order cakes for their children and their dormmates.  Here’s what my mom ordered up:

(In case you can’t tell, this week’s theme — as is traditional — is geekery)


— 3 —

Setting new personal records for nerdiness: this week, I awoke from a dream with my adrenaline surging.  In my dream, someone was showing me their data in an excel spreadsheet.  As I was looking through it, the person in my dream told me they planned to analyze it using Principal Component Analysis (a statistical technique that reduces the number of variables needed to accurately describe your data).  In my dream, I was trying to explain to my friend that this statistical trick was inappropriate to use on the dataset they were showing me.  The conversation grew more and more heated until I woke up.


— 4 —

Comic books aren’t really my bailiwick, but I’ve been seeing posts all over my favorite science fiction/fantasy blogs complaining about the trite, over-sexualized revisionings of comic book heroines.  The best take down came from Michele Lee, a comics fan who asked her seven year old daughter to review the reboot of her favorite heroine: Starfire.

“What about this Starfire? What do you think about her?” “I can see almost all of her boobs.”
“Well she is on the beach in her bikini. But…”
“But, she’s not relaxing or swimming. She’s just posing a lot.” *my daughter appears uncomfortable*
“Anything else?”
“Well, she’s not fighting anyone. And not talking to anyone really. She’s just almost naked and posing.”

You can read the out of the mouths of babes interview and see the reboot designs on io9.


— 5 —

While everyone was discussing the problem, cartoonist Aaron Diaz of Dresden Codak proposed some solutions.  He offered five redesigns of popular (but problematic) comic book characters.  He covered Stargirl, the character discussed above, but my favorite by far was his Wonder Woman.

His redesign expanded her mythological origins:

Just as nobody thinks of Thor as “Superman with a hammer” I don’t want Wonder Woman to be “girl Superman,” as she’s sometimes seen. I’ve also tweaked her origin slightly, making her a more literal “statue come to life.” This isn’t as extreme as it seems: in regular canon, Wonder Woman’s origin was that she was formed out of clay by the queen of the Amazons, and imbued with the powers of the Greek Gods. This, I think offers more story possibilities if she’s less literally human, physically. Her personality would remain the same (nothing more fun than the perspective of an Amazon in the modern world), but we now have an added Pinnochio-style layer.


— 6 —

I’m loathe to let a Quick Takes go by without some medical/biological science links, so perhaps you’d be interested in this article on fetal microchimerism?

Apparently, a substantial portion of women who have ever been pregnant end up with cells from their fetus scattered in small quantities through their body.  The phenomenon is still being explored, but may contribute to autoimmune disease.  Assaying for these foreign cells turned up some surprising revelations:

In fact, testing women’s cells for the presence of the Y chromosome — the “male” chromosome, which females shouldn’t carry — uncovers it in about 30% of the bone marrow of grown women and 47% of cardiac aortas. Even among women who have truly never had a reportable pregnancy, 7% or more would test positive for XY cells. Doubling those numbers to account for fetuses of both sexes further supports the idea that many pregnancies go undetected.


— 7 —

I don’t know if Sesame Street counts as geeky.  All I know is that this documentary (and the man it stars) look AWESOME.


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!
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