Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Insurance is a scam, clearly.

Aetna posted this box on its website, as I was perusing and trying to figure out my coverage.  They think this is supposed to make me feel good... that they are warning me to stay in-network and consequently save me lots of money.  What I see is how they are bullying doctors to become part of their network and then charging astronomical amounts for the same exact coverage with another doctor.  In other words, you can choose what doctor you want to or you can just see that by making one outrageously more expensive, we've actually made the choice for you.  Just to be clear, these are  the exact same services.  Just by two separate doctors.  The "in-network" and "out of network" model needs to be abolished.  It limits choice for consumers in terms of who provides their care and allows for an outlet of bullying and incentivizing of doctors to make their own choices about how to run their practice.  Did I mention health insurance is a scam?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Alfred Russel Wallace paper

100 years ago, Alfred Russel Wallace died, which means of course that we get free access to his papers! (Why they are not already is beyond me). The co-discoverer of evolution by natural selection writes in his “Sarawak Law” paper: “On the tendency of varieties to depart indefinitely from the original type”. Pretty cool to see how far we've come in understanding evolution (but sadly far to go in communicating that to the public). I recommend scanning through, at least the Sarawak Law paper... http://explore.tandfonline.com/content/est/wallace-100

Monday, July 15, 2013

Amander Palmer's "Dear Daily Mail"

Amanda Palmer's response to the Daily Mail posting only about her boob mishap and not about her music when they reported on her appearance at Glastonbury.  It is amazing.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

How we label our produce

I bought some bananas at the grocery store and they came labeled like this:

I had to tear off the sticker that was wrapped around my bananas and I had a thought.  What if, instead of labeling produce as organic, we label the "traditional" produce with the pesticide that was used on it.  That way, organic bananas would have NO label, yet the other bananas would have a sticker like the one above that read: Sprayed with Thiabendazole and Imazalil.

This would bring it to the forefront.  It is easy to pretend that massive amounts of chemical pesticides aren't sprayed all over our planet.  If the choice was either a banana with no label that costs $0.79/lb or a banana with a label that I just described above that costs $0.59/lb, which one would people go for?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Man as the default for all human beings, Part I

I've noticed for a long (LONG!) time that man is the default used nearly all of the time when one speaks about human beings in the general sense.  While reading Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene many years ago, he constantly referred to humans as "men", "he", etc. and when this was brought up after publication (1970's), he consequently wrote future books in a more general sense and often uses both male and female pronouns equally.  I like it.  I noticed it.  I appreciate it.

I'm having an issue in my daily life because I notice this all the time and each and every time it annoys me.  I realize this is something I need to deal with and get over, but I don't know how.  I want to change everyone, so that they all think about their words and possibly interject the female pronoun at least some of the time.  It seems trivial, I know, but I think it has grand implications.

If you are under the impression that there are mental achievements that are only achievable by one gender, then you can stop reading.  If, however, you agree with me that for the betterment of society both genders should be encouraged to pursue mental greatness, then please continue...

Imagine that you are a girl.  You love your life.  You love school.  You love playing outdoors.  You love getting dirty.  You don't know what you want to do with your life, but at this point it doesn't really matter.  Now picture that all of the people who do activities that you like to do, such as looking for animals or those that show you cool science stuff on t.v. are male.  Picture that every time someone speaks of a scientist in the general sense, they use "he" as the replacement pronoun.  Or every time someone says "did your ask your doctor?", they follow it up with "What did he say?" 

Do you think that this girl (you) will feel deep down that these are pursuits that are okay for her?  

As an exercise, I've captured a few examples that I've noticed of how men are used as the default in genderless situations.  These all happened within the past few days:

1. This was posted to reddit with the title "The human body in horizontal slices": http://i.imgur.com/Lxufi9o.gif
I understand that it had to be one gender or the other as it is only one person, but if it was a female, it would probably have said "A woman in horizontal slices" and this post should have read "A man in horizontal slices".

2. While watching a children's play, a female actress was dressed as the hare from The Turtle and the Hare.  The MC referred to this character as "he".  "Let's find the hare and see where he is". 

3. Bill Nye did an AMA on reddit and one of the questions was: "Do you think that we could have a manned mission to Mars in our lifetime with all the factors such as time from Earth to Mars and with the amount of solar radiation that the men would face during the trip?" (note: there ARE actually female astronauts).

4. If you are looking for a human anatomy cutting board, why not check out this one of a man: http://www.coolstuffexpress.com/human-anatomy-chopping-board.html.  No need to say it's a man. It's a human.  However, if you want one of a female, why not check out this one of a "human body- female": http://www.nhmshop.co.uk/gifts-grown-ups/chopping-board-human-body-female/product.html.  Notice how in the first one, it is purely a human.  In the second one, you need to specify that it is a female.  I found it interesting as well that instead of opting for showing the heart and lung anatomy, the makers of the second board opted for showing breasts.  Just an interesting aside.

5. Notice this item here.  It is called a "Chefman" and I found it at my local Menards. This item appears generic enough, for use by a man or a woman. Now, just try to imagine calling it a Chefwoman.  A Chefwoman would be specifically for a woman.

Not to mention the biggest one of all, which is that from as early as a child can understand language  in most places around the world, they are taught to worship a god that is called "He", "Him", the "Father".  If I had to venture a guess, it would be that the basis of modern misogyny comes from the fact that the god of most people is male.  Or more accurately, ancient misogyny gave rise to a male god.

So, what do we do with this?  How do we deal with a world where women are the exception and men are the default?  And why does it matter?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The misogyny of becoming a wife

I saw this beautiful piece of misogyny today: http://www.etsy.com/listing/60630739/father-of-the-bride-gift-father-of-bride?ref=v1_other_1

It reads: Today a bride, tomorrow a wife, forever your little girl. I love you Dad!

It may be touching to some at first, but think about the underlying message.  Here is a woman getting married and she is telling her father, don't worry, I'm still "your little girl".  The message behind this is extremely irritating.  Why would you have to reassure your father of this, especially on your wedding day if there wasn't an underlying message of "I once belonged to you, but now I belong to this man."  If this is not the case, then why would you give it to your father on your wedding day!!??  Of course, this goes so perfectly with a father "giving away" their daughter.  This archaic practice really needs to stop.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ladybug Larva

I am starting to see these in my garden. You may know them better during their adult stage, as your friendly neighborhood ladybug.  Here they are as larva:

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Very Large Chrysalis

While gardening this past week, we stumbled upon this very large chrysalis.  I'm raising it inside and am very excited to see what comes out of it! I'll post an update when something finally does.

Edit: This lovely creature past away about 1.5 weeks after this post was written.  I was deeply disappointed with I noticed it stopped wiggling.  I wanted to make sure it was dead, so I waited a little bit, but eventually it did get a slight odor and I decided to dissect it, hoping to gain some insight as to a formal identification.  Unfortunately, it was already badly decomposed (and much stinkier once it was opened up), so I was unable to identify it.  Hopefully I can find another one soon and raise it with more care.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I'm not sure why anywhere along the lines, what happened in Steubenville was not told to be wrong... in our culture or in the lives of these teenagers. This is clearly a rape issue, but I think there is another issue at play as well. Many people in our society think that being an athlete makes you a better person. Think about it... would you view someone different if you knew they were a "star athlete" rather than a non-athlete? It may be that athletic heroes are so ingrained in us as children, but this is just one example of how pervasive it is. What happened here and during the aftermath was mind-boggling. I think I need an evolutionary psychologist to weigh in on it. Is it that the "strong and athletic" will lead you during warfare, protect you, and be better at getting food... thus it is better to have them around? Does this still apply subconsciously today and is therefore why star players are held in such high esteem?

Please read more about this issue here at: Rant Against the Random

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Broken Glass

Beware of Broken Glass: the Media's Double Standard for Women at the Top.

Quote from the article:
"Through the lens of gender, it’s the soft skills that are the most egregiously distorted, and the same behaviors get translated very differently: the cold woman is the stoic man. A woman who makes a gut-based decision is acting on emotion; a man doing the same thing is acting on instinct. There is no equivalent of the word hysterical that can be applied to men — but irrational, emotional behavior that betrays a lack of impulse control is often celebrated when it’s men talking about other men."
Great Article: http://www.theverge.com/2013/3/6/4070338/beware-of-broken-glass-the-medias-double-standard-for-women-at-the-top