Entries Tagged as 'Politics'

Wonder Woman Will Always Be a Feminist

Several years ago, I was having dinner with a Vice-President of a major financial institution. I was doing design work for the bank, and she and I had spent the day testing a new call center intranet with its users. She was in her late twenties, yet was already highly successful and on her way up.

At one point, the conversation came around to women in the workforce, and she casually confided in me “I am not a feminist.”

I was stunned by the audacity of her statement.

How could she not be a feminist? How could she sit there and act as if, without the feminist movement of the past 100+ years, she would have ever been able to rise in importance in a major bank past teller, receptionist, or coffee girl? If she wasn’t a feminist, who is? It was like hearing a successful African-American say “the Civil-Rights movement really didn’t do anything for me.”

I am a feminist, and have been since childhood. My mother—the first female stockbroker in North Carolina—had raised me at ERA rallies and conventions to know that men and women are equal. That has always seemed perfectly logical to me. So when I encountered men who thought women were inferior to men, or worse, women who thought women were inferior to men, I didn’t seek their friendship.

The problem is that I have heard similar statements from a lot of the successful women: “I am not a feminist.”

I think I finally understand why they say this. It’s because they fundamentally do not understand what the word means. They think of Feminism as akin to a political party that one affiliates oneself with, like being a Republican or a Democrat. The members of these parties have loosely defined common core beliefs that they can adhere to or not, and which evolve greatly over time—just compare the two parties to their counterparts 150 years ago to see what I mean.

If you think that feminism is an organization that you associate yourself with, then you also think that you associate yourself with all of the figures in that party as well, and the excesses of those people. So, many woman (and men) who don’t like the Betty Friedan, bra burning, “womyn need a man like a fish needs a bicycle,” militant, “feminazi,” style of feminists assume that’s all it means. Actually, for the most part, these are all perceptions that were painted on a movement by men who think women are inferior to men.

This lead to the word feminist becoming a “dirty word” to many, stigmatized and distorted.

Unfortunately, that perception persists and is growing steadily. This, I believe, is what led to the unfortunate comment in a recent interview in CBR by David Finch — the new artist on DC Comic’s Wonder Woman — that:

We want [Wonder Woman] to be a strong — I don’t want to say feminist, but a strong character. Beautiful, but strong.

Why don’t you want to say “feminist?” In the sentence before, David says of the Amazon:

…we want to make sure it’s a book that treats her as a human being first and foremost…

That is what a feminist is! Someone who treats women as human beings.

In a recent tweet, Caitlin Moran, the author How to be a Woman and the forthcoming How to Be a Girl, clearly spelled out the simple rules of Feminism:

Do you try to follow these rules? Then you are a feminist. My VP colleague was a feminist. Anyone who believes that all people should be evaluated based on their individual abilities—not by primary and secondary sexual characteristics—is a feminist. You don’t have to hate men, grow leg and armpit hair, or scream about the injustices of the glass ceiling to be a feminist. You just have to try to treat men and women as human beings, follow Wheaton’s Law, and you, my friend, are a feminist.

Wonder Woman is a feminist. She is a feminist (or at least a fictional character who is a feminist), not because she self identifies with that label, but because that it is how she acts and how she thinks. Unfortunately, David, like so many others, is afraid to apply the supposed stigma of feminism, out of, I assume, a fear that he will scare off readers who think they are “not feminists.”

To his credit, David tried to clarify and apologize, saying on Twitter:

However, this still betrays a fundamental lack of understanding as to what a feminist is. Women are fallible. Men are fallible. Saying Wonder Woman is a feminist does not negate that in any way.

Why is this a problem? After all, he is only the artist, not the writer. However, if you know anything about comics, you know that the artist is as much the story-teller as the writer, and the writer also happens to be his wife. I think they will closely collaborate and they are now the team responsible for the feminist icon. That is a powerful position.

The good news is that I actually believe that David is a feminist. By the rules Ms. Moran so eloquently outlined, he falls within the definition, whether he realizes it or not.

Unfortunately, he also seems to be someone who perpetuates stereotype that feminists are not humans.

I hope that good will come from this uproar, and David will do some introspection and realize that feminist is not a dirty word to run away from, but a beautiful core belief that only serves to make Wonder Woman (and all of us) that much more human.

Web 3.0 at the Library of Congress

Tuesday I’m speaking at the Library of Congress in DC for the Fedlink meeting. They want to know about how they can improve online community aspects of their Web site, so I’ll be talking about Designing for Credibility and Web 3.0.

U.S. Library of Congress

U.S. Library of Congress

What is Web 3.0 (besides a marketing term)? Everyone has different Ideas. To me, Web 2.0 was about taking content out of the static Web page and spreading it around—RSS feeds, ajax, widgets, and the things that made online communities more viable. Web 3.0 is about taking the Web out of the browser (Web enabled stuff like Adobe Air, iPhone apps, Tweetie and Twitterific) and turning the browser into a desktop (like Google Chrome). It’s all part of the convergence of the Web into a ubiquitous place we “are” and is always with us rather than a place we “go.”

I’ll post after that and let everyone know how it went (as well as posting my slides!)

One Week Later…

2008 US Presidential Results

It’s one week later and the dust is settling down. I’m happy to say that most Americans voted with hope, not fear. Despite worries of voter fraud or voter suppression (depending on who you were listening to), Obama had the clear victory in both the popular and electoral votes. It’s hard to say whether this is a mandate or not (Bush claimed a mandate in 2004 with a mere 51% of the vote), but there is no doubt who won in 2008.

That was 7 days ago, and a lot has happened since.

In the past week, Obama has hit the ground running naming staff and outlining ideas; the GOP blame game blazed brightly especially around Palin; and many are wondering why Obama can’t just go ahead and take over from President Lame Duck.

We Voted for Change!

A week and a day ago, I was at Obama’s last rally at the Prince William County Fair Grounds in Manassas, VA. It took 3 hours to make the 25 mile drive and then 2 hours to get back. With a nasty head cold, I stood in a freezing field with 80,000+ other human beings for 2 hours. Obama was late, and we had to sit through really bad jokes from some state politicians. It was totally worth it!

Obama’s speech was the most inspiring public event I have ever personally attended. Although mostly taken from his stump speech (which I probably know better than Obama by now), he ended with a great story that I had not heard. It was abut a city councilwoman he had met in South Carolina who showed him how to get motivated even on the worst of days. All 80,000+ people leaving the rally were using her chant “Fired up, ready to go”.

The next day, after voting and a quick coffee with my wife, I went out and spent the next 4 hours canvasing with my new friend Tom (whom I had just met in the Obama offices in Herndon). Going door-to-door with a list of Obama supporters, we checked if they had voted, and offered them a ride to the polls if not.


That night, I had several close friends over for an Obama Victory party. My wife’s criteria for invitation to this event: “They have to be willing to bear his children.” We were not looking for anyone who was not enthusiastic. That evening ended well.

Now, a week  on, and I have to wonder: what of the GOP? Will the Republican Party come back from this? Is there really a GOP anymore? Many Republican’s I talked with didn’t vote for Obama, but neither did they vote for McCain. For a variety of reasons, they do not feel he represents the party they joined. Cultural conservatives and fiscal conservatives have always made for strange bedfellows, and that finally came home with this election. If anything cost the Republicans in this election, it was the “Southern Strategy” started by Richard Nixon and perpetuated by every Republican since then.

Personally, I do not want a one party rule in this country, even if I agree (mostly) with that party. But then again, I don’t really like the two party system either (I always point out that that’s only one more choice than the Russians had under Communist rule).

My hope is that from the wreckage of the 2008 GOP there might come two separate parties to better represent those constituencies. We’ll see.

For myself, with the election over, I need to turn my attention to the backlog of other projects I have. webbedENVIRONMENTS will not be going on hiatus, rather I will be slowing down my publishing schedule. I’m currently working on a new Web design book, Speaking in Styles: a CSS Primer for Web Designers, and will be writing more on my new site www.writing-in-styles.com.

However, I will still be talking politics, culture, technology and science issues in webbedENVIRONMENTS. This will especially be important as I get ready for my Comics Panel at SXSW and Yuri’s Night. Stay tuned!

Vote with Hope, Not Fear

First of all, vote. If you do not vote, then there really is nothing you can do. No excuses. Just vote. Even if you don’t think your vote counts, just vote. Even if you don’t feel any of the candidates truly represent you, just get over yourself and vote. Vote McCain, vote Obama, vote Nader, vote Barr, vote McKinney, vote Baldwin, or write in “None of the Above,” JUST VOTE.

If you do nothing else Tuesday, VOTE!

If you do nothing else Tuesday, VOTE!

Now, when you do pull that lever on Tuesday (whether literally or metaphorically), let hope guide your hand. Fear is easy to sell. It takes no evidence, but only needs to be convincing. It steals hope and only plays to our darkest paranoia.

All  I have heard coming from the McCain/Palin camp in the last few weeks is fear. Fear Obama the socialist. Fear Obama the inexperienced weak leader. Fear Obama the terrorist sympathizer. Of course the message not coming straight from McCain or Palin, but from their surrogates, is to fear Obama the secret Muslim. And yet, there is no evidence to believe any of these accusations.

Obama’s economics plans make true socialists cry. Obama has over 25 years of experience in and out of government. And if you believe that a secret Muslim terrorist is the front-runner for the US Presidency, then you should just head for the bomb shelter now.

I do not fear what I think a McCain/Palin administration MIGHT be. I dread what they actually say they will do. If you are still undecided, think about what you have heard the candidates say they will do. think about what they have done. Don’t listen to the bizarre accusations flying around. Instead, consider which of the candidates is talking about a future of hope and which one a future of fear. Then, pull that lever for Barack Obama.

Astronauts and Aliens Agree: Obama Has the Right Stuff!

Whether you like your science hard or with a bit of fiction on the side, Barack Obama has the Right Stuff to take America into the future. Obama has long praised and supported NASA, recognizing that it has been crippled by eight years of underfunding and programs designed for political expediency. He knows that NASA has fallen on hard times and has detailed plans for turning it around. These forward thinking policies have won him the support of many in the aerospace industry. Obama has never waivered from his promise to increase spending at NASA and has set a clear vision for its future.

Obama can take us into the Future.

Obama has the right stuff to take us into the future.

As for John McCain, despite recent comments that NASA would not fall prey to his federal spending freeze, he is now waffling on funding. Just this week, he made confusing statements that NASA would have it’s budget frozen. Given his indecisiveness, and the fact that he has not laid out any clear vision other than the same-ol-same-ol of the Bush administration, there is little doubt that a McCain administration will be no friend to space flight.

Human space-flight is vital to this country! And Barack Obama knows that. That’s why veteran astronauts like John Glenn and Bill Nelson have long endorsed him. Now former Space Shuttle astronaut Dr. Dan Barry, founder and past president of the Association of Space Explorers Rusty Schweickart, and former Space Shuttle astronaut Dr. Kathy Thornton all signed on to be Obamanauts in order to show their support for Sen. Barack Obama’s space policies.

Other Obamanauts, like the first American woman in space Sally Ride, are speaking up for Barack Obama, because they know the stakes are just too high. We need someone in the White House who can lead us into a future of peace and prosperity in space, not drag us back into the mistakes of the past. She says in her editorial:

Obama also has impressed me with his grasp of the challenges our space program faces and his agenda for where we go from here. Obama clearly understands the importance of human spaceflight and exploration.

Even noted pointy-eared alien, actor Lenord Nemoy seems to have a fondness for Obama, talking about meeting him at an event where they exchanged the hopeful Vulcan greeting “Live Long and Prosper.”

There are a lot of reasons to vote for Barack Obama, and even reasons not to vote for him. However, If you simply do not trust Barack Obama, if you are paranoid that he is not what he seems to be,  then there is little I can say to you. But I can at least ask you to open your mind for a moment and know that Obama’s vision of the future is one of hope, exploration, inclusivity, and, yes, adventure, the same vision that Gene Rodenbery had for our future in Star Trek. In Star Trek, Rodenberry asked us to believe that humanity would boldly go into space to make our own world better.

Isn’t it time we elected a president with the right stuff to get us back on the right track?

Fun Film Friday: ROBOT’S ATTACK!

Scary robots. Don’t let them steal this election!

Fun Film Friday (Monday Edition): Wass’ Up 08

This one was just too good to hold onto for a week. It pretty much sums up the last 8 years:

Fun Film Friday: A Call to Action

An important message from Opie, Sherif Taylor and the Fonz:

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

I’m an Obamanaut (And So Can You!)

Join Us!

Join Us!

A few weeks ago, my friend Tim Baily was looking for a logo to use for a new group supporting Barack Obama’s Space Exploration Policies called the Obamanauts; I immediately volunteered. We took the standard Obama “O”, then added a star field in the background and a swooshing space-ship (inspired by the old Loony Tunes cartoons with Ralph Phillips saving the earth from alien invasion.) I matched the fonts as closely as I could and then created a bumper sticker to be given out at an upcoming Obamanauts rally in Florida. It was a big hit.

If you are a US citizen, you need to consider a lot of important issues when deciding who to cast your vote for in the upcoming US Presidential Election. The economy, energy, education, health-care, and the security of this country from attack are all crucial.  Yet everyone has issues that are more important to them than others, which will often help tip your vote in favor of one or the other candidates. For myself and many others, one of the most vital issues facing the US is its place in space exploration.

Why Space Exploration? Aren’t there more pressing issues? When you think about it, America’s role in space exploration touches on the most pressing issues that are being discussed:

  • Security: We increasingly rely on satellite technology to allow us to know what is going on in the world without the need to put people into harm’s way.
  • Health-care: New medicines are being developed in zero-g laboratories that cannot be mimicked on earth.
  • Education: Space Exploration relies on an educated population, one that understands science and its role in our lives.
  • Energy: Space Exploration has always pushed the boundaries of our energy sources. In fact many of the “alternative” fuel sources today were initially developed by NASA for use in space.
  • Economy: What makes our economy strong is a secure, healthy, and well educated population that is not dependent on foreign governments for the energy that powers that economy (see above).

Compare Obama’s and McCain’s plans side by side, and I believe that you will find on all of these issues Barack Obama has the best, most forward thinking, plan.  Whereas McCain gives the same lip service to NASA that previous presidents have always given (while also ominously stressing its military importance), Obama talks about the need to fundamentally restructure an institution for the 21st century.

When I was growing up, NASA united Americans to a common purpose and inspired the world with accomplishments we are still proud of.  Today, NASA is an organization that impacts many facets of American life.  I believe NASA needs an inspirational vision for the 21st Century.  My vision will build on the great goals set forth in recent years, to maintain a robust program of human space exploration and ensure the fulfillment of NASA’s mission.  Together, we can ensure that NASA again reflects all that is best about our country and continue our nation’s preeminence in space.

Barack Obama

When I was growing up, NASA was the pride of this country. The National Air and Space Administration had taken the US and the World  to the moon and was poised for yet greater missions. Then a series of mostly Republican Administrations scaled NASA back, first removing the luster and then the pride from this important organization. Over the years, what once represented the future and greatness of the US  has increasingly become the butt of jokes.

Although we are facing difficult financial times, Obama still talks with pride about NASA and what he will do to put it back on track. This is why I am proud to tbe an Obamanaut.

If you want to be an Obamanaut, you can get bumper stickers, buttons, and T-shirts from Zazzle.

Fun Film Friday: Hey Sarah Palin (with lyrics/subtitles)

Soon to be a sure hit in the Karaoke circuit.

Is John McCain a Manchurian Candidate?

McCain with one of his Commie buddies.

Was John McCain Brainwashed?

Was john McCain braiwashed by the Chinese while he was a POW in Vietnam? Was he programmed to destroy the American way of life by reaching the highest levels of power and then subverting the foundations of our democracy?

Some think so. Let’s look at the facts:

So, is John McCain the Manchurian candidate who will, when the trigger is given, leap up and destroy this “Country First?”

No, he is not.

I can support all of the statements I made above, but all of the statements above are complete crap, just like all of the statements that Sarah Palin is making about Barack Obama are complete crap.

John McCain is no more a deep cover operative for the Chinese government than Barack Obama is a sleeper agent for Al-Qaeda. Anyone making or implying either of these accusations is suffering from paranoid delusions so great that they should seek professional help immediately.

Of course, the fact that both claims are absurd does not stop Sarah Palin from saying that Obama “hangs out with terrorists.” She then gives us one of her patented little winks to let us all know what she really means: Barack Obama is a closet Muslim terrorist who will steal your Bible and kill you in your sleep.

If you are even entertaining the possibility that the venomous madness that Sarah Palin is spewing could be true, please stop and think about your own friends and work mates and whether–just by knowing them–you should take accountability for everything they have ever said or done. Yeah, I didn’t think so. But that is all that Sarah Palin is saying, and, like everything else she says, it is a hollow message born out of desperation.

Fun Film Friday: Last Chance to Register

Ok, I’m posting this a little earlier than Friday, but it’s REALLY important. If you haven’t registered to vote, the deadline is looming in most states. Get on with it! To get registered quickly, visit this site:
or this site

Sarah Palin: “The Flintstones was a Great Documentary!”

Flintstones: Fact ot Fiction

The Flintstones: Fact or Fiction?

Does Sarah Palin believe that human beings and dinosaurs lived side-by-side a few thousand years ago? Palin is not answering that question now; of course, right now she’s not really answering any questions without John McCain by her side to moderate. However, she is on record as wanting Creationism to be taught in American science classes. Creationism puts forward a “theory” that the universe is much younger than the figure of 12-14 billion years widely accepted by scientists and then has to do a lot of fancy foot-work to make the physical evidence fit their theory.

However, if Palin is being tight lipped on the issue, where can we go to find out about what she believes about Creationism? The Creation “Museum” was set up as an alternative to the secular museums to give fundamentalists a place to go and learn the truth about the history of the Universe. Through its exhibits, this museum puts forth the pretense that it uses the same data as secular scientists, but comes to a different conclusion:

Everyone has the same facts, but we don’t all have the same starting points. Using the Bible as your starting point, prepare to travel back 6,000 years to the dawn of creation as you enjoy the Six Days Theater. Witness the true time line of the universe unfold through the 7 C’s of History [Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation].
Creation Museum Web Site, Plan Your Visit

If the Republicans had put forward a candidate that did not accept that the Sun revolves around the Earth we would assume that she was a quack. Yet the same science that tells us that the Sun is only one star amongst  70 sextillion stars in the Universe also tells us that the Universe must be billions–not thousands–of years old to explain how we can see stars that are billions of light-years away.

Why do Christian Fundamentalists have to believe in a 6,000 year old Universe? They believe that their Bible is the literal truth (and I will not point out here all the inherent problems with that line of thought), therefore everything that has happened since the beginning of the Universe is in that Bible. The Young Earth Creationists (as they are known) take this one step further, claiming they can compute the age of the Universe by using that Bible as a time-line.

So, why does our best (secular) science tell us that the Universe is billions of years old? According to the Young Earth Creationists, God just made it look that way. Think about it: they are saying that the God they believe in is intentionally trying to trick us by creating a Universe that looks much older than it actually is simply to test our faith.

This is what Sarah Palin believes too, whether she will now publicly admit it or not. If she believes in the literal truth of her Bible, then she believes in a 6,000 year old Universe, she believes that dinosaurs and humans lived side-by-side, and she believes in a Universe run by a God who would deceive its creation just to prove a point.

And John McCain believes in Sarah Palin.

CORRECTION TO THE CORRECTION! Fun Film Friday: Sarah Palin and the Witchsmeller

Third times the charm! I think I’ve got the right video of Sarah Palin and the Witchsmeller this time.

Question: Can you tell the only difference between this video and the previous videos?

Answer: This one isn’t funny.

CORRECTION! Fun Film Friday: Sarah Palin and the Witchsmeller

SORRY! I copied the wrong video tag. I, of course, meant to show this clip of Sarah Palin and a Witchsmeller:

Fun Film Friday: Sarah Palin and the Witchsmeller

I found this great video of Sarah Palin meeting with a Witchsmeller!

End the War (on Science)!

Who will end the war on science?

Who will end the war on science?

ScienceDebate2008 is committed to discussing today’s most important scientific issues and the candidate’s stand on each. To go even further and allow for public feedback, ScienceDebate2008 will allow you to read each position statement and then rate McCain’s and Obama’s responses with a letter grade from A to F. There are 14 topics and a 15th open discussion topic where you can post your own question for the candidates.

With all of the events of the past few weeks in the U.S. economic markets, many vital issues  are being overlooked by the majority of voters thinking about who they want for President. Although the collapse of huge multi-national investment firms may seem important now, where the candidates stand on scientific and technology issues will have a greater impact on on your daily life in the long run.After all, Wall Street might collect wealth, but it’s science and technology that makes it.

There is little debate amongst scientists that the Bush administration has waged a war on science. This Republican administration is infamous for ignoring or undermining scientific consensus and cherry picking scientific results that support their ideology. The next administration will have to correct this trend for the US to remain a leader in the 21st century.

We need to know what the candidates say now on these issues so that we can hold them accountable later for their actions. ScienceDebate2008 places both McCain’s and Obama’s position statements side-by-side for easy comparison.

Go, vote now, and let me know what you think, and if you posted a 15th question (mine is the third in the list) tell us about it here.

The 14 topics covered are:

  1. Innovation
  2. Climate Change
  3. Energy
  4. Education
  5. National Security
  6. Pandemics/Biosecurity
  7. Genetics Research
  8. Stem Cells
  9. Ocean Health
  10. Water
  11. Space
  12. Scientific Integrity
  13. Research
  14. Health

Should McCain be Able to Use a Computer?

Factcheck.org has answered the question “Is McCain unable to use a computer because of war injuries?” with a NO. McCain can use computers, although, because of his injuries, it is uncomfortable. As someone who works with computers and the problems of accessibility, I know that a lot of disabled persons find ways around their discomfort with using computers (using speech synthesizers, voice recognition and other non-keyboard devices) so that they can interact with the world around them. The computer is a fundamental communication medium in America today, and anyone not participating is showing a deaf ear to that fact.

Is this a compelling political issue? Probably not.

Whether McCain chooses to use a computer or not will not change how you view his stand on major issues. But it does speak to the candidate’s day-to-day life experience, further showing his distance from most Americans. It also tells us a lot about how he views innovation and technology. As Marshall McLuhan said,  “The medium is the message.” How we communicate directly affects how we think about problems and how we express our ideas. Can John McCain really understand the problems and promises of a future he seems to stubbornly refuse to participate in?

McCain Chose the Wrong Palin!

At least with Michael Palin, We’ll know it’s a joke.

And the Winner Is…

See how each state is leaning at a glance.

See how each state is leaning at a glance at electoral-vote.com.

Tired of searching the Web or sifting through endless news articles just to find the latest presidential poll standings? Me too. That’s why I keep two links at the top of my browser to help me track who’s ahead.

My first stop every morning is electoral-vote.com to get a quick overview of where things stand. Although not the most attractive site, what it lacks in glossy graphics it makes up for in simplicity and ease of use. Quickly see- according to an averaging of state polls - where each candidate stands in the Electoral College, which, as we all know from the 2000 election, is what matters when all is said and done.

If you want more details or to play out different Electoral College scenarios, then head over to the USA Today Presidential Poll Tracker. Here you can get up to date poll data, poll histories, and use the interactive Electoral Vote Tracker map to see how your favorite candidate might win the day.