Urban Prototyping Festival 2012 San Francisco

Go to sf.urbanprototyping.org for more information.

Source: UP: San Francisco, WIRED


InOur.Name App mixes Twitter with Politics, wins Media Mash 2012

As part of a popular New York based competition to mix apps, feeds, and data from NYC-based media companies, InOur.Name paints a solid picture of how your state legislators stand on all sorts of issues. Combining Twitter with the Congressional Research Service, it even cites specific bills and explains Congressional procedures.

Enter your zip code and issue (such as “healthcare,” “human rights,” or “veterans”), press enter, and you’re good to go.  You’ll even see your representative’s contact information, making it simple to reach out to them.

For a social-media obsessed generation that wants to make informed decisions despite heavily circulating yellow journalism, this app can only mean good things! Created by Jason Wright, a student a Cornell, the program is written in PHP with some jQuery for AJAX calls. Check out the video below and start using InOur.Name here.


Media Mash 2012 is sponsored by NYC Media Lab.

Women who Help Other Women are Smarter, not Harder

Pictured: Margaret Moth, New Zealand’s first female television news camera operator.

Last night I went to a Women in Film-Chicago event where Ruth Ratny, creator of Reel Chicago, spoke about women helping other women.  What follows are my thoughts on helping other women and breaking down the barriers that prevent gender equality in the film and media industries.

“We need to work smarter, not harder,” Ruth explained in relation to women surpassing males in the workplace.  This is true; a “hard” woman will shut out other women to protect her own position, prevent them from excelling, and ultimately, be a cog in the wheel that is our patriarchal culture.  A “smart” woman will not fear an up-and-coming industry star–in fact, she will encourage her, mentor her, or at the very least, be a helping hand.

Ruth noted that while men hire their “buddies,” women shut out other women out of insecurity.  These insecurities are possessed by all victims of the 2012 economy but are exacerbated by a predominantly female desire to overcompensate for our heightened emotional intelligence–an emotional intelligence that, in the professional field, can be perceived as weakness.

As a woman, I do not believe that emotional intelligence suggests weakness; on the contrary. Emotional intelligence is a valuable skill that allows you to read body language, mannerisms, and tone of voice.  This is a vital skill in the professional field, and trains you in the art of “perfect timing.”  Yes, it’s likely women possess this skill set as an adaptation to motherhood; mothers read their children in order to find out what they need before they can even speak!  The skill surpasses the infant stage and continues through teenage years when the kid at risk of sheer stupidity.  At this time, it is the mother’s duty to read her teenager, understand his/her inner turmoil, and do her best to prevent him/her from getting into a sticky situation that could impact the rest of his/her life.

If you have ever been in a relationship with a woman, this situation should sound familiar:

Man: “What’s wrong?”

Woman: “Nothing.”

Ask yourself: what is upsetting the woman in the above conversation, given the context?  If your answer is “nothing,” then congratulations–you are a man.  You live in a world where your receive preferential treatment in every vein.  However, you may also consider yourself emotionally-retarded.  Being able to see past the surface of words to the meaning behind those words is a skill that the grand majority of woman possess and a minority of men possess.

Being a man, you may expect the woman to verbalize exactly how she feels.  However, that is simply not the female way.  And why should we conform to the male way?  Just as we women cannot expect men to understand our words are often spoken in code, men cannot expect women to speak exactly that which they mean.  So there needs to be some kind of compromise here.

Why do I mention all that in the scope of women in the workplace?  I don’t know, it just seemed relevant. It’s not just men who get fed up with speaking in code; its women as well!  Women can turn on other women for this fact of life; I’m sure we’ve all heard some female, at some point, say: “Ugh, I hate girls. All of my friends are guys.”  All cards on the table-I’ve even said that before, and it was a lapse in judgment.  To all the women who say that now: congratulations! You enjoy spending time around people who are nice to you because they want to have sex with you.  If you surround yourself with people like this, ultimately you will find yourself cold and alone.

From an evolutionary perspective, being able to befriend women is a huge advantage.  In groups, you are protected, and I’m just talking pure “safety in numbers” right now.  Show up at a bar alone and men will think you’re there for them; show up with a posse, and most men will be too intimidated to bother you with sexual advances.  Get rejected by a lone woman and you may try again–hey, what’s she gonna do about it?  But get rejected by a woman with four female friends, and you’ll receive five dirty looks that’ll shame you out of the bar.

Furthermore, befriending women has an empowering effect on all women, for in numbers, you also have power.  To divide women is to disarm women, the same way that to unite men is to create an army.  We have many divisive forces in American society: the fashion industry, women’s magazines, advertising, and hypersexualized female characters in film and tv serve to undermine real women’s success every day.  For women working within these industries, such as myself, your moral beliefs can be put at odds with the task at hand–after all, sex sells, but what woman really wants to sell sex?  As Ruth Ratny discussed, a key difference between men and women is that men monetize everything.  For men, everything is about money.  A male advertising executive will sell sex and see dollar signs while a woman will sell sex and see the destruction and ostracism of a gender.

Take this classic beer commercial as an example:

 A man sitting at a bar turns his head to see a thin, beautiful, made-up woman strutting towards him with the beer of choice.  Male takeaway: “hot women and beer-yes please!”  Female takeaway: “how can I become as desirable as this woman?” Or even worse: “I am irrelevant because the only thing that matters is an appearance I do not posses.” This is a HUGE problem, because here you have a woman reading a man-made commercial in code when it was originally written, and meant to be read, in plain english.  Women code and decode everything; it is in our nature, it protects us from making poor decisions and choosing untrustworthy partners.  I consider this coding process the infamous “female intuition”; it is an energy flow that stays with me 24/7, that I have trained myself to be in touch with, and that I always, always trust.  I have not once regretted following this “intuition.”  The trick- and this is pivotal for compromising language with men– is to recognize which situations require this sort of decoding and coding.  Both men and women can and should know this about the opposite gender.

I digress.  As it is, there are so many things to consider when it comes to gender roles as they exist, let alone how they play out in the advertising and media industries.  My head fills up with these considerations constantly as I go through my life, my career, and my relationships.  For every question answered, a new question springs up.  It’s impossible to answer all the questions in one lifetime.  It’s impossible to try to absorb answers from those who lived before you, because real knowledge comes only from experience. So we’re stuck in a bit of a catch 22…but hope is not lost! Read on for the moral of my story.

There is only one takeaway from this conversation that is absolute and concrete: You, a smart woman, will help other women. You will not judge nor criticize them for their womanhood.  Other smart women will respect that, respect you, and in turn help other women climb the professional ranks.  The more women in power there are, the more they can help other women, and the more likely women are in general to take each other and themselves more seriously.  And it goes on-the more women take themselves and other women seriously, the more men will take women seriously because they can see our confidence and self-assuredness.  And there you have it–men are no longer hiring “buddies” over capable women.  You mustn’t harden yourself, and you MUST “smart-en” yourself.  Get smart, ladies.  If you’re a woman in power, look for female ambition around you.  I guarantee you will find it in every corner.

What is a Pussy Riot?

Get in the know: Pussy Riot for Women’s Issues in Russia

Venus Radio

Here’s what we know:

-Pussy Riot is a Russian feminist political collective and punk band formed days after Vladimir Putin’s announcement in September 2011 that he would return to the presidency. It includes 30-some members and 10 performers.

-Since their formation, Pussy Riot has conducted flash protests in public locations around Moscow, performing politically charged punk songs specifically calling out Vladmir Putin’s regime and its hostility toward women’s issues. The locations of their protests have increased in daring, taunting authorites and drawing attention to the repression of free political expression in contemporary Russia.

-The members of Pussy Riot have maintained secret identities. They used day-glo balaclavas and tights to hide their faces and refused to reveal their names, ages or day jobs. Why? “It shows we can be anybody”, they said.

-On February 21, 2012, Pussy Riot stormed Christ the Savior Catherdral for a protest performance/ “punk prayer”. The group…

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“City of Ice”: Lit Ice Sculpture Festival in Israel for first time Ever

A celebration of culture and diversity, Israel is holding its first-ever ice sculpture exhibition. The sculptures were carved and constructed by Chinese artists. “We use light and electricity to make the exhibition more beautiful,” said Bai Wei, head of the sculpting team.  Carved into animals, walls, and buildings, the sculpture art brings people together. “Even with all the politics, it’s a nice moment of having [a] good time,” says Israel Today journalist Michael Schneider.

Stalking Suffragettes in 1912 and Women’s Status 100 years later

‘In 1912, Scotland Yard detectives bought their first camera, to covertly photograph suffragettes. The pictures were compiled into ID sheets for officers on the ground.’ - BBC through Retronaut

With all eyes turned to the Republican “War on Women,” and the rapidly approaching International Women’s Holiday on May 8, I thought it might be appropriate to take a look back in time and see how far we’ve come 100 years later.  Well, women’s rights supporters are no longer being stalked by the police, but they are still apparently on the cops shit list:

In the video above, hundreds of citizens peacefully protest at Capitol Square in Virginia for women’s rights (as shown on the Richmond Times Dispatch Website).  31 citizens–17 women and 14 men–were arrested by officers donning riot gear.

‘”The legislators should not be legislating medical procedures, especially for women,’ she said earlier. ‘We have a freedom of choice and they’re trying to take that away.’ said Glenn Allen resident Bonnie Ward.” (RTD).

I think we can all agree that in general, politicians are the stupidest and most selfish/corrupt people on Earth (which makes sense, because only power-hungry individuals want that kind of responsibility).  You know the saying–politics are best left to non-politicians. So why on Earth are we “letting” them legislate medical procedures, when they are elected to legislate for political issues?  Sounds clearly out of their jurisdiction.

In recent months, there have been multiple blows for women’s health:

1. Very successful attempts at defunding Planned Parenthood, including the removal of Susan G. Komen breast cancer screenings (which were later re-installed due to much complaint, thank god!)

2. The bullshit-named ““Woman’s Right to Know Act,” which MANDATES a very invasive (vaginal penetration, yup) ultrasound for all women who need an abortion.

3. Rush Limbaugh’s verbal attack on testifying Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke

4. Republicans try to take away insurance coverage on birth control

It’s amazing that despite the real world issues that require America’s attention –Iran’s nuclear program, our terrible education system, the debt crisis, unemployment, unbelievable amounts of oil dumped into our oceans between 2010-2012–there are groups of people who are determined to take away human rights from women.  Leave Roe v. Wade alone and go fix the ocean or something.

Pictures from Scotland Yard’s stalking of suffragettes in 1912, courtesy of Retronaut.

Source: Retronaut

Vote Obama if you Love yo Mama


A real Republican (or professional) does not discriminate against women, does not call women “sluts” or “whores” or “prostitutes” like Rush Limbaugh.

It’s tough to tell what policies Romney actually supports, and what policies he’s presenting to attract extreme right-wing republicans.  I don’t like many of the opinions he’s expressed about reproductive health and women’s rights, since, you know, I’m a woman, and they infringe on my human rights: as John Locke said, all I have for freedom is my life, liberty, and my property.  My body is my life, and my property, and how I move freely about the world…

It’s strange, but what’s stuck with me most about Romney was an article that came out in the Boston Globe a few years ago, mentioning that on a family road trip, Romney strapped his dog to the top of the car, who, out of sheer terror, proceeded to excrete all over the car.

You can learn a lot about a person by how they treat dogs. Maybe this particular story has stuck with me because it’s the most relatable.  I can’t relate much to policy making and foreign relations, but I certainly can relate to being a dog owner.  And I would never, ever strap my dog to the roof of a car for any length of time.  There’s something really off-putting about that


Famous Nudes Get Photoshopped Skinnier

“What would have happened if the aesthetic standard of our society had belonged to the collective unconscious of the great artists of the past?” asks artist Anna Utopia Giordano.  Interestingly, Giordano is also a model.  Whether or not that impacts your view of the pieces, her site is worth checking out.

Commenters on Jezebel say:

“This comment might strike some as bizarre, but I actually really enjoyed viewing these Photoshops. Just a few small alterations and the ‘shopper was able to “translate” seminal stylized depictions of the female form into the prevailing stylized female aesthetic. I feel like I’ve gotten to look at the paintings with fresh eyes and really see them the way they were meant to be viewed – as iconic and sexy. Say what you will about the prevailing female ideal aesthetic, but I enjoyed the trip” (Seize, Jezebel)

“And it reminds me that these were worshipful forms back then, largely because only the wealthy could achieve this level of voluptuousness. So I wonder if the masses of the time would also have wanted to decry it as an unachievable beauty standard?” (Mooooo, Jezebel)

The interesting thing is that these standards have completely reserved.  You can maybe chalk it up to Whole Foods vs. McDonald’s dollar menu, or the fact that sushi and yoga tend to be pretty expensive while the invention of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) has made it super cheap to sell sugar-dosed foods.

I have to agree with it all–it’s a fresh perspective on an old classic.  However, the irony of it all is that models who are that thin are photoshopped anyway. Other commenters weren’t quite as excited to see the slim-downs:

“I suppose this is kind of interesting, but I figured we had enough photoshopped images to make women feel inadequate and bad about themselves without altering older art, some of the few pieces of imagery that women have that make us feel that maybe having big boobs, a tiny waist, and an almost unattainable perky [but] are not necessarily the absolute definition of [normalcy] and beauty.” (Chelsey, Flavorwire)

Whatever your stance is on touching up the untouchable, I’d say the works are extremely successful given the cross-spectrum reactions people are having.  See Anna Utopia Giordano’s portfolio here.

Related articles:

Barbie Trolling Famous Art Masterpieces

Plus Model Magazine Reveals Models Meet BMI Criteria for Anorexia

Hilariously Hot: Jesse Rosten’s “Fotoshop by Adobe”

American Drones to Delay Flights Even More…and more

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superma–wait…

It’s a drone.

While these UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles) have long been in use for military purposes, Congress just passed a new bill for 2015 that allows the drones to patrol above civilian ground for any purpose–commercial, private, and military.  I have so many hang ups on this, I don’t even know where to start.  Mostly, I’m starting to think that we are taking one too many notes from George Lucas (and that’s coming from a huge Star Wars fan, by the way).

What does this mean for us? Here’s what comes to mind for me.

1. All flights will be delayed at some point or another by some stupid company’s broken drone.

2. Companies as well as the government can stalk you from their computers and use you as data.

3. Is this safe, for both people and the environment?

4. Is this necessary, and does it aid in the creation of jobs?

I enjoy being able to go for walks and not once have the question cross my mind of whether or not some company is seeing which bar on Clark I walk into, and then selling that data to some crappier bar.  Marketing research companies will haul in the cash monitoring people’s actions and selling the results. But is it good for people?  Since we’re allowing them to watch us, shouldn’t we be getting a cut? I think any company that uses these drones for commercial purposes should get slammed come tax time. Absolutely. Slammed.

I don’t think that commercial drones have any place in our airspace.  They already have satellites-let that be enough.  I do think this is an invasion of privacy, and an unnecessary one.  When you think of all the real problems in the world, this is just another action that proves Congress is full of crooked people who live for the money, not the love.  America is built on the values of life, liberty, and justice–but this takes our definition of “liberty” to a new low.  Justice is being taken care of by our police force, so why do we need flying video cameras so badly?

It's not 1984, it's 2015.

Plus, when one considers facial recognition software developed by companies like Facebook, it’s just all too stalker-ish.  I’d hate to be a celebrity with TMZ drones flying overhead.

What do you think? Do you like the idea of being watched all the time?  Because I’ll bet you didn’t when you were streaking through the sorority quads at your college oh-so-many years ago….

Read TIME’s article by Keith Wagstaff here

Gawker’s “Privacy Death Stars Approved by Congress”

Barbie Trolling Famous Art Masterpieces

Jocelyne Grivaud’s “Barbie Ma Muse” lets you take away from it what you will. For me it’s a laugh, for some, criticism. Whatever you decide, these juxtapositions are bound to give you some sort of reaction! See more at Grivaud’s Barbie ma muse.

(From top to bottom: “Girl with the Pearl Earring,” by Johannes Vermeer, “L’evidence Eternelle,” by Rene Magritte, “Olympia,” by Edouard Manet, “Marilyn Dyptic” by Andy Warhol, “La Gioconda” by Leonardo da Vinci, “Sylvia” by Otto Dix, “Le violon d’Ingres” by Man Ray.)