Open Link & Comment Thread

Feel free to post whatever links you’d like here, including links to your own stuff.

“Promoted” from the comments: The recent Carnival of Feminist Sci-Fi and Fantasy: Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Bean, meanwhile, emailed me telling me to search Google for “matriarchal society.” Here’s what I found:


(Description: Google results page for “matriarchal society.” Google is helpfully asking, “Did you mean: Patriarchal society?”)

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39 Responses to Open Link & Comment Thread

  1. 1
    Silenced is Foo says:

    Actually, this speaks to just how much feminist dialogue there is out there. Google is just suggesting the more common phrase, assuming you typed the rare form by accident. And who talks about “patriarchal society”? Feminists. The only people who discuss matriarchal societies are sociologists studying the rare incidence of such things, and MRAs who accuse our own society of woshipping women.

    But yes, it’s funny. I see it a lot – you see a phrase, search for the opposite of it, and Google suggests the original out of similarity/popularity.

  2. 2
    Lea says:

    I got a similarly helpful suggestion when I searched for the book “When She Hollers” by Cynthia Voigt. Unfortunately the screencap is no longer online, as my image host deleted all my images. I still have a backup somewhere, I believe.

  3. 3
    Thene says:

    I’d like to link the recent Carnival of Feminist Sci-Fi and Fantasy: Part I, Part II, and Part III. (Well, it was nearly two weeks ago now, but I didn’t see it linked that widely, so, pimp.)

    And SiF, I thought Amp was getting at the idea that gender supremacies all, interchangeably, suck.

  4. 4
    Mandolin says:

    “And SiF, I thought Amp was getting at the idea that gender supremacies all, interchangeably, suck.”

    Or would if there had been matriarchal societies, which I’ve yet to see proof of.

  5. 5
    Daomadan says:

    I just tried “matriarchal society” and didn’t get that at all. I got a listing of links that had to do with matriarchal societies. Strange. I’m somewhat familiar with Google’s algorithms but I wonder what is going on in this case.

  6. 6
    Barbara says:

    This happened because you misspelled matriarchal: I didn’t get the same thing, in fact, I didn’t get any hits for patriarchy — ditto re Yahoo!, but when I misspelled matriarchal, I got the same result. Still telling . . .

  7. When it’s guessing what you want based on a misspelling it looks at words you could have meant and chooses the one that has the most results. Basically, it’s just showing how far Google still has to go to get from a pure text-based search to a more human-based search.

  8. 8
    Barbara says:

    FWIW — in Yahoo! when you make the same misspelling it asks if you meant “matriarchal” so I guess Yahoo! wins in the intuitive guessing when confronted with a misspelled word department.

  9. 9
    Robert says:

    Google’s algorithms rely on brute force and probability; there is no human judgment involved. There are 111,000 links for “matriarchal society” and 754,000 links for “patriarchal society”, so if you garble the first word (there’s only one letter difference), as you did in the example, it plays the numbers game. It’s telling, but all it tells us is that way more people write online about patriarchy than about matriarchy. Which, pace Mandolin, makes sense, since matriarchy is a pretty elusive thing in the world.

  10. 10
    Radfem says:

    I got Wikipedia’s definition page, the “myth” of matriarchy history and something about it and China plus the usual “matriarchy vs patriarchy” stuff.

    If you’re in California and want to know how your law enforcement agency did in Californians Aware most recent audit, it’s online with lots of links in relation to it including a blog that once wrote on my blog as not being something terrible, lol.

    Cal Aware 2007 audit

    Cal Aware was started by attorney Terry Francke who used to be the head of another watchdog organization, the California First Amendment Coalition.

    My city’s police department actually received a lower grade than last year, but I did discover that the auditor was provided with information that had been denied to me in writing, so I’ll be sending off another letter to get this um, legally available information.

  11. 11
    Barbara says:

    Well, Yahoo doesn’t do the same thing. Really, this just shows how crude Google searching is on the web. The algorithm could just as easily make the following assumption: that the FIRST letter in a word is far less likely to be wrong than the third to last letter in the word. So, it would look for words that are like the misspelled word giving weight to those that share the same first letter. In other words, there is a logic to misspelling and that, it seems to me, is the approach that is more likely to be intuitively correct than looking at a word that has the most letters in common with the most hits. That is, if the point is to try to reduce the aggravation of using Google rather than rewarding those who use it the most (i.e., steering traffic to those that already have a lot of it).

  12. 12
    Rachel S. says:

    That’s a gem–gave me some relief in between grading a million final exams.

  13. 13
    Silenced is Foo says:

    Since this is the open thread: any pointers on how to avoid my posts getting eaten by your spam filter?

  14. 14
    Bjartmarr says:

    I’ve noticed several people posting descriptions of pictures. I assume this is for people who are not using graphical browsers. Is there a reason you’re not using the “alt” tag on the images for posting the descriptions?

    The reason I ask is that part of my work involves creating accessible web pages, and I routinely use “alt” tags, and I would like to know if they are inadequate in some way.

    (For those that don’t know about alt tags, when you’re posting an image, if you write

    href=”foo.gif” alt=”The gif is foo”

    then the text “The gif is foo” should show up on non-graphical browsers instead of the image foo.gif.)

  15. 15
    Radfem says:

    There’s a story about Alexis Goggins, 7, who was shot six times trying to protect her mother from a boyfriend who was trying to kill her.

    Though she’s been called a hero, there’s actually some questioning about whether or not she *knew* what she was doing because she was learning-disabled.

    If she’d stayed in the backseat and hadn’t jumped into the front seat in front of her mom, yelling at a gunman not to hurt her, her mom would probably be dead. I think she knew her mom was in danger and was trying to save her.

  16. 16
    Penny says:

    Bjartmarr: “The reason I ask is that part of my work involves creating accessible web pages, and I routinely use “alt” tags, and I would like to know if they are inadequate in some way.”

    We try to do both alt tags and longer in-text descriptions at Disability Studies, Temple U. There may be folks who need the description but aren’t accessing alt-tags for some reason; and folks who can see the image fine, but can’t decipher its contents (the longer in-text description sometimes helps more there). Can’t hurt to cover all the bases. It’s also a message that we expect and welcome readers who access our page in various ways.

  17. 17
    Kay Olson says:

    Bjartmarr: To add to Penny’s comment: I try to do both the alt tags and the in-text description, though I’m on a little learning curve here at Alas where the blog set-up actually seems to have more and better accommodations than Blogger that I haven’t fully put to use yet. I also try to describe videos I post or link to. It’s all aimed, in my case, at making my disability blogging accessible for people with a variety of sensory impairments (lyrics to a song video help the deaf/hearing impaired, description of photos help the blind/sight impaired, description of what I see in an image I’m critiquing might also aid someone with inabilities to process social situations too, perhaps a person with autism that doesn’t readily read facial expressions, for example). But it also ends up helping anyone with poor or slow net connection, or allows describing something (video, possibly) that might otherwise be NSFW.

    This sort of description becomes obviously necessary when critiquing something like, for example, art that portrays blind people. As you might imagine, there’s a strong political aspect to an art show of photography portraying a group of people who cannot themselves view the art show. Discussing that thoroughly requires inviting those people into the discussion through detailed text description. An essay by Joseph Grigely (a Deaf artist) entitled “Postcards to Sophie Calle” in the book Points of Contact: Disability, Art and Culture explores this art show scenario (among other things) and is behind my personal commitment to text descriptions. Here’s a link that leads to that essay in a different book: grigely sophie&source=web&ots=xiXoNaOORv&sig=iEfUen5BAPFmPwDHjoxlZcuER8Y#PPA20,M1.

    (Find the button for “Preview the Book” and go to page 17 for the essay.)

    Ironically, I do not believe the format at that link is very accessible for blind folks using screen readers.

  18. 18
    Silenced is foo says:

    Interesting side-note: Firefox is actually quite pedantic in one respect – it does NOT show alternate text as a tooltip. If the image is shown, there is no way to see the alternate text. That’s because the alternate text is supposed to only be shown if the image is not. The standard defines a “title” tag that is to be used for the tooltip in FF.

    Frustrated the hell out of me when I was learning about that one.

  19. 19
    Trinifar says:

    Feel free to post whatever links you’d like here, including links to your own stuff.

    Thanks, here goes:

    decoding bali presents a guide to understanding the recent Bali Conference and it’s place in a long series of United Nations efforts to address climate change.

    the limits of human needs is about the idea that “The success of economic activity is (should be) how well it fulfills fundamental human needs, not how many products and services (satisfiers) are produced.”

    modeling the future discusses a modeling effort and projection which says, among other things, if we don’t change our ways the number of poor people in the world will skyrocket in the next 40 years.

  20. 20
    Joe says:

    In one of the previous healthcare threads I mentioned that we might not like all of the results from government run health care.

    Here’s an example.

    Found if from this blog.

  21. 21
    Thene says:

    Joe, what does that have to do with government-run healthcare? I’m not seeing a solid connection there. It’s just another silly initiative, fatphobic to boot. Having lived in both a place with and a place without it, I can see ways in which having government-run healthcare has a direct effect on the way public health issues are dealt with, but I don’t think soda taxes are that relevant.

  22. 22
    Robert says:

    I’m not seeing a solid connection there.

    The connection is that San Francisco is justifying the proposed tax by pointing out that it is paying the health care bills for this (alleged) wave of obese, diabetes-ridden patients.

    He who pays the piper calls the tune. If the government is paying for your health care, the government will also be telling you how to live your life, health-wise. Taxing your snacks is just the camel’s nose. It will be extremely difficult to argue against coercive, freedom-destroying policies, when those policies are predicated on the eminently reasonable grounds that “we’re paying for the consequences of your choices, so we’re going to limit your choices to ones that don’t cost us a whole lot of money.”

  23. 23
    Joe says:

    what robert said.

  24. 24
    Thene says:

    That’s all just supposition unless you can demonstrate a policy trend in countries that actually have government-run healthcare. San Fran being fatphobes does not, shall we say, make a summer. (They really are being crazy about the ‘cost’ of fat – overweight people live longer than normal-weight or underweight people. There was a good post on Junkfood Science recently about current research into fat and health). Moral panic over fat is pretty universal – I’ve heard dispatches from Australia, from China, from all over Europe. Here in the UK they’re talking about putting more readable nutritional guidelines on to food so people can make up their own minds about what to eat based on the best, most readable information (and the breakfast cereal companies are in revolt). They’re not talking about special soda taxes. That’s just happening in the USA.

    I don’t think a trend for government-run-health-control-freakery exists. Look at all the public smoking bans in parts of the USA, which often include bans on smoking right outside a building. I couldn’t name anywhere but the USA where outdoor smoking is restricted in that way (though bans on smoking in enclosed public spaces are becoming common). Similarly anti-drinking laws and initiatives – another public health control issue – are far tighter in the USA than in most nations that have government-run healthcare (Norway being the only exception I can think of off the top of my head). Then there’s the war on drugs; the US government is very happy to tell you how to live your life in that regard, whereas countries with government-run healthcare are often far less intrusive about telling you what to put in your body. Even in the UK, which has a drug classification system defined by moral panic, workplace drug testing is virtually unknown outside professional sport.

    Basically I see this story and read ‘San Fransisco is crazy’. How you’re getting ‘Government-funded healthcare is crazy’ from it, when SF doesn’t even have that, I have no idea.

  25. 25
    Myca says:

    Thene, I think that you’re totally missing the most important part of their argument:

    Scare tactic! Scare tactic! Scare tactic!

    Once you take that into account, it all makes sense.


  26. 26
    Bjartmarr says:

    I just have a few comments:

    1. Soda is already heavily subsidized, through cheap corn syrup. Adding a tax on top of the subsidy is just leveling the playing field a little. Free-market types should be all for it.

    2. The article is fatphobic, but the tax isn’t. The health detriments of soda range far beyond just its caloric content: there are plenty of good reasons not to consume it in excess.

    3. As others have said, this doesn’t really have anything to do with government-run healthcare. That said, given the choice between getting bankrupted by an illness and then dying due to lack of care, or having to pay an extra nickel for a Coke…I’ll take the latter.

  27. 27
    Thene says:

    Bjartmarr, we’re clearly on the same ground in general but I disagree with your #2 somewhat. Yes, soda is bad for you. Therefore you have the choice to not drink it. This is not like, say, taxing smoking or drinking or petrol; those three things cause you to do damage to other people. If drinking soda only hurts you, and I don’t have to pay for the hurt it does to you, chug away. (though I do think corn syrup subsidies need reexamining, but not because of fat).

  28. 28
    Joe says:

    My point is that I’m worried about the people that will get to make decisions because of central payer health care. I think that there are a lot of people who don’t want other people to be able to make ‘bad’ choices. SanFran apparently thinks fat people cost too much in public resources associated with health care. I disagree. Mike Huckabee would probably agree. I think that government funded health care could make us less free. It might be worth it. It might be avoidable. But I think it’s a valid concern. You can call that a scare tactic if you like but that’s not how I meant it.

  29. 30
    Bjartmarr says:

    Thene, I was actually referring to other effects that are detrimental to the soda-drinker’s health, such as spiking the blood-sugar levels, increased LDL cholesterol, and decayed teeth. Those are all good reasons to limit soda consumption, but none are fat-phobic.

    Joe, we (well, I, anyway) understand your concern with governmental interference with your life (though I don’t understand your lack of concern about what will happen if you get seriously ill). But with something like single-payer healthcare, the benefits are so great that things like a soda tax seem trivial in comparison. C’mon — the link you posted calls the soda tax a “trojan horse for fascism”. Fascism???

    Sure, concerns that the government might try to keep you from doing unhealthy but enjoyable things if we ever get single-payer healthcare are perfectly valid. But presenting a soda tax as the vanguard of fascism is, well, a scare tactic.

  30. 31
    Myca says:

    Well, and hey, like Thene says, it might be a valid concern if we were looking at a society that had universal health care, but we’re not.

    In fact, we can just as easily turn the same example into an argument for the other side. After all, if the concern is that universal health care could lead to this kind of imposition into our personal liberties . . . well, we’ve already got the imposition. We’re getting the imposition anyhow! It’s happening!

    If we’ve already got the downside, shouldn’t we get the upside too? I want some damn healthcare now, thanks.


  31. 32
    Thene says:

    Joe, I feel the reverse is true; universal healthcare makes people more free. Universal healthcare means never having to stay in an unsatisfying job just because it provides your insurance. It means never developing a major problem because you were avoiding seeing a doctor for minor problems because you can’t afford the deductible. It means being able to get emergency care without having to worry if you’re covered for it, or if the hospital you’re at accepts your insurance. Also, ime it’s way harder to get seen at the weekend in the USA. What’s with that?

    Then there’s the matter of market freedom. Whatever else you may believe about the free market, good or bad, if US companies have to keep paying for their employees’ insurance, that places a distortion on said market – the company that covers least has the lowest overheads, so can reap the greatest profits. Does that distorting effect make the US more ‘free’ than countries with universal healthcare? I think not.

    Oh, and I just thought of yet another example of US governmental interference into healthcare; abortion and sexual health. Do you seriously think that getting abortion and contraception with ease, for free or for a small prescription cost (iirc the pill costs $10 a month here, or free if you’re poor), makes you less free? Does having doctors that encourage you to use long-term contraception – because it’s cheaper for the system and more reliable for you – make you less free? (that’s one I’ve experienced personally; I’ve only seen a gyno in the USA once, and he actively misadvised me and tried to encourage me to use short-term instead of long-term contraception, even though the latter has fewer side-effects. Did that make me more ‘free’? Or was he, you know, angling to make a buck off me regularly instead of once every five years?)

    It would be nonsense to say that there are no impositions placed on you by universal healthcare, but all the ones I can think of are about advice and advertising pressure rather than actual laws saying ‘don’t do this’. One that affects me is the anti-smoking advertising that’s common in the UK, but which I’ve yet to see in the US. The billboard campaigns are specifically designed to evoke disgust and fear over the effects of smoking. I’m sure it provides an impetus to quit for some smokers, which makes them stop poisoning themselves and the rest of us, but the 80% of us who don’t smoke have to put up with that ick-making imagery. Similarly, when I last had to sign up for a new GP I was given an anti-smoking leaflet even though I’d said I didn’t smoke; the receptionist was apologetic about this, and said she was required to give one to every new patient.

    So, things like that happen (see also this new ‘traffic light’ food labelling idea) but I can’t think of any examples that involve more than just providing unsolicited information. No one is forcing people to stop smoking, or not get fat, or whatever. More of that goes on in the USA, as we’ve already covered. The worst that you get is annoying ad campaigns. I don’t think that makes anyone less ‘free’.

  32. 33
    Radfem says:

    I don’t know, if Mountain Dew were $4 a can with the tax, I might actually get off the stuff. The scoldings by the dentist haven’t worked. I did drop cola after suffering effects from the phosphoric acid to my bones. Both sugary and diet sodas are detrimental to health.

    But a tax, I’m not sure if that would accomplish anything anyway. The profit margin is fairly high with these drinks, including those dispensed in restaurants.

    There’s been lots of abuses with the government’s involvement in birth control particuarly those that are longer-term like sterilization (usually permanent), Norplant( five years) and Depo (six months) with women of color including but not limited to American Indians, African-Americans and Latinas (especially those from Mexican and/or Puerto Rican ethnic backgrounds), women who are on public assistance, disabled women. Also for women working in certain industries who were forced to get hysterectomies, be sterilized or provide proof of effective birth control before holding certain jobs, often in towns with few job opportunities outside those industries. The latter are examples of private corporations attempts to control women’s bodies, because even though studies have shown that industrial contaminants and carcigens can negatively impact men’s sperm counts and health of sperm, the men in these jobs weren’t coerced or mandated to take the same measures as the women.

    So I think there’s reason to be leery. I think it’s important for all women to be able to have access to abortion and contraception but not in a means to control reproduction by certain classes of women viewed by our society as being “undesirable”. The problem is, it’s just hard for the government to resist doing this.

  33. 34
    Thene says:

    But is it harder for the government to resist doing that, or for companies to resist doing that? At least governments are usually subject to more oversight, and we can dismiss them when they fuck up.

    As with workplace drug testing, I’ve never heard of workplace contraception requirements, or forced contraception, in places that have universal healthcare. That’s happening right there in the USA, where health is supposedly ‘free’ from such control freakery. Maybe it occurs in the UK in a more insidious way – eg. doctors in poor areas may be directing women to long-term solutions. It’s certainly possible. But it being required – as a direct restriction on freedom – isn’t something I’ve ever heard a whisper of.

    I confess I hadn’t considered how that reproductive control might act in reverse until you mentioned it. All I’d met was the pressure to hand over money every month when every five years was doing me fine. (And I also hadn’t considered that my whiteness may have played into the ‘advice’ that I received).

  34. 35
    Robert says:

    But is it harder for the government to resist doing that, or for companies to resist doing that?

    They’re both susceptible. It’s wise to restrain both of them.

  35. 36
    Joe says:

    Thene, I wasn’t saying that this was a reason not to have UHC. I’ve made the point previously on alas that UHC could give people I disagree with a lever to do things that i don’t want them to do.

    This was just a small example of that.

  36. Ok, I just found this by accident and had to link to it here. Reminds me of the discussion about men naming their penises in My Daughter’s Vagina, Part 2.

  37. 38
    Myca says:

    *grin* Ahhhh, very nice, RJN. I laughed my pajama off.