Girls! Girls! Girls! Do Female Judges Remind You of The Spice Girls?


When you think “female judges,” what or who comes to mind? Sandra Day O’Connor? Justices Ginsberg and Sotomayor?

Hell, even the network television shows “Judging Amy” or “Judge Judy” would be plausible, especially if your brain is on summer vacation…  But, what about The Spice Girls.

In more evidence of the epic Reality/ The Onion Astro-Convergence that is currently underway, whereby the real world as presented in the media becomes ever more indistinguishable from the hilariously satirical articles in The Onion, Maryland’s Daily Record—a serious paper—describes a factoid about the growing number of female judges with a photograph and comparisons to… The Spice Girls.

I can see why the writer did this, since both groups have vaginas. That’s about where the comparison ends.

“That’s some GIRL POWER,” the article praises about the rise in female judges.   But those female judges—those “girls”— they wear boring old robes, not “leather pants and platform heels,” like the real paragons of power, The Spice Girls, to which other powerful women are logically compared.

A female writer posted this, which doesn't really surprise me. Girls and women increasingly do this sort of thing to each other. We don’t need men to treat us like sex objects and porn stars and baby dolls and trivialize us with girlish crap. Often enough, women  do it themselves. Sometimes it seems as if we're becoming a self-trivializing people.

Sure, it's a small thing. I know that.  But this nonsense is in a class with what environmental scientists might call "low-level insults" on the system that build up over time. 

ITEM 2, not entirely unrelated, comes from Washington, DC.  There’s a cyclist groper on the loose in DuPont Circle. This man, most likely a bike messenger with some impressive balancing skills, has been driving up alongside women walking on the sidewalks, sticking his hand up their dresses, fondling them, and laughing as he rides off.

One of the groper’s victims did think to report this. She first called #311. That interests me. That’s what this sort of offense has become for women—a “#311” matter, not a #911 offense. To her credit, the #311 operator urged the woman to call #911, since the matter was at least serious enough to deserve a police investigation.

And, once the woman posted a blog on the groping incident, many other women came forward. They’d not reported the incident at all but had also been molested by the roving cyclist.

Kudos to the women for reporting it.

From bizarre Spice Girl analogies to groper-cyclists, women seem to be putting up with a lot more by way of everyday humiliation, aggression, and belittling behavior, and don’t expect better.

There’s all this hype about women’s growing economic clout but, as I’ve written a few times before, women are gaining power with the one hand and giving it up with the other, when they get mired in demeaning personal relationships or don’t insist on sexual agency to go along with their newfound control over that bank account (such as it is, since women’s “earning clout” has also been overhyped).

I tend to think of things like bicycle-groping as a “gateway sexism,” akin to a “gateway drug” that leads to harder stuff down the line. Every time it’s tolerated, without the offender getting a firm swat across the face with a handbag, our standards are lowered, just a little bit. 

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

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Is this why time speeds up as we age?

We take fewer mental pictures per second.

Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash
Mind & Brain
  • Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
  • In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
  • The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)

In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.

Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Climate change melts Mount Everest's ice, exposing dead bodies of past climbers

Melting ice is turning up bodies on Mt. Everest. This isn't as shocking as you'd think.

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Surprising Science
  • Mt. Everest is the final resting place of about 200 climbers who never made it down.
  • Recent glacial melting, caused by global warming, has made many of the bodies previously hidden by ice and snow visible again.
  • While many bodies are quite visible and well known, others are renowned for being lost for decades.

The bodies that remain in view are often used as waypoints for the living. Some of them are well-known markers that have earned nicknames.

For instance, the image above is of "Green Boots," the unidentified corpse named for its neon footwear. Widely believed to be the body of Tsewang Paljor, the remains are well known as a guide point for passing mountaineers. Perhaps it is too well known, as the climber David Sharp died next to Green Boots while dozens of people walked past him- many presuming he was the famous corpse.

A large area below the summit has earned the discordant nickname "rainbow valley" for being filled with the bright and colorfully dressed corpses of maintainers who never made it back down. The sight of a frozen hand or foot sticking out of the snow is so common that Tshering Pandey Bhote, vice president of Nepal National Mountain Guides Association claimed: "most climbers are mentally prepared to come across such a sight."

Other bodies are famous for not having been found yet. Sandy Irvine, the partner of George Mallory, may have been one of the first two people to reach the summit of Everest a full thirty years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay did it. Since they never made it back down, nobody knows just how close to the top they made it.

Mallory's frozen body was found by chance in the nineties without the Kodak cameras he brought up to record the climb with. It has been speculated that Irvine might have them and Kodak says they could still develop the film if the cameras turn up. Circumstantial evidence suggests that they died on the way back down from the summit, Mallory had his goggles off and a photo of his wife he said he'd put at the peak wasn't in his coat. If Irving is found with that camera, history books might need rewriting.

As Everest's glaciers melt its morbid history comes into clearer view. Will the melting cause old bodies to become new landmarks? Will Sandy Irvine be found? Only time will tell.

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