GoldiBlox: Raising Female Engineers

Engineering is without a doubt a male dominated workplace. One woman saw the statistics and no longer wanted to be in only 11% of women engineers. As a way to expand the field, she believed that engineers needed to start young. No, not high school young… preschool young.

She came up with the idea for GoldieBlox, an engineering toy for young girls. She says that girls like reading and girls like pink. Boys like building and thinking out of the box. According to what we learned, these are tactics that have been used by toy manufacturers to push dolls vs. toy guns on kids.

However, it can be used for good. Because of social framing, boys are more attracted to dark colored toys at the store and young girls gravitate toward the pastel section. Why not use those frames for good? The developer even stated that toys like Lincoln Logs and Legos have simply put pastel colors on their toys to make them appeal to girls. However, engineer Debbie Lewis is not only changing the color, she’s making engineering appealing to young girls.

And now gender profiling doesn’t look too bad.


You can purchase GoldiBlox online for $29.99.


Spike Lee Directs My Life

On the same day that the class watched Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing”, one letter to the editor was printed in the UAF weekly, the Sun Star. This letter was longer than the ones usually accepted and it was anonymous regarding an incident that took place in MacLean House. As a residence life staff member, I am not permitted to share any confidential information but I will only stick to the facts that have been made public due to this forum.

I will say this, “Do the Right Thing” has become real life!

All the story elements are there. One community that has lived in relative peace for about 15 years + One day where everyone is hanging out together + One person who is from outside the community makes a faux pas = One big problem.

Luckily, there was no fire or moody young man who threw a garbage can though a window (yet). However, this ending is the same. Some things are in ruins while some things are going to get better. It all takes time.

P.S. Ignore the last comment on the Sun Star page. Some people don’t know how to use letters to the editor.

Tinkering with a winning system

A story that has been circulating the internet has been the tale of Chief Two Eagles. According to what I believe to be somewhat of a hoax, the following conversation took place between the Chief and a U.S. Government official.

Indian Chief “Two Eagles” was asked by a white U.S. government official, “You have observed the white man for 90 years. You’ve seen his wars and his technological advances. You’ve seen his progress, and the damage he has done.”

The Chief nodded in agreement.

The official continued, “Considering all these events, in your opinion, where did the white man go wrong?”

The Chief stared at the government official, then replied.

“When white man find land, Indians running it, no taxes, no debt, plenty buffalo, plenty beaver, clean water. Women did all the work. Medicine man free. Indian man spend all day hunting and fishing: all night having sex.”

Then the Chief leaned back and smiled….

“Only white man dumb enough to think he could improve system like that.”

While this is a very insightful, it is often accompanied by a picture of “the chief”. However, none of the pictures of this fictional chief are the same. Below, I display a sampling of some of these pictures.

Chief #1

Chief #2

Chief #3

These pictures are of three clearly different men.

I understand that the author of this tale meant to hearken back to a simpler time and possibly increase the popularity of the Noble Indian. However, by simply going to the internet to find a picture of any Native American to go along with the story, I believe that it denigrates the actual person whose picture is used by utilizing the mentality that all members of a certain minority look alike.

It is also disrespectful to Chief Two Eagles, should the man actually exist.

In an age where plagiarism is as easy as a copy/paste and respect for elders declines, it is important to pass a message to the next generation that the lessons of wise men are more than anecdotes… and to find real stories that inspire.

Get down, Mr. President!

A few months ago, I had a conversation with some friends about games that we used to play when we were kids. A popular one that many of us had in common, even though we came from different areas of the country is the game Get Down, Mr. President.

The rules are simple. When you are in a group of friends, one person puts their hand up to their ear as if they were a Secret Service Agent. When other people in the group see that subtle move, they wordlessly copy it. The last person to notice what everyone is doing becomes the President. Everyone else, as agents suddenly screams, “Get Down, Mr. President!” and tackles that person to the ground. Loads of fun.

One of my friends said that he used to play a similar game, it just had a different name. We were curious, what was it? He got embarrassed and said, “Well, we know now that doing stuff like that isn’t right but… we called it Queer Bashing. The last person with his hand on his ear got tackled all right, but everyone would shout, ‘Get the queer!'”

We were shocked. Then someone said, “Geeze, whatever happened to the good old days of Cowboys and Indians?” The good old days, huh? The days of acting out a near genocide over and over on the playground?

If we realize now that a game called Queer Bashing isn’t acceptable, why do we continue to condone Cowboys and Indians?

A recent game that has become quite popular will hopefully replace Cowboys and Indians for good. It’s called Pirates vs. Ninjas. It doesn’t denigrate any race of people, and still deals with historical figures and action heroes. Personally, I’m on Team Ninja, What team are you on?


Caution: Explicit Content

Don’t worry, this post is clean. But the title made you curious. Even though the title warned you, you clicked on it. Good for you. You took a risk. You’re an adult. You are responsible for protecting your own eyes. But what about children?

Minors usually have parents or guardians that regulate their media intake. However, since most kids get home from school before their parents get home from work, those parents must rely on other means of regulation. Some examples include setting televisions to only show programs that fall below a certain rating, disabling the play of explicit lyrics in iTunes, and setting restrictions for certain websites.

Even though most of those items work well, some things slip through the cracks. This happened to Tipper Gore and her daughter in 1984. They bought a Prince CD  and were listening to the song “Darling Nikki”. This song contains sexual references and Mrs. Gore was unpleasantly surprised. A few months later, she started the Parents Music Resource Center with the intention of censoring obscene music.

This wasn’t the first time that groups tried to silence popular music. In the early days of jazz it was known as “the devil’s music” or “jungle music”.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) finally agreed to place a warning label on obscene content. However, it is up to the record label’s discretion to decide to put the label on CDs.

Backfire. It soon became a status symbol. Because it was forbidden, it became more desirable.  That’s the way we think. That’s why you clicked on this post. That’s how kids were deciding to pick up the music.


During the senate meeting in August 1985 on what had been titled “porn rock”, musicians stepped forward to explain why the label was a bad idea. John Denver stated that he was against the censorship and pointed out the futility of it. He stated, “That which is denied becomes that which is most desired, and that which is hidden becomes that which is most interesting. Consequently, a great deal of time and energy is spent trying to get at what is being kept from you.”

His predictions came true. Soon, there were t-shirts, metal signs and sales for the music with that label on it skyrocketed.


Kids can’t contain their curiosity, especially when it’s something that is hidden. Curiosity is good for them; exploring, discovering new things, making small decisions and figuring out who they are and what they want. So although this plan backfired, I’m glad it stopped where it did. Labeling a CD as obscene is a lot different than censoring it. Perhaps it’s doing nothing more than cultivating a healthy sense of curiosity.

From despair to hope

After we watched the film Dreamworlds in class, I was depressed. I’m a happy person. I don’t get depressed. But I was in a 3 hour funk.

The images that I saw felt like they had been literally branded onto my eyes. How do people think that this is the right way to behave? The very first thing that popped into my head was… “It’s hopeless. We can never change everyone.”  I have decided to take a step back for a while and focus on something else.

Then I found this Halloween gem. Last week, ABC News set up cameras in a department store and placed actors who posed questions to their fellow shoppers. Can my son dress up like Belle? Can my daughter dress up like SpiderMan?

The reactions were astounding. Every person they questioned sided with the mom. Even small children scoffed at the costume choices.

All except one couple.

Their conversation with the mother was heartfelt and open. And it gave me the lift out of the funk that I needed. Even during this scary time of year, there’s a little hope. Someday, kids won’t be boxed into gender roles. Maybe that day can be today.


What are YOU going to be for Halloween?

I’m on a boat!

The film Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes explains how many hip hop influences can reflect negatively on society.

When we said who our favorite hip hop and rap artists were, the first artist that came into my mind was the parody skit group “The Lonely Island.”

I was able to watch one of their videos using the frame that I received from the hip hop video and I realized that this is more than just a funny song and video, it’s making fun of the entire hip hop scene.

Warning: this is the clean version, but it looks like they missed a couple of words.

At the breakfast table, the guys are acting normal, just eating cereal. But as soon as they step onto the boat, their whole attitude changes. This implies that people can be who they truly are in the comfort of their own homes but must put on a front before going into public.

The cameras are all positioned below the singers to suggest a feeling of dominance. Much of the posturing in this video is similar to the other videos we saw in class but instead of throwing money at the camera, they throw burgers.

Their phrases are also ridiculous, making fun of similar lyrics in rap music. “Never thought I’d be on a boat/It’s a big blue watery road” and “Hey ma, if you could see me now/Arms spread wide on the starboard bow/Gonna fly this boat to the moon somehow.” Fly a boat to the moon? RIDICULOUS!!!

Because their message resembles modern hip hop and rap so closely, they are a big hit with teens and young adults. A lot of their other videos are equally as funny/foolish. Hopefully, the kids that are watching this can see that these parodies are exposing popular rap music as the ridiculous show that it is.

Oh, and the parental advisory sticker that comes with explicit CDs? We talked about how kids who see that are more likely to want those items. Check out T-Pain’s shirt at 2:40. It’s a status symbol now. But that’s a topic for another blog entry.