Quickies: Racial Representation in Sci-fi, 17th-Century Female Spies, and Sex Positivity in Bob’s Burgers

  • Birth control pills without prescriptions, coming soon to California under new law – “California will become the third state to permit pharmacist-issued birth control once the law, passed in 2013, gains regulatory approval. Similar legislation in Oregon was approved last year and enacted in January.” From Amy.
  • Every Galaxy Needs More Than Three People of Color – “When people of color do appear in science fiction, it’s often as sidekicks or advisers. Black characters are likely to die quickly and are unlikely to ever interact with any other black characters, since many galaxies seem to contain only about three black people. That lack of representation makes it hard for people of color to imagine that their writing will ever find a home in the genre. Author Nalo Hopkinson saw an example of this at a recent convention.”
  • See the Doodles Darwin’s Children Made in His “On the Origin of Species” Manuscript – “While Darwin contemplated speciation and evolution, his kids envisioned battling vegetables and tropical birds.”
  • ‘Saturday Night Live’ Reminds us of “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black” – “After Beyoncé dropped “Formation” last week the internet (rightfully) went nuts. The song, while great on its own, is also a celebration of blackness and black culture, and is one of the singer’s more political tracks. Realizing this, the writers at Saturday Night Live decided to make an apocalyptic video that looks at the white world’s reaction to the release of the song. ” From Courtney.
  • In powerful photo shoot, Syrian girls dress for the jobs they want – “She realized these young girls were rarely asked the most common question to Western youth: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ So first in Congo, and recently with Syrian refugees in Jordan, Hutchison partnered in 2012 with the International Rescue Committee to begin her Vision Not Victim project. She helps adolescent girls realize they can dream big. For several weeks she talks with them, figuring out what they are passionate about. She asks them to draw a picture of it. Then she dresses them up as their future selves and interviews them as if it’s already the future and their dreams have come true.”
  • Mice watching movies on iPods prefer action to mouse erotica – I have no idea if the science is legit, I just thought the headline was funny.
  • St. Vincent Designed A Sleek New Guitar To Fit Women’s Bodies – “Her new guitar weighs around seven pounds, mostly thanks to its narrow, elongated body, which is devoid of curves. And that slim shape isn’t just there to cut weight. ‘I was always finding when I was playing onstage and wearing various stage outfits the guitar would cut across one of the best features of the female body, which is your waist,’ she says. With this guitar, held up high, her stage costumes can be much better seen.” From Will.
  • 17th-Century Female Spies Smuggled Information Through Eggs and Artichokes – “In collaboration with MIT, Akkerman has produced several mesmerizing videos that recreate some of the ingenious methods used by female spies for their secret correspondences. In 1656, a female spy wrote a letter to her brother in which she asked him to communicate with her via artichoke. Akkerman and team tested the juice of globe artichokes to see if it would be viable as an invisible ink, and found that indeed it was. “
  • Sex-Positivity in the Music of Bob’s Burgers – “Tina’s interest in butts is never the butt of the joke—instead, it’s other people embarrassed that she’s so forward. This is all to say that if you’ve never seen an episode before, ‘Bob’s Burgers’ looks like a family-friendly cartoon—but it’s one of the freakiest and most sex-positive shows on TV.” From Courtney.
  • Check out NASA’s retro-futurist planet travel posters!


Mary Brock is a scientist who works on drugs you've hopefully never heard of. She enjoys cooking to Blue Grass music, messing with her cats, and hosting the Boston Skeptics' Book Club. She was born in the South but loves living in New England (despite the lack of chocolate chip pizza). Mary does not use Twitter and don't even try to follow her, because she is always looking over her shoulder.

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  1. February 15, 2016 at 11:49 am —

    There are all so many worthy areas of research and yet some scientists are only interested in sniff films.

  2. February 15, 2016 at 7:36 pm —

    Regarding race in science fiction, I can’t help but think of André Norton’s Beastmaster books. The movie not only changed the main character’s race, but the entire storyline, and hell, the genre.

    She was not happy.

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