Skepchick Quickies 7.1

On July 1, 1908, SOS was adopted as an international distress signal because it is easy to distinguish in Morse Code (three dots, three dashes, and three dots). Interestingly, VTB produces the same sound but SOS is just easier to remember. Nowadays there is a new distress code system, but SOS is still recognized as a visual signal.


Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. It’s funny, “Voyager” was the first Trek show that I watched with any real regularity. I mean, I’d caught episodes here and there of the original series in reruns, and I’d seen the movies at least once each, but “Voyager” was the first version I really made a point of watching, from the beginning. Later on I’d get into “Deep Space Nine” and eventually catch up on “Next Generation” in reruns, but in a weird way, “Voyager” was there first.

    I can understand at least some of the criticism of it. Its lows were really, REALLY low, and its best episodes were maybe not quite as high as the best of TOS, Next Gen, and DSN (though I would definitely put them in the same ballpark.) It made a little too free with the reset button at times (“Dude, they just stone-cold killed Harry Kim! Oh, they’ve got a backup.”), they relied maybe a little too much on “temporal/spatial anomalies” (though the rest of Trek is hardly innocent of that) and there are ways they could’ve explored their premise a little more thoroughly, but overall I find those to be secondary to all the great things that were in there. What I really DON’T get is the ire that fans often send towards Captain Janeway. From beginning to end, I thought she was just fantastic. Smart, tough as nails, compassionate, but willing to make difficult, unpopular decisions. She was… I hesitate to say “motherly” because that has certain connotations, but definitely parental to her crew while still definitely being their commander. I think my mom (who also watched the show at the time) put it best when she said Janeway was not as stiff as Picard, and not as sleazy as Kirk.

    1. I believe your last sentence is exactly why some fans panned Janeway, because they want a patriarchal character like those two. Picard and Kirk were two sides of a fatherly coin. One was boys should aspire to, while one is what boys actually spire to. Janeway threw that for a loop. Sisko did that too, being black. I think both of them caused problems for people who didn’t realize they had their own subtle issues with anyone other than a white male being in command. Sure, there was racial and gender diversity on all the enterprises, but Kirk and Picard were still white males. It’s still a reflection of the times that so many people rail at someone other than a white male being in charge, yet those same people continue to point out “how far we have come” with women being doctors and security officers and science officers etc etc. Oh but they get extra criticism when they get put in charge of the whole ship? I, too, thought Janeway was a great character. She was motherly… a tough mother who had every skill and trick and was, dare I say it, on paper equal to Picard in ability. Now that I think about it, was it an accident that she was put in an emotionally stressful situation far from home? Which was worse? Picard turning into a borg? Or Janeway merging two very different crews, dealing with loss of friends and crew, the agony of a long journey home, the burden of being the final word on so many decisions. Just discussing the answer to that question should change your mind on Janeway.

    2. Janeway is hands down my favorite Star Trek character. I watched TNG, DS9, and Voyager all as they aired, and Voyager was my favorite. I loved the storyline, I loved the first woman captain. I also loved the relationship between her and Seven in the later seasons.

      1. Seven of Nine is definitely another favorite of mine. I became pretty invested in all the characters despite some of the show’s storylines. DS9 was good but I got so tired of Bejoran politics and was completely devastated about Jadzea Dax :(

        1. At the time, I was significantly more invested in DS9 than Voyager. I was drawn it DS9 especially because it had what Voyager lacked, which was continuity of space. On any of the other Treks, the crew can save the day or they can fail miserably, but the next week they are somewhere else and the stage has been reset. On DS9, they had to live with the consequences, and this appealed to my late teenaged self. Also Garak.

          With the advent of Netflix, I’ve had a chance to go back and watch Voyager, and I can see how much it consciously chose not to be the same as DS9, or Next Generation, for that matter. It has some very bad episodes [and all Treks have some very bad episodes], but it also recaptures the exploratory nature of TOS in a way which none of the other modern shows did, as well as a much more hopeful outlook on Janeway’s part than Sisko ever had.

          1. I felt like Voyager episodes were more stand-alone, which I prefer over continued story plotlines. Plus I liked how they never knew which aliens they would come into contact with.

          2. Yeah, in retrospect I do prefer DSN in some ways, largely because I generally prefer story arcs over stand-alone episodes, but I do really appreciate how Voyager tried to freshen Trek up a bit, bring back its sense of exploring the unknown.

  2. Yesterday, 19 firefighters were killed in the Yarnell fire, 80 miles northwest of Phoenix and near Prescott, AZ. Devastating.

    I’m reading some articles on it this morning ,and I came across this: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2013/06/eighteen_firefighters_dead_in.php

    Patriarchy_works 5 minutes ago
    Sympathy and prayers to the survivors of these brave men. And notice that they were ALL men. No women were placed in harms way. Men still do all the dirty dangerous jobs while women tackle real estate, HR, banking. you know the vital work.

    Next time some harpy complains about 79 cents for every dollar a man makes, remember these 19 heroes.

    And now I’m pissed. Why can’t people just leave their stupid opinions in their heads? Fucking hell.

    1. I read the story about the firefighters last night, and yeah, not sure how some people can be such amazing assholes.

      1. Also, harm’s way, people! HARM’S WAY! With an apostrophe! If you’re going to be an asshole, at least get your grammar and spelling correct. Grrr.

      2. In addition to being complete asshattery, it is also completely wrong even in the field that he is referencing. While this incident may have involved just men, a lot of hot shot crews have women on them. Last major wildfire loss of life was 1994 South Canyon Fire. Several members of the hot shot crew that was lost in that incident were women. Also, just because a profession often shuts out women doesn’t mean they can’t do the work.
        Ok. Now I am pissed as well.

        1. BOTH of my parents were volunteer fire fighters when I was a kid, in the middle of the desert. My mom was ALSO a volunteer EMT for quite some time. She also drove the fire truck a lot (she was always the one to volunteer to drive it in parades, too, haha). So yeah. I am sensitive to this.

          1. I have a couple career fire fighters in the family so these sorts of deaths always hit me hard. Uncle did die but it was more the lingering death that comes from having cancer due to exposures as part of the hazmat crew rather that this sort of quick, unexpected death. Also, these sorts of larger causality events usually occur when avoidable mistakes were made. the 14 deaths from the 1994 were in almost same situation as fire in the 1930’s that killed 13 fire fighters but the lessons from that incident were forgotten. In the back of mind I wonder what was forgotten/missed in Arizona.
            Where I grew up, young adults made all their cash either working wildfire crew or being a river guide in the summer (provided you weren’t a rancher). There were perhaps not as many women on the fire crew, but they were still there putting in the same effort in extremely hazardous situations (one fellow I knew from high school died smoke jumping when the fire back tracked into the area he and another jumper had jumped into). I pass a fire station in Berkeley where I’ve never actual seen male fire fighters. I always see 2 or 3 different women. I am sure the dudes are there too, but it always heartens me to see the women there.
            I get sensitive to these BS sort of comments because it gets passed around as evidence when in fact it is direct result of exclusionary practices that become self fulfilling. Perhaps not every women would choose such a career but how many don’t because blatant practices that haven’t allowed them to serve? Of course no women are going to die on the front lines if you don’t allow them in combat situation. How many women are going to advance in a career like fire fighting if you run into a boss that has this sort of patronizing attitude?
            Also, if we are talking high paying professions, doesn’t the sitting at a desk CEO kind of trump any of these high risk careers? Or software engineer? Not exactly hazardous professions.

    2. A few weeks ago that hotshot team was twenty miles from here, keeping my town safe. (I wouldn’t be surprised if some were here in 2011 as well, and maybe 2000….) Jerks don’t get to claim their sacrifice to support prejudice.

  3. “Defenders of Deen note that she comes from a particular time and place. To condemn her for her language and attitudes is to condemn the huge number of white people who grew up in the segregated South and used the same type of language that their friends and parents did.”

    Strangely, it almost seems that defenders of Deen have a pretty low opinion about Southerners.

    1. Exactly! It’s just like defending Grandma for using old-fashioned racial terms. There are plenty of Southerners (and old people) who know better and there is no excuse. And I know because I am from the reddest part of SC (and because I have common sense).

      1. Even if the defenders of Deen stance were a valid argument to make (which it isn’t), I can’t even see how it applies to her. She isn’t a 99-year old great grandma who remembers when daddy went off to fight the Kaiser. She was in her mid-teens when the Civil Rights Act was signed meaning she witnessed desegregation for most of her formative years. She’s has 50 years to figure this out that this isn’t ok. Lots of people in the south figured it out a while ago even those older than she is.
        I would argue that saying racist things hasn’t harmed Glen Beck or Rush Limbaugh a bit. Their national brands are pretty much based on that plus a good dose of misogyny, Islamophobia, and homophobia. They got all the hates pretty much covered and are millionaires because of it. Difference is gender and perception that her brand was “wholesome”. I think she’ll probably be fine in the long run. I am sure there are companies that have no problems with the things she’s said and will pick her up once controversy has died down a bit provided she doesn’t just retire.

      2. What I think is funny in this situation is that
        A) Most of those companies dumping her have done racist shit
        B) Many of the white people on the left calling out Paula Deen barely understand racism themselves.

        I hate it when this type of thing gets sensationalized because it basically gives every white person who’s not a social conservative a pass to say “hey look, all the racism in the US is done by them, I’m so progressive & non-racist for calling her out” when really, the people saying that are just as racist as she is. They just have no idea that they’re racist and are subconsciously ragging on her to make themselves feel progressive.

        I’ve heard a few of my more socially liberal associates put her down recently, but I’ve also heard these people say things like “gentrification is good for Chicago, poor blacks can’t complain if they’re getting things for free”. And so when I hear them complain about Paula Deen, I’m just like *facepalm*. The left denying racism is like skeptics denying sexism.

    2. I was talking about this with my wife this morning. The thing I haven’t read anywhere is that, no, she shouldn’t get a pass; it doesn’t matter what words were being when she grew up, because she can learn (so far, pretty much on the same page). If she gets a pass, what about her kids? They were raised with a woman who got a pass because it’s how she was raised, right? Do they, because that’s how they were raised, get a pass? Her kids aren’t the only ones she’s taught.

      And talk about a dumb ass defense. Yes, I do condemn each person who uses hate speech and refuses to learn. Why wouldn’t I?

  4. I am such a fool. I looked at the comments on that ‘War on Men’ article. Nobody else make the same mistake, OK?

      1. I always think of the scene from Apocalypse Now where Chef keeps screaming “Never get out of the boat!” Never read the comments. Tigers, man.

  5. VTB may make the same _sounds_ as SOS, but it makes a different pattern. If a dot is *, a dash is *** and the shortest pause involved is a ., then
    SOS is *.*.*…***.***.***…*.*.*
    VTB is *.*.*.***…***…***.*.*.*
    So SOS is not only easier to remember as letters, it’s easier to remember as morse code and easier to signal. VVV would probably have been a better bet if you wanted to change it, since it’s the start of Beethoven’s fifth.
    Fun fact, WTF is the start of the Star Wars Emperial March. No wait, that’s OOU.

  6. You know, I was having a conversation with a few of my black friends about this the other day, and our consensus was that if we boycotted every racist company, we wouldn’t be able buy any food, drink, or clothing. Basically they weren’t too shocked or offended by Paula Deen because they feel most public companies and figures out there are racist, Paula was just one of the first ones to be stupid enough to admit it publicly.

    I firmly believe that most of the key shareholders of the companies that dumped relations with Paula Deen have said “nigger” “wetback” “chink” or “sand nigger” in anger many times in their lives.

    We all honestly had a good laugh that white people in particular were so up in arms about Paula Deen. Because for many of them it’s a mind-bending experience to have someone be so openly racist, and OMG, HOW OFFENSIVE FOR THEM TO HEAR!!! But for me (mixed race) and my black friends I was hanging with (which don’t represent all black people, I know), it was just like:

    “Welcome to our daily lives white people!”

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