Barbie Barbs

“My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be,” Handler wrote in a 1994 autobiography. “Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.”

Ruth Handler, the inventor of the Barbie doll in 1959, quoted in NY Times, Sunday April 28, 2002.

Another example of how “spin” works. You define a nuclear missile as a “peace-keeper”, and a bill that increases pollution as “the Clear Skies Act”. And you define a toy that glorifies unrealistic body shapes and conspicuous consumption as something that is all about giving women “choices”.

The idea of the Barbie Doll was not well-received by Mattel’s male executives, but it became a hit and made a fortune for Mattel, especially once it got the idea of selling outfits and accessories to go with the doll. In other words, it became a training tool for little girls: acquire and acquire and acquire.

How ironic is it that, later in life, after suffering from breast cancer, Handler created a new, more satisfactory prosthetic breast, which she called “Nearly Me” and later sold the company for $1 million.

2013-10: I recently saw a Facebook link to a mother who found a “solution” to the horrible, horrible problem of naked Barbies in the toy box. The “solution” is to paint “bathing suits” on the Barbie dolls. That way Barbie would never be naked.

Of course, Barbie is doll. She is never naked. But you know how little girls are: one minute they forget to put Barbies expensive clothing back on, along with the accessories, and the next they are twerking at the MTV awards.


If you use Microsoft Word, you must not use the letter “i” all by itself. No, no, no. Microsoft has decreed that there shall be no “i”‘s by themselves. Microsoft has decided that you are too stupid to be left to your own powers when writing something. The “i” must become an “I”.

This is, admittedly, not a new concern. I just got particularly fed up with this particular facet of the computer world today: software companies designing their products for idiots. And because they don’t want to have to offer multiple products in each class, non-idiots are stuck with the idiot’s version.

It’s not that it’s not possible to disable many of the idiot features in Microsoft Word, for example. You can, under Tools/Options. You can disable the automatic speller and the contemptible grammar modulator, and automatic lists, and other things. But every time you install a new version of Word, you have to spend about 30 minutes to an hour changing all the default settings to make the program somewhat reasonable to use.

That’s all. Microsoft sucks. So does Quicken and so does Hewlett Packard and Adaptec. Every time they make something automatic– which, they will tell you, “consumers” demand– they reduce the control you have over your letters or pictures or music.

Do people think it impresses other people when they receive letters that are formatted and spelled correctly, and written in a the passive voice? Do people think other people find “clip art” charming or delightful?

You want to impress somebody? Write a letter by hand and mail it to them.

Hurricane Carter

Hazel Tanis, who survived the shooting for 27 days, looked through police mug shots and picked out two men., Walther Rhiels and Charles Gilbert. She helped police create a composite drawing of one suspect, whom some claim looks like Artis. The logic here is inescapable. Confronted with photographs, Tanis did not identify Carter or Artis. She identified someone else. The drawing could not be accurate if it looks more like Artis than Rhiels and Gilbert.

What is the best evidence here? That it was not Carter or Artis.

Haggins — they used hypnosis and lie detectors. Haggins’ evidence is now worthless as a result.

If the police really believe that the lie-detector tests showed that Carter and Artis were the shooters, why did they release them? Why didn’t they obtain a search warrant (using the other “compelling” evidence to get the warrant)? Why didn’t they interview the witnesses at the Nite Spot the night of the killing, when the stories were least likely to be shaped by subsequent issues?

The ammunition recovered from the car– was not properly vouchered with the police property clerk until five days afterwards. Five days! The police claim that witnesses can fill in the five day period with some kind of reconstructed chain of possession. Why would they need to? We require the police to follow certain procedures to ensure that evidence is not planted or manipulated to fit the suspect. When the police fail, through sheer incompetence, to perform these duties to a minimal level of professionalism, we throw the evidence out. Some day, we might learn to fire or train the police officers as well. In the meantime, we throw that evidence into the garbage because it is valueless.

From the prosecution’s Response to Judge Sorokin’s Reversal:

“Rubin Carter’s car was quite distinctive. It was all white. It was shiny and new.” (And it went “beep, beep”.) It is ridiculous, in the totality of the evidence, to suggest that two cars looking like this car traveled down 12th Avenue within a minute or two of one another.

All right. Go drive to a commercial district in your local town at 3:00 a.m. Watch the cars go by. How many similar cars can you see?

Criticism of polygraphs is nothing new, according to Brandeis University professor Leonard Saxe, who served as a staff member of the Polygraph Validity Advisory Panel, created by Congress in 1983. The panel concluded that polygraphs’ ability to detect lies was only slightly better than random chance, and that errors were possible. In 1998, the panel’s findings were cited in a U.S. Supreme Court case, United States vs. Scheffer, as support for the conclusion that “to this day, the scientific community remains extremely polarized about the reliability of polygraph techniques.” The American Medical Association says that more research is needed, and until additional studies are completed, testing “shouldn’t be undertaken in the private or public sector.”


Note:  Carter was driving a White 1966 Dodge Polara.

Legitimacy and Chavez

Asked whether the administration now recognizes Mr. Chávez as Venezuela’s legitimate president, one administration official replied, “He was democratically elected,” then added, “Legitimacy is something that is conferred not just by a majority of the voters, however.”  re. Chavez, a “Senior Administration Official”, NY Times, April 16, 2002

Ah, Democracy and Freedom. America’s greatest virtues, at home, if not abroad.

This is an official of the Bush Administration declaring that just because President Chavez, was elected by a majority of voters doesn’t mean he has “legitimacy”. Shades of Salvatore Allende and Kissinger’s famous remark about those irresponsible Chilean voters!

It’s not new for Republican politicians to define democracy primarily as something that benefits big American vested interests. It would not be enough, for example, for Cuba to hold free elections. The problem is, a la Kissinger, that the people might very well elect the “wrong” leader– Castro. Even some pretty hard-edged American foreign policy “experts” know that in a free election, Cuba might well elect Castro. So it’s not democracy that we want. What we want is another crony to American corporate interests.

We want our casinos and bordellos back.

Jeb Bush, George’s brother, is governor of Florida. Bush barely won Florida in the last election. Florida has a sizeable Cuban expatriate population. These are people who fled Cuba because they hated Castro.

2 + 2 = 4.

Billy Graham’s Recovered Memory

The Rev. Billy Graham apologized Friday for a 1972
conversation with former President Nixon in which he
said the Jewish “stranglehold” of the media was ruining
the country and must be broken.

Billy Graham, who must occasionally take a little pride in the fact that while Swaggert and Baker and others have fallen, he remains pure and unsullied by scandal, says:

Although I have no memory of the occasion, I deeply regret comments I apparently made in an Oval Office
conversation with President Nixon … some 30 years ago.

This statement was released by Mr. Graham’s Texas public relations firm.

It’s disgraceful. He has no memory? He has no memory of a conversation he had with President Nixon, in the Oval Office? He has no memory of the fact that he was an anti-Semite?

The thing is, the comments didn’t materialize out of thin air. They don’t sound like a man making conversation while waiting for a bus. They sound like a man deep in serious discussion with another powerful man for whom the issues being discussed are not academic or abstract. Mr. Graham, presumably, said what he believed. Why would it be something he didn’t believe? It’s not enough for him to say now that he doesn’t remember saying it, and doesn’t believe what he said. It is not enough.

You have to think of other things. You have to think about the civil rights movements and the antiwar movements and the media reporting on it all and the perception widely held among redneck Americans at the time of some kind of global Jewish conspiracy to undermine core American values. Mr. Graham was condemning the media for holding liberal values which he thought were alien to Mr. Nixon’s constituency, the so-called silent majority.

“This stranglehold has got to be broken or this country’s
going down the drain,” Graham said.

“You believe that?” Nixon says in response.

“Yes, sir,” says Graham.

“Oh boy. So do I,” Nixon agrees, then says: “I can’t ever
say that but I believe it.”

“No, but if you get elected a second time, then we might
be able to do something,”

Now, what I am disturbed about is this: Billy Graham has a public relations firm?

Added March 2007:

President Nixon wasn’t able to break the “stranglehold” of the liberal, Jewish Media. So was God’s man in America, Billy Graham, being prophetic when he said America would go “down the drain”.

Are we down the drain yet?

I know some people think we are They think the pervasiveness of sex, sexual references, sexual topics, sexy bodies, sexy jokes, and sexy clothes are proof of that. The sex itself is not what leads us down the drain: it is the drain. We are here.

But by any objective standard, we actually live in a kind of neo-Victorianism where in Stewy’s little animated butt on “Family Guy” is now censored. I am not making this up.

“Recovered” Memories

Feldman-Summers, S., & Pope, K. S. (1994). The experience of “forgetting” childhood abuse: A national survey of psychologists. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 636-639.

Abstract: “A national sample of psychologists were asked whether they had been abused as children and, if so, whether they had ever forgotten some or all of the abuse. Almost a quarter of the sample (23.9%) reported childhood abuse, and of those, approximately 40% reported a period of forgetting some or all of the abuse. The major findings were that (a) both sexual and nonsexual abuse were subject to periods of forgetting; (b) the most frequently reported factor related to recall was being in therapy; (c) approximately one half of those who reported forgetting also reported corroboration of the abuse; and (d) reported forgetting was not related to gender or age of the respondent but was related to severity of the abuse.”

This passes for scientific research? It is taken from, a website dedicated to “proving” that memories of traumatic childhood experiences can be recovered.

If you believe that there is scientific evidence in support of “recovered” memories, you ought to read this paragraph very carefully. This is what is passed off as “scientific” proof. A poll of psychologists asking them if they had been abused as children and then if they had repressed the memories of it and then if they felt it was corroborated.

In other words, can you “remember” being abused as a child, and did you lose the memory of it. In other words:

Do you have faith in God above?
If the bible tells you so.

Now, the writers of this hoax are dimly aware of the issue here, so they ask how many of these psychologists who remember that they didn’t remember they were sexually abused “recovered” their memories in therapy? And how many now claim that they can corroborate the abuse? This article doesn’t detail the nature of “corroboration”, but we can imagine. Well, we can, but we shouldn’t, I suppose. By “corroboration”, they could mean… well, what could they mean? Other than some kind of confirmation from a non-witness– since the abuse is almost never witnessed– or by someone else who was also abused by the same person, which is not corroboration by any definition of the word. (In fact, in how many cases did they hear the alleged corroboration first, and perhaps were moved to “remember” that they too were victims?)

There is no record of anyone producing any kind of physical evidence in support of the recovered memories. There is a lot of evidence of “recovered” memories that were demonstrably false. There is a lot of evidence that the human mind is exceptionally creative when it comes to memory, combining them or altering them in amazing ways.  There is lots of evidence that human memory is subject to suggestion and manipulation.

Partisans would argue that it’s because of the nature of the crime– there never is physical evidence. There are just these long-suppressed memories.

The fact that 56% of these people “recovered” their memories in therapy, of course, is highly suspect. First of all, we’re dealing with psychologists here. These are people who already have faith, presumably, in psychology, and the various beliefs, structures, and assumptions common to the practice of psychology. A keystone of Freud’s theories is “repression”: memories of traumatic events are buried somewhere in our psyche but can be “recovered” through psychoanalysis.  Memories are like a tape recording: once found, they are an accurate record of what happened.  More recent research shows that this is patently false.

In other words, that there is such a thing as an unconscious, and a location for things that are repressed, and such a thing as repression. Maybe they all read “Sybil”, which, for a time, was the bible of hack psychology.

It’s like asking people if they believe in angels. You have to choose only people who also believe in the bible. If they say yes, you proceed to ask them if they have ever met one. I’ll bet 25% of that group have, in one form or another. An angel, for example, saved me from a serious car accident by waking me up when I was falling asleep on the freeway. That may sound strange to you, but a lot of people out there believe that such things really happen.

So a lot of psychologists, in therapy– with a psychologist, presumably– are led to “recover” memories of abuse which, apparently, they had repressed. So how do they know these memories are valid?

The study looks at corroboration, which consists of:

  • people who knew about the abuse confirmed it
  • someone else reported abuse by the same perpetrator (if you know someone who was robbed, does that mean that the robber probably robbed you as well?)
  • The abusers acknowledged some or all of the abuse. (I’d like to hear that conversation.)

None of this is really scientific by any stretch of the imagination. You just have to have a lot of questions about a person who “knew” about the abuse confirming it. How did they know? What did they really know? What kind of conversation led to this disclosure?

On to another facet:

Just as technology evolves, social consciousness and hence the definition of academic freedom is evolving. And this is coming about as people, particularly members of less powerful groups, speak. Dr. Jill Vickers, a Professor at Carlton, for example, recently “urged CAUT to come to grips with and to understand how the principles of academic freedom and institutional authority, ideas that legitimize the university, can also be used to perpetuate the status quo and sustain those who are more powerful and privileged – in most cases white males” (Riseborough, 1993). Along similar lines, UNESCO is currently reviewing an international proposal regarding academic freedom (International Conference of University Teachers’ Organizations, 1993). The text of this proposal makes it clear that there can be no academic freedom without social responsibility.

by Connie M. Kristiansen, Carleton University, Newsletter of the Section on Women and Psychology, Vol 20, No 2, page 7-16.

Read that chilling line again: “There can be no academic freedom without social responsibility”. Sound like an old communist plot? It’s a feminist plot, however, aimed at those would deny that memories can be repressed and then “recovered”.  Who believe that there is such a thing as a false allegation.

It’s idiotic, to be blunt. Free inquiry should be suppressed in the name of a greater social good, which is, to be able to expose the institutionalized oppression of women that is so pervasive and encompassing that women are justified in suppressing freedom of speech in order to fight it.

If I have to explain why that’s a bad idea, I’d have to admit that our society is hopelessly ignorant about the fundamental basis of freedom, democracy, and human rights. It probably is.

And if radical feminists are so stupid as to believe that this very weapon, the suppression of free and open discussion and deliberation, is not sure to be turned and used against them in the future, as it has been in the past, then they are greater fools than even I imagined.