Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Maya's critique of Wonder Woman

Great movie, strong feminist moves
soldiers/white history

Wonder Woman has finally made it onscreen, to the immense joy of women worldwide. The new movie, directed by Patty Jenkins, was a smashing success, with critics raving about everything from its action to its feminist agenda. But for all the good it did for feminism, women of color missed out. Specifically, black women.

In the opening scenes of the movie, we see a young Diana running away from her caretaker. Specifically, her Black caretaker. Immediately, we are shown a Black woman in a stereotype: that of the Mammy. A Mammy is a Black woman who took care of the slaveowners children, and, once slavery was abolished, worked for white families at extremely low wages. This image perpetuates the stereotype that Black women are subservient and complicit, happy to run around chasing giggling white toddlers all day.

A perfect contrast to the Mammy’s softness, there is the image of the strongwoman. Just like the Mammy, the strong woman is introduced early in the movie, when Diana escapes to the training field. There, we witness a powerfully built Black woman get cracked across the back with a staff. She barely flinches, instead turning around and flicking off the woman who hit her as if she were little more than a fly.  Although it can be argued that this is good representation for Black women, it must be understood that cinema has a long history of portraying Black women as powerful, silent hulks, with little emotion or plot use other than muscle. This stereotype harms Black women by turning them into nothing more than brainless muscle.
These are two out of the three Black characters who got screen/speaking time in WW. (The third, a Senator, got one line in before being interrupted by Diana.)They are caricatures of outdated stereotypes, not the beacons of strength that WOC so desperately seek. Wonder Woman is written from the point of view of a white feminist. Even characters like the Amazons, who are meant to defy stereotype, end up placing Black women right back into their outdated roles. The only character who truly breaks boundaries is the main White lead. Black women have voiced their concerns, and it's about time that White people started listening.

But the constant representation of White, straight, cis leads has left the feminist and minority communities divided and starved for resources. It is not fair for us to accept incremental change, but we must learn that Hollywood moves slowly. Painfully, excruciatingly slowly. We must take the time to celebrate a victory, even if it is unfairly White. We got a woman as a leading character. That is big. We must continue the fight for representation, but remember to expect slow, begrudging progress from directors.

-- Maya Tate

Elsa's review of Wonder Woman

4.7 stars Wonder Woman was a great movie

The new movie Wonder Woman took viewers to her backstory: childhood with the Amazons, her maturing as a warrior superheroine during WWI and into “modern” times after Justice League ended. It was a wonderful movie in almost every way. Not just the actors and great action but also the music. The work of Tina Guo and her electric cello really set the pace. This was the first female lead of DC super- heroes and it was made so well.
Director Patty Jenkins did her part well. She actually had to argue with the other directors to even have the No Man’s Land scene part of the movie! Personally I think it would have been a mistake to not include it.
Thing is though, everything, even Gal Gadot’s acting has a negative side. Gadot did not portray much emotion in many scenes. In the last bit back in “modern” time the script has her lecture viewers about the power of love. That part is really cheesy.

Would I want to see it again? Why or why not?

I would love to see the Wonder Woman movie again even with the negative bits. That is because it is not a kind of movie where “All right, I know what’s gonna happen and the movie is lame anyway”. Wonder Woman is the kind of movie that gets the “OMG that was a great movie! Even though I’ve watched it already it is so worth watching again and again!” reaction. Wonder Woman is a movie that catches your eye. It’s the kind of movie that has epic camera perspective, great actors who play their part well, and a plot line and lead that is just different in almost every way from most male-led movies.

Final Opinion

Overall it is a wonderful movie even with its downfalls. 

-- Elsa Tate

Friday, November 18, 2016

Elsa’s Letter to President-elect Trump

School HW

Dear Mr. Donald J. Trump,
There is a problem the size of Texas in the middle of the Pacific Ocean called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP).

Word Gyre: bottlecaps, bubble-wrap, bags, bottles, plastic plants, fishing line, packaging, fishing net, rubber duckies, strapping tape, chemical containers, plastic-pen-ink-bottles, contaniers, shoes, ziplock, styrofoam, sketch of 6-pack rings

First things first, the GPGP has originated from plastic human waste. If people are to stop this the first step is to reduce, reuse, compost and recycle. Start by reducing the amount of plastic used and in its place use decompostable materials.
Second, the amount of plastic found in a Laysan’s Albatross chick’s stomach is an unbelievable sum, 30 bottle caps in the average corpse. Many species of marine life are dying and this is very important to me as I would like to be a marine biologist. Soon there won’t be any biology to marine.
And third, in some areas the ratio of plastic to zooplankton is 6 to 1. The worst part is zooplankton is the base of the ocean’s food chain.
Last but not least, plastic is being eaten by fish. When people eat the fish, we are eating small particles of garbage. Reduce the amount of fish eaten, reduce the amount of plastic eaten.
To sum t up, the unchecked growth of the GPG will lead to major complicitiation in the ocean’s ecosystem and possibly an increase in the current extinction rate.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Things Babes Have Said To Me (Soon) After Sex

(Inspired by Things Dudes Have Said To Me After Sex.)

The worst: “I should have told you before, I’m sorry, but I just needed you, I have ..., but it isn’t flaring right now and probably not very contagious.”

The rest are in no particular order.
  1. “Have I mentioned that I am an EMO?” (Yes, this cuts both ways … ;-)
  2. “I think we should see each other again ... But not for dating or anything ... I mean just as friends ... But with benefits of course.” (Of course.)
  3. “Did you fake that?”
  4. “Why are you so surprised? I am a grown woman.” (First date.)
  5. “Do you still respect me? You don’t think I’m easy do you? I never do that until after 5–6 dates.” (Different woman, second date.)
  6. “Easy up, easy down.” (After the second time.)
  7. “Am I your first?” (After the third time. And “Yes.”, but I didn’t admit it until a week later.)
  8. “Maybe you should do some Kegels.” (During that week.)
  9. “No, don’t do that! I don't know you well enough.”
  10. “I don’t want you to tell anyone, I don’t want my husband finding out.”
  11. “Honey, you woke my kids!”
  12. “Yayy! We weren’t busted by the SFPD!”
  13. “One more bookcase and we're done.”
  14. “Should we eat now before the food gets cold?” 

The best: "Pizza?"

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Let's just be friends 1

Hi Karen,
It was good to meet you yesterday and I would like to continue our conversations. I can meet this Friday afternoon in SF but have to leave by 4ish, if you can escape before then, or we can skype over the weekend and figure out a time to meet next week.

Two days later:
Hi Ranjeet,

It was such a pleasure to meet you. Thanks for the great conversation. We'll have to meet up again. Unfortunately, this week has been quite busy and the weekend is filled with family obligations, being Chinese New Year, so we'll have to find another time.

I also wanted to be upfront with you that I'd welcome a friendship. I've found that for me relationships tend to happen when I feel a kind of chemistry that's different than the one we had. I hope that makes sense. Perhaps you feel the same! 
Warm regards,

1 week later:

Hi Karen,
Our conversation was so dominated by physics (literally) that the chemistry you refer to figuratively had no chance.
Let's do the whole "sub-text" thingy:
Given that you've made a very early decision about "no relationship" (essentially rejecting a part of me) I don't understand why you (and other women) then feel the need to have a friendship (with or without benefits), do nothing to cultivate the friendship and seek my approval to assuage your guilt. It is your decision, take ownership.
I don't do lame, not for free; my scintillating conversation is available at $150 per hour.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bottled Water: Costs of Production

Bottled Water: Energy-, Water- and Waste- Costs of Production 

Or, “Would you like some water with your oil today?” 

Energy Costs
Bottled water requires > 1000X the energy to produce as does tap water. This energy cost is dominated by that for transportation and for the production of the plastic.
“…the (energy) equivalent of filling a plastic bottle one quarter full with oil.”

Water Costs
“In fact, it takes at least twice as much water to produce a plastic water bottle as the amount of water in the water bottle.” (Emphasis mine.)
“The International Bottled Water Association … first ever study … show(s) that … it takes 1.39 liters to make one liter of water. … This, the bottled water industry says, is evidence that its product isn't so bad.” (Emphasis mine.) However, “… a true water footprint includes all freshwater used in production, including the water used for packaging. … Drilling for oil to make plastic …”
“…every liter sold represents three liters of water.”

Waste related Costs

Think “recycling” helps?
“For every six water bottles we use, only one makes it to the recycling bin.”

Purely in terms of waste generated, keep in mind that upstream waste – the waste generated in producing the material for the plastic bottle – is about 10X the mass of the bottle itself. (I can’t find an online reference to this, but Elizabeth Royte discusses upstream waste in “Garbageland”.)

So, if you are only recycling, you are throwing it all away (90% of “it”).

Monday, January 12, 2015

Maya Tate : American Dream

American Dream

A throaty scream, angry shouts,
a massive army to silence the crowds.
A beautiful country,
torn in two.
Beautiful girls,
prevented from school.
A pledge we repeat,
a promise of peace,
an empty one too.
For are we not the country,
with the most nukes?
The world is melting,
falling into disarray,
a thought shunned by the ones,
who think we lived with dinosaurs, yesterday.
I can just see,
in 2023
a child on the street,
with nothing on his feet.
A mother struggling,
under a gray – yellow sky.
And the last bird,
is beginning to die.
Is this truly,
what you wish us to see?
Is this truly,
your American Dream?
I ask you this question,
and I will again.
Is this truly
your American Dream?

- Maya Tate

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Old Pune City Culture Walk

Cultural Tour Of Pune (old city, pre 1750), conducted by ChaloWalks
Tour description by Maya Tate

I had a great experience on my tour of the Culture of Pune, lead by Mr. Rashid Ali. Right off the bat, you can tell this will be quite an interesting experience. Although, he says, Pune is not the biggest tourist destination, it has got quite a lot of culture hidden between forests of cement. He explains that as he gives the details and the (religious) backgrounds of the places, he is quite willing to acknowledge other explanations given by the tour group. After a short car ride, we arrive at our first stop, the Junglee Maharaj Temple. This temple is the final resting place of Junglee Maharaj. It also contains a box with his footprints embedded in it. To give you an idea of the story behind him, but without spoiling the fun of listening to the story from an experienced mouth, I will give you a timeline of sorts. Junglee Maharaj was a huge man, 7 feet tall, and an imposing figure. Through penances, he had attained special powers. He would use these extraordinary powers to cause mischief. People would scatter in his path. Then, one day, he saw a sage he thought to be an ideal target for his tricks. However, no matter how hard he tried, he could not do anything to the sage. The sage turned, and Junglee realized the sage was of a much higher spiritual level than he. He asked the sage how he had avoided these tricks, and the calm sage turned and told him not to use his powers for mischief. Junglee then went and meditated in the jungle in which the temple now stands. When he came out, he was called Junglee Maharaj. Do you know the reason people ring a bell when they go into a temple? Take a guess! Mr. Ali will be sure to ask you.

Second stop, the Pataleshwar Caves. This is really a temple inside of ancient caves. The Pataleshwar Caves are a huge, cavernous space, all hand chiseled out of the igneous rock that forms the Deccan plateau. The inside of the temple is a bit smoky from all the sweet smelling incense. Make sure you see each and every room, because there are some pretty darn amazing idols inside! There really isn't much more culture that I can explain without screwing up your brain for good, so I'll leave that job to Mr. Ali.

Next, we took rickshaws to Kumbharwada, a charming little potters village. The village, Rashid will point out, is quite safe. The people there love pictures of themselves and their children, however, do NOT take pictures of the washerwomen. Don't. Anyways, it was quite an amazing experience. Mr. Ali knows the names of almost all the villagers, and he will introduce them to you when he is showing you their work. Be sure to pay attention to the evidence of Muslims and Hindus living harmoniously together which Mr. Ali will point out, as it is a contrast to what one reads about India. There are stacks on stacks of pots, fired, and some of them painted. One woman was putting a sort of whitener, made of Plaster of Paris, tree gum and water, on little Lakshmi figurines. In another place, we saw a woman that had to make, whiten, and hand paint 10,000 of those figurines by the end of the next month! Alone! She was very kind and courteous, and spoke excellent English. We continued walking for a bit, taking a good many pictures, and then we were off to our next stop, the Idol Makers.

The Idol Makers make some darn impressive statues and idols, particularly of Lord Ganesh. They can be Huge, or they can be small. They are all made in molds, then hand painted in a rather stinky smelling but glossy finishing paint. If you look carefully, you will notice that one of Ganesha’s tusks is always broken. Ask, and perhaps Mr. Ali will tell you the story. One shop in particular has hundreds of statues, huge and small(ish). The owners are a charming family of about 6, but they do not speak much English. Take a moment to look around and admire their handiwork, because you will soon be leaving to another destination...

A local street market! Again, do not take pictures of any of these people. You will walk down a huge road filled to the brim with fruits and vegetables that shine like jewels in the sun. Mr. Ali may ask if any of you are Veg. If you are, or if you are squeamish, I would recommend speaking up, because you may go to a meat shop. All I will say is, it’s quite cool, but.... well, I’ll let you discover that particular part on you own. Heh. Well, take it all in, and don't strain your ears too much, because there is a noisy treat in store for you.

Welcome to: The Tambat Agli Metalworkers Village! Tambat means copper, but there is aluminum and steel work as well as bronze and brass, alloys of copper.This village is quite the noisy one, as one might expect. Rashid will most likely point out one particular worker, who has the fastest and neatest of hits on the pots he makes. The metalworkers hit the pattern on to the pot on an iron pole of sorts, so that the pattern hits itself at itself, in a way.The pots themselves are beautiful, not to mention the handiwork that they make. He will probably show you how they are made. It is quite interesting. A sheet of heated copper is put on a metal lathe, then pushed against a mould with a stick. It is then taken off, and a pattern is hit onto it. One particular man makes a type of hit on the pots that only 5 people in all of Poona can do. He, says Mr. Ali, is the master metalworker. If you get to visit his shop, I suggest possibly buying something. I myself bought a little trinket box, just because of the hit work on it. The guy is really a nice, kind, jolly fellow, and if I knew Marathi, I would probably be able to say a lot more about him. In his office, if you did happen to buy anything, are some pictures of things he worked on or made, like a fountain, and a Ganpati Crown. At this point, I, being younger than everyone else by a good many years, was beginning to get quite tired. My happiness was quite fading. However, Mr. Ali cheered me up for the time being with a delicious cookie/bar/cracker/brownie that Jan Ali made. Mmmm. Well, after some more time admiring the work, (and one or two more brownies), we finally left for our next stop, a wada, or mansion.

There isn't much to write about this, because you are not allowed to enter. I don't even know who owned it. In the entrance, a little ways back, you will see a wooden structure. This, I believe, is the family temple. Look closely, and you might see the family crest(?) on the entrance of the temple. It is quite a nice one. Also on the grounds, but that requires a little more hard viewing, you will notice that there is an apartment building. This, I thought was just a bit funny. Anyways, we are moving on to our last stop, the Kusbapeth Ganesh Temple.

The Kusbapet Ganesh Temple was the first temple to be built in Pune. The story goes as such: When Shivaji was a little boy, he was living at Lalbaug, with his mother, Queen Jijabai. One day, Queen Jijabai noticed that some herders were doing puja to a rock. When she asked why, they replied that it looked like a Ganpati. She was impressed with their dedication, and so ordered a temple built on that spot so that they could do puja properly. It is also the start of the Ganpati Procession. The rock looked a bit like a shapeless lump, no offense, although they had painted it and enhanced it to look a little more Ganesh – like. It's almost a bit like the eggplant seeds and toast that look like “Jesus”. But still, quite an interesting story, and a beautiful temple. Unfortunately, no pictures allowed!

It was at this point that Mr. Ali and we decided to end the tour. We had asked so many questions and talked so long with so many people that we had run out of time. Plus,I was getting very tired, and he had to go pick up his daughter from school. We did not get to see the Tulshibaug Market and Ram Temple, which I had seen on another occasion. In all, I had a great time! Thanks Rashid, and have a great time to any one who goes on the tour!
Maya (12)
Cupertino, CA, USA and Aundh Camp, Pune

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Puzzle: Gambler’s ratio

There is a rather dark bar called “Der Brocken”, near the “Mystery Spot” in Santa Cruz. Last Friday night as I went by I noticed a strange shadow cast by the bar on the surrounding fog. I went in and ordered some fish, which the barman assured me was second grade fresh. As I was nursing a masterly margarita, a strange person materialized next to me, with one dead grey eye, one piercing yellow eye and very arch eyebrows. He introduced himself as Wolande. Wolande was rubbing his knee with one hand, and with the other, he was playing with a rather odd-shaped coin, which looked like an asymmetric double convex lens.

From what I could see, on one side it had the image of a head on a platter, and on the other, words that began with, “There is a rather dark bar called …”. At times the coin itself appeared to be the platter, with the head presented on it. As Wolande tossed the coin in the air, it not only tumbled but also seemed to shrink as it rose and expand as it fell, vanishing entirely sometimes as it moved upwards and then after a short time reappearing moving downwards at the same height. As I looked at it I had an odd sensation of imbalance, as if I was tilted and should fall out of this world, but there wasn’t any particular direction I was leaning towards.
Wolande asked me if I was a gambler, and when I said I was, he offered me a wager. When I asked if it was fair, Wolande replied cryptically that I could make it so. So without thinking, I accepted – yes, yes,  jumping in headfirst where angels fear to tread and a fool and his money … . Wolande explained: “So it is on. I’ll wager a thousand prutot, no, thalers -- wait, nowadays you call them … dollars, don’t you? --  on the toss of this coin, if it lands tail up, you win the thousand dollars, if it lands head up you lose the amount you wager.”
“Is it a fair coin?”, I asked, “It doesn’t look it.”
“Oh what an enchanting question!” Wolande replied, “Of course not! But, this much I can tell you, the odds against your winning are numerically the same as your probability of winning. Now, you can wager what you want, and if it is fair to me I’ll accept it. I’ll toss in the respect and credibility of your colleagues on the 3rd floor, and then we’ll toss the coin.”
A sense of premonition hit me as Wolande continued, “But if your wager is not fair to me … I’ll keep your soul.”
1. How much would you have wagered, in dollars, correct to a cent?                                   
2. What book inspired this puzzle?