Lisa Katayama

I'm a contributing editor here at Boing Boing. I also have a blog (TokyoMango), a book (Urawaza), and I freelance for Wired, Make, the NY Times Magazine, PRI's Studio360, etc. I'm @tokyomango on Twitter.

TEDWomen Day 2 highlights: personal robots, breast cancer detection, and parenting taboos

I departed TEDWomen feeling very inspired, happy, and exhausted. The event was amazing, though I do think they could have done a better job of bringing more smart women who can talk about traditionally non-women issues — math, sports, science not related to breasts or pregnancy — to the stage. (Hearing Danielle Fisher talk about how she felt when she became the youngest woman to climb the Seven Summits, for example, would have been more fulfilling to me than listening to a parade of political figureheads talk about what it was like to be both a grandmother and a leader.) I hope TEDWomen will catalyze bringing more women to main TED, and that we'll be able to dig deeper beyond the rhetoric female empowerment and gender disparity to stories about women who do really cool shit and don't necessarily have to frame it as a woman thing.

Here are some highlights from day two (see also: Session 1 highlights & Session 2 highlights.):

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Cynthia Breazeal, founder of the Personal Robots Lab at MIT, talked about how personalized robots can be used to improve communication, health, and media. She's been fascinated with personal sidekick robots since watching Star Wars as a child and has expanded her research based on the idea that robots = social technology. "People respond to robots a lot like how they respond to people," she says — by how likable, engaging, and trustworthy they are.

Read the rest

Highlights from TEDWomen Session 2: Feministing.com, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, and A Call To Men

There were three really amazing talks in the second session of TEDWomen this evening. (Highlights from session 1 are here.) Here's a quick summary:

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Courtney E. Martin, the 30-year old co-editor of Feministing.com, gave an engaging and deeply moving talk at Session 2 of TEDWomen today about how her generation is re-imagining feminism. She explained it as three paradoxes:

1. Reclaiming the past and promptly forgetting it.
Martin, the daughter of liberals, grew up denying that she was a feminist until she saw Manifesta co-author Jennifer Baumgardner in fishnet stockings. Part of the challenge of feminism, she says, is to acknowledge that aesthetics, beauty, and fun do matter. "My feminism is very indebted to my mom's, but it's very different. [She] says patriarchy, I say intersectionality... she says protest march, I say online organizing... Feminist blogging is the 21st century version of consciousness raising." Feminism is no longer about man-hating and Birkenstocks.

2. Sobering up about our smallness and maintaining faith in our greatness.
Shortly after graduating from Barnard College in 2002, Martin became disillusioned by the lack of impact she felt she was having even though she worked at a non-profit and took part in volunteer protests. When she sat down to tell her family about it, her mom said to her: I won't stand for your desperation. Even if what you're doing feels small, you still have to have faith in the grandeur of it all.

3. Aiming to succeed wildly and being fulfilled by failing really well.
Martin quoted Parker Palmer, who said:

We are whiplashed between an arrogant overestimation of ourselves and a servile underestimation of ourselves.
After she picked herself up from her disillusion, Martin realized that life is not about glory or security; instead, you have to embrace the paradoxes, act in the face of overwhelm, and learn to love really well.

Read the rest

Highlights from TEDWomen Session 1: finance in Iceland, Hans Rosling on washing machines, and how women + humor = change

I'm at TEDWomen, which takes today and tomorrow at the International Trade Center in Washington, DC. The organizers have turned this venue into a wonderful little sanctuary with massage stations, a cartoon exhibit, and lots and lots of coffee — much needed after the red eye that brought me to the biting cold East Coast just this morning. Here are some highlights from the first session:

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Hans Rosling gave a funny talk that posited economic development against the proliferation of the washing machine. When Rosling was seven, he watched his mother load a washing machine for the first time in his life. They invited his grandmother over to watch — she has been heating stoves on firewood to handwash clothes for seven children with her entire life — and the grandmother sat mesmerized in front of the contraption through the entire wash cycle. "To [her], the washing machine was a miracle."

It doesn't take much research to know that the bottom two billion people live on less than $2 a day — below the poverty line — and that one billion people spend more than $80 a day — above what he calls the "air" line. Rosling did some serious digging and number crunching to divvy up the economic scale by washing machine ownership. It turns out that an additional one billion people own washing machine, i.e. live above the "wash" line. These people spend about $40 a day. This means that, in a world with seven billion people, two billion have washing machines and the remaining five billion still wash their clothes by hand. This is a task that mainly falls on women, who spend hours every week performing this heavy-duty task by hand, often lugging water to their homes or their laundry to a water source far away. "They all want a washing machine. There's nothing different about their wish than my grandma's two generations ago in Sweden."

Rosling wrapped his talk with two important points: one, that as the population grows, the top consumers of money and energy need to spend less energy and transfer some of the current energy usage to green energy usage. Two, having a washing machine allowed him and his mother the time to enjoy things like reading books.

Read the rest

The Last Hospice

I’m a volunteer at Maitri, the only remaining AIDS hospice in San Francisco. Once a week, I hang out with its 15 residents, run errands for them, and — sometimes — sit at their bedsides as they go through the process of dying. I do it because I like to face my fears, and death is the one thing that I fear the most.

Read the rest

Longshot Magazine's treasure map: follow it and win $750

tumblr_l7mo9w9KW61qz4udc.jpg Over the weekend, the staff of Longshot Magazine (previously known as 48 Hour Magazine) hid $750 somewhere in San Francisco. Now they've revealed four clues on their web site — including this treasure map by Wendy MacNaughton — to help you find it. If you locate it, the cash is yours. So what are you waiting for?

The Great Longshot Treasure Hunt

Climb On!

I want to entertain an offhand theory that I’ve had ever since I became obsessed with indoor rock climbing two and a half years ago: It’s great for geeks, and we should all be doing it.

Read the rest

Watercolor painting depicting cell division

artologica_celldivide.jpg Artist Michele Banks uses watercolor to depict natural, scientific, and medical phenomena. This one above shows cell divisions (note that it's not meant to be completely accurate); another one I like is a bright blue canvas with a single line showing someone's heart rate. Her work is available for sale in the Makers Market/Boing Boing Bazaar!

[via Try Handmade via Submitterator]

Japanese TV commercial for jock itch cream

Check out this great Japanese TV commercial for Delicare M's, a jock itch cream. Tokyo gets really hot in the summer, and men still have to wear suits to work, so the idea of a refreshingly itch-less crotch is likely to appeal to many salarymen.

[via Spoon & Tamago via TokyoMango]

Octopuses? Octopi? Octopodes?

What's the plural of octopus? Octopuses? Octopi? Octopodes? According to this video by Merriam Webster editor Kory Stamper, all three are technically correct. Video link.

(via Jen Phillips' Twitter)

August Titanic expedition will create 3D map of the wreckage

e39e630d-f038-4298-aaa4-7bd3bf302d17_part6.jpgOn August 18th, an expedition team will be heading out to the Titanic site to create a 3D map of the wreckage 2.5 miles beneath the sea. 1,522 people died in the Titanic shipwreck in 1912; oceanographer Robert Ballard discovered the remains in 1985, and since then a bunch of different expeditions have headed out there in an attempt to salvage artifacts or take photos. But this one appears to be by far the most technologically intensive and expensive mission.
The "dream team" of archaeologists, oceanographers and other scientists want to get the best assessment yet on the two main sections of the ship, which have been subjected to fierce deep-ocean currents, salt water and intense pressure.

...The expedition will use imaging technology and sonar devices that never have been used before on the Titanic wreck and to probe nearly a century of sediment in the debris field to seek a full inventory of the ship's artifacts.

New Titanic expedition will create 3D map of wreck [SFGate]

My Fair Lady X zombies t-shirt

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This seems like the perfect shirt for those of you who are theater geeks and zombie geeks. Art by Kyle Strahm.

Product page (Thanks, SamCostello! via Submitterator)

Pen ad features intricately tattooed Lego characters

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Boing Boing developer Dean Putney found these great advertisements for Pilot's Extra-Fine ballpoint pens. They're so thin you can draw these intricate tattoos on Lego people!

[via Flavorwire]

Man finds Ansel Adams negatives, worth $200 million, at garage sale

A garage sale enthusiast from Fresno, California scored big time when he bought two small boxes of glass plate negatives for $45 a decade ago. He has just confirmed that these belonged to the famous Yosemite photographer Ansel Adams, and are worth $200 million.

Clock shows world time as a spiraling line graph

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This is one of those design-y objects that is conceptually and visually neat but might be hard to justify in daily life. It shows world time via an arm that connects different time zones.

The Wrong Objects [via Dezeen]

Remix of scenes in Mad Men of people smoking cigarettes

The latest creation from Joe Sabia is this video of people smoking cigarettes in Mad Men. They write:

This video will have one of two results. This repetitious, perfunctory and seemingly pointless act of inhaling smoke may turn you off to smoking cigarettes. Or, the fact that this repetitious, perfunctory, and seemingly pointless act is carried out by such debonair, dashing human beings will make you run to your corner store and chimney down a carton before dinner. Either way, advertising works.

Cigarettes or not, I just love the aesthetics of this show. And the music in the background.