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I’m sure many of you have heard the buzz around the forthcoming conference on QED: Question Explore Discover….but just in case you haven’t heard of it or need more incentive to book a ticket, let me outline this marvellous event and for you and give you some very good reasons to consider coming.
QED is a two-day science and skepticism festival taking place in the Piccadilly Hotel, Manchester on the 5th-6th February 2011. It is being jointly run by Merseyside Skeptics Society and the Greater Manchester Skeptics Society. Over these two days anyone who comes to the conference will have the great pleasure of meeting and socialising with other skeptics, an opportunity to share ideas and the chance to see some fantastic and dynamic speakers.
So, I hear you ask, ‘why should I come to this conference?’ As if the above sentences aren’t enough incentive already. You want to know more you say? Okay here’s ten good reasons for coming:
The organisers have pulled out all the stops to bring you a great line-up of speakers. Over the two days you will get to see:
- Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the US National Center for Science Education and defender of evolution in American schools
- Jon Ronson, international author and journalist who has brought us delicious insights into the minds of some of the most unique pseudoscientific practitioners and conspiracy theorists
- Jim Al-Khalili, scientist and educator, perhaps best known for his TV documentaries on the Atom and Islamic science history and also for his work with young children
- Bruce Hood, Director of the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre and author of the examination of superstition,Supersense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable
- Kat Akingbade, co-host of the C4 web series The Science of Scams and a science communicator driven to bring science to the masses
- Chris Atkins, Director of both the BAFTA nominated Taking Liberties and the 2009 tour-de-force Starsuckers and co-creator of the recent UK Urban Fox hoax
- Wendy Grossman, co-founder of The Skeptic magazine and blogger and journalist
- Colin Wright, celebrator of the pleasure and fun to be had from understanding science and maths
- Simon Singh, particle physicist and international author of books on physics and the alternative medicine industry……oh and you might have heard about that little court case he had with that British Chiropractic Association
- George Hrab, musician and host of the popular Geologic Podcast. George is the QED Master of Ceremonies
Er, hang on. Those 10 speakers already represent 10 good reasons to come…
Just in case you do need more reasons, if you come you get to:
Come to a conference in a city which is easily accessible from every part of the country by road, rail or air
Raise money for two very worthy causes: Sense About Science and the National Autistic Society
Visit the lovely Manchester
Tickets cost £99, and a student ticket is available for £75.
I thought you might all be interested to know that MAC and Rodarte have issued a press release stating that they will rebrand the now infamous collaborative collection with Rodarte. Many people will rightly be focusing on the fact that MAC are having to address the ‘mistake’ they made when they named the collection’s items. I would also like to take a moment to remember that this story became a story due to a wave of blogging. The media onslaught triggered by, and maintained by, many beauty and female blogs outlines the power of blogging in the current communications environment and back ups what we have already come to learn from skeptical blogging – that everyday people can be empowered and can help make a change.
MAC have acted quickly to make their story go away, but this shouldn’t mean that the story of these murdered women should also be forgotten. The bloggers and the press (myself included) all took time out to comment on MAC. Let’s now use the time to comment on the current standstill in justice for the women of Juárez.
You can find out more about voluntary and community organisations involved in monitoring and investigating the femicides of Juárez by visiting the following websites:
- Amnesty International USA – http://www.amnestyusa.org/
- Inter-American Commission on Human Rights - http://www.cidh.org/
- May Our Daughters Return Home – http://www.mujeresdejuarez.org/
I am sure there are many other sites you could also recommend if people want to find out more. Please post them in the comments section.
MAC, Rodarte and the forgotten victims.
Yesterday my twitter feed was awash with comments about blog postings and news stories documenting the controversial names of items from MAC and Rodarte’s collaborative make-up collection ‘inspired’ by Mexico, and in particular the border town of Juárez . The appropriation of ‘ethnic’ and ‘exotic’ themes for make-up and fashion is nothing new, I hear you say – and you’re right. So why is this big news?
Because Juárez is not just any other exotic cultural space to mimic – Juárez is a border town filled with factories overwhelmingly staffed by young Mexican women who, like many poor workers across the world, leave behind their rural homes to work in industrialised towns to earn money to send back to loved ones. But Juárez isn’t even just another border town building goods for other people’s consumption – Juárez is a town where over 1000 women have gone missing or have been found murdered since 1993. These murders are still unsolved.
And yet, in the face of this history, MAC and Rodarte named items in the collection ‘Juárez ’, ‘Ghost Town’ and ‘Factory’ against a backdrop of models who are made-up to look barely alive. The blogosphere was set alight by people everywhere demanding that MAC and Rodarte be called to account for naming the products so insensitively. Since this MAC have agreed to pay part of the profits from any sales from this collection to a fund for the Juárez women and their families.
Yes, that’s right, an international make-up and beauty house and an international womenswear designer have named products after a place synonymous with the murder of young women. Young women who leave home alone to raise money for their families. Young women who make the goods for us all to consume and are forgotten as soon as they disappear to everyone but their family and friends. Can anyone else see what’s wrong with this picture?
I myself am in shock that MAC and Rodarte could be so stupid or callous as to name products in this way. I can’t comment on what was going through the minds of the brand managers and designers who chose the names, or the executives that may have signed it off. I could accuse them of not caring about these women and choosing to make money out of their suffering as if it is cool, fashionable or kitsch; but instead, I find myself thinking about the other reasons that could explain how this was able to happen. This may not just have been a case of MAC and Rodarte simply not caring, but perhaps evidence that MAC and Rodarte saw a world in which people had forgotten and stopped caring about these lost women and figured no one would even notice that those were the names chosen.
But people did notice, and I am glad they noticed, not just because MAC and Rodarte should be brought to account for making this ‘error’, whatever the motive, but because it means these women are not forgotten to everyone. These women deserve justice. Someone, some group or even many perpetrators are killing them and no one is being called to account for that.
So I plan to make sure that for every news story or fashion blog I read about this MAC story, I will read a news story, article or blog just about the lost women of Juárez . We’ve shown our power by making MAC and Rodarte acknowledge their failing, let’s also take this opportunity to show the world everyone else who is failing these women – the authorities governing Juárez itself.
And yes, I know this isn’t overtly a post about Skepticism – but it is about how someone somewhere expected people to just consume their product without a thought. And thankfully, they were proven wrong.
Thank you to the many blogs who brought this to attention. There are too many of you to name you all, but I would like to reference http://www.beautymouth.com/ as this was the first blog I found out about it from.
Visit http://bit.ly/bloggerzunite to find out more about other blogger’s perspectives on this issue.
Find out more on Cuidad Juárez with the following documentaries and books.