Awesome Ladies #3: Carrie Brownstein

tumblr_m7grwwjuvM1qdde2go1_500 Carrie Brownstein is a musician, writer and actress.

She is most well known as the guitarist and vocalist of the band Sleater Kinney, and since 2010 has played in the band Wild Flag.


For those not familiar with Carrie’s music, you may recognize her from IFC’s hilarious sketch comedy series Portlandia, which she co-created with Fred Armisen.

She also wrote a popular blog for NPR music called Monitor Mix, in which she wrote about everything from summer camp songs to why the 80’s weren’t actually that bad.

In 2006 Carrie earned a spot on Rolling Stone’s 25 Most Underrated Guitarists of All Time.


On being labeled as a “female musician”:

“I would consider myself a feminist. I really don’t understand how you couldn’t…I guess there’s a stigma attached to being a feminist or using that word. I think one is just a holdover from a time where it seemed anti-man or anti-fun, or just had this whole sort of overly academic, strident quality to it that is off-putting, you know and I think anything that’s overly academic is kind of alienating. It’s rare to have to embrace a word that has such a weight to it, you know it almost seems like you’re adding something that you don’t really want the responsibility of having. To call yourself a feminist all of a sudden you feel like ‘oh, do I have to know feminist theory? Do I have to understand what first, second and third wave feminism means? I don’t know what those things are necessarily, and I wasn’t a women’s studies major so I think there’s that part of it where you think ‘I don’t want the responsibility of calling myself this term.’ And the other part is thinking that it somehow is at odds with being female. That’s such a strange irony, how feminism and being a woman would somehow be at odds, but I think that some people feel that it is.”

So just to recap: Carrie Brownstein is a guitar-shredding, NPR blog-writing, hilarious and all-around awesome, badass chick.

And she can rock the heck out of some red lipstick:




The 50 Most Important Women in Science


Three percent of tenured professors of physics in this country are women. Nonetheless, a woman physicist stopped light in her lab at Harvard. Another woman runs the linear accelerator at Stanford. A woman discovered the first evidence for dark matter. A woman found the top quark. The list doesn’t stop there, but the point is clear.
Three years ago, Discover started a project to look into the question of how women fare in science. We knew there were large numbers of female researchers doing remarkable work, and we asked associate editor Kathy A. Svitil to talk to them. The result of her investigation is a selection of 50 of the most extraordinary women across all the sciences. Their achievements are detailed in the pages that follow.
To read their stories is to understand how important it is that the barriers facing women in science be broken down as quickly and entirely as possible. If just one of these women had gotten fed up and quit—as many do—the history of science would have been impoverished. Even the women who have stuck with it, even those who have succeeded spectacularly, still report that being a woman in this intensely male world is, at best, challenging and, at worst, downright disheartening.
It will take goodwill and hard work to make science a good choice for a woman, but it is an effort at which we cannot afford to fail. The next Einstein or the next Pasteur may be alive right now—and she might be thinking it’s not worth the hassle.

Ruzena Bajcsy Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of California at Berkeley In 1979 Bajcsy helped create robots that could sense and respond to their environment. She now heads an innovative institute where researchers develop smart low-power sensors that both compute and communicate. Bajcsy believes the sensors will be “the next revolution in technology.” They can monitor energy consumption in buildings, watch for forest fires, or keep tabs on people by, for example, calling 911 if a person with Alzheimer’s disease wanders from his home.
Jacqueline K. Barton Professor of Chemistry, California Institute of Technology Barton discovered that DNA conducts electric current but not as well—or not at all—when its tight organization is disrupted by damage from certain chemicals or mutations. That finding should allow researchers to look for mutations, using chips made of strands of DNA attached to gold on silicon wafers. Barton is investigating whether nature has developed tactics to cope with such damage: “Are there important sites that are insulated? Where are electrons funneled? This makes us think about DNA in an entirely new way.”
Anna K. Behrensmeyer Research Paleobiologist, Smithsonian Institution Behrensmeyer has spent almost three decades at Amboseli Park in Kenya watching animals disintegrate and fossilize as she researches taphonomy—the science of burial. “There is a bias in the fossil record caused by all of the factors that determine whether or not something becomes a fossil. Did it have hard parts? Did it die in the water where it could more easily be buried and preserved?” That bias, says Behrensmeyer, gives us only a relatively small window to the past. “My work tries to illuminate what we can see through that window.”
Elizabeth Blackburn Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California at San Francisco Each time a cell divides, its chromosomes shorten slightly. To protect vital genes from being lopped off, chromosomes are capped with telomeres, blocks of DNA and protein. Telomeres are maintained by telomerase, an enzyme discovered by Blackburn (see story Why science must adapt to women) and biologist Carol Greider. In most healthy cells, telomerase production eventually ceases, telomeres whittle down, and the cell dies. Blackburn’s research has shown that in cancer cells, the enzyme never shuts off, and cells become immortal: “Telomerase is reactivated in about 90 percent of tumors. It is a great favorite of cancer cells,” and thus a target for new drugs.
Sarah Boysen Professor of Psychology, The Ohio State University Boysen’s colony of 11 chimpanzees are often as rambunctious as a class of preschoolers, and her research shows they share another trait with toddlers: the ability to do simple arithmetic. The chimps can add, subtract, understand fractions, and associate Arabic numerals with the quantity of objects they represent. “We attribute to the human mind the ability to put information together in novel and innovative ways,” she says. “But there are other minds on the planet that can spontaneously create new ways to process information and solve problems.”
Rita Colwell Director, National Science Foundation Her day job “saturates” her time, but Colwell says she would feel “starved” without her research on cholera, now 25 years deep. “We took this elegant, interdisciplinary research involving molecular biology, oceanography, remote sensing, and clinical medicine and came up with a very simple technique to prevent the disease: filtering water through sari cloth.” That strategy, she found, reduces the number of cases by roughly 50 percent. “This is the kind of holistic approach we need to solve complicated scientific issues.”
Margaret Conkey Director, Archaeological Research Facility, University of California at Berkeley “There has long been a heavy bias toward seeing the whole human past in terms of male action,” says this expert in prehistoric art who encourages anthropologists to reinterpret ancient images and objects. “I have been trying to convince people that we can’t explain 20,000 years of material by saying it was all magic for the hunt.” She heads a team that surveys the landscape in southern France, searching for traces of the day-to-day lives of the cave painters.
Esther Conwell Professor of Chemistry, University of Rochester Half a century ago, Conwell’s research on how electrons course through silicon and other semiconducting materials jump-started the computer age. Now she studies the movement of electrical charges through DNA. “The motion of charge in DNA can lead to mutations that can be cancer producing. And the properties of DNA could be useful in assembling circuit elements in nano-electronic circuits.”

Gretchen Daily Research Professor, Stanford University The key to protecting ecosystems and preserving biodiversity successfully, says Daily, is to recognize the economic value of services that nature provides. “Ecologists used to be totally impractical in their recommendations to policymakers, while economists totally ignored the natural capital base upon which human well-being depends,” she says. Her work helped spur a revolution in conservation policy, uniting economists and ecologists. “I’ve been lucky to be part of a movement that produced new partnerships between them.”
Ingrid Daubechies Professor of Mathematics and Applied and Computational Mathematics, Princeton University To analyze the signal of an image, sound, electrocardiogram tracing, or even a turbulent gas, one must break it down into simpler parts. The parts that scientists and engineers use are Daubechies’s wavelets—mathematical building blocks that are also used for data compression and encryption. “If you painted a picture with a sky, clouds, trees, and flowers, you would use a different size brush depending on the size of the features,” says the mathematician. “Wavelets are like those brushes.”
Persis Drell Director of Research, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center Growing up, Drell, whose father is a theoretical physicist, met some of the most famous physicists of the 20th century, “and yet I was determined to be a mathematician.” Then a teacher in college made physics seem exciting to her. Now, using giant particle colliders, she studies elementary particle physics. “We’re trying to figure out what the world is made of at its most fundamental level. Because I have young kids, I think of it as finding the smallest Lego that you can make everything else out of.”

Continue reading

Obama Appoints First Woman Secret Service Director

Veteran secret service agent Julia Pierson in an undated photo

By Tabassum Zakaria and Steve Holland

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Tuesday chose veteran agent Julia Pierson to lead the Secret Service, the first woman to head the agency, a year after its reputation was tarnished by a scandal involving male agents and prostitutes in Colombia.

Pierson will replace Mark Sullivan, who was in charge during the Colombia scandal – one of the worst in the agency’s history. He retired as director in February.

The Secret Service has been criticized for having an insular, male-dominated culture, and Pierson’s appointment also comes as Obama fends off criticism that his second-term picks for high-level posts have not included enough women and minority candidates.

Pierson, a native of Florida, is currently chief of staff at the Secret Service and began her career as a special agent with the Miami field office in 1983. The director’s position does not require confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

“Julia is eminently qualified to lead the agency that not only safeguards Americans at major events and secures our financial system, but also protects our leaders and our first families, including my own,” Obama said in a statement.

Starting in 1988, Pierson served four years with the Presidential Protective Division, and she became deputy assistant director of the Office of Protective Operations in 2005.

The Secret Service has been trying to rebuild its image after the April 2012 scandal when agency employees in Cartagena ahead of a visit by Obama took prostitutes to their hotel rooms.

It led to an official investigation that concluded that the president’s safety had not been compromised, but the scandal was a big embarrassment for the agency.

Sullivan apologized to Congress last year for the episode, which he said reflected poor decisions by agents and was not representative of the agency’s culture.

In a statement Tuesday, he said Pierson would excel in the role. “I have known and worked with Julie for close to 30 years,” Sullivan said about his successor. “This is a historic and exciting time for the Secret Service and I know Julie will do an outstanding job.”

Pierson also received accolades from a key Democrat in Congress. Her appointment “is welcome news and a proud milestone,” Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Tom Carper said in a statement.


Sources had told Reuters earlier this month that Obama had chosen retired Secret Service official David O’Connor to head the agency. Former law enforcement agents said they had heard he had withdrawn his name, but that was not officially confirmed and O’Connor did not respond to several attempts to reach him.

The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, or NOBLE, had written to the White House in opposition to O’Connor.

O’Connor’s name had cropped up in a long-running racial discrimination lawsuit after one email that used racially charged language was sent to him, but his attorney said he did not distribute it further.

Ronald Kessler, who has written a book about the Secret Service, said black agents applied pressure that went all the way up to Obama to torpedo O’Connor’s appointment.

Kessler predicted that Pierson’s appointment will not change the Secret Service. “Only an outside director can shake up the agency,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason and Deborah Charles; Editing by Christopher Wilson and Cynthia Osterman)

[Source: Reuters]

The Myth of Black Homophobia: Why I’m Not Feeling Macklemore and Why White Saviors Are Anything But

QPOC [Editor’s note: I’m personally a fan of Macklemore, and I don’t think Same Love should be totally discredited because at the end of the day the message of the song is positive and in support of gay rights. However, this article brings up some really important points about how Hip-Hop is portrayed as being overly homophobic, and Macklemore has been highlighted as a beacon of equality within the Hip-Hop genre simply because he is white. Macklemore is by no means doing something completely novel by showing his support for the LGBTQ community, but unfortunately he is getting all the credit even though many POCs in the Hip-Hop community (see Melange Lavonne, Busta Rhymes, Lil B, and Jay-Z) have been showing their support for the gay community for a long time.]

By Dennis R. Upkins

“An Example Of White Privilege: When blacks are in the closet, it’s called being on the down low, when whites do it, it’s called being a Republican Senator.” 

Dennis R. Upkins

When our illustrious Bartender posted “The Bar Loves Homo Hop”, I knew I was going to have a lot to say on the matter as this is a subject that hits home with me on a multitude of levels. However it took me a few days to gather my thoughts. Which is why I was ever so gracious when our Bartender allowed me this opportunity to do a guest post.

One of the most infuriating things about being a queer black male is the fact you have to CONSTANTLY deal with the seemingly never-ending barrage of attacks and false accusations about how black people are more innately homophobic than any other group on the rest of the planet.
No matter how many times I state facts, news articles or just point simple common sense, I still get told that I don’t know what I’m talking about. These people are experts on a culture and a race that they are not affiliated with.
Shockingly 99 percent of the people who do this are white.
What’s even more shocking that while everyone has an opinion on blacks/LGBTQs/and homophobia, it’s rare that anyone ever asks queer blacks on our perspectives in existing in both minorities.
In fact, since coming out, I’ve only had maybe four whites comes to me in good faith and ASK whether or not homophobia in the black community being worse is true rather than WHITESPLAINING to me that it is.
Despite the garbage that gets heaped at us, queer blacks like myself, Monica Roberts, Jasmyne Cannick, Rod McCullom and many others are in the trenches fighting the good fight for LGBTQs, blacks, POCs, and other minorities. We’re rarely acknowledged, if ever.
In fact many can’t wrap their heads around the fact that LGBTQ and POC are not mutually exclusive. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve spoken on my experiences as a gay man and I’ve had whites straight and gay alike  uses coded racist/hompohobic attacks “Are you sure he’s gay? You don’t speak for this ‘community.’” In other words coloreds don’t count. But just to give you a glimpse of the racism POCs endure in gay spaces here’s sneak peek ( And that’s racist white gays on a good day.
In spite of all of this, black LGBTQs press on not because we’re looking for accolades but because we want to be the change we wish to see in the world. Continue reading