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Patrick Jones
There's always money in the banana stand.
There's always money in the banana stand.


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Check out these gorgeous handmade greeting cards by my wonderful designer-illustrator buddy, Sharon.

She's running a promotion to celebrate the opening of her Etsy shop, so be sure to check it out and get your 30% off, using the coupon code OPENINGSPECIAL01. 

Oh and if anyone wants to send me a note using the lion card, well, that would be just fine.

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Join us for a STEM Women HOA panel discussion as we speak to +Erin Leverton and +Samantha Schaevitz about Google's Information Technology Residency Program (ITRP). ITRP is an opportunity for new graduates to jumpstart their careers in IT, and the program is making tremendous strides for women in IT (

We will discuss how the ITRP creates opportunities for women in Tech, and hear first-hand how being a part of ITRP has benefited our panellists. 

This HOA will be hosted by Dr +Buddhini Samarasinghe  and Dr +Zuleyka Zevallos   and you can tune in on Sunday June 8th at 2.30 PM PDT/ 10.30 PM BST (UK). The hangout will be available for viewing on our YouTube channel ( after the event.

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Do you want to work for me in Boulder?

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Very Long Post Warning
TL;DR: Ruth is a puzzled ex-pat, waffles about it and thinks the Axe commercial = yuck 


I often slap on the TV while doing my physical therapy exercises. It’s a good distraction and I find it easier to keep the correct pace going than with music on. This morning I had Good Morning America quacking away in the background and a story about Coca-Cola’s America the Beautiful super bowl commercial caught my attention. It was one of those two-minute puff piece meta-stories. You know, the kind of story that’s a story about how much of a story it is. In this case Coke’s counter-response to some racist drivel on Twitter and a few right-wing rant pieces. This was the first I’d heard of it but so far, so expected of the right-wing; so far, so corporate PR story. (You can enjoy it here, should you wish to:

Then something about the way ABC framed the story puzzled me. Now, I know I’m a left-wing, tree-hugging, Guardianista liberal from multi-cultural Britain but the fact that some Americans are bilingual, and can be celebrated for being bilingual, is seen as a matter for debate, let alone a ‘national firestorm’ (ABC’s words, not mine), was a small surprise. Coca-Cola is sold all over the world and the USA is a nation of immigrants. C’mon.

While I was mulling over right-wing politics and American patriotism, and somewhere around my sixth pelvic curl, a petulant little voice in my head cried out ‘Does everyone really have their knickers in a twist over this commercial? Why isn’t anybody talking about that horrible Axe Peace one?!’

My take away from the super bowl commercials was two-fold: A) I must buy a Jaguar now. I’m British, and the US expects. B) I really disliked the Axe Peace commercial.

Why? Just take a look ( The historical and cultural insensitivity is so crude. I was uncomfortable with it last Sunday, and looking at it again this morning I’m more so. Military and political atrocities are being wrapped up neatly in gender inequality and played for humor. And, no, I didn’t feel the humor was used to deflate or mock. It wasn’t a sly nod to the other Axe campaigns; it was identical to all their commercials, but dressed up in a jackboot and stamping on the face of intersectional feminism. 

Look at a couple of moments from the ad and twist your kaleidoscope with some context: remember the truth of Vietnam and remember how the Russian army raped their way through Germany at the end of WWII. It can’t just be me that got the ‘ick’ feeling. Somebody must have commented on it somewhere and with more finesse, right?

This has been a bit of a homesick week and I’ve been doing more UK than US-media reading, which is how the whole Coca-Cola thing bypassed me. So I did a quick trawl around the super commercials. Sure enough, everyone talking about Coke, nobody talking about Axe, except to mention their good humor, slight change of marketing tack. All the comments were pretty much in line with their PR strategy. It even made several of the ‘best’ lists.

I scanned through the main news and comment sites. Nothing. Then the lefty ones. Nada. Not so much as a tiny rant on Jezebel.

Then, finally:

I don’t know anything about the Media Literacy Project and they don’t express exactly what I thought about the commercial. For my tastes the brush strokes of this piece are too broad, and frankly they didn’t need to drag Afghanistan into the mix. But finding that someone, somewhere had at least attempted a deconstruction felt like a relief.

Let me be really, really clear: I’m not whining about the US military, US foreign policy or US culture. The Axe commercial was made by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, who are a British agency, and no doubt some version of it is going to pop up on European screens soon. I suppose the focus of my discomfort isn’t even Axe (it’s Axe after all, misogyny-lite is what they do. I should kind expect it by now); it’s that nobody in the US media thinks the commercial is worth commenting on, even in one small paragraph of one short op-ed column. This genuinely surprises me because it seems so ripe for picking over, while the Coca-Cola commercial seems so obvious.

The hard thing about moving to a different country – especially one you’ve grown up observing, visiting, consuming the arts and TV of, sometimes being frustrated with, and utterly loving – are those sudden ‘disconnect’ moments with the culture. The ones where you realize you really don’t know or understand bits of it at all.

I felt the same way about all the fuss surrounding Richard Sherman’s interview with Erin Andrews after the Seahawks – 49ers play-off. I literally could not understand what he was supposed to have done wrong or why people were responding to it so strongly.

Toto, you’re living in a foreign discourse now.

Hours of hand-wringing, huffing, puffing and angst later I’ve come to one short conclusion: the mainstream media is a little above my head and I really shouldn’t watch breakfast TV, it will only confuse me.

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Do you want to work on my team at Google London?

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I think this is important. If you haven't signed this and passed it on to everyone you know, now is the time to do it.

The reasons why:

1. The porn angle is purely and 100% PR and spin - everyone who knows anything about the web knows that this will not stop the kinds of activities that badly need to be stopped - these all happen elsewhere in "the dark web", and by people who aren't going to be put off by a checkbox at their ISP.

2. This checkbox attitude will make parents assume "everything is ok" - giving them a very dangerous sense of safety when in fact no such safety can exist. Educating our children and ourselves about what constitutes "ok" should sit at the centre of this argument, not a lazy devolving of responsibility to a third party who remains dangerously involved - commercially and politically - with many of the parties involved. Do we see any effort by Cameron to ban Page 3 girls? No.

3. Material will be blocked which shouldn't be: even if it is "risque" or "offensive", it is vital that we and our children retain access to information about sex education, art, information on alcohol abuse, etc - and have the right to maintain our own moderation for our own families rather than relying on a dangerous default nanny state. Don't forget, one of the checkboxes which many suggest may be in the new proposals is a default block of "esoteric" websites. Which could, in fact, mean absolutely anything. 

It only takes a minute. Please do it now before we head into a dangerous, totally undemocratic and unprecedented level of censorship. 

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