Consumerist Reports on Panopticon (a.k.a. “Smart”) Bra

The Consumerist blog has a post up about a research project from Microsoft, which they label a “smart bra.”  From the description, it seems like it’s a Shame-You-Into-Not-Eating Bra. Because if a bra is going to do things like measure the wearer’s heart rate, obviously the most helpful way to use that information is to tell people with boobs to “Step Away From The Fridge.”

It is a bit interesting to see the Consumerist reporter think through the implications and micro-messaging of such a product:

“Which, again, not sure it’s cool for a bra to be telling people how to live their lives, but then again, if people want that help, sure, give it.”

“At the base of this effort is research that many people — male and female! — go for calorie-laden foods when they’re stressed out, sad, discouraged or otherwise testy.”

And all the chuckles and eye-rolls aside, I thought this nugget of information was interesting:

“Participants in the research were women in the UK who said that having someone or something intervene helped them know what triggered their binge eating.”

Instead of using such technology to simply tell people that they shouldn’t be eating, alerting them to their various physiological states, so that they can better assess what may have recently triggered a certain behavior, seems possibly pretty cool and extremely helpful.

…If we can just take out the creepy self-policing aspect.

Symposium to honour Gillian Howie

Feminism, Materialism, Critical Theory:

A Symposium to Celebrate and Engage with the Work of

Gillian Howie (1965-2013)


Monday 16th December, 2013

School of the Arts Library, University of Liverpool




My guiding principle is that the work of philosophy should be concerned with the intelligibility of the world. This is not because everything can be explained, grasped, or even communicated, but because if, as feminists, we wish to change the world, then we need to know what we are dealing with”.

(Gillian Howie, 2010)



Morning Sessions


10.15: Welcome


10.20 – 11.20: Session 1


J’annine Jobling, University of Liverpool

‘The Angel of History: Death, Transcendence and a Feminist Materialist Spirituality’


Patrice Haynes, Liverpool Hope University

‘Encouraging a Thoughtful Love of Life: Practicing Philosophy with Pamela Sue Anderson and Gillian Howie’


Chair: Daniel Whistler, University of Liverpool


11.20 – 11.40: Coffee



11.40 – 13.00: Session 2


Christine Battersby, University of Warwick

‘Gillian Howie’s Situated Philosophy: Theorising the Intersections of Self, Body and World’


Stella Sandford, Kingston University

‘“I suggest we regroup around the idea of dialectical materialism’”.


Chair: Joanna Hodge, Manchester Metropolitan University


13.00- 14.15: Lunch



Afternoon Sessions


14.15 – 15.15: Session 3


Roundtable discussion on ‘Living with Dying’

With Pamela Sue Anderson (Oxford University), Beverly Clack (Oxford Brookes University), Ned Hassan (Liverpool Hope), Michael McGhee (University of Liverpool), Ruth Gould (Dadafest, Liverpool)


Chair: Laura Green, University of Liverpool


15.15 – 15.45: Coffee


15.45 – 17.00: Session 4


Kimberly Hutchings, London School of Economics

‘Reflections on Howie on Late Feminism’


Victoria Browne, Oxford Brookes University

‘“Come back to me when you’ve read the Critique of Pure Reason”:

Gillian Howie on Pedagogy and Intellectual Inheritance’


Chair: Margrit Shildrick, University of Linköping



17.00: Closing





17.30 – 19.00


Wine Reception (SOTA Library)



Dinner at The Quarter, Falkner Street




Enquiries to v.r.browne at liv dot ac dot uk


December 6, 1989 — letter from a Canadian woman abroad

Today, December 6, Canadians mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action On Violence Against Women.

The date has its origins in the so-called “Montréal Massacre.” On December 6, 1989, a man armed with a Mini-14 rifle and a hunting knife walked into a classroom at Montréal’s l’École Polytechnique, ordered the male students to leave, and then turned his gun on the women. Before he began shooting, the assailant shouted, “You’re all a bunch of feminists, and I hate feminists!” After shooting the women in the classroom, he headed to the corridors, where he continued to shoot women. By the time he turned the gun on himself, he had killed fourteen women and injured ten more. The event galvanized Canadians and became a powerful force in the Canadian gun control movement, ultimately eventuating in the national long-gun registry (since dismantled by the current Conservative government).

I have quite intentionally omitted from the foregoing account the names of both the shooter and his victims. Regarding the former, one criticism that is often raised of accounts of December 6, 1989 is that in these accounts the shooter’s name rings over and over, giving him a fame he does not deserve. I have omitted his victim’s names because over the years many of their families have expressed a wish that their daughters be remembered for their lives, not for their deaths.

Nonetheless, one of the things that will be happening today at campuses across Canada will be solemn vigils at which candles are lit as, one after another, the victim’s names are read. I’m not opposed to this. I attend such an event every year, and, as each name is read, try to imagine the women alive – smart, curious, quirky, stubborn, weak, strong, tawny, freckled. I think to myself, as my friend Michele last year on Facebook reminded us all to do, about what wonderful things they would have done.

Every campus marks this day differently. Most, but not all, campuses have the candlelight vigil I’ve just described. Some campuses have talks and events intended to educate participants about gender-based violence, broadly conceived, and to advocate for change. At other campuses, Engineering programs offer workshops and lectures intended to support women in Engineering.

The day is meaningful not only for universities but for individual Canadians, especially (but not only) Canadian university women. As the day goes on, if previous years are any indication, one by one of my Facebook friends will log on to list the names of the victims, or to change their profile pictures to that of a single candle or a single red rose. We all have different reasons for finding the day meaningful. For me, one reason (but certainly not the only one) is my generation.

I was in the first semester of my undergrad, just finished lectures for the year and in the midst of exams, when the massacre occurred. I cannot think of my first year of university without thinking about this systematic murder of young women for being women. (The shooter called them feminists, but not all of them were. Indeed, one of his victims protested that she wasn’t a feminist. No feminist scholar who has taught at the undergraduate level would be optimistic enough to assume that all of the women in a class were feminists. The killer may have thought that his victims were feminist, but ultimately what put them in his rifle sight wasn’t their feminism but the fact that, feminist or not, they were women.) Imagine what it is like to be a woman unable to recall your undergraduate years without recalling that woman students like you were murdered solely because they were women. This experience — this cloud always casting its shadow — is, alas, one that Canadian university women of my generation have in common.

I am overseas on sabbatical this year, and hence, for the first time in years, will not be able to take part in a December 6 memorial. To those of you on a Canadian campus today, I say, put aside your grading for half an hour and join your colleagues and students as they stand together against gender-based violence. Others, in Canada and elsewhere, may wish to learn more about this year’s UN-sponsored 16 Days of Action Against Gender Violence. This website is a great place to start.