Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Let's Forgive Matt Taylor.


Have you heard the amazing news lately? The ESA, Europe's answer to NASA, has just landed a robotic probe on a comet! It's a first in history, a first in science, and should be at least as big a news story as the first Viking landing on Mars.

Into the scene stepped Dr. Matt Taylor, the project scientist for the Rosetta mission, who talked to us about the huge impact this amazing feat will have about our understanding of comets and their role in the history of the universe. He wanted us to understand the amazing story about how the Rosetta satellite took ten long years to reach this comet before deploying the Philae lander. It was the culmination of decades of hard work, and was to be Dr. Taylor's crowning achievement.

And all anybody wants to talk about is his damned shirt.

Okay, I'll grant you that the shirt was in poor taste. It was covered with artwork of scantily clad women in sultry poses which ranked one tick short of soft-core pornography. During the interview, the point he was trying to make with his odd shirt became clear, as he framed the scientific achievement as a sexy one, calling comet 67P, "sexy, but not easy." Eccentric? Yes, but still a fair point. It really WAS a sexy scientific achievement!

And all anybody wants to talk about is that damned shirt!

Dr. Taylor later gave a tearful apology. More to the point, he had just been asked a question by a reporter regarding the mission itself, asking him to please detail the scientific potential to the project. Instead, he apologized for his offensive wardrobe, and could barely continue afterward.

He's broken. After nearly two decades of work so intellectually difficult that most engineers can't even relate, the defining pinnacle which was to mark his career has now been marred forever. I don't blame him for breaking down. Meanwhile, some outstanding science is being done... and all anybody wants to talk about is that goddamned shirt!

Okay, look, I'm not insensitive to why the shirt was so offensive. I understand why it was in poor taste. Women have this strange obsession with telling us men that they don't want women objectified while at the same time wanting to be objectified themselves - meaning that what a woman really wants is herself objectified and not some idealized bikini model (which is a subject for another blog post, but I digress). But let's face it, if Matt Taylor is like most scientists, he's the socially off-center type who grew up being awkward around people and bears little sense or common sense when it comes to things like fashion. He probably doesn't have a single conservative thing in his wardrobe. Scientists are supposed to be slightly off, that's why they're so brilliant.

Can't we give the guy a break, already?

When he apologized, he was wearing a dark zip-up hoodie, probably meant to hide whatever least-loud-colored thing he had available, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if that hoodie had been borrowed from a colleague. For the rest of this man's life, he will be living in missed-opportunity hell, marred as "that guy who blew it." I think that amounts to feminists having gotten their revenge upon him, and piling on and on on top of that! It's so completely over. This poor man's already paid more than his due, and will go on paying forever.

Why is it that one male scientist wearing one risque shirt during one media event the thing that gets the most outrage? Why is it that Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus are hypocritically spared this kind of vitriol?

And if feminists really wanted to criticize, they should probably have blamed, not Matt, but his wife, Luanne, who somehow managed to let her husband walk out the door dressed like that!

Enough already. I say it's time to forgive him.

Now let's get back to the sexy science part!


Eric

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