A Nice Gesture by Jeroen Arendsen

Various personal interests and public info, gesture, signs, language, social robotics, healthcare, innovation, music, publications, etc.

Month: November 2007

Larry Craig’s Cottaging Gestures

Here is a nice cartoon, a caricature of a supposed gesture system used by Senator Larry Craig to not solicit gay sex in a restroom. The practice is known as cottaging.

Example of the gesture system
A cottaging gesture? (source)

Frankly, I don’t give a damn about whether Craig is gay or not, or whether he elicited sex with other gay men or not (fine by me), though I would rather he did so in a place where he could be sure the invited party was of the same mind (and not possibly some unwitting hetero). But the cartoon is nice, a perfect example of a man-invented little gesture system.


The case bears a remarkable resemblance to that of George Michael, who was also invited by an undercover cop who apparently even showed his dick first (source).

I think there is a good line of defence in the following reasoning: If you are guilty of ‘soliciting sex’ by using these gestures then it is firmly acknowledged that there is a code of behaviour that governs the interaction. Therefore the behaviour of the undercover cop in the toilet booth also has to have been in accordance to this code. Perhaps he wasn’t making explicit hand gestures, but he had positioned himself in the right spot, assumed the right attitude, and perhaps kept silent where he was supposed to (while a normal response might have been “it’s taken”). In my definition all these actions are also gestures (gesture-complex). In other words, both men were soliciting sex by their conduct, and the policeman was the initiator. Is that allowed under US law?

A related ‘gesture’ system is the bandana code. Although I am not intimately aware of where and when this code applies.

In Memoriam: Washoe

Today I received news that Washoe died at age 42. Washoe was a chimpansee that was taught sign language in order to study the extent to which she would be able to gain language skills.

Washoe talks with Fouts
An impression of Washoe talking with a researcher (source)

Here is more information on attempts to talk with chimps. May she find peace in death. In her life she caused (through no fault of her own) more conflict between humans than most humans.

Update: Here is Carl Schroeder’s tribute (ASL vlog)

Future President’s Gesture?

Here is a post that’s good for a laugh (if you’re not in love with US politicians) on Geenstijl, a popular Dutch news blog. Unfortunately for the majority of readers, the dodgy jokes are in Dutch. Which is why I’ll translate them to English. Who knows, maybe the jokes will end up back in the US?

Hillary Gesture Story Hi, I’m Hill

Hillary Gesture Story You know, the wife of Bill

Hillary Gesture Story Now, I’m looking for something bigger

Hillary Gesture Story Yeah right, about this thick?

Hillary Gesture Story I’ve only got this

Hillary Gesture Story It’s gotta be about this length

Hillary Gesture Story Take me, take me!

Hillary Gesture Story Shit! F*ck. Never mind.

For those of you who can not believe I am lowering myself to such a cheap shot: The story exemplifies the limits of our ability to see just about anything in a gesture. Even though speech may be required to interpret gestures, the liberties taken here are clearly too much.

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