Friday 30 January 2015

Narrative images: World Press Photo of the Year 1957

In 1957, Douglas Martin's photograph of Dorothy Counts became World Press Photo of the Year, "the most prestigious and coveted award in photojournalism" (via).

On 4th of September 1957, Dorothy Counts walked to Harry Harding High School, in Charlotte, North Carolina (via). She was one of four black US-American children to be admitted to integrated schools in Charlotte (via) and the first black US-American to attend the all-white school Harding High (via). When she arrived, the street was blocked and she walked more than two blocks to the entrance, surrounded by students and adults harrassing her with racial slurs, throwing trash at her (via), taunting, insulting and spitting on her (via). John Z. Warlick, leader of the white supremacist organisation White Citizens Council which was mainly founded to oppose ethnic integration through severe intimidation tactics, had urged boys to keep her out and girls to spit on her. This was her first day at school. She was only fifteen and "stood tall, her five-foot-ten-inch frame towering nobly above the mob that trailed her" (via). At school, the harrassment continued, her family received threatening phone calls, a car was smashed ... Finally, her father decided to withdraw her after only four days (via).
"It is with compassion for our native land and love for our daughter Dorothy that we withdraw her as a student at Harding High School. As long as we felt she could be protected from bodily injury and insults within the school’s walls and upon the school premises, we were willing to grant her desire to study at Harding." (via)

In 2008, Harding University awarded her an honorary diploma. Two years later it renamed its media centre in honour of Dorothy Counts (via). The same year, she received a public apology from Woody Cooper who had been part of the crowd in 1957 (via). 53 years after her first school day, Dorothy and Woody met in the "Garden of Forgiveness" on the "Red Bench of Love".
By the way, today, Harding High School is predominantly black (via).

photographs via and via and via and by Don Sturkey via and via and via and via and via and via, colour photographs via and via

Monday 26 January 2015

Aput, Qana, Piqsirpoq, Qimuqsuq: Inuit Snow Terms

Hawaiians having 65 words for describing fishing nets, 108 for sweet potatoes, 42 for sugarcane, 47 for bananas, Baniwa having 29 words for ants, Scots having a plethora of words for bad weather, Somali for camels, Greeks for face slapping, and Inuit for snow (via) are examples that are to illustrate the meaning of "cultural vocabularies". The example of Inuit languages having a great many words for "snow" is one that is rather familiar to the general public and has reached the status of "a commonplace of linguistics and anthropology". It is probably the most often used example to illustrate to what extent vocabulary and cultural or physical environment are linked to each other. This popular story "has entered the realm of popular mythology, having turned into a scholarly equivalent of the urban legend about the poodle in the microwave: everyone is familiar with the sotry but the exact details are a little sketchy."

The example was firstly mentioned by German-American anthropologist Franz Boas in 1911. Since then it has bee repeated, mutated and transformed a great many times without reference to the primary sources of information. In 1940, linguist Benjamin Whorf brought up "the Inuit example" and has since then been closely associated with it. In the 1950s, anthropologist and cross-cultural researcher Edward T. Hall mentioned the example again. These researchers and others not mentioned here quoted "the Inuit example" in different ways ranging from Inuit having "three" to "five" or just "many" words for snow. Inuit is not a single language and due to the polysythetic morphology of Inuit languages the number of words is infinite. In addition, the question arises what exactly a word is.

In 1991, Geoffrey Pullum published "The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax" and "the Inuit example" no longer escaped scrutiny. In an entertaining manner, he poked "fun at the scholars who have slavishly repeated the claim promulgated by other scholars with no reference to primary data". He calls the example a hoax and says that Inuit do not have many different words for snow: "Anyone who insists on simply checking their primary sources will find that they are quite unable to document the alleged facts about snow vocabulary (but nobody ever checks, because the truth might not be what the reading public wants to hear.)" Pullum consulted a specialist and was told that there were between one to two dozen words for snow, depending on the criteria which to include (e.g. many refer to "ice") (Kaplan, 2013).

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- Kaplan, L. (2003). Inuit Snow Terms: How Many and What Does It Mean? In: Building Capacity in Arctic Societies: Dynamics and shifting perspectives. Proceedings from the 2nd IPSSAS Seminar. Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada: May 26-June 6, 2003, ed. by François Trudel. Montreal: CIÉRA -- Faculté des sciences sociales Université Laval. via
- The Project Gutenberg e-Book of "The Central Eskimo" by Franz Boas via
- images via, clip Happy Holidays from Exit10 (Vimeo)

Wednesday 21 January 2015

This Girl Can

"This Girl Can is a national campaign developed by Sport England and a wide range of partnership organisations. It's a celebration of active women up and down the country who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets." (via) The campaign is a reaction to Sport England's research according to which there is a clear gender disparity in the UK with two million fewer women playing sport (via).

In This Girl Can we want to tell the real story of women who exercise and play sport. They come in all shapes and sizes and all levels of ability. They have a myriad of reasons for doing what they do. If you are wondering if you should join them – or carry on – this campaign says it really doesn’t matter if you are a bit rubbish or completely brilliant, the main thing is that you are a woman and you are doing something, and that deserves to be celebrated.” The campaign uses taglines such as "Sweating like a pig.", "I swim because I love my body. Not because I hate it." or "Feeling like a fox."  (via)

"Before we began this campaign, we looked very carefully at what women were saying about why they felt sport and exercise was not for them. Some of the issues, like time and cost, were familiar, but one of the strongest themes was a fear of judgement. Worries about being judged for being the wrong size, not fit enough and not skilled enough came up time and again."

More clips (many of them have been removed in the meantime, sorry):
::: Julie vs Inhibitions (Julie, 33, nurse, Manchester): watch ... + ... behind the scenes
::: Kelly vs "Mummy!" (Kelly, 31, mother, Bury): watch ... + ... behind the scenes
::: Grace vs Pace (Grace, 22, student, London): watch ... + ... behind the scenes
::: Victoria vs Sweat (Victoria, 29, nurse, London): watch ... + ... behind the scenes

"This Girl Can is here to inspire women to wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that judgement is a barrier that can be overcome." (via)

images via

Monday 19 January 2015

Martin Luther King Day

"We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Day celebrates a person who "brought hope and healing" and commemorates his "values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service" (via). It is a floating federal holiday in the US and is observed on the third Monday in January which is around Martin Luther King's birthday, i.e. 15th of January. The idea was promoted after King's assassination in 1968, signed into law in 1983 by Ronald Reagan and observed for the first time in 1986. The petition to establish the holiday was signed by six million people, Stevie Wonder's "Happy Birthday" (1981) was dedicated to King and aimed at supporting the campaign. At the beginning, some states were reluctant to observe the holiday and it was only in 2000, that all 50 states offically observed Martin Luther King Day with South Carolina being the last one. Outside the US, Martin Luther King Day is not really known. The day, however, is officially recognised in Toronto and in Hiroshima. Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba holds a special banquet at his office "as an act of unifying his city's call for peace with King's message of human rights." (via).
"It is a day of interracial and intercultural cooperation and sharing. No other day of the year brings so many peoples from different cultural backgrounds together in such a vibrant spirit of brother and sisterhood. Whether you are African-American, Hispanic or Native American, whether you are Caucasian or Asian-American, you are part of the great dream Martin Luther King, Jr. had for America. This is not a black holiday; it is a peoples’ holiday. And it is the young people of all races and religions who hold the keys to the fulfillment of his dream."
The King Center

Description of photograph: In this photograph, Coretta is upset with her husband, who had been attacked the night before by a disturbed white racist but had not defended himself. Though the police urged King to press charges, he refused. "The system we live under creates people such as this youth," he said. "I'm not interested in pressing charges. I'm interested in changing the kind of system that produces such men." (literally via)

Description of photograph: King said in an interview that this photograph was taken as he tried to explain to his daughter Yolanda why she could not go to Funtown, a whites-only amusement park in Atlanta. King claims to have been tongue-tied when speaking to her. "One of the most painful experiences I have ever faced was to see her tears when I told her Funtown was closed to colored children, for I realized the first dark cloud of inferiority had floated into her little mental sky." (literally via)
"Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them."  
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Proclamation 5431 -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 1986
January 18, 1986
By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

This year marks the first observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a national holiday. It is a time for rejoicing and reflecting. We rejoice because, in his short life, Dr. King, by his preaching, his example, and his leadership, helped to move us closer to the ideals on which America was founded. We reflect on his words and his works. Dr. King's was truly a prophetic voice that reached out over the chasms of hostility, prejudice, ignorance, and fear to touch the conscience of America. He challenged us to make real the promise of America as a land of freedom, equality, opportunity, and brotherhood.
Although Dr. King was an uncompromising champion of nonviolence, he was often the victim of violence. And, as we know, a shameful act of violence cut short his life before he had reached his fortieth birthday.
His story is well-known. As a 26-year-old minister of the Gospel, Dr. King led a protest boycott of a bus company that segregated blacks, treating them as second-class citizens. At the very outset he admonished all those who would join in the protest that ``our actions must be guided by the deepest principles of our Christian faith. Love must be our regulating ideal.'' Otherwise, he warned, ``our protest will end up as a meaningless drama on the stage of history . . . shrouded with ugly garments of shame.'' Dr. King's unshakable faith inspired others to resist the temptation to hate and fear. His protest became a triumph of courage and love.
Almost 30 years ago, on January 30, 1956, Dr. King stood amid the broken glass and splinters of his bombed-out front porch and calmed an angry crowd clamoring for vengeance. ``We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory violence,'' he told them. Dr. King steadfastly opposed both the timid and those who counselled violence. To the former, he preached that ``true peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.'' To the latter, he said that ``in the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.''
Dr. King's activism was rooted in the true patriotism that cherishes America's ideals and strives to narrow the gap between those ideals and reality. He took his stand, he once explained, ``because of my love for America and the sublime principles of liberty and equality on which she is founded.'' He wanted ``to transform the jangling discords of our Nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.''
The majesty of his message, the dignity of his bearing, and the righteousness of his cause are a lasting legacy. In a few short years he changed America for all time. He made it possible for our Nation to move closer to the ideals set forth in our Declaration of Independence: that all people are created equal and are endowed with inalienable rights that government has the duty to respect and protect.
Twenty-three years ago, Dr. King spoke to a quarter of a million Americans gathered near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington -- and to tens of millions more watching on television. There he held up his dream for America like a bright banner:
``I have a dream,'' he said, ``that my four little children will one day live in a Nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. . . . This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, `My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.'''
Let all Americans continue to carry forward the banner that 18 years ago fell from Dr. King's hands. Today, all over America, libraries, hospitals, parks, and thoroughfares proudly bear his name. His likeness appears on more than 100 postage stamps issued by dozens of nations around the globe. Today we honor him with speeches and monuments. But let us do more. Let all Americans of every race and creed and color work together to build in this blessed land a shining city of brotherhood, justice, and harmony. This is the monument Dr. King would have wanted most of all.
By Public Law 98 - 144, the third Monday in January of each year has been designated as a public holiday in honor of the ``Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.''
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Monday, January 20, 1986, as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and tenth.

Ronald Reagan (via)

Description of photograph: Martin Luther King Jr. feeds his infant daughter Bernice at Sunday dinner Nov 8, 1964 in Atlanta, Ga. (literally via)
"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
- - - - - - - -
photograph by James Karales via, photographs via and via and via and via and by Flip Schulke/Corbis via

Friday 16 January 2015

Quoting Ernest Gaines

"Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?" 
Ernest Gaines

French artist Blick replaces guns with gigantic flowers. The photographs show soldiers on duty or at war and signs of peace and hope instead of the terrors of wartime (via).

images via and via and via and via and via and via and via

Tuesday 13 January 2015


Traffic lights, or rather traffic control systems in general, "are the most visible element of the urban infrastructure." They are systems that impose a strong social control over human behaviour by telling us when to stop and when to go. The first installation of a traffic light is said to have taken place in Cleveland in 1914. At the beginning, traffic lights were installed facing two directions with police officers controlling side street traffic. People did not believe that drivers or pedestrians would obey the signals of traffic lights without the presence of police (McShane, 1999).

Before Germany's reunification, Eastern Germany used the so-called "Ampelmännchen" created by the traffic psychologist Karl Peglau, a traffic light pictogramme of a "squat figure with a jaunty wide-brimmed hat and one freakishly long arm" that clearly differed from the pictogramme used in the West. After reunification, EU-standards and attempts to harmonise the urban landscape by eliminating Ampelmännchen followed causing an outcry. The plan was cancelled, Ampelmännchen became a national icon and a discussion started whether the icon should be introduced across the EU.
In 2004, Zwickau, a German city in the East, introduced the "Ampelfrau" ("traffic light woman") with flared skirts and plaits. Since then, the Ampelfrau has spread across much of Eastern Germany and some of the Western parts. At the end of October 2014, two German parties announced the proposal to introduce a 50:50 gender balance in Dortmund's pedestrian traffic signals. In other words, "for every green man that flashes on to tell walkers it's time to cross, there will one day be a corresponding green woman doing the same elsewhere in the city."  With some delay, negative reactions followed - mainly in social networks. Arguments ranged from "Ampelfrau looks like Pippi Longstocking, an outdated cliché and a retrograde vision of femininity", "uniformity would be less distracting than using both Ampelmann and Ampelfrau" and "silly crosswalk couples" to "senseless, red-green world-improvement daydream" (red and green refer to the "corporate" colours the parties that proposed this step identify with).
The region around Berlin has introduced the female pictogramme withouth yet "causing deaths of pedestrians momentarily stunned by her striking silhouhette". On the contrary, the broader pictogramme emits a clearer and brighter light than the skinnier male version. In addition, the introduction of Ampelfrau would not cost extra money since only male stencils would be replaced that wear out (via).

And now for something slightly different: The German cities of Oberhausen and Hildesheim have installed "ActiWait", a new generation of traffic light buttons that "convert boring waiting times into positive experiences". During red phases, touch screens offer the possibility to interact with pedestrians waiting on the other side of the street. The system was developed by two students who "want to reinvent the urban place by bringing back fun and personality" (via).
::: Playing "StreetPong": watch (in German but language is not really required to understand)

- McShane, C. (1999) The origins and globalization of traffic control signals. Journal of Urban History, 25(3), 379-404
- photograph of  young man smoking a cigarette and sitting on top of traffic light in Berkeley, 4 July 1968 via, Carmen Dell'Orefice and Betsy Pickeringpour by William Helburn for Harper's Bazaar 1958 via and photograph of New York c. 1962 via and via

Monday 12 January 2015


In the US, between 0.5% (via) and 4.6% of of the population report having made a suicide attempt. This is the general population. When it comes to gay, lesbian and bisexual adults, percentages range from 10 to 20%. Prevalence of lifetime suicide attempt is even more alarming among transgender individuals: On average, 41% of them have attempted to commit suicide. Percentages rise additionally if transgender individuals are younger (45%), male (46%), not hiding that they are transgender (50%), victimised at school (50-54%), discriminated against at work (50-59%), multiethnic (54%), American or Alaskan native (56%), living with a disability (55-65%), disrespected or harassed by law enforcement officers (57-61%), rejected (refers to treatment rejected) by doctors or health care providers (60%), subject to physical or sexual violence by law enforcement officers (60-70%), subject to physical or sexual violence at school (63-78%), subject to physcial or sexual violence at work (64-65%), living with a mental health condition (65%), or experiencing homelessness (69%) (Haas et al., 2014). Translating the last figures into words means that it is only a minority that does not attempt to commit suicide.

Family acceptance is strongly connected with positive outcomes while family rejection is connected with negative outcomes such as homelessness (three times higher), sex work (twice as high) and suicidality. These figures raise when domestic violence at the hands of a family member is added: four times the rate of homelessness, four times the rate of sex work, double the HIV rate and double the rate of suicide attempts (Grant et al., 2011).
According to the findings mentioned before, 57% of those whose families chose not to speak or spend time with them had attempted to put an end to their lives (Haas et al., 2014). On 28 December 2014, Leelah Alcorn, a teenager of 17 years who was born Joshua Ryan Alcorn, walked on the Interstate 71 in Ohio at 2.30 at night and was hit by a lorry. Before, she had scheduled her "Suicide Note" on Tumblr to be published at 5.30 p.m. In this note, she described her dilemma, her isolation, what if felt like to be rejected by her family, to hate oneself, and not to see a way out. Her suicide note attracted 82.271 views within 48 hours and by 31 December was reposted on Tumblr 200.000 times (via). Shortly after it was published, a great many people started sharing their stories with the #RealLiveTransAdult hashtag (e.g. "If you're a trans teen and you can't imagine your life going forward, I'm 39, I'm a professor and blogger, and I'm happy") trying to tell transgender teenagers that they made it although it was difficult (via). Since her mother continued misgendering Leelah, a petition with 80.000 signatures called for her chosen name to be used on her tombstone in order to respect her wishes (via). The facebook group "Justice for Leelah Alcorn" was established, the Transgender Human Rights Institute started the petition "Leelah's Law" to ban conversion therapy and had around 300.000 signatures by 8 January, a candlelight vigil took place in New York City, another one in London, marches were carried out in Washington, D.C. and Auckland. According to "The Independent", her death "triggered widespread anguish and raised a debate about the rights of transgender people". The "Boston Globe" stated that the incident "served as a flashpoint for transgender progress in 2014." (via).
(...) My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. (...) Fix society. Please." (via)

- Grant, J. M., Mottet, L. A., Tanis, J., Harrison, J., Herman, J. L. & Keisling, M. (2011) Injustice at Every Turn. A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Washington: National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
- Haas, A. P., Rodgers, P. L. & Herman, J. L. (2014) Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults. Findings of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. (via)
- photograph "Hats in the Garment District, New York" taken in 1930 by Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971) via, photograph "Commuters" taken by Gordon Parks (1912-2006) in 1946 via

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Nerds and Nerdettes

The archetype of the nerd has become an integral part of US-American popular culture: eyeglasses with thick lenses, boring, physically unattractive, socially underdeveloped, mentally overdeveloped, with an affinity for science and technology ... and male. In fact, nerd status is - in popular culture - overwhelmingly associated with males who fail "to measure up to convential standards of American masculinity". Most of the early scientific papers on nerds focus on male ones (Bucholtz, 1996).

At US-American high schools, nerds opt out of the dominant heterosexual matrix. For instance, they do not wear highly gendered fashions (jacket with sports insignia for him and tight baby-doll T-shirt for her) (Bucholtz, 1996). According to Kendall, when depicting male nerds, media emphasises stereotypical feminine traits such as lack of sports ability, small body size and a lack of sexual relationships with women (Robinson, 2014). "The Big Bang Theory", for instance, has the by now largest concentration of nerd characters including two hyper-nerds. The show "takes stereotypical nerd characteristics and hyperbolizes them to the point of parody" (Mastley, n.d.). So-called masculine traits of nerd identity are technological mastery and a lack of feminine relationship skills. Maleness is achieved through relationships with women. These stereotypical male characteristics manage to partially "rehabilitate nerd identity" (Robinson, 2014).

Belonging to this group is a "social disaster" (Bucholtz, 1996) for males and females but nerd stigma seems to affect females more heavily and keep them from putting more effort into math performance since fear of social exclusion prevails (Chau, 2014). In addition, nerd communities are currently criticised for sexist behaviour, for using sexist representations of women in games and comics (Robinson, 2014) and harrassing female gamers (Maisonave, n.d.). Nerd communities accuse some females of being "fake geek girls" who are only seeking the attention of male nerds. There seems to be a discussion within nerd communities about who is a legitimate nerd that is partly based on gender (Robinson, 2014).

Women and cliché femininity (expressed through beauty, fashion, social skills and sexual desirability) seem to be incompatible with nerdiness. Nerd women are portrayed as undesirable and masculine (Robinson, 2014) and male nerds seem to negatively stereotype female nerds, too (Maisonave, n.d.).
Nerd girls violate gender ideologies. Some nerd girls have lower-pitched voices than "their cooler counterparts". And while the latter chose pseudonyms such as "Tiffany" or "Lumiere" for a study, nerd girls selected names such as "Fred" or  "Bob, Conqueror of the Universe". Their identities are rather linked to a disaffiliation with convential femininity than to maleness since nerd women are masculine "the wrong way": humorous instead of macho (Bucholtz, 1996).

- Bucholtz, M. (1996) Geek the girl: Language, femininity, and female nerds. In: Warner, N., Ahlers, J., Bilmes, L., Oliver, M., Wertheim, S. & Chen, M. (eds.) Gender and Belief Systems. Proceedings of the Fourth Berkeley Women and Language Conference. April, 19, 20, and 21, 1996.
- Chau, J. (2014) Afraid To Be A Nerd: Effects of Nerd Stereotypes on Women's Math Performance. Statesboro: Electronic Theses & Dissertations, Paper 1102
- Maisonave, N. (n.d.) Gender in Gamer Culture and the Virtual World. Stanford: MA, online
- Mastley, C. P. (n.d.) Relevance Theory and Constructed Female Nerdiness in CBS's The Big Bang Theory. Mississippi State University, online
- Robinson, S. (2014) Fake Geek Girl: The Gender Conflict in Nerd Culture. Oregon: Thesis
- screen shots via

Monday 5 January 2015

Born this day: Dorothy Elizabeth Levitt

"Motoring is a pastime for women; young, middle-aged and – if there are any – old. There may be pleasure in being whirled around the country by your friends and relatives, or in a car driven by your chauffeur; but the real, the intense pleasure comes only when you drive you own car."
Elizabeth Levitt (5 January 1882 - 17 May 1922) was an early speedqueen, "a motorist who delighted in exceeding the speed limit", "a renowned pioneer of female independence, female motoring, motor racing, the most successful female competitor in Great Britain, victorious speedboat driver, holder of the water speed record, and holder of the Ladies World Land speed record." The "Champion Lady Motorist of the World" who taught Queen Alexandra and royal princesses to drive was described as "arguably the best known of the early drivers" at a time male prejudices against women drivers were rather clearly expressed. Dorothy Levitt continued countering clichés about "the ignorant woman": "I am constantly asked by some astonished people 'Do you really understand all the horrid machinery of a motor, and could you mend it if it broke down? ... the details of an engine may sound complicated and look 'horrid', but an engine is easily mastered."

Levitt, the "Fastest Girl on Earth", published her book "The Woman and the Car: A chatty little handbook for all women who motor or who want to motor." in 1909. In her book she wrote that women should "carry a little hand-mirror in a convenient place when driving" and "hold the mirror aloft from time to time in order to see behind while driving in traffic".
"The mirror should be fairly large to be really useful and it is better to have one with a handle. Just before starting take the glass out of the little drawer and put it into the little flap pocket of the car. You will find it useful to have handy, not only for personal use, but to occasionally hold up to see what is behind you."
Dorothy Levitt invented the rear view mirror which was officially introduced by manufacturers in 1914. (via)
"First Englishwoman to take part in public motor-car competition. Did not win. Will do better next time."  Levitt's diary, 1903
"Beat a great many professional drivers ... Drove at rate of 77.75 miles in Daily Mail Cup."  Levitt's diary, 1905
"Broke my own record and created new world's record for women at Blackpool. Ninety horse-power six cylinder Napier. Racing car. Drove at rate of 91 miles an hour. Had near escape as front part of bonnet worked loose and, had I not pulled up in time, might have blown back and beheaded me. Was presented with a cup by the Blackpool Automobile Club and also a cup by S. F. Edge, Limited."  Levitt's diary, 1906
photograph via

Friday 2 January 2015

Paris has a good idea

"Paris is always a good idea."
Audrey Hepburn

Paris does not just seem to be a good idea but to have a good idea. The city recently announced a plan to stop housing displacement in central neighbourhoods and the creation of "ghettos for the rich". The Council of Paris published a list of 257 addresses, i.e. over 8.000 flats, that the city would have the "right of first-refusal" to buy. These flats are located in areas that are gentrified and the city aims to increase subsidised rental options and to ensure that at least some remain affordable to middle-income Parisians, the "great forgotten ones".

"Choosing diversity and solidarity, against exclusion, social determinism and the centrifugal logic of the market. It also aims to reduce inequalities between the east and the west of Paris in particular, developing social supply where it is insufficient."
Ian Brossat, mayor's aide

In other words, when a flat on the list comes of for sale it must first be offered to the city at the market price; the price is decided by the city. If the landlord or landlady does not wish to accept the offer, they can appeal to an independent judge in order to have it repriced. The plan is certainly not cheap but worth it as it "is essentially to give Paris the ability to act as a social-mix monitor, steeping in to prevent social segregation in the public interest if they feel it is under threat." No matter if it is going to be a success, it "deserves credit for really trying." (via)

photographs: of Christian Bérard and Rénee (suit by Dior, Le Marais, Paris in August 1947) by Richard Avedon via, of Audrey Hepburn, Mel Ferrer and Richard Avedon for Harper's Bazaar (by Henry Wolf, 1959) via and via, of Richard Avedon and Audrey Hepburn via, of Audrey Hepburn with William Holden (set of "Paris When it Sizzles", 1964) via and via, of Dovima dressed in Dior by Richard Avedon (1955) via