Thursday 29 September 2016

An ABC for Baby Patriots (1899)

Mary Francis Ames (1853-1929), born Mary Frances Leslie Miller, authored and illustrated children's books in Great Britain and Canada as Ernest Ames or Mrs. Ernest Ames (literally via).

"Hundreds of mighty tomes have been written about the great colonial years when Britain ruled the waves but perhaps none summed it up so succinctly as this ABC for Baby Patriots first published in 1899. It provides an extraordinary view of the Victorian values and attitudes that made Britain great."
Bloomsbury Publishing

C is for Colonies.
Rightly we boast,
That of all the great nations
Great Britain has most.

"(...) it is 'empire' that shimmered to the schoolboy and, perhaps to a slightly lesser extent, the schoolgirl reader of British children's literature from the 1850s onward. It was empire that flushed pink British pride into a world map shown to be one-quarter 'British' in 1897, at the time of the Diamond Jubilee celebration of Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and Empress of India."
Wallace & Slemon (2011)

E is our Empire
Where sun never sets;
The larger we make it
The bigger it gets.

"'Empire' is rooted in the concept of 'supreme and extensive political dominion ... exercised by an emperor', and then later 'by a sovereign state over its dependencies' (OED). The personal element of the British emperor - 'Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India (as of 1876), Defender of the Faith' - was sometimes obscured in British children's literature of 'the period of high imperialism', and even in children's games and puzzles, where Britannia replaces the body of the emperor/empress."
Wallace & Slemon (2011)

"'English' schoolchildren found it relatively easy to identify with the shimmering, overdetermined category of 'Britishness' promulgated within the idea of empire, but non-English readers found themselves distanced, and internally split, by the category: 'subjects' of empire on the one hand, objects of empire on the other."
Wallace & Slemon (2011)

"Regardless of readership and address - child or adult, colonizer or colonized, imperialist or imperial subject - the question underlying writing for children and the matter of empire remains at heart one of interpellation, the calling into being of the child as sovereign or as split subject, hailed into complex social identifications by the seemingly simple but structurally complex, and continuing, literature of empire."
Wallace & Slemon (2011)

I is for India,
Our land in the East
Where everyone goes
To shoot tigers, and feast.

"Children, especially in the Victorian era, are not often involved in politics and care little for the subtle dynamics of empire. However, much as in adult literature, children’s literature provides unique insight into the culture of a period for the literary theorist. Written by adults, children’s literature becomes a natural vehicle for the worldview of the adult members of a culture to be transmitted to the new generation."
Griffin (2012)

K is for Kings;
Once warlike and haughty,
Great Britain subdued them
Because they'd been naughty.

L is the Lion
Who fights for the Crown...

M is for Magnates
So great and so good,
They sit on gold chairs
And eat Turtle for food

N is the Navy...

O is the Ocean...

P is our Parliament

Q is our Queen!
It fills us with pride
To see the Queen's coach
When the Queen is inside!

R is the Roast Beef
That has made Englad great...
S is for Scotland...

T is the Tub...
U is our Unicorn...

V's Volunteers...

W is the Word
Of an Englishman true;
When given, it means
What he says, he will do

Y as a rule means...
Y is for youngsters...

Z is the Zeal...

- Griffin, B. R. (2012). Tales of Empire: Orientalism in Nineteenth-Century Children's Literature. University of South Florida Scholar Commons, online
- Wallace, J.-A. & Slemon, S. (2011) Empire. In: Nel, P. & Paul, L. (eds.) Keyword for Children's Literature, 75-78, New York University Press

- Images via

Tuesday 27 September 2016

In the year 2069

According to Deloitte's recent analysis, the gender pay gap in the UK is incrementally closing. But: Real pay parity between men and women is  - at the current rate of convergence - not forecast to be achieved until 2069, i.e. 99 years after the 1970 Equal Pay Act (via and via).

::: The full report: Women in STEM. Technology, career pathways and the gender pay gap: DOWNLOAD

"BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-
1.-(l) The provisions of this section shall have effect with a Requirement view to securing that employers give equal treatment as regards of equal terms and conditions of employment to men and to women (...)"
Equal Pay Act 1970

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Photograph via

Monday 26 September 2016

"The Road Ahead", by Kirk Douglas

I am in my 100th year. When I was born in 1916 in Amsterdam, New York, Woodrow Wilson was our president.

My parents, who could not speak or write English, were emigrants from Russia. They were part of a wave of more than two million Jews that fled the Czar’s murderous pogroms at the beginning of the 20th Century. They sought a better life for their family in a magical country where, they believed, the streets were literally paved with gold.

What they did not realize until after they arrived was that those beautiful words carved into the Statute of Liberty in New York Harbor: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,” did not apply equally to all new Americans. Russians, Poles, Italians, Irish and, particularly Catholics and Jews, felt the stigma of being treated as aliens, as foreigners who would never become “real Americans.”

They say there is nothing new under the sun. Since I was born, our planet has traveled around it one hundred times. With each orbit, I’ve watched our country and our world evolve in ways that would have been unimaginable to my parents – and continue to amaze me with each passing year.

In my lifetime, American women won the right to vote, and one is finally the candidate of a major political party. An Irish-American Catholic became president. Perhaps, most incredibly, an African-American is our president today.

The longer I’ve lived, the less I’ve been surprised by the inevitability of change, and how I’ve rejoiced that so many of the changes I’ve seen have been good.

Yet, I’ve also lived through the horrors of a Great Depression and two World Wars, the second of which was started by a man who promised that he would restore his country it to its former greatness.

I was 16 when that man came to power in 1933. For almost a decade before his rise he was laughed at ― not taken seriously. He was seen as a buffoon who couldn’t possibly deceive an educated, civilized population with his nationalistic, hateful rhetoric.

The “experts” dismissed him as a joke. They were wrong.

A few weeks ago we heard words spoken in Arizona that my wife, Anne, who grew up in Germany, said chilled her to the bone. They could also have been spoken in 1933:

“We also have to be honest about the fact that not everyone who seeks to join our country will be able to successfully assimilate. It is our right as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish here…[including] new screening tests for all applicants that include an ideological certification to make sure that those we are admitting to our country share our values…”

These are not the American values that we fought in World War II to protect.

Until now, I believed I had finally seen everything under the sun. But this was the kind of fear-mongering I have never before witnessed from a major U.S. presidential candidate in my lifetime.

I have lived a long, good life. I will not be here to see the consequences if this evil takes root in our country. But your children and mine will be. And their children. And their children’s children.

All of us still yearn to remain free. It is what we stand for as a country. I have always been deeply proud to be an American. In the time I have left, I pray that will never change. In our democracy, the decision to remain free is ours to make.

My 100th birthday is exactly one month and one day after the next presidential election. I’d like to celebrate it by blowing out the candles on my cake, then whistling “Happy Days Are Here Again.”

As my beloved friend Lauren Bacall once said, “You know how to whistle don’t you? You just put your lips together and blow.”

Kirk Douglas
(via Huffington Post)

Photographs via and via and via and via

Friday 23 September 2016

"Granny farming": An Analysis of Ageist Attitudes in the "Economist"

Martin et al. (2009) used the online digital archive of the "Economist" from January 1997 to May 2008 to study attitudes to ageing in the economic newspaper. Article content was assessed for stigmatisation of older people on account of their age or ageing and language was classified suggesting a less desirable (negative language portraying older people as a burden, as people with reduced personal worth) vs. more desirable (positive language portraying older people as a benefit to society) state because of older age.

Of the 6306 articles, 262 were relevant. The results:
168 articles portrayed population ageing as a burden,
63 articles portrayed a balanced view, and
31 portrayed it as a benefit.

Content analysis showed that articles about pensions and demography depicted population ageing in the most negative light. The authors analysed a ten-year period but could not discover a shift in attitudes over time. "The numbers of articles portraying older people in a negative or positive light were comparable between 1997 and 2008."

Some quotes:

- "The older they get, the more they cost" (23 September 2004)
- "Fewer and wrinklier Europeans" (13 January 2000)
- "They waddle slowly through the shopping malls; drive with exaggerated care on the freeways; fumble with their change at the check-out tills" (Venerable elders, 22 July 1999)
- "After years of warnings about the “demographic time bomb” due to detonate some time around 2020 (All-clear?" 13 April 2000)
- "Given that they all agree that a demographic “pension time-bomb” is ticking, Europe’s policymakers have done remarkably little to defuse it" (Old hopes stirring, 12 October 2000)
- "Wrinklies" (Fewer and wrinklier Europeans, 13 January 2000)
- "Weary crumblies" (Who wants to live forever? 21 December 2000)
- "Granny farming" (27 November 1997)
- "At what point does an ageing mind become a liability and not an asset" (Wisdom or senility, 16 February 2006)

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- Martin, R., Williams, C. & O'Neill, D. (2009). Retrospective analysis of attitudes to ageing in the Economist: apocalyptic demography for opinion formers. BMJ, online
- photographs by Robert Frank via