Sunday 31 December 2017

Suggestions for Collective New Year Resolutions

We will create a society with equal opportunities for everybody - no matter what age, gender, (dis)abilities, ethnicity, religion, no matter if straight or queer.
We will build cities that are accessible.
We will  not let populism use minority or disadvantaged groups to communicate simple messages ("us" versus "them") to create a polarised society.
We will remove the structural causes of homelessness.
We will create a society in which everybody has access to education and lifelong learning.

In 2018, I will...

... do anything I can do to combat ageism, to reframe ageing; I won't give up showing others the importance of valuing older people
... not lose my patience, will not lose my hope and belief in an intelligent society when hearing or reading discriminatory statements that are based on ignorance, fear or the need to construct a superior identity by creating an inferior "other"
... support projects that aim to raise awareness concerning racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia and islampophobia by writing about them and/or cooperating
... continue finding homelessness absolutely not acceptable for societies in the 21st century and - as I cannot change the system - make a modest contribution by helping at least one homeless person
... continue the project of raising awareness how to turn a/my city into a more inclusive city
... donate more often to the wonderful humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières
... focus my research on inclusion at schools, on diversity in class rooms
... continue showing people how beautiful diversity is
... be among the 8% of people who achieve their new year's resolutions.

Dear subscribers, I wish you all the best for 2018, all the best for our society. Thank you so much for passing by in 2017 and for leaving beautiful comments. Thank you for being interested in the beauty of diversity.

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Thanks, Paperwalker, for the photograph and the amazing drawings!

Wednesday 27 December 2017

Art & Gender Discount

"In the secondary art market, artists play no active role. This allows us to isolate cultural influences on the demand for female artists’ work from supply-side factors. Using 1.5 million auction transactions in 45 countries, we document a 47.6% gender discount in auction prices for paintings. The discount is higher in countries with greater gender inequality. In experiments, participants are unable to guess the gender of an artist simply by looking at a painting and they vary in their preferences for paintings associated with female artists. Women's art appears to sell for less because it is made by women."
Adams et al., 2017

Analysing about 1.5 million auction sales records from 1970 to 2013, the research group found that "respondents consistently ranked works they believed to have been made by male artists higher than those believed to be by female artists". This tendency could also be seen when the works had been created by an artificial intelligence. On average, works by women sell for 47.6% of the prices male artists fetch at auctions. The mean auction price for works by male artists is 48.21 dollars vs. 25.26 dollars for works by female artists (via).
"Male buyers are a driving force of the auction market and yet we see that they are also more likely to think that women’s art is inferior. Our research adds to the mounting evidence of discrimination towards women that is systemic to so many industries."
Roman Kräussl
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- Adams, R. B., Kräussl, R., Navone, M. A. & Verwijmeren, P. (2017). Is Gender in the Eye of the Beholder? Identifying Cultural Attitudes with Art Auction Prices. Available at SSRN:
- image of Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) via

Saturday 23 December 2017

Quoting Frances McDormand

"We have a lot of conversations about aging and how difficult it is in our culture. I go on rants about it, I get a little too zealous about it and he cautions me to remember that not everyone ages the same way and I've been fortunate that I'm happy with the way I look and how I age."
Frances McDormand

"... the entire business for female actors that is a difficult proposition and one of the things is waiting for someone to give you an interesting role. I was a trained to be a classical theatre actress. If I had followed my career in the theatre I would have had many good roles because they've been written and they're there. There's a whole canon - you age through the three sisters and check off, you age through the Skakespearean canon. In film, the canon is a male protagonist canon. So, really, the only way to age as a female in male protagonists driven stories is in the relationship to the male protagonist: a daughter, sister, mother, grandmother..."
Frances McDormand

"This is me. I, you know, this i why I got up this morning and this is how I looked."
Frances McDormand

"I want to be really connected to this (shows her face), how I've aged, how proud I am of what I have. I want to be a symbol for men and women to move through this very dangerous thing that we've created with the culture of celebrity and the need to be something other than ourselves. It kind of seems to me, at least in America, no one should age past 40. And if you do you should put a bag over your head or crawl into a hole."
Frances McDormand

"One of the reasons that I am doing press again after 10 years' absence is because I feel like I need to represent publicly what I've chosen to represent privately — which is a woman who is proud and more powerful than I was when I was younger. And I think that I carry that pride and power on my face and in my body."
Frances McDormand

"I want to be a role model for not only younger men and women — and not just in my profession, I'm not talking about my profession. I think that cosmetic enhancements in my profession are just an occupational hazard. But I think, more culturally, I'm interested in starting the conversation about aging gracefully and how, instead of making it a cultural problem, we make it individuals' problems. I think that ageism is a cultural illness; it's not a personal illness."
Frances McDormand

"I have not mutated myself in any way. Joel (Coen, her director husband) and I have this conversation a lot. He literally has to stop me physically from saying something to people — to friends who’ve had work. I’m so full of fear and rage about what they’ve done."
Frances McDormand

"I've got a rubber face. It has always served me very well and really helps, especially as I get older, because I still have all my road map intact, and I can use it at will."
Frances McDormand

"You are someone who, beneath that white hair, has a card catalog of valuable information."
Frances McDormand

"I want to be revered. I want to be an elder; I want to be an elderess. I have some things to talk about and say and help."
Frances McDormand

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photograph via

Thursday 21 December 2017

The Pencil Test

"'If you're black and pretend you're Coloured, the police has the pencil test.'
'The pencil test?'
'Oh, yes, sir. They sticks a pencil in your hair and you has to bend down, and if your hair holds the pencil, that shows it's too woolly, too thick. You can't be Coloured with woolly hair like that. You got to stay black, you see.'"
(cited in Bowker & Leigh Star, 1999)

Race is pure fiction. And a racist system needs fictional classifications, it needs arbitrarily chosen criteria for the different "races", ridiculous criteria that justify inequality. In 1950, the Population Registraction Act and the Group Areas Act were passed in South Africa. These classifications determined the so-called racial group one belonged to and where one could live, work, ... People were divided into four groups: Europeans (White), Asiatics, Coloureds (mixed "race"), and Natives ("pure-blooded individuals of the Bantu race"); Coloureds and Natives were subdivided. Apartheid meant that "people had to be unambiguously categorizable by race", which of course they were not. As a result, different aspects of apartheid law classified a person differently. Jazz musician Vic Wilkinson, for instance, crossed the race line five times. His "race" changed e.g. when he married women of different ethnicities and moved to different neighbourhoods.

Theoretically, "reclassification" was possible. If a person was labelled Coloured and wished to be labelled White or European, they had thirty days to appeal the classification. The average waiting time, however, was 14 months during which the person continued to live as "Coloured". If - during that time - they enrolled at a Coloured school (as they had no access to a White school), this was later seen as legal evidence that they were Coloured. Even "associating with someone of the wrong group could become evidence of membership and thus of race." The reclassification system was "completely internally inconsistent", categories were conflicting, a mixed criteria of "appearance and general acceptance and repute" was used. Questions such as "Do you eat porridge" or "Do you sleep on the floor or in a bed" were asked to find out whether a person was White. Complexion, eyes, cheekbones, earlobes ("Natives have soft lobes") profiles, and hair were examined. Many underwent the pencil test. If the pencil fell out of a person's hair, they were not classified as Black (Bowker & Leigh Star, 1999).
"Many people did not conform to the typologies constructed under the law: especially people whose appearance differed from their assigned category, or who lived with those of another race, spoke a different language from the assigned group, or had some other historical deviation from the pure type. New laws and amendments were constantly being debated and passed (see, e.g. Rand Daily Mail, 1966). By 1985, the corpus of racial law in South Africa exceeded 3,000 pages (Lelyveld, 1985: 82)."
"The Director of Census was in charge of deciding everyone's racial classification, on the basis of the census data, and, where necessary, other records of vital statistics. Horrell notes: "But this classification is by no means formal. Section Five(3) of the Population Registration Act provides that if at any time it appears to the Director that the classification of a person is incorrect, after giving notice to the person concerned, specifying in which respect the classification is incorrect, and affording him or her an opportunity of being heard, he may alter the classification in the register" (1958: 4). So in the case of apartheid, we have the scientistic belief in race difference on the everyday level, and an elaborate formal legal apparatus enforcing separation. At the same time, a much less formal, more prototypical approach uses an amalgam of appearance and acceptance -- and the on-the-spot visual judgments of everyone from police and tram drivers to judges -- to perform the sorting process on the street."
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- South African schools under attack over Afro hairstyles ban (2016), LINK
- I was fired for refusing to tame Afro, LINK
- The Paper Bag Test, LINK
- Being African: What does hair have to do with it? LINK
- Good Hair (trailer), LINK
- The -ism Series (4): Racism, LINK

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- Bowker, G. C. & Leigh Star, S. (1999). Classification and its consequences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; link
- photograph of Diana Ross via

Wednesday 20 December 2017

International Human Solidarity Day

This day is "a day to celebrate our unity in diversity; a day to remind governments to respect their commitments to international agreements; a day to raise public awareness of the importance of solidarity; a day to encourage debate on the ways to promote solidarity for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals including poverty eradication; a day of action to encourage new initiatives for poverty eradication." (United Nations)

Solidarity means that those wo suffer or benefit least deserve help from those who benefit most. Since the day the United Nations were founded, their work has been led by the concept of solidarity. Without solidarity there is no peace and security (via).

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photograph taken in the Bronx by Mel Rosenthal (1940-2017) via

Monday 18 December 2017

Why are more single girls switching to cigar smokers?

Chances are she saw him before he saw her. She knows he'll treat her as he would a cigar: tenderly, affectionately, appreciatively. What's more, cigar smokers start young and stay young ... very important for girls with long range plans.

image via

Saturday 16 December 2017

Seven dirty words

In 1972, US-American comedian George Carlin (1937-2008) listed "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television". The words that were considered highly inappropriate for broadcast and bleep censored in case they were used were: sh*t, p*ss, f***, c**t, c***sucker, motherf***, and t*ts (via)... all of them for obvious reasons.

Recently, a list of seven forbidden words was given to the US-American health agency Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From now on, officials at the public health agency are prohibited from using the words "diversity, vulnerable, entitlement, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, science-based" in any official documents (via). An interesting selection.
"I use the terms taboo words or swear words interchangeably to describe the lexicon of offensive emotional language. A taboo is a "ban or inhibition resulting from social custom or aversion" (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 2000). Taboo words are sanctioned or restricted on both institutional and individual levels under the assumption that some harm will occur if a taboo word is spoken. (...) At the institutional level, taboos on certain forms of speech arise from authorities that have the power to restrict speech and can act as arbiters of harmful speech (...)".
Jay (2009)
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- Jay, T. (2009). The Utility and Ubiquity of Taboo Words. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4(2), 153-161
- image via

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Presenting The Losers

Pretty good, aren't they? We admit it. And they're probably good enough to get a job practically anywhere they want.
But not as an Eastern Airline stewardess.
We pass up around 19 girls, before we get one that qualifies. If looks were everything, it wouldn't be so tough. Sure, we want her to be pretty...don't you? That's why we look at her face, her make-up, her complexion, her figure, her weight, her legs, her grooming, her nails and her hair.

But we don't stop there. We talk. And we listen. We listen to her voice, her speech. We judge her personality, her maturity, her intelligence, her intentions, her enthusiasm, her resiliency and her stamina.
We don't want a stewardess to be impatient with a question you may have, or careless in serving your dinner, or unconcerned about your needs.
So we try to eliminate these problems by taking a lot more time and passing up a lot more girls.
It may make our job a lot harder. But it makes your flying a lot easier.

"If this isn't the most sexist TV commercial ever, it's close."
Mike Mashon

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image (probably 1967) via

Tuesday 12 December 2017

In a Heartbeat

"In a Heartbeat" is an animated short film that went viral in summer 2017. It had about 12 million views in just 72 hours and has more than 32 million now. The film was produced by Esteban Bravo and Beth David, two computer animation majors at Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida. It tells the story of a boy named Sherwin who has fallen in love with his classmate Jonathan and his risk of being outed by his own heart (via).

"From a business standpoint, it makes sense why studios are afraid to portray LGBT characters, just because there’s still part of the population that’s not accepting. But as leaders of children’s content, it’s really important for them to represent these people because not showing LGBT characters leads to a lot of internalized confusion as kids grow up."
Esteban David

"There was a part of us that was aware this could potentially be a baby-step towards normalizing LGBT romance and, hopefully, toward larger productions and studios doing something like this. I do think this kind of entertainment is wanted on a pretty broad scale."
Beth David

image via

Sunday 10 December 2017

Sunday Music

"We had our group that we all moved with, so there was always some sense of safety. But there was always that thing, you know, of someone out there ready to bash your head in if you stepped out of line. Going back to where we were with Massive Attack and the Wild Bunch, it was always a mixed-race thing, so we were always going into circumstances where it could go either way. Either he could get beaten up for being in the wrong place because he’s in a Jamaican club with me, or I could get beaten up for being a black bloke in a punk club. So we were always treading water in that respect."
Grantley Evan Marshall, Massive Attack

Massive Attack's reaction to Brexit:
"As sons of immigrants, we are both very disappointed with the situation. 
We can't allow ourselves to fall victim to the populist bulls--- going on at the moment. 
We can't let the bigots and racists back into this situation. It's bulls---."
Robert Del Naja, Massive Attack

Sunday music link pack:

::: Unfinished Sympathy: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Ritual Spirit: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Protection: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Live With Me: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Karmacoma: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Splitting the Atom: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Risingson: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Atlas Air: LISTEN/WATCH

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photographs of Massive Attack in Lebanon where they dedicated a gig to the children of Gaza via and via

Saturday 9 December 2017

The Indifference of the World

"In the name of all those who persecute you, who have persecuted you, and those who have hurt you, above all in the indifference of the world, I ask you for forgiveness. Forgiveness."
Pope Francis

"The devastating cruelty to which these Rohingya children have been subjected is unbearable – what kind of hatred could make a man stab a baby crying out for his mother's milk. And for the mother to witness this murder while she is being gang-raped by the very security forces who should be protecting her. (...)
The killing of people as they prayed, fished to feed their families or slept in their homes, the brutal beating of children as young as two and an elderly woman aged 80 – the perpetrators of these violations, and those who ordered them, must be held accountable."
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

"Numerous testimonies collected from people from different village tracts…confirmed that the army deliberately set fire to houses with families inside, and in other cases pushed Rohingyas into already burning houses.
Testimonies were collected of several cases where the army or Rakhine villagers locked an entire family, including elderly and disabled people, inside a house and set it on fire, killing them all."
Excerpts taken from a report issued by the United Nations in February 2017


::: "My World is Finished." Rohingya targeted in crimes against humanity in Myanmar. Amnesty International. DOWNLOAD
::: Interviews with Rohingyas fleeing from Myanmar since 9 October 2016, United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. DOWNLOAD

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photograph via

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Boxing Grannies

In twice-weekly sessions held in Johannesburg, female boxers - many of whom are over 70 - train with coach Claude Maphosa. The sessions are so popular that he is planning to organise events in other areas in South Africa (via). According to the coach - a former bodybuilder and lifestyle coach who wanted to give back to his community by helping the elderly -, many no longer suffer from ailments they used to have before taking up boxing (via and via).

Photographs above: Gladys Ngwenya (77)

photographs via and via and via

Monday 4 December 2017

Stellan Skarsgård as John River

"I did BBC One's River because I was jealous of actresses.
Male roles are always about hiding emotions - it's always what's going on underneath. While women in their roles always get the opportunity to show everything."
Stellan Skarsgård

On John River:

"What first attracted me to River was the poetry - the warmth and love of human beings that runs through the script. Even though there’s a lot of sadness, that humanity makes it bearable.
But on another level, what really interested me was the way the male characters are written. Male characters that are created by women can be badly written. And female characters are usually very badly written by men. Because when you write about the other sex, you usually go back to some sexual fantasy about them, not who they really are.
But Abi Morgan’s writing is about a human being, it doesn’t matter if they have a penis or not. Male characters are usually written with a sort of contained emotional life, while actresses always get the opportunity to tell all their feelings all the time. So for the first time in my career I got the opportunity to be as an actress is, and show everything. And I really enjoyed that."
Stellan Skarsgård

"I've worked with Lars von Trier on many films, and there's always a female character that's like an open wound - everything just pours out of this person. For the first time I saw a male role that had that opportunity."
Stellan Skarsgård

"I've been offered some of those police stories in Sweden, but we do so many - Wallander and Beck and whatever it is. Some of them are very good and you probably see the best ones [in the UK]."
Stellan Skarsgård

"But there's so much of it and I'm not interested in police stories. I'm not interested in 'who did it' - this being a much more internal story about a man, and his difficulties in surviving in a reality that doesn't accept people that are different, is more interesting to me."
Stellan Skarsgård

“He (Lars von Trier) doesn’t have to show me a script for me to say yes, but there’s one role in all his films and it’s a woman. She’s an open wound bleeding all over the screen, then there are some stupid men around. Actors are meant to be manly and hide everything, but River allowed me to be actor and actress.”
Stellan Skarsgård

On England, the U.S., and Scandinavia:

“If you look at the stories, they’re pretty banal. It’s the cultural difference that’s exciting. Lisbeth Salander is a fantastic character, with a child’s vulnerability but a hardness and coldness that makes her stronger than any man. Thanks to Scandinavia being the most emancipated part of the world, you have female characters that are very hard to invent in a more repressed, sexist society like Britain. I heard they lit Tower Bridge pink because they had an heir that didn’t have a penis.”
Stellan Skarsgård

"I was brought up an Anglophile. But you [the English] seem to be extremely happy with the social differences in this country…[and] it’s going to get worse. What has made the development of society possible is not greed, but compassion and empathy – otherwise we’d still be running around killing each other in the f***ing jungle."
Stellan Skarsgård

“Somebody from the studio suggested changing the name of Professor Lambeau [Skarsgard’s character in Good Will Hunting]. I said, I’ll change it to Svensson if all the American actors take American names like Sitting Bull …. What is an English name, anyway?”
Stellan Skarsgård

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images via and via