Friday, 14 June 2019

"We play for a nation that doesn't even know our names." Women Playing Football

The first Women's World Cup was held in Italy in 1970, a decade that was characterised by several countries lifting their ban on women's football and establishing new teams across Europe and North America (via). Currently, the eight edition of FIFA Women's World Cup is being hosted in France (via). Generally speaking, it surely does not get the media coverage the FIFA (Mens') World Cup gets but in Britain, it is attracting a bigger audience than cricket (via).

Before 1921, women's football flourished in England with about 150 women's teams whose matches "pulled bigger crowds than most men's games". Then women were banned from playing football on pitches with spectator facilities, i.e. professional stadiums, since the sport was "quite unsuitable for females". This ban was lifted in 1971 (via), the same year women's football "hit the big time" in Mexico, "a success because the organisers did not assume it would be a commercial or sporting failure. It was sold and promoted as football tournament, one that just happened to feature women" (via).
Women's participation in football also provides a good example of the mutual ripple effect that can exist between a sport's level of television coverage and its increasing uptake in the community. Since the 2011 World Cup, media coverage of international women's football fixtures has steadily gained traction – not least on the back of the French team's commendable performances, which have subsequently pulled in higher audiences. Alongside these television and sports performances, the number of female members of football clubs has soared since the 2010-2011 season (+90%).
Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel, 2017:10
Here is a strong message of female empowerment (Germany's Women's World Cup advert):

photograph (French team, 1979, photo credit: AFP/CARL FOURIE) via 

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Quoting Eli Wallach

"This country has a complex about age. It's unbelievable. If you're over thirty, you've had it in this country."
Eli Wallach

image of Eli Wallach (1915-2014) via

Monday, 10 June 2019

Quoting Lee Van Cleef

In an interview, Lee Van Cleef was asked about the "intercultural communication conditions" in Italy, if everybody involved in making the film "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" was speaking English.

"No. Not then. Everybody speaks English now, for the most part. For your somewhat better films, your major actors do speak English now, mostly; unless they're in there doin' somebody a favor and won't speak anything but their own tongue, which I think they're making a mistake , there. And in some of your cheapies now, they won't. But in the old days - well, I say the old days, it was fourteen, fifteen years ago and ` before that - everybody would be speaking in their own tongue. Leone couldn't speak English to begin with. He speaks it very well now, but in the first picture he could hardly speak it at all, and we had an interpreter on both of the pictures I did for him. There was one scene in For a Few Dollars More that I was in where there were five languages spoken: Greek, Italian, German, Spanish, and a Cockney Englishman that I couldn't understand any better than I could understand the Greek! But I got along in it, because I knew what everybody was supposed to be saying in English by my script. So, when they'd stop speakin', then I would say something. Also, I began to pick up some of the Italian and Spanish which was prevalent over there."
Lee Van Cleef

"Did any of your fellow actors ever express or hint at any resentments towards you, as an American on a European set; as if to suggest you had taken the job away from a more deserving local" I asked.

"No, I never felt it. I think that the people in the know, they understand that as well as an art, it's an international business and a money game. Because it's international, you have people with different nationalities in damn near every film today. Even American ' producers will go over to Europe to get money to pre-sell a picture. As a consequence, to get this money, they may sometimes have to take actors and technicians from the countries they're negotiating with - or I'm sure : in a lot of cases, they want to take them, because there's a lot of fine people abroad. So, if you're going to make a film anywhere, and you're going to want money from Italy, money from Spain, from Mexico, from Canada, then they will own a film for their particular areas, or however you negotiate it - there's no two alike - and you've got people from all over the world in one fllm.
But we got along fine. No problem at all. You'd be surprised how many over there do speak English now, cause the actors have had to learn. It wasn't that way before. I'd usually pal around with somebody who commanded both English as well as the tongues of anybody there around me. The stunt man I had over there for quite some time spoke English very well, and both Spanish and Italian. My wife speaks a little bit of Spanish, too, and I speak enough Italian now to make myself understood."
Lee Van Cleef

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image of Lee Van Cleef (1925-1989) via

Friday, 7 June 2019

Quoting Clint Eastwood

"I'm interested in the fact that the less secure a man is, the more likely he is to have extreme prejudice."
Clint Eastwood

image via

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Hysterical, Emotional, Exaggerating: Women, Bias and Undertreatment of Pain

"There is now a well-established body of literature documenting the pervasive inadequate treatment of pain in this country. There have also been allegations, and some data, supporting the notion that women are more likely than men to be undertreated or inappropriately diagnosed and treated for their pain."
Hoffmann & Tarzian (2001:13)

Value systems of a culture have an impact on pain perception from the very beginning. Children are socialised how to react to pain, i.e., boys are often discouraged from expressing pain. And when they are adults, they show the same communication patterns. In a study, male pain research participants reported that they "felt an obligation to display stoicism in response to pain". Impression management also seems to play a role since men report less pain in front of a female researcher than a male researcher. Men and women also show differences in how they report their pain to health-care providers. Interestingly, although women are better at describing their pain sensations, they receive less pain medication.
Miaskowski reported on several studies that identified such differences in response and treatment. Faherty and Grier studied the administration of pain medication after abdominal surgery and found that, controlling for patient weight, physicians prescribed less pain medication for women aged 55 or older than for men in the same age group, and that nurses gave less pain medication to women aged 25 to 54.
Calderone found that male patients undergoing a coronary artery bypass graft received narcotics more often than female patients, although the female patients received sedative agents more often, suggesting that female patients were more often perceived as anxious rather than in pain. Another study, examining post-operative pain in children, found that significantly more codeine was given to boys than girls and that girls were more likely to be given acetaminophen.'
Miaskowski further reported on two more recent studies. In a 1994 study of 1,308 outpatients with metastatic cancer, Cleeland and colleagues found that ofthe 42 percent who were not adequately treated for their pain, women were significandy more likely than men to be undertreated (an odds ratio of 1:5). In another study of 366 AIDS patients, Breitbart and colleagues found that women were significantly more likely than men to receive inadequate analgesic therapy. (...)
A recent prospective study of patients with chest pain found that women were less likely than men to be admitted to the hospital. Of those hospitalized, women were just as likely to receive a stress test as men, but of those not hospitalized, women were less likely to have received a stress test at a one month follow-up appointment. The authors attributed the differences in treatment to the "Yentl Syndrome," i.e., women are more likely to be treated less aggressively in their initial encounters with the health-care system until they "prove that they are as sick as male patients." Once they are perceived to be as ill as similarly situated males, they are likely to be treated similarly. (...)

Hoffmann and Tarzian (2001) come to the conclusion that women are taken less seriously when they report pain and seek help. One likely explanation for the gender-specific difference in treatment is the health-care provider's attitude ... and bias. According to several studies, women are also perceived as being able to tolerate more pain than men, as having a "natural capacity to endure pain".
McCaffery and Ferrell explained this seeming contradiction by speculating that while society attributes strength and bravery to men, these characteristics are displayed by an unwillingness to complain or express discomfort rather than by an actual tolerance of discomfort.
Health-care providers tend to doubt the pain experience of women. A great many women feel that their doctor did not take their pain seriously and expected them to put up with it. The image of the hysterical and emotional woman may also be one reason why female chronic pain patients are more likely to be diagnosed with histrionic disorder.

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- Hoffmann, D. E. and Tarzian, A. J. (2001). The Girl Who Cried Pain: A Bias Against Women in the Treatment of Pain. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 29, 13-27.
- photographs by Sepp Werkmeister via

Monday, 3 June 2019

How Louis Armstrong Opened the Eyes of a White Teenager Who Became a Constitutional Law Expert

Charles Lund Black, Jr. (1915-2001) was a constitutional law expert who taught at Columbia and Yale Universities for more than fifty years, author of more than twenty books and hundreds of articles on law, and a jazz aficionado. In 1954, he wrote the legal brief for Linda Brown, the 10-year-old student whose landmark case "Brown v. Board of Education" (1954) - in which the Supreme Court ruled that ethnic segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional - became a cornerstone of the civil rights movement (via and via).

Professor Black -- who taught his students that being a good lawyer in an era of increasing specialization required that they broaden their horizons through interests outside the law -- was something of a renaissance man himself. He published three volumes of poetry; he painted landscapes in oil; and he played the trumpet and what he called a cowboy harmonica. (via)
On 12th October 1931, aged 16, Charles Black heard Louis Armstrong play in Austin and was "dumbstuck by the genius of the performance" (via).
Among those who paid 75 cents to get in that night was a freshman at the University of Texas named Charlie Black. He knew nothing of Jazz. Had never even heard of Armstrong. Who was already considered at the top of the list of famous jazz musicians. Charlie just knew there were likely to be "lots of girls to dance with." Then, Armstrong began to play. (via)

Later, Black wrote about Louis Armstrong's impact on his life. Here are some excerpts of "My World With Louis Armstrong", by Charles L. Black, Jr.

(...) I ever met Louis, except for a couple of handshakes at the bandstand. Yet no first meeting in my life ever had the impact on me of my first encounter with him.
In September 1931, posters appeared in Austin advertising four dances, October 12 through 15, to be played by one “Louis Armstrong, King of the Trumpet, and His Orchestra,” at the old Driskill Hotel. I was entirely ignorant of jazz, and had no idea who this King might be; hyperbole is the small coin of billboards. But a dance at the Driskill, with lots of girls there, was usually worth the seventy-five cents, so I went to the first one.
Memory is splotchy. I don’t remember the moment or exactly the process of realization. But since that evening, October 12,1931, Louis Armstrong has been a continuing presence in my life. (...)
He was the first genius I had ever seen. That may be a structurable part of the process that led me to the Brown case. The moment of first being, and knowing oneself to be, in the presence of genius, is a solemn moment; it is perhaps the moment of final and indelible perception of man’s utter transcendence of all else created. It is impossible to overstate the significance of a sixteen-year-old Southern boy’s seeing genius, for the first time, in a black. We literally never saw a black man, then, in any but a servant’s capacity. There were of course black professionals in Austin, as one later learned, but they kept to themselves, out back of town, no doubt shunning humiliation. I liked most of the blacks I knew; I loved a few of them— like old Buck Green, born and raised a slave, who still plays the harmonica through my mouth, having taught me when he was seventy-five and I was ten. Some were honored and venerated, in that paradoxical white-Southern way—Buck Green again comes to mind. But genius—fine control over total power, all height and depth, forever and ever? It had simply never entered my mind, for confirming or denying in conjecture, that I would see this for the first time in a black man. You don’t get over that. You stay young awhile longer, with the hesitations, the incertitudes, the half-obediences to crowd-pressure, of the young. But you don’t forget. The lies reel, and contradict one another, and simper in silliness, and fade into shadow. But the seen truth remains. And if this was true, what happened to the rest of it?
That October night, I was standing in the crowd with a “good old boy” from Austin High. We listened together for a long time. Then he turned to me, shook his head as if clearing it—as I’m sure he was—of an unacceptable though vague thought, and pronounced the judgment of the time and place: “After all, he’s nothing but a God damn nigger!”
The good old boy did not await, perhaps fearing, reply. He walked one way and I the other. Through many years now, I have felt that it was just then that I started walking toward the Brown case, where I belonged. I realized what it was that was being denied and rejected in the utterance I have quoted, and I realized, repeatedly and with growingly solid conviction through the next few years, that the rejection was inevitable, if the premises of my childhood world were to be seen as right, and that, for me, this must mean that those premises were wrong, because I could not and would not make the rejection. Every person of decency in the South of those days must have had some doubts about racism, and I had mine even then—perhaps more than most others. But Louis opened my eyes wide, and put to me a choice. Blacks, the saying went, were “all right in their place.” What was the “place” of such a man, and of the people from which he sprung? (...)
There have been many—well, a good many—great artists in my time. But it just happened that the one who said the most to me—the most of gaiety, the most of sadness, the most of high nervous excitement, the most of religion-in-art, the most of home, the most of that strange square-root-of-minus-one world of emotions without name—was and is Louis. The artist who has played this role in my life was black.
In 1957, in the early days after the Brown case, when the South was still resisting, I wrote out and published my deepest thought on the nature of the agony as it presented itself:

I’m going to close by telling of a dream that has formed itself through the years as I, a Southern white by birth and training, have pondered my relations with the many Negroes of Southern origin that I have known, both in the North and at home. I have noted again and again how often we laugh at the same things, how often we pronounce the same words the same way to the amusement of our hearers, judge character in the same frame of reference, mist up at the same kinds of music. I have exchanged “good evening” with a Negro stranger on a New Haven street, and then realized (from the way he said the words) that he and I derived this universal small-town custom from the same culture. I have seen my father standing at the window of his office with a Negro he had known for a long time, while they looked out on the town below and talked of buildings that used to be here and there when they were young. These and thousands of other such things have brought me to see the whole caste system of the South, the whole complex net of its senseless cruelties and cripplings, as no mere accidental grotesquerie of history, but rather as that most hideous of errors, that prima materia of tragedy, the failure to recognize kinship. All men, to be sure, are kin, but Southern whites and Negroes are bound in a special bond. In a peculiar way, they are the same kind of people. They are happy alike, they are poor alike. Their strife is fratricidal, born of ignorance. And the tragedy itself has, of course, deepened the kinship; indeed, it created it. My dream is simply that sight will one day clear and that each of the participants will recognize the other.

(...) But Louis has the special place of the artist of my time who uniquely instructed me, as only high art can instruct, on all the matters I have written of above, and who was black.
How could I have been anywhere else when the Brown case was moving up? By the time I got there, I had left behind the feeling that I was struggling for justice for somebody else. I was, in my own heart, in an army for and with my own. (...)

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photographs of Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) in his mirrored bathroom (1971) via and via

Saturday, 1 June 2019

A Short Ageing Attitudes Quiz

The World Health Organization offers a short "Ageing Attitudes Quiz" with feedback to the answers. There are nine statements and the opportunity to check "your attitudes against these commonly held views of ageing and older persons". Again, a lovely aspect of this quiz is that the WHO offers feedback as you can check your answers: LINK

"All older people are the same."
"Poor health is inevitable in older age."
"An older person is somebody aged 60 years and above."
"My attitude to ageing has little or no influence on my health."
"Ageing is an obstacle to a good life and must be overcome."
"Older adults are a drain on the economy, including health system."
"Ageism means having negative attitudes and or discriminating against people because of their age."
"I can be ageist and not know it."
"We can combat ageism!"

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photograph by Sepp Werkmeister (NYC, 1960s) via

Friday, 31 May 2019

Applying Anthropomorphic Gender Stereotypes to Dogs

"Based on interviews with twenty‐six dog owners in northeast Georgia, this article examines how people rely on gender norms to organize their relationships with their dogs. Owners use gender norms to (1) select what they consider to be suitable dogs, (2) describe their dogs' behaviors and personalities, and (3) use their dogs as props to display their own gender identities. Although these findings are specific to dog owners, they suggest ways individuals may attempt to display gender in other relationships characterized by a power imbalance."
Ramirez, 2006

- Ramirez, M. (2006). "My Dog's Just Like Me": Dog Ownership as a Gender Display. Symbolic Interaction, 29(3), 373-391.
- photograph of Audrey Hepburn in Rome via

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

One Eye, Two Eyes, the Needy Other, the Better-Off Other, Envy, a Genie, and the Logic of Voting Decisions

A genie says to a peasant, "I will grant you any wish, but remember that I will give your neighbour twice what I give you." The peasant thinks for a while and responds, "Poke out one of my eyes." (via)

Encouraging resentment of taxpayer-funded benefits flowing to people down the ladder of life's fortune can deliver political dividends (...).
Lewis & Woods, 2014
Here are a few thought-provoking excerpts that shed a light on aspects of voting decisions following the logic of "I don't have health insurance now and can't afford the medicine I need but at least Mexicans can't immigrate." 
Economists have long speculated that envy and malice play important roles in economic decisions. (...) Envy and malice turn out to be powerful motivations with strong differential impacts across countries and relative positions.
Beckman et al, 2002

Why do people support economic redistribution? Hypotheses include inequity aversion, a moral sense that inequality is intrinsically unfair, and cultural explanations such as exposure to and assimilation of culturally transmitted ideologies. However, humans have been interacting with worse-off and better-off individuals over evolutionary time, and our motivational systems may have been naturally selected to navigate the opportunities and challenges posed by such recurrent interactions. We hypothesize that modern redistribution is perceived as an ancestral scene involving three notional players: the needy other, the better-off other, and the actor herself. We explore how three motivational systems—compassion, self-interest, and envy—guide responses to the needy other and the better-off other, and how they pattern responses to redistribution. Data from the United States, the United Kingdom, India, and Israel support this model. Endorsement of redistribution is independently predicted by dispositional compassion, dispositional envy, and the expectation of personal gain from redistribution. By contrast, a taste for fairness, in the sense of (i) universality in the application of laws and standards, or (ii) low variance in group-level payoffs, fails to predict attitudes about redistribution. (...)
By economic redistribution, we mean the modification of a distribution of resources across a population as the result of a political process. (...)
We conducted 13 studies with 6,024 participants in four countries to test the hypothesis that compassion, envy, and self-interest jointly predict support for redistribution. (...) If the mind sees modern redistribution as a three-player game eliciting compassion, envy, and self-interest , then the intensities of those emotions and motives will independently predict support for redistribution. (...) As predicted, the three motives have positive, significant, and independent effects on support for redistribution. (...)
Participants in the United States also reported the political party they most identify with. Consistent with historical survey data, self-described Democrats endorsed redistribution to a greater extent than Republicans and Libertarians did. Democrats also reported more compassion and more expected personal gain from redistribution than Republicans and Libertarians did; envy did not differ by party (...). Thus, compassion and self-interest predict identification with political parties, which are themselves associated with attitudes toward redistribution. In isolation, the emotion/motivation triplet accounts for 28% of the variance in support for redistribution, whereas party identification accounts for 34%; when entered together, they have unique effects of similar magnitude (...). This suggests that emotions and party ideology shape attitudes toward redistribution to a similar extent. (...)
Participants in the United States, India, and the United Kingdom (studies 1a–c) were given two hypothetical scenarios and asked to indicate their preferred one. In one scenario, the wealthy pay an additional 10% in taxes, and the poor receive an additional sum of money. In the other scenario, the wealthy pay an additional 50% in taxes (i.e., a tax increment five times greater than in the first scenario), and the poor receive (only) one-half the additional amount that they receive in the first scenario. (...) Fourteen percent to 18% of the American, Indian, and British participants indicated a preference for the scenario featuring a higher tax rate for the wealthy even though it produced less money to help the poor. (...) Compassion and envy motivate the attainment of different ends. Compassion, but not envy, predicts personally helping the poor. Envy, but not compassion, predicts a desire to tax the wealthy even when that costs the poor. (...)
A taste for fairness had little or no effect on support for redistribution. This is striking, because fairness is invoked in many arguments for redistribution. Notions of fairness are intuitive and compelling—they seem to inspire charity, courageous acts, outrages, wars, and moral crusades. (...)
Sznycer et al., 2017
Envy-freeness (EF) is a criterion of fair division. In an envy-free division, every agent feels that their share is at least as good as the share of any other agent, and thus no agent feels envy. (via)
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- Beckman, S. R., Formby, J. P., Smith, W. J. & Zheng, B. (2002). Envy, malice and Pareto efficiency: An experimental examination. Social Choice and Welfare, 19, 349-367.
- Sznycer, D., Lopez Seal, M. F., Sell, A., Lim, J., Porat, R., Shalvi, S., Halperin, E., Cosmides, L, & Tooby, J. (2017). Support for redistribution is shaped by compassion, envy, and self-interest, but not a taste for fairness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, link
- photographs of Audrey Hepburn by Douglas Kirkland (1965) via and via
- interesting read: Two eminent political scientists: The problem with democracy is voters

Monday, 27 May 2019

Solo los Rebeldes Cambian el Mundo

Downeate created the fantastic clip "Libertad" reminding us that teenagers are teenagers, no matter whether with or without Down syndrome. The video shows Valentin who decides to break out of daily routine and to do things that make him feel free.

More beautiful videos:

::: Día de Picnic: WATCH
::: Domi La Manipuladora: WATCH
::: Angelitos: WATCH

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image via

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Europe Elects. 2019.

"The populists themselves are dangerous, but they are far more dangerous when the traditional, classic parties adopt their harmful proposals."
Jean-Claude Juncker

Elections to the European Parliament 2019: latest updates

"The populists are spreading slogans. We have to offer solutions and answers."
Jean-Claude Juncker

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photograph via

Friday, 24 May 2019

Arabic Numerals Misunderstood

The US-American market research company Civic Science conducted a survey asking 3.624 people whether schools in America should teach Arabic numerals as part of their curriculum without explaining the term "Arabic numerals" since that would have spoilt the fun of teasing out "prejudice among those who didn't understand the question". According to the chief executive of Civic Science, the results were "the saddest and funniest testament to American bigotry we've ever seen in our data". Apparently, a great many people did not know what these numerals mean, some 2.020 (56%) answered "no", only 29% said "yes" and 15% had no opinion. Even when controlling for education (i.e., not having a significant difference in education), 72% of Republican-supporting respondents said "no" versus 40% of Democrats. In other words, the answers are not only about knowledge of the numerical nomenclature (via).

So, where do Arabic numerals come from? Muhammad Khwarizmi (780-850), "the father of algebra" (the word "algebra" is derived from the title of one of his books), was "a Persian scholar who produced works in mathematics, astronomy, and geography" (via), a poet and philosopher, Cabinet member in Dawala's government of Iran (Broumand, 2006), and the very Persian who introduced the Arabs to the Hindu decimal numerals (via), now known as Arabic numerals.
In the 12th century, Latin translations of his textbook on arithmetic (Algorithmo de Numero Indorum) which codified the various Indian numerals, introduced the decimal positional number system to the Western world. (via)
Khwarizimi is often referred to as an Arab or Islamic scientist despite having been Persian. Similarly, Avicenna (Ibn Sina, 980-1037), "the father of early modern medicine" was Persian and is regularly mentioned as a great contributer to science from the Arabian or Islamic world. Avicenna's famous encyclopedia "became a standard medical text at many medieval universities and remained in use as late as 1650" (via).

As Broumand (2006) observes there is a failure in calling them Arab scientists:
This false statement only widens the gap between the Middle-East and the western world. There could be no doubt on the fact that Razi (Rhazes), Ibn-Sina (Avicenna), and Khawrazmi (Khwarizmi) were Iranian (Persian) and not Arab scientists. Dr. Maziak’s sincere attempt to lump these scientists under the label of Arab-Islamic scholars is unfortunately flawed for a couple of reasons; a very important point is that, the Arabic language was the lingua franca of these scientists’ era and allowed for the free exchange of scientific knowledge from Greece and Rome to Iran, India, and even to places as far as China. There is no doubt that for this reason, scientists were writing in Arabic, while not being Arab, like in the present time, all scientists write in English. One could argue that it is as offensive to Iranians, as it would be to the English, if everyone claimed Sir Isaac Newton was a Frenchman. Not that there is anything wrong with being French, Arab, or from any other nations, but the incorrect label abolishes a significant part of Iranian contribution to the advancement of science.
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- Broumand, B. (2006). The Contribution of Iranian Scientists to World Civilization. Archives of Iranian Medicine, 9(3), 288-290.
- photograph via

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

The English Language and the Subtle Differences in Transatlantic Understanding

YouGov showed common British phrases to 1.729 Britons and 1.952 US-Americans and asked the participants of the survey to interpret them. The results showed "plenty of common ground" but also "a difference in transatlantic understanding" with many US-Americans being "in danger of missing the serious passive aggression we Brits employ" (via and via).

Here are a few examples:

Statement: "With the greatest respect..."
Interpretation: "I think you are an idiot." (UK: 68%, US: 40%)
Interpretation: "I am listening to you." (UK: 24%, US: 49%)

Statement: "I'll bear it in mind."
Interpretation: "I've forgotten it already." (UK: 55%, US: 38%)
Interpretation: "I will probably do it." (UK: 32%, US: 43%)

Statement: "I hear what you say."
Interpretation: "I disagree and do not want to discuss it further." (UK: 48%, US: 32%)
Interpretation: "I accept your point of view." (UK: 45%, US: 58%)

Statement: "You must come for dinner."
Interpretation: "It's not an invitation, I'm just being polite." (UK: 57%, US: 45%)
Interpretation: "I will send you an invitation soon." (UK: 34%, US: 41%)

For more details see LINK and LINK.

"We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language."
Oscar Wilde

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photograph (London, 1975) via

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Wear modest apparel, Helena!

"In like manner also, that women aged fifty adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array."
1 Alexandra 2:9 (1 Timothy 2:9 with Alexandra's age specification)

Alexandra Shulman, former editor-in-chief of British Vogue, woman and 61 years old, shows us many things. Firstly, that it is a rather good idea to self-reflect before you start writing a column. Secondly, that both ageism and sexism (and their intersection) are -isms that we internalise as women and as persons who are growing older and by doing so help perpetuate stereotypes, if we are unable to self-reflect and shift the perspective.

This May, Shulman published an article with the headline "I’m sorry Helena Christensen, you ARE too old to wear that" which which she addressed former model Christensen who at the age of 50 decided to pitch up somebody's 24th birthday party "in a tacky, black lace bustier". Seriously, this is what her article is about.

Her column starts like this:
There comes that point in every woman’s life when, however reluctantly, you have to hand over the fleshpot-at-the-party baton to the next generation. 
Shulman speculates that Christensen possibly "just panicked" but then, quoting Dylan Thomas, decides that most probably this 50-year-old woman did not want to go "gentle into any good night when it comes to getting her share of the paparazzi's attention".
In other words, the only reason why a woman aged 50 wears jeans and a bustier is that she is desperately looking for attention. Instead, she should accept that her time is over and prepare to go gentle into that good night. Dylan Thomas's most famous and dark poem is about "the end of life" and "the personal struggle to hang onto life for as long as possible". It is about resisting death with all strength. Thomas challenges typical associations and stereotypes with old age by describing it as "burning and raving" (via), the same stereotypical associations that seem to dominate Shulman's attitude who, by the way, in an interview states that she has not left Vogue "to go and hide under a stone somewhere. I suppose, you know, you like the publicity at the end of the day. You want to carry on having a voice." (via).

She then continues with words that do not really make much sense:
We might like to think that 70 is the new 40 and 50 the new 30 but our clothes know the true story.
No matter how pert your breasts, how great your legs, how invisible your bingo wings, our clothes simply don’t look the same as we age because they are about the person wearing them, not the items themselves. They are about the people – not just the bodies – that we have become.
Something you wore at 30 will never look the same on you 20 years later. Clothes don’t lie.
And it gets better. Apparently, it is not primarily about age:
While men can receive sex symbol status until they are in their box, for women it’s more complicated. As a society, we are frightened of sexuality that doesn’t come accompanied by fertility. Wrinklies like Richard Gere, who has fathered a baby at 69, or Ronnie Wood, who now takes his three-year-old twins on the road, have the advantage of this proof that their sexual function is still in working order.
When women’s bodies no longer serve any child-bearing purpose, we find flaunting them disturbing and slightly tragic. I don’t claim that this is fair. But it’s true.
It may come as little surprise that I could not find any evidence that "societies are frightened of sexuality that doesn't come accompanied by fertility". I wonder why there is such a thing as birth control and why, for instance, couples continue having an intimate relationship after having raised a family. Nor have I ever heard of the custom that men feeling attracted to women ask them about their fertility before wanting to date them. And I am limiting my questions to heterosexuals here... Shulman's "proof" are two gentlemen, no, "wrinklies", such as Richard Gere (born in 1949, his wife born in 1983) and Ronnie Wood (born in 1947, his wife in 1978). Rules about attraction are slightly different when you are a celebrity, aren't they?

Shulman reduces women to their "child-bearing purpose" and claims it is a fact that when their bodies no longer serve this purpose, they become disturbing and tragic. They should become invisible and not irritate ageist and sexist people. Shulman - 61 years old - is a perfect example of how ageism works. We grow up with ageist messages, they come at us from every direction: work, health, marketing, fashion... After a lifetime of hearing them, we internalise them and become ageist, too. She also shows us that women can perfectly adopt the male gaze. It is irresponsible to link the style of dress with the desire to be attractive for others and the wish to seduce. We see the consequences of this dangerous link when victims of sexual violence are blamed for provoking the assault by dressing in a body-revealing style. Sure, clothing can have "the accompanying function of expressing a way of being" (Oliveira, 2013). However, communication is complex and the message may be misinterpreted (if there is one at all).
The results demonstrate a gender-based attribution gap wherein men report perceiving the sexualized look as indicating an interest in sex and intent to seduce, whereas women cite their wish to feel and look attractive as its primary cause, while entirely rejecting the seduction claim.
Moor, 2010:115
And apart from that:
In contrast to affective cues, non-affective cues, such as clothing style and attractiveness, provide far less information about a woman’s momentary level of sexual interest because they typically are quite stable across a social interaction and tend to be more omnidirectional (i.e., available to everyone in the social environment).
Treat et al, 2016
It is not only age and gender. Shulman thinks that black women on the cover "would sell fewer copies" (via).
Shulman is still smarting from the uproar provoked by a photograph in her final edition of the outgoing editor surrounded by 54 of her staff. Did she anticipate that many readers would be shocked to see that every single one of them was white? “No,” she mutters dryly. “Clearly not. Had I known that this was going to happen, I would not have put that picture in it. But it never entered my head. Over the years there have been people of all kinds of ethnicities in the magazine. On that particular day there was nobody there and, you know, it’s frustrating.” 
Many employers go to some lengths to attract more diverse applicants. “Well, I guess I have to hold my hand up and say I don’t encourage positive discrimination in any area.” Shulman flatly refuses to accept the critique that under her editorship Vogue had a diversity problem. “I have never been somebody who’s box-ticked. I’m against quotas. I feel like my Vogue had the people in who I wanted it to. I didn’t look at what race they were. I didn’t look at what sex they were. I didn’t look at what age they were. I included the people I thought interesting. So no, I don’t, absolutely not.
“But if you’re going to say to me, ‘Well, how many white models as opposed to how many black models were in there?’, I’m sure you can make the numbers stack up to argue that there was an issue. But as far as I’m concerned, there wasn’t, and it never entered my head.” 
Readers may then wonder why she put black faces on the cover only 12 times in 25 years. “Well, I don’t know. Who would I put on? Who would you have suggested that was a really well known black model who wasn’t on the cover?” (via) (Note: these two black faces were Naomi Campbel and Jordan Dunn)
Her diversity problem includes body diversity:
“It was massively interesting, and actually a rather important subject, particularly if you advance the proposition, which I did, that magazines like Vogue and the fashionistas in general, pushed the idea for many years, and are still pushing it, though they deny it, that in order to look nice you’ve got to be stick-thin. I’ve always thought it an absurd proposition and damaging to an awful lot of young girls who are susceptible to that sort of pressure. So I was, according to some people, too aggressive with her. I thought I was actually rather polite.
 “But she didn’t like being asked about that sort of thing and suggested, preposterously, that you’re almost as likely to see chubby women on the cover of Vogue. I think she came up with three examples over 25 years. Well, I rest my case, M’lud!”
John Humphrys
"Not many people have actually said to me that they have looked at my magazine and decided to become anorexic."
Alexandra Shulman, 1998
We all grow older, if we are lucky. Let's enjoy it and stop making life difficult for others and ourselves.
"In the past women and men have been restricted to certain dress codes. Today there is no excuse for dressing to please others, the fashion police, or our inner critic." (via)
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- Lennon, S. J., Adomaitis, A. D., Koo, J. & Johnson, K. K. P. (2017). Dress and sex: a review of empirical research involving human participants and published in refereed journals. link
- Moor, A. (2010). She Dresses to Attract, He Perceives Seduction: A Gender Gap in Attribution of Intent to Women's Revealing Style of Dress and its Relation to Blaming the Victims of Sexual Violence. Journal of International Women's Studies, 11(4), 115-127.
- Oliveira, M. (2013). Dressing, seducing and signifying: From the symbolic dimension of fashion to the contemporary erotic imagery. Comunicação e Sociedade, 24, 152-160.
- Treat, T. A., Hinkel, H., Smith, J. R. & Viken, R. J. (2016). Men's perceptions of women's sexual interest: Effects of environmental contest, sexual attitudes, and women's characteristics. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, link
- photograph by Leon Levinstein (1910-1988), New York City, ca. 1960 via

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Quoting Arthur Schopenhauer

“The cheapest sort of pride is national pride; for if a man is proud of his own nation, it argues that he has no qualities of his own of which he can be proud; otherwise he would not have recourse to those which he shares with so many millions of his fellowmen. The man who is endowed with important personal qualities will be only too ready to see clearly in what respects his own nation falls short, since their failings will be constantly before his eyes. But every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud adopts, as a last resource, pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and glad to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

“Compassion is the basis of morality.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

“For where did Dante get the material for his Hell, if not from this actual world of ours?”
Arthur Schopenhauer

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photograph by Robert Frank (1962) via

Sunday, 12 May 2019

"You'd never wholly know you." Marilyn Monroe

“I want to grow old without facelifts... I want to have the courage to be loyal to the face I've made. Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die young, but then you'd never complete your life, would you? You'd never wholly know you.”
Marilyn Monroe

photographs of Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller, Simone Signoret, Yves Montand by Bruce Davidson, Beverly Hills Hotel apartment, 1960 via and via and via and via, for more photographs see Magnum Photos: link, (c) Bruce Davidson/Magnum Photos

Friday, 10 May 2019

Many (Contradicting) Glasses Stereotypes

"The fantasy of the hot librarian who prances around in her tight pencil skirt, unpins her bun and throws her glasses off to reveal a goddess in waiting annoys me too." 
Sarah Jayne

Stereotypes do not have to make sense and are accepted even when they are contradicting. We have heard of most of the glasses stereotypes such as children bullying other children, calling them "nerd", "blind" or "four eyes", women to be found less attractive when wearing glasses (Borgen, 2015), men losing out on the impression of strength and leadership (via), people to be considered as more intelligent (perhaps even too intelligent and an intellectual threat like in the case of the Khmer Rouge who killed people who wore glasses, via), industrious, reliable (Dean, 2014), honest, sophisticated, and dependable (via), glasses making you "look truly brainy", "attractive" and "giving you an aire of secret" while making you appear certain, neighbourly (via) and elegant (Okamura, 2018) but also less outgoing, athletic (Dean, 2014) and nerdy (via)
These three methods of identifying sex differences in stereotypes of eyeglasses produced somewhat conflicting results. Photographs with glasses were judged as less attractive and sexy, but males considered the typical woman with glasses as sexier and more attractive than the typical woman without glasses. Generally, people with glasses were considered to be more intelligent and intense, and the stereotypes of the typical woman and man with glasses were highly positive. Women with glasses were viewed as more feminine and men with glasses as more masculine. Although wearing glasses affected the self‐concept of females more than males, there was little evidence that they experienced a more negative “spectacle image” than males. Harris, 1991
Black defendants wearing glasses were perceived as friendlier and more attractive, and even more than whites, less threatening. Thus, although blacks and whites received approximately equal guilty and innocent verdicts, and eyeglass wearers were more likely to be seen as innocent, it was African-Americans wearing glasses who benefited the most based on their appearance alone. (via)
Judgements vary, times change (stereotypes often reflect a certain time period), gender needs to be considered, age, ethnicity, the type of eyeglasses (full-rim glasses versus rimless ones), the research methods, and individual characteristics. In general, there is a trend in more positive opinions of glasses. Research conducted in the 1990s, for instance, found that children had a rather negative attitude to other children wearing glasses rating them more negatively in terms of attractiveness, sociability, school performance, and whether they wanted to be friends with them. More recent studies seem to come to different conclusions. In addition, nonprescription eyeglasses have even become "an increasingly popular trend" (Borgen, 2015).
"Years ago, I noticed an old friend wearing glasses for the first time. When I asked her if she’d just decided to forgo her contacts, she replied that she had, in fact, not. She didn’t own contacts, you see, and the frames she wore held nothing but non-prescriptively bent glass. They were on her face for fashion, nothing but." Rick Paulas
- - - - - - - - -
- Borgen, A. (2015). The Effect of Eyeglasses on Intelligence Perceptions. The Red River Psychology Journal, 1, via
- Dean, D. H. (2014). A 'Halo' Effect for Inference of Managerial Ability from Physical Appearance, American International Journal of Contemporary Research, 4(10), 15-23.
- Harris, M. B. (1991). Sex Differences in Stereotypes of Spectacles, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, via
- Leder, H., Forster, M. & Gerger, G. (2011). The Glasses Stereotype Revisited. Effects of Eyeglasses on Perception, Recognition, and Impression of Faces. Swiss Journal of Psychology, 70(4), 211-222.
- Okamura, Y. (2018). Judgments of women wearing eyeglasses. a focus on specific dimensions of physical attractiveness. Romanian Journal of Applied Psychology, 20(1), 7-10.
- photograph of Claudia Cardinale via

Monday, 6 May 2019

International No Diet Day

International No Diet Day is "a day for organizations and individuals to push back against the industries and messages that encourage us to engage in dangerous dieting behaviours.
According to a 2002 survey, 28% of girls in grade 9 and 29% in grade 10 engaged in weight-loss behaviours. In addition, 30% of girls and 24% of boys in grades 7-12 reported teasing about their weight. From a young age we are faced with harmful messages that influence the way that we feel about our own and others’ bodies, and these messages only intensify as we become adults." (literally via)

At the heart of International No Diet Day is the celebration of body acceptance. In a society that is fixated on appearance and size, this day helps us refocus on what is truly important – a healthy lifestyle and self love.
In celebrating International No Diet Day, participants are encouraged to:
• Challenge the idea of one “right” body shape and embrace body diversity.
• Declare a day free of dieting and obsessions about weight and shape.
• Learn the facts about the diet industry and understand the inefficacy of commercial diets.
• Help end weight discrimination, sizeism and fat phobia.
In a world that is obsessed with losing weight and that celebrates excessive exercise and yoyo dieting, how do we change and challenge our current way of thinking? (more/literally via)

- An Apology Letter to My Body: READ
- photographs of Doris Day via and via, copyright by respective owners

Friday, 3 May 2019

“Je m’appelle Modigliani. Je suis Juif.”

"My name is Modigliani. I am a Jew.", was Modigliani's (1884-1920) habit to introduce himself (via). Born into a middle class Italian-Jewish family in Livorno, Amedeo Clemente Modigliani moved to Bohemian, cosmopolitan Paris and centre of the art world in 1906 to develop his career (via).

Modigliani's harmonious, Latin good looks were at furthest remove from the anti-Semitic racial type - epitomised by the hooked Jewish nose. (...) in Paris, Modigliani was a Jew with a difference: he was Italian. Emily Braun
Paris meant excitement and inspiration, new ideas and opinions, contemporaries such as Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec. It also meant anti-Semitism. According to some, Modigliani was part of the Jewish artistic community - others point out that he was a nonpracticing Jew (via) and that his Jewish connection should not be exaggerated (via) - but what made him different from his contemporaries was that he encountered prejudice the first time when he came to Paris while others had left Eastern European countries for Paris due to prejudice (via). Another difference was that Modigliani was already speaking French fluently when he arrived in France and found it easier to integrate and assimilate into his new culture. Modigliani became part of the Parisian art world scene and developed with it. At the same time, art from his Asian and African contemporaries fascinated him (via).
Although Modigliani’s early work is typically viewed as subordinate to his late paintings, understanding the anti-Semitic social and cultural climate in which these early works were created is crucial to apprehending Modigliani’s overall oeuvre, and how it was influenced by his own interpretation of his identity as a Sephardic Jew.
When he arrived in Paris in 1906, Modigliani for the first time in his life experienced social ostracism and anti-Semitism, propagated by the likes of the racist publisher Edouard Drumont who spread ideas that contrasted sharply with the artist’s more tolerant upbringing in Italy. At the same time, Modigliani was fluent in French thanks to his French mother who grew up in Marseille. This allowed the artist to blend in with the French culture, and move between different social spaces with greater ease than some of his fellow Jewish artists from Eastern Europe. (...)
Modigliani’s subjugation to xenophobia and anti-Semitism, while fostering his own interpretation of identity and cultural hybridity, increasingly encouraged him to incorporate a host of diverse influences into his work, especially non-western traditions, including ancient art from Greece, Egypt, and Africa. Evidence of African tribal masks, in particular, can be observed in his renderings of exaggerated, elongated faces, which would become a hallmark of his art-making.
Here are two excerpts with contrasting views:
He understood identity and Jewishness as incredibly fluid and dynamic, and not at all in the sort of racist, fixed way that the French did at the time.
I think he was in some way parodying the extreme caricature-ness in which Jews and ethnic types, Africans, etc. were depicted in the popular press.
He’s very much fixated on Jewish faces—prominent nose, deep-set eyes, large lips. He exoticized or produced that extreme image because he was so different from it in real life.
The mask became a great signifier of this veiled, enigmatic quality or notion of identity” - a metaphor for his ability to assimilate in France without truly belonging.

Mason Klein, curator
The exhibit focuses primarily on work executed before World War I and is constrained by the curator Mason Klein’s thesis linking Modigliani’s mask-like figures to his identity as an outsider, a Sephardic Jew from Italy living in Paris. I will say upfront: I don’t buy this.
Frances Brent

Some stress his Jewish connection, others say it should not be exaggerated. Then, there is the notion that Modigliani was "a deeply Italian painter" versus "really French" while others come to the conclusion that he was "a culturally international person" and "culturally multi-faceted" (via).
"Modigliani is a deeply Italian painter, and he’s clearly interested in the language of the body, which is the language of Italian art." Griselda Pollock, art historian at England’s University of Leeds
While there are several memoirs that describe Modigliani’s passionate response to anti-Semitism, there’s simply no evidence that he felt himself an outsider. As was often the case in Sephardic families, his was deeply cosmopolitan. His mother was born in Marseilles and, generations back, her family had lived in Tunisia, Livorno, and even Algeria. His father’s family’s business had been in Rome but his father spent most of his time in Sardinia. National boundaries or the distinction between Sephardic and Ashkanazi Jews would have meant nothing to him. In Paris, his friends included many Jews—Lipchitz, Sutine, Max Jacob, Chagall, Zadkine, Nadelman, Diego Rivera, and Kisling—as well as non-Jews like Picasso, Henri Laurens, Juan Gris, and Jean Cocteau. If he was recognized for his Italianism, it was because of his dashing style. Lipchitz said, "he looked aristocratic even in his worn-out corduroys."
Frances Brent

Modigliani met Jeanne Hébuterne (1898-1920), a promising 19-year-old art student, in 1917. She immediately moved in with him "leaving her petit-bourgeois family aghast that she had taken up with a failed artist, and a Jewish one at that". Hébuterne gave birth to their daughter Jeanne on 29 November 2018, by summer 1919, she was pregnant again. On 24 January 1920, Amedeo Modigliani died of tubercular meningitis at age 35. About two days after his death, Hébuterne committed suicide by throwing herself out of the fifth-floor flat window. She was eight months' pregnant with their second child (via).
Their first daughter Jeanne was 14 months old when Modigliani died (via). Jeanne Modigliani (1918-1984) was brought to the Italian city of Livorno and raised by her grandparents and aunt who adopted her. She graduated in art history in Florence and later fled to Paris as she was persecuted as a Jew. In World War II, she became part of the French Resistance (via).

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photographs of Jeanne Modigliani with paintings of her mother painted by her father, by Ralph Crane (1964) via and via and via and via

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Oh Sheep!

"Two flocks of sheep are searching for companionship. But their shepherds, being at odds with each other, do everything to keep them separated." A really nice short film produced by Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg with a clear message.

Script: Gottfried Mentor, Max Lang Direction: Gottfried Mentor
Music: Matthias Klein
Sound Design: Roman Volkholz, Christian Heck
Animation: Harry Fast, Cordula Langhans, Paul Cichon, Bin Han To, Annie Habermehl, Gottfried Mentor
Technical Direction: Marcel Reinhard
Executive Producer: Leonid Godik, Gottfried Mentor
Production: Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg GmbH

image via

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Sunday Music and Jovanotti's Appeal to the Prime Minister

Lorenzo Cherubini, known as Jovanotti, is a popular Italian singer and songwriter. In a rap song, he urged then Prime Minister D'Alema to cancel the debts of developing countries, of countries that had been colonised and then left alone drowning in the so-called progress the colonisers had brought. That was back in 2000. Jovanotti pointed out that one billion people had less than one dollar a day to survive, that their poverty was not their choice and had an impact on their health, education, and future in general (via). D'Alema agreed to act and, for instance, write off Mozambique's debt to Italy (via).

Mezzogiorno, a lovely song (and makes-you-smile video) from 2008 that inspired several flash mobs and a social clip with contributions from fans:

More Jovanotti on YouTube:

::: Tutto l'amore che ho: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Ti porto via con me: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Il più grande spettacolo dopo il Big Bang: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Tanto tanto tanto: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Baciami ancora: WATCH/LISTEN

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photograph via

Friday, 26 April 2019

Per dirti ciao. Tiziano Ferro (2012)

Tiziano Ferro is an Italian singer and songwriter and "one of the best-selling artists" in Italy. At the height of his fame, in 2010, he finally came out as gay after years of struggling to make this decision (via). Ferro came to the conclusion that he wanted a better life, hence decided to come out (via).

"Despite his fears, his coming out did not negatively affect his career, as fifth album L'amore è una cosa semplice was the best-selling album of 2012 in Italy, and his first greatest hits album was supported by a stadium tour. As of 2015, Ferro has sold over 15 million records worldwide." (via
Most of his fans are women. In an interview, Ferro points out that he has never had concerns about losing female fans after coming out as he generally trusts them more than men (via). Some of his fans, of course, had difficulties handling Ferro's coming out such as Tiziano Zarantanello, a fan who wrote in a Rolling Stone article how disappointed he was when he learned that he had been "fooled" by Ferro since he had believed every single word of his lyrics about women. As a gay person, he should not sing about hetereosexual love, he concluded and added that Ferro should have come out at the beginning of his career instead of betraying his fan(s) (via). "Interesting" reactions like this may add to making coming out more difficult, dear disappointed fan.

image via

Thursday, 25 April 2019

World Malaria Day

The World Health Organization estimates that about half of the world's population is at risk of malaria (via); 90% of malaria cases occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to UNICEF, Malaria kills one child every 30 seconds, in other words, about 3000 children every day. Each year, more than one million people die from malaria. Most of them are children under five years of age. Those who do survive often develop physical and mental impairment. In addition, Malaria is a major cause of poverty and a barrier to children's schooling and social development (via). In the period 2015 to 2017, no significant gains were made in reducing malaria cases (via).

photograph "Central Africa. CAMEROON. Yaounde. The children of Madame Delphine TSANGA, president of the OFUNC and deputy minister of public health and population. Monday 30th March, 1970" by Guy Le Querrec via

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

The Equality Coin

"For the past 50 years and beyond, Canadians have fought for their right to love, marry, start a family and live openly as their most authentic selves. The Equality coin recognizes their triumphs and encourages all of us to build a better, more inclusive Canada – because like the coin itself, the more equality we have in Canada, the richer we all are."
Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre

Yesterday, the Royal Canadian Mint launched a one-dollar coin commemorating fifty years of progress in recognising the human rights of LGBT Canadians. Fifty years ago, homosexuality was decriminalised (via). Some advocates raise concerns about the message pointing out that "it mistakenly suggests equality has been achieved and largely as a result of the federal government's actions" but acknowledge that the coin is "fuelling a public conversation about LGBTQ history" (via).

photographs (London, late 1960s) via and via

Monday, 22 April 2019

Dream Crazier. Nike.

"For 30 years, the “Just Do It” mantra has been a motivational call for athletes nationwide, across all sports, and all levels of play. To celebrate that rich diversity, the second film in the JDI series, “Dream Crazy,” focuses on a collection of stories that represent athletes who are household names and those who should be. The common denominator: All leverage the power of sport to move the world forward.

Along with inspirational pros — LeBron James, Serena Williams, Odell Beckham Jr., Eliud Kipchoge — in this film, you’ll meet incredible athletes: 29-year-old basketball phenom and wheelchair athlete Megan Blunk, who took gold in Rio in 2016; Isaiah Bird, who was born without legs, and at 10 years old has become the one to beat on his wrestling team; Charlie Jabaley — an Ironman who made over his life by dropping 120 pounds, going vegan, and in the process, reversed the growth of a life-long brain tumor; and Michigander Alicia Woollcott, who simultaneously played linebacker and was named homecoming queen during her high school senior season. (...)

Narrated by Colin Kaepernick, “Dream Crazy” provides encouragement to everyone who has crazy dreams and goals that may seem unsurmountable."

image via

Saturday, 20 April 2019

The -ism Series (32) : Human Expansionism

"We have suggested that one of Star Trek's most central concerns is the question of how to define humanity. This is a double-edged project: on the one hand it is staged through the use of non-humans species who are designed to function as a foil against which human qualities become more apparent. On the other hand, these non-humans species themselves end up being progressively 'humanised'. (...)"

The tradition of what we might call a form of human expansionism - whithin Star Trek's own value system - tends to take it for granted that it is better to be human. One strategy here is for the alien beings to become progressively humanised - they are introduced as 'the other' and become steadily incorporated within a human value system."
(Barrett & Barrett, 2017)

At the same time, however, the Starfleet's Prime Directive is that "No starship may interfere with the normal development of any alien life or society" (via). In other words, human expansionism needs to be distinguished from colonisation. In addition, Star Trek may "unwittingly impart an unwarranted sense of anthropocentrism" when having "bilaterally symmetrical bipedal humanoids" playing aliens only because it is both easier and cheaper to make up actors as aliens instead of creating aliens (via). To me, Star Trek has never been about creating visually impressive alien beings. It is about the stories these alien cultures tell, their problems, their progress, and Roddenberry's vision of an inclusive society.

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- Barrett, M. & Barrett, D. (2017). Star Trek. The Human Frontier. London & New York: Routledge
- image via

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Quoting Vanessa Redgrave

"A conservative frame of mind is very limiting for an actor, and a human being, too."
Vanessa Redgrave

"Nothing I do is political. Nothing. I campaign for human rights based on human rights law. That for me is the be all and end all."
Vanessa Redgrave

"I was surprised when I was asked to play Miss Daisy and wondered if I could – only in part because she was Jewish but, also because she was a Southern woman who has hardly opened her mouth before she declares she's not prejudiced, and yet everything she does shows how totally prejudiced she is."
Vanessa Redgrave

"Politics is about divisions. Wherever you come in on the subject, there are divisions."
Vanessa Redgrave

"I've identified all my life with refugees."
Vanessa Redgrave

"I've been working for refugees for years and years and years."
Vanessa Redgrave

"I think everybody, including myself, are in danger of losing our humanity."
Vanessa Redgrave

photographs by Bert Stern (1967) via and via and via and via

Thursday, 11 April 2019

World Parkinson's Day

"Bob Hoskins's diagnosis is a reminder of how little we know about Parkinson's."
Jane Hill

More men than women are diagnosed with Parkinson's. When women develop Parkinson's, the age of onset is, on average, two years later than in men. There are also differences concerning the symptoms with, e.g., women showing a tendency to experience a higher rate of depression (via) and dyskinesias than men while rigidity and rapid eye movement behaviour disorder appear in men more often than women (Miller & Cronin-Golomb, 2010). Generally, symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, fumblingness, fatigue, sleep and writing problems are reported by men and women. In a study, women mentioned neck-pain and low back pain more often then men while men had to cope with writing difficulties, fumblingness, gait problems, speech problems, and lack of initiative more often. About 30% did not report having tremor and rigidity (Scott et al., 2000).

::: More: Parkinson's UK
::: More: Parkinson's Foundation

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- Miller, I. N. & Cronin-Golomb, A. (2010). Gender Differences in Parkinson's Disease: Clinical Characteristics and Cognition. Movement Disordorders, 25(16), 2695-2703.
- Scott, B., Borgman, A., Engler, H., Johnels, B. & Aquilonius, S.M. (2000). Gender differences in Parkinson's disease symptom profile. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, 102(1), 37-43.
- photograph of Bob Hoskins (1942-2014) and Michael Caine via

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Not the Nine O'Clock News | Conservative Conference Speech

Not the Nine O'Clock News was broadcast on BBC 2 from 1979 to 1982 launching the career of Rowan Sebastian Atkinson and others (via).

"Our right honourable leader… and Denis. My, lords, ladies, fellow party workers, I am a golfer! [applause] But I am also a Conservative and the Conservatives are back in power! What a wonderful word! But with a new initiative and most of all, a new style. And we are mostly concerned with two main issues.
Firstly, immigration. Now, people really do get this party wrong on this issue every time, don't they? We don't think immigrants are animals, for god's sake! I know a lot of immigrants personally and they're perfectly nice people. They're black, of course, which is a shame. But honestly, some of them can do some jobs almost as well as white people... and we acknowledge this.
Now, a lot of immigrants are Indians and Pakistanis for instance, and... I like curry, I do! But now that we've got the recipe, is there really any need for them to stay? Conservatives understand these problems, you see.

Like we understand young criminals, another very emotive issue. This party feels that we've been just a little too soft on these... bastards. Mr. Whitelaw has spoken of the short sharp shock treatment, and his introduction of the 24,000V electric chair to Home Office detention centres begins next week... on a purely experimental basis, of course. If it doesn't work? Then of course we will be more than prepared to revert to old liberal wishy-washy socialist n***er-loving red left-wing homosexual commie ways of the recent past. But please, let's have a chance! It may be a tough road, we know, but don't forget, it is easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a camel to… [pause] ...than it is, for a camel to." (via)

"We all enjoy a great British curry, but what we want are curry chefs trained here in Britain so we’re providing jobs for people here in this country, and that’s what our immigration controls provide."
George Gideon Oliver Osborne (British Conservative Party politician) in 2016

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photographs via and via