Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr. (1943-1993)

Arthur Ashe started playing tennis when he was six years old on a segregated playground adjacent to his home in Virginia. In 1958, he became the first black US-American to play in the Maryland boys' championships which was also his first integrated tennis competition. Later, he became the first black tennis player selected to the United Statis Davis Cup team and the first and only black man to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the Australian Open, and the US Open (via and via).

"In actuality, Arthur Ashe was a trailblazer for African American males in tennis every time he succeeded on the court, in much the same fashion as Althea Gibson had for African American females some 10 years earlier. The relevance of these accomplishments was not lost on Ashe. His determination to succeed despite being an outcast in a historically white sport was put to an even greater test in 1969. 

In a year (1969), when he was basking in the international fame, he had gained the previous year after winning the US Open and playing a key role on the United States winning Davis Cup team, two separate issues came to the forefront and helped shape Arthur the activist, a role he never ran from throughout his life if he believed in the cause. At a time when tennis’ popularity was growing by leaps and bounds, the amount of prize money being offered to the players, the “drawing cards,” was lagging disproportionately behind. Ashe and several other players formed in 1969, what later became known as the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals). It is from this small and visionary beginning that today’s top players enjoy the large sums of prize money for which they compete. Later that year, as the #1-ranked American and one of the best players in the world, Arthur applied for a visa to play in the South African Open, a prestigious event. His visa was denied because of the color of his skin. Though Arthur was well aware that this would probably be the case, he decided to take a bold stand. His call for expulsion from South Africa from the tennis tour and Davis Cup play was quickly supported by numerous prominent individuals and organizations, both in and out of the tennis world. In effect, he raised the world’s awareness to the oppressive form of government (apartheid) of South Africa. Buoyed by Arthur Ashe’s initial efforts, blacks in South Africa slowly but surely began to see change come about in their country." (via)

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photograph via 

Monday, 26 September 2022

"I am not a black artist." Jean-Michel Basquiat

"I am not a black artist, I am an artist."
Jean-Michel Basquiat 

"The black person is the protagonist in most of my paintings. I realized that I didn't see many paintings with black people in them."

It was lonely, he was lonely, the only black man in the room, his prodigy status like that of a toy. “They’re just racist, most of those people,” he’s quoted as saying in Dieter Buchhart’s Now’s the Time (Prestel). “So they have this image of me: wild man running – you know, wild monkey man, whatever the fuck they think.” (literally via The Guardian)

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photographs via and via

Sunday, 25 September 2022

Saturday, 24 September 2022

The Mobile Gender Gap Report

According to the 2020 findings of the Mobile Gender Gap Report, in low- and middle-income countries...
... men and women report that mobile provides crucial benefits, that mobile ownership makes them feel safer and gives them access to information needed and otherwise not available or accessible.

... there is a significant gender gap in smartphone ownership. In low- and middle-income countries, women are 20% less likely than men to own a smartphone. Women are less likely to acquire a smartphone but stress their intention to get one.

... 300 million fewer women access the internet on a mobile phone.
... the gender gap is narrowing (27% in 2017 vs 20% in 2020) and progress is made in some regions.
... the main barriers for both men and women are affordability, lack of literacy and digital skills.

- GSM Association (2020). The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020, via
- photographs (Grey Villet, LIFE, 1956) via

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Spaghetti Italienne

(...) Italians arived in an America that was at best ambiguous about their food habits. On the one hand, in the 1890s the eating habits of wealthier Americans were being influenced by the latest trends in England, whose fancy hotels and country-house kitchens were again being invaded by "Contintental" chefs, usually bearing recipes from French haute cuisine. Upper-class American hotels, restaurants, and clubs shifted away from the overwhelmingly "American" and English dishes and meals that had previously characterized their menus. By the turn of the century "Spaghetti Italienne" had joined the extensive choice of American and French items. It was usually served as one of the first courses, along with or instead of chicken livers, sweetbreas, or other relatively light items. But the Italian invasion of elite dining rooms at around this time appears to have halte with spaghetti.

(...) the fact that the character of Italian immigration into America had changed markedly in the previous twenty years must also have discouraged thoughts of popularizing Italian food among the upper crust. Before 1880 the relatively few Italian immigrants to America had often been skille people from the north of Italy who were relatively acceptable by native-born White Anglo-Saxon Protestant standards. By 1901, however, as the deluge of unskilled and poverty-stricken immigrants from the Mezzogiorno struck America's cities, Italy no longer merely connoted Rennaissance palaces and happy gondoliers on the native-born mind. More immediate were images of swarthy immigrants in teeming tenements: sewer diggers, railroad navvies, crime, violence, and the dreaded cutthroats of the "Black Hand." Spaghetti could stay on the menu, but only as "Italienne", the French spelling bringing some reassurance that the original Italian dish had been civilized and purified in French hands. (Levenstein, 1985:77)

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- Levenstein, H. (1985). The American Response to Italian Food, 1880-1930. Food and Foodways, 75-90.
- photograph via

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Quoting Queen Elizabeth II

“Religion and culture are much in the news these days, usually as sources of difference and conflict, rather than for bringing people together. But the irony is that every religion has something to say about tolerance and respecting others.”
Queen Elizabeth II

“We may hold different points of view but it is in times of stress and difficulty that we most need to remember that we have much more in common than there is dividing us.”

photographs via and via

Friday, 26 August 2022

Mr Chomsky, how does one become an activist?

"The easy answer would be to say that we do not become activists; we simply forget that we are. We are all born with compassion, generosity, and love for others inside us. We are all moved by injustice and discrimination. We are all, inside, concerned human beings. We all want to give more than to receive. We all want to live in a world where solidarity and companionship are more important values than individualism and selfishness. We all want to share beautiful things; experience joy, laughter, love; and experiment, together."

photograph of Noam Chomsky via

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Venster Kykers

Apartheid meant that socialising with somebody with a darker skin tone could turn your skin dark...

"There are in South Africa many thousands of people who cannot be classified according to a rigid system of racial identification. . . The lightest-coloured members of these ["border-line"] families often "passed "as whites and went to live in separate homes. Their darker relatives have been referred to as "Venster-Kykers" ["window lookers"] because, in order not to embarrass those who had "passed," they made a practice of looking studiously into shop windows in order to avoid greetings should they happen to meet on the streets." (Horrell, 1958:4, cited in Bowker & Star, 1999)

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photograph (waitress, Bezuidenhout Park, 1973; MCA/Goodman Gallery) by David Goldblatt via

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Awkward Puppets: Car Talk

"So, where do you wanna eat?"
"Let me guess, let me guess.
  Taco Bell.
"Where do you wanna eat?

"So, what is it like mowing my lawn all day?"
"I don't know. What is it like eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all day?"

::: Awkward Puppets, Car Talk: WATCH

image via

Monday, 1 August 2022

Asking Nichelle Nichols about the Phenomenon of Very Excitable Fandom

First, it was a first. Now, there are all kinds of conventions that celebrate their favorites, but this was the first. And so it was very, very different. And it was very honorable, you know? They loved the show. They got it. They got that Gene Roddenberry created something in the future that "today" -- 1966 -- dispelled all the racism, all the ... Dr. King was marching, every day you'd look on the TV and people are having hoses and dogs [used on them] because they wanted to eat at a fountain -- though they wanted more than that. 

And Dr. King was the person who was guiding that. And Gene was the person who was announcing that not only was this going to succeed, but it already has, because when the 23rd century [arrives], see, there's Nichelle, there's Uhura, in the 23rd century, communication officer, fourth in command. So it didn't just start in the 23rd century. It started from what you're seeing on television every day. Men and women of the future are here now. 

[And the fans] got it. I'll just tell you one of the most important things that someone said who was white. He said, "When discrimination, when racial discrimination was outlawed, black people weren't the only people who were freed. We were freed, too. We were freed to care, we were freed to think and not be bound by racism, and protocol, and what our parents think." Because a lot of parents didn't want their kids looking at Star Trek.

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image via

Saturday, 30 July 2022

Awkward Puppets: Racist Workout

"Hey Siri, play a workout video on YouTube."
"Playing hispanic music on YouTube."
"No, I said workout video."
"Googling how to make guacamole."
"I said workout video."
"Searching nearby Mexican food."

::: Awkward Puppets, Racist Workout: WATCH

The YouTube series "Awkward Puppets" was created by Rudolfo Mancuso in 2015. Diego is the main character (and played by Mancuso), Benita is his non-beloved wife, Sarah a racist feminist, Sam is Diego's friend, Twon a police officer, and there are the twins Carl & Carl (via).

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image via

Friday, 29 July 2022

Ukraine (2020): Elderly Lives Frozen by Conflict. By Paula Bronstein.

"Ukraine has the world’s highest proportion of elderly affected by war. The ongoing conflict has a staggering human toll on the elderly. 3.4 million people depend on humanitarian assistance, and one third of those people are over 60 years old. 
In 2014, many young people left when violence broke out, while the elderly stayed behind, just barely surviving.

Ukraine’s elderly are trapped in a war zone, listening to the occasional bursts of shelling near the line of contact separating the Ukrainian government forces and the Russia-backed rebel forces. For pensioners who have exhausted their resources, economic difficulties add to the stress of daily life. 

Recent government measures led to hundreds of thousands of elderly losing their pensions (their only financial security). Caught in this bureaucratic nightmare, the elderly are forced to travel across eastern Ukraine, waiting in long lines to collect their pensions. Often reluctant to leave their homes and the last to flee from danger, they are left abandoned without resources of family care.

As a photojournalist for three decades, I examine under-reported human, economic and political issues to expose silent victims of conflict in a variety of war-torn countries. This series focuses on the vulnerable, fragile, elderly population in Ukraine that is frozen by conflict; trapped in a war, impoverished, and abandoned to survive in dilapidated homes."
Paula Bronstein, photographer

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photographs and (c) by Paula Bronstein via and via and via

Monday, 25 July 2022

Time Banks and the Caring Currency

Fureai Kippu is the (inflation-free since credits are units of time) caring currency in Japan, obtained by those who take care of the elderly, spent by them when they are in need of care. Part of the inspiration came from Teruko Mizushima who launched the Volunteer Labour Bank in 1973. The premise of her programme: A "woman's autonomy fluctuates during ther lifetime." When childbearing and childrearing, she needs to borrow time from others while in later motherhood, she might have additional time. Mizushima proposed a system of depositing and withdrawing these resources (Sugiyama Lebra, 1984).

Time banking is a concept based on reciprocity that ensures providing and receiving services in a community. It creates social interaction and (re)connection to communities and by doing so helps maintain physical and mental health, makes sure that vulnerable and isolated elderly people can be reached, provides active life in retirement, reduces costs of the health care system. Regions or cities for instance in Japan, China, Taiwan, Switzerland, and the United States have already introduced it.

Retired persons volunteering provide a few hours of service to help the elderly which ranges from accompanying them to hospital, dog-walking to bringing meals.  All services are equally valued (Valor & Papaoikonomou, 2016). By volunteering, people earn and bank in the hours of credit which can later - when old - be used to purchase services from others. In other words, time is banked and used when needed (Ng & Fong, 2019). This approach means contributing to the "Big Society" with an ageing population (Harashi, 2012), contributing to the well-being and empowerment of the community. Time banks are social innovation (Valor & Papaoikonomou, 2016) and might change the image of older persons (Sultana & Locoro, 2016).

In Hong Kong, time banks are changing society from a recipient to a participant one. In 2017, a welfare counciel launched a three-year-banking project in one of the districts aiming to promote elderly to support each other and to improve relationships with neighbours (Ng & Fong, 2019). It developed globally in the 1980s and in the UK in the late 1990s (Gregory, 2014). In the past years, more and more time banks emerged in Spain (Valor & Papaoikonomou, 2016). 

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- Gregory, L. (2014). Resilience or Resistance) Time Banking in the Age of Austerity. Political Science Journal of Contemporary European Studies, link
- Harashi, M. (2012). Japan's Fureai Kippu Time-banking in Elderly Care: Origins, Development, Challenges and Impact. Political Science, link
- Ng, T., Yim, N. & Fong, B. (2019). Time banking for elderly in Hong Kong : current practice and challenges. CAHMR Working Paper Series 2(1).
- Sugiyama Lebra, T. (1984). Japanese Women. Constraint and Fulfillment. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
- Sultana, T. & Locoro, A  (2016). No More Throw-away 'Elderly' People: Building a New Image of Ageing via a Time Accounting System. In Markus Garschall, Theo Hamm, Dominik Hornung, Claudia Müller, Katja Neureiter, Marén Schorch, Lex van Velsen (Eds.), International Reports on Socio-Informatics (IRSI), Proceedings of the COOP 2016 - Symposium on challenges and experiences in designing for an ageing society. (Vol. 13, Iss. 3, pp. 35-42), link
- Valor, C. & Papaoikonomou, E. (2016). Time Banking in Spain. Exploring their Structure, Management and Users' Profile. Revista Internacional de Sociologia RIS, 74(1), link
- photograph by Dorothea Lange via

    Monday, 18 July 2022

    Single Fathers: A Growing and Neglected Population

    The number of single-parent families is rising and most of them are headed by single mothers. Nevertheless, single fathers represent a sizeable proportion and are both a growing population and largely understudied since research on single parenthood mostly focuses on single mothers, their greater risk of mortality, poorer self-rated (mental) health and lower socio-economic status. "What do we know about these fathers, and their health and wellbeing? Alarmingly, the answer is: not very much."

    40.000 people (single and partnered fathers, single and parthnered mothers) took part in the Canadian Community Health Survey. Single fathers - after a median follow-up of eleven years - were more likely to die than single or partnered mothers or partnered fathers. Their mortality risk was more than two times higher than other parents'. Single fathers were also more likely to lead unhealthy lifestyles (eating fruit and vegetables, binge drinking).
    Interestingly, the study could not determine the leading cause of death. This might partly be due to the fact that there are differences in the pathways leading to single parenthood. Single fathers, for instance, were more likely to be separated, divorced or widowed compared to single mothers. The latter could point to grief and a specific stress exposure. Gender stereotypes, stigma and social support usually more availabe for single mothers may be further factors. 
    We need to take single fatherhood much more seriously as a public health issue. Understanding the way families have evolved and are likely to evolve is crucial to meet their needs and for policy planning. Families do not exist in a vacuum. They depend on the social and economic environments around them. Issues of isolation (real or perceived) and grief may be as important for health as traditional risk factors. We need to ensure that there is better community and social support for single fathers. Social and life circumstances of single parents are crucial to getting the fuller picture of their health. (via)        
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    - Editorial (2018). Single fathers: neglected, growing, and important. The Lancet, 3(3), link
    - photograph of Robert Redford with his daughter Shauna, 1969 via

    Friday, 15 July 2022

    The City Without Jews

    "The City Without Jews" (1924) is a satire about "a terrible possibility that became horribly real" some years after being published, a film about anti-Semitism foreshadowing nazism and one of the "most prophetic, provocative films of the 20th century". The book was written by Hugo Bettauer (1872-1925), a Jewish Austrian labelled an "Asphaltliterat", a term Joseph Goebbels used during the book burning in 1933 to refer to literature that was considered to be too urban and not patriotic enough. In 1925, the Nazi Otto Rothstock (1904-1990) shot Bettauer five times. Bettauer died sixteen days later as a result of the shooting and Rothstock, who defended the assassination as a patriotic attempt to protect so-called German culture from the menace of "degeneration", spent a few months in prison and less than two years in a psychiatric clinic before being released. In 1977, Rothstock boasted in an interview of being responsible for Bettauer's "extinction". 

    Hans Karl Breslauer (1888-1965) directed the film and changed some parts of the book. For instance, Vienna became Utopia aiming to avoid problems with censorship.

    The movie is about a city resembling Vienna in which failing economy leads to rising anti-Semitism and the Jewish population being scapegoated. Finally, a law based on fear, prejudice and populist rhetoric is passed expelling all Jews from the city. Only a decade later, the Third Reich turned this fiction into haunting fact and atrociously killed millions of children, men and women (via and via and via).

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    photograph of Hans Moser via

    Tuesday, 12 July 2022

    Bird Names for Birds

    "Bird Names for Birds" is an initiative launched in 2020 to change names of birds named after people "because birds don't need eponymous or honorific common names". The initiative knows that it "will not end racism" but sees itself as "one step" to raise awareness. Some examples...

    Long-tailed Duck
    The prior name of this bird was “Oldsquaw” – a derogatory and offensive name that references a certain sound made by a group of elderly Indigenous groups chattering. A proposal outlining this issue and reasons supporting a new name for the bird was accepted, however the reasoning for the name change was due to conservation implications and explicitly stated that inclusion reasons were not the motivating principle. (literally via)

    McCown's Longspur (rejected proposal)
    John P. McCown accidentally collected the longspur while out shooting birds. He was not an ornithologist and is given the note of being the first to collect a specimen due to known dates of notes. It was George N. Lawrence who formally named the bird after McCown. While Lawrence named this bird intentionally for the first person to collect a specimen, he also unintentionally named this bird “…after a man who fought for years to maintain the right to keep slaves, and also fought against multiple Native tribes.” As stated in the proposal, “John P. McCown, previously of the U.S. Army, joined the Confederacy and fought for the right of states to preserve slavery. He was not a minor participant in the war, but a mainstay; he participated in an array of campaigns and led men into battle. Although John P. McCown did not join the Confederacy until after his name was attached to the longspur, he likely held views of slavery consistent with his decision to join the Confederacy. With the United States general public increasingly embracing our diversity and confronting public displays of the Confederacy, such as flying Confederate flags, using Confederate general street names, and maintaining statues to Confederate soldiers, it is appropriate for the AOS to address its own piece of Confederate history, John P. McCown of McCown’s Longspur.” (literally via)

    Bachmann's Sparow
    At first read, the life of the Reverend John Bachman (1790-1874) seems quite admirable. An ordained minister who spent 56 years serving his flock at St. John’s Lutheran in Charleston, South Carolina, he had a passion for science and natural history. He was regarded by some in the South as radical for ministering to enslaved people, and for his argument that all humans were the same, unified species, rather than separate. He was elected as an Associate Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1845, and corresponded with many of the other leading naturalists and scientists of his day.

    But this seemingly progressive outlook is only surface level. The reverend may have been a proponent of the unity of humanity in a single species; he was certainly, however, not a proponent of equality among it. A slave-owner himself, he saw no issue with holding fellow humans in bondage, even as he acknowledged their humanity. He vigorously denied that a belief in the oneness of humanity necessitated becoming an abolitionist, and sought to provide both scientific and religious reasoning for slavery within his framework:
    “We are induced yet to offer a few remarks on the bearing of the doctrine of the Unity of the Human Race on the domestic institutions and vital interest of the South…those who have supported the doctrine of Unity, have sometimes been stigmatized as Abolitionists and enemies of the South…[t]he following are our views: That all the races of men, including the negro, are of one species and of one origin. That the negro is a striking and now permanent variety, like the numerous permanent varieties in domesticated animals. That varieties having become permanent, possess an organization that prevents them from returning to the original species, although other varieties may spring up among them. Thus the many breeds of domesticated animals that have arisen, some only within a few years, would never return to the form of the wild species, without an intermixture. That the negro will remain as he is, unless his form is changed by an amalgamation, which latter is revolting to us. That his intellect, although underrated, is greatly inferior to that of the Caucasian, and that he is, therefore, as far as our experience goes, incapable of self-government. That he is thrown to our protection. That our defense of slavery is contained within the Holy Scriptures. That the Scriptures teach the rights and duties of masters to rule their servants with justice and kindness, and enjoin the obedience of servants.” (literally via)
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    photograph of Audrey Hepburn by Terry o'Neill via and via

    Wednesday, 6 July 2022

    Nine Years. Nine.

    Nine years and still so much to write about. Nine years and so happy that you are there, still interested in diversity and its beauty. Nine years, 9.992 followers, 13.558.835 views, 1.330 blog postings... Thank you so much for following, commenting, sharing your thoughts, for just dropping by. And, nine hugs from a distance. Andand, it is written on the sunny sky with nine clouds seen from this very pool with more than nine ladies that there shall be at least another nine years "Diversity is beautiful". Thank you again.

    photograph via

    Sunday, 3 July 2022

    Chuck Berry is Black

    "You’re trying to say, ‘Is Chuck Berry black or white?’ Well, I’ll tell you, Chuck Berry is black, and he’s beautiful."

    “When I first heard Chuck Berry. I didn’t consider that he was black. I thought he was a white hillbilly. Little did I know he was a great poet too." Dylan, 2015
    "I mean, people that never seen it, after the record come out and such a big hit and we went on this tour, not knowing — you know, never seeing a picture or nothing of Chuck, they mistook it that Chuck was white. And we would walk out on the stage, there'd be a lot of ohs and aahs and whatever because he's a black man playing hillbilly music." (via)
    The song "Maybellene" had sort of melded the black and white identity and made listeners believe Chuck Berry was white. Berry, despite being popular, did not always make it as far as the stage. One night early in his career in Knoxville, Tennessee, he was turned away by the club's manager who was shocked to see his skin tone and explained: "It's a country dance, and we had no idea that 'Maybellene' was recorded by a Negro man." Letting Berry perform would be against a city ordinance, he continued. So Berry listened to a white replacement band playing his music (via and via).

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    photograph via

    Wednesday, 29 June 2022

    World Industrial Design Day

    "World Industrial Design Day 2022 marks the 65th anniversary of WDO Organization (formerly known as the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design – Icsid). This year, as we reflect on more than six decades of championing design for a better world, we are celebrating the theme of leadership and the many ways in which designers are leading the charge towards a better future." (via) This also includes "inclusive design leadership" and "women in design leadership", talks that will be part of the programme (programme).

    One of the core values: 
    "We respect, embrace and leverage different perspectives/diversity among our members, community and staff." (via)

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    photograph (Gelbes Herz by Haus Rucker Co) via

    Monday, 27 June 2022

    Anonymous Women. By Patty Carroll.

    Patty Carroll is a photographer based in Chicago, known for her "highly intense, saturated" colour photographs for decades. Her impressive project "Anonymous Women" is a series (heads, reconstructed, demise, draped) that addresses "women and their complicated relationships with domesticity". Carroll turns situations into hide-and-seek between the viewer and the Anonymous Woman by camouflaging the latter (via).

    Series "Heads":
    "This intial series of Anonymous Women began when husband and I moved to London for a few years, and I was having a very hard time adjusting to British society. As a photographer and educator I use my maiden name, but in England no one knew me professionally and I was addressed as Mrs. Jones. It made me acutely aware that in more traditional societies, most women are still seen through the lens of their domestic status. It was a situation that led to a small identity crisis. My response was to begin a series of photographs depicting a female model whose identity was hidden behind various domestic objects. These were ‘unportraits’ – about being unseen. This anonymous woman represented the situation in which very many women find themselves." Patty Carroll

    Series "Demise":
    "I construct narrative, still-life photographs that are imagined interior rooms engulfing the lone figure of a woman. Home is a metaphor for the internal life of women; their worries, desires and interior dialogue. The “stage”sets are full size, using household furniture and objects that combine reality with fictional possibilities. As we have been confined to our homes during the pandemic, the overwhelming experience of being “at home” has new meaning and importance for almost everyone. Home is not only a place for comfort and safety, but the central locus of work and play, and where psychodramas of life are experienced." Patty Carroll

    Series "Draped": link
    Series "Reconstructed": link

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    photographs by Patty Carroll via and via and via and via and via 

    Sunday, 26 June 2022

    Cross-cultural perspectives on music and musicality

    Abstract: Musical behaviours are universal across human populations and, at the same time, highly diverse in their structures, roles and cultural interpretations. Although laboratory studies of isolated listeners and music-makers have yielded important insights into sensorimotor and cognitive skills and their neural underpinnings, they have revealed little about the broader significance of music for individuals, peer groups and communities. This review presents a sampling of musical forms and coordinated musical activity across cultures, with the aim of highlighting key similarities and differences... 


    ...The focus is on scholarly and everyday ideas about music—what it is and where it originates—as well the antiquity of music and the contribution of musical behaviour to ritual activity, social organization, caregiving and group cohesion. Synchronous arousal, action synchrony and imitative behaviours are among the means by which music facilitates social bonding. The commonalities and differences in musical forms and functions across cultures suggest new directions for ethnomusicology, music cognition and neuroscience, and a pivot away from the predominant scientific focus on instrumental music in the Western European tradition. (Trehub, Becker & Morley, 2015)

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    - Trehub, S. E., Becker, J. & Morley, I. (2015). Cross-cultural perspectives on music and musicality. Philos Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, Biol Sciences, 370, full text: link
    - photograph of George Harrison via

    Friday, 24 June 2022

    J'accuse. By Emile Zola.

    French novelist and journalist Émile Zola (1840-1902) reacted to the Dreyfus affair (Zola called it "the most preposterous of soap operas") by publishing an open letter to the president entitled "J'accuse".  In the letter, which ran on the front page of the newspaper "L'aurore", he accused the army of conspiring to convict Dreyfus using the public's anti-Semitism. 200.000 copies of the newspaper were sold in Paris alone, Zola was convicted for libel (via).       


    Letter to Mr. Félix Faure,
    President of the Republic 

    Mister President,
    Allow me, in my gratitude for the kind welcome you once gave me, to be concerned about your just glory and to tell you that your star, so happy so far, is threatened with the most shameful, the most indelible stain? You came out safe and sound from slander, you won hearts. You appear radiant in the apotheosis of this patriotic celebration that the Russian alliance has been for France, and you are preparing to preside over the solemn triumph of our Universal Exhibition, which will crown our great century of work, truth and freedom. But what a patch of mud on your name - I was going to say on your reign - that this abominable Dreyfus affair! A council of war has just, by order, dared to acquit an Esterhazy, the supreme bellows of all truth, of all justice. And it's over, France has this stain on its cheek, history will write that it was under your presidency that such a social crime could have been committed. Since they dared, I will also dare. The truth, I will say it, because I promised to say it, if justice, regularly seized, did not do it, full and whole. My duty is to speak, I don't want to be an accomplice. My nights would be haunted by the specter of the innocent who atones over there, in the most dreadful of tortures, a crime he did not commit. And it is to you, Mr. President, that I will shout it, this truth, with all the strength of my revolt as an honest man. For your honor, I’m sure you don’t know. And to whom will I denounce the harmful peat of the real culprits, if it is not you, the first magistrate of the country?

    (...) O justice, what frightful despair sinks the heart! We go so far as to say that he was the forger, that he fabricated the telegram card to lose Esterhazy. But, great God! Why? What purpose? Give a reason. Is that one also paid for by the Jews? The beauty of the story is that he was justly anti-Semitic. Yes! We are witnessing this infamous spectacle, men lost in debts and crimes whose innocence is proclaimed, while the very honor is struck, a man with a spotless life! When a society is there, it decays. So there you have it, Mr. Speaker, the Esterhazy case: a culprit that was to be found innocent. (...)

    And what a nest of low intrigue, gossip and squandering, has become this sacred asylum, where the fate of the fatherland is decided! We are horrified by the terrible day that the Dreyfus affair has just thrown into it, this human sacrifice of an unfortunate, a "dirty Jew"! Ah! all that has been agitated there about insanity and foolishness, crazy imaginations, practices of low police, mores of inquisition and tyranny, the good pleasure of some braided men putting their boots on the nation, entering it in the throat his cry of truth and justice, under the pretext liar and sacrilege of reason of State! And it is still a crime to have relied on the filthy press, to have allowed oneself to be defended by all the scoundrel of Paris, so that this is the scoundrel who triumphs insolently, in the defeat of law and simple probity. It is a crime to have accused of disturbing France those who want it generous, at the head of free and just nations, when one plots the impudent conspiracy to impose error, before the whole world . It is a crime to mislead public opinion, to use this opinion which has been perverted to the point of delirium for a death task. It is a crime to poison the small and the humble, to exasperate the passions of reaction and intolerance, by sheltering behind the odious anti-Semitism, of which the great liberal France of human rights will die, if she is not cured of it. It is a crime to exploit patriotism for works of hate, and it is a crime, finally, to make the saber the modern god, when all human science is at work for the next work of truth and justice. (...) I have said it elsewhere, and I repeat it here: when we shut up the truth underground, it accumulates there, it takes on such a force of explosion that, the day it bursts, it blows everything up with she. we’ll see if we don’t just prepare for the most resounding disasters for later. (...)

    I have only one passion, that of light, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and which has the right to happiness. My fiery protest is only the cry of my soul. So dare you put me on trial and let the investigation take place! I wait. Please accept, Mr. President, the assurance of my deep respect. 

    ::: link to complete letter: LINK

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    photograph via

    Saturday, 18 June 2022

    Asian American Media Representation: Emasculate, Timid, Nerdy

    Abstract: While the number of Asian Americans in the U.S. continues to grow and media use increases, misrepresentations of this group remain common in U.S. films. Examining representation of Asian Americans in the media is important because media can positively and negatively impact identity development, which is a fundamental cognitive, social, and developmental task related to understanding one’s place in the social world. Misrepresentations can also shape intergroup interactions by influencing how out-group members view and interact with Asian Americans. 


    This study investigated representations of Asian Americans in the media through a film analysis. Observations of the film analysis focused on identifying the presence of representation that either resisted or confirmed stereotypes portrayed by Asian characters in films over the past 25 years. Data were collected on the frequency and type of role (e.g., lead vs. supporting character), characteristics displayed, and the content of dialogue by Asian characters in the films. Results suggested that the frequency of lead roles increased over the last 25 years, with more diverse genres emerging in recent years. Stereotype-resisting representations were present (e.g., brave, loyal, mischievous), especially in more recent films. However, stereotype-confirming representations remained prevalent (e.g., emasculate, timid, nerdy), which affirms the historic trend of misrepresentation of Asian Americans in film. The discussion centers on how Asian American representations in media may affect identity development in Asian American adolescents and young adults and influence intergroup interactions. The authors conclude with recommendations for future research and implications for practice.

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    - Besana, T., Katsiaficas, D. & Loyd, A. B. (2020). Asian American Media Representation: A Film Analysis and Implications for Identity Development. Research in Human Development, 16 (3-4), 201-225, abstract
    - photograph by Dorothea Lange via

    Friday, 17 June 2022

    World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

    According to a report published by the United Nations, women - who account for about half of agricultural employment across low-income countries - are more susceptible than men to negative consequences of desertification and drought ... the very reason: sexism. 

    A lack of land rights (in more than 100 countries, women are denied the right to inherit property belonging to their husbands) and social equity bars women fom accessing capital, training and assistance which in turn makes or keeps them powerless. Often, they are not recognised as farmers due to gender norms. The lack of recognition keeps them from having access to protection against climate-related damages (e.g. access to information: climate forecasts are often shared in meetings women cannot attend). Women struggle to secure loans and credit to recover from these damages particularly if they have no land titles or assets. Having no financial resources and no technology also mean that there is no adaptation to sustainable land management practices to prevent further climate damages. Despite playing a vital role in the global food system, women's contribution is often unrecognised and unpaid (via).

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    photograph of a Dust Bowl refugee taken by Dorothea Lange ("A mother in California who with her husband and her two children will be returned to Oklahoma by the Relief Administration. This family had lost a two-year-old baby during the winter as a result of exposure.") via, caption via

    Thursday, 16 June 2022

    "John Rennon's Excrusive Gloupie"

    She is known as an artist but - perhaps even more - as the woman who broke up the Beatles:. In an interview, Ono offers a different perspective: “I was used as a scapegoat, a very easy scapegoat. You know, a Japanese woman and whatever.”
    “You think some of it was sexism, racism?” 
    “Sexism, racism. But also just remember that the United States and Britain were fighting with Japan in World War II. It was just after that in a way so I can understand how they felt.” (via). An Esquire magazine article published in 1970 used racist language to mock her accent and called her "John Rennon's Excrusive Gloupie".


    photograph of Yoko Ono via

    Wednesday, 15 June 2022

    Falling Over versus Having a Fall

    In her article written for The Guardian, Zoe Williams describes the different terminology used for identical incidents, differences that are based on age (and ageism) alone and what impact language has on her stepmother's feelings.

    "It’s the terminology that’s getting her down. When a young person falls over, they “fell over”, or more commonly “FOWT” (fell over while texting). Over 70 and you’ve “had a fall”. The nurses audibly describe patients as “breakfasted” when they have had breakfast, she says. It sounds quite cute, though, doesn’t it? A bit bucolic, as if they are little lambs. Nope, apparently this is not cute. She used to hate the word “sprightly”, but now it’s been so rudely, suddenly excised from her CV that she has changed her mind. Someone in her notes calls her “quite alert for her age”. I find this difficult to believe – call her “quite alert” if you like, doc, but I’d love to see you try to give her the wrong change."
    Zoe Williams

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    photograph by Jane Brown via

    Tuesday, 14 June 2022

    At the silky tones of my rich and comfortable aunt

    "I think I knew first what side I was on when I was about five years old, at which time nobody was safe from buffaloes. It was in a brownstone house in New York, and there was a blizzard, and my rich aunt - a horrible woman then and now - had come to visit. I remember going to the window and seeing the street with the men shoveling snow; their hands were purple on their shovels, and their feet were wrapped with burlap. And my aunt, looking over her shoulder, said, "Now isn't this nice that there's this blizzard. Now all those men have work." And I knew that it was not nice that men could work for their lives only in desperate weather, that there was no work for them in fair. That was when I became anti-fascist, at the silky tones of my rich and comfortable aunt."
    Dorothy Parker

    photograph of Dorothy Parker by Richard Avedon (1958) via

    Friday, 10 June 2022

    Ageing, Getting Fatter, More Wrinkles and the Happiness and Freedom that Come with It

    “Ageing brings a lot of happiness. You get fatter and more wrinkles, and that’s not so good, but there is a freedom that comes with it...


    ...The freedom is: I better do what I want to do now, because I’ll be dead soon. So this is my last chance. Also, there’s a serenity that comes – I had the career I had, good or bad, I did the best I could, and now I continue pursuing what is interesting to me.”
    Isabella Rossellini

    photographs via and via

    Thursday, 9 June 2022

    Barbara Beskind: A Smashing Designer Smashing Age Stereotypes

    Barbara Beskind, born in 1924, is a designer and inventor who, in 2013 aged 89, saw David Kelley - the founder of IDEO - on TV and decided to send him a letter because she had the impression that he "accepted, and really respected, people from a varied background" offering her "unique kind of life experience and designing skills".

    "(...) I typed a letter, which might have caught their attention because they don't get many communications by "snail mail"- I have macular degeneration so my eyesight prevents me from using computers.
    Within a week I got a response. They were just starting to design implements that would be helpful to the ageing, and so it was very fortuitous that I arrived at that time.
    They invited me to come in and meet a few people. When we sat down at a table for four in the cafeteria, I thought, "That's very nice but I thought there were going to be a couple more people." What I couldn't see was that behind me people were filing in - about 30-35 designers and engineers. Suddenly, I found myself being introduced as the speaker. I got up and told my story and fielded some very interesting questions.
    After that I became an adviser for equipment and designing products and services for the elderly and the low-vision community.
    Every Thursday I walk three blocks to the train station - I know all the conductors now. I arrive at either the Palo Alto or San Francisco IDEO office around 10:00 and often sit on the same sofa, so that everyone knows where to find me. Word spreads from the front desk and people will arrange appointments with me for ongoing client projects. People will also stop by to talk about what is going on with various projects - it's an extremely collaborative environment.
    I love working in this atmosphere. I may be six or seven decades older than some of the people I'm working with - and many of them have PhDs or masters degrees, which I don't - but I'm accepted as an equal. My voice is respected for what I bring to the table, for my experience, for my insights, and for my inventive, problem-solving nature.
    For example, for one product - still under wraps - they intended to use batteries, but if these batteries are tiny, like the ones for hearing aids, older hands can't manipulate them easily and they drop them or lose them. My point was that it was better to recharge the product at night, when it is not being used.
    No-one can expect, at a young age, to put themselves in the shoes of an elderly person and sense what it's like. Even as close as I am to the issues of the elderly, I have been amazed, and have learned from people whom I live with in my retirement community. I've always said to them, "Come and bring me your ideas of what you need."
    There was a gentleman who came up to me recently and said: "Barbara, I need you to invent something for me - I walk slowly on a walker and I don't hear well, so when somebody comes up behind me and slaps me on the back it scares me to death. What can you do to help me? Maybe something that would be like a mirror?" I thought, "Well, that's a no-brainer." I went to the bicycle shop, got a rear-view mirror, attached it to his walker and he is so happy. (...)
    If you're going to design for the elderly, ask them what they need, don't tell them. We don't need pink canes and jewelled pill boxes, we need functional equipment that makes us more independent, keeps us safe and gives us joy.
    I think the elderly are an untapped resource, whose input should be sought. (...)"
    “The team I worked with at IDEO — all who had master’s degrees and Ph.D.s — was very receptive to having a 90-year-old consult on their designs, and they accepted me as an equal. Their respect and eagerness to have me collaborate with them was tremendously important to me.” 
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    photograph via

    Wednesday, 8 June 2022

    Sleep Sound... Deaf Dancers Moving to the Silence

    “I was on a train listening to music, getting deep into it, and this girl started staring at me, After a while I took my headphones off and she came up to me, started signing and then wrote me a note to say that she was deaf but could almost feel the music by my movement.
    The relationship between silence and music is a big part of what I am trying to express with my work. The first kid in the video, Archie, was bliss - all of them were amazing. I hope this is a project I can develop further.”

    ::: Sleep Sound on YouTube: WATCH

    Inspired by this "chance encounter, Mattioli was asked to create a video for the member of The xx and Grammy-winning producer of Alicia Keys, Gil Scott-Heron and Drake. During the course of one day, she danced with 13 members of the Manchester Deaf Centre with ages ranging from five to 27 years old, who responded to the movement of the artist and the vibrations in the air given off by the song." (Nowness)

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    image via

    Tuesday, 7 June 2022

    Quoting Steve McQueen

    “What I do as an artist is, I think, to do with my own life experience. I came of age in a school which was a microcosm of the world around me. One day, you’re together as a group, the next, you are split up by people who think certain people are better than you. It was kind of interesting to observe that.”
    Was there a stigma attached to that separation? 
    “Oh for f*cking sure. And it was informed by class and race and privilege. Absolutely. No ifs or buts or maybe about it.”
    Steve McQueen

    As a working-class boy growing up in 1980s suburbia, "there were no examples of artists who were like me. When did you ever see a black man doing what I wanted to do?" (Steve McQueen/The Guardian)

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    photograph via

    Monday, 6 June 2022

    Meet me at the Fifteen Seconds Festival...

     ... where I will be holding a workshop on the impact of ageism on design. Title: The Impact of Visual Ageism on Design and Designing for Social Change: Some Very Good Practices and Many Very Bad Practices.

    Content: Design can do many things. It can represent minorities or other them, help develop empathy, raise both awareness and status or perpetuate stereotypes and marginalise, script and mediate social practices… In short: Design has the power to include or exclude groups of people. This workshop focuses on the impact ageism has on design. Ageist stereotypes affect societies, happiness, health, and life expectancy, limit the capacity to make choices about lives. And yet they remain rather unchallenged: surveys suggest no jeans after the age of 53, no twitter if you are 47 or older, we are constantly surrounded by associations such as young and dynamic and constructs like 50plus. Ageing in an ageist society generally means becoming invisible and losing status. The combination of image makers influencing what issues we discuss in a society, of designers – often unconsciously – being driven by negative assumptions and consumers internalising the deficit orientation might explain why there is a design ghetto created for „the old“. However, there are a great many inspirational approaches that successfully focus on asthetics, address issues of dignity, consider the role language plays, empower, and challenge the notion that design need not be sexy when targeting „the old“, approaches that prove: Design can make change.

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    photograph by Joel Meyerowitz via

    Sunday, 5 June 2022

    Italian Children No Longer Automatically Named After Father

    The constitutional court has ruled that Italian children should be given the surnames of both parents (alternatively parents should choose one surname together) and no longer be automatically named after their fathers since this practice was "discriminatory and harmful to the identity" of the child (via).

    photograph by Vivian Maier via

    Saturday, 4 June 2022

    Design Meets Disability (II): On Eyewear and Hearwear.

    ... a follow-up posting with a few more excerpts from the highly interesting chapter "fashion meets discretion" in the highly interesting book "design meets disability" ... excerpts that focus on the development of glasses from "medical necessity" to fashion statement and compare this trend with the status and stigma of hearing aids. Generally, the latter are "developed within a more traditional culture of design for disability". There are, however, some designers celebrating deafness by creating high fashion hearing aids, for instance here and here and here.


    Glasses or spectacles are frequently held up as an exemplar of design for disability. the very fact that mild visual impairment is not commonly considered to be a disability, is taken as a sign o fthe success of eyeglasses. But this has not always been the case: Joanne Lewis has charted their progress from medical product to fashion accessory. In the 1930s in Britain, National Health Service spectacles were classified as medical appliances, and their wearers as patients. It was dictated that "medical products should not be styled." At that time, glasses were considered to cause social humiliation, yet the health service maintained that its glasses should not be "styled" but only "adquate". In the 1970s, the British Government acknowledged the importance of styling, but maintained a medical model for its own National Health Service spectacles in order to limit the demand. In the meantime, a few manufacturers were offering fashionable glasses to consumers who could afford them. As recently as 1991, the design press declared that "eyglasses have become stylish."

    These days, fashionable glasses are available in the shopping mall or on Main Street. It has been reported that up to 20 percent of some brands of glasses are purchased with clear nonprescription lenses, so for these consumers at least wearing glasses has become an aspiration rather than a humiliation. So what lessons does this hold for design and disability? There are several, especially in relationship to the widely held belief that discretion is the ultimate priority in any design for disability. 

    First, glasses do not owe their acceptability to being invisible. Striking fashion frames are somehow less stigmatizing than the National Health Service's supposedly invisible pink plastic glasses prescribed to schoolgirls in the 1960s and 1970s. Attempting camouflage is not the best approach, and there is something undermining about invisibility that fails: a lack of self-confidence that can communicate an implied shame. (...)

    But neither is the opposite true: glasses' acceptability does not come directly from the degree of their visibility either. Brightly colored frames exist, although they are still a minority taste. This might serve as a caution to medical engineering projects that have adopted bright color schmes for medical products "to make a fashion statement" as the automatic progression from making a product flesh-colored. Most spectacle design, and design in general, exists in the middle ground between these two approaches. This requires a far more skilled and subtle approach - one that is less easy to articulate than these extremes. (...) (Pullin, 2009:15-17)

    (...) many fashion labels design and market eyewear collections. Collections, labels, and brands: these words set up different expectations and engagement from consumers. And consumers is a long way from patients or even users. (...)

    Eyewear designers Graham Cutler and Tony Gross have spent thirty years on the front lines of the revolution that turned eyewear "from medical necessity into key fashion accessory." It is interesting to note how recent this revolution was, given how much it is now taken for granted. (...), and their customer base transcends age and occupation. 

    (...) Certainly, fashion designers are rarely part of teams even developing wearable medical products, which is incredible considering the specialist skills they could bring as well as their experience and sensibilities. But if we are serious about emulating the success of spectacle design in other ares, we need to involve fashion designers, inviting them to bring fashion culture with them. 

    hearing aids

    Compare glasses with hearing aids, devices developed within a more traditional culture of design for disability where discretion is still very much seen as the priority. Discretion is achieved through concealment, through a constant technological miniaturization. The evolution of the hearing aid is a succession of invisible devices: objects hidden under the clothing, in the pocket, behind the ear, in the ear, or within the ear. As the hearing aid has grown ever smaller, it has occasionally broken cover only to migrate from one hiding place to another. What has remained the same is the priority of concealment. 

    Such miniaturization has involved amazing technological development, but it is not without a price. (...) hearing aids' performance is still compromised by their small size and (...) they could deliver better quality sound if they weren't so constrained. This is how fundamental the priority of discretion can be. Yet for many hearing-impaired people, their inability to hear clearly is far more socially isolating than the presence of their hearing aid. (...) (Pullin, 2009)

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    - Pullin, G. (2009). design meets disability. Cambridge & London: The MIT Press.
    - image (Pierre Cardin) via