Friday 22 March 2024

The Tenor of American Emotional Life

"There’s an American can-do attitude that can be bad for people, and I’m not sure it’s lessening. I have cancer now, and you’re supposed to have a good attitude. To hell with it. How are you supposed to have a good attitude? It would be cuckoo to have a good attitude. There’s something about that general tenor of American emotional life. I consider it a very American problem: the inability to tolerate unpleasant emotions. Some emotions are unpleasant, some experiences are unpleasant, some things are very sad, some things are very frustrating. And that’s okay. You can’t fix it. That’s the way life is."
Susanna Kaysen

photograph by Vivian Maier via

Wednesday 13 March 2024

Analysing 3,000 AI-Generated Images, Finding (Almost) As Many Ethnic Stereotypes

Last year, Rest of World analysed 3,000 images created by AI and came to the conclusion that the images created were highly stereotypical.

Using Midjourney, we chose five prompts, based on the generic concepts of “a person,” “a woman,” “a house,” “a street,” and “a plate of food.” We then adapted them for different countries: China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and Nigeria. We also included the U.S. in the survey for comparison, given Midjourney (like most of the biggest generative AI companies) is based in the country. For each prompt and country combination (e.g., “an Indian person,” “a house in Mexico,” “a plate of Nigerian food”), we generated 100 images, resulting in a data set of 3,000 images.

When prompting Midjourney to create "an Indian person", 99 out of 100 images depicted a man, almost all of them clearly aged over 60 with grey or white hair. 92 of the subjects wore a traditional type of turban, a great many of them resembled a spiritual guru. Similarly, "a Mexican person" was - in 99 out of 100 cases - a person wearing a sombrero. 

When creating "an American person", national identity was portrayed by showing the US-American flag in 100 out of 100 images, while "none of the queries for the other nationalities came up with any flags at all". Across all countries, there was a gender bias with "a person" mostly being a man - with one exception. Interestingly, the results for "an American person" included 94 young women, five men and one masked individual (see image in this posting). The reason for the overrepresentation of women when creating "an American person" could be the overrepresentaion of young women in US media which again build the basis for the AI's training data (via).

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image (AI) via

Thursday 7 March 2024

"What do you think is the most interesting development in dance music these days?" Asking Armand van Helden.

"The development has been acceptance. If you would have told me in, lets say the year 1998 that in the future, Dance Music (WATCH/LISTEN: Barbra Streisand) would be at the forefront of all pop music I wouldn’t have believed you. Back then we had some much going against us: “its not radio friendly, its (sic) gay music, where are the vocals?, there is no real song here, if its not rap, R&B or rock we don’t support it, disco sucks, this isn’t “real music”, where are the musicians?” and on and on. 

Its astounding how all of that has gone by the wayside and the youth doesn’t care about any of that at all. There will always be your critics but personally I love it, the youth are supposed to aggravate the elders, thats evolution baby! In life, were all here to dance. I think its wonderful that genre smashing has become the future and everybody just wants to dance together."
Armand van Helden, Duck Sauce

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image (Duck Sauce) via 

Wednesday 6 March 2024

"Has being a queer artist become more significant than before?" Asking Andrew Butler.

What’s amazing is going to places where people don’t have the same liberties that we have or even in parts of the Western world where certain legislations have passed that seem very backward. It’s amazing to see young people in the audience respond to the music and afterward having them tell us that it means the world to them that we came and played this music. It means something that we’re up on the stage playing the songs we’re playing because it helps them find the strength to be who they are. The music encourages them on a daily basis, they feel proud, they don’t feel alone.

::: Hercules and Love Affair: Blind (LISTEN)

We’ve played quite a few shows in Russia which looks like a really inhospitable place for queer people, but we have packed houses of young, queer people and I think it is an important role. With that said I do think this record in some ways is about not just focusing on my own specific identity, but rather talking about getting to the core of our humanity, and talking about parts that all of us should be concerned about.

There are issues that are quite significant and pressing that the whole world is facing. We’re looking at horrible things happening to the planet, terrifying wars taking place that are displacing enormous amounts of people, there are famines that make people become refugees, we’re looking at people parading around, pounding on their Bibles or Qurans, or whatever book of knowledge they might be carrying, saying they know the way everyone should live. They’re saying certain people are abominations or have no rights, hundreds of years of oppression in the US are affecting race relations. Hundreds of things are happening outside of one specific identity, they’re beyond me as a queer person, they speak to all of us as humans. In the record, I talk about our souls and what we’re supposed to achieve while we’re here. Perhaps we’re supposed to connect to each other, find alliances, and it’s really hard to find allies or to adequately show up as an ally. Perhaps the voices of people who have historically been silenced need to be heard. They might have solutions for some of the bigger problems we’re all having. It’s been a long time coming, but it would be great to see a woman in power, perhaps a woman of color, or a transgender woman of color in power. 

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photographs of Andy Butler via and via 

Tuesday 5 March 2024

Sugary Drink Consumption & Ethnicity

In 2013, a campaign was launched in the United States, to reduce sugary drink consumption aiming to fight child obesity. From 2012 to 2017, 13.000 middle school students were surveyed about their consumption of sugary drinks (soda, fruit drinks, sport drinks, energy drinks, flavoured waters and teas). Ethnicity and neighbourhood environment (number of unhealthy food retailers close to their schools) were also collected.

While, generally speaking, the percentage of students consuming sugary drinks on a daily basis had dropped from 2012 (49%) to 2017 (37%), daily sugary drink consumption remained higher among Black (59%) and Hispanic (49%) students compare to white (33%) and Asian ((23%) students. 

According to previous research, Black and Hispanic youth are targets of marketing campaigns. Ethnicity and neigbourhood food environments need to be considered when addressing sugary drink consumption since structural racism in the built environment can play a major role in terms of young people's drinking behaviour (via).

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photograph (New York, 1980s) via