Of interest (Feb 10-14)

  • When I heard the halftime show at the Super Bowl would be Madonna, I knew it was going to be something pretty flamboyant in the way of over-the-top entertainment. But I didn’t imagine that it was going to be a fannish remix.

    …She is performing *about* the Super Bowl as well as *during* it, showing and telling how the game, and football, and American masculinity itself, can be ridiculous and campy.

    I do think Madonna is pivoting off Luminosity — there’s no other connection between “Vogue” and pseudo-classical warrior hunks, and Lum’s vid is well-known enough that Madonna (or one of her people) is likely to have come across it in the past few years. It really looks to me as though Madonna remixed Luminosity’s remix, iterating culture.

  • My mom has been buying nude bras and dyeing them brown for the last 30 years. And if my mom can dye nude bras brown, surely bra makers have the capability of doing the same.

  • A recent paper by Julia Becker and Stephen Wright details even more of the insidious ways that benevolent sexism might be harmful for both women and social activism. In a series of experiments, women were exposed to statements that either illustrated hostile sexism (e.g. “Women are too easily offended”) or benevolent sexism (e.g. “Women have a way of caring that men are not capable of in the same way.”) The results are quite discouraging; when the women read statements illustrating benevolent sexism, they were less willing to engage in anti-sexist collective action, such as signing a petition, participating in a rally, or generally “acting against sexism.” Not only that, but this effect was partially mediated by the fact that women who were exposed to benevolent sexism were more likely to think that there are many advantages to being a woman and were also more likely to engage in system justification, a process by which people justify the status quo and believe that there are no longer problems facing disadvantaged groups (such as women) in modern day society. Furthermore, women who were exposed to hostile sexism actually displayed the opposite effect – they were more likely to intend to engage in collective action, and more willing to fight against sexism in their everyday lives.

    How might this play out in a day-to-day context? Imagine that there’s an anti-woman policy being brought to a vote, such as a regulation that would make it easier for local businesses to fire pregnant women once they find out that they are expecting. If you are collecting signatures for a petition or trying to gather women to protest this policy and those women were recently exposed to a group of men making comments about the policy in question, it would be significantly easier to gain their support and vote down the policy if the men were commenting that pregnant women should be fired because they were dumb for getting pregnant in the first place. However, if they instead happened to mention that women are much more compassionate than men and make better stay-at-home parents as a result, these remarks might actually lead these women to be less likely to fight an objectively sexist policy.

    tags: sexism

  • tags: cute

  • This video is about training a rat to fetch…

  • for those not in the know, night witches were russian lady bombers who bombed the shit out of german lines in WW2. Thing is though, they had the oldest, noisiest, crappest planes in the entire world. The engines used to conk out halfway through their missions, so they had to climb out on the wings mid flight to restart the props. the planes were also so noisy that to stop germans from hearing them combing and starting up their anti aircraft guns, they’d climb up to a certain height, coast down to german positions, drop their bombs, restart their engines in midair, and get the fuck out of dodge.

    their leader flew over 200 missions and was never captured.

  • The working conditions in factories which produce Apple products are to be inspected, the computing giant has announced.

    The Fair Labor Association (FLA) will audit several suppliers, including Foxconn in China, at Apple’s request.

    Safety at the factories has come under scrutiny after a series of fatal accidents and suicides in recent years.

  • Smoking bans in public/workplaces don’t drive smokers to light up more at home, suggests a study of four European countries…

  • Hamza Kashgari, the twenty-three-year-old Saudi blogger whose controversial tweets about the Prophet Muhammed last weekend incited controversy among religious conservatives in the Middle East, has been returned to Saudi Arabia at the request of the Saudi government.

    He was detained by authorities at Kuala Lumpr International Airport Thursday morning while attempting to catch a flight to seek asylum in New Zealand. …

    In an interview with Reuters, Saudi lawyer Sulaiman al-Jomaii said Kashgari is certain to face harsh punishment, but will likely escape the death penalty if he repents in court.

  • The idea is that when you acknowledge your fears you can make the steps necessary to dive into a big project.

  • There were more than 3,500 foreclosures in Father Eduardo Samaniego’s San Jose parish in 2008. The banks were unwilling to work with the community to keep people in their homes, and the number of houses that were standing empty were becoming a blight on the community and devaluing the remaining homes. …

    So what did the congregation do? They divested the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church’s money from Bank of America and moved funds [totaling $3 million] to a local credit union.

  • What classic Valentine’s gifts are linked to exploitation—and what can you do about it?

  • Until relatively recently, listening to new music meant hearing a song on the radio or hunting down new albums or MP3s. Now services like Spotify, Rdio, and Grooveshark allow you to listen to virtually any song on demand whether you’ve bought an MP3 or not.

    tags: music

  • I know I’d certainly be more motivated to crank out all my bill-paying if I knew Justin Beiber would start blasting in ten minutes, or if my least favorite politician were about to start ranting at me through my phone.

  • A pizza would have to cost U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney $3,339.04 for him to understand how average people live.

    …$708.69 for a lottery ticket, $662.62 for a dozen eggs and $1,187.05 for a gallon of gas…

    The online calculator Mittbucks.com is the product of outrage from Adam Scruggs and his wife, Danielle. …

    Even to feel what it’s like to be Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose salary is roughly $6,500 a week, Romney would have to pay $88.06 for a 591 millilitre bottle of pop, according to Mittbucks.

  • Economic class is increasingly becoming the great dividing line of American education.

    The New York Times has published a roundup of recent research showing the growing academic achievement gap between rich and poor students. It prominently features a paper by Stanford professor Sean F. Reardon, which found that, since the 1960s, the difference in test scores between affluent and underprivileged students has grown 40%, and is now twice the gap between black and white students. …

    [Of course, since in the U.S. class has a racial dimension, that doesn't mean we can declare racism is over. -L]

    It may not simply be a matter of the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer — although that certainly is a part of it. The growing differences in student achievement don’t strictly mimic the way income inequality has skyrocketed since the middle of the 20th century. It’s actually worse than that.

    …studies show wealthy parents are spending more on their young children and paying more attention to their academic development. One paper found that by the time an upper-income kid starts school, they’ve spent 400 more hours on “literacy activities” than their less fortunate peers.

  • tags: wisconsin missouri real_estate_crisis

  • The bills passage elicited a round of applause from those in the audience wearing blue in support of the bill, which Gov. Chris Christie has promised to veto.

    tags: new_jersey marriage_equality

  • The Pentagon announced new rules last week easing the ban on women serving in combat. While conservatives like Rick Santorum are a little uneasy with the news, the announcement only formalizes military practices that were already taking place.

    But Fox News contributor Liz Trotta’s commentary on the matter took the issue to a whole other level. She’s not really concerned about the “controversy” surrounding the Pentagon’s announcement. For Trotta, the issue is having “women once more, the feminist, going, wanting to be warriors and victims at the same time.”

    tags: asshattery rape_culture

  • While GOP senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has pledged to fight the Obama’s administration’s modified regulation requiring health insurers and busnisses to offer contraception coverage without additional cost sharing, the revised rule “appears to have won over” two of the five Republican women senators.

    Sens. Olympia Snowe (ME) and Susan Collins (ME) — both of whom have sponsored legislation requiring insurers to offer contraception benefits in all health plans — are in favor of the new compromise, which would allow religiously affiliated colleges, universities, and hospitals to avoid providing birth control. Their employees will still receive contraception coverage at no additional cost sharing directly from the insurer: …

    Republicans in the senate seem determined to oppose the compromise and have introduced legislation that would allow employers or individuals to opt out of any benefit that undermines their moral beliefs.

  • …hoo boy has there been a lot of terrible writing about female musicians in the past few weeks. The latest offender is the New York Times style magazine T’s cover-worthy profile of Lana Del Rey, which manages to be offensive from its first sentence and somehow gets worse from there.

    tags: music sexism

  • Now, almost one hundred years later, it is difficult to fully appreciate how much our picture of the universe has changed in the span of a single human lifetime. As far as the scientific community in 1917 was concerned, the universe was static and eternal, and consisted of a single galaxy, our Milky Way, surrounded by a vast, infinite, dark, and empty space.

    tags: science

  • There are plans underway for a major screen adaptation project based on one of Nigeria’s most treasured novels, Half of a Yellow Sun.

    …It tells the story of two sisters, Olanna and Kainene, during the Biafran War, which began when the Igbos tried to secede as the Republic of Biafra due to political and ethnic struggles…

    The effect of the war is shown through the dynamic relationships of four people’s lives ranging from high ranking political figures, a professor, a British citizen, and a houseboy.

    …undoubtedly one of Africa’s literary gems as it — for once — tells the history of the Nigerian people from the perspective of its inhabitants, and in particular, women…

    The movie is currently slated to be shot in Nigeria and will be backed by UK producers Andrea Calderwood (The Last King of Scotland) and Gail Egan (The Constant Gardener). Nigerian writer-director, Biye Bandele, has had a hand in the development of the script, and actors Thandie Newton (who is of Zambian heritage) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Nigerian) are part of a UK cast.

  • …what’s even more interesting about the opinion, now that I’ve had overnight to think about it, is the degree to which the 9th Circuit’s ruling amounts to a pretty definitive slap down of the Boies and Olson strategy in litigating the case. Recall that one of the main approaches taken at the trial by the so-called “dream team” was to paint a picture of marriage as the most sacred, revered, mature form of adult coupling…

    Instead, the reasoning used in Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt’s opinion marks a triumph for the fabulous and smart Therese Stewart, the lawyer in the San Francisco City Attorney’s office who has shined time and again in oral argument and in briefs filed in the marriage equality litigation in California.

    …it avoids the kind of sermonizing about the sanctity of the marital relation … The court can find a constitutional problem with Prop 8 while remaining agnostic…on the question of whether the state should be in the marriage business at all.

    tags: marriage_equality

  • …a project with the mission of “documenting how rape and other kinds of sexualized violence are used as tools in genocide and conflict throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.” By exploring the ways in which sexualized violence has been used as a weapon during times of genocide or conflict, Women Under Siege will play a significant role in educating people about sexualized violence and developing strategies to prevent such violence in future conflicts.

  • tags: music

  • Mary McLeod Bethune was the founder of Bethune-Cookman College, originally opened as the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute in 1904, serving African Americans at a time when most schools admitted only white students. Because the local hospital was whites-only, the school hosted its own hospital from 1911-1921. In addition to playing a key part in other organizations, Bethune served as president for the Study of Negro Life and History …

  • Born into slavery in New York at the end of the 18th century, the woman who would take the name Sojourner Truth became a traveling preacher, and then a popular speaker for the growing abolitiionist movement. …

  • Virginia Hamilton Adair was a 20th century American poet whose work was frequently compared to TS Eliot, Wallace Stevens, and Robert Frost.

  • Sparks said his action on Monday came out of deference to the higher court. But he criticized the appellate court for “making puppets out of doctors” and stripping them of rights to freedom of speech under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

    “There can be little doubt that (the law) is an attempt by the Texas Legislature to discourage women from exercising their constitutional rights by making it more difficult for caring and competent physicians to perform abortions,” Sparks wrote in the opinion on Monday.

    The law, enacted in 2011, requires abortion providers to perform an ultrasound on pregnant women, show and describe the image to them, and play sounds of the fetal heartbeat. Though women can decline to view images or hear the heartbeat, they must listen to a description of the exam.

    [This is very important legislation because without it the women who are seeking abortions might not realize that There Is Something In There. -L]

    tags: sarcasm

  • Today the Washington Post features a great column by Anna Holmes talking about female anger, but specifically how the anger of public women is perceived. She mostly focuses the recent interview with Newt Gringrich’s second wife Marianne and Michelle Obama’s portrayal and reaction to, the new book by Jodi Kantor, The Obamas.

    Holmes is incredible perceptive about how we view women’s anger, even to the point of when it’s called “anger.”

    …she also highlights a tiny moment from Elizabeth Warren’s interview on Tuesday with Jon Stewart. [links and video]

  • The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops… said Friday that it was reserving judgment on the administration’s decision to tweak the policy. …

    Under the policy announced Friday, employees of church-linked schools, hospitals and charities would still have access to free contraceptive coverage – but those organizations would not have to pay for it. Instead, health insurance companies would provide it free of charge.

  • …could very well turn this into a wedge issue against the GOP, as more and more Republicans are asked whether (like the majority of Americans) they think insurance companies should be required to cover birth control.

    …this is a position that’s strongly supported by the GOP base. In the new Fox poll, 71 percent of Tea Partyers, and 52 percent of conservatives, disapprove of requiring insurance companies to cover contraception.

    …this could become a litmus test issue for GOP candidates …

    Yet embracing this position could be toxic in the general election, because large majorities support the use of government power to compel insurance companies to cover birth control.

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