Millennial gender pessimism

About 75% of young women believe the US needs to do more to bring about equality in the workplace,images-1 a new study finds, despite a narrowing pay gap and steady employment gains for women at higher levels of business and government, reports an article in The guardian today.

“Those women remain as pessimistic as their mothers and grandmothers regarding gender equality in the workplace, according to the report released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.

“The study finds that women under 32 now make 93% of what young men earn, aided by women’s higher rates of college completion. But the analysis of census and labor data also shows the gender pay gap will widen for women by their mid-30s, if the experience of the past three decades is a guide.

“That widening gap is due in part to the many women who take time off or reduce their hours to start families. Other factors cited in the report are gender stereotyping, discrimination, weaker professional networks and women’s hesitancy to aggressively push for raises and promotions, which together may account for 20% to 40% of the pay gap.

“Even so, just 15% of young women say they have been discriminated against because of their gender. Continue reading “Millennial gender pessimism”

Say cheeze

The thought-provoking installation “SELFMADE” (2013), currently on display at The Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, reveals the importance of microbes in our environment. Microbiologist Christina Agapakis (US) & scent artist Sissel Tolaas (NO) teamed up to create artisanal cheese made from lactobacillus swabbed from the skin of human beings. Lactobacillus is the bacteria responsible for curdling and preserving milk and giving cheese its characteristic smell and texture. Agapakis maintains that the cheese in the exhibit is not intended for human consumption but for investigating the unique microbial environment that humans participate in daily.

Through the installation Agapakis calls into question the prevailing paradigm of good/bad bacteria and offers a more complex view of the world of microbes, both biologically and culturally. She emphasizes the paradox of the modern paradigm: “We not only live in a biological world surrounded by rich communities of microorganisms, but in a cultural world that emphasises (sic) total antisepsis.”i Noting the inconsistency between modern human habits of consumption and bacterial intolerance in the environment, she asks: “Can knowledge and tolerance of bacterial cultures in our food improve tolerance of the bacteria on our bodies?”ii

Agapakis’ use of traditional cheesemaking methods underscores the connection between microbial culture and human culture. In her Pop!Tech lecture, she explains the biological and artistic process of her installation and of creating, by accident, the famed Sardinian “maggot cheese” casu marzu. The cheese can only be consumed when its larvae are, in fact, living. While some might recoil at the idea of consuming “rotten” cheese replete with squirming insects, Agapakis argues through her example of “encountering prejudice toward the macrobiological” for an increased awareness of cheese and its relationship to culture. Cheese, she notes, is about three things: “culture,” “biological context,” and “care” or “the way that we interact with and take care of the environment around us.”iii

Her exhibit poignantly illustrates cheese as a living object. Cheese, by its very nature, can never be an aseptic environment. Each cheese is filled with living organisms that interact with and mirror its culture both physically and sociologically.


More at;

Reworking the gendered business suit

imgres-1Breakthrough ideas often come from the least expected sources. For Daniel Friedman, the flash came from a woman named Rachel Tutera. Friedman makes custom men’s suits, mostly for corporate clients in his end of Park Slope, Brooklyn.

As the New York Times recently reported, “Ms. Tutera runs a blog called The Handsome Butch. When she wrote to him last year, seeking a sales job, she had a proposition: Why couldn’t Mr. Friedman, with his expertise in men’s suits, make them for women like her — not women’s suits, but the same gear he was making for guys, with the same masculine profile, but fitted to women’s bodies? It was a question he had never considered.

“In a coffee shop near his home the other day, he seemed still struck by the world that opened to him after that initial email.

“The whole thing is really strange, and sometimes I can’t — ” he said, his voice evaporating into the wonder of it all. He was not even sure how to identify Ms. Tutera, gender-wise. Was she transgender or just mannish? Sometimes it was hard to know such things. What he knew was that she had changed his life. “When we started this business, it was for money,” he said. “And now it’s not. It was the emotion, the excitement that people had, that became everything for the company. At least for me. You don’t expect to turn a corner and that’s what you’re going to find.”

“On another November morning in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, Ms. Tutera took a turn at describing what she brought to Mr. Friedman, 34, and his company, Bindle and Keep. Arriving from an appointment with her barber, Ms. Tutera, 28, who identifies herself as navigating “a very tiny space that exists between being a butch dyke and being a trans man,” wore a man’s cable-knit sweater and oxford shirt, her short hair plastered back on her scalp.

“I personally don’t ever put on women’s clothes,” she said. “I just can’t. Buttons are on the wrong side. I don’t know what size I am in women’s clothes. I feel I know how to dress in men’s clothes. I’m sure I could put on women’s clothes and not be completely freaked out, but I just wouldn’t want to.” For most of her life, Ms. Tutera said, this meant choosing between clothes that did not fit her physique and those that did not fit her sense of self. Then in 2010, she went to a tailor in Midtown to have a men’s suit made for her. It cost $1,500, a towering sum.

“I was trembling to be there,” she said. Where women’s clothing tends to accentuate the hips and breasts, she said, she wanted a silhouette like a man’s. She bound her breasts to make them less prominent (she has since had surgery to remove them). The suit turned out to be more than just an article of clothing, she told Mr. Friedman in her email. That moment started his education.“The suit really helped me in ways I never expected it to,” she said. “I hadn’t ever felt handsome before. I had put together these makeshift outfits for special occasions and always felt like I was being overlooked in some way. I felt like I was ready to be paid attention to. It brought me to the precipice of becoming who I am now.”

More at:

Obama meets Castro

After so many stops and starts in the ruptured, tortuous U.S.-Cuban relationship, it can be difficult at times to muster any hope for change. And so, as The Havana Note reports, “even after watching the historic handshake between President Barack Obama and President Raul Castro at the memorial for former President Nelson Mandela today, it would be easy enough to conclude that the handshake was just a handshake.images-1

“Maybe it was a momentary stunt by a beleaguered White House eager to shake the media – even for a moment – off of our national conversation about the botched Obamacare rollout. Given this administration’s halting, almost fearful approach to Cuba policy for most of the last five years, it’s hard to imagine that this is the beginning of a real and intentional rapprochement.

“But it’s also been a long time coming. President Obama has long believed our policy to be a failure – he said as much during his 2004 run for the Senate.  During his first campaign for president he famously expressed (and walked back, somewhat) a willingness to meet with President Raul Castro, and just months into office, Obama called for a “new beginning” with Cuba. Though Obama left most of the policies in place that he inherited, he has notably presided over an historic rebuilding of the Cuban and Cuban American communities’ ties – and in the process, winning nearly 50% of Cuban Americans’ votes in the 2012 presidential election. Continue reading “Obama meets Castro”

Insane Posse sees a shrink

imagesFor more than 20 years, the rap duo Insane Clown Posse has courted controversy by rhyming about depravity, brutality and insanity.

Now it causes trouble by making fun of Miley Cyrus.

“If you’re not banging the drums, making noise in this industry, nobody’s looking at you. Nobody’s listening.”VIOLENT J, left, with Shaggy 2 Dope, his partner in the horrorcore rap group Insane Clown Posse, reports the New York Times.

“A few days ago, Insane Clown Posse, a pioneering act in a rap genre called horrorcore, was approached by Fuse, the music-oriented cable channel, to record its commentary for a roundup of supposedly shocking music videos. Though the rappers have enjoyed their increasing visibility on Fuse (where a second season of their television series “Insane Clown Posse Theater,” will debut on Wednesday), they were dismayed to find that those videos included nonthreatening artists like Robin Thicke and Adam Levine.

“How are we going to sit there and talk about how shocking Maroon 5 is?” asked Joseph Utsler, an Insane Clown Posse co-founder who goes by the stage name Shaggy 2 Dope. His musical partner, Joseph Bruce, known as Violent J, added: “We had to do it I.C.P.-style or it would have looked bad for us.” The band’s solution was to mock the performers that Fuse had asked them to discuss. (“Justin Bieber started off as a teeny-bop child artist,” explained Violent J. “Now he’s a teeny-bop child artist with tattoos. Shocking!”) Continue reading “Insane Posse sees a shrink”

Time to protect consumer privacy

Some of the biggest names in the tech world joined forces Monday to tell Uncle Sam that enough’s

Quit spying on their customers.

According to the LA Times, “AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo said in an open letter to President Obama that in light of recent revelations about the National Security Agency snooping

imgres on websites and communications networks, there’s an “urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide.”

“That’s a pretty bold claim to the moral high ground considering that each of these companies routinely mines customer data for their own purposes (read: profit)

And then there’s AT&T, which made clear in a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission last week that it will keep complying with government requests for customer records “to the extent required by law.”

“Moreover, the telecom giant said the company shouldn’t have to come clean with shareholders about helping the feds peek into people’s lives. This stuff is top secret, AT&T said, so it has no obligation to address the issue at its annual shareholder meeting this spring. The company’s letter was a response to calls from the ACLU of Northern California and other groups for phone companies to be more upfront about their dealings with the NSA. The private sector always has had a troubled relationship with consumer privacy. Continue reading “Time to protect consumer privacy”

The rich ruin art for everyone

f you can believe all the hand-wringing and soul-searching these days among artists, art critics, imgresand sundry other arts professionals, you’d imagine that nobody is really happy about the $142.4 million paid for a Francis Bacon triptych at Christie’s the other day—or the $58.4 million for a Jeff Koons at the same auction or the $104.5 million for a Warhol at Sotheby’s the following night.

As The New Republic suggests: “Those prices are as repellent as Leonardo DiCaprio’s baronial frat house shenanigans in the coming attractions for Martin Scorsese’s new tale of Gilded Age excess, The Wolf of Wall Street. Among the most revolting sports favored by the super-rich is the devaluation of any reasonable sense of value. At Christie’s and Sotheby’s some of the wealthiest members of society, the people who can’t believe in anything until it’s been monetized, are trashing one of our last hopes for transcendence. They don’t know the difference between avidity and avarice. Why drink an excellent $30 or $50 bottle of wine when you can pour a $500 or $1000 bottle down your throat? Why buy a magnificent $20,000 or $1 million painting when you can spend $50 or $100 million and really impress friends and enemies alike?

“These questions will not go away. And it is a little too easy to blame it all on the super-rich and the various counselors and courtiers who cheer them on at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Of course there’s nothing we can do about what Steven A. Cohen and Peter Brant choose to sell at the auctions or what Roman Abramovich and Sheikha al Mayassa Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani choose to buy. But the total lack of embarrassment with which everybody involved conducts themselves must at least in part be blamed on an educated public that has become embarrassed about discussing—much less advocating for—anything that suggests a principle or standard of taste. While the professional people who worry about every $10,000 in their 401(k) may shake their heads at the stratospheric auction prices, they get a kick out of them, too—too much of a kick, I tend to think. Continue reading “The rich ruin art for everyone”

Men rule in Silicon Valley

At Pinterest, the four-year-old online bulletin board service that is valued near $3.8 billion, some 70 percent of the users are female.

But, as Reuters reports,  the company’s board of directors is 100 percent male:

“Male-heavy boards dominate in the start-up mecca of Silicon Valley, which prides itself on progressive thinking and putting talent first. A Reuters survey of the 10 top venture-backed start-ups, as measured by venture funds raised, shows that six do not have any women on the board, including Pinterest. And none has more than one.


“Reuters’ research relied on publicly available data and discussions with start-up executives and board members.

“The gender imbalance has been the norm for years despite some recent signs of change. Google, Facebook and Twitter all went public without a woman on the board. They are more diverse now.

“Big, established companies, by contrast, frequently have two or more female directors, based on the 10 largest U.S. tech companies by market value. All of the top 20 have at least one. The dismal record of start-ups when it comes to gender diversity was highlighted last month when Twitter came under fire for its all-male board on the eve of its public offering. On Thursday, the company announced that it had added former Pearson chief Marjorie Scardino to its board. Entrepreneurs and executives contacted by Reuters did not question the conclusion that there are few women directors at start-ups, but they frequently described it as unintended, and some such as Pinterest say their executive ranks are more balanced. Start-ups tend to blame the lack of women on their boards on factors such as their youth, their small boards, their single-minded focus on growth to the exclusion of other priorities, and a scarcity of women steeped in technology. Continue reading “Men rule in Silicon Valley”

José Esteban Muñoz, 1967-2013

The passing of noted theorist and activist José Esteban Muñoz received the following eulogy by Bully Bloggers:

imgres“This week, we lost a fierce friend, a comrade, a wry and trenchant critic, a brave and bold queer voice and a true utopian in a world of pessimists. As we try to reckon with his absence and learn to live with the loss of such a magnificent thinker, such an enormous spirit, we can find all kinds of solace in the work that José left behind. “Queerness is not yet here,” he cautioned us at the beginning of Cruising Utopia, and he continued: “The here and now is a prison house. We must strive, in the face of the here and now’s totalizing rendering of reality, to think and feel a then and there.”

“These words are strangely comforting now that José is truly no longer in the here and now but dwells instead in a then, a there, a new world that we cannot reach from here, this prison house of life, the body, the present. José’s work, his craft, his social worlds, his teaching all reached out for the “forward-dawning futurity” that, he felt, harbored other ways of being, other forms of life, other worlds. These other worlds, alternative forms of life, could be glimpsed only through the cultural landscapes that queer people create out of love, desperation, hilarity, performance, perversity, friendship, sex, feelings, failings, pain and communion. And so José made it his life’s work to live in and with and alongside the brilliant, talented, queer performers about whom he wrote and with whom he collaborated: Vaginal Davis, Carmelita Tropicana, Nao Bustamente are just a few of the gorgeous, glittering talents who built worlds with him and made crazy, hilarious, expansive performance spaces with him, spaces where he could find his “then and there” at least for an evening. Continue reading “José Esteban Muñoz, 1967-2013”

Millennial skepticism over Obamacare

The Harvard Institute of Politics survey released Wednesday has garnered a lot of attention for its findings about Millennials’ views of Obamacare, in addition to their opinions on President Obama himself, reports The Atlantic.

“Between 56 and 57 percent of the 18- to-29-year-old respondents didn’t approve of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare (depending on how the question was asked); 40 to 44 percent thought their quality of care would get worse under the new law; and 50 to 51 percent said they expected costs to increase.

“This has led to a giant round of Oh my God, Obamacare is going to be a giant failure because young people hate it, won’t enroll, and the insurance plans will go into death spirals. Well, no. Ryan Cooper argues this morning that Millennials “will come around on Obamacare.” But do they even need to? More than half the Millennials in the IOP study said they’d at least consider to signing up for Obamacare exchange insurance if and when they are old enough to need it.

“According to the survey, 22 percent said they’d definitely or probably enroll in Obamacare, and another 29 percent said they were 50-50 on whether they’d enroll or not. Only 45 percent said they definitely would not enroll. The whole survey sample was asked those questions, according to topline data provided by the pollsters. Sounds dismal—until you see that only 22 percent of those surveyed individuals were uninsured! Another way of looking at the data: 22 percent of people in a sample that was 22 percent uninsured said they would definitely or probably sign up for Obamacare. And 29 percent of people in a sample that was 35 percent covered by their parents’ insurance said they were 50-50 on enrolling if and when eligible. That paints a very different picture than just focusing on the large percentage who think their costs will go up while their quality of care goes down. Obamacare’s long-term health depends on whether people who are already insured support the program, but their opinion matters much less in the short term. Continue reading “Millennial skepticism over Obamacare”

Congress weighs in against bullying

The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA), a bill spelling out specific groups of the student population currently victim to bullying and harassment, of which LGBTQ youth is one, has reached record support in Congress, with 176 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and 43 bipartisan cosponsors in the U.S. Senate.

Part of the larger Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that is currently up for routine reauthorization, the solid support for SSIA increases its chance of passage and would mandate that all 50 states not only recognize LGBTQ youth as vulnerable, but report all recorded incidents of bullying and harassment, so state and federal agencies can accurately measure the extent of the problem.

“We are extremely encouraged by the increased support for the Safe Schools Improvement Act, particularly among our Republican friends who recognize that all students deserve to be safe in school regardless of who they are,” says Eliza Byard, executive director at the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the organization consulted for the wording of SSIA.

As bullying is not an LGBTQ issue alone, SSIA addresses harassment for all victimized students, with race, color or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion and disability marked as identifiers. States are free to add to this list as required – Illinois already enacted a similar law, and includes military families/status among the afore-mentioned categories. Continue reading “Congress weighs in against bullying”

Adjuncts are organizing

A movement catching on across American campuses where adjunct faculty members, the working poor of academia, are turning to collective action.

Only a quarter of the academic work force is tenured, or on track for tenure, down from more than a third in 1995, reports today’s New York


 Times. ” The majority hold contingent jobs — mostly part-time adjuncts but also graduate assistants and full-time lecturers. And the Service Employees International Union, with members in health care, maintenance and public service, is moving hard and fast to add the adjuncts to their roster, organizing at private colleges in several urban areas.

“In Washington, it has unionized American University, Georgetown, George Washington and Montgomery College. In the Los Angeles area, adjuncts at Whittier College and the University of La Verne just filed with the National Labor Relations Board for a union election. In Boston, Tufts University’s part-time faculty voted to join the service employees’ union in September, and an October vote at Bentley University failed by two votes. Campaigns are underway at Northeastern and Lesley.

“The S.E.I.U. strategy has the momentum right now,” said Adrianna Kezar, director of the University of Southern California’s Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success. “And we know that unionizing leads to pay increases and at least the beginnings of benefits.” Continue reading “Adjuncts are organizing”

Cooking wine and kids

images-1Cooking wine has about double the alcohol as regular wine and can be bought by grocery store customers of any age.


Anyone have a problem with that?

According to the CBS Philadelphia, “Some teens are turning to the grocery store to get drunk, buying cooking wine. Cooking wine is readily available on most Pennsylvania grocery store shelves even though the alcohol-by-volume can be as high as 17 percent. It’s not regulated by the state liquor control board because it’s considered non-potable, loaded with so much salt that most people wouldn’t consider drinking it.

“A whole bottle of cooking wine is equivalent to three or four beers,” says Emily Rubin, a registered dietician with Jefferson University Hospital. Rubin says although the alcohol is the major concern among teens, a 12-ounce bottle of cooking wine carries nearly 1½ times the recommended daily allowance of sodium. “It is very high in sodium, so consuming that in conjunction with, if they’re eating a fast-food meal or pretzels or popcorn or snack food, they are eating close to 10,000 milligrams of sodium per day.” Which, she warns, could be a problem in the long term, especially if there’s a family history of high blood pressure, kidney disease, or liver disease.


More at:

Gender diversity growing at colleges

The weekly meetings of Mouthing Off!, a group for students at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, always start the same way, reports a story in today’s Sacramento Bee.

“Members take turns going around the room saying their names and the personal pronouns they want others to use when referring to them — she, he or something else.images

“It’s an exercise that might seem superfluous given that Mills, a small and leafy liberal arts school historically referred to as the Vassar of the West, only admits women as undergraduates. Yet increasingly, the “shes” and “hers” that dominate the introductions are keeping third-person company with “they,” “ze” and other neutral alternatives meant to convey a more generous notion of gender.

“Because I go to an all-women’s college, a lot of people are like, ‘If you don’t identify as a woman, how did you get in?'” said sophomore Skylar Crownover, 19, who is president of Mouthing Off! and prefers to be mentioned as a singular they, but also answers to he. “I just tell them the application asks you to mark your sex and I did. It didn’t ask me for my gender.”

“On high school and college campuses and in certain political and social media circles, the growing visibility of a small, but semantically committed cadre of young people who, like Crownover, self-identify as “genderqueer” — neither male nor female but an androgynous hybrid or rejection of both — is challenging anew the limits of Western comprehension and the English language. Continue reading “Gender diversity growing at colleges”

Walmart workers stand on Black Friday

“I’ve come today to represent all the silent Wal-Mart workers that are afraid to stand up for their rights.”imgres

As reported in InTheseTimes, Elaine Rozier, a Wal-Mart employee of eight years, told a crowd of about 150 labor activists and community supporters—accompanied by raucous musicians with Occupy Guitarmy and the Rude Mechanical Orchestra—on Friday in Secaucus, N.J., across the street from a well-guarded Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club (the wholesale club owned by Wal-Mart and named for the company’s celebrated founder, Sam Walton). “I’m standing up for my rights, my kids, my grandkids, and their kids,” Rozier said.

Perhaps because of the fear she mentioned, Rozier, who comes from Miami, was one of the only identified Wal-Mart employees in the crowd. Along with Mark Bowers and Colby Harris, two Wal-Mart workers from Texas, Rozier traveled to New Jersey for Black Friday, Wal-Mart’s biggest retail sales day, to demonstrate to the workers inside the Secaucus store that they, too, could stand up for their rights.

Accompanied by ten supporters, the three workers blocked traffic on the street alongside the Wal-Mart, chanting, singing and clapping until police took them away in handcuffs.

The protest was one of hundreds of Black Friday actions organized by OUR Walmart, a United Food and Commercial Workers-backed group of Wal-Mart workers—including Rozier, Bowers and Harris—that has been putting on strikes, protests, and direct actions at Wal-Mart for over a year in support of better wages, benefits and conditions. The first wave of strikes hit in October of 2012, and on Black Friday of that year, some 400 workers reportedly went on strike at stores around the country.

“Stand up, live better” has become the rallying cry of the movement, a twist on the retail giant’s own slogan, “Save money, live better.” On Friday, workers in Secaucus repeatedly echoed the “stand up” line. Continue reading “Walmart workers stand on Black Friday”