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Mother of the Sea

Every year in Uto, a remote town at the Southern tip of Japan, a festival is held to celebrate a woman known locally as the Mother of the Sea. Dr Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker died without knowing her research would save the Japanese seaweed industry and lead to a world multi-billion dollar obsession with sushi. The story of nori in Japan.
posted by infini on Dec 12, 2014 - 20 comments

Parable of the Polygons

A playable blog post about triangles, squares, bias, and society from Vi Hart and Nicky Case.
posted by cthuljew on Dec 8, 2014 - 22 comments

How to Endear Yourself to an Asian Woman Writer

Here Be Dragons
People in the US are usually surprised when I say that my Thai mother lives in Ireland. “How did that happen? That’s so strange.” Strange, and their little laugh that accompanies the statement, are code for their assumptions about the education and mobility of this foreign woman of color, who in this case is my mom. She most recently worked for Salesforce, a fast growing tech company headquartered in San Francisco. When she moved to Singapore it was to work for Intel, another large tech company. She is ambitious and accomplished. She defies the stereotypes. My dad runs up against a different stereotype. That he, a white American man, lives in Thailand is not unusual. White American Men have more world-conquering powers according to a general, Western, unexamined assumption of normalcy.

posted by infini on Nov 21, 2014 - 27 comments

Here's a box of chocolates; it is your duty to eat them.

People like order in their lives. This does not go down well with those who feel that social restraints of any sort are a bad thing, but these people are a distinct, if very noisy, minority. Most of us want social rules of some sort – not oppressive ones, of course – but rules that govern the way we conduct ourselves towards others. We want people to queue correctly.

We like it when people don’t chew with their mouth open. We love it – although we may be cowed into not saying this – when an able-bodied person gives up a seat to somebody who is clearly frailer. Personally, I like it when anybody gives up a seat on a train to anybody else, frail or not. (Novelist Alexander McCall Smith discusses Jane Austen's Emma in The Daily Mail.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Nov 11, 2014 - 35 comments

I don’t think I was born white. I think white children are manufactured.

Quinn Norton: The White Problem & How White People Got Made [more inside]
posted by flex on Nov 5, 2014 - 24 comments

The Secret Lives of the Mentally Ill

In a Slate Article by David Rosenberg, side-by-side images and descriptions illustrate the "dual lives" of those coping with mental illness.
posted by ourt on Oct 30, 2014 - 21 comments

Taking the '70s more seriously

Style Gone Wild: Why We Can't Shake the 1970s

Collectors Weekly: What prompted such radical changes in popular fashion?

Lutyens: One reason was that people in the West were becoming increasingly affluent, and this gave young people the confidence to question their parents’ values. Because they had money, they could be more independent. Society was also becoming much more liberal as well because you had things like the legalization of homosexuality and the legalization of divorce. People were allowed to be themselves more without being judged by other people.

Then the three main minority movements — feminism, black civil rights, and gay liberation — all these minorities had been marginalized until the late ’60s. In the ’70s they began to assert themselves more and become more visible. So their style became more visible, and it influenced mainstream fashion.
[more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Oct 17, 2014 - 61 comments

Thar she blows...

A manifesto for the new man: how the Great White Male can stay relevant The days of the Great White Male are numbered. So how should men live now? Stephen Fry, Mary Beard, Andrew Marr, Margaret Atwood and others offer their survival tips.
posted by infini on Oct 9, 2014 - 194 comments

Why I Refuse to Let Technology Control Me.

Prince Ea "Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?" [slyt] [more inside]
posted by ellieBOA on Oct 4, 2014 - 35 comments

“You don’t understand, women are holier than men.”

"I'm not sure whether it mattered. One young man very kindly said to me, 'You don’t understand, women are holier than men.' I said, 'That’s rubbish and it doesn't excuse the insult,' and then I added that I spent 13 years in yeshiva and there's nothing he could tell me that I haven't already heard. Then the original man, the one who refused to sit next to me, muttered to another man as he was walking away, 'She doesn't understand.' I said, 'I understand everything, and don't talk to me as if I'm not here.' He ignored me, and all the other men turned their backs and did not respond or even look at me." [Similar version at JewFem blog.]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Sep 27, 2014 - 61 comments

No children are born hating

"No matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or what God you pray to, or who you love, there is something fundamental that we all share."

Obama delivers one of the most humanist, powerful, and intellectual speeches to the United Nations.
posted by four panels on Sep 24, 2014 - 154 comments

It all comes back to fun

When the champion of adult culture is portrayed, even by himself, as an old curmudgeon yelling at the kids to get off his lawn, it suggests that this adult culture is one of the unfortunate but necessary costs of coming into adulthood. We give up the pleasures of entertainment for the seriousness of art. I just don’t think that this is true. Christopher Beha on Henry James and the Great Young Adult Debate.
posted by shivohum on Sep 21, 2014 - 48 comments

An Indian Woman Engineer from Bangalore post

What India Can Teach Silicon Valley About Its Gender Problem [more inside]
posted by infini on Sep 16, 2014 - 28 comments

Reconciling the Second Amendment with Public Safety Concerns

Gun Wars: the struggle over gun rights and regulation in America, in the aftermath of the Newtown school shootings and the ongoing congressional stalemate over federal gun legislation. An investigative report from "29 students from 16 journalism schools, as well as an experienced staff of editors" for Carnegie-Knight News21. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 11, 2014 - 62 comments

the purity myth

Female 'Purity' Is Bullshit [more inside]
posted by flex on Jul 29, 2014 - 135 comments

Why the Civil Rights Act couldn’t pass today

"Although the Civil Rights Act passed the Senate by 73-27, with 27 out of 33 Republican votes, one of the six Republicans who voted against it was Barry Goldwater of Arizona, who weeks later became the GOP’s presidential standard-bearer and started the long process by which the Party of Lincoln became the party of white backlash, especially in the South. Today, Republicans hold complete legislative control in all 11 states of the Old Confederacy for only the second time since Reconstruction." [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jul 2, 2014 - 19 comments

Envisioning the American Dream

Envisioning the American Dream is "a visual remix of the American Dream as pictured in Mid-Century media" that discusses topics such as Man and Machines, Vintage Advice for Cheaters, and Suburbia for Sale, amongst many others.
posted by gemutlichkeit on Jun 9, 2014 - 5 comments

Open defecation solves the child mortality puzzle among Indian Muslims

“Hindus are, on average, richer and more educated than Muslims. But oddly, the child mortality rate for Hindus is much higher. All observable factors say Hindus should fare better, but they don't. Economists refer to this as the Muslim mortality puzzle. In a new study, researchers believe that they may have found a solution to the puzzle. And, surprisingly, the solution lies in a single factor – open defecation.” [more inside]
posted by XMLicious on Jun 5, 2014 - 33 comments

No one. Owes you. Anything.

Chris Gethard: Overcome Your Programming And Be A Better Man
posted by zarq on May 28, 2014 - 104 comments

"Je suis très, très fier"

Portrait of a Young Man with Down Syndrome. A father reflects on his son's search for employment.
posted by zarq on May 27, 2014 - 53 comments

like greyhounds in the slips

Why Men Love War. "What people can't understand is how much fun Vietnam was. I loved it. I loved it, and I can't tell anybody."
posted by four panels on May 24, 2014 - 97 comments

You know, for kids!

Not everyone agrees on the best methods for raising kids. That becomes apparent when you examine the results from the 2010-2014 World Values Survey — 82,000 adults across 54 countries were surveyed to gain a better understanding of what they consider most important when raising a child, whether or not they were parents themselves. PBS NewsHour has an interactive quiz you can take to show which country has values closest to yours as well as a widget to compare the values of any two countries. You can see all the data in this google docs spreadsheet.
posted by Room 641-A on May 16, 2014 - 91 comments

The eyes of Texas are upon you

The Gold Standard in Executions.
For two years now, Texas has used a single drug, the barbiturate pentobarbital, instead of the three-drug regimen used in neighboring Oklahoma. Prison administrators from other states often travel to Texas to learn how it performs lethal injections and to observe executions. Texas officials have provided guidance and, on at least a few occasions, carried out executions for other states.
posted by four panels on May 12, 2014 - 101 comments

Trump This!

The Three Languages of Arts and Cultural Funding : It is a truth universally acknowledged that the public funding of arts and culture will cause political strife. Reasonable people just do not agree on this, and can be surprisingly quick to accuse others of ideological warmongering. An Australian application of The Three Languages of Politics [interview: podcast and transcript] by Arnold Kling. Via The Conversation.
posted by michswiss on May 7, 2014 - 6 comments

...not a neutral exercise.

"Why Do Chinese People Have Slanted Eyes?" By Amanda Lee Koe (Text essay, possibly nsfw)
posted by zarq on Apr 16, 2014 - 23 comments

Unrecognized state continues to exist anyway

Somaliland is an odd land. In global limbo since its birth, it continues to develop economically and socially in a reasonably stable and secure environment. Recently, the British town of Sheffield was the first to recognize its very existence as an independent country. In the meantime, the capital Hargeisa city, which has only one paved road, recently installed streetlights for the first time, and an enterprising entrepreneur returned home from Australia to start a familiar city service - the yellow cab. Investors and businesses have started paying attention while the major powers still prefer to pretend it doesn't exist. Even while experts debate whether their model can be utilized in far more volatile Somalia, Hargeisa's residents want you to know they are Happy.
posted by infini on Apr 6, 2014 - 13 comments

Atlas

Last week, a publication based in New York that is called “New York,” asked the question, “Is San Francisco New York?

A publication based in San Francisco answered, quite resolutely, “No.
posted by four panels on Mar 20, 2014 - 76 comments

Uncle Sam was a rolling stone

Six Ways America Is Like a Third-World Country
posted by infini on Mar 12, 2014 - 126 comments

O Woman's Day

Talking gender to Africa
International donors have sought to improve the social, political and economic position of women in Africa through an approach known as “gender”. This donor-driven strategy is failing. The jargon of gender programmes is ambiguous and easily misunderstood. It fosters inaction and lip service on the part of patriarchal African governments and civil servants. Gender has become the preserve of the educated elite. The voices of African women have been lost.
[more inside]
posted by infini on Mar 8, 2014 - 6 comments

live to your last day

Last Day for Last Abortion Clinic in the Rio Grande. “Honestly, I think they’ll go south of the border, if they have to,” said a 23-year-old woman who was one of the last patients to be seen at the clinic and who traveled to San Antonio for her abortion last month. “It’s cheaper and it’s closer. To go to San Antonio is so much more of a hassle and costs a lot more.”
posted by four panels on Mar 6, 2014 - 81 comments

Borders

In the beginning, all saris were created equal, then they weren’t. enter the border: functional accoutrement, artisanal medium, class distinction.
posted by infini on Feb 24, 2014 - 36 comments

Trusting God

Patrick Henry College has been called "God's Harvard." The tiny, elite school is considered a safe haven for fundamentalist evangelical Christians. It teaches a dominionist "Biblical Worldview" and has a uniquely religious campus culture (pdf) that emphasizes evangelical moral values. Which leaves female students in a particular bind: How do you report sexual assault at a place where authorities seem skeptical that such a thing even exists?
posted by zarq on Feb 18, 2014 - 154 comments

The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean

Over the course of nearly 20 centuries, millions of East Africans crossed the Indian Ocean and its several seas and adjoining bodies of water in their journey to distant lands, from Arabia and Iraq to India and Sri Lanka. Called Kaffir, Siddi, Habshi, or Zanji, these men, women and children from Sudan in the north to Mozambique in the south Africanized the Indian Ocean world and helped shape the societies they entered and made their own. Free or enslaved, soldiers, servants, sailors, merchants, mystics, musicians, commanders, nurses, or founders of dynasties, they contributed their cultures, talents, skills and labor to their new world, as millions of their descendants continue to do. Yet, their heroic odyssey remains little known. The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean World traces a truly unique and fascinating story of struggles and achievements across a variety of societies, cultures, religions, languages and times.
posted by infini on Feb 6, 2014 - 9 comments

Con Men! Artistocrats! Nancy Boys! Radiothearpy and More!

The Trickster Prince is academic and historian Matt Houlbrook's blog about the ephemera and little-known stories of the English inter-war period (and before) with a focus on class-jumping, queer narratives, "faking it", and urban society in the 20s and 30s.
posted by The Whelk on Feb 5, 2014 - 13 comments

Computer History According to Law & Order

Artist Jeff Thompson received a Rhizome commission in 2012 for his project Computers on Law & Order, for which he watched every episode of the long-running television series and took screenshots of all the computers. Thompson will present an illustrated lecture based on the project this Saturday, Feb 1 at 4pm at the Museum of the Moving Image, followed by a discussion with Law & Order graphic designer Kevin Raper. In this article, he shares some of his findings.
posted by infini on Feb 1, 2014 - 26 comments

Understanding Ourselves: Personal Identity is Mostly Performance

"Without external props, even our personal identity fades and goes out of focus. The self is a fragile construction of the mind."
posted by rcraniac on Jan 31, 2014 - 33 comments

Peekaboo--I see you!

In an interview with German television station ARD TV, Edward Snowden has alleged that the NSA is actively engaged in industrial espionage on behalf of US economic interests, targeting German engineering firm, Siemens and other international industrial concerns in its data collection activities, with no legitimate intelligence aims in mind. While the international response to the new allegations is still developing, back home in the US, Snowden has already been accused of disloyalty by US officials on both sides of the aisle, and at least one NSA analyst is on record stating he would personally "love to put a bullet in his head." (Previously)
posted by saulgoodman on Jan 27, 2014 - 90 comments

Sociologist Cat is Watching You Text...in Public

Keith Hampton, an associate professor in Rutgers' School of Communication and Information, filmed people in Bryant Park (among other locations) in an ongoing effort to recreate and update sociologist William H. Whyte's Street Life Project. [more inside]
posted by DiscourseMarker on Jan 20, 2014 - 3 comments

Civic Crowdfunding

Rodrigo Davis of the MIT Center for Civic Media is currently researching crowdfunding for civic and community purposes. Some of the issues he covers includes the ethics of crowdfunding (including Kickstarter's seduction guide debacle and Gawker's attempt to crowdfund a video showing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack), a case study of Kansas City's crowdfunding campaign for their bikeshare program, a timeline of online crowdfunding since 2000, and how the Statue of Liberty was made possible via crowdfunding.
posted by divabat on Jan 19, 2014 - 8 comments

It's like that scene from Amazon Women on The Moon...but less funny

On Lulu, women can rate men in categories — ex-boyfriend, crush, together, hooked-up, friend or relative — with a multiple-choice quiz. Women, their gender verified by their Facebook logins, add pink hashtags to a man’s profile ranging from the good (#KinkyInTheRightWays) to the bad (#NeverSleepsOver) to the ugly (#PornEducated). The hashtags are used to calculate a score generated by Lulu, ranging from 1 to 10, that appears under the man’s profile picture. (The company’s spokeswoman declined to explain the ratings algorithm.) Men can add hashtags, which appear in blue, but these are not factored into their overall score. (SLNYT)
posted by sio42 on Nov 21, 2013 - 482 comments

"Dwarven society is more egalitarian than… human feudal societies were"

Dwarf Fortress: A Marxist Analysis
What one does in Dwarf Fortress is create a colony of an existing dwarven fortress – you’re always sent out as a team from a much larger existing stronghold elsewhere, and your foreign relations with other dwarves are limited to that particular fortress, on the whole. Even though your settlement is independent and self-governing, and the relations with the mother fortress mostly those of trade, the purpose of the game in all its open-endedness can be nothing other than to create oneself in the image of the previous fortress. In other words, fundamentally in Dwarf Fortress you reproduce the existing structure of dwarven society on a merely quantitatively expanded scale.
[more inside]
posted by Eideteker on Oct 25, 2013 - 29 comments

Countries within Nations

Chinese Provinces and Indian States : "local leaders are increasingly running much of India and China, which are home to a third of all humanity, from the bottom up. That is affecting how both countries act in the world, which means that these countries need to be understood from the inside out"
posted by Gyan on Oct 25, 2013 - 5 comments

A way for the monkey mind to cope with the modern world

The Melancholy of Subculture Society, an essay on the rise of multiple subcultures, the idea of “opting out” of the mainstream culture and the social and psychological benefits of the existence of alternative status hierarchies. [more inside]
posted by acb on Oct 22, 2013 - 18 comments

No sex please, we're Japanese

Young people in Japan are increasingly abstaining from romantic relationships and sex. The media refers to this phenomenon as sekkusu shinai shokogun, or "celibacy syndrome". [more inside]
posted by acb on Oct 20, 2013 - 109 comments

myths of heaven

Joan Roosa, wife of Apollo 14 Lunar Module Pilot Stu Roosa, recalled "I was at a party one night in Houston. A woman standing behind me, who had no idea who I was, said 'I've slept with every astronaut who has been to the Moon.' ...I said 'Pardon me, but I don't think so'".
posted by four panels on Oct 4, 2013 - 53 comments

Distance equation

  1. It is strange, in my opinion, that the insurance market has evolved so, that so few individuals understand the fundamentals of the medical insurance plans they are insured under."
  2. Among the 19% polled who are uninsured, nearly four in 10 don't realize the law requires them to get health insurance next year. Among young people, whose participation is seen as crucial for the exchanges to work, just 56% realize there's a mandate to be insured or face a fine.
  3. Health policy is an extremely personal and complicated topic... Observing historical patterns of attempted healthcare reform and backlash towards these reforms, we may begin to understand what is keeping such a prominent and promising nation from enlisting a social contract of health.

posted by four panels on Sep 26, 2013 - 172 comments

Game behind gamed: your narrative programming for the day

How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio[1] actually makes a case against austerity[2] and for redistribution, but also for money printing (and, arguably, for bailouts), while stressing the need to keep making productivity-improving public and private investments. However, it could be equally entitled: How The Industrial Age Political-Economy Doesn't Work Anymore, viz. Surviving Progress (2011)... [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Sep 25, 2013 - 28 comments

Good Job

In a “third-world” city, a self-styled tour guide might be tipped in return for leading a group of sightseers. In Italy, a Neapolitan street urchin might offer to protect a parked car in return for a gratuity.

In both cases, the inference is clear: if you don’t employ me, I will hurt you. This thinly veiled extortion is the subtext to much tipping: if the propertied individual doesn’t comply with the demands of the semi-employed, something terrible might happen to them or their things. So tipping began essentially as a way to stave off violence by the indigent, forgotten people; it is a social contract adhered to by the privileged class who fear and disdain the less fortunate and are aware of the failure of their own class to create equity.
posted by four panels on Sep 18, 2013 - 42 comments

The first decade

Portrait of a Ten-Year-Old Canadian Girl
posted by zarq on Sep 18, 2013 - 10 comments

"Only fear can stop it. We are the youth of India. We are her voice."

On Tuesday, a court in India convicted four men of "rape, unnatural sex, murder, conspiracy and destruction of evidence" after they brutally gang-raped a woman on a bus in Delhi last December. The woman died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital. When news broke, it sparked protests (previously) and raised awareness worldwide about the plight of many women in India. Now that the verdict is in, the Guardian analyzes the incident to see how "the nation's surge to superpower status has left millions behind struggling on the margins." (Links in this post contain descriptions of rape and assault which some may find disturbing.) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 12, 2013 - 16 comments

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