#WomenInScience Day

Yesterday was Women and Girls in Science Day, which I only found out when it was almost over.

In the spirit of my work, here’s an article via The Atlantic, The History of Women in Science is Hidden in Plain Sight.

Over the last few years, a team of students led by Emilia Huerta-Sánchez from Brown University and Rori Rohlfs from San Francisco State University have been searching through two decades’ worth of acknowledgments in genetics papers and discovering women who were never given the credit that would be expected for today’s researchers. They identified dozens of female programmers who made important but unrecognized contributions. Some were repeatedly thanked in the acknowledgments of several papers, but were never recognized as authors. They became literal footnotes in scientific history, despite helping to make that history.

“When Emilia and I look at our elders in population genetics, there are very, very few women,” says Rohlfs. “But there were women and they were doing this work. To even know that they existed is a big deal to me.”

That seems to be the key – to even know that they existed. I know every time I find out about a woman in a field of science previously understood to be all male, I have Feelings, and it always feels like a big deal.

And I wish it wouldn’t.

Contrasts

As I am in Vilnius until Wednesday, I would like to take this small moment to cast a shadow (work will most likely occupy the rest of my time). Thank you, Nightjar, for those lovely photos of flowers and sunshine (really – today I got back to the hotel, refreshed Affinity, and it was… wow) – in sharp contrast, this is what we have: a look at Vilnius in evening (NB: there is still light, a month ago it would be completely dark!).

©rq, all rights reserved.

Here is a song from Estonia, to complete the Baltic triptych:

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The End Is Nigh

The end of winter at least seems to be nigh, but since one can never know what March will bring, it’s best not to cheer too loudly yet. (Actually, I wouldn’t mind real winter for another couple of weeks, it’s the yoyo I hate. Pick one, Winter. You can’t have it both ways.) The one noticeable difference now is the light – it is no longer dark outside when I leave work (had a bit of a shock Friday). Yay!

But today we will take a short look back at the Winter That Was, because it is, after all, Ronja’s favourite season.

Drive-by photo because she will not sit still if there’s snow to be et.
©rq, all rights reserved.

Well, usually…

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Love Is Metaphysical Gravity

That, apparently, is a quote by R Buckminster Fuller. It is also the title of a series of photographs by Reuben Wu, taken in Spitzbergen, with a particular focus on the Svalbard Satellite Station. About the series:

Taken on Spitzbergen, in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, Reuben Wu’s images detail the breathtaking appearance of our planet’s extremities. His photograph series Love Is Metaphysical Gravity is a visual feast of soft pink and blue colour tones, artic landscapes, dreamy auroras and the incomprehensible beauty of the unpolluted night’s sky.

[…]

While Love Is Metaphysical Gravity in part serves as a documentary of the remote islands and the radomes of the Svalbard Satellite Station, what it is perhaps most sensitive to is this: It may be one of the most uninhabited places on Earth, but Spitsbergen is no stranger to communication.

Picking out favourites out of that icy landscape is a challenge, but here’s a couple from Reuben’s website:

Love Is Metaphysical Gravity by Reuben Wu

Love Is Metaphysical Gravity by Reuben Wu. This one is by far my absolute favourite. Turns out it is possible to choose after all!

Love Is Metaphysical Gravity by Reuben Wu

For full effect and full-size pictures, visit his site, and there’s plenty more to explore, too. I sense a timesink of the best kind.

 

Urban Rainbow

I had slightly different plans, but what with the news and all, I think we can all use some rainbows instead.

If things get any worse, I will start posting picture of (one of) my cat(s).

©rq, all rights reserved.

©rq, all rights reserved.

Edited to add this, decidedly not my photo, but amazing rainbows nonetheless:

This is in Iceland, apparently.

 

Better Examples

That poor Gillette ad got a lot of comments of all kinds. This morning I read another commentary, mostly due to the title – Why The Gillette Ad Isn’t Just About Boys and Men – It’s About My Three Daughters, Too:

When it comes to female characters, our daughters (three of them: ages 7, 5 and 2) have much more choice than when I was growing up in the ’80s. They are fans of Merida from Brave and Moana from, well, Moana, both girls who push back on what their societies expect of them. They just discovered the newly re-launched Carmen Sandiego with its kick-ass female lead, and Doc McStuffins is always a solid choice.

But when it comes to male characters, most of them consist of lightly camouflaged stereotypes of the “strong man” trope. Both Moana and Merida’s fathers are large, physically strong and are chiefs of their tribe. They only reluctantly give up their conservative views about their daughters by the end of the movies. Merida’s brothers (triplets) are always portrayed as fighting or eating, a classic example of the “boys will be boys” trope called out in the Gillette spot.

And good luck with anything from the past. Our daughters recently watched the Christmas classic Home Alone, where Kevin McCallister takes his queues from the male characters he sees on TV in gangster and western movies. “It’s my house and I have to defend it,” he concludes, setting the stage for the violence to come.

I know this is something that our very own Giliell has been saying from time to time, and I can only agree, so it was nice to see it in writing: choices for girls have broadened into the traditionally ‘masculine’, but boys have not seen that same expansion into the traditionally ‘feminine’ space.

But that article pointed me towards another mencare (I did, I really did!) product company out there, with a much better ad: Harry’s.

Harry’s, another razor company, has an ad I really like but hasn’t seen nearly as much fanfare as the Gillette ad. In fact, I believe it works better in actually changing our views of men.

… Says Joseph Wilson at the CBC.

Is he right? Well, the ad features Ludacris (of Fast and Furious fame, there he is in the back!):

A very masculine set of movies, I’ll tell you, and I’ve seen them all. But Ludacris, one among the manly men, does things a little differently in the short video. I think I like it:

Whether you prefer Harry’s method or Gillette’s, both are much-needed in the dialogue about masculinity. One for calling out the bad behaviour, the other for just plain showing the better example. More, please.

(No song today. I had some ideas, but I think this time I will leave it at that.)

 

Season of the Ice Sculpture

Just checking in, with some lovely photos from the old military fort on the west coast:

Foto: Māris Ankevics

Winter is in full swing here, with the right proper terrible weather we should be having this time of year. I’m thoroughly enjoying it (this is my season), although I’m enjoying the accompanying flu season far less.

Foto: Māris Ankevics

I hope everyone is staying warm and safe and healthy! I have a feeling we still have some… interesting… weather ahead of us.

 

Sex, Torture and the Nazis

Well, if you came here for sex, or torture, or Nazis, I am not sorry to disappoint you. I just stole that title from the CBC article featured in this post.

Instead, I want to talk about Norm Eastman. For someone whose art was so ubiquitous, there is surprisingly little information to find – some sources even label him an American artist. He is, however, Canadian – the CBC story is fairly short, but it provides interesting insight into an artist whose art is simultaneously recognizable and somehow obscure. I think part of this obscurity is due to the perceived anonymity of many cover artists, especially those working in pulp fiction (that is, not ‘literature’, according to… someone). Well, perhaps with time, notoriety – or at least, recognition – eventually follows:

Few people would have guessed that shy, unassuming Norm Eastman — born in St. Stephen [New Brunswick] and trained at Mount Allison University — was one of the top illustrators fuelling the fantasies of a generation of young men.

“We used to hide those illustrations under the bed or in the closet,” said Jane Eastman, Norm’s wife of 27 years.

“He thought it was funny. Norm probably was the most moral person I’ve ever known, he really was. It was a matter of being able to afford a loaf of bread and peanut butter to eat.”

Times sure do change. In 2019, original Norman Eastman illustrations can sell to collectors for as much as $15,000.

But how Eastman’s bodice-ripping illustrations made it from small-town New Brunswick into the hands of millions of readers is a story that remains, for the most part, untold.

Pause here, because I would like to point out that Eastman was certainly talented – I particularly like this one, one of his early self-portraits:

Portrait of the artist as a young man: a self-portrait in oils Norm Eastman painted in 1952 as his final project in the fine arts program at Mount Allison University. (Submitted by Owens Art Gallery ) From the CBC link.

I like his feel for light and shadow, all those detailed accents and reflections. His style here reminds me of someone well-known, but I can’t for the life of me say who. Anyway, moving on:

In 1958, Eastman brought his portfolio to the iconic U.S. artist Norman Rockwell, who said Eastman’s art was “of very high quality” and encouraged him to move to the United States.

Eastman took Rockwell’s advice — and in 1959 moved to New York City, where he rented a studio in an badly heated, roach-infested warehouse. Breaking into the publishing scene was slow going.

“He was very poor in New York,” his wife said. “It was really, really poor living.”

He got his first big break drawing for men’s magazines — but the subject matter was fairly predictable.

“They wanted beautiful girls, big bosoms and torture,” Jane said. “But never show the girl grimacing. She’s always got to be pretty.”

That last line there. How tenacious these ideas can be.

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What Lunar Eclipse?

For a bunch of fanatics with cameras, I feel like we’ve really dropped the ball on this one.

To partially remedy the situation, here’s my favourite photo as posted by the CBC:

An aircraft passes the full moon as the lunar eclipse begins in Frankfurt. (Michael Probst/Associated Press)

 

(Turaidas Roze was a big thing in the ’80s and ’90s, with the lead singer becoming a very prominent figure in music circles even unto this day. This one’s called Dedication to Midnight, and is a break-up song – the chorus: Don’t come with me, I will go on alone; Who will accompany me? The Moon and the Big Dipper.)

Cracking the Iron Curtain

[Note: This is not a historian’s overview of the events, so if you want to pick at the historical details, feel free to do so but don’t expect me to participate. I have compiled several sources of information and added my own personal impressions. That is all.]

It was two weeks in the frigid January air, two weeks waiting for an unknown future, two weeks that culminated in a night of violence but a final victory, of sorts.

The Barricades (LatvianBarikādes) were a series of confrontations between the Republic of Latvia and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in January 1991 which took place mainly in Riga. The events are named for the popular effort of building and protecting barricades from 13 January until about 27 January. Latvia, which had declared restoration of independence from the Soviet Union a year earlier, anticipated that Soviet Union might attempt to regain control over the country by force. After attacks by the Soviet OMON on Riga in early January, the government called on people to build barricades for protection of possible targets (mainly in the capital city of Riga and nearby Ulbroka, as well as Kuldīga and Liepāja). Six people were killed in further attacks, several were wounded in shootings or beaten by OMON. Most victims were shot during the Soviet attack on the Latvian Ministry of the Interior on January 20. One other person died in a building accident reinforcing the barricades. Casualties among Soviet loyalists are considered likely, but the exact number remains unknown. A total of 15,611 people have registered as having been participants of the Barricades,[citation needed] but other data suggests that more than 32,000 Latvians took part.

(wikipedia)

There’s a small photo gallery here (25 photos).

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Not a Solution

To be honest, it’s a serious medical condition, but I can’t help but feel a smidgeon of envy:

A woman in China is making headlines for a rare type of temporary hearing condition that makes her unable to hear men. According to the Daily Mail, the patient, only identified as Ms. Chen, woke up one morning and couldn’t hear her boyfriend speak.

Unfortunately, the condition seems to be brought on by a lot of stress and fatigue:

The night before, Chen felt nausea and suffered from a ringing in her ears. She was also under a lot of stress, working late and not getting enough sleep. Chen thought little of it and went to sleep as usual before waking up with the condition.

Doctors were initially puzzled by her symptoms, but she was eventually diagnosed with “reverse-slope hearing loss, in which she could only hear high frequencies.”

[…]

Dr. Xiaoqing believes fatigue and too much stress may have contributed to Chen’s hearing loss and expects her to make a full recovery.

I’m glad to hear, but perhaps in the meantime, someone can invent a certain type of earphones that produces the same effect? I’d buy a pair and wear them at work. It won’t stop the mansplaining, but it might buffer enough sound to reduce my annoyance.

Driftwood Art

This short informative video caught my eye the other day:

The CBC covered the artist a couple of years ago:

When Alex Witcombe decided to make a raptor from driftwood, he never thought it would get so much attention.

The Comox Valley resident enjoys strolling on beaches and looking at the driftwood, and that became his studio space.

“I like the gnarly pieces,” he says. “Ones with character.”

One summer day he was walking on Stories Beach in Campbell River when he was just inspired by the driftwood and got to work, building ‘Sheila the dinosaur’ in just a day.

And now he does animals, aliens, and imaginary beasts, too! He’s also on Instagram. Here’s a couple more samples, via Seashore Inspirations:

And my favourite: