Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News Editorials & Other Articles General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


cinematicdiversions's Journal
cinematicdiversions's Journal
March 23, 2022

Should Leopards Be Paid for Their Spots?


When Jacqueline Kennedy was living in the White House, in the early sixties, she relied upon the taste of Oleg Cassini, the costume designer turned couturier, to supply her with a wardrobe that would befit her role as First Lady, one of the most photographed women in the world. In 1962, Cassini provided her with a striking leopard coat. Knee-length, with three-quarter sleeves and six buttons that fastened across the chest, the coat was not made from a synthetic leopard-patterned fabric. Rather, it consisted of the pelts of several formerly wild, living leopards, which had been hunted and slaughtered for their alluring, treacherous skins. Fashion-wise, the garment was a great success: the demand for Jackie-style leopard coats soared. For leopards, the trend was a disaster. It has been estimated that a quarter of a million leopards died to satisfy consumers wanting to dress like Jackie. A decade after Cassini made the First Lady’s coat, the U.S. government placed leopards on the endangered-species list, making it illegal to import their skins.

It is an irony of nature that although the leopard’s spots—or, more accurately, rosettes—evolved as a form of camouflage, the same characteristics that allow leopards to lurk unseen by their prey in a dappled forest or on a dusty savanna render the creature’s hide irresistibly eye-catching to human observers. Leopard skin has been repurposed as prestigious clothing for humans for millennia, notably by the ancient Egyptians, for whom feline characteristics were linked with aspects of divinity: Bastet, a goddess associated with femininity and a protector of the home, was represented as a woman with the head of a lioness. An Egyptian stela dating from more than four and a half thousand years ago, now in the collection of the Louvre, depicts the Princess Nefertiabet dressed in what looks like elegant contemporary evening wear. Seated, she is clad in a slim, ankle-length sheath spotted with the rosettes of a leopard. The garment may be made from the skin of a leopard, but it may also be trompe-l’oeil: the Egyptians not only wore leopard pelts but also painted linen with spots to resemble them, or wove the pattern into woollen fabric, according to Shannon Bell-Price and Elyssa Da Cruz, the authors of an essay in “Wild: Fashion Untamed,” a publication to accompany a show that opened in 2004 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Bell-Price and Da Cruz note that the representation of a fringe on the bottom of a garment is a telltale sign that it is definitively faux, not fur.

This cognitive split between species and pattern—between the leopard and its spots—has lately become the subject of academic study, with conservation-minded scholars analyzing data generated by fashion trends. Caroline Good Markides, formerly a research fellow in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, did not set out to be an advocate for animals; her background is as an art historian, with a focus on British art of the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth century. In her doctoral research, she examined the then emergent genre of still-life painting, or “dead-standing things,” as such works were first characterized in English in the middle of the seventeenth century. At the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, which Good Markides joined early in her career, her work involved exploring the cultural significance of representations of endangered wildlife in art. One day, during a staff discussion about the plight of lions, several colleagues remarked on the difficulty of engendering interest in them in Britain, given that lions are not native to the country.

“I was thinking about it afterward, and I realized that, actually, there are lions everywhere,” Good Markides told me recently. There are the three heraldic lions passant guardant—striding, with heads turned toward the viewer—that have been included on the royal arms of England since the late twelfth century. There are the four bronze lions reclining on pedestals at the foot of Nelson’s Column, in Trafalgar Square, a feature of the cityscape since the eighteen-sixties. There are the three lions emblazoned on the English soccer team’s shirt and celebrated in the chart-topping anthem of the sport in England, “Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home)”; a crowned lion is the emblem of the Premier League, the U.K.’s top-tier soccer league. Even British eggs have lions on them, stamped with the image of the beast as a quality seal since the late nineties. Despite lions having died out in Britain more than twelve thousand years ago, the creature still has a charged symbolic power—one that could be harnessed, Good Markides speculated, to the benefit of lions themselves.


I am in favor of bringing wild lions back to England BTW... as well as bringing Dragons to Wales.

March 23, 2022

​​From millionaires to Muslims, small subgroups of the population seem much larger to many Americans


When it comes to estimating the size of demographic groups, Americans rarely get it right. In two recent YouGov polls, we asked respondents to guess the percentage (ranging from 0% to 100%) of American adults who are members of 43 different groups, including racial and religious groups, as well as other less frequently studied groups, such as pet owners and those who are left-handed.

When people’s average perceptions of group sizes are compared to actual population estimates, an intriguing pattern emerges: Americans tend to vastly overestimate the size of minority groups. This holds for sexual minorities, including the proportion of gays and lesbians (estimate: 30%, true: 3%), bisexuals (estimate: 29%, true: 4%), and people who are transgender (estimate: 21%, true: 0.6%).

It also applies to religious minorities, such as Muslim Americans (estimate: 27%, true: 1%) and Jewish Americans (estimate: 30%, true: 2%). And we find the same sorts of overestimates for racial and ethnic minorities, such as Native Americans (estimate: 27%, true: 1%), Asian Americans (estimate: 29%, true: 6%), and Black Americans (estimate: 41%, true: 12%).

Black Americans estimate that, on average, Black people make up 52% of the U.S. adult population; non-Black Americans estimate the proportion is roughly 39%, closer to the real figure of 12%. First-generation immigrants we surveyed estimate that first-generation immigrants account for 40% of U.S. adults, while non-immigrants guess it is around 31%, closer to the actual figure of 14%.


Interesting article but part of me really wonders what conclusions can be drawn. It is as if people believe the demographics on TV are the same as real life.

March 17, 2022

One Year After the Atlanta Shooting, Anti-Asian Attacks Are Still Proliferating. Has Anyone Noticed?


Exactly one year ago, on March 16, a white man killed eight people—six of whom were Asian women—at three different Asian-run massage parlors in Atlanta. His victims were Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Delaina Yaun, 33; Paul Michels, 54; Suncha Kim, 69; Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; and Yong Ae Yue, 63.

Shortly after the attack, local police publicly expressed doubt that the incident was a hate crime against Asian Americans, noting that the shooter, Robert Aaron Long, had told police he had a “sex addiction” and carried out the attack because he saw Asian women massage workers as a sexual “temptation.” Police, in other words, seemed to take the young, white, male shooter at his word and believed that Long’s admission that he had been motivated by gender and sexuality meant the attack couldn’t possibly stem from anti-Asian hate.

Rhacel Salazar Parrenas, a professor of gender studies and Asian American studies at the University of Southern California, says the anniversary of Atlanta is made all the more difficult by “public silence.” Parrenas tells Jezebel it’s as if the shooting was “forgotten overnight,” despite continued—if not escalated—violence specifically targeting Asian women recently. “It’s a reminder of this unique racialization of Asians, and Asian women in particular, as expendable foreigners in this country,” she said. This racialization was certainly heightened by the onset of the covid pandemic, nicknamed the “China virus” by the former president, and inspiring a wave of anti-Asian, racist attacks.

The anniversary of the Atlanta shooting comes a week after a New York man assaulted and punched a 67-year-old Asian woman 125 times outside her apartment building. Earlier this year, in the span of one month, an Asian-American woman named Michelle Go was pushed to her death onto subway tracks, and another, Christina Yuna Lee, was stalked and stabbed 40 times by a man who followed her into her Chinatown apartment. The continuing attacks on Asian communities, which faced an almost exponential surge in racist harassment and violence amid the pandemic, have particularly targeted Asian women, who accounted for nearly 70% of reported anti-Asian hate incidents last year.


Attacks against Asian woman and elderly seem to be on the rise in our cities, yet we choose too often to ignore it and refuse too often to label it as the hate crimes they truly are.
March 14, 2022

U.S. eliminates human controls requirement for fully automated vehicles


WASHINGTON, March 10 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators on Thursday issued final rules eliminating the need for automated vehicle manufacturers to equip fully autonomous vehicles with manual driving controls to meet crash standards.

Automakers and tech companies have faced significant hurdles to deploying automated driving system (ADS) vehicles without human controls because of safety standards written decades ago that assume people are in control.

Last month, General Motors Co (GM.N) and its self-driving technology unit Cruise petitioned the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for permission to build and deploy a self-driving vehicle without human controls like steering wheels or brake pedals.

The rules revise regulations that assume vehicles "will always have a driver's seat, a steering wheel and accompanying steering column, or just one front outboard passenger seating position."


I knew this would come eventually, but I admit I was not expecting it this soon.
March 14, 2022

Jane Campion says Serena and Venus Williams don't 'play against the guys like I have to'


After making waves by weighing in on actor Sam Elliott's "sexist" criticism of her film, "The Power of the Dog," director Jane Campion continued her commentary on gender inequality in the entertainment industry and sparked backlash by calling out two iconic athletes.

Speaking onstage at the Critics Choice Awards on Sunday while accepting the best director award, Campion, 67, gave a shoutout to her fellow directing nominees (the "guys," as she describes the rest of the all-male directors nominated this year) before she turned her attention to two all-star audience members: Tennis icons Serena and Venus Williams.

"Serena and Venus, you are such marvels. However, you do not play against the guys like I have to," she said with a laugh, hoisting her trophy above her head as the rest of the audience cheered and applauded. (Both sisters have won multiple mixed doubles tournaments against male tennis players.)

"jane taking time out of her best director speech to tell two Black women that she is more oppressed than them is PEAK white feminism," Jodie Turner-Smith tweeted.


No word yet on Sam Elliot's take on woman's tennis.
March 10, 2022

War in Ukraine will cripple global food markets


In october 1914 the Ottoman Empire, having just joined the first world war, blockaded the Dardanelles Strait, the only route for Russian wheat to travel to Britain and France. The world had entered the conflict with wheat stocks 12% above the five-year average, but losing over 20% of the global traded supply of the crop overnight set food markets ablaze. Having risen by a fifth since June 1914, wheat prices in Chicago, the international benchmark, leapt by another 45% over the following quarter.

Today Russia and Ukraine, respectively the largest and fifth-largest wheat exporters, together account for 29% of international annual sales. And after several poor harvests, frantic buying during the pandemic and supply-chain issues since, global stocks are 31% below the five-year average. But this time it is the threat of embargoes from the West that has lit a bonfire—and the flames are higher than even during the Great War. Wheat prices, which were already 49% above their 2017-21 average in mid-February, have risen by another 30% since the invasion of Ukraine started on February 24th. Uncertainty is sky-high: indicators of price volatility compiled by ifpri, a think-tank, are flashing bright red.

The fallout from the war will be felt in three ways: disruption to current grain shipments, low or inaccessible future harvests in Ukraine and Russia, and withered production in other parts of the world. Start with shipments. In normal times wheat and barley crops are harvested in the summer and exported in the autumn; by February most ships are gone. But these are not normal times: with global stocks low, big importers of Black Sea wheat, chiefly in the Middle East and North Africa, are anxious to secure more supplies. They are not getting them. Ukrainian ports are shut. Some have been bombed. Inland routes, via the north of Ukraine and onwards through Poland, are too great a diversion to be practical. Vessels trying to pick up grain from Russia have been hit by missiles in the Black Sea. Most cannot get insurance.

Most alarming will be the conflict’s impact on agriculture worldwide. The region is a big supplier of critical fertiliser components, including natural gas and potash. Fertiliser prices had already doubled or tripled, depending on the type, even before the war, owing to rising energy and transport costs and sanctions imposed in 2021 on Belarus, which produces 18% of the world’s potash, as it cracked down on dissidents. As Russia, which accounts for 20% of global output, finds it harder to export its own potash, prices are sure to rise further. Since four-fifths of the world’s potash is traded internationally, the impact of price spikes will be felt in every agricultural region in the world, warns Humphrey Knight of cru, a consultancy.


Honestly, this is a bigger problem than the oil prices. Especially for countries in Africa that have to subsidise their peoples' food.

March 10, 2022

Both OCP Consumer Products and Weyland-Utani are now pulling out of Russia.

This is on the heels of Umbrella Corporation, Tyrell Corporation, Cyberdyne Systems, and Initech pulling out.

Soon all that will be left is Pepsi and Soylent.

March 9, 2022

How the invasion of Ukraine will spread hunger in the Middle East and Africa


THE LAST time Egypt raised bread prices, the Soviet Union was still intact. Since 1989 subsidised bakeries have offered 20 loaves of aish baladi, a glutinous pita that is the country’s staple, for one Egyptian pound. Back then that sum was worth almost $1. Today it is worth about six cents, less than a tenth of what it costs to produce the bread.

The state spends 45bn pounds ($2.9bn) a year to make up the difference, more than half its total food-subsidy bill. No government has dared tinker with this generous, expensive arrangement. Bread is the main source of calories for millions of Arabs, and thus one of the most sensitive issues in politics. In past decades higher prices led to riots in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and elsewhere.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has sent commodity prices surging, may compel Arab governments to think the unthinkable. Costly wheat will blow up budgets in the Middle East, perhaps forcing subsidy cuts that leave citizens hungry. Across sub-Saharan Africa, higher oil prices will strain budgets that are already creaking under the burden of a debt splurge.

All this may mean not just hardship, but also unrest. President Anwar Sadat tried to do away with Egypt’s bread subsidy in 1977; he reversed his decision within days, after riots that had to be quelled by the army. Ethiopia’s revolution of 1974 followed an oil-price shock, which saw taxi drivers take to the streets in protest. Higher food prices in 2008 and 2009 helped set off the revolts of the Arab spring, and protests that eventually led to the toppling of Omar al-Bashir in Sudan in 2019. Many Arab and African governments have refused to express support for either side in the current conflict, arguing that it is not their war. They will soon feel its effects nonetheless.


To me this is a bigger story than oil prices. We can easily absorb the higher prices but starvation and unrest are a real threat in much of the world.
March 9, 2022

I am boycotting Russian Roulette. What Russian things are you boycotting?

Dressing, Poutine, Nesting Dolls, Brides?

Profile Information

Member since: Sun Mar 28, 2021, 05:24 PM
Number of posts: 1,969
Latest Discussions»cinematicdiversions's Journal