The Man on the Train
This is an illustration I did for my friend, Dai’s, PhD thesis. A part of his thesis involved a study around how some gay men (particularly those of a minority status) negotiate being gay outside of mainstream gay culture. One story that really stood out to me as being quite unique and touching involved a middle-aged fellow who has never been intimate with another man, doesn’t necessarily identify as being gay, but spends his days knitting baby socks on park benches and on the train as a way to perform his ‘gayness’. As he still lives at home with an extremely conservative family this is essentially the only way he knows to express his sexuality.
Kojima, D. (2014). Migrant intimacies: Mobilities-in-difference and basue tactics in queer Asian diasporas. Anthropologica 56(1), pp.33-44.
Elizabeth Schulte reports on the terrible toll from corporate negligence at General Motors—and recounts her own experience with the continuing recall runaround.
Apr. 8 2014
FIFTY-SEVEN cents. That’s what it would have cost General Motors (GM) to change a faulty part to blame for crashes that have killed at least 13 people.
The calculation comes from a 2005 internal company document obtained by congressional investigators, who provided the evidence for an April 1 congressional hearing on GM.
The automaker has been forced to announce a recall of some 2.6 million cars with faulty ignition switches that could turn off the engine—as well as disable the air bags, power steering and power brakes—at any moment. But company records also show that GM knew about the problem much earlier, and did nothing about it—choosing to gamble with the lives of car owners, rather than the company’s bottom line.
On February 13, GM announced the recall of several compact cars, including the Chevrolet Cobalt. Over the month, more vehicles were added to the list. On March 28, GM expanded the recall to more recent models—because some 90,000 defective switches had been installed as replacement parts in newer vehicles.
Today, six GM models—2005-10 Cobalts, 2006-10 Pontiac Solstices, 2007-10 Pontiac G5s and Saturn Skys, 2006-11 Chevrolet HHRs and 2003-7 Saturn Ions—are now part of the recall.
The problem can be traced to a part in the vehicle’s ignition switch—the switch indent plunger—that is less “springy” than it should be, making it possible for the ignition key to turn off the engine if it’s jostled. The part is about half an inch long and costs just 57 cents, according to comments at the April 1 hearing by Rep. Diana DeGette, based on the work of investigators.
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GM’S RECALL comes a decade too late for Amber Marie Rose, a 16-year-old from Maryland who died on July 29, 2005, after her Chevrolet Cobalt crashed into a tree. The ignition switch had shut down the car’s electrical system, and the air bags failed to deploy.
A little over a year before Amber’s accident—although “accident” is the wrong word for this act of deliberate negligence—company officials rejected an internal proposal to fix the problem in the Cobalt, because it would be too costly and take too long.
In December 2005, GM even sent its dealers a bulletin saying the ignition in Cobalts might turn off when “the driver is short and has a large and/or heavy key chain.” GM told dealers that “the customer should be advised of this potential and should…[remove] unessential items from their key chain.”
But GM kept manufacturing the cars, and it didn’t issue a recall.
Another “accident” took place on October 24, 2006, when 18-year-old Natasha Weigel and 15-year-old Amy Beskau were killed after their 2005 Cobalt went off the road in St. Croix County, Wis. An investigation showed the ignition switch was in the accessory position at the time of the crash, meaning the car didn’t have power at the moment of impact—no brakes, no steering and no airbags.
Still, GM saw no reason to recall its cars.
In 2010 in Georgia, the 2005 Chevy Cobalt Brooke Melton was driving suddenly shut off, causing the crash that killed her. The accident report said she lost control, was hit by another car and ended up in a creek. It was her 29th birthday.
When her family hired someone to investigate what happened, engineer Mark Hood bought a replacement switch from the dealership and noticed something strange. The switch was different from the switch in Melton’s car, yet it had the same identification number: 10392423.
Hood had discovered that GM and its parts supplier Delphi had changed the part some time in 2006 or 2007, but kept the change quiet. In other words, the carmaker identified the deadly problem with the car, quietly changed the part and told no one—including the owners of the cars with defective switches.
"I knew the minute I kissed her forehead, her cold forehead in the ICU, I knew there was something wrong with the car," Brooke’s father Ken told an Atlanta news station after hearing about the recall.
GM stopped production of the Cobalt in 2010, but there are still more than half a million of the cars out there.
Apr. 10 2014
I read a piece in The Guardian yesterday that said sexual harassment is bad but sometimes it’s not actually sexual harassment just sexual liberation being misinterpreted. I didn’t know that this needed to be said, but apparently it does: there is no intellectual argument to be made in the defense of sexual harassment.
Really. Try as you might, mostly cisgender heterosexual men, but the bottom line is you can’t theorize your way into a world where harassment of any kind is acceptable. Oh, and you will try. I know. Because the more pushback there is to the daily occurrences of street/sexual harassment, the more (y)our privilege becomes threatened, and the more that frightens many of us.
Most often, the defense wades into the territory of human attraction, a field most of us seek to understand but are hopelessly lost in when seeking answers. The thinking goes that what is “perceived” as harassment is actually flirtation. The objectification and sexualization of women’s bodies is an attempt at mating. These can be clumsy attempts, sure, but that’s only because our attraction overrides any sense of boundaries or social grace. We are beholden to lust.
So, the increasingly thin thinking goes, much of what is being called harassment is not something we need to be worried about. If women simply looked at it differently — as a compliment, as a remark on their level of attraction — they would see that what they’ve been complaining about is the evolution of human mating rituals. It’s not sexism. It’s harmless flirting that’s being discouraged by feminists who are overreacting to displays of overt sexuality. They are downright prudish.
And anyway, haven’t feminist been fighting for sexual liberation? Shouldn’t we all be free to directly proposition one another for sex, regardless of gender, because that’s what feminists have been arguing all along? Why call it harassment when it’s really just the logical conclusion of the sexual revolution?
If we’re still conflating harassment with attraction, then the point has not been made clear enough: harassment is about power, not about sex. When making lewd comments to a woman he doesn’t know on the street, a man is not flirting. He’s asserting his dominance. He’s reminding that woman of her “place.” He’s performing a masculinity based on control. This isn’t sexual liberation.
Which, let’s talk about being sexually liberated. That isn’t a license to approach any woman, anywhere, in any way that a man sees fit. The way toward liberation is not to ignore the power dynamics between the genders. We solve nothing by choosing to be blind to them. There will be men who are attracted to women. Likewise, there will be women who are attracted to men. Sometimes, this attraction will be purely sexual and both parties will want to act on that attraction. Great. Congrats to all parties involved. That’s not an excuse for sexual harassment.
The thing is, you can’t make the issue of sexual harassment into an intellectual exercise. It’s not about matching wits, or theory, or citing Freud, or whatever happened in Good Will Hunting. Sexual harassment is a lived experience, often traumatic, at its root degrading, and sometimes frightening. There is no theory that absolves one from that.
It’s at this point where the intellectual defenders say, “How will a man know what is considered harassment?” You could start by reading a book, smart guy. But within the context of a real life social interaction, there are always cues, verbal and physical, that if you haven’t picked up on, you’re probably doing a bad job at flirting anyway. Or, you’ve convinced yourself that your presence is a gift to all women and they all find you irresistible and their every action is an invitation. In that case, you’ve drank enough Kool-Aid from the fountain of privilege to last you through at least four divorces and multiple sexual harassment suits.
Boundaries will be determined by all parties involved, so yes, there’s no one size fits all rule. With consent, you can play with these dynamics and roles and power imbalances as you see fit. Do what makes you two (three, four, five…) happy.But it’s of the utmost importance, as a man interested in approaching a woman you don’t know, that you’re sensitive to the fact that she has likely been harassed, degraded, objectified, and name-called by a good number of men just because she exists. In this context, no, it’s probably not a good idea to start out with “hey, you wanna bone?” But I’m not here to give flirting tips. Figure that shit out on your own. My point here is to say that we can’t decide that simply because human attraction exists, there must be an intellectual component to sexual harassment that should be taken into consideration. There isn’t. Harassment is harassment.
How do you know what it is? She’ll tell you.
The first time it was reported that our friends were being butchered there was a cry of horror. Then a hundred were butchered. But when a thousand were butchered and there was no end to the butchery, a blanket of silence spread.
When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out “stop!”
When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible. When sufferings become unendurable the cries are no longer heard. The cries, too, fall like rain in summer.
Rescue bid launched to save Hainan gibbon from becoming first ape driven to extinction by humans.
- by Daniel Cressey
“China’s wildlife conservation efforts are under scrutiny as scientists battle to save a species found only in a tiny corner of an island in the South China Sea. The Hainan gibbon is the world’s rarest primate and its long-term survival is in jeopardy, according to an analysis.
Only 23 to 25 of the animals are thought to remain, clustered in less than 20 square kilometres of forest in China’s Hainan Island. The species (Nomascus hainanus), which numbered more than 2,000 in the late 1950s, has been devastated through the destruction of habitat from logging, and by poaching. Extinction would give the gibbon the unwelcome distinction of being the first ape to be wiped out because of human actions. To hammer out a plan to save it, international primate researchers convened an emergency summit in Hainan last month.
“With the right conservation management, it is still possible to conserve and recover the Hainan gibbon population,” says meeting co-chair Samuel Turvey, who studies animal extinctions at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). “But given the current highly perilous state of the species, we cannot afford to wait any longer before initiating a more proactive and coordinated recovery programme.” He adds that the meeting was a successful first step towards saving the animal and that a plan of action is being finalized.
The plan will be based in part on a ‘population viability analysis’ that models the potential size of the gibbon population in coming decades for a range of different scenarios. It is being drawn up by Kathy Traylor Holzer, a conservation planner at the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group in Apple Valley, Minnesota. “It’s one of the smallest populations I’ve ever worked with,” says Traylor Holzer. “That number — in one place — is extremely scary.”
Preliminary modelling, which considers factors such as breeding success, habitat changes and natural threats, suggests that the Hainan gibbon may be safe from extinction in the next couple of decades. But its restricted habitat means that a single catastrophic event, such as a typhoon or a disease outbreak, could wipe out the minuscule population. Furthermore, low genetic diversity in the remaining animals could result in unhealthy offspring because of inbreeding. To better understand the genetics of the animals, ZSL researchers are conducting DNA sequencing using collected faeces" (read more).
This is pretty serious stuff. Bayer might be about to overturn the EC’s decision to ban the pesticides implicated in killing off the bees! If they win this case, it could be truly disastrous for both the bees and our own future. Please share, and please see the SumOfUs link (no affiliation) to make a donation to help the campaign to save the bees.
Early in 2013, the European Food Safety Authority stated that three specific neonicotinoid insecticides (imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam) pose an acute risk to honeybees, and the European Commission proposed a two-year ban on them.
This is due to go into effect on Dec 1st – and the ban was introduced because of mounting scientific evidence that these insecticides, produced by Syngenta and Bayer, have been the agents responsible for Colony Collapse Disorder – a major problem threatening both the bees and the safety of our own food supply!
However in a horrifying twist, and despite huge public opposition, Syngenta and Bayer are now suing the European Commission over their “right” to continue to produce the pesticides which have been implicated in the massive die-off of millions of bees. Yes, their “right”. Because as we know, corporations’ sole agenda is to make money. They cannot let a trivial thing like nature get in their way.
These insecticides continue to be produced and used on a vast scale in the USA and in other countries and are huge moneymakers for the chemical corporations…
This threw up a few red flags when some of the links led to wiki pages but I looked up the lawsuit and it seems to be legit. Bayer is trying to lift the ban on pesticides that have been linked to the death of millions of bees in Europe. This is, unquestionably, terrible enough on its own, because bees are amazing little insects and deserve all our love, but if all the bees in the world go extinct, human life as we know it will change drastically. Produce will virtually cease to exist. That is a big freaking deal.
In addition to the donation page listed above, SumOfUs also has a petition going around that is still in need of signatures to help stop this. And it needs to be stopped. We cannot risk losing any more bees.
Bees get a pretty bad rap, but honestly? The scary, stingy things you’re afraid of? Most likely wasps. Bees, particularly honeybees and bumblebees, are just these fluffy little cuddle balls that fly around and pollinate stuff. They won’t sting you unless you’re a direct threat to them, because if they sting you, they’ll die. Don’t be scared of bees. Be scared for bees.
I’ve done as much looking around as I can because I know Tumblr is a cesspool of misinformation, and this looks as legit as it gets. Please tell people, sign the petition, and donate if you can.
And in the meantime, if you’re a gardner, please try to encourage bees to come to your garden. You can use the tips listed here. There’s also some information about different kinds of bees you might run into, in case you’d like to learn more about bees and why they’re wonderful.
Thanks for reading, guys. Please share this.
REALLY FUCKING IMPORTANT, REALLY REALLY FUCJING IMPORTANT
oh boy we’re all gonna’ die