NPR put together a nice graphic showing the most common job in every state every two years from 1978 to 2014. It’s a fascinating ride from secretaries, farmers, and machine operators to truck drivers, truck drivers, and truck drivers. Click to enlarge.
Quoctrung Bui explains some of the trends:
Truck drivers came to “dominate the map” partly because the job can’t be outsources or automated (yet).
Much of the work of secretaries was replaced by computers.
Manufacturing jobs have been sent overseas (but you knew that).
And advances in farming technology means that we can grow more and more food with fewer and fewer people.
She also points out — with a “heh” — that the most common job in Washington D.C. is lawyer. But she didn’t mention that in 1996 it was janitors. There’s gotta be a politician joke in there, too.
Here are some of the changes I found interesting, with mostly uninformed commentary. The three boxes represent 1978, 1996, and 2014.
Methinks reality television is not telling me the truth about Alaska.
Well, we know what Nevada‘s for. Except I guess people used to go there to do stuff and now they just go there to buy stuff.
South Dakota and North Dakota, holding strong.New York, the only state on the list that’s top job is nursing. Take that, Florida!
An article at Scientific American draws attention to the environmental cost of the commodification of flowers as a symbol of love. Carolyn Wheelan writes:
[Roses] are… fragile and almost always flown to the U.S. from warmer climes in South America, where roughly 80 percent of our roses take root; to warm the hearts of European sweethearts, they are most often imported from Africa. They are then hauled in temperature-controlled trucks across the U.S. or the Continent and locked up overnight in cold boxes before their onward journey to the florists of the world… sending the roughly 100 million roses of a typical Valentine’s Day produces some 9,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from field to U.S. florist.
When flowers aren’t shipped in to cooler climates, they must be grown in greenhouses, like the Yuzhny Greenhouse Farm in Russia pictured above. Some flower farms take the form of vast arrays of greenhouses that use energy to maintain a microclimate out of synch with the climate in which they are situated.
The SciAm article does a good job of pointing out that not all flower farms are equal and there are lots of more and less environmentally- and socially-conscious choices.Fair trade, worker-conscious, organic, and otherwise environmentally-friendly flower companies claim to offer an alternative. Florverde, for example, advertises its flowers as “for the earth, for the workers, for you”:
On Valentine’s day last year, my Facebook feed exploded with Pakistani memes that, on the one hand, used Islamic texts to criticize the day as unIslamic and, on the other, poked fun at the religious opposition to the holiday.
When I conducted interviews with Pakistani women in Karachi over the summer, I expected Valentine’s day to be a salient event for my participants. I did find religious resistance to Valentine’s Day. The more religious-minded participants were likely to say things like: “St. Valentine is remembered for fathering illegitimate children, so the day is sinful.”
Less religious women, however, seemed surprised that I even asked about it. “I can’t remember what I did,” they would say, or they would criticize it as “cheesy” or “too commercial.” A few respondents asked: “Why does there have to be one day for love? Every day should be a celebration of love.”
Based on the media, I was expecting a contest between people who embraced Valentine’s Day and people who rejected it, but I only found one side of the debate: the rejection. There didn’t seem to be a large group of women who embraced it. Among those who didn’t outright reject it, I discovered only disinterest.
All this suggests that the push to make Valentine’s Day a thing in Pakistan is more about capitalism and the globalization of Western norms and practices, than it is about a grassroots desire for such a celebration. It is the marketers, mall managers, and restaurant owners that seem most interested in Valentine’s Day. I originally thought of this as a battle between the religious and secular members of the society, but it seems to be, instead, a resistance by some to efforts of companies to find one more way to make money.
Fauzia Husain is a PhD student in sociology at the University of Virginia. She is currently studying globalization through an exploration of Pakistani women’s narratives about love.
Sangyoub Park PhD and Lisa Wade PhD on January 5, 2015
To many Americans, globalization may mean Americanization but, in China, globalization is Koreanization. This is the impact of Hallyu (the Korean word for “Korean wave”), which began in 1997. Hallyu began with Korean television dramas and today extends throughout Chinese life: k-drama, k-pop, movies, fashion, food, and beauty. It is argued to be the only example of a cultural power “that threatens the dominance of American culture.”
Its influence is impressive. For example, when a star on a Korean soap opera ordered chicken and beer for dinner — Korea’s chi-mek (or chi-meak) – and claimed it as her favorite food, Chinese audiences went crazy for the combination. Korean beer exports rose by over 200%:
Even the standard of beauty in China has been altered due to Hallyu. During this year’s National Day holiday (10/1-10/7), about 166,000 Chinese visited Korea. They flocked to top shopping districts to purchase a wide range of Korean products like cosmetics, each spending an average of $2,500. Some of these Chinese tourists visited the Gangnam district (Apgujeng-dong), the capital of plastic surgery in Korea. They want to look like k-drama stars. They want to have Korean actresses’ nose or eyes.
The obsession with Korea has caused Chinese leaders a great deal of angst. It was a major issue at the country’s National People’s Congress where, according to the Washington Post, one committee spent a whole morning pondering why China’s soap operas weren’t as good as those made by Korea. “It is more than just a Korean soap opera. It hurts our culture dignity,” one member of the committee said.
Their concern isn’t trivial; it’s about soft power. This is the kind of power states can exert simply by being popular and well-liked. This enables a country to inflluence transnational politics without force or coercion.
Indeed, the Korean government nurtured Hallyu. The President pushed to develop and export films, pop music, and video games. As The Economist reports:
Tax incentives and government funding for start-ups pepped up the video-game industry. It now accounts for 12 times the national revenue of Korean pop (K-pop). But music too has benefited from state help. In 2005 the government launched a $1 billion investment fund to support the pop industry. Record labels recruit teens who undergo years of grueling [sic] training before their public unveiling.
It’s working. According to the Korea Times, China has made a trade agreement with Korea allowing it an unprecedented degree of access to the Chinese people and its companies, an impressive win for soft power.
The United Nations’ #HeForShe campaign had a fantastic launch, with Emma Watson’s impassioned speech deservedly going viral. She stood up and described how everyday sexism continues to discourage girls and women from being strong, physical, and outspoken. And she defended the “feminist” label as a simple demand for sexual equality. But most importantly, she called for solidarity between men and women in achieving it.
And then this video came out:
On the surface, it looks like a group of men from all walks of life answering Ms. Watson’s call. But delve deeper, and it becomes problematic. For me, anyway.
I’m a man, and I consider myself a feminist. But when I think about working towards an end to sexism, the last thing I would do is get a group of men to discuss the issue isolated from women. And yet that’s what this video seems to be trying to do.
It feels like a male encounter group, but obviously highly scripted. The different men describe their commitment to #HeForShe in terms of protective paternalistic stereotypes (“I can’t let my daughters, or my wife, suffer because I didn’t do MY job”) and entitlement (“If we don’t change it, it’s never gonna change.”)
I realize that men have to be part of the solution, but this video feels like it is saying that men ARE the solution. As if a bunch of bros getting together to share their feelings are going to solve sexism, with no reference to how sisters have been doing it for themselves for over 200 years. They don’t need a heroic male takeover of the women’s movement that helps us all feel proud of ourselves because we are “#NotAllMen.” They need real understanding and support.
Am I being too harsh? Maybe. But when the one man says, “Understand that it’s not only speaking out FOR women, but WITH women” to a sausage fest, the irony speaks volumes to me.
I think #HeForShe is a great idea, “a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other of humanity, for the entirety of humanity.”
So why can’t we do it together? Are men considered to be so sexist already that we need to find a “manly” way to be feminist?
Here’s an idea: Talk to women about the issue. But more importantly, listen to them about what they experience. There is far more work for us to do together.
I am so pleased to have stumbled across a short excerpt from a talk by Alan Watts, forwarded by a Twitter follower. Watts makes a truly profound argument about what money really is. I’ll summarize it here and you can watch the full three-and-a-half minute video below if you like.
Watts notes that we like to talk about “laws of nature,” or “observed regularities” in the world. In order to observe these regularities, he points out, we have to invent something regular against which to compare nature. Clocks and rulers are these kinds of things.
All this is fine but, all too often, the clocks and the rulers come to seem more real than the nature that is being measured. For example, he says, we might think that the sun is rising because it’s 6AM when, of course, the sun will rise independently of our measures. It’s as if our clocks rule the universe instead of vice versa.
He uses these observations to make a comment about wealth and poverty. Money, he reminds us, isn’t real. It’s an invented measure. A dollar is no different than a minute or an inch. It is used to measure prosperity, but it doesn’t create prosperity any more than 6AM makes the sun rise or a ruler gives things inches.
When there is a crisis — an economic depression or a natural disaster, for example — we may want to fix it, but end up asking ourselves “Where’s the money going to come from?” This is exactly the same mistake that we make, Watts argues, when we think that the sun rises because it’s 6AM. He says:
They think money makes prosperity. It’s the other way around, it’s physical prosperity which has money as a way of measuring it. But people think money has to come from somewhere… and it doesn’t. Money is something we have to invent, like inches.
So, you remember the Great Depression when there was a slump? And what did we have a slump of? Money. There was no less wealth, no less energy, no less raw materials than there were before. But it’s like you came to work on building a house one day and they said, “Sorry, you can’t build this house today, no inches.”
“What do you mean no inches?”
“Just inches! We don’t mean that… we’ve got inches of lumber, yes, we’ve got inches of metal, we’ve even got tape measures, but there’s a slump in inches as such.”
And people are that crazy!
This is backward thinking, he says. It is allowing money to rule things when, in reality, it’s just a measure.
Writer and director Elena Rossini has released the first four minutes of The Illusionists. I’m really excited to see the rest. The documentary is a critique of a high standard of beauty but, unlike some that focus exclusively on the impacts of Western women, Rossini’s film looks as though it will do a great job of illustrating how Western capitalist impulses are increasingly bringing men, children, and the entire world into their destructive fold.
The first few minutes address globalization and Western white supremacy, specifically. As one interviewee says, the message that many members of non-Western societies receive is that you “join Western culture… by taking a Western body.” The body becomes a gendered, raced, national project — something that separates modern individuals from traditional ones — and corporations are all too ready to exploit these ideas.
A touching BBC story describes a new documentary, Menstrual Man, that chronicles the trials and tribulations of a humble man in India who sought to offer his wife a sanitary napkin. After marrying, he discovered that his wife kept from him a secret: the rags she used and re-used to collect menstrual blood.
Only 12% of women in India used pads; they were simply too expensive for most to buy. Nearly three-quarters of all reproductive diseases were caused by poor menstrual hygiene. A combination of high cost and embarrassment kept women from developing a safe method of managing menstruation. Nearly a quarter of girls dropped out of school when they started their periods.
Arunachalam Muruganantham was driven to offer women a solution. He was going to design a machine that would produce low cost menstrual pads. He asked his wife to serve as an experimental subject, but one woman menstruating once a month wasn’t enough of a sample. He asked medical students to participate, but the responses were slim. He fashioned a fake uterus and collected goat blood, trying to experiment himself.
“Everyone thought he’d gone mad.”
His wife left, his mother left, his friends avoided him; it was suspected he was some kind of diseased or possessed sexual pervert, collecting menstrual blood to do god-knows-what.
Figuring out how to make highly absorptive cotton was a significant challenge. He finally tricked a multinational company into sending him samples of the raw material: cellulose from the bark of the tree. Now he just had to design a cheap machine that would turn the raw material into pads.
Four-and-a-half years later, he was producing affordable menstrual pads for Indian women on a cheaply made machine. He won an award. His wife came back.
He built 250 machines, which he then took to the poorest areas of Northern India. He gave them to women, at no profit, who could then produce the pads and sell them to local women. Each woman now runs her own business. “Over time the machines spread to 1,300 villages in 23 states.”
He is now looking to expand to 106 more countries.
About his success, Muruganantham said:
Anyone with an MBA would immediately accumulate the maximum money. But I did not want to. Why? Because from childhood I know no human being died because of poverty — everything happens because of ignorance…. I have accumulated no money but I accumulate a lot of happiness.