Five Things Friday – Links About Sports, Gender, Sexual Abuse, Smartphones and More!

Sochi Problems

Happy Friday! Between the Super Bowl and Sochi there is a lot of sports-related news this week, so I have a couple of links related to those to share. But it is also interesting that those stories don’t drown out the rest of the world – in fact, side-stories from each threatened to drown out the main event – and spawned their own spin-offs of related issues this week. I have some of that as well!

There has also been a lot of chatter about the ‘Biggest Loser’ winner, but as someone who has body image issues and was told I ‘lost too much weight’ when I was 50lbs heavier than now … I really have no desire to touch that one. My only thought there is I hope she comes to a ‘happy place’ with her self-image once the limelight turns away from her.

So let’s get right to the link!

1. The Mess that is the Sochi Olympics – by now the sports have started and the opening ceremony is tonight, and I am really hoping that Russia learns some lessons from the harsh global criticism of its abusive LGBT policies. I have already said that this is the LEAST excited I can ever remember being about an Olympics – and that is the reason. And it isn’t fair – I have always been a huge Olympics nerd, driving my family nuts every 4 years in winter and summer! Here are a few bits of coverage:

– Russian officials conflate homosexuality with pedophilia.
But Canada’s ‘Institute of Inclusion and Diversity’ crafted a fun video about the laws:

– I wrote about dogs being treated badly this week in my ‘Take Care Tuesday’. Now we learn that as many as 5-7000 strays are being killed in Sochi leading up to the Olympics.

– Financially the games are a travesty – at $51 BILLION cost and counting (more than 4 TIMES what Vancouver cost) there are reports that perhaps two-thirds of that figure has been siphoned off by corruption. And there are reports resurfacing with new information that the games were bought in the first place.

– Few companies have taken a stand on the Russian laws for obvious commercial reasons, but many have made subtle endorsements of LGBT people and athletes recently. Google is one, changing their doodle to highlight the olympics … with rainbow colors of inclusion.

– And I’m not sure whether the sports will be able to compete with the social media traction gotten by the abysmal state of readiness of Sochi. Some of the pictures are totally hilarious … Buzzfeed has a good roundup here.

– In spite of everything – or perhaps intentionally BECAUSE of it … a Russian group with lesbianism at the core of their image is playing at the opening ceremonies.

OK … now let’s get on with the sports and hope that after the Olympics Russian LGBT community can safely get on with their lives.

2. A Sobering Look at the Body Image Issues Women Deal With – linked from Upworthy comes a great (but sad) infographic called ‘Women are Dying to be Thin’. I talk about my own body image issues, but one look at the male-female pairings on most sitcoms is enough to tell you that there is not equal pressure applied to men and women in terms of appearance – there is an entire main section on TV Tropes about it.

Women Are Dying to be Thin - Media Influence on Eating Disorders
Infographic provided by Rader Programs

3. Gender Issues – Video Shows Men What It Feels Like To Be Subjected To Sexism And Sexual Violence – now this is some pretty important stuff. I talked about child sex abuse in my ‘Thought for Thursday’ (about separating art and artists), but the extent to which sexism and various forms of harassment and sexual violence runs rampany in our society is just appalling.

This week at THIS is Thirty, Laura brought back some of her very first posts, ones that she had done anonymously and later taken down before she took the blog public. They deal with her history – last year – of workplace sexual harassment in a small company where the management team chose to take the side of the harasser and subject her to a hostile environment that caused her mental and physical distress. It is an amazing series of powerful stories, and I applaud her candor. Check them out starting here.

Anyway, check out this compelling and powerful (and sorta NSFW) video that was featured at BuzzFeed:

4. Is America No Longer the ‘Melting Pot’, ‘Mosaic’, or ‘Land of Opportunity for all’? – So apparently there is an entire group of people found Coca Cola’s commercial ‘controversial’?

We watched it and found that it was amazingly well done and communicated the spirit of the inscription on the Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It is so absurdly ridiculous that a humor column at the New Yorker took it up as well.

You don’t have to search much to find examples of the critics of the video … or to assess the demographics of the critics.

Anyway, here is the excellent video that celebrates the diversity of individuals with origins all over the world who make up what it means to be an American today:

5. Want to have kids? Be ready to earn less! – there is a ‘conventional wisdom’ item that women earn ~25% less than men, but lately those numbers have gotten more scrutiny and have been estimated at more like 5-10% for “doing the same work as men for the same number of hours”. But the bigger concern? The ‘Mommy Track’, according to the Atlantic:

One recent paper found that women with kids make roughly 7 to 14 percent less than women without them.

And more than just earning less, mothers in the workforce often come back and are given either less work or less significant assignments than non-parent female coworkers. The result? They lose out on potential promotions, high profile assignments and become more vulnerable during down-sizing and restructuring.

Of course the concept of a ‘mommy track’ is not new, and was discussed here:

And among all workers, women are more likely than men to take a significant time off from work to raise children, and they tend to be re-hired at lower wages than their counterparts who remained in the workforce.

But what IS new is much of the research in the Atlantic article looking at efficiency and productivity, and how employers with outdated concepts might be hurting themselves by ascribing to the idea that a returning mother is of lesser value.

Bonus: A typical iPhone would have cost $3.6 million two decades ago – this is a great look at the rapid evolution of technology.

The main report is from TechPolicyDaily, and there is also a cool article about how everything on the front page of a 1991 Radio Shack Ad is now available on our smartphones at TechBuffalo.

I’ve talked about being (a) a total tech-head all my life and (b) working in the semiconductor industry for years, and how both of those things landed me in a place where I have always had cool new gadgets and been working closely with those who make the ‘internals’ of those devices.

So when I think back to 1991, I had a HP 95LX ‘handheld computer’, was already running mostly on a laptop, would soon have a Blackberry (pre-phone version) and cell phone and Newton and so on. I resisted so-called ‘convergence devices’ for a long time because … well, because none of them were as powerful as separate devices. So 10 years ago I would have had a Psion 5mx (PDA), Nokia phone, iPod, Powerbook and Dell XPS laptop.

Now? Now I still have my work laptop and my home Mac & PC … but 90% of my life happens between my iPad and iPhone. AND – I have MUCH more capability in my hands than I did back then.

What have you been reading this week?


5 thoughts on “Five Things Friday – Links About Sports, Gender, Sexual Abuse, Smartphones and More!

  1. UGH … the Olympics. I was SO bummed that we would be out of the country while most of it is going on, and now … honestly, I’m not too disappointed to miss it. All of the LGBT horror, the oppressive policies, the unpreparedness (that Buzzfeed was hilarious, especially the tweet from the organizer to look at the mountains!) … it’s just sad. I’m glad there’s someone besides me that’s feeling less than excited for it. The mommy track is really interesting to me … on the one hand, some companies (like my former one) are using that as a recruiting spiel … that you CAN go on the mommy track and work less and make less. On the other hand, the salary gap for those who don’t intend to make less is sad, and the fact that women bear the burden is something that I always struggle with. Great link up!

    • I didn’t make it through the opening ceremonies, so boring. But the young Russian figure skater …reminded me of why I love watching. Such incredible skill and precision of motion … same watching the US pair with the 6’4″ guy and 5ft girl doing things in tandem. Crazy 🙂

  2. I am SO upset about the Olympics. Apparently I have been living in my own little world recently and up until yesterday I didn’t know a lot about what was going on over there. I’ll still watch because I want to cheer for our athletes, but the whole thing is just dulled for me now. I don’t know if I want to watch the opening ceremonies. Something will probably just fall apart during it anyway like everything else over there.

    That infographic is really sobering. 😦

  3. So much good stuff here. I have to admit I’ve read a lot about the Biggest Loser winner and wish people would stop this fat and skinny-shaming! Why can’t we judge people based in something other than their appearance? Great links this week and even better commentary.

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