When Catcalling Men Got a Taste of Their Own Medicine

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In 1970, a group of women lined Wall Street in lower Manhattan with one purpose: to leer at men. They shouted comments about their bodies. They whistled like wolves; they smacked their lips.

“Those pants, they just bring out your best! Put your best leg forward, sweetie!”

“I love gray hair — it makes men so sexy, you have no idea.”

“I’m so turned on!”

It was the first “Ogle-In,” a new type of protest that took inspiration for its name from the sit-ins of the 1960s. And this particular protest, strange as it may seem, started in response to an even stranger incident.

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Francine Gottfried, who was followed by thousands of men on her way to and from work, tries to hold her raincoat around herself as she prepares to go home.

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A 21-year-old Brooklynite named Francine Gottfried who worked in a bank in the financial district became known to men in the area for her figure in mid-1968. Hordes of men soon discovered her commute, and as many as 5,000 men followed her from the subway to her office and then crowded to wait for her, according to a report in New York Magazine at the time … which also printed her measurements.

Organizer Karla Jay wanted to make headlines and show that the women’s movement had a sense of humor, all while giving men a taste of their own medicine. The first Ogle-Ins counted only a dozen or so participants, but reports of the protest reached far beyond Wall Street. Soon the Ogle-Ins made news across the U.S., and Jay and her fellow oglers appeared on radio programs. Jay received hundreds of letters over the protest, with women voicing their support and sharing their own stories of harassment — even though the term “street harassment” wouldn’t be coined until 1981, women knew exactly what it was. 

While the protest might seem flip, it sparked others like it around the country. Soon a Los Angeles feminist group held their own version of the Ogle-In, and within months protests surrounding women’s right to public space and a safe working environment starting cropping up around the U.S. While a firm feminist stance on street harassment wouldn’t develop until later in the 20th century, the Ogle-Ins were one of the first public protests to establish a conversation around sexual harassment as a serious issue rather than just an annoyance.

 

“You’re trying to get to work. You need to earn money. That harassment is limiting your opportunity to walk down certain streets, or to work in certain kinds of spaces. And so you get this sexually enforced economic discrimination,” says Estelle Freedman, a historian at Stanford and author of the book Redefining Rape: Sexual Violence in the Era of Suffrage and Segregation.

Street harassment worked in tandem alongside more traditional organizing issues, such as access to health care and equal work opportunities. Sexual harassment and street harassment in particular often resurface at moments in history when women are demanding equal rights or seeking a more prominent physical space in society. After all, it is more difficult to work, protest or vote if your physical path is marred by leering, groping or worse. Anti-harassment campaigns often go hand-in-hand with anti-rape and pro-choice movements, as they all reassert both a woman’s right to her own body and her sexual agency. 

Suffragists first broached the subject of harassment in the early 20th century, as they began riding train cars and going out in public unaccompanied by men, and encountered all manner of harassment. These women took to defending themselves with their long, sharp hatpins, making headlines and even in some cases ending up in court.

Again, in the 1970s, as the U.S. saw a wave of women entering the workforce and acting up for their rights, street harassment resurfaced as a topic of debate. Susan Brownmiller, a prominent second-wave feminist and author of the seminal book on rape, Against Our Will, experienced the way these two issues went together firsthand. While handing out flyers for a feminist organizing group, a man came up behind her and grabbed her by the crotch. Brownmiller arrived to that group later that night with her foot in a cast — after kicking the man so hard that she broke her foot.

“I had always felt really cheapened when I would pass a construction site and the guys would automatically start in, making noises, making comments,” she says. Brownmiller saw street harassment as an attack on working-class women, who were required to exist more publicly and in potentially more dangerous working conditions than those who had money. Harassment had been an issue long before the 1970s — and even before the early 20th century — but back then it overwhelmingly affected working-class women and women of color, who had little political capital.

In her capacity as a journalist for the Village Voice, Brownmiller attended the first Ogle-Ins, describing an atmosphere of raucousness and levity in an otherwise serious movement. While she didn’t see it as the most important protest of the feminist movement, it started to galvanize women to discuss problems like “goosing” and harassment in their own communities. “I think that the whole purpose of feminism is ultimately to be able to have women talk about all kinds of issues,” she says.

“The economic and the sexual are two sides of the same coin,” says Freedman. “In other words, it’s not just about your body, or being defensive or being vulnerable. It’s actually about your earning power. And it’s not just about your earning power; it’s also about the way your body is treated. They work together.”

The Big Global Vote of 2019

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As America recovers from a brutal midterm election cycle, the world enters 2019 on the cusp of some of the most important global elections in years. More than a third of the world’s population will vote in national elections this year.

India, the world’s largest democracy, and Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority nation, will both hold national elections amid contentious internal battles between secularism and more extreme religious identities they’ve traditionally shunned. Africa’s two biggest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, will elect presidents at a time when both their economies are struggling.

In Israel and in Ukraine, an old conflict and a new one will shape elections this year. South America’s second-largest economy, Argentina, will choose a leader for the next four years in the middle of an economic crisis. And the European Union will elect a new Parliament amid the ruins of the bloc’s biggest rupture yet: Brexit. OZY offers you a glimpse of what to expect in these elections and explains why they matter.

Nigeria

The February elections to the presidency and National Assembly follow protests by the oil-rich country’s youth that forced legal changes allowing younger candidates to compete for political office. When President Muhammadu Buhari first served as president between 1983–1987, more than half of Nigeria’s 190 million citizens weren’t even born. “This generation of under-30s did not experience the benefits of Nigeria’s oil boom,” says Sola Tayo, an associate fellow at London-based Chatham House. They want “a seat at the table” and “to hold their leaders to account,” Tayo adds. Three women are also contesting for the presidency, a job no woman has ever held.

Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, will seek yet another term when the country — a rare, stable democracy in the Middle East — elects its Knesset. Officially, the elections are scheduled for November. But many experts believe Netanyahu could call elections as early as March. Despite corruption charges, Netanyahu remains popular. After pandering to Israeli hardliners on Palestine for years, he has turned to a more centrist line after clashes in November in Gaza. Also at stake is the future of President Trump’s Middle East plans, which count on Netanyahu as a vital pillar.

These [Indian] elections will be about the future direction of the country, and whether India is to stay a plural society.

Sudha Pai, political scientist

India

More than 600 million voters are expected to elect their next government between March and May in what will be the world’s largest democratic exercise. It’s effectively a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist government’s policies that many fear are changing the character of the secular nation, says Sudha Pai, a political science professor at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. “These elections will be about the future direction of the country, and whether India is to stay a plural society, where minorities too can thrive,” she says. The elections will also serve as a vote on Modi’s economic policies, some of which — like his decision in 2016 to ban high-value currency notes overnight — have backfired badly, hurting hundreds of millions of people.

 

Ukraine

Five years after the ousting of Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych, a Ukraine divided on his successor, President Petro Poroshenko, will elect its national government with the economy and Moscow on its mind. Most Ukrainians now want peace, and the country is “deeply integrated into the West,” says Balázs Jarábik, a Kiev-based scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Poroshenko had promised to liberalize the economy, but internationally is viewed as not having accomplished “nearly enough reforms,” says Andrew Wilson, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. Russia will try to influence the elections, says Wilson. “The only question is how,” he notes. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is currently leading polls to replace Poroshenko. 

Indonesia

With key wins in provincial elections in 2018, President Joko Widodo appears to have turned the tide against a rising wave of extremism that saw a radicalized family kill 14 churchgoers in May. But when the country votes in April, religious identity will still play a role, says Josh Kurlantzick, an Indonesia expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. Widodo’s antidote to radicalism is controversial too. He has nationalized oil, gas firms and mines previously owned by foreign companies to buttress his populist credentials.

European Union

The European Union will elect its next Parliament in May, two months after the scheduled Brexit. While euroskeptic parties are expected to gain seats, their rise is “exaggerated,” says Alberto Alemanno, professor of EU law at HEC Paris business school. Traditional parties are likely to remain dominant, he says, even though their politics are far less pan-European than the economic and regulatory norms that bind the EU. But longtime populists and a new wave of little-noticed, progressive transnational parties may make a mark in these elections. “They are opening up alternative and competing new ideas about what Europe should be about,” says Alemanno. 

South Africa

With its economy in tatters and its youth frustrated, South Africa will decide in May whether to give the African National Congress (ANC) another term. “To say that this election comes at an explosive time is an understatement,” says Thomas Koelble, a political science professor at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Graduate School of Business. President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC are distancing themselves from the Jacob Zuma–era corruption scams, says Koelble. But that isn’t easy because Ramaphosa was Zuma’s deputy. The extremist Economic Freedom Fighters are expected to gain votes demanding land “expropriation without compensation” from richer farmers, says Anthony Butler, a political science professor at UCT. But he expects “many electors will give the ANC one last chance” under Ramaphosa.

Argentina

President Mauricio Macri rode to power in 2015 on “voter frustration with public corruption and rising crime,” says Benjamin Gedan, director of the Wilson Center’s Argentina Project and a former South America director on the National Security Council. Leading up to the November 2019 elections, it’s Macri who is on the defensive after he sought a record $56 billion IMF bailout amid the collapse of Argentina’s peso. Austerity measures may “hobble Macri’s re-election prospects,” says Omar Encarnación, professor of political studies at Bard College. Macri will likely face off against Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who he had displaced as president. The investor optimism that greeted Macri’s pro-market reforms “will not survive” a return of Kirchner, “seen as hostile to trade and foreign investment,” says Gedan. 

OZY CONFIDENTIAL – Stories from the edge

OZY Confidenatial

Eugene

This is the podcast your mother warned you about.

Part rant-o-riffic cross talk from the edge, part no-holds-barred delving into the dark stuff often left unsaid, complete with a soundtrack to die for, OZY CONFIDENTIAL is a SXSW for people, personalities and weirdly wild notions about what we reveal and what we most want to conceal.

OZY’s Editor-at-Large Eugene S. Robinson gets heavy, deep and real with everyone from a world-renowned Nietzsche scholar who left behind a Ph.D. for life as a crack whore, to Boston Irish Mafia’s Kevin Weeks. Chaotic and raw, on OZY CONFIDENTIAL, the form fits the function.

HEAR THE TRAILER

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Episodes

  • max
    EPISODE 1

    Gun in Mouth Blues: More From Max Moore

    Imagine an amputee with amnesia who needs to be reminded daily that he has no arms — and no eyes. Now imagine you have to treat him. Max Moore did. A former Marine Corps–medic–turned PTSD-addled vet, Moore found redemption in a simple idea: keeping his ass clean.

    25:38
  • eugene
    EPISODE 2

    My Turn: Eugene’s History With Bodybuilding

    Our fearless host goes where only he can: his own sordid past as a competitive bodybuilder who went from purist to steroid abuser and back and maintained a twisted rationale throughout.

    34:54
  • Josefine
    EPISODE 3

    My Ph.D. in Crack: A Beauty Queen’s Rise and Fall

    Josefine Nauckhoff — Swedish noble, beauty queen and noteworthy Nietzsche scholar — was a professor at Wake Forest University when it all spun out of control. Then came run-ins with death, life and more.

    35:50
  • damein
    EPISODE 4

    Why Not Heinrich? One Man’s Immersive Comedy Scandal

    Inspired by Sacha Baron Cohen and Andy Kaufman, non-Jewish sometimes comedian and film student Damien Noorbakhsh decided to move to San Francisco to go full-on transgressive with a hard, HARD turn to edgy in the age of Trump: He’d play a full dress Nazi SS officer confused about how far right things had swung. High (and low) jinx ensue.

    20:04
  • EPISODE 5

    When My Daughter Became My Son

    When Karen Barnes wanted to find a way to tell her family at large what she had been struggling to understand herself — that one of her twin daughters had embraced a realization that she was a trans man — she figured it was easiest to do in one fell swoop. Much less a story about the difficulty of accepting the acceptable than a story about how best to survive. As a person. As a family.

    52.28
  • EPISODE 6

    Doomsday Prophecies From an End Times Expert

    Does art imitate life or life imitate art? James Wesley, Rawles is an American author who writes the survivalist-genre Patriots novel series – set in the near future amidst hyperinflation and a catastrophic global economic collapse. Rawles walks the walk. He lives off the land in a remote location in the Pacific Northwest. For Rawles, it’s not just a story. It’s our future.

    33.27
  • EPISODE 7

    From a Ph.D. in Physics to High Heels and Glitter

    Taiwan-born Renee Wu quit her job at Microsoft and left the Ph.D. program in physics that she was in to swirl around ceiling-to-floor steel poles, high-heeled shoes, scant outfits and, yeah, well, a very definite kind of artistic freedom. It’s one thing to dream about following your muse; something else entirely to dump Microsoft for a life uncertain wearing pasties on a pole.

    17.28
  • EPISODE 8

    Burlesque, Sex Cams and Trixie at 50, Oh My!

    A divorced Susan Burley, aka Trixie Fou Laurant, decides to do middle age a little differently. From being an extra on porn films to sex camming, Burley found herself comfortably calling herself what she was: a sex worker. But we’ll let her tell it.

    23:39
  • EPISODE 9

    The Perils of Pericles, an International Drug Trafficker

    Business as usual? Only if your business was buying/selling drugs from all over the world to all over the world. Then came the cops, the end and a new beginning.

    22:38
  • EPISODE 10

    Bond. Amy Bond. Agent 00Sexy: Making the Move From Mormon to Porn + Beyond

    The typical porn narrative goes from bad to worse, but one that goes from devoutly religious to somatically joyous? Well, you’re going to need an Amy Bond for that.

    42:21

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Life After Facebook: What Would the World Lose … and Gain?

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In September, a group of high school students in Melbourne, Australia, started a Facebook group called “Subtle Asian Traits.” The teenagers are all first-generation Asian migrants, and they wanted a space to bond over the theme of living in a Western culture with Asian-born parents. The group has amassed nearly 1 million members in less than four months. What began as a place to share memes and inside jokes about Asian culture has become a community where members discuss the racism they experience, their struggle to be bilingual and the parental pressure they face on a daily basis.

It would be an understatement to say Facebook had a tough 2018 — from multiple data breaches to unpermitted data collection and the revealed influence of Russian hackers in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook tested the limits of user trust last year. But if the world’s largest social network went away, we would lose a lot more than the ability to share photos and send messages. More than 1 billion people around the world would no longer be able to connect with others who share their experiences and hardships like the members of “Subtle Asian Traits.”

Recent U.S. news coverage of Facebook has largely focused on the issues of privacy and trust — warning us that the platform could be putting our personal data at risk. Some fear that the network effect — in which each additional member adds value to the platform for its users — could soon work in reverse for the embattled social network, especially among the prized younger demographic. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center …

In the past year, 74 percent of Facebook users have either adjusted their privacy settings, stopped checking their account for a period of several weeks or deleted the app entirely.

The percentage of users ages 18 to 29 who deleted the app in 2018 was more than double the proportion of those ages 50 to 64 who deleted it.

The social network’s user growth has also plateaued in the U.S. and Canada, and declined in Europe, contributing to a $120 billion loss in market capitalization in July. As of the third quarter, Facebook had lost 1 million daily active users in Europe compared with the previous quarter. Twitter also saw user decline in 2018 — the company reported losing 9 million monthly active users in the third quarter, though a large portion of that figure comes from the spam and bot accounts it’s wiping from the platform. 

 

But much of the world isn’t giving up on Facebook just yet. As of September, 85 percent of Facebook’s daily active users are outside the U.S. and Canada. “Concerns around privacy and sharing data are separate from the function Facebook serves,” says Jeff Hancock, founding director of the Stanford Social Media Lab. “The idea of big-tech ethics is more abstract outside the U.S.”

If Facebook disappeared tomorrow, the platform’s groups would be one of its hardest-hit offerings. More than 100 million Facebook users belong to a group of some kind. Anne Gu, a co-founder of “Subtle Asian Traits,” recently told the BBC that a member of the group said being part of the community was the first time she “felt a sense of belonging.” In India, “Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mothers” has more than 80,000 members who support one another through various stages of breastfeeding their children. “Africa Farmers Club” has connected 100,000 farmers across the continent to share production techniques and help grow profits. 

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But the company’s reach goes beyond the limits of its own platform. Facebook also owns Instagram and WhatsApp — two of the largest social media networks in the world. Instagram hit 1 billion users in June and WhatsApp reached more than 1.5 billion this year. If Facebook goes down, these other companies would effectively go down with it.

On the other hand, the downfall of Facebook could open a wealth of opportunity for several other social media companies currently lingering lower on the totem pole. Public companies like Twitter and Snap might see some gains with a Facebook-size hole in the world, and small messaging platforms like Wickr and Silent Circle could see gains without Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp around. This may be especially true because both companies focus on encryption, something that’s becoming increasingly important in the wake of privacy concerns raised by Facebook this year. For the purposes of pure content scrolling, Pinterest and Reddit might see an uptick in users, and in terms of community engagement, neighborhood app Nextdoor could become the go-to for local organizing and events. “There’s really nothing that special about Facebook except that everyone is there,” says Hancock. If Facebook left the world, he says, people would find another place to gather on the internet.

Several former Facebook employees have tried, unsuccessfully, to create that new place. Jumo, a philanthropic social network acquired by GOOD in 2011, and Path, a now shuttered mobile photo sharing and messaging service, were founded by some of Facebook’s early team members. Question-and-answer site Quora and team organization tool Asana were both started by former Facebookers but are not direct competitors of the company. Some ex-Facebook executives now shun the site, as well as social media as a whole. In 2017, during a talk at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Facebook’s former vice president for user growth, Chamath Palihapitiya, said the company is “ripping apart the social fabric” in societies around the world. The same year, Facebook’s former president, Sean Parker, told Axios that the network is “exploiting a vulnerability in human society.”

Still, if Facebook fails, it would serve as a cautionary tale to many that user privacy must be a top priority. Facebook’s neglect in this area may not ruin the company entirely, but risking the market share drop and PR nightmare that follows certainly doesn’t bode well for business.

In December, the stock market declined by more than 20 percent since Nasdaq’s August high, and technology giants are largely to blame. Facebook fell more than 5 percent, wiping out $28 billion in market capitalization in a single day. But Amazon and Netflix also fell more than 5 percent. Tensions over the U.S. trade war with China, where the government blocks Facebook, are also partly to blame as fear among investors over a global economic slowdown looms large. But when it comes to Facebook, privacy concerns are front and center. Experts caution that the company’s missteps over data privacy are contributing to the worst market decline since 2008, and the total collapse of Facebook could mean a loss of its current $382 billion in market capitalization. 

Hancock says the way forward may be to treat Facebook the company and Facebook the platform differently. “Facebook Groups is an amazing space,” he says — and losing the platform means losing the potential of other offerings as well, like Marketplace, Oculus and its fundraising tools. “Still,” Hancock says, “I think we have to hold Facebook the business accountable.”

How Big Data Helps Taiwan’s Farmers Fight Climate Change

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When the rice farmers in the Rift Valley in eastern Taiwan plant again after the summer harvest in July, they count on the typhoons that lash the island in late summer and early autumn, bringing lots of rain in the early growth phase of the crop. But this year, each of the tropical storms gathering force over the Pacific took a sudden turn north and headed to Japan instead.

“The changes in climate is something we can’t predict. Many farmers rely on the traditional farming calendar, but in fact the climate no longer follows that calendar,” says Chen Cheng-hung, who runs a rice mill that his family has owned for three generations.

He and his rice farmer neighbors now look to a new tool to survive in times of climate change: big data. In a pilot project conducted over the past five months, OwlTing, a Taipei-based startup, equipped one organic rice field worked by Wei Jui-ting, a young local farmer, with a set of sensors monitoring rain, temperature and chemicals in the soil.

Over a wireless network router made by Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications equipment company, OwlTing’s system fed the data online, allowing consumers to monitor how the rice they were going to buy was being grown. But OwlTing has much bigger plans for the information. On Nov. 15, as Wei’s father was driving his combine harvester into the field, the engineers from Taipei picked up the sensors and started harvesting the information collected.

We used to follow the traditional farming calendar, but that no longer works because of climate change.

Wei Jui-ting, Taiwanese farmer

“It will become part of a growing database that will eventually allow farmers to optimize their production cycle,” says Darren Wang, OwlTing’s CEO.

Big data has been on a march into the fields for several years: Tractor-maker John Deere, for example, installs sensors on many of the farm machines it sells. In the U.S. and Europe, a growing number of agribusinesses document their production process to attract consumers who want guarantees that they are buying local, or organic, produce. In Taiwan, agricultural researchers backed by the government have been using sensors to collect data for tropical fruit breeding. OwlTing wants to break new ground in bringing these various functions together and adding another dimension: financial services. Wang, a former database engineer at Google, has been experimenting with blockchain in payment, travel and food. Now he is launching a tool for insurance companies.

 

Taiwan’s government is pushing the development of farmers’ insurance, a market it hopes will, over time, reduce the need for state handouts after every storm or torrential rain. But the new insurance product has been slow to take off because farmers are reluctant to pay, and insurance companies lack sufficient information for building a pricing system. OwlTing’s product offers farmers a fee for joining the data collection net, while insurers are given the right to sell on the information.

Observers say they expect solutions such as this to spread quickly and lead to a restructuring of the rice market.

“We will see a much larger proportion of farmers choosing to produce under contract at a set price,” says an executive at a large Taiwanese bank in charge of agricultural lending. “That will mean that eventually the company that controls the data — if it’s an insurer or a trading house or a bank or a technology firm — will have a say in what is grown, when and how.”

Back in Chihshang, a rural town with a population of just 8,000, residents have different priorities. Wei says he allowed OwlTing to use his field because it would make it much easier to market his organic rice. Local farmers who are not growing organic rice also believe that transparency about the real-time food supply chain can bolster the position of Chihshang rice as a leader in quality. Because of the local climate and the cleaner air, water and soil in an area without industry, the region’s rice sells at a premium over that from other parts of Taiwan. Chen, who also heads a grass-roots community development initiative, hopes that the production transparency tool will boost tourism.

Beyond these immediate economic considerations, however, Chihshang’s farming community knows that the sensors may change their lives forever. “We used to follow the traditional farming calendar, but that no longer works because of climate change,” Wei says. “Our young people used to learn from our fathers how to grow rice, but they no longer can because they leave for jobs in the big city. Now this system will become our new farming calendar, and it will become our collective memory for how to grow our food in the future.”

Underemployed or Unfulfilled? These ‘Hot Jobs’ Could Be Huge in 2019

Hp fix

All the talk about America’s low unemployment rate (3.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) may leave anyone who’s underemployed or unemployed feeling a little embarrassed. But no need. The trick is to roll with the times and consider new opportunities. Societal changes often create a demand for unique services. Here are 10 jobs that are likely to be hot in 2019.

#MeToo Apology Ghostwriter

Crafting an apology that sounds like an apology is never easy. Phrases like “In my defense, I was drunk” and “If it happened the way she describes it” will only lead to more castigation. That’s why a #MeToo apology ghostwriter should be in demand in 2019. This hot job is especially good for women used to apologizing for things that aren’t their fault, like “Sorry my house is a mess” when they have four kids, or “Excuse me” when someone slips on ice three feet away. Hiring will be brisk, as excuses like “Well, she told me she was 12 and a half” don’t cut it anymore — even in Alabama.

Personal Assistant/Gun Locks

Clearly the answer to violence is to make sure everyone has a gun they can reach the split second they’re threatened — but not so accessible that it falls into the wrong hands, young hands, inexperienced hands or nervous hands. A gun lock assistant can come twice each day to the home, newspaper office, ashram, or pre-K classroom to ensure every Glock is locked. (See also: Teacher’s aide/artillery closet).

Straight-to-Gay Conversion Therapist for Senior Women

What do you do when all the good men are dead? Men had a dating advantage as it was, but after 70, there are two to three single women for every single man. Who wants to face never having sex for the rest of their lives, especially since everyone’s living longer? That’s why “reverse conversion therapist” will be a hot job this year. Sure, sexual orientation is something you’re born with, but after 20 sessions with a good conversion therapist, two bottles of wine and a back massage, women will be able to have relations past 100, and it’ll be with someone who reads for pleasure. Not to mention, two centuries of first-hand experience with the female body will be in play. Best of all? It’ll be covered by Medicare.

Weed Weigher

Recreational pot is legal in 10 states now but beware: You can only carry an ounce. For those who didn’t get a drug scale in their Christmas stocking, a personal weed weigher can come to the hotel room during that business trip to Denver to make sure their connection gave them the full ounce, or determine how much they smoked between each of today’s meetings so they can replenish for tomorrow’s. 

High School Yearbook Scrubber

Don’t overreact — redact! Biographical elements such as “THE MAN,” “The SPERMINATOR,” “FFFFFFFFFF&F” and “Alumni of Heather Winston” can come back to haunt a fellow. A private yearbook redactor can visit each classmate and school library and take a Sharpie to the evidence. Thank God yearbooks were only analog back then.

 

Social Media Debate Proxy

Everyone’s tired of losing three hours of quality Netflix time debating with a grandma on Facebook who doesn’t think the last president was born in this country but believes the moon is made of pumpkin pie because the new president said so. A social media Cyrano can step in when a debate has gone on too long. In this job, you can help people get satisfaction and defend democracy without wasting half the day.

Gen X Active Living Social Coordinator

The generation that cried, “Here we are now, entertain us” doesn’t want 40 years of bingo. Many of them are heading into their fifties, making them eligible for active living. This job will involve coordinating events such as “Aha! Name That Tune” and “Alf Trivia.” Contrary to what your mom said, knowing Punky Brewster’s real first name will finally pay off.

Birth Witness

This person can come to a baby’s birth and act as a witness to what happened (like whether it happened in this country). It won’t be such a scary time for “border babies” after all, and they’ll even be able to run for president someday. The job will be in high demand because each “birth witness” will need three witnesses who were at their births, too.

Go-To Eloquent Neo-Nazi

Journalists want to present “both sides” of an argument but often can’t find even one articulate white supremacist to quote. That’s why eloquent neo-Nazis will be high in demand, providing alternative opinions to anything, no matter how untenable. How can liberal media consumers ever understand hate groups if they’re so busy hating them? While this “hot job” won’t pay, news stories can link to the eloquent Nazi’s social media accounts, allowing that person to sell more T-shirts for rallies and bumper stickers for vans.

Therapist for Therapy Dogs

Rescue dogs are doing most of the rescuing these days. “Sit” and “stay” are easy commands, but “empathize” is harder, so these pooches need a break. A dog therapist will be covered under most pet insurance, and you can charge high if they have abandonment issues, hate their cheesy pet name (“Virginia Woof,” “Sarah Jessica Barker,” “Jon Bone Jovi”) or live with a Generation Xer who watches reruns of Alf. Experience in giving shots is a plus (distemper/parvo, rabies, Klonopin, Ativan) and the job will only get hotter as election year 2020 approaches since humans will need lots of hand (and paw) holding. 

 

The 201-Year-Old Battle Whose Memory Divides India

Dr. babasaheb ambedkar and his followers at vijaystambha of bhima koregaon (pune, maharashtra)

On Jan. 1, 2018, thousands of people identifying as Dalit — traditionally India’s marginalized social caste — gathered at the Koregaon war memorial in Pune, Maharashtra. The Dalits are one of India’s most historically persecuted communities, but this event was an observance of a rare victory. At the memorial, which is referred to as the victory pillar, or Vijay Stambh, people started pelting the gathered crowd with stones. Groups wielding saffron flags, a symbol of right-wing Hindu nationalism, clashed with the Dalits, and the ensuing violence injured several people and killed one. Buses and police cars were torched as police fired tear gas shells into the mob. In the wake of the violence, massive protests by Dalits took place across India.

Exactly 200 years earlier, something similar had happened.  

On Jan. 1, 1818, 500 soldiers from a marginalized caste in India, the Mahars — a subsection of the Dalit community, formerly known as “untouchables” and who converted to Buddhism in October 1956 — joined forces with 334 soldiers from Britain’s East India Company to fight a battle against the high-caste Peshwas, 28,000 strong, at Koregaon. They won. It helped the British army consolidate its rule in India. But for the Dalit community, it was a victory to reclaim their humanity from the oppression of the Peshwas. 

As the clashes a year ago make clear, the 200-year-old wounds from that battle still haven’t healed. In fact, they’ve gotten even deeper. 

At the site of the battle, the British erected a pillar, the Vijay Stambh, listing the names of the 49 dead soldiers, including 22 Mahar soldiers. Since that New Year’s Day crushing of the Peshwas, despite being soundly outnumbered, the site has become a symbol of pride for the Dalit community. 

Somnath Waghmare, a documentary filmmaker who has chronicled the history of what is now known as the Bhima Koregaon battle, says, “Fighting the Peshwas and winning against them was a big victory against caste oppression.” He adds, “Bhima Koregaon was the first significant Dalit battle against a caste system that is still rampant in contemporary India.” 

 

Bhima-Koregaon remains a contentious issue between India’s conservatives and the Dalit community. Conservatives have long viewed Dalits as traitors for siding with the British colonizers, but Waghmare explains that Mahars had their reasons to fight against Peshwas who belonged to a high caste. Baji Rao II, governor of the area from 1795 to 1818, reserved special punishments for Dalits. “He removed all soldiers who belonged to the Dalit community from his army and used to humiliate them by tying pots and brooms around their necks. Dalits were oppressed under his regime,” Waghmare says. “The Mahars sided with the British army so as to end his oppression.” It’s important, he adds, to emphasize that in the Indian army, there is still a regiment named after the Mahars: the Mahar Regiment. 

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A memorial to the 500-odd Mahar soldiers who fought and won against the Peshwa forces, in what proved to be the final Anglo-Maratha War, paving the way for the British Empire in India.

Source Getty Images

As the clashes a year ago make clear, the 200-year-old wounds from that battle still haven’t healed. In fact, they’ve gotten even deeper. “The victory, or the pillar, wasn’t always this important to the Dalit community,” says Prabodhan Pol, who teaches history at Manipal Academy of Higher Education in Karnataka. It wasn’t until 1927 that the memorial was taken seriously: That was the year B.R. Ambedkar, who led the team that wrote the Indian constitution and is the Dalit community’s most iconic leader, visited to deliver a historic speech. “He pointed to Mahar warriors who had fought against oppression and won,” Pol says. “That was what started a new phase. People started associating it with Mahar pride.” 

Things ramped up again in 2005, when a group of young Dalits wanting to connect to history formed a committee to keep the victory’s memory alive. Since then, many Dalits across India have visited the site, with activists estimating that half a million come annually. 

But a backlash to the Bhima Koregaon annual celebration by Dalits is also growing, as intolerance toward minorities and a staunch Hindu nationalism have become more mainstream, especially under the current government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that is now seeking reelection. In the wake of the violence on Jan. 1, 2018, five Dalit activists and 32 right-wing protesters were arrested and charged with instigating crowd violence. According to Pol, the battle that day was “a preplanned attack by the right wing,” who were smarting from increasing Dalit pride in the region, and the charges against Dalit leaders were trumped up. Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government withdrew charges made that day … against one of the right-wing leaders. 

For the 201st anniversary of Bhima Koregaon, Dalits across India have spent weeks gearing up for celebrations. In Bhima Koregaon, history is very much alive.

(This article has been updated since it was initially published on January 1, 2019.)

The Native American Healer Reviving the Medicine of Her Ancestors

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When an elderly Lakota woman limped into the medical tent, one foot sporting a painful burn, Linda Black Elk knew just the herb that would help. She began boiling yarrow, a plant that blossoms golden yellow and has been prized for its healing properties for centuries. Though she had applied the remedy countless times, Black Elk was startled by her patient’s reaction.

“She started to cry,” recalls Black Elk, who apologized for causing her any additional pain. “No, these are happy tears,” the woman said. “Because I remember my grandmother talking about this plant when I was little, and I remember the Lakota name of it.”

Keepers of a once outlawed body of plant lore who have endured centuries of genocide, colonization and repression, Native American healers are working to integrate their traditional medicine with Western approaches to offer patients new ways to heal.

A self-described “nerdy indigenous ethnobotanist” who lectures at Sitting Bull College, a tribal university in Fort Yates, North Dakota, Black Elk is among the leaders of this renaissance, sharing her journey with more than 30,000 Facebook followers and speaking around the world. Determined to make indigenous healing more widely available, she is also setting up a local clinic inspired by the medical camp she operated during the 2016–17 protests at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

“Probably what is most important to me is the realization that ‘traditional medicine,’ or Native ways of knowing and understanding the world, are just as important, valid and useful today as they were 1,000 years ago,” Black Elk says. “I feel like indigenous knowledge and medicine can work with Western medicine to create something that is more complete, more whole.”

With growing numbers of people searching for alternatives to the biomedical model of health care, Black Elk uses her apothecary to treat illnesses ranging from arthritis and respiratory problems to heart disease and diabetes to anxiety, depression and more.

But her larger mission is to build a bridge between ancestral wisdom and modern science. Married to a great-grandson of Black Elk, the Oglala Lakota medicine man whose recollections of tribal history, cosmology and myth were recorded in the 1932 book Black Elk Speaks, the 44-year-old is completing a Ph.D. in ecology and environmental science. What distinguishes Black Elk from other academic researchers is that she considers medicinal plants, such as echinacea, rose hip, blue vervain and valerian, her “relatives” — no different from the flesh-and-blood members of her family tree.

“She has the college education, but she also has indigenous knowledge,” says LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, a tribal historian who has known Black Elk for years. “Linda has been able to balance two worlds. That’s what makes her unique.”

Born into the Catabwa Nation, Black Elk learned about medicinal plants from her mother and grandmother and knew from a young age that she was destined to be a healer. A lecturer at Sitting Bull College since 2001, she leads students on field trips to identify herbs and promote what she calls “food sovereignty,” or the right to access healthy and culturally appropriate food while living sustainably and in harmony with nature.

What distinguishes Black Elk from other academic researchers is that she considers medicinal plants her “relatives” — no different from the flesh-and-blood members of her family tree.

Black Elk’s work has taken her beyond the U.S. to address audiences in Great Britain, Italy, Australia and Guatemala; still, her priority remains protecting Native Americans’ cultural, spiritual and natural heritage — a calling she embraced in the wake of the Standing Rock protests against the proposed 1,200-mile Dakota Access pipeline.

Braving riot police armed with dogs and military-style vehicles, and getting hosed with water cannons in subzero temperatures, Black Elk ran a medical camp for sick and injured protesters. Some two dozen Western-trained physicians and Native American healers volunteered to pool their knowledge. The elderly woman with a burned foot was just one of the hundreds Black Elk treated, and that combination of modern and indigenous medicine served as a model and inspiration for the clinic she’s opening in Fort Yates.

“We created this space where anyone could come and receive health care,” Black Elk says. “We had people coming from hundreds of miles away — people who didn’t even care about the pipeline.”

Dr. Donald Warne, associate dean at the University of North Dakota’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences and an Oglala Lakota, says Black Elk’s values cut a sharp contrast to the profit motive driving most U.S. health care. “In modern systems, we’re always concerned about intellectual property, who gets the credit, who gets the patent. It’s not what she’s about,” he says. “She’s about ensuring the knowledge is spread to people who need it and want it.”

While many people attest to the benefits of herbal medicine, health care professionals strike a more cautionary note. Craig Hopp, an expert on plant-based remedies at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, says a skilled herbalist might help with minor ailments, but his advice is clear: Consult a doctor for anything remotely serious. “As beneficial as herbs might be, they’re not going to treat your cancer,” Hopp says. “That’s where I’d draw the line and say you need some serious medicine to get through this crisis and don’t mess around with the other stuff.”

What’s more, say the skeptics, few indigenous remedies have been subjected to clinical trials. But could there be other ways to discern the medicinal properties of plants besides carefully controlled laboratory studies? For her part, Black Elk prefers to approach a wild herb and offer it a pinch of sacred tobacco or sing it a song before asking for its message.

Sometimes she will hear a voice in her head, speaking in English or Lakota, or receive an image in a dream. “Other times, I will meet a plant relative, and I’ll get an impression,” she says, “a feeling of ‘I can help you. I’m available for you to harvest, and use as medicine.’”

With researchers positing that sophisticated forms of plant consciousness may be possible, Black Elk looks forward to the moment when science catches up with the truth indigenous people have long known: The spirits of trees, herbs and flowers can teach as well as heal. One day, she hopes their lessons will not only open new pathways for curing diseases but also provide a blueprint for restoring the balance between people and the planet.

“As an indigenous woman, I have been taught to think, How will my actions today impact the next seven generations after me?” says Black Elk. “If anything, what happened at Standing Rock helped show the world that our connection to the land — which is still as vibrant and real as it always was — is the key to moving forward to create a better world for everyone.”

5 Questions for Linda Black Elk

  • What was the last book you finished? Aanjikiing/Changing Worlds: An Anishinaabe Traditional Funeral, by Lee Obizaan Staples and Chato Ombishkebines Gonzalez, an amazing bilingual account of an Anishinaabe funeral rite from beginning to end.  
  • What do you worry about? I worry about the water. It makes me crazy that the rivers and streams that my ancestors relied upon are so polluted.… I can’t drink the water that nourished them. I can’t cook with it. I can’t bathe in it. All I can do is pray with it and for it.… I worry about what kind of life my children will get from the water that I am leaving behind.  
  • What’s the one thing you can’t live without? I can’t live without fermentation. I eat fermented foods and drink [fermented] beverages every day. As a nerdy scientist, fermentation is my most favorite chemical process.  
  • Who’s your hero? One of my greatest heroes is Sharice Davids [who recently became one of two Native American women elected to Congress]. She is also a former MMA fighter, a lawyer and an all-around amazing indigenous woman who sets the bar for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. 
  • What’s one item on your bucket list? To canoe the waterways of North America with nothing but a knife, a tent and a fishing pole. I have the skills and motivation to live off the land for extended periods, and I’d love to be so close to Mother Earth that I have to rely on her for my very survival. But I’m not as strong as my ancestors, hence the knife, the tent and the fishing pole. 

Art That Takes After Your Own Heart

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The room flickers with hundreds of pulsating bulbs, each tied to a heartbeat. Each of the beats is taken, recorded and then replayed. Different rhythms form variant shadows as they play off one another. And then they reset, suddenly fluttering to the same step, the same beat. Yours, as you step up to the sensor and place your finger on it, is broadcast for dozens of others too.

Artists who want to create art that speaks to viewers are a dime a dozen. But with Pulse, the Montreal-based Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer lets viewers create art from the heart — far from figuratively — transmitting their heartbeats into an immersive audiovisual experience that few other museum exhibits even dream to offer.

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Heartbeats are reflected in ripples of light at the Pulse exhibit.

Source Nick Fouriezos

Lozano-Hemmer “continues to locate interactivity in a physical space, when it’s still so often placed in a virtual space like our phones. He takes it away from the screen,” says Leah Sandals, an editor at Canadian Art Magazine. That interactive vision is spread across three installations that fill the entire second level of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., through April 28. In a city famous for its museums, Pulse is quickly becoming a must-see for visitors to the U.S. capital.

The Hirshhorn exhibit starts with a pensive note from the 50-year-old artist, whose own heart shines through in his long-standing interest in heartbeats. Born in Mexico City, Lozano-Hemmer learned during his wife’s pregnancy in 2003 that the couple could listen to the pulse of the fetus. But, as he notes, the ultrasound isn’t the actual heartbeat but a sonification of data. What we perceive as a sound is an image, formed from high-frequency sound waves of the soft tissue. “Even though we can instantly recognize a heartbeat, what is more poetic is the fact that we do not control it,” Lozano-Hemmer writes, “that our life depends on involuntary spasms of muscular tissue.” 

The fingerprints of the last 10,000 users are projected over a massive wall, which constantly changes as each new visitor records their pulse. 

Pulse begins with an homage to those creators who have utilized heartbeats in their art throughout history. Like the Boyle Family, who in 1966 projected light shows of bodily fluids — tears, saliva, sperm, vomit — and, yes, heartbeats, and the French artist Aurel de Coloblo Mendoza, who in 2010 built a soundproof booth in the back of a truck, where visitors entered into darkness accompanied by the amplified sounds of their own heartbeats. The sound of the heart has been used in myriad ways, from the heartbeats of classically trained musicians creating a “living score” in Finland and those of passers-by creating high-powered light beams over Toronto to the recording of a NASA creative director sent into space as part of the Voyager 1 launch. 

Pulse exhibit at Hirschhorn

Overhead lights respond to the pulses of visitors.

Source Nick Fouriezos

The first room hosts Lozano-Hemmer’s Pulse Index, initially produced in 2010 and now fully realized in its largest scale to date. The fingerprints of the last 10,000 users are projected over a massive wall, which constantly changes as each new visitor records their pulse. The second room houses an updated version of Pulse Tank, which premiered in New Orleans in 2008. You insert your finger into a sensor and your pulse creates ripples in pools of water that are reflected in bright light. The final act, Pulse Room, which made its debut in 2006, features those aforementioned lightbulbs, constantly flickering in incandescent dance.

 

It’s somewhat eerie in this age of extreme data accumulation that guests’ fingerprints and heartbeats are recorded, although each new one replaces an old one. And while exhibits like Pulse create “immediacy to the art that most viewers can understand,” Sandals says, there is a segment of the art world –- critics who believe exclusivity is important — that may consider Lozano-Hemmer’s work overly simplistic.

But these gripes are only for those with the most specialized artistic sensibilities. For most viewers, the Pulse exhibit is a thought-provoking experience. Especially Pulse Room, where, as you watch the lights dance in their ceiling ballet, you get a sense of your own smallness — and your mortality, as bulbs flicker in, and out. 

You can see Pulse at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., from Nov. 1, 2018, to April 28, 2019. Admission is free.