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Unexpected

From a remarkable collection of color photographs taken in Russia in the early 1900s.

Mad Men notes

So, in yesterday’s season premiere of Mad Men, we learn that Lucky Strike makes up about 70 % of SCDP’s salary.  We also learn that it is 1964, which happens to be the year of the first Surgeon General’s report on the health effects of smoking:

The 1964 report on smoking and health had an impact on public attitudes and policy. A Gallup Survey conducted in 1958 found that only 44 percent of Americans believed smoking caused cancer, while 78 percent believed so by 1968. In the course of a decade, it had become common knowledge that smoking damaged health, and mounting evidence of health risks gave Terry’s 1964 report public resonance. . . In 1965, Congress required all cigarette packages distributed in the United States to carry a health warning, and since 1970 this warning is made in the name of the Surgeon General. In 1969, cigarette advertising on television and radio was banned, effective September 1970.

They should get some new clients.

RAISED BATON: A policeman threatened a child with a baton during clashes with garment workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday. Thousands of people protested low wages and poor work conditions. Police responded with tear gas and water cannons. (Munir uz Zaman/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

So I participated in two threads on Feministe over the past few days.  I hardly ever comment on big blogs, but this time I couldn’t help myself because everyone was arguing about something I started noticing a while ago,  namely, the upper-middle class American tendency to propose individual consumerist solutions to systemic problems.   Want to take a stand against the maltreatment of garment workers in Bangladesh?  Shop at a thrift store instead of Target.  Want to save the environment?  Buy green cleaning products.  Think the U.S. agricultural system is fucked?  Buy organic.  And so it goes.

These tactics are obviously never going to work by themselves, so why do people constantly emphasize consuming the right products instead of other forms of action?  Why is it so hard for supposed liberals to admit that corporate and government policy are responsible for these structures, and that they’ll never go away unless corporations and governments change?

The answer,  I think, lies in the fact that people are reluctant to acknowledge the problem in its entirety.  If you focus on consumer response to certain issues, like  exploitative garment factories, or destructive environmental policy, then hey, if you ride a bike everywhere and get all your clothes at Goodwill, you’re placing yourself outside the system and you get to feel all awesome about it.  Except that you, as a consumer in a developed nation, can’t escape the system in any meaningful way.   Everything you buy, from tires to computers to underwear, is produced by exploited workers in the third world.  There’s no way for individuals to extricate themselves from that.  But since this realization is kind of a downer, people like to talk about ethical consumption instead.

There’s also probably some kind of subconscious (?) notion that the act of consumption carries transformative and even salvific power.  Also, unyielding faith in the existence of a free market.

Oh no they didn’t

Evolutionary psychologists retool Maslow’s pyramid:

Their new formulation is intellectually stimulating, but emotionally deflating. “Self-actualization,” the noble-sounding top layer of Maslow’s hierarchy, in their model has not only been dethroned, it has been relegated to footnote status. It has been replaced at the top with a more mundane motivation Maslow didn’t even mention: “Parenting.”

According to the findings, some 48 per cent of females prefer not to bare all in bed, wearing at least one garment. The reason – for 54 per cent of them – is to improve body confidence.

Assuming this study is accurate (it seems they interviewed a bunch of Carrie Bradshaws?), this is not at all what I would have predicted.

And when it came to their garment of choice, negligees came out on top. But the survey revealed most women would go for a bra. The results showed 61 per cent of women claimed to prefer sex with the lights off, compared with just 37 per cent of men.

How sad. But wait!

Andy Barr, marketing director at MyCelebrityFashion.co.uk, said: ”This research has really unveiled [oh, I see what you did there] how large a part clothes play when it comes to female body confidence. ”The fact that such a large proportion of women claim to feel sexier with an item kept on suggests that, whilst body confidence might be low, clothes can really improve a woman’s self-image.”

Clothes: saving you and your partner from your disgusting body since the Pleistocene.

Tangentially, the subject of clothes, sex, and whether they should be combined always reminds me of this:

Tu marches sur des morts, Beauté, dont tu te moques;
De tes bijoux l’Horreur n’est pas le moins charmant,
Et le Meurtre, parmi tes plus chères breloques,
Sur ton ventre orgueilleux danse amoureusement.

which, once upon a time, I translated as:

“You trample the dead, Beauty, whom you mock

Of your jewels, Horror is not the least charming

And Death, among your dearest trinkets,

Dances amorously on your proud belly.”

SO HOT.

Yuck

The daily routine seldom varied. Mr. Nicholson, 24, a graduate of Colgate University, winner of a dean’s award for academic excellence, spent his mornings searching corporate Web sites for suitable job openings. When he found one, he mailed off a résumé and cover letter — four or five a week, week after week.

Over the last five months, only one job materialized. After several interviews, the Hanover Insurance Group in nearby Worcester offered to hire him as an associate claims adjuster, at $40,000 a year. But even before the formal offer, Mr. Nicholson had decided not to take the job.

Rather than waste early years in dead-end work, he reasoned, he would hold out for a corporate position that would draw on his college training and put him, as he sees it, on the bottom rungs of a career ladder.

Watch the video if you feel like puking.