A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for June 2014

[LINK] “Grindr Pride Survey Reveals How Many of Its Users Aren’t Proud Enough to Be Out”

Towleroad reports on a recent survey of Grindr users, described here, as to their biographical elements. Almost a fifth of Grindr users aren’t out.

When asked the age Grindr users decided to come out of the closet, users in their thirties and forties came out in their twenties (44 percent and 32 percent, respectively). However, 50 percent of users in their twenties came out when they were still teenagers, showing the growing progression and acceptance of LGBT youth. With more than 5 million active monthly users worldwide, Grindr has become a resource for men even before they come out. The survey revealed that nearly a third of respondents were using Grindr before they came out.

“It’s a great time to be gay – not just because it’s pride season, but because the tide is shifting for our community,” said Joel Simkhai, founder and CEO of Grindr. “Our voices are being heard as laws are changing, people are getting married and we have more allies than ever before. Every day, more people are getting involved with our community and our latest survey showed an overwhelming 89 percent of Grindr users support the LGBT community by donating, volunteering or participating in equality initiatives. We are doing our part by helping to increase awareness through our Grindr for Equality campaign and have done some amazing work for equality and to advance the cause of our community worldwide.”

Grindr’s survey also put to test the saying that blood is thicker than water. Apparently not in regards to coming out – 72 percent of respondents said the first person they told was a friend, while only 22 percent told a family member first.

When it comes to how out Grindr users are, a large majority (96 percent) came out to friends and 81 percent have come out to family, but only 68 percent have come out at work. This means workplace discrimination fears are still top of mind for many Grindr users. This may be surprising considering the main reason respondents hesitated about coming out of the closet was the fear of rejection from family and friends. That 81 percent beat out other fears such as gay slurs, threats, excluded by religion and unfair treatment in the workplace.

The comments at Towleroad include discussions from some of these people, one talking about how his livelihood could be threatened if he was out to more than friends and family.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 30, 2014 at 8:20 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Grand Pride Wedding sees 110 couples wed”

The Canadian Press, via CBC, reported on one of the sweetest components of WorldPride, a mass wedding at Casa Loma.

Organizers forecast up to 1,000 people would attend the Grand Pride Wedding, which is believed to be the largest of its kind in North America.

The setting was Casa Loma, a palatial Toronto home built between 1911 and 1914, which has since become a popular tourist attraction and event venue.

Liberty Entertainment Group, which operates the facility and hosted the event, absorbed all the costs, with the couples only having to pay for an Ontario marriage licence.

The venue is of particular significance for Windsor, Ont., resident Aaron Bergeron, who was marrying partner Kenneth Grundy. They first visited Casa Loma when they were in Toronto two years ago.

“We were walking around in it and I was like ‘how awesome would it be to get married here,”‘ Bergeron said. “When we found out that that’s where they were having the giant ceremony, I was like, this has to happen.”

Despite the significance — and scale — of the celebration, some warn that the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, queers and two-spirited people (a First Nations term for individuals who are considered to be neither women nor men) still can’t be taken for granted.

“This says a lot about acceptance and change in our society,” said Helen Kennedy, executive director of national charity Egale, which was involved in planning the “big fat gay wedding.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 30, 2014 at 8:17 pm

[LINK] “Right-Wing Provocation: Russian and German Populists Meet”

Spiegel Online writes about a recent conference in Germany that seems to have been a platform for the Russian government’s particular new brand of homophobic cultural conservatism.

In the run-up to it, the event attracted significant controversy, in no small part due to the second half of the title to Saturday’s program: “Are Europe’s peoples being abolished?” German Middle East expert Peter Scholl-Latour and former news anchor Eva Herman — who gained notoriety in Germany and was fired from her job at a public broadcaster several years ago for making favorable remarks about family values during the Third Reich — had both been scheduled to attend. But both withdrew at short notice, Scholl-Latour citing scheduling issues while Herman said she was doing so out of fear for her family’s safety and “because I don’t want to expose myself to media mud-slinging.”

Herman instead addressed conference participants with a pre-recorded audio message. “Family policy in Germany nowadays is scarcely distinguishable from the East German model,” she said. While Herman’s views are well-known, they pale in comparison with the conference’s other speakers. Another last-minute cancellation came from Frauke Petry, spokesperson for the new euroskeptic Alternative for Germany party. Presumably party strategists had decided that the Alternative’s mantra-like promise to not enter into coalition with right-wing populists in the European Parliament would sound hollow if Petry participated in a conference that played host to crude theorizing about issues as diverse as demography, heredity, the evils of day care centers or youth they claim can become gay as a result of homosexual proganda.

Several speakers from Russia took part in the Leipzig conference, sparing no effort to promote President Vladimir Putin’s family policies. Among them was lawmaker Yelena Mizulina, chair of the Duma Committee on Family, Women and Childrens’ Affairs and co-author of the country’s infamous law banning “homosexual propaganda.

[. . .]

Mizulina’s family policy wish list is a long one: Among the legislative initiatives she’d like to pursue are a tax on divorce, recommendations for married couples to have at least three children and a ban on emergency contraceptive pills. Mizulina denied claims that her country’s gay community is subjected to violence while standing in front of a wall with the inscription “Courage to speak truth.”

[. . .]

The conference was organized by Jürgen Elsässer, editor-in-chief of the right-wing populist magazine Compact and himself a former West German communist back in the 1970s. He later became a teacher while continuing to write for German left-wing publications like Konkret and Freitag. His politics have since shifted to right-wing populism and conspiracy theories, and he has a penchant for preaching about family values and Europe’s supposed imminent decline. Elsässer’s partner in France is Paris’ Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, a think tank sponsored by private individuals from Russia that is considered to be closely aligned with the Kremlin.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 30, 2014 at 8:15 pm

[LINK] “How “Frozen” Took Over the World”

Maria Konnikova’s blog post at The New Yorker taking a look at the reasons for the global popularity is, besides a fine look at a very good movie, an interesting examination of the underlying mechanics for popular pop culture.

George Bizer, a psychologist at Union College, first became interested in the “Frozen” phenomenon when his seven-year-old daughter requested that they watch it. Normally, a parent shouldn’t be surprised when a young girl wants to watch a Disney-princess movie. But for Bizer’s daughter, the request was highly out of character. “My daughter is a princess-hating daughter,” he told me. “She has made us warn everybody in prior years that she didn’t want anything with princesses on it for her birthday. And if she got a princess, she would get angry. Really angry.” Why, then, would she want to go see a movie where not one but two princesses reigned? “ ‘It’s O.K., Daddy,’ she said. ‘These are strong princesses. I’m going to like it a lot,’ ” Bizer recalled. And she did.

That was enough to pique Bizer’s curiosity, and when he started seeing “Frozen” fans cropping up around the college campus, he realized that there was a potentially more powerful force at work. Union students, after all, weren’t your typical Disney-loving fans. Together with his fellow Union psychologist Erika Wells, Bizer decided to test possible theories on every psychologist’s favorite population: college students. They organized an evening of “Frozen” fun—screening and movie-themed dinner—and called it “The Psychology of Frozen.” There, they listened to the students’ reactions and tried to gauge why they found the film so appealing.

While responses were predictably varied, one theme seemed to resonate: everyone could identify with Elsa. She wasn’t your typical princess. She wasn’t your typical Disney character. Born with magical powers that she couldn’t quite control, she meant well but caused harm, both on a personal scale (hurting her sister, repeatedly) and a global one (cursing her kingdom, by mistake). She was flawed—actually flawed, in a way that resulted in real mistakes and real consequences. Everyone could interpret her in a unique way and find that the arc of her story applied directly to them. For some, it was about emotional repression; for others, about gender and identity; for others still, about broader social acceptance and depression. “The character identification is the driving force,” says Wells, whose own research focusses on perception and the visual appeal of film. “It’s why people tend to identify with that medium always—it allows them to be put in those roles and experiment through that.” She recalls the sheer diversity of the students who joined the discussion: a mixture, split evenly between genders, of representatives of the L.G.B.T. community, artists, scientists. “Here they were, all so different, and they were talking about how it represents them, not ideally but realistically,” she told me.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 30, 2014 at 8:12 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO’s Chris Bateman writes about the life of William Cawthra, a 19th century millionaire in Toronto who gave his name to–among other places–Church and Wellesley’s Cawthra Park.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the idea of engines that can move stars and planets, drawn from science fiction.
  • Crooked Timber visits the topic of the First World War.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to one paper suggesting TW Hydrae has a borderline brown dwarf in orbit, and to another paper suggesting that exoplanet 55 Cancri e is in a polar orbit of its star.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Greenland’s icecap is darkening, potentially accelerating the rate of its melt.
  • Eastern Approaches engages with Polish politics.
  • Far Outliers is exploring Soviet history, noting Communist enthusiasm for the Russian civil war and origins of totalitarianism in the war.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Edward Hugh notes that Japanese inflation is at a 32 year high, and that this isn’t good.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the suicide of a Tea Party leader in Mississippi who filmed the mentally ill wife of his Republican opponent.
  • Language Log approves of a shift to actual language use in the US Supreme Court.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money also discusses the First World War, noting that Serbian opinion isn’t very anti-war.
  • Marginal Revolution notes economic stagnation among African Americans.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine are starting to join the same Russian mental category reserved for the Baltic States, for good and for ill.

[PHOTO] Three rainbows in Church and Wellesley during WorldPride

I saw this rainbow on a parade float.

A rainbow in the Pride parade

This rainbow was on an apartment balcony, a display by a man welcoming people to WorldPride.

A rainbow on an apartment balcony

This final rainbow was in the front window of Ladybug Florist just north of Church and Wellesley.

A rainbow in a shop window

Written by Randy McDonald

June 30, 2014 at 2:06 pm

[PHOTO] Four photos of Cawthra Park over June 2014

On the 3rd of June, I shared a picture that I took off a spot on Church Street, of Cawthra Park being renovated and of the new mural being painted on the side of the 519 Church Street Community Centre just to the south.

The mural on the north side of the 519 Community Centre takes shape

As the month proceeded, I’d taken three more photos from the same position, seeing work on the park progress in advance of World Pride.

On the 11th:

Cawthra Park on the 11th of June

On the 21st:

Cawthra Park on the 21st of June

On the 27th:

Cawthra Park on the 27th of June

Written by Randy McDonald

June 30, 2014 at 2:20 am

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Andart’s Anders Sandberg links to a paper of his examining the ethics of brain emulations. How ethical is it do make very life-like simulations of minds?
  • blogTO notes a public art movement tracing the former path of the Don River.
  • The Burgh Diaspora’s Jim Russell notes that population change in the US is a consequence of migration and natural change.
  • Centauri Dreams considers intergalactic travel. Given the huge travel times involved, travelling on a hypervelocity star ejected from a solar system may be more secure.
  • The Cranky Sociologists’ SocProf notes that not caring about a particular social issue until it affects you actually isn’t good for society as a whole.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to one paper suggesting between 5.3 and 10% of Sun-like star ssupport Earth-sized planets in their circumstellar habitable zones, and another identifying HIP 114328 as a solar twin.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the latest developments in marriage equality in Finland.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen notes that Scottish devolution hasn’t changed much policy, perhaps passing over the possibility that perhaps devolution has prevented change.
  • Patrick Cain maps the 2014 Ontario election.
  • Torontoist notes that the Toronto Star has given the Toronto Public Library more than a million of its vintage photographs.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that, according to a recent court ruling, smartphones in the US are safe from arbitrary search.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine is steadily losing its position there.

Devjyot Ghoshal’s article at The Atlantic profiles one of the few growth sectors of American journalism, in the ethnic press.

As commenters note, the barebones nature of these operations don’t bode well for even their future, never mind larger mainstream organizations.

There are close to a hundred ethnic newspapers in New York City with a combined readership of 2.94 million, almost a third of the city’s total population, according to the New York Press Association.

Together this collection of monthly, weekly, and daily newspapers are part of a larger ecosystem: More than 270 community and ethnic publications in 36 languages that are published in New York. In the last two years alone, at least 21 new ethnic newspapers have been launched. In contrast, the number of daily newspapers in the United States has dropped from 1,480 in 2000 to 1,382 in 2011.

But these small publications, often run out of basements such as Rehman’s, are surviving—and occasionally even thriving, riding the coattails of the city’s burgeoning immigrant population. More than 3 million of New York’s 8.2 million residents are foreign-born, the city’s planning department estimates—the highest percentage of immigrants since the European influx of the 1930s.

Javier Castaño is among them. The Colombia-born journalist started out as a reporter for the United States’s oldest Spanish-daily, El Diario La Prensa. Eventually, he rose to become the editor-in-chief of Hoy Nueva York, a free Spanish-language daily. In 2008, Hoy’s print edition was shuttered, and Castaño fired.

Instead of finding another job, Castaño decided to turn publisher. He started the Queens Latino, an online news outlet focusing on Queens’s Spanish-speaking community. It’s a huge demographic bloc: More than 27 percent of the borough’s 2.3 million residents are of Hispanic or Latino origin. A few months later, he launched a monthly newspaper.

“They say that Latinos use the Internet in a strong way and they go to see videos all the time,” explained Castaño, sitting at his home-office in Jackson Heights. “But I don’t think they are getting the news still via the Internet. So you need that newspaper.” The Queens Latino currently prints about 15,000 copies every month.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 27, 2014 at 7:11 pm

[ISL] “Puerto Rico: Tropical Tax Haven for America’s Super-Rich”

I wonder how this new phase in Puerto Rico’s economic history, as reported by Business Week‘s Katherine Burton, will last.

It’s 2 a.m. at the La Factoria bar in Puerto Rico’s Old San Juan, a hipster joint with a sagging couch, tile floors, and Christmas lights that wouldn’t be out of place in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg. While Get Lucky plays, tipsy couples slink out the doors onto the colonial city’s cobblestone streets and into this warm April night. At the bar, a 28-year-old hedge fund trader—the type of person who posts his SAT results on his LinkedIn page—is ranting about the tax code. He’s obsessed with it, complaining that the U.S. is the only major country taxing citizens on their worldwide income, no matter where they reside. That’s why he moved here.

Struggling to emerge from an almost decadelong economic slump, the Puerto Rican government signed a law in early 2012 that creates a tax haven for U.S. citizens. If they live on the island for at least 183 days a year, they pay minimal or no taxes, and unlike with a move to Singapore or Bermuda, Americans don’t have to turn in their passports. (Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens but cannot vote in federal elections.) About 200 traders, private equity moguls, and entrepreneurs have already moved or committed to moving, according to Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce, and billionaire John Paulson is spearheading a drive to entice others to join them.

Puerto Rico’s low-tax welcome mat comes as some of the wealthiest Americans grow more anxious about tax increases and rhetoric directed at the rich. Tax bills have risen after a 10-year break under President George W. Bush that disproportionately favored the rich. The 2008 global financial crisis and the recession that followed also unleashed movements such as Occupy Wall Street that focused attention on growing inequality and the responsibility of large financial institutions in helping to create the mess.

In October 2011 protesters marched by the homes of Manhattan’s billionaires, including Paulson’s. A little more than a year later, President Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney in an election that highlighted the latter’s wealth and private equity background. “I’m worried about the shifting mentality among the electorate, people blaming problems on the rich, on business, and on capitalism,” says Peter Schiff, a onetime candidate for the U.S. Senate from Connecticut and a former economic adviser to libertarian presidential hopeful Ron Paul. “I’m afraid that the tax rates that are already high will get higher in the years ahead,” maybe up to 60 percent or 70 percent, he added.

Schiff, who runs Westport (Conn.)-based brokerage Euro Pacific Capital, relocated his $900 million asset management arm from Newport Beach, Calif., to San Juan in 2013. He plans to move to the island within the next several years. (For now, a son from a first marriage is keeping him in Connecticut.)

Written by Randy McDonald

June 27, 2014 at 7:08 pm