Building Walls

 

About 100,000 years ago, the glacier dropped an enormous number of stones  it had been grinding and carrying a very long time on New England. Most stones were buried but rose to the surface with thawing and freezing.  After white settlers cut down all the trees for farming, there was more freezing and thawing,  pushing more stones up to litter the farm fields.  They had to be removed and were used  for building fences/walls, marking off property, enclosing pastures and barnyards, and for building houses.  The walls had to be rebuilt, mended, from time to time.  RJN

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Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

Robert Frost

 

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Good Things to Do With Your Body

Donating body for research

People’s reasons and science’s uses are many

Students from Texas State University’s Forensic Anthropology Center search for the remains of a missing person. ( Texas State University)
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By Kay Manning  Chicago Tribune 10.26.16

Patricia Kelly had to watch her husband, William, descend into dementia, but he never wavered from a desire to give his body to science, and what followed his donation inspired her — and now their daughter — to not only pledge to do the same but to become fierce advocates of the idea.

When William Kelly died in 2011 and Patricia Kelly in 2015, they became part of an unusual program at the Indiana University Northwest in Gary, which teaches anatomy while encouraging communication with donor families through letters, visits and a memorial service.

Her mom cherished the letters she received from International Human Cadaver Prosection Program students, said daughter Susan Ellingsen, of Munster, Ind., “taking a big magnifying glass (she was legally blind) and reading them over and over. They were very personal and told us all they discovered about my dad.”

“My mother made a video to let students know why she donated her body and what hope she had for them to be the best they could be and to always take their patients’ lives and families seriously,” she said.

Ernest Talarico, who runs the prosection program, said he was troubled in medical school when all he knew about a cadaver was a number and maybe a cause of death. Fellow students disrespectfully named bodies, he said.

“The tradition in anatomy lab is to focus on the science, not to get too attached,” Talarico said. “What we do is a new paradigm. And research shows it makes better doctors.”

Many bodies donated for research have poignant back stories. William Kelly had a number of ailments and wanted science to more fully explore them.

Judy Clemens, of Hebron, Ind., had a progressive form of multiple sclerosis that so frustrated her that she took her life, but not before asking that her body be studied to better understand the disease.

Other donors are educators, scientists and members of law enforcement who know the importance of hands-on learning to solve crimes, find missing people or bodies, and bring closure to aggrieved families. They even designate that their corpses be used for such studies as how fast vultures decimate a body, or how cold or hot weather affects decomposition. Still others specify that their remains be used to train cadaver dogs.

Some bodies are donated by families seeking to save money since many programs pay for transportation and stage a memorial service for the deceased or return the cremated remains.

A future purpose for donated bodies involves recomposition, the turning of human bodies into nutrient-rich compost. A prototype for what the project director sees as an environmentally friendly alternative to burial and cremation is expected to be built in Seattle in the spring and will accept bodies for a pilot program to fully test the process.

“There’s scientific value to donating your body, but there’s a huge educational value,” said Cheryl Johnston, director of an outdoor facility at Western Carolina University, where eight bodies are in various stages of decomposition. The training they afford “is benefiting people by applying things in the real world.”

Daniel Wescott runs the largest so-called body farm in the country at Texas State University, where researchers and cameras document the rate of decay of 70 bodies above and below ground, bodies clothed, unclothed and wrapped in tarps, bodies protected by wire cages and bodies left vulnerable to scavengers. When reduced to skeletons, the bones become part of a permanent research collection.

The Forensic Anthropology Center simulates conditions under which bodies or people may be found if they are victims of crime, or are missing after wandering off or a natural disaster, such as a flood. A decomposed body produces soil that’s darker in color and vegetation that reflects light differently, allowing a drone to pinpoint a location to be searched. That saves time and money, Wescott said, and then experts can determine how long a body might have been there, leading to quicker identification and finding or eliminating suspects in criminal cases.

“It’s all for justice, not just for law enforcement, but to keep somebody from going to jail if innocent,” he said.

Decomposition research and technology have better prepared Texas to handle the border-crossing deaths of immigrants, Wescott said. Bodies are buried without names, leaving loved ones uncertain as to the refugees’ fate. The facility is trying to identify some 80 corpses, but “the very, very slow process” has led to only 10 names so far, he said.

Donated bodies also help train dogs that can detect human remains. Lisa Briggs, a professor of criminology at Western Carolina University, started training her golden retriever Laila at 7 1/2 weeks, and the 2-year-old has found three bodies and several people alive.

Briggs said she feels fortunate to have whole bodies with which to teach Laila because using synthetic versions of decomposed remains or even a single body part such as teeth or a placenta, as some trainers have to do, is inadequate.

“Drug dogs are trained on one scent — maybe marijuana — but with humans, there are so many variables, such as what they had on, whether it was cold or hot, medicines they were taking, if they drowned,” Briggs said. “No one can understand how important it is” for dogs to be exposed to all those factors.

She said she remembers an instance in which Laila was looking for two people presumed by police to be dead. The dog found the bodies in water by smelling the gases bubbling to the surface, Briggs said, adding she can be asked to help on up to 20 cases a year.

She’s seen the pain families go through when a loved one is missing. “I can only imagine what it’s like not knowing,” she said.

Brittany Winn said she knew her adopted “nana,” Clemens, was donating her body to Indiana University Northwest in hopes that something could be learned about multiple sclerosis. But Winn was unprepared for Clemens’ suicide in 2011 and the quick disappearance of her body.

“We didn’t know where her remains were. It was heart-wrenching for us,” Winn said.

Months later, a Manila envelope arrived from Talarico’s program, and his students’ first contacts with the family “had us in tears,” said Winn, who has gone on to participate in the program for four years as a student and team leader and is working as a medical scribe for a Fort Wayne, Ind., endocrinologist. She wants prosectors to understand the donor and those closest to him or her.

“It’s not just a cadaver but a person who meant the world to my family,” Winn said. “Words from the prosectors are the beginning of closure. And seeing that they get everything they can from the program makes me feel better. What they learned will be with them for life.”

She has registered as a donor, she said, but donations also can be arranged after death. Requirements vary, but programs generally will not take the bodies of severe accident victims, those with infectious diseases or bodies that have been autopsied, embalmed or had organs removed. Some have weight limitations; some will take cremated remains and body parts, such as amputated limbs.

Katrina Spade, founder and executive director of the Seattle-based Urban Death Project, started searching as an architecture student for a new way to look at death, out of concern that the existing options of burial and cremation are expensive, harmful to the environment and often shortchange traditional rituals surrounding a death. She realized the method used to compost dead livestock could be adapted for humans.

“All of nature is based on dead material being turned into new life,” Spade said. “It’s a renewal, but we’ve destroyed it through cremation or by pumping bodies full of chemicals and burying them in concrete boxes. It couldn’t be farther from what nature wants to do.”

She envisions nonprofit recomposition facilities being built in urban areas where land is scarce and there are unused structures such as churches or warehouses. Bodies could be carried by family members in a quiet candlelit ceremony or to the accompaniment of a brass band, she said, and then covered in wood chips to begin the transformation into soil.

“It’s a really beautiful way to treat bodies after death,” Spade said.

Kay Manning is a freelancer.

Kindness of Strangers

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Recerntly at O”Hare airport,  a young man helped me climb several steps into the van going to the parking lot and 10 minutes later helped me off.  I’m glad I had a chance to tell him that, since I’ve had trouble walking, I’ve become surer of how good people are.

Carrying my cane, I’ve had people give me their seats on the EL  (finally realized it was wrong to refuse ), stand back so I could enter an elevator, and other such courtesies.  I’ve dropped my cane several times, and someone was there immediately to pick it up for me.

A few months ago, we were at a small reception at the Adler Planetarium when I stumbled and fell.  Two men were on me immediately, one looking strangely into my eyes.  He must have felt my discomfort with that, said  “I’m a physician.”  I found I was in the middle of a semi-circle of about 30 people–first entertainment of the evening.

The guys helped me get into a chair, then made sure I got into the lecture room safely.

I think it is  wonderful that people want to help, but a helper must do only what the needful person wants.  Injured or handicapped people still need their autonomy.  

There’s a story about a young man who walked toward a busy intersecton and saw a frail old woman standing at the curb.  He swooped her up and carried her across the street, evading a bus.  On the other side, he put her down and said, ” Is there anything else I can do for you?”  She said, “Yes, take me back to the place where I was waiting for the bus”.

Disabled people expect reasonable consideration.  I worked briefly at a food store when I was in high school.  One day I saw a one-legged man start through the front door on crutches. A woman in a hurry pushed past him, jostling him aside.  Some minutes later, as she was bending over the potato bin,  the man struck her   butt with a crutch.  She neither exclaimed nor complained.

I enjoy remembering a scene from a movie  in which an old man carrying a bag of popcorn across a street toward a park is frightened by a young man in a convertible who honks at him and nearly runs him over.  The old man turns onto a sidewalk, sharing his popcorn with a flock of pigeons.  The young man parks farther down the street.  When the old man reaches the convertible, he dumps his popcorn in the front and back seats of the car.  I hope everyone knows what the young man will find when he returns.

 

 

How Lesbians Saved Subaru

 

Subaru’s marketing strategy had just died in a fit of irony. 

It was the mid 1990s, and sales of Subaru cars were in decline. To reverse the company’s fortunes, Subaru of America had created its first luxury car—even though the small automaker was known for plain but dependable cars—and hired a trendy advertising agency to introduce it to the public. 

The new approach had fallen flat when the ad men took irony too far: One ad touted the new sports car’s top speed of 140 MPH, then asked, “How important is that, with extended urban gridlock, gas at $1.38 a gallon and highways full of patrolmen?”

After firing the hip ad agency, Subaru of America changed its approach. Rather than compete directly with Ford, Toyota, and other carmakers that dwarfed Subaru in size, executives decided to return to its old focus on marketing Subaru cars to niche groups—like outdoorsy types who liked that Subaru cars could handle dirt roads.

This search for niche groups led Subaru to the 3rd rail of marketing: They discovered that lesbians loved their cars. Lesbians liked their dependability and size, and even the name “Subaru.” They were four times more likely than the average consumer to buy a Subaru. 

This was the type of discovery that the small, struggling automaker was looking for. But Subaru had been looking for niche groups like skiers and kayakers—not lesbian couples. Did the company want to make advertisements for gay customers? At the time, in the mid 1990s, few celebrities were openly out. A Democratic president had just passed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and after IKEA aired one of the first major ad campaigns depicting a gay couple, someone had called in a bomb threat on an IKEA store.

Yet Subaru decided to launch an ad campaign focused on lesbian customers. It was such an unusual decision—and such a success—that it pushed gay and lesbian advertising from the fringes to the mainstream. 

If you’ve ever wondered why people joke about lesbians driving Subarus, the reason is not just that lesbians like Subarus. It’s that Subaru cultivated its image as a car for lesbians—and did so at a time when few companies would embrace or even acknowledge their gay customers.

You Are What You Drive

How do you advertise a car that journalists describe as “sturdy, if drab”?

That was the question faced by Subaru of America executives in the 1990s. After attempts to reinvigorate the company’s declining sales with a sports car and a hip, young ad agency failed, they turned to their niche marketing strategy.

“That was and still is a unique approach,” says Tim Bennett, who worked as Director of Advertising. “I’m always amazed that no one copied it.” Instead of fighting every other car company over the same demographic of white, 18- to 35-year-olds living in the suburbs, Subaru would target niche groups of people who particularly liked Subarus. 

In the 1990s, Subaru’s unique characteristic was that the company increasingly made all-wheel-drive standard on all its cars. When Subaru marketers went searching for people willing to pay a premium for all-wheel-drive, they identified four core groups who were responsible for half of the company’s American sales: teachers and educators, healthcare professionals, IT professionals, and “rugged individualists” (outdoorsy types).  

Then they discovered a 5th: lesbians.

“When we did the research, we found pockets of the country like Northampton, Massachusetts, and Portland, Oregon, where the head of the household would be a single person—and often a women,” says Bennett. When Subaru marketers talked to these customers, they realized these women buying Subarus were lesbian.

“There was such an alignment of feeling, like [Subaru cars] fit with what they did,” says Paul Poux, who later conducted focus groups for Subaru. The marketers found that lesbian Subaru owners liked that the cars were good for outdoor trips, and that they were good for hauling stuff without being as large as a truck or SUV. (In a line some women may not like as much, marketers also said Subaru’s dependability was a good fit for lesbians since they didn’t have a man who could fix car problems.) “They felt it fit them and wasn’t too flashy,” says Poux. 

Many of them even felt an affinity with the name. 

‘Subaru’ is the Japanese name for the Pleiades, a six-star constellation. When Kenji Kita, the CEO of Subaru’s parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries, chose the name in 1954, he chose it to represent how six Japanese companies had merged to form Fuji Heavy Industries. But in English, the constellation is also known as the Seven Sisters—the same name as a group of American women’s colleges. 

An example of Subaru’s niche marketing—in this case to appeal to outdoorsy types. Photo courtesy of Subaru

Of all the niche groups, lesbians may have exhibited the most fervor. “These women were practically commercials for Subaru,” John Nash, the creative director of the ad agency that ultimately made Subaru’s gay and lesbian advertisements, recalled in 2004. 

Subaru’s strategy called for targeting these 5 groups and creating ads based around its appeal to each. For medical professionals, it was that a Subaru with all-wheel-drive could get them to the hospital in any weather. For rugged individualists, it was that a Subaru could handle dirt roads and haul gear. For lesbians, it was that a Subaru fit their active, low-key lifestyle.  

But it was easier to get senior management on board with making ads for hikers than for lesbians.

From Subaru to ‘Lesbaru’

Talking with people involved in Subaru’s 1990s marketing campaign, the constant refrain is how different the environment was back then. 

“I can’t emphasize enough that this was before there was any positive discussion [of LGBT issues],” says Tim Bennett. Gay causes seemed to be on the losing side of the culture war: the Clinton Administration had just created its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding homosexuality in the military, and in 1996, Congress would pass the Defense of Marriage Act. 

Pop culture had also yet to embrace the LGBT cause. Mainstream movies and TV shows with gay characters—like Will & Grace—were still a few years away, and few celebrities were openly gay. When Ellen Degeneres became a rare exception in 1997, and her character in the show Ellen came out as gay in an episode of the sitcom, many companies pulled their ads. 

”We don’t think it is a smart business decision to be advertising in an environment that is so polarized,” a spokesperson for Chrysler explained after the company pulled its ads. ”The environment around this is so angry we feel we lose no matter what we do.”

Gay-friendly advertising was largely limited to the fashion and alcohol industries. When a 1994 IKEA ad featured a gay couple, the American Family Association mounted boycotts, and someone called in a (fake) bomb threat on an IKEA store. 

Today, this IKEA ad of a gay couple shopping for a dining room table seems mundane. But in 1994, the film crew was tense, and its airing incited backlash and New York Times op-eds.

As marketer Paul Poux explains, the attitude of most businesses toward LGBT advertising was: “Why would you do something like that? You’d be known as a gay company.”

In the 1990s, Poux worked at Mulryan/Nash, an agency that specialized in the gay market. Early in his career, he made cold calls to ask companies for their business. “All the rules of marketing went out the window at this fear” of marketing to gays and lesbians, he says. “People would choke up on the phone. It was tough.” 

It was in this context that Subaru marketers like Tim Bennett and Director of Marketing Tim Mahoney hired Mulryan/Nash, the ad agency, and pitched Subaru’s Japanese management on ads for lesbian customers. Reporter Ron Dicker ably captured some of the cultural confusion that followed:

When one Subaru ad man, Tim Mahoney, proposed the gay-targeting ads in talks with Japanese executives, the executives hurriedly looked up “gay” in their dictionaries. Upon reading the definition, they nodded at the idea enthusiastically. Who wouldn’t want happy or joyous advertising?

“It was certainly a learning process for everybody,” says Bennett. 

According to Bennett, who is gay, they never faced disrespect within Subaru. But Bennett did not reveal his sexual orientation, fearing it would overshadow the effort, and it took a year and a half to get everyone at Subaru onboard. For a car company, openly marketing to gay customers still felt new, if not taboo. Bennett recalls holding company meetings with names along the lines of “Who Are Gays and Lesbians?” 

A fifty-year-old business conglomerate like Fuji Heavy Industries, the parent company of Subaru, is not normally where you’d look for a leader in social progress. But the corporate environment did have its advantages. 

For starters, there was a great business case for the marketing campaign. Subaru was struggling, and its niche marketing campaign was plan A for redemption. 

The internationalism of global business also had its advantages. The Subaru team knew they had to support their gay and lesbian employees if they wanted to appeal to lesbian customers. So they scheduled a meeting with a senior Japanese executive to make the case for domestic partnership benefits. 

Bennett and his colleagues had prepared to argue their case at length, but the meeting lasted 20 seconds. The executive, who had worked for Subaru in Canada, already knew about benefits for same-sex couples. “He said, ‘Yeah that’s fine. We did that in Canada years ago. Anything else?’” says Bennett. “It was the easiest thing we did.”

By 1996, Subaru ads created by the Mulryan/Nash ad agency were appearing both in gay publications and mainstream media.

Although the marketing team worried about conservatives mounting a boycott, Subaru developed a public stance: Since Subaru sold cars to a “diverse and well educated” group of people, their customers wouldn’t be offended by the ads. 

Inside Subaru of America, though, not everyone was united on the effort. There was public backlash, and Tim Bennett says the campaign survived naysayers inside Subaru only because their team really cared about the project and had the support of straight allies in the company.

And the Subaru company line did have some truth to it. In response to the ads, Subaru received letters from a grassroots group that accused the carmaker of promoting homosexuality. Everyone who penned a letter said they’d never buy a Subaru again.  

But the marketing team quickly discovered that none of the people threatening a boycott had ever bought a Subaru. Some of them had even misspelled “Subaru.”

Like nerds who grow up to confront their bullies, Subaru executives realized that the people opposing the acknowledgement of gays and lesbians were not as imposing as they seemed. 

An Open Secret

Lesbians’ affinity for Subaru is a popular punchline: Like wearing birkenstocks, it’s the stuff of Saturday Night Live sketches and self-deprecating jokes about lesbian stereotypes. 

Subaru’s seminal role in gay advertising is famous in the business and marketing world, but the carmaker’s role in cultivating its lesbian-friendly image is less well known among laypeople. That’s likely because so many straight people were blind to the advertisements. 

For their first Subaru ads, Mulryan/Nash hired women to portray lesbian couples. But the ads didn’t get good reactions from lesbian audiences. 

What worked were winks and nudges. One ad campaign showed Subaru cars that had license plates that said “Xena LVR” (a reference to Xena: Warrior Princess, a TV show whose female protagonists seemed to be lovers) or “P-TOWN” (a moniker for Provincetown, Massachusetts, a popular LGBT vacation spot). Many ads had taglines with double meanings. “Get Out. And Stay Out” could refer to exploring the outdoors in a Subaru—or coming out as gay. “It’s Not a Choice. It’s the Way We’re Built” could refer to all Subarus coming with all-wheel-drive—or LGBT identity.

“Each year we’ve done this, we’ve learned more about our target audience,” John Nash, the creative director of the ad agency has said. “We’ve found that playful coding is really, really appreciated by our consumers. They like deciphering it.”

The delight among niche audience groups in “uncoding” the hints in Subaru ads surprised the marketing team—and in the case of its gay-friendly ads, so did straight audiences’ ignorance. While gay and lesbian consumers loved the shout outs in the license plates, straight people would only notice features like a bike rack. Paul Poux, who helped come up with the license plate idea, says he held focus groups with straight audiences where he’d show ads featuring gay couples. Even after an hour of talking about gay issues, they’d think a man was shopping with his uncle. 

In articles at the time, Subaru executives said they felt uncertain about the “intrigue” created by the perception of “secret coding.” But Paul Poux says there was some comfort to the fact that the gay marketing went under the radar. As more companies began marketing to LGBT audiences, secret coding became something of a playbook known by the term “gay vague”—a way for companies to reach queer audiences with minimal risk of a conservative backlash. 

This famous Volkswagen ad, which was perceived as gay-friendly, is incredibly subtle. But it aired in 1997 during the famous “coming out” episode of the sitcom Ellen.

That said, Subaru did not hide its support of gay and lesbian customers. While Volkswagen played coy about whether an ad perceived as gay-friendly really portrayed a gay couple, Subaru sponsored events like gay pride parades, partnered with the Rainbow Card, a credit card that instead of cash back offered donations to gay and lesbian causes, and hired Martina Navratilova, a lesbian and former tennis pro, to appear in Subaru ads. 

Navratilova’s role in Subaru’s ads held a level of poignancy. She had been publicly outedagainst her will, and while she spoke honestly about her identity, she had lamented that gay athletes had “to hide in the closet to sell [themselves] to Madison Avenue.”

For her to become the face of a car company during her retirement because she did not hide that she was gay, says Rainbow Card co-creator Pam Derderian, was a beautiful, full circle moment. 

The Subaru Legacy

Subaru’s gay and lesbian focused marketing campaign was a hit, and the company’s efforts continue today.

Not only is the association between lesbians and Subaru part of pop culture. But in focus groups and online polls, gay and lesbian customers consistently choose Subaru vehicles as their favorite cars or Subaru as the most gay-friendly brand. As one participant put it, “Martina Navratilova is a spokesperson. What more do you want?” 

That reputation translated into financial success. As a Harvard case study on the lesbian-focused ad campaign noted, Subaru’s flat sales turned into steady growth. Subaru’s parent company recently rebranded the entire company under the Subaru name due to the car’s surging popularity. In the 2010s, only Tesla grew faster than Subaru, which led Subaru’s president to worry that Subaru could get “too big.” 

Lesbians buying Subaru cars did not single-handedly resurrect the carmaker—lesbians were just one of five niche groups Subaru targeted in the nineties. But the gay market was one of the best for Subaru. The carmaker tracked the effectiveness of its niche marketing by partnering with 40-50 organizations—like outdoor associations and the Rainbow Card—to offer discounts on Subaru cars. Every year, Tim Bennett says, the LGBT organizations were in the top 5 in terms of cars sold.

Subaru was not the first company to create advertisements for gay and lesbian consumers, but it was the first major company in the United States to do it so transparently and consistently. Subaru’s lesbian-focused ad campaign was widely discussed in the New York Times, Washington Post, and trade magazines, and its success helped spur wild growth in gay and lesbian marketing. By the early 2000s, marketers were writing articles that calledgays and lesbians an “underserved market” and “perfect consumers.”

It was an uncomfortable embrace. The perception of the gay market as “a goldmine” relied on a misperception of all gay people as part of Dual Income, No Kids couples. A number of academics criticized corporate America’s embrace of the LGBT community as commodification: While companies wanted the profits that came from marketing a gay sense of style, they focused on upper-class and white gay identities—never gay people of color or those unable to afford medical treatment for HIV/AIDS. 

But according to Pam Derderian, who co-created the Rainbow Card with her partner Nancy Becker, that perspective underestimates the intelligence of LGBT consumers. 

To show that Subaru cared about its gay and lesbian customers, she says, the carmaker supported causes that they cared about. Through its sponsorship of the Rainbow Card, Subaru, along with other companies like Visa and British Airways, contributed millions of dollars to HIV/AIDS research and LGBT causes that helped both their customers and gay and lesbian people who could never afford a Subaru. 

Moreover, Derderian, like many gay people who see a company advertising to the gay market, vetted companies interested in sponsoring the Rainbow Card by seeing if they ensured fair policies (like benefits for same-sex partners) for their employees. This led to a trend of companies making their internal policies more gay-friendly when they wanted to advertise to gay customers. When Ford created gay-friendly ads, it revised its policies for its workforce of over 100,000 employees. 

There’s a tendency to view companies’ involvement in causes as greedy ploys. This author feels that way, especially given the cynicism-inducing conclusions of previous Priceonomics investigations. Looking into the history of engagement rings led us to marketers who made up the tradition to sell more diamonds. Searching out the origins of the phrase “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” revealed that it’s a 1944 ad campaign designed to sell more breakfast cereal. 

In this case, it’s heartening that the origins of lesbians’ stereotypical affinity for Subarus is not a cynical marketing campaign, but a progressive one. In a sense, all Subaru did was notice a group of customers and create ads for them. But that was a big deal. Subaru’s ad campaign acknowledged a group that often felt unwelcome and invisible. 

So today, in 2016, which group is next?

Bring Back Bulls?

Spanish Court Overturns Catalonia’s Ban on Bullfighting  source                                                                                  Julia Zorthian @jzorth Oct. 20, 2016

The Constitutional Court of Spain overturned Catalonia’s 2010 ban on bullfightingi in a ruling on Thursday.

(  Catalonia, in the northeast of Spain, including the seaside city of Barcelona, is one of 17 autonomous communities in Spain and is officially designated a natiionality.  It has its own language and other cultural distinctions. In 2014, 81% of votes cast in a referendum, were YES for separatiion from Spain, but only 41% of eligible voters took part,  Several years ago, a festival of Catalan literature was being planned, and there was an argument as to whether just any writers in the Catalan language could participate or only those who were Catalonian citizens,

Readers may want to see our  May 14, 2014,   blog post “Our Bullfight” about the one Alice and I suffered with six bulls in Spain.  Enter “bullfighting” in the search box, upper righthand corner of page.

RJN  )

The decision angered Catalonian separatists and animal activists

 

spain overturn catalonia bullfighting ban

Bullfighter Jose Tomas performs during the last bullfight at the La Monumental on September 25, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain, following the vote by the Catalan regional Parliament to ban bullfighting.   David Ramos—Getty Images

The court ruled that the ban Catalonia’s parliament enacted six years ago violated a national ruling that bullfighting is an integral part of Spain’s heritage and identity. The decision angered Catalonian separatists and animal activists, as both groups supported the region’s ban on the practice, the AP reports.

The ruling stated that Catalonia could regulate bullfighting, but would not be able to ban it outright due to the region’s responsibility to preserve “common cultural heritage.”

“The constitutional court can decide what they want, but we have already decided that there will be no bullfights in Catalonia,” Catalan Minister for Public Works Josep Rull said in a statement. “We want a country where it is not possible to make a public spectacle of death and suffering to an animal.

Within the region, some see this as a way for Spain to undermine Catalonia’s authority. Catalonia was the second region in Spain to ban bullfighting, following the Canary Islands in 1991, but Rull pointed out that Spain’s constitutional court did not move to overturn that ruling.

[AP]

Cooling Earth (and the way it used to be)

When our kids were kids, they were annoyed by my referring to our fridge as “ice box”.  I had that habit because when I was their age, we had in the kitchen a  box cooled by ice put in  at the top.  The melting ice cooled the contents of the box and the water had to be removed at the bottom.

The Lincoln Ice Company’s yellow truck came once a week.  The delivery man often gave us a piece of ice to suck. He handled the blocks of ice with tongs.

Much ice came from frozen lakes, stored in the summer  packed in straw.

The  Lake County museum has photos of harvesting ice from Diamond Lake with teams of horses.

Now we use refrigerators and air conditions releasing a gas that warms the planet.  RJN

Image result for photo antique ice boxImage result for photo ice delivery man with tongsImage result for photo ice delivery man with tongsImage result for photo ice delivery man with tongs

GOOD NEWS:    In “one giant swoop,” over 170 countries agreed to cut a planet-warming chemical used in air-conditioners and refrigerators   source

Negotiators from more than 170 countries on Saturday reached a legally binding accord to counter climate change by cutting the worldwide use of a powerful planet-warming chemical used in air-conditioners and refrigerators.
The talks in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, have not drawn the same spotlight as the climate change accord forged in Paris last year. But the outcome could have an equal or even greater impact on efforts to slow the heating of the planet.

MORE

Walrus are Here!

 

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Alaskan Town: Walruses Are Here, Now Stay Away

By Associated Press    Oct 14 2016 06:56 AM EDT  weather.com

source  with VIDEO

Alaskan Town Awash with Walruses

A small town in Alaska urges tourists to stay away, as hordes of walruses invade the area. 

Instead of trying to attract visitors, Point Lay, a remote village on Alaska’s northwest coast, has begun a reverse tourism campaign urging people to stay away. 

In recent years, Pacific walrus by the thousands have come ashore in early fall near the Inupiat village of Point Lay, including about 6,000 last week. People have dropped by in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the marine mammal phenomenon brought on by climate change and disappearing summer sea ice in the Chukchi Sea.

However, the small town of 270 people has no hotel or restaurants and walruses are a major food source for the residents, not a curiosity. Disturbances by boats or airplanes can spook the animals into stampedes that crush the smallest walruses.

So Point Lay is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on an information campaign: Thanks for the interest, but please don’t stop by.

“They’ve had people come and had no place to accommodate them and they ended up having to tell the person to get back on the plane and head out,” said Andrea Medeiros, spokeswoman for the agency in Anchorage. “I would imagine it’s a very awkward situation for them.”

The walrus can’t even be seen from the village.

“You have to travel across a cove to get to where the animals are,” Medeiros said. Visitors would need a ride from a resident and the trip can be hazardous.

“They’re actually on a barrier island,” she said.

In the September 2013 photo above, walruses gather to rest on the shores of the Chukchi Sea near the coastal village of Point Lay, Alaska.(Ryan Kingsbery/United States Geological Survey via AP)

Walrus started coming ashore on the northwest Alaska coast in 2007. In September last year, 35,000 packed a rocky beach near Point Lay. The carcasses of more than 130 mostly young walruses were counted after a stampede in September 2009 at Icy Cape.

Walrus prefer spreading out on sea ice, where they can monitor the approach of predators such as polar bears.

Many adult male walrus stay south of the Bering Strait year-round. However, females with calves stay on the edge of pack ice, where the young can rest as mothers dive for clams.

As the sea ice melts, the edge moves north, providing a moving platform over the shallow Bering and Chukchi seas.

In recent years, as Arctic temperatures have warmed, the edge of the sea ice has receded far to the north over water too deep for walrus to dive and reach the ocean bottom. Walrus have the choice of resting on ice over deep water or moving to shore, joined by thousands of other animals.

Remnant ice floating in the Chukchi gave walrus a safe platform this year until Friday, when about 6,000 of them came ashore near Point Lay. They appear to have since moved on, likely to Russia, Joel Garlich-Miller, a walrus biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a Tuesday statement.

Leo Ferreira, Point Lay Tribal Council president, in an interview with Sitka radio station KCAW last year urged the media to keep its distance and reacted angrily when a photographer flew near the walrus. He issued a statement Friday reiterating a “no media” policy while walrus are on shore.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with the Federal Aviation Administration to discourage airplanes from flying near walrus.

The agency also has received a two-year, $140,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help Point Lay.

The grant will pay to train Point Lay young people in photography, videography and film production that could be used on a website about walrus coming ashore. The goal is to keep people informed while warning them of the hazards and discouraging them from visiting.

The grant also will pay for villagers to monitor walrus coming ashore over about 50 miles of ocean beach, and to collect data including the age, sex and cause of any walrus deaths.

Walrus herds are just one change brought to Point Lay by climate change. The frozen ground on which the village is built is melting. Over the summer, soil weakened ground between a river and the lake where Point Lay drew water. A canal developed and drained the lake. The community has water in storage tanks that should last about a year, giving residents time to find a new water source.

Point Lay residents are trying to adapt.

Wedding Emergency

An Act Of Kindness, From One Immigrant To Another

Ibrahim Halil Dudu is a master tailor. He’s also a Syrian refugee living in Ontario, and when the bride next door’s zipper broke, he came to the rescue.                     Lindsay Coulter/Lindsay Coulter Photography

Jo Du was being helped into her gorgeous white wedding dress this week when a tooth on the zipper broke. It was Sunday in Guelph, Ontario, and no tailor shop was open.

Jo Du didn’t want to walk down the aisle to marry Earl Lee with pins in the back of her dress. But no one in the wedding party knew how to make the repair.

An enterprising bridesmaid knocked on a neighbor’s door to ask David Hobson if he might have a pair of pliers they could borrow. Mr. Hobson took in the situation — the bridesmaid, the lacy white dress, and a request for pliers — and said, “I’ve got better than tools. I’ve got a master tailor.”

David Hobson had a family of Syrian refugees from Aleppo living in his home for a few days: a mother, father, and 3 children. A local businessman, Jim Estill, has helped 50 Syrian families enter Canada and settle in the Guelph area — people from one of the most hellish landscapes on earth, brought to live in one of the safest, tidiest, and most serene towns in Canada.

The father of the Syrian family is Ibrahim Halil Dudu. He was indeed a master tailor in Aleppo for 28 years, and as soon as he saw the dress, Ibrahim Dudu got out his sewing kit and set to work.

“He literally sewed her wedding dress back onto her,” Lindsay Coulter, the wedding photographer, told CTV News. “Everyone was so grateful. They said thank you a million times.”

As it turns out, both the Du and Lee families are immigrants to Canada, too.

“Many of the bridesmaids were from China and were bowing to say thanks,” said Lindsay Coulter, who posted photos and wrote on her Facebook page, “Every weekend I take photos of people on the happiest days of their lives, and today one man who has seen some of the worst things our world has to offer came to the rescue.”

“I was so excited and so happy,” Ibrahim Halil Dudu said through a translator. “I like to help Canadian people from my heart.”

Earl Lee called the master tailor’s masterly repair, an “incredible act of kindness” from a “complete stranger who had only stepped foot in this country days ago.”

The master tailor and his family, the wedding party and theirs: immigrants and families of immigrants, who came to Guelph from opposite ends of the world, and made new homes, and look after each other.