I’ll Hold Your Cane If You’ll Hold My AT-AT

An older fan couple cosplay Han Solo and Princess Leia at the 2015 Emerald City Comic Con:

Photo by Fanpup101 on Twitter. The walker with an AT-AT sign is the best!

Because also fictional characters get old, and because when we non-fictional characters getting old, it doesn’t mean we lose our sense of humor!

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New Tech Guy Archetype

Ann Friedman’s article on Medium.com about sexism and hiring practices in the technology industry concentrates on some of the problems women currently face in the profession. She also suggests a new IT professional archetype and lists three steps that have enabled businesses committed to more diverse hiring to find qualified, highly skilled women – and men! – for their ranks. One specific quotation stood out to me. Kellan Elliott-McCrea, chief technology officer at Etsy, states that

“[t]he men who come into our organization who are excited about the fact that we have diversity as a goal are generally the people who are better at listening, they’re better at group learning, they’re better at collaboration, they’re better at communication, they’re particularly the people you want to be your engineering managers and your technical leads”

Because why wouldn’t being open to and curious about experiences different from your own make you more receptive to new ideas and, therefore, more creative.

Temporary Tattoos for a Win

Tattooist Jason Ward has been applying temporary tattoos for a client every week for a few months. His client has Down syndrome.

Tattoo Artist Ward New Zealand Herald

Via The New Zealand Herald.

Mr. Ward explains:

“It started out as something quite funny though, I mean, who does that? Who walks into a tattoo shop to get stick on tattoos? But if she was a member of my family and she had have walked into another tattoo shop and they had told her to bugger off, I’d be angry. Why would you say no? You should treat everybody the same.”

Found via The New Zealand Herald.

Because empathy matters!

Intense World Theory and Autism

Wondrously intriguing look at autism through neuroscience in an article by Maia Szalavitz in Matter. According to researchers Henry and Kamila Markram, who developed the so-called intense world theory:

“The behavior that results is not due to cognitive deficits—the prevailing view in autism research circles today—but the opposite, they say. Rather than being oblivious, autistic people take in too much and learn too fast. While they may appear bereft of emotion, the Markrams insist they are actually overwhelmed not only by their own emotions, but by the emotions of others.

“Consequently, the brain architecture of autism is not just defined by its weaknesses, but also by its inherent strengths. The developmental disorder now believed to affect around 1 percent of the population is not characterized by lack of empathy, the Markrams claim. Social difficulties and odd behavior result from trying to cope with a world that’s just too much.”

The Markrams also theorize potential solutions, starting at a very young age:

“If autistic babies tune out when overwhelmed, their social and language difficulties may arise not from damaged brain regions, but because critical data is drowned out by noise or missed due to attempts to escape at a time when the brain actually needs this input.

“The intense world could also account for the tragic similarities between autistic children and abused and neglected infants. Severely maltreated children often rock, avoid eye contact, and have social problems—just like autistic children. These parallels led to decades of blaming the parents of autistic children, including the infamous ‘refrigerator mother.’ But if those behaviors are coping mechanisms, autistic people might engage in them not because of maltreatment, but because ordinary experience is overwhelming or even traumatic.

“The Markrams teased out further implications: Social problems may not be a defining or even fixed feature of autism. Early intervention to reduce or moderate the intensity of an autistic child’s environment might allow their talents to be protected while their autism-related disabilities are mitigated or, possibly, avoided.”

The human brain is so fascinating!

Libraries as Safe Places

Jenn Hooker speaks out about making libraries safe places at Public libraries Online:

“We are not therapists, counselors, or social workers, but many librarians find themselves becoming well acquainted with their frequent patrons. If you see a patron, especially a young one, who is being taunted or abused for any reason, you can offer them a place in the library.

[…]

“Now that I work in a library and carry some power, I feel it is my duty to offer the same safety that was offered to me many years ago. I wear a rainbow Mickey Mouse pin on my work lanyard so as to subtly inform people, ‘I’m like you,’ and so far it’s worked. I smile at kids when they come in and make sure to speak up when I hear people using hateful epithets. No one, especially children, deserves to be attacked with malicious words. Sticks and stones may break bones, but no matter what anyone says, names can still be hurtful. With a little bit of effort, we can make sure that no harm ever befalls a child inside the walls of a library.”

Even though she writes specifically about LGBT youth, the principle has wider applicability. As one librarian – and a human being – to another, I say: Kudos, Jenn!

Approval for Black-White Marriages on the Rise in the U.S.

Gallup, Inc. wrote about the approval ratings of black-white marriages in July 2013. Reporting by Frank Newport says:

“Continuing to represent one of the largest shifts of public opinion in Gallup history, 87% of Americans now favor marriage between blacks and whites, up from 4% in 1958.”

The article also gives the following graph for approval ratings broken down by age groups:

Gallup, July 25, 2013.

Look at that: Where the national average for the adult U.S. population is 87%, approval for interracial marriages among 18 to 29 year-olds is a staggering 96%! My age group, 30 to 49, is only slightly behind with 93% approval. Go us young(er) generations! 🙂

Mr. Newport finishes with some implications:

“Americans’ attitudes about interracial marriage have changed dramatically over the past 55 years, moving from the point in the late 1950s when disapproval was well over 90%, to the point today when approval is approaching 90%. […] The major shift in attitudes about such unions, however, is a telling indicator of the general shift in views of racial matters on many fronts in the U.S. over the last five decades.” [original emphasis]

Word. Because someone’s likeability, importance or character aren’t intrinsically tied to external features like their handedness, the color of their eyes or whether they’re white, black, yellow, green or purple with pink spots.