Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Strange but true

* In 1898 Morgan Robertson published a book about the SS Titan's maiden voyage, in which the allegedly unsinkable ship sank after hitting an iceberg. In the story the Titan's 24 lifeboats were woefully inadequate for the three thousand passengers and crew aboard the ship, leading to great loss of life. Fourteen years later...

* The same bus company in Auckland employs two drivers with the same phobia of masks or face coverings (a genuine condition, let's be clear). Despite the season, which can be cold even in the north of the country, the passengers in each case who set off this phobia were not wearing scarves and hats, but instead were two of the extreme minority of religious Muslim Kiwi women who wear hijab or something similar.

* Back in 1914, a German mother photographed her baby boy on a film plate and took it to a shop to be developed. The outbreak of the war intervened and she was never able to pick it up. Two years later after the birth of her daughter, she bought another film plate to photograph the girl, and when it was developed she discovered that it was a double exposure - over the top of the photograph of the little girl's older brother.

* Anthony Hopkins co-starred in the 1974 'The Girl from Petrovka' as Kostya. The film was based on a novel that, the previous year when Hopkins had first signed the contract, proved extremely difficult to get hold of, until he spotted a copy sitting on a bench at a train station. The scribbles inside, and later confirmation from the author George Feifer himself, proved that the copy was Feifer's own, missing after having been lent to a friend.

* In PM John Key's office, the pay gap between genders is 27.5% - a fact which has nothing to do with gender.

Though, personally, I do wonder why no one is talking about the reasons for pay discrepancies that can be explained without pointing (directly) at pure sexism. Like that fewer women are in high ranking positions. (Even in "female dominated" fields like nursing, teaching and non-profits there is a disproportionately high number of men in management positions.) Or that women are more likely to take a sick day to deal with children. Or that women are, you know, more likely to be the primary caregiver of children. Or that women are more likely to live below the poverty line. Or that women are less aggressive in negotiating pay. Or that women are taken less seriously in positions of authority. Or that an atmosphere is more likely to be described as hostile to women than to men. Or that more women leave good jobs due to sexual harassment than men. Or that the work often done by women is considered less important. Or that women tend to seek work that offers more flexibility (because they're more likely to be the primary caregiver of children) for less pay. Or that women are more likely to take several years out of the employment market, sacrificing their career progress, despite maternity leave policies allowing them to keep their jobs when they have children. Or that women are less likely to take a promotion that requires them to move to a different city.

You know, little things like that.

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