Who We Are Now

The New York Times digs into shifting trends in the shape of American families.

The nation’s birthrate today is half what it was in 1960, and last year hit its lowest point ever. At the end of the baby boom, in 1964, 36 percent of all Americans were under 18 years old; last year, children accounted for just 23.5 percent of the population, and the proportion is dropping, to a projected 21 percent by 2050. Fewer women are becoming mothers — about 80 percent of those of childbearing age today versus 90 percent in the 1970s — and those who reproduce do so more sparingly, averaging two children apiece now, compared with three in the 1970s.

Fox is unusual among the broadcast networks for the number of black men in the main casts of its shows, and for at least trying to write them in an interesting way.

What’s also notable about Fox’s current run of multi-faceted black characters is that they are characters built from different material than their counterparts from 10 years ago. Whereas House’s Dr. Foreman, Boston Public’s Principal Harper, and 24’s President Palmer are all professionals in ostensibly dramatic shows, Fox’s newest crop are in genre shows and sitcoms—sillier, broader, and holding down roles that could just as easily have gone to white actors. It’s diversity within diversity: By expanding the available roles for black actors beyond certain stereotypes, Fox is helping to broaden the mainstream TV audiences’ idea of what it means to be a black man.

A professor at Minneapolis Community Technical College was reprimanded for alienating white students in a discussion of racism.

Feminist Frequency covers the “Ms. Male Character” trope in video games.

Now the interesting thing is that these gendered signifiers are really quite arbitrary and abstract. There’s nothing about a bow in and of itself that is intrinsically or essentially feminine; it’s just a piece of colored fabric, after all. But our society currently assigns a very specific, socially constructed and strictly enforced meaning to that piece of fabric. It’s a symbol that conveys the concept of female (and invokes the idea of girlhood.)

Now that Glitch’s assets are in the public domain, people are free to do things like pull the graphics out of their FLA files into more usable PNGs or go whole hog and build a world viewer.