Monday, 16 January 2017


The Washington Post story this week on the promising discovery that a compound in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), seems to be dramatically useful in treating epilepsy anxiety, schizophrenia, heart disease and cancer comes with a dose of high irony. Even though CBD lacks the most famous property associated with marijuana—it doesn't get you high—the Drug Enforcement Agency is insisting on listing it on Schedule I, the list of the most restricted and allegedly most dangerous drugs with no medical value. Schedule I listing makes doing research with the compound absurdly difficult. Imagine having to install a safe bolted to the floor with an elaborate alarm system to store a drug whose most notable effect on the human brain seems to be the drastic reduction of epileptic seizures and chronic anxiety.  This is just another example of the DEA's abuse of a classification system that is never supposed to restrict access to drugs with medical use. LSD, MDMA, psilocybin and all other psychedelics—increasingly found to be a powerful force for healing in conjunction with medically supervised therapy—are also stuck on the Schedule I list. Somebody is stuck in the Sixties, and it's not the scientists and clinicians working with these drugs, it's the bureaucrats regulating them.
- Reni Rahmadani

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Gender Bias In Hiring: Interviewing as a Trans Woman in Tech

Being trans brings an entire new layer of bias and discrimination to play in every interview.

A year of job searching. 
Many phone screens, filtering down to a smaller number of on-site interviews, a handful of multi-round interviews. I got consistent positive feedback. Yet when it came time to make an offer, every company would decline.
“I am so sorry, but we don’t feel you are experienced enough.”
More than once, the recruiter called me to apologize. They felt the company was making a huge mistake: I was exactly the candidate they had been looking for, and the feedback was all positive.
None of this is too surprising. It’s really hard to get a job as a woman in tech. The interesting thing is that for the first 15 years of my career, if I was brought in for an on-site interview, it always resulted in an offer. Every time. 
But for those first 15 years of my career I was perceived as a male. For I am a trans woman.

Insidious Bias

We know a lot about bias in hiring. Study after study confirms the very real phenomenon of bias against womenagainst people of coloragainst LGBT candidates. A fascinating phenomenon has shown up in some of the more recent studies: those who have very little explicit bias often have a lot of internalized implicit bias. That is to say, those who externally and consciously seem the least discriminatory, tend to be more likely to discriminate on a subconscious level.
My life has played out what many of these studies have simulated by replacing names on resumes, and other sleights of hand. The same exact candidate, in one instance presented as male and another as female, had not just slightly different results in the job search, but radically different results.
My career has become an A/B Test in gender. With the clear “winner” being male.

Being Trans

Being trans brings an entire new layer of bias and discrimination to play in every interview. In many circumstances I can avoid being read as trans. But almost never in a technical interview. Get me talking about tech and I will subconsciously drop voice. If the interviewer — almost always male — had suspicions about me prior to that, they have now been confirmed.
At this point a whole new set of factors come into play. Do they find me repulsive? Or worse, do they find me attractive? You can almost see the internalized homophobia in their eyes when this happens; that moment when they realize they are attracted to a trans woman. You see the fear in their eyes as they think “does this mean I am gay?”
I want to yell at them, “No! That is not how that works! It makes you straight! But even if it did make you gay: what’s wrong with that?”
Instead I sit there and hope they don’t sabotage me in their interview feedback. How often do these feelings translate into “not a good fit” or “she made me uncomfortable”?
On a couple of occasions, I noticed a clear antagonistic shift when the interviewer realized I was trans. The questions got unfairly difficult and the tone more deeply interrogatory. It is not hard to ensure a candidate does poorly on an interview if you are really determined to undermine them.

Devaluation Cycle

I had begun looking for a new job when the situation with my existing employer had become dysfunctional and arguable abusive. For most of my career, if a job started to become emotionally unhealthy, I was able to just go out and get another one. But now I was trapped. I was in a bad situation, and the only way out was to expose myself to discrimination and rejection.
But if there is one thing being trans forces you to be good at it, is to face discrimination and rejections in order to escape bad situations.
So I pressed on. Interview after interview, with all the stress of having to arrange time off work, to ensure my presentation gave me the highest chance not to be read as trans. The waiting. 
And then the rejections. 
The easy ones to take were the ones where the interview clearly hadn’t gone well. The hard ones, were the ones where it had. I have been in countless interviews on both sides of the table. I generally have a good sense of when things are going well and when they are not. 
The times I knew it went well hurt the most.
At the end of all this cycle of searching and rejection I was completely emotionally defeated. My attempts to improve my situation with my employer had only shifted things into a different  bad situation. My attempts to find a new job just left me wondering if it was merely that being a woman in tech is incredibly difficult, or if being a trans woman in tech meant I was intrinsically unhirable…
Either way I was trapped. I was devastated and empty. I went through the motions of life.
But I was dead inside.

Demanding Change

So how do we change this? What can we do? Bias doesn’t just impact women. It impacts anyone without the privilege of being a white male. The tech industry’s self-propagating homogeneity is an insidious beast.
But we have a voice. We can speak out. This is not always safe. It is not always the best career move. But without our voice, things will not change. We should speak out both within our companies and in public forums. We should call people to task when they are propagating discrimination and toxic cultures.
At one of the companies that turned me down, two women spoke out about it. They looked at the feedback and saw that there was no empirical reason that an offer was not extended to me. Another role at the same company came up, and I was very quickly offered a job. 
Sometimes our voices can change things.
There is a long road ahead of us. Companies are starting to understand that “Diversity and Inclusion” impacts their bottom line. But they are still going about it in terrible and half-assed ways. We need to leverage the fact that they are doing anything and teach them how to do better.
We know better ways. We know that using a standardized process and rubric works really well in putting a stop to insidious bias vectors such as “not a good fit”. We know that training interviewers to be aware of common unconscious biases helps reduce the impact of these biases. The data exists. We know what to do. 
But it takes work. And it takes people who care enough to make it happen.
It’s not clear if the slow shift we are seeing in tech toward diversity and inclusion is because the financiers believe the data on diversity, or because they want to avoid the bad PR that comes with being a discriminatory company. But, we are starting to see a slow shift. Let’s leverage that. Let’s use these initial efforts to encourage better efforts. Let’s leverage the competitiveness of tech companies to have them fighting for who is the most inclusive. 
Let’s call out bad behavior, and let’s make this better.
- Author / Source: February Keeny at Model View Culture

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Some Words From Björk

Dear little miss media

!!!! Happy winter solstice !!!

As you know the majority of my career i havent moaned about sexism and just got on with it but im feeling there is an enormous positive current in the sky, a flow with possible changes
so i wanted to mention one thing.

Last weekend i djd twice at a festival in texas . it was a magical event with some of my favorite musicians djing : Aphex Twin , Arca , Oneoh Trixpoint Never and Aatmos ... The list is endless !!
most of us played mostly other peoples music and would slide in instrumentals of what weve been working on recently

 I am aware of that it is less of a year since i started djing publicly so this is something people are still getting used to and my fans have been incredibly welcoming to me sharing my musical journey and letting me be me. I'ts been so fun and the nerd in me editing together pieces of others peoples songs for weeks, gets to share the different coordinates i feel between some of the most sublime music i know.
But some media could not get their head around that i was not "performing" and "hiding" behind desks and my male counterparts not. And i think this is sexism.  Which at the end of this tumultuous year is something im not going to let slide : because we all deserve maximum changes in this revolutionary energy we are currently in the midst of its gotta be worth it.
Women in music are allowed to be singer songwriters singing about their boyfriends . if they change the subject matter to atoms , galaxies , activism , nerdy math beat editing or anything else than being performers singing about their loved ones they get criticized : journalists feel there is just something missing ... as if our only lingo is emo ...

I made Volta and Biophilia conscious of the fact that these were not subjects females usually write about. I felt i had earned it. On the activist Volta I sang about pregnant suicide bombers and for the independence of Faroe Islands and Greenland. On the pedagogic Biophilia I sang about galaxies and atoms but it wasnt until Vulnicura where i shared a heartbreak i got full acceptance from the media.

Men are allowed to go from subject to subject , do sci fi , period pieces , be slapstick and humorous , be music nerds getting lost in sculpting soundscapes but not women. If we don't cut our chest open and bleed about the men and children in our lives we are cheating our audience.
Eat your bechtel test heart out

But i know the change is in the air. We are walking inside it. Therefore i leave this with you in kindness at the end of this year and i hope that in the next year even though i was brave to share with you a classic female subject matter : the heartbreak , i get to have a costume change and walk out of this role.  You froze Edith Piaf and Maria callas in it (not one documentary i have seen about her doesnt mention Onassis but no mention with male musicians the women they loved or broke their hearts).

Lets make 2017 the year where we fully make the transformation !!!
!!! The right to variety for all the girls out there !!!
Merry Christmas

Author / Source: Björk on Fakebroek

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

A Pete Burns (R.I.P.) Interview

Interviewing Pete Burns is difficult. Not because the Dead Or Alive frontman and Big Brother’s Bit On The Side star isn’t at all times charming, engaging and forthcoming. He really is. But because he clearly subscribes to the Quentin Crisp philosophy of interviews: say what you have come to say. So here’s Pete Burns answering almost none of our questions but being incredibly fascinating and entertaining all the same. Enjoy.

Holy Moly: So Pete, we’re talking to you specifically because you’re appearing at the rescheduled Hit Factor Live gig at the O2, on December 21. Dead Or Alive are arguably the most important act that…

Pete Burns: “You know, I don’t know if I can accept that. But we were absolutely the first ones who put Stock Aitken & Waterman on… obviously they’d had a hit record with Divine before us – You Think You’re A Man. And I’d approached several other producers, one of them was Bobby Orlando who worked with Divine on Native Love, and he was ill. And another was Patrick Cowley who produced Sylvester and he was also ill. So to be perfectly honest, SAW were like a third choice.

“Our record company CBS did everything to obstruct us working with them because they said Pete Waterman wasn’t a producer, he was just a travelling DJ. So basically, it’s like old folklore, I personally took a bank loan to record three tracks with them to start it going. And the minute Waterman heard Spin Me he said to them all, ‘This is our number one.’

“It didn’t make any difference to me because a number one wasn’t anything I really thought about. And when it went to the record company I think there was something like a four month delay before they’d agree to release it, because they said it wasn’t a hit. And then look what happened.

“I think it still holds the record for being the longest time to get to number one. Because at the time the chart people Gallup held it back because it was selling about 82 percent 12”s. One of the reasons why I still feel we took a slight dip in promotion was because at that time nobody at any major labels got any royalties on 12” records.

“So just as we started to take off, Spin Me had finished, Lover Come Back and Something In My House were hits and I just thought this is ridiculous – 82 percent 12”s and they’re saying they’re only for promo purposes (they were selling, at that time, for about two pounds or something). And we took them to court and it was a year-long battle and we set a precedent in the music industry, and from then on acts got full royalties on 12” sales.

“No one knows about that and I’m not blowing my own trumpet but I certainly had some points to prove. Because I was relatively successful as an indie act before I went to Stock Aitken & Waterman and I’ve just bored you to death, ask me the next question…

HM: You’ve answered about five questions in one go.
What I was going to say is, Pete Waterman and engineer Phil Harding have both said that PWL would not exist if it hadn’t been for You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) so how does it feel to…

PB: “I think Pete Waterman himself acknowledges that. But also, at some point during our second album with them, Mad, Bad & Dangerous To Know, I was like, ‘Oh will you right me a song?’ And they were like, ‘No, you can write them yourself.’ And they wouldn’t write anything for me. And I was getting lazy and I really liked what they were writing at the time for Mel & Kim.

“And so I wrote the second album and then I think by 1990 I’d really had enough of it all. And I went on to great success in Japan and that was fantastic because it was highly overpaid for very little work. And then maybe by 1998 I’d kind of had enough of it really. I still do occasional gigs but I do them only because I want to do them.

“I don’t know, I think there’s only a certain amount of time where you can feel creative, and you’re full of youth and optimism. And then all of a sudden all of the corporate interference: ‘Oh this is not the right cover photo for America’ and all that… and I just though oh fuck this I can’t be bothered anymore.

“All I ever wanted out of my career was maybe a Top 20 and then I’d get to make another album and then maybe a Top 10. A number one didn’t even come into my consciousness.

“I had a pretty weird experience the other day. I was doing an interview for a pretty major German TV show that goes out on New Year’s Eve, and there was about six people in the room… hang on, I’m gonna answer one of your questions here… there was about six people in the room speaking pigeon English, and I’m fluent in German, and they said, ‘We want a really honest answer. How does it feel to have got to number one?’ And I answered them, ‘It’s a complete fucking nightmare. Because everything you do after that is deemed a failure.’ The room froze because I was supposed to say ‘Ooh it was lovely…’ But we were having Top 10s after that and everyone was saying, ‘Oh that’s a flop.’

“I’m sorry that Spin Me wasn’t the last single off that album, or something. But I can’t complain as it’s still covered by loads of people, it still brings in money… but I’m focusing on TV work now. This Hit Factory Live gig is like a one off, because Pete Waterman himself asked me if I’d do it.”

HM: Do you feel that having a hit like that is both a blessing and a burden? On one hand everyone wants to have written a song that will outlive them, but at the same time when you die you’ll be the You Spin Me Round guy…

PB: “I really got angry about it at some point, thinking ‘fucking hell let me grow up!’ Because when I’ve been approached to perform it at those Here And Now gigs, which I’ve never done, it’s like being forced to wear your school uniform when you’re fucking 54, which I am.

HM: You’re not, are you?

PB: “Yes I am. It’s hard work, you know. It’s constant exercise and a lot of work with scalpels, but we move over that…

“But what I love about TV work is you’re taken in a lovely car and you’re put in a really luxurious dressing room (that’s if you get a reputation as a diva which I have – which is not true but I milk it) they call you to go on set, 11 o’clock you finish. You get your paycheck and you’re delivered home in a lovely car before midnight. It’s not like having to fly round the world meeting and greeting imbeciles on kids TV shows, talking about your latest video.

“I don’t know how people, when they’re mature and grownup, can actually be in the pop industry.

“I was with Rough Trade and I had my own independent label as well, in the early eighties. No corporate people leaning over me. Because they really did say, ‘This is not the right photo to launch you in the American market. Maybe we shouldn’t put you on the cover in the American market…” It went to fucking number eleven in America; I’d never even been there. And then I followed it with a number one dance single, so I did very well in America despite my pictures.”

HM: You mentioned Divine. What else were you listening to when you changed the sound of Dead Or Alive to what became known as the Stock Aitken & Waterman sound?

PB: “Can I just say that actually was our sound. Actually, I did The One Show maybe last year and it was about Stock Aitken & Waterman and they actually got their hands on the original demo that me and Steve had done and you practically couldn’t tell the difference. That was our sound.”

HM: Pete Waterman often calls you a genius and says you didn’t really need them… but what I was wondering was what informed that sound. What were you listening to?

PB: “Sylvester, Divine – the Bobby O stuff, particularly Native Love, that was the one that moved me. I’d say that they were the records that really jolted me. And there was one that SAW did that had 70s synths on it, Hazell Dean - Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go), I really liked that one. I kind of didn’t pay attention to what was going on.

“It’s like now. My partner, my husband of nine years, he has a 16-year-old daughter and I get to hear what’s current in passing, through his daughter. And you know what, I wouldn’t fucking know one of Girls Aloud if they came up and spat in my face, but I know if I hear their records that it’s Girls Aloud. I have no interest in celebrity culture; I’ve never suffered from media sickness. It’s not me being rude, I genuinely don’t know who most people are.

“Obviously I know of Lady Gaga and Madonna, but I’ve never really been aware of who anybody was. So I listened to Bobby O stuff and Sylvester and that’s kind of where the ball stopped. Other things… you might not have heard of them, D Train – You’re The One For Me, Sharon Redd… they were what I was listening to.”

HM: My first memory of Dead Or Alive is seeing you on Top Of The Pops when you were doing That’s The Way (I Like It) and my father, a very religious man, looked up from his paper and said, “He sounds like he’s having an orgasm.”

PB: “Oh fantastic. Oh that’s wonderful. Why thank you. Give your dad a kiss from me!”

HM: Which is the kind of reaction a popstar should provoke…

PB: “Yeah, you know at that time I agreed. But now, popstars schlopstars. I’m not criticising it, it’s what’s going on now, but I found the last run of X Factor very interesting. There are people who can sing but it seems like they are now the cart is pulling the horse.

“I remember making a stand during our lawsuit over the 12”s that without artists there would be no record companies. It’s changed a lot now, the record companies have got complete control.”

HM: Listening to the songs on Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know it was real take-no-prisoners songwriting…

PB: “Thank you, I appreciate that. I’m very proud of that one. Recording that was very very difficult because I was writing the tracks in one room while they [SAW] were producing the tracks in another. They were having tremendous success. They’d got Mel & Kim they’d got Bananarama, they’d got Rick Astley. But they were having internal disputes so I didn’t want to go back after that, it was a sour atmosphere.

HM: You didn’t need to go back, did you? Your next album Nude you produced yourself….

PB: “Absolutely. That album is completely raw and it’s over produced but the great thing was we literally had budget to burn, but when Nude was gonna be released in this country they objected to the cover, in all senses. And we had artistic control, which I don’t believe any artist gets these days, so I wouldn’t change the cover. I don’t even think it got released in this country and if it did it was buried… But guess what, you get double royalties in this country so it really didn’t bother me.

“I don’t mean to sound blasé and ungrateful. As I say, I started out as an indie act. My first gig was headlining at a huge festival with New Order, called The Futurama Festival in Leeds. About 12,000 people – that was my fourth gig. I jumped in at the deep end. As an indie band it’s so much less complicated.

“It’s a bit like, the record company view you as though you’re Cinderella and they come down the chimney and give you tickets to the ball. I swear to god, no one came down my fucking chimney. Not only did I make my own dress to go the ball, I pushed my way in on the fucking guestlist!”

HM: And your reward was to be literally chased out of Liverpool…

PB: “Oh definitely. I got a phone call saying, ‘Guess what, it’s number one.’ I thought, ‘Oh fuck.’ I had a really nice home in Liverpool, overlooking one of the parks. I left the building, went over the street to get a cab and this bunch of schoolgirls ran at the cab, kicking the cab and punching it, going: ‘Get out of Liverpool, we’re ashamed of you.’

“It seems strange now. I’m not holding any bitterness but I’m always getting asked to go up there and do a gig and I’d not refuse to go because of that incident, but from the age of 15 I couldn’t wait to get out of there. It had nothing for me.”

Source: Pete Unique



No Suture! Art, Music, Gender & Random Topic Snippet-logs, Since 2005 …

No Suture!                         Art, Music, Gender & Random Topic Snippet-logs, Since 2005 …