After the “Summer of Trans,” Is It Time for T to Break Away from LGB?

Seasons are, by their nature, transient  —  short-lived shifts in climate and lifestyle choices that rarely transform into something more important than their three-month transference of solar energy. But this past season was different; this summer  —  which ended on Monday  —  will be less known for its transience than its trans-ness. Yes, the summer of 2015 may henceforth be known as the Summer of Trans, culminating perfectly (as if on cue) with Sunday’s Emmy Awards and the triumph of Transparent — an Amazon series about a Los Angeles family’s hilarious and tumultuous experience with the gender transition of its p(m)atriarch.

Looking back, our societal transition toward greater acceptance of the trans community was not without foreshadowing. The summer began with Rochel Dolezal’s troubled attempt to identify as transracial, continued with President Obama’s equally troubled attempt to broker the Trans-Pacific Partnership and was dotted with countless other trans-moments — from this week’s revealing study about the human toll of trans-fat to the ongoing crisis affecting trans-continental Syrian refugees. But of course the only T word that will transcend this short-lived season is transgender, thanks to the very public transition of Caitlyn Jenner, whose emergence as a woman has propelled the term into the forefront of our national conscience.

Full article on Huffington Post

Doctors, Researchers – Tear Down this Paywall: Paving a new road to research-based action in global development

Last month, the world received some encouraging news: Liberia was declared Ebola-free. After a 14-month battle with the virus that claimed nearly 5,000 Liberian lives and brought the country to its knees, the World Health Organization announced that the devastating epidemic was over (Guinea and Sierra Leone, however, are still experiencing new cases).

As Liberia recovered from the outbreak and began the long, uphill process of rebuilding its health system for other ongoing and future health challenges, some of its leaders reflected on what could have been done to prevent the Ebola outbreak. In a New York Times editorial written about a month before the epidemic’s conclusion, Bernice Dahn, Vera Mussah and Cameron Nutt discuss a troubling reality: that European researchers knew about latent Ebola antibodies in Liberian blood samples as long as 30 years ago, positioning Liberia in the Ebola endemic zone. Yet, like many studies conducted by Western researchers, the findings sat atop the proverbial ivory tower, out of reach of the Liberian doctors and policymakers who could have acted to prevent the eventual outbreak.

This disconnect between development research and the communities it studies is an all-too-common trend in an international development community that hosts a Healthcare in Africa Summit in London and discusses poverty reduction strategies fresh off private jets.

Full article on Next Billion 

As a grammarian contrarian, I love opposites. But what about alternyms?

true snoot in every sense of the made-up word, I’ve always been fascinated by the ways opposites manifest themselves in language.

I remember being a mentally restless third-grader tormented by the fact that one could never truly declare that it’s Opposite Day. Think about it: if it’s Opposite Day, one’s saying so would mean that it’s not; and saying it isn’t would mean that it’s just another ordinary day. (I obviously had no knowledge of infinite regresses at the time.) But recently I’ve wasted much time and energy pondering self-contained opposites in language (ie semantic paradoxes; ie contradictio in terminis; ie a category of terms that mean – or are used to mean – two contradictory things). Let’s call them “grammarians’ contrarians”.

Full article on The Guardian

The Peaks Unclimbed: Former President Joyce Banda on the Unmet Goals for Girls and Women

Well, we made it. We’ve reached 2015. The countdown to the most monumental milestone in the history of international development has reached its final stretch as the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals quickly approaches. There has been no greater force of good in the fight against poverty and disease than the MDGs, having improved the lives of billions of people (yes, with a “b”) in one fell swoop of eight goals, thousands of committed partners and communities and billions of dollars in support.

But if the MDGs are Mount Everest, we’re currently sitting on a plateau somewhere halfway up: Progress is as undeniable as it is unprecedented, yet most of the goals remain unfulfilled. We are the climbers alternating glances at the outstanding summits and the path ascended. And as tempting as it may be marvel at how far we’ve climbed, Forbes’ Most Powerful Woman in Africa in 2014 believes that we will be judged by the peaks we couldn’t reach, and the millions of girls and women hanging in the balance.

“We’ve reached 2015 and it’s clear that great progress is being made,” former President of Malawi Joyce Banda recently told me (in a rare and eminently generous conversation). “But when we take stock of the MDGs, we will find that we’ve come up short for our girls and women.”

Full article on Huffington Post 

Privilege Wearing a Beer-Soaked Santa Hat

Saturday was one of the most momentous days of the year. Thousands of New Yorkers took to the streets to rally behind a cause bigger than themselves. They dressed in attire symbolic of the occasion, marching through downtown Manhattan with boundless fervor, united in the name of community and happiness for all. And boy did they make their voices heard, all in spite of a police force patrolling their spirit and ignoring their agenda. Ah yes, SantaCon 2014 was truly special.

I’m kidding, of course. SantaCon — a daylong bar crawl for 20-somethings in Santa suits — happened to be held alongside Millions March NYC — a civil rights demonstration created to spur action in response to the recent killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and other Black men at the hands of white police officers. But what SantaCon offered in discounted beer and sloppy hook-ups it represented in a disturbing display of white privilege, amplified by its stark juxtaposition with a “day of anger” setting out to protest exactly that.

Full article on Huffington Post 

NexThought Monday – Warby Parker Blurring Lines Between ‘Social’ and ‘Business’: Glasses firm takes BOGO model to new heights

Last month, determined to keep up with the latest trend in hipster eyewear, I purchased my first pair of Warby Parker glasses. Warby was all the buzz among vision-impaired colleagues and friends, boasting styles and prices that were uniquely embraced on both sides of the East River -– a rare feat for a New York City population known for making a mainstream trend out of resisting mainstream trends. And, of course, there’s its social mission: A “buy one, give one” model that has become a major selling point for companies trying to reach more socially conscious consumers.

But Warby’s success hinges on more than its product and mission, demonstrating a new and very simple kind of “corporate social responsibility” that companies can no longer afford to take lightly.

Full article on Next Billion 

Using ‘literally’ metaphorically is literally spreading like wildfire

remember it like it was literally yesterday. I was sitting on a bench in Central Park nearly four years ago when my ears literally perked up at the egregious and altogether jarring utterance that literally hurt to hear: the misuse of the word “literally”. In this case, the culprits were two high school girls, going on about being “literally soaked from head to toe” by the (light) rainfall that afternoon. I didn’t understand. What did they mean? They were barely wet! What could possibly compel someone to use a word to mean its opposite?

As it turns out, this language misuse has become an all too common trend within modern-day American and British English vernacular. We have grown accustomed to using the word “literally” when we mean “figuratively”, lobbying for added effect while abandoning the precise and strict meaning of the one word whose use is constrained to precise and strict meaning. And we’re doing so at a dangerously fast pace: since 2005, Google searches for “literally” have more than quadrupled, suggesting both a public acceptance of the term however it’s used and a general curiosity about its use (leading search terms include “literally + meaning”, “definition + literally”, and “literally + means”).

Full article on The Guardian