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A Little Perspective: Interesting news and notes from around the world

In a photo provided by John D. Fraley, Naomi Parker Fraley in 2015 with the Rosie the Riveter poster that became a feminist touchstone. Fraley, who died on Jan. 20, 2018, at age 96 in Longview, Wash., went unsung for seven decades before being identified as the real Rosie the Riveter â\u0080\u0093 the female war worker of 1940s popular culture who became a feminist touchstone in the late 20th century. (John D. Fraley via The New York Times) -- NO SALES; FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY WITH NYT STORY OBIT FRALEY BY MARGALIT FOX FOR JAN. 22, 2018. ALL OTHER USE PROHIBITED. --
In a photo provided by John D. Fraley, Naomi Parker Fraley in 2015 with the Rosie the Riveter poster that became a feminist touchstone. Fraley, who died on Jan. 20, 2018, at age 96 in Longview, Wash., went unsung for seven decades before being identified as the real Rosie the Riveter â\u0080\u0093 the female war worker of 1940s popular culture who became a feminist touchstone in the late 20th century. (John D. Fraley via The New York Times) -- NO SALES; FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY WITH NYT STORY OBIT FRALEY BY MARGALIT FOX FOR JAN. 22, 2018. ALL OTHER USE PROHIBITED. --
Published Jan. 25, 2018

Unsung for seven decades, the real Rosie the Riveter was a California waitress named Naomi Parker Fraley. Over the years, a welter of American women had been identified as the model for Rosie, the female war worker of 1940s popular culture. Fraley, who died Jan. 20 at 96 in Longview, Wash., turns out to have staked one of the most legitimate claims of all. But she went unrecognized for more than 70 years.

"I didn't want fame or fortune," Fraley told People magazine in 2016, when her connection to Rosie was first made public. "But I did want my own identity."

"It turns out that almost everything we think about Rosie the Riveter is wrong," James J. Kimble, a scholar who embarked on a six-year intellectual treasure hunt to find the real Rosie, told the Omaha World-Herald in 2016. "Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong."

Rendered in bold graphics and bright primary colors by Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller, the industrial poster, displayed briefly in Westinghouse Electric Corp. plants in 1943, depicts a young woman clad in a blue work shirt and red-and-white polka-dot bandanna. Flexing her right bicep, she declares, "We Can Do It!" It was intended only to rally Westinghouse employees, and deter absenteeism and strikes, in wartime.

For decades, the poster remained all but forgotten. Then, in the early 1980s, a copy came to light — most likely one in the National Archives in Washington, one of only two known originals extant. It quickly became a powerful feminist symbol, and only then was the name Rosie the Riveter applied retrospectively to the woman in a photograph that probably inspired the poster. The photo, distributed to news organizations by the Acme photo agency, showed a coverall-clad young woman, her hair wound in a polka-dot bandanna, in profile at an industrial lathe. In the end, Kimble's detective work revealed that the lathe worker was Naomi Parker Fraley.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the 20-year-old Naomi and her 18-year-old sister, Ada, went to work at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, among the first of some 3,000 women to do war work there. The sisters were assigned to the machine shop, where their duties included drilling, patching airplane wings and, fittingly, riveting.

It was there that the Acme photographer captured Naomi Parker, her hair done up in a bandanna for safety, at her lathe. She clipped the photo from the newspaper and kept it for decades.

In 2011, Fraley and her sister attended a reunion of female war workers at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, Calif. There, prominently displayed, was a photo of the woman at the lathe — captioned with someone else's name.

"I couldn't believe it," Fraley told the Oakland Tribune in 2016. During this time, Kimble was searching for the woman at the lathe, scouring the internet, books, old newspapers and stock-photo collections for a captioned copy of the image. At last he found a copy from a dealer in vintage photographs. It had the photographer's original caption on the back, including the date — March 24, 1942 — and the location, Alameda.

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Best of all was this line: "Pretty Naomi Parker looks like she might catch her nose in the turret lathe she is operating."

Using genealogical records, Kimble located Fraley and her sister, Ada Wyn Parker Loy, then living together in Cottonwood, Calif. He visited them there in 2015, whereupon Fraley produced the cherished newspaper photo she had saved all those years.

Margalit Fox, New York Times

Recognizing yourself in a mirror is often taken as a measure of a kind of intelligence and self-awareness in a species. Humans, chimpanzees, elephants, magpies and bottle-nosed dolphins all can do it. Researchers have wondered not only about which species display this ability, but about when it emerges during early development.

Children start showing signs of self-recognition at about 12 months at the earliest and chimpanzees at 2 years old. But dolphins, researchers now report in the journal PLoS One, start mugging for the mirror as early as 7 months, earlier than humans. Researchers had studied two young dolphins over three years at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

The timing of the emergence of self-recognition is significant, because in human children, the ability has been tied to other milestones of physical and social development. Since dolphins develop earlier than humans in those areas, the researchers predicted that dolphins should show self-awareness earlier.

Seven months was when Bayley, a female, started showing self-directed behavior, like twirling and taking unusual poses. One researcher said dolphins "may put their eye right up against the mirror and look in silence. They may look at the insides of their mouths and wiggle their tongues."

Foster, the male, was almost 14 months when the study started. He had a particular fondness for turning upside down and blowing bubbles in front of the one-way mirror in the aquarium wall through which the researchers observed and recorded what the dolphins were doing.

James Gorman,
New York Times

With a nearly impenetrable hide covered in spikes, the ankylosaurus was like a dinosaur version of an armored tank. And like any battlefield behemoth, it boasted a fearsome weapon: a bone-crushing clubbed tail.

The ankylosaurus was not the only prehistoric beast to have an intimidating backside. Stegosaurus sported spear-like spikes on its tail. Some sauropods flailed fused clumps of bones from their posteriors toward predators.

But in living animals today, formidable tail weaponry is nearly absent. A pair of paleontologists has pieced together a series of traits shared among extinct species that had weaponized their fifth extremity. Their study may help explain why tail weaponry has gone missing since dinosaurs and some ice age animals went extinct.

In a paper published this month in the journal Proceeding of the Royal Society B, the team has identified three characteristics in land-dwelling mammals, reptiles and nonavian dinosaurs that may be linked with evolving bony tail weapons. They include being large — about the size of a mountain goat or bigger — eating plants and already having an armored body.

"That's a really rare combination no matter what time period you're looking at," said Victoria Arbour, a paleontologist at the University of Toronto and the Royal Ontario Museum and an author on the study.

Arbour and her colleague Lindsay Zanno, a paleontologist from North Carolina State University, were sure to note that the three traits they identified are correlated with animals that have tail weapons and do not drive the development of these dangerous appendages.

The authors hypothesized that developing bony clubs like the ankylosaurus and the glyptodon was a gradual, evolutionary process.

Living animals tend to have tails with weapons that are made of keratin, like the quills of a porcupine or the scales of a pangolin.

Nicholas St. Fleur, New York Times

Russia's presidential elections are two months away, and while there are multiple contenders, the expectation is that Vladimir Putin will secure a fourth term handily. This month, in what looked like an effort to save time or skip the nail-biting drama of counting votes on election night, Google declared Putin the winner of the March 2018 election.

A Russian-language Google search of "elections 2018" resulted in the usual snapshot of the analogous Wikipedia article. Under "winner" there appeared a portrait of Vladimir Putin. This curious error came about thanks to Google's search result technology, which sometimes features information that is intended to help answer the user's query. With searches like this, such information typically comes from either Wikipedia or official state government websites that Google deems to be reliable. But in this case, the Russian Wikipedia article on the 2018 elections was anything but.

Stanislav Kozlovsky, the director for the Russian department of Wikimedia, Wikipedia's parent company, explained the error in a comment to RBC, a Russian business news website: "Someone added Putin's name to the preamble of the article on the elections, after which the search engine indexed it and reflected the new variant in its results."

Whether the error was intended as a joke, or as a political move, is unknown. The error was corrected within 20 minutes, but this was more than enough time to spawn some humorous reactions.

Christopher Moldes, Slate

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