Rosie the Riveter Inspiration Naomi Parker Fraley Dies at 96

J. Howard Miller, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
J. Howard Miller, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The real-life inspiration behind a timeless World War II image has died at age 96, CNN reports. Naomi Parker Fraley was a California native and a wartime factory worker, but most people knew her as the real Rosie the Riveter.

Her rise to icon status began in the months following the attack on Pearl Harbor in late 1941. Like thousands of women across the country, she took a job in a factory to aid the war effort. She was 20 years old when she was working in the Naval Air Station in Alameda, California, patching airplane wings and operating rivet machines. It was there that a photographer touring the station snapped the photograph that would launch countless imitations.

In the picture, Fraley is shown leaning over a machine in a jumpsuit with her hair pulled back by a red-and-white polka dot bandana. The photograph was shared in numerous newspapers and magazines and eventually adapted by artist J. Howard Miller in the famous 1943 Rosie the Riveter poster.

The image was originally used as a tool to boost wartime morale, but has since grown into a universal symbol for women’s empowerment. Rosie’s unmistakable look is still a popular source of inspiration for artists and celebrities, but until recently, no one knew the real woman behind the character.

For years, a woman named Geraldine Hoff Doyle was mistakenly identified as the woman in the Naval Air Station photograph. Only when a Seton Hall University professor named James J. Kimble unearthed the original photo with Fraley’s name in the caption was the true subject confirmed. When he reached out to Fraley with the news in 2016, it didn’t come as a total surprise to her. She had recognized herself in the photo when she saw it at a former wartime workers convention a few years earlier, even though the caption named a different woman.

According to her family, Fraley died in hospice care in Longview, Washington on January 20, the same day that hundred of thousands of protesters came out for the second annual Women’s March.

[h/t CNN]

FYI: The FDA Has Ceased Its Food Inspections

istock.com/Olivier Le Moal
istock.com/Olivier Le Moal

It may be safe to eat romaine lettuce again, but The Hill is reporting that the FDA is suspending "most food inspections" amid the current partial government shutdown.

As the government shutdown rounds out its third week, the effects have begun to take a toll on both minor and major scales. Government workers are missing paychecks, affordable housing contracts are expiring, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not able to cover all of its usual duties. According to the official FDA website, around 55 percent of their $5.4 billion budget comes directly from federal funding, with the other 45 percent coming from industry user fees.

With fewer resources for protecting the nation's food supply, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has had to delegate most workers to investigate "high risk facilities," such as those that produce seafood or cheese.

In 2018, nearly a dozen different products were cited for salmonella contamination, including raw turkey, pre-cut melon, and even Honey Smacks cereal. The FDA also warned of a possible salmonella outbreak from eggs last May.

Though the FDA will continue to inspect foreign manufacturers and products, the agency generally conducts roughly 160 food inspections per week. They look for any possible contamination due to various unclean circumstances, and that is only the beginning of a much longer process if foods actually need to be recalled. The FDA also investigates cases sent to them by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); after an illness or outbreak has been reported, the FDA works to trace where the contaminant could have come from before recalling and pulling problematic products from the shelves. All of this takes a lot of work, as we recently reported.

[h/t The Hill]

America's Paper Towel Obsession, Explained

iStock.com/Eerik
iStock.com/Eerik

At this point, the Brawny man can probably afford something nicer than a flannel shirt. Americans spend roughly $5.7 billion annually on paper towels, using them to clean up everything from spilled coffee to baby dribble to windows. Roll after roll is unspooled from a paper towel holder, makes a detour into a mess, then winds up directly in the garbage.

Are we really so lazy that we can’t wring out and reuse a sponge, a cloth wipe, or washable napkins? Or has Big Towel brainwashed us into believing that paper towels are simply the most convenient method of keeping things clean?

The question was recently explored by The Atlantic's Joe Pinsker, who noticed that Americans make up nearly half of the world’s paper towel use. (Second-place France spends just $635 million per year on discarded towels, little more than a tenth of what the U.S. shells out.) Pinsker wondered if it was due in part to population, but even on a per capita basis, we still spend more on towels than any other country in the world. Countries with comparable economies don’t buy as much as we do.

It turns out that the reasoning behind our alleged paper towel obsession may reside in how we problem-solve. In using a disposable towel, a mess can be immediately addressed and discarded, leaving no trace or obligation to clean our cleaning supplies.

There may also be pragmatic reasons: Using one-time-use towels reduces the chances of cross-contamination. (Imagine a sponge covering a bacteria-covered surface, then being set aside for reuse later.) And in a public bathroom setting, paper towels may actually be more hygienic than hand dryers, which can spread bacteria.

If you have a paper towel addiction, one tip Pinsker passed along is to consider reusing them. (Provided, of course, the mess wasn’t made up of raw meat or fish.) Sturdier paper towels can sometimes stand up to multiple applications before they start to break apart. You can also try using fewer towels by folding one in half and taking advantage of what’s known as interstitial suspension to trap water between the layers.

[h/t The Atlantic]

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