September 25, 2022

"Kyoto’s famously polite residents began to express their displeasure with uncharacteristic bluntness."

"In Nishiki, signs popped up among the [market] stalls admonishing tourists not to eat while walking, a pet peeve in Japan. Neighborhood shoppers, tired of the crowding and commotion, began going to supermarkets, and some long-established sellers closed. Even Buddhist monks lost their cool. In autumn and spring, when the streets became clogged with tourists gawping at pyrotechnic bursts of maple leaves and cherry blossoms, 'people couldn’t even leave their houses. The city was barely livable,' said Kojo Nagasawa, the secretary general of the Kyoto Buddhist Federation.... At the beginning of the pandemic, 'people in the city were saying, "We’ve returned to the old Kyoto, isn’t that great?"' said Toshinori Tsuchihashi, the director of the city’s tourism department. But, as the economic damage mounted, residents 'have come to recognize tourism’s importance.'... With no legal options for instituting hard limits on visitors.... the initiatives mostly consist of soft measures like trying to educate visitors in Kyoto’s traditional 'morals' and hoping for the best. In that spirit, Nishiki market has decided it will try to encourage tourists instead of admonishing them, exchanging its list of 'don’ts' for a list of 'pleases.'..."

"Unlike Germany, which was clearly on the wrong side of history and made facing and remembering its Nazi past a national project woven inextricably into the postwar fabric..."

"... of its institutions and society, Italy had one foot on each side, and so had a claim to victimization by Fascism, having switched allegiances during the war. After Rome fell to the Allies, a civil war raged between the resistance and a Nazi puppet state of Mussolini loyalists in the north. When the war ended, Italy adopted an explicitly antifascist Constitution, but the political emphasis was on ensuring national cohesion in a country that had succeeded in unifying only a century earlier. There was a belief, the Italian writer Umberto Eco wrote in his classic 1995 essay 'Ur Fascism,' or 'Eternal Fascism,' that the 'memory of those terrible years should be repressed.' But repression 'causes neurosis,' he argued.... [Now, Giorgia] Meloni is poised to take charge. Her proposals, characterized by protectionism, tough-on-crime measures and protecting the traditional family, have a continuity with the post-Fascist parties, though updated to excoriate L.G.B.T. 'lobbies' and migrants.... [T]he left sees in her crescendoing rhetoric, cult of personality style and hard-right positions many of the hallmarks of an ideology that Eco famously sought to pin down despite Fascism’s 'fuzziness.' She evinces what Eco called an 'obsession with a plot, possibly an international one' against Italians, which she expresses in fears of international bankers using mass migration to replace native Italians and weaken Italian workers....."

"Bring Your Whole Self to Work" — "it means being able 'to fully show up' and 'allow ourselves to be truly seen' in the workplace."

"[According the author of a book with that as a title,] it’s 'essential' to create a work environment 'where people feel safe enough to bring all of who they are to work.' Bringing the whole self is a certified buzzphrase at Google and encouraged at Experian. An entire issue of the Harvard Business Review has been devoted to the subject. In this new workplace, you don’t have to keep your head down and do your job. Instead, you 'bring your whole self to work' — personality flaws, vulnerabilities, idiosyncratic mantras and all... In recent years, the 'whole self' movement has gained momentum in part because it dovetails with fortified corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (D.E.I.) programs...."

From "Do Not Bring Your ‘Whole Self’ to Work" by Pamela Paul (NYT).

Paul (obviously) doesn't like the idea. She recommends "that old-fashioned thing we used to call 'being professional.'" But isn't "being professional" another way of saying acting like an upper middle class white person? You have to acknowledge that it's a much easier way of being for some people than others. 

But Paul doesn't acknowledge it. She amuses NYT readers. It should be easy to act "professional": "Heck, it’s the you you were for your entire corporate history, until the prevailing H.R. doctrine abandoned buttoning things up."

The you you were is an interesting phrase. When do you feel like you? In a corporate setting, some people feel exactly like themselves and others don't feel like themselves at all. There's a continuum of you-ness to be felt. Now, you might say, even if I don't really feel like myself, I'd at least appreciate being relieved of the experience of needing to be around other people who are being themselves.

So could we all agree that there's a way to be and then act like that? Actually, no! We can't. 

“I failed, failed and absolutely failed to understand just how exhausted by and disgusted with the perpetual representation of Muslim men and women as terrorists or former terrorists or potential terrorists the Muslim people are."

Said Abigail Disney — grandniece of Walt Disney, "a titan in the documentary world" — who was the executive director of “Jihad Rehab,” called it “freaking brilliant” in an email to the director, then disavowed it.

She is quoted in "Sundance Liked Her Documentary on Terrorism, Until Muslim Critics Didn’t/The film festival gave Meg Smaker’s 'Jihad Rehab' a coveted spot in its 2022 lineup, but apologized after an outcry over her race and her approach" (NYT).

Advised by a PR firm to apologize, the director Meg Smaker said "What was I apologizing for? For trusting my audience to make up their own mind?"

Smaker spent 16 months inside a Saudi rehabilitation facility interviewing former Guantánamo detainees.

The attacks came from what  the NYT characterizes as "the left":

Arab and Muslim filmmakers and their white supporters accused Ms. Smaker of Islamophobia and American propaganda. Some suggested her race was disqualifying, a white woman who presumed to tell the story of Arab men.

The filmmaker Assia Boundaoui, said: "To see my language and the homelands of folks in my community used as backdrops for white savior tendencies is nauseating. The talk is all empathy, but the energy is Indiana Jones."

September 24, 2022

An overcast sunrise today.

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Talk about whatever you want in the comments.

"Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, long entwined, continue on vile parallel paths: They would rather destroy their countries than admit they have lost."

"They have each created a scrim of lies to justify lunatic personal ambition.... As our ancestors did, the Ukrainians are fighting an abusive overlord, against all odds, for democracy. It’s especially inspiring as a split screen with Trump and his MAGA forces trying to bulldoze democracy and rip away women’s rights. The Ukrainians are battling for a luminous ideal — unlike Trump and Putin, who are smashing a luminous ideal for their own benefit, driven by their dread of being called losers. Both thugs are getting boxed in, Trump by a bouquet of investigations into his chicanery and Putin by an angry public pushback against his bloody vanity war.... Both Putin and Trump are famous for accusing everyone else of their own sins.... It would be poetic justice to think the walls were closing in on Putin and Trump at the same time, because at some point, all this will become unsustainable...." 

Maureen Dowd, in "Solo Soulless Saboteurs" (NYT).

Would it be poetic justice for the walls to close in on Putin and Trump at the same time for the same reasons?

From Wikipedia:

"[T]he incident once again highlighted the increasing man-animal conflict in India."

Economic Times reports on this viral video:

"I don’t know that there should be a common Latinx identity. This identity is rooted in land and geography when it should..."

"... be rooted in understanding settler colonialism in the Americas. I would be invested in a political Latinidad that first and foremost fought for indigenous sovereignty and black liberation. If it doesn’t do that, I don’t see the purpose...."

Said Alan Pelaez Lopez, a Zapotec cultural critic, artist, and academic, one of the 6 participants in a conversation at "The Problem With Latinidad/A growing community of young, black, and indigenous people are questioning the very identity underpinning Hispanic Heritage Month" (The Nation).

"Racial preferences should now be thought of like chemotherapy, a cure that can cause side effects that should be applied judiciously."

"We’ve applied the cure long past that point, and have drifted toward an almost liturgical conception of diversity that makes less sense by the year. In a 2003 Supreme Court ruling, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, writing for the majority, said, 'we expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences' in the university admissions context 'will no longer be necessary.' That was considered resonantly wise at the time. But now we have only about six years to go. Folks, it’s time."

Writes John McWhorter in "Stop Making Asian Americans Pay the Price for Campus Diversity" (NYT). 

McWhorter is anticipating the Supreme Court cases Students for Fair Admissions v. President & Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina. Oral argument in those cases is scheduled for October 31st — Halloween.

"Has anyone ever won an Oscar for showing so little expression?"

"[Nurse Ratched as played by Louise Fletcher ] was not — as Nurse Ratched was in the book — an embodiment of matriarchy and women's repression of men. She was horrible, cold, and controlling, but she also had some humanity. She was in a predicament trying to deal professionally with some very trying individuals. She made all the wrong decisions, but she was recognizably human. The actors who played those patients did a fine job portraying seriously ill men and making them dramatically effective and immensely entertaining. We felt free to laugh at them a lot without getting the nagging guilty feeling that we weren't showing enough respect for the mentally ill. There's bonus entertainment in the fact that two of them are actors we came to love in bigger roles: Danny Devito and Christopher Lloyd. 'If they made this movie today, they'd ruin it with music,' I said halfway through. There was scene after scene with no music, other than the occasional record that a character in the movie played.... There was never any of that sort of movie music that instructs us on how to think and feels our emotions before we get a chance to feel them for ourselves. When Nurse Ratched puts a syrupy, soporific version of 'Charmaine' on the record player for the ritual of dispensing the psychotropic drugs, what we feel is in counterpoint to the music...."

I wrote that on Christmas Day in 2006, the morning after the last time I watched "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." 

I'm reading that old post this morning because I see the news that Louise Fletcher has died. She was 88.

Here's the scene where Nurse Ratched keeps the men from watching the World Series game (and McMurphy is an election denier):

I understand why Biden said "We go back a long way. She was 12, I was 30."

I'm seeing the puzzlement — or feigned puzzlement and eager seizure of an opportunity to remind us, once again, of Biden's history of nuzzling young girls.

As an older person, I recognize what went on in the old President's head. It's something that used to be very common in the generation that preceded Baby Boomers. There was this deeply embedded cultural norm of acting as if older women are not actually old. There were expressions like "A lady never reveals her age" and "A woman of a certain age" and lighthearted misstatements of age. It was considered rude even to imply that a woman is old.

Within that ethic, Biden's statement "We go back a long way" created an awkwardness that prompted a joke to undo the implication that he had called a woman old. He'd suggested that they were contemporaries. They'd worked together long ago, so she must be about as old as he is. He wanted to cancel the implication, and, long ago, he was about 30, so he made her as much younger as he could — a ludicrously young age 12.

"As what one might call a celebrity emotion, empathy is often simplified and caricatured. It’s hardly an entirely positive attribute."

"Being able to feel what another person is feeling can also allow someone to manipulate or injure another person. Sadists can be as empathetic as therapists. Iago is the most empathetic figure in literature—he feels every nuance and degree of Othello’s insecurity and plays on them to destroy him. Yet in a democratic society, where individual freedom abounds at historically unique levels, empathy is indispensable. In a dictatorship, it doesn’t matter if you’re aware of another person’s inner state; the regime regulates relations between people. In a democracy, however, the people themselves regulate the relations between them.... In a democracy, [Toqueville] writes, 'each [man] may judge in a moment of the sensations of all the others; he casts a rapid glance upon himself, and that is enough....' If it is true that the essence of a functioning democracy is the ability of its people to feel empathy for one another, then the widespread reliance on antidepressants.... is like some cruel joke. Add to the pharmacological cultivation of emotional blunting the emotionally blunting effect of lives lived increasingly online, and you have a democracy resting on a fundamentally anti-democratic way of life."

"While these are beautiful objects and tell important stories that need to be known, it's disappointing to see the MET giving legitimacy to Crystal Bridges Museum."

"The museum is open-to the-public storage for the personal art collection of some the Walton heirs of Wal-Mart fame — known for paying their employees so little that as of 2022 they are reported to be the biggest recipients of food stamps and Medicaid in most states."

September 23, 2022

Sunrise — 6:38, 6:48.

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The Menominee North Pier Lighthouse.

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"The Menominee North Pier lighthouse is located in the harbor of Menominee, Michigan. The station was first lit in 1877. The current structure and its still operational light was lit in 1927, and automated in 1972. It is also sometimes called the 'Menominee (Marinette) North Pierhead Light."

I took those photographs on September 19th.

"I’m attracted to things like pointillism or a Jasper Johns ‘numbers’ work because they come out of breaking something down into its components, like bytes or numbers..."

Said the late Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft, quoted in "Opening Paul Allen’s Treasure Chest/It’s been a closely guarded secret which masterworks in the Microsoft co-founder’s collection will be auctioned at Christie’s in November. Here, highlights of a billionaire’s bounty" (NYT).

This isn't a Jasper Johns "numbers" work, but it is the Jasper Johns in the soon-to-be-auctioned collection. It's called "Map":