Sunday, August 09, 2009
132 This means ‘What's for you won’t go by you'. “It’s Scottish,” she explained. The picture captures the moment she was asked to imagine a big hairy Scotsman, in a kilt - a trick that worked so well, it has been repeated on other SOTMs. Taken in offices off Tottenham Court Road, London.
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Until recently, one could actually achieve absence. One could go somewhere and be gone. The traveler would send postcards. The postcards would have pictures of beaches or statues. They would be eagerly awaited and gratefully received. Absence was simple. It was an absolute condition, soon relieved by presence. Presence was also an absolute condition.
Now absence and presence are contingent and variable, matters of degree and form. A person may cease responding to e-mail and achieve a sort of absence although he or she remains in place. Or a person may go to India and yet be as present as always.
A version of us is always present. We are over-connected. We spy on each other from afar.The quality of our absence is thus degraded. Absenceness is a precious resource we are fast running out of. Soon there will be nothing but presence. We will wish we could go away but will not be able to. The pain of constant presence will be too much for some to bear; it will be a torture like that of sleep deprivation. There will be a rash of virtual suicides, in which people disconnect themselves and appear to be dead. We will have virtual funerals for them. This will all come in time.
- by Cary Tennis
by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
What isn't straightforward about orange juice?
HAMILTON: It's a heavily processed product. It's heavily engineered as well. In the process of pasteurizing, juice is heated and stripped of oxygen, a process called deaeration, so it doesn't oxidize. Then it's put in huge storage tanks where it can be kept for upwards of a year. It gets stripped of flavor-providing chemicals, which are volatile. When it's ready for packaging, companies such as Tropicana hire flavor companies such as Firmenich to engineer flavor packs to make it taste fresh. People think not-from-concentrate is a fresher product, but it also sits in storage for quite a long time...
So parse the carton for us. For example, what is the phrase "not from concentrate" really about?
HAMILTON: In the '80s, Tropicana had a hold on ready-to-serve orange juice with full-strength juice. Then this new product, reconstituted orange juice, started appearing in supermarkets. Tropicana had to make decisions. Storing concentrate is much cheaper than full-strength juice. The phrase "not from concentrate" was to try to make consumers pay more for the product because it's a more expensive product to manufacture. It didn't have to do with the product being fresher; the product didn't change, the name simply changed. Tropicana didn't want to have to switch to concentrate technology.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
By Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom
Reviewed by Johann Hari - 02 July 2009
Authors Benson and Stangroom dismantle the logic of those who cite religion to justify the perpetuation of misogynistic abuses around the globe
A directory of divine misogyny
After all the arguments for subordinating women have been shown to be self-serving lies, what are misogynists left with? They have only one feeble argument that is still deferred to and shown undeserving respect across the world, even by people who should know better: “God told me to. I have to treat women as lesser beings, because it is inscribed in my Holy Book.”
Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom are the editors of Butterflies and Wheels, the best atheist site on the web. In Does God Hate Women? they forensically dismantle the last respectable misogyny. They argue: “What would otherwise look like stark bullying is very often made respectable and holy by a putative religious law or aphorism or scriptural quotation . . . They worship a God who is a male who gangs up with other males against women. They worship a thug.”
Every major religion’s texts were written at a time when women were regarded as little better than talking cattle. Their words and commands reflect this, plainly and bluntly. This book starts with a panoramic sweep across the world, showing – with archetypal cases – how every religion has groups today thumping women down with its Holy Book.
In Zamfara State in northern Nigeria, a pregnant 13-year-old girl called Bariya Ibrahim received 180 lashes of the cane in 2001 after being pimped by her father. The state’s attorney general said: “It is the law of Allah, so we don’t have anything to worry about.” In Jerusalem, ultra-Orthodox Jews have set up “modesty police” who terrorise young women who talk to men or show ordinary parts of their bodies. They break into their homes if they are seen with men; they force them to sit at the back of the bus, away from the men; and they even, in one recent instance, sprayed acid in the face of a 14-year-old girl.
In the areas of India still dominated by orthodox Hinduism, a widow is still expected to commit suicide when her husband dies, or go into isolation in an ashram. One – a septuagenarian woman named Radha Rani Biswas – fled and now begs on the streets of Vrindavan. She said: “My son tells me: ‘You have grown old. Now who is going to feed you? Go away.’ What do I do? My pain has no limit.” And on the directory of divine misogyny goes, running through Catholicism, Mormonism and more. Benson and Stangroom note: “Religion doesn’t necessarily originate ideas about female subordination, but it lends them a penumbra of righteousness, and it makes them ‘sacred’ and thus a matter for outrage if anyone disputes them.”
Methodically, they go through the excuses offered for these raw abuses of human rights by the religious, and their apologists.
The first – especially beloved of the Vatican and Islamists – is that women are not being treated worse, just “differently”. They claim that it accords a woman special “dignity” to trap her in the home. But this is an abuse of language. As the authors note: “Permanent consignment to a limited and lesser role in the world is not what ‘dignity’ is generally understood to mean . . . The smallness and intimacy and relatedness of home are fine things, but not if one is confined to them permanently.”
The religio-misogynists then claim that it is “racist” or “imperialist” to oppose such abuses. This merrily ignores how women within these cultures protest against their treatment – very loudly. They aren’t objecting to being imprisoned in their homes, or having their genitalia cut, or being stoned for having sex, because a white person told them to. Benson and Stangroom put it well: “Multiculturalism by definition makes a fetish of cultures, and it is almost impossible to do that without treating them as monolithic. As soon as you admit that all cultures have internal dissent and nonconformity, the whole idea of protecting or deferring to particular cultures breaks down into incoherence.”
Then the gentler, nicer apologists for religion arrive. They say that misogynists are simply misinterpreting the holy texts, which are in fact about love and compassion and kindness. But the authors point out this is certainly not the God of the texts who orders his followers to commit mass murder, including of women and children, and explicitly says women are inferior beings.
So, in order to defend their God, the apologists often have to lie about what He and His Prophets “say” in the texts. Cherie Blair, for example, claimed in a lecture: “It is not laid down in the Quran that women can be beaten by their husbands.” But it quite plainly is. The Quran says: “If you fear high-handedness from your wives, remind them [of the teachings of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them.”
Karen Armstrong – one of the most egregious defenders of superstition – repeatedly claims that Muhammad was an emancipator of women. Yet it is explained in the Hadith (the sayings and traditions of the Prophet) that he married a prepubescent child, and that when he was given two slave girls he gave the ugly one away to a friend and kept the beautiful one, Maryam, to use sexually. It is a strange model of female emancipation, to sleep with children and slaves.
There are people in all religions who have – through theological contortions – managed to leave behind literal readings of the text and invent a less foul God to believe in. It is not for atheists to say that one group of believers is right and the other is wrong, as we think they’re all wrong. We can note that the less literalist a believer is, the easier he is to live beside, but we will only discredit literalism and force reform if we are honest about the words of the texts, rather than trying to soft-soap believers.
By the end of this book-length blast, Benson and Stangroom have left religious hatred of women in rubble. Anybody not addled by superstition will have to conclude that such bigotry deserves neither respect nor deference. It does not deserve the taboos that today surround it. It deserves the opposite: contempt – and relentless, unyielding opposition.
Does God Hate Women?
Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom
Continuum, 208pp, £14.99
Sunday, June 21, 2009
by Jack Gilbert
Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Posted by Cory Doctorow, June 11, 2009 10:30 PM |
Among critics of American-style capitalism in the Third World, the way that America has responded to the current economic crisis has been the last straw. During the East Asia crisis, just a decade ago, America and the I.M.F. demanded that the affected countries cut their deficits by cutting back expenditures--even if, as in Thailand, this contributed to a resurgence of the aids epidemic, or even if, as in Indonesia, this meant curtailing food subsidies for the starving. America and the I.M.F. forced countries to raise interest rates, in some cases to more than 50 percent. They lectured Indonesia about being tough on its banks--and demanded that the government not bail them out. What a terrible precedent this would set, they said, and what a terrible intervention in the Swiss-clock mechanisms of the free market.Wall Street's Toxic Message (via Memex 1.1)
The contrast between the handling of the East Asia crisis and the American crisis is stark and has not gone unnoticed. To pull America out of the hole, we are now witnessing massive increases in spending and massive deficits, even as interest rates have been brought down to zero. Banks are being bailed out right and left. Some of the same officials in Washington who dealt with the East Asia crisis are now managing the response to the American crisis. Why, people in the Third World ask, is the United States administering different medicine to itself?
Many in the developing world still smart from the hectoring they received for so many years: they should adopt American institutions, follow our policies, engage in deregulation, open up their markets to American banks so they could learn "good" banking practices, and (not coincidentally) sell their firms and banks to Americans, especially at fire-sale prices during crises. Yes, Washington said, it will be painful, but in the end you will be better for it. America sent its Treasury secretaries (from both parties) around the planet to spread the word. In the eyes of many throughout the developing world, the revolving door, which allows American financial leaders to move seamlessly from Wall Street to Washington and back to Wall Street, gave them even more credibility; these men seemed to combine the power of money and the power of politics. American financial leaders were correct in believing that what was good for America or the world was good for financial markets, but they were incorrect in thinking the converse, that what was good for Wall Street was good for America and the world.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Spirit, the Mars rover, got stuck on
May 9th around a low plateau with thick deposits of sandy soil. When the rover's wheels hit these patches of dirt, the wheel can't grip and just spins.
A 7-year-old kid named Julian suggested a way to get it unstuck, and the drivers were so impressed by it that they’re sending him a reward.
Monday, June 08, 2009
Should I get a divorce?
Should I quit my job?
Career or full-time motherhood?
In 10-10-10, the namesake book by Suzy Welch, the 10-10-10 rule is proposed to make the process more manageable. When facing to make a difficult choice, ask yourself these questions:
What will be the consequences in 10 minutes?
In 10 months?
In 10 years?
These questions not only reveal the immediate impact of the decision made, but also, if it matters and how it matters in the long term. Here is an except of the article:
Fifteen years ago, she was a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company. She loved the job, and the job loved her. The first in her family to attend college, she was looking forward to a long and successful corporate career. Then came marriage and two children.
My friend tried to keep working, but one day, when she returned from a week on the road, the nanny put her son in her arms, and he didn't recognize her. She quit, telling herself she would go back the minute she could.
That minute never came.
She has three children now, the youngest a baby. "The other day, I was cleaning the refrigerator and Sammy was crying his head off, and inside I was screaming, "What have I done?"
"10-10-10 reminded me." Both the 10-minute and 10-year scenarios made her shudder. "Short term, I'm looking at a lot of diapers and spit up," she said, "and long term, I'm seeing a big black hole. Kids gone, but so is my career."
image source, Link
Sunday, June 07, 2009
For the first time, a President of the United States has admitted that Cold War policy was less about spreading freedom and more about protecting corporate hegenomy in the face of decolonization.
In an act of conciliation towards Iran, Obama acknowledged that the CIA engineered the 1953 overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister after he ordered the expropriation of his nation’s oil fields from a British corporation. The United States then installed a brutal dictator who used violence and terror to keep Iran open for business.
Of course this is common knowledge. Obama smartly recognizes that such admissions may lesson the distrust most Iranians have of America.
At root, conciliation is simply another strategy to regain some control over Iran’s vast oil fields (the Iraq method won’t be viable for another decade or so). The minions of neo-liberalism are trying to get a foot in the door. Iran would do well to add another dead-bolt.[Posted By STOPSTRIPMINING] Link
We've often known as kids that our parents play favorites. And while they've constantly denied it, there's always that sibling who is more coddled and showered with fringe benefits.
According to the book No Two Alike, many parents admitted to favoritism:
"In two separate studies, British and American parents of two small children were asked whether they felt more affection for one than the other. More than 50% admitted that they did. The overwhelming majority of these parents - 87% of the mothers and 85% of the fathers in the American study - said they favored the younger child".
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
|Purgatory (Repenting Believers)||Very Low|
|Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)||Very Low|
|Level 2 (Lustful)||High|
|Level 3 (Gluttonous)||Low|
|Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)||Low|
|Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)||Very High|
|Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)||Moderate|
|Level 7 (Violent)||Very High|
|Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)||High|
|Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)||Very High|
Take the Dante's Inferno Test