Saturday, 4 April 2020

The Germ of National Interest (by Guy Verhofstadt)

When Jacques Delors said last week that “the germ is back”, he was not referring to the actual coronavirus but the germ of narrow national self-interest among European leaders.

Dutch Minister of finance Wopke Hoekstra even dared to suggest that solidarity among member states is impossible because of “moral hazard”.

While, just as with the migration crisis that hit certain countries harder than others because of their position on the map of Europe, this Corona crisis is one of “bad luck”. Countries who were hit first simply had less time to prepare for the storm than others. There is no moral superiority or predestination to be found in this crisis.
So how do we root out the germ of self-interest that blocks Europe today ? The answer is simple: with the supranational solidarity embodies in the European Commission. Playtime is over, so Ursula von der Leyen and her Commissioners better take out the big guns and follow in the footsteps of the Delors Commission. (...)

But more than communication, Europe needs real action now. A comprehensive three-way-strategy on a continental scale to overcome this crisis. First of all, on the sanitary level.
By putting in place a European response mechanism that is activated every time a serious health crisis emerges. Issuing clear mandatory guidelines on how to act: for people on a personal and family level and for national governments on which business to close temporarily.
At the heart of such a mechanism should be a single European Health Agency that is properly funded and has the mandate to act.
An agency that does more than just “coordinating” national efforts, but is able to take all emergency measures to keep Europeans safe, including the pooling of medicines and hospital equipment and the temporary closing (partially or complete) of our borders.

Secondly, the European Commission needs to launch a massive trillion “Stability and Recovery Package” to support our national economies, especially their citizens and their companies.
A package that must contain a wide range of tools going from special credit for investment over bridge loans for SME’s to a reinsurance unemployment scheme.
A massive package that will be financed by the launch of a European Recovery Bond as part of a renewed and enlarged European budget. (...)

Making the economic crisis in Europe much longer and much deeper than necessary. In 2008, we saved the banks from bankruptcy, it would be an inconceivable perversity if we would not do the same for the real economy and real people who are losing their jobs as we speak.

If this Corona crisis grows into a new sovereign debt crisis, we cannot say we did not see it coming. However, what we did not see coming, but what will perhaps require the biggest pushback is the loss of democratic values and personal freedoms during this crisis.
These are golden days for law enforcement and wannabe dictators. Viktor Orbàn, to give only one example, has been eroding the rule of law and democracy for years. Now, under the pretext of the COVID19 pandemic, he launched an additional authoritarian power grab this week, closing the Parliament and ushering in unlimited rule by decree.
Up until now, the EU has issued only lukewarm challenges to him. Also here, it is time for the von der Leyen Commission to get real and to act.

It’s clear that Europe’s intergovernmental patchwork does not work in times of crises. Not during the financial crisis of 2008, not during the sovereign debt crisis of 2012, not during the migration crisis of 2015 and – unsurprisingly – not today during the Corona crisis.

Therefore it’s time that the Commission adopts a much more pro-active approach than today.
The Commission must take on more responsibility and more power, because in the end that is needed: a fundamental shift away from loose coordination in the Council – permanently weakened by the germ of national self-interest – towards real and decisive action trough the European Commission, a Commission accountable to both: the member states and the European citizens.

This is yet another crisis for Europe due to the inept and inefficient response from its member states. If we do not drastically change our political architecture, this might very well be its last crisis, the beginning of the end of the European project.

(...) it’s time for radical change, time for a fundamental shift, away from those who are unable to solve crisis after crisis after crisis, to those who are capable and willing to do so in the interest of all European citizens.

Guy Verhofstadt

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photograph via

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Quoting Werner Herzog

"I find it odd that people are striving for happiness as a primary goal in life. I find it silly. I'm interested in other things. Hope or no hope, optimism. Being part of something meaningful like striving for justice, or equal rights for all humanity. It's a much more dignified goal than personal happiness. Who cares about that?"
Werner Herzog

photograph of Werner Herzog via

Monday, 30 March 2020

Coronavirus Pandemic: Close Your Eyes

"What culture do you identify with?", people ask me sooner or later, mostly during the stage of small talk as my mother is from X, my father from Y, and I was raised in Z. "None, all of them and more, their synergy, depends on situation, varies with surrounding, don’t know, don’t care, it’s complex …". It‘s only small talk, so, why bother. Often, my reply is the shortest option that sounds okay to me: European.

As a European, I also used to like the idea of the European Union, this "peace project" linking Europeans through values they share, protecting minorites and vulnerable groups, insisting on equal treatment for all regardless of a person’s nationality, gender, culture, disability, blablabla. Except in difficult times.

10.779 people have died of this virus in Italy, 756 in the last 24 hours alone, a whole generation of nonne and nonni is gone. According to doctors, dying of the coronavirus is as if you were drowning while fully conscious, alone, isolated, no family around, no good-bye, no funeral, cities are running out of coffins. Italy is suffering, facing an abyss, urgently needs help and has asked for it. The European Union closes its eyes. Cuba sends doctors, China sends doctors and equipment more than once, Russia sends supplies, Albania sends doctors, Somalia is sending doctors, Israel shows solidarity when Jerusalem and Tel Aviv lighten up with Italian flags, so does Bosnia and Herzegovina - none part of the EU.
The pandemic brings to light the best and the worst in humans: lacking solidarity, nationalism, ageism, ableism. Jean-Claude Juncker once said: "Europe fails when egos prevail." Well?...

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photograph (c) MLM

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Coronavirus Pandemic: Dangerous Times for the Disabled

Dementia, brain injury, and "severe or profound mental retardation" are, according to official Alabama public health documents, reasons to be denied a ventilator in the pandemic crisis ... with possible lethal consequences (via).

photograph by Melvin Sokolsky via

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Statement on Xenophobia and Islamophobia

"(...) As psychoanalysts, we at IPTAR know only too well about the clinical affects of racism and xenophobia on individuals, and on the larger society: how the anxiety and fear that create these psychological phenomena, can too easily lead to actions that inflict severe trauma on completely innocent victims and families of a targeted group and, in worst case scenarios, fatal consequences. This projection onto the stranger — the Other — (the “xeno” in xenophobia is from the Greek root “stranger”) whose culture, race or religion are different, involves a splitting in which the worst traits that one fears in oneself are deposited into the Other; to such an extent that empathy and curiosity and a sense of our common humanity with the Other are denied, and suspicion and paranoia hold sway. In addition, sometimes unfortunately this type of phenomena leads to another type of splitting: the elevating of an authoritarian figure who is believed to be “all good”, a person who will supposedly protect one from the now malignant Other. In these matters, emotions can become so frenzied and so great that facts and reality are completely denied.

We know that at times of stress and anxiety, these societal phenomena are more likely to appear. They can lead to internment (of the Japanese on American soil in World War II), to failure to take in refugees who seek safety from oppression (as in the case of the 900 Jewish refugees who were turned back from the Florida coast over 70 years ago), to the terrible aspects of slavery or Jim Crowism, and to genocide. Not only is xenophobia a clinical manifestation, it is a social phenomena that is completely antithetical to the principles of our democratic society. (...)"

A statement by the Institute for Psychoanalytic Trainin and Research (2015)

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- photograph via

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Quoting Akira Kurosawa

"No matter where I go in the world, although I can't speak any foreign language, I don't feel out of place. I think of earth as my home. If everyone thought this way, people might notice just how foolish international friction is and they would put an end to it."
Akira Kurosawa

"I suppose all of my films have a common theme. If I think about it, though, the only theme I can think of is really a question: Why can’t people be happier together?"
Akira Kurosawa

photograph via

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Statement by King Willem-Alexander at the beginning of the state visit to Indonesia

Mr President,
It is a great honour for my wife and me to be your guests. In recent years we have got to know each other well. We see this state visit as an affirmation of the close bond that has grown between us. And we look forward to making the bond with you and your country even stronger. (...)

Mr President, on 17 August it will be 75 years since Indonesia issued its Proklamasi, claiming its place among independent and free states. The Dutch government explicitly acknowledged this fact, both politically and morally, 15 years ago.
Today we warmly congratulate the people of Indonesia as you celebrate 75 years of independence.
We are looking forward to the coming days. Our visit has a wonderful, future-oriented programme.
At the same time, it is a good thing that we continue to face up to our past. The past cannot be erased, and will have to be acknowledged by each generation in turn.
In the years immediately after the Proklamasi, a painful separation followed that cost many lives.
In line with earlier statements by my government, I would like to express my regret and apologise for excessive violence on the part of the Dutch in those years. I do so in the full realisation that the pain and sorrow of the families affected continue to be felt today.
It is a hopeful and encouraging sign that countries which were once on opposite sides have been able to grow closer and develop a new relationship based on respect, trust and friendship. The ties between us are becoming ever stronger and more diverse. That gives me great pleasure. And I know that this feeling is widely shared in the Netherlands.
Many people in the Netherlands feel a deep connection with Indonesia. It’s gratifying that, in turn, a growing number of young Indonesians are showing interest in our country.
We see that in the number of young men and women who come to the Netherlands to study. We see it above all in the close working relationships between our two countries in the fields of science, the economy, water management, nature protection and climate. (...)

Royal House of the Netherlands

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photograph via

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Be a Lady, They Said.

Be a lady they said. Your skirt is too short. Your shirt is too low. Your pants are too tight. Don’t show so much skin. Don’t show your thighs. Don’t show your breasts. Don’t show your midriff. Don’t show your cleavage. Don’t show your underwear. Don’t show your shoulders. Cover up. Leave something to the imagination. Dress modestly. Don’t be a temptress. Men can’t control themselves. Men have needs. You look frumpy. Loosen up. Show some skin. Look sexy. Look hot. Don’t be so provocative. You’re asking for it. Wear black. Wear heels. You’re too dressed up. You’re too dressed down. Don’t wear those sweatpants; you look like you’ve let yourself go.

Be a lady they said. Don’t be too fat. Don’t be too thin. Don’t be too large. Don’t be too small. Eat up. Slim down. Stop eating so much. Don’t eat too fast. Order a salad. Don’t eat carbs. Skip dessert. You need to lose weight. Fit into that dress. Go on a diet. Watch what you eat. Eat celery. Chew gum. Drink lots of water. You have to fit into those jeans. God, you look like a skeleton. Why don’t you just eat? You look emaciated. You look sick. Eat a burger. Men like women with some meat on their bones. Be small. Be light. Be little. Be petite. Be feminine. Be a size zero. Be a double zero. Be nothing. Be less than nothing.

Be a lady they said. Remove your body hair. Shave your legs. Shave your armpits. Shave your bikini line. Wax your face. Wax your arms. Wax your eyebrows. Get rid of your mustache. Bleach this. Bleach that. Lighten your skin. Tan your skin. Eradicate your scars. Cover your stretch marks. Tighten your abs. Plump your lips. Botox your wrinkles. Lift your face. Tuck your tummy. Thin your thighs. Tone your calves. Perk up your boobs. Look natural. Be yourself. Be genuine. Be confident. You’re trying too hard. You look overdone. Men don’t like girls who try too hard.

Be a lady they said. Wear makeup. Prime your face. Conceal your blemishes. Contour your nose. Highlight your cheekbones. Line your lids. Fill in your brows. Lengthen your lashes. Colour your lips. Powder, blush, bronze, highlight. Your hair is too short. Your hair is too long. Your ends are split. Highlight your hair. Your roots are showing. Dye your hair. Not blue, that looks unnatural. You’re going grey. You look so old. Look young. Look youthful. Look ageless. Don’t get old. Women don’t get old. Old is ugly. Men don’t like ugly.

Be a lady they said. Save yourself. Be pure. Be virginal. Don’t talk about sex. Don’t flirt. Don’t be a skank. Don’t be a whore. Don’t sleep around. Don’t lose your dignity. Don’t have sex with too many men. Don’t give yourself away. Men don’t like sluts. Don’t be a prude. Don’t be so uptight. Have a little fun. Smile more. Pleasure men. Be experienced. Be sexual. Be innocent. Be dirty. Be virginal. Be sexy. Be the cool girl. Don’t be like the other girls.

Be a lady they said. Don’t talk too loud. Don’t talk too much. Don’t take up space. Don’t sit like that. Don’t stand like that. Don’t be intimidating. Why are you so miserable? Don’t be a bitch. Don’t be so bossy. Don’t be assertive. Don’t overact. Don’t be so emotional. Don’t cry. Don’t yell. Don’t swear. Be passive. Be obedient. Endure the pain. Be pleasing. Don’t complain. Let him down easy. Boost his ego. Make him fall for you. Men want what they can’t have. Don’t give yourself away. Make him work for it. Men love the chase. Fold his clothes. Cook his dinner. Keep him happy. That’s a woman’s job. You’ll make a good wife someday. Take his last name. You hyphenated your name? Crazy feminist. Give him children. You don’t want children? You will someday. You’ll change your mind.

Be a lady they said. Don’t get raped. Protect yourself. Don’t drink too much. Don’t walk alone. Don’t go out too late. Don’t dress like that. Don’t show too much. Don’t get drunk. Don’t leave your drink. Have a buddy. Walk where it is well lit. Stay in the safe neighborhoods. Tell someone where you’re going. Bring pepper spray. Buy a rape whistle. Hold your keys like a weapon. Take a self-defense course. Check your trunk. Lock your doors. Don’t go out alone. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t bat your eyelashes. Don’t look easy. Don’t attract attention. Don’t work late. Don’t crack dirty jokes. Don’t smile at strangers. Don’t go out at night. Don’t trust anyone. Don’t say yes. Don’t say no.

Just “be a lady” they said.

text by Camille Rainville

Monday, 9 March 2020

Feminists. Some Stereotypes.

Feminists are bra-burning radicals and they hate men, hence become lesbians. Feminism means liberating white middle-class women at the expense of men and working towards men's oppression and women's dominance. Nobody knows why these hairy, ugly, masuline women - you can't be feminist and feminine at the same time - are still fighting as women are equal now (via)

photograph of Gloria Steinem via

Saturday, 29 February 2020

"Go back to your infected country!"

"(...) It has always baffled me why people default to hate, labels, and stereotypes when scared. In my life, some people have made assumptions about my musical preferences, career, or likelihood of snatching a purse based on my race. On a broader scale, politicians make statements like “African Americans or Asian Americans want this policy or that policy.” People from different races or cultures are not monolithic. Sadly, racism and xenophobia (hate or dislike of someone from another country) are been exposed (again) through the lens of the Coronavirus threat. Here’s why.

I had no intentions of opining on this topic until a colleague tweeted something very disturbing that happened at a recent Ocean Sciences meeting in San Diego. A Japanese colleague was told to go back to her “infected country.” (...)
We have seen this movie before. Minority groups and persecuted or marginalized populations have faced the fear and ire of majority groups throughout history during disease outbreaks. According to the Science Museum - Brought to Life website, “Jews were widely blamed for the Black Death and immigrant Irish workers held responsible for cholera epidemics in the 1830s.” In the early 1900s, African Americans were unethically studied in the infamous Tuskegee experiments because of unfounded hypotheses that Black people were inherently inferior. Syphilis was rampant in poor Black communities so it was assumed to be a “Black” disease. Many black men were intentionally infected with the disease and left untreated during those horrific experiments.
More recently, Ebola outbreaks sparked a wave of racism and xenophobia towards people from the African continent. (...)
It is often easier to create a narrative that fits one’s comfort zone, intellectual capacity, or ideology. Therefore, it is not surprising to me that racist or xenophobic views would arise from fear and self-preservation tendencies, even if flawed. (...)

I have seen my share of national and international tragedies (Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, SARS and so forth). You know what always seemed to work best in those times from my vantage point? - When people dismiss superficial differences and come together. Hopefully we can find that spirit as the world faces the threat of Coronavirus."
Marshall Shepherd

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photographs (alternative masks by German-Namibian designer Max Siedentopf) via

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

"Life can be really f***ing miserable if you’re a woman working in the music industry."

“I’d like to see there being more female bands and talking to a lot of my female friends in the music industry - and I’m not talking just about musicians but people working in the music industry as a whole - there are definitely barriers there. Life can be really fucking miserable if you’re a woman working in the music industry and a lot needs to be addressed both in terms of attitude and opportunity. When I first started playing in bands and putting bands on it was the height of the Riot Grrrl movement and that seemed very powerful at that time. It felt like there was a radical change happening. That was maybe overshadowed by the lad generation that followed it immediately. I don’t know if the change is definitely gonna happen, but I’d like to see some change.”
Alex Kapranos

Franz Ferdinand on YouTube:

::: Take Me Out: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Glimpse of Love: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Demagogue: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Do You Want To: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Right Action: LISTEN/WATCH

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photograph of Franz Ferdinand via

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Quoting Junot Diaz

“Motherfuckers will read a book that’s one third Elvish, but put two sentences in Spanish and they [white people] think we’re taking over.”
Junot Diaz

photograph via

Friday, 21 February 2020

The -ism Series (36): Transhumanism

"Things don’t get better simply because we have the latest and greatest technology. While I would certainly argue that there is such a thing as genuine progress, such as universal literacy or peaceful and free societies, these are not guaranteed either by the trajectories of history or the development of technology. Technologies can be used to support both freedom and tyranny. Technology is not inherently either the problem or the solution, but is instead a tool through which ethical progress might be implemented or hindered."
DeBaets (2011)

There are different sub-movements within transhumanism "ranging from environmentalists and feminists of the left to religious and cultural conservatives on the right" (DeBaets, 2011), from a moderate approach that focuses on enhancing human characteristics to a strong one that is about overcoming the so-called limits of human nature (Friberg Felsted & Wright, 2014), including death. And ageing, of course, as this is regarded as its main cause. These transhumanists believe that we should merge with machines to remake ourselves "in the image of our own higher ideals" with enhanced physical and mental capabilities (via). Technology's possibilities can surely make us enthusiastic but there is a downside to it: the feeling of superiority and the message that you shall not age and shall have an abled body.
History is littered with the evil consequences of one group of humans believing they are superior to another group of humans. Unfortunately in the case of enhanced humans they will be genuinely superior. We need to think about the implications before it is too late.
Blay Whitby
The human body as a site of inquiry is not a contemporary concept, and notions of what classifies as a human body has largely influenced biopolitical regimes and sovereign power. Biopolitical discourses that culminated in the Nazi eugenics regime during World War II held the belief that specific types of bodies were inferior to others, and ultimately classified as inhuman, which resulted in the liquidation of countless individuals under the rubric of racial hygiene. Nazi eugenics is an extreme example of both the sovereign power over life and death, and a quest for corporeal perfection; more subtle examples can be seen in contemporary Western society, such as the treatment of disabled individuals.
David-Jack Fletcher (2014)

Ageing is regarded as a process of increasing deficiency, as something that needs to be overcome and is feared (via). Similarly, disability is eradicated by altering, improving, enhancing or erasing the "undesirable deficits or disabilities" (Fletcher, 2014). By doing so, transhumanist technologies enhance so-called normal human bodies and "provide therapy to those deemed Other" which again may perpetuate "notions of acceptable bodies and biopolitical hierarchies" (via). In extreme cases the assumption is made that society would be better off if there were no persons with disabilities born (DeBaets, 2011).
While most would agree that disability denies individuals the same quality of life as those deemed " abled, " this eradication ultimately relies upon secular humanist notions of the perfect human. Transhuman technologies hold obvious implications for the human body, however they also hold implications for what it means to be an acceptable body; ultimately these technologies aim to create the perfect human by eradicating the disabled Other.
David-Jack Fletcher (2014)
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- DeBaets, A. M. (2011). Enhancement for All? A Feminist Ethical Analysis of the Discourses and Practices of Democratic Transhumanism. Conference Proceedings, LINK
- Fletcher, D.-J. (2014). Transhuman Perfection: The Eradication of Disability Through Transhuman Technologies. Humana.Mente, 24, LINK
- Friberg Felsted, K. & Wright, S. C. (2014). Toward Post Ageing. Technology in an Ageing Society. Heidelberg et al.: Springer.
- Manzocco, R. (2019). Transhumanism. Engineering the Human Condition. History, Philosophy and Current Status. Cham: Springer.
- images via and via

Monday, 17 February 2020


Elderspeak is a register of speech similar to "babytalk" with the difference that it is used with older adults. Typical characteristcs are: slow speech rate, exaggerated intonation, elevated pitch and volume, simple vocabulary, reduced grammatical complexity, diminutives, repetition, and collective pronoun substitution (Corwin, 2017).

There are at least four possibilities: an inclusive we, an exclusive we, a "royal we" and a "patronizing we." (...) In a "patronizing" form, we might function more like you and not include the speaker (as in an interaction where a doctor asks a patient "how are we feeling today?") (...)
Wortham & Reyes (2015:48)
Not only is elderspeak linked to communication problems and decreasing communicative competency triggering negative self-assessments of compunicative competence. It is also associated with increased dependence, increased restiveness to care, social isolation, cognitive decline, negative behaviours, and negative social and psychological health outcomes. Older adults consider it to be disrespectful and patronising (Corwin, 2017).

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- Corwin, A. I. (2017). Overcoming Elderspeak. The Gerontologist, 58(4), 724-729.
- Wortham, S. & Reyes, A. (2015). Discourse Analysis beyond the Speech Event. London & New York: Routledge.
- photograph by Vivian Maier via

Sunday, 16 February 2020

At a really passionate moment, call her "Mommy"

Say that your mother, the interior decorator, must live with you.
Insist that she walk three paces behind you.
Ask her if she minds your spending one evening a week with your first wife.
Make a pass at her mother. Her father?

image via

Saturday, 15 February 2020

The New Normal: Racism after Brexit.

Several studies show a clear link between xenophobia and support for Brexit - regardless of voter age, gender, and even education (via). Hutchings and Sullivan (2019) argue that the vote to leave the EU was no surprise given the "increasing negativity regarding immigration" over the past ten years and have no doubt that prejudice was a factor in the Brexit vote.

In other words, racism led to Brexit. However, Brexit is also encouraging people to blatantly display prejudice. According to a survey, ethnic minorities are facing more overt racism since the Brexit referendum (2016: 58%, 2019: 71%). Authors see a causal correlation explaining the trend with the divisive rhetoric used in public by e.g. certain candidates making racist feel more confident in showing abuse and discrimination which again seems to have become the new normal. (via).
What people see is acceptable, they do.
Golec de Zavala
People have those sorts of beliefs in a more or less stable way. That would mean that they had them before Brexit. Those attitudes were made salient by the Leave campaign, and were more likely to mobilise these people.
Golec de Zavala

In recent years the public discourses on Polish migration in the UK have rapidly turned hostile, especially in the context of economic crisis in 2008, and subsequently after the EU referendum in 2016. While initially Poles have been perceived as a ‘desirable’ migrant group and labelled as ‘invisible’ due to their whiteness, this perception shifted to the representation of these migrants as taking jobs from British workers, putting a strain on public services and welfare. While racist and xenophobic violence has been particularly noted following the Brexit vote, Polish migrants experienced various forms of racist abuse before that.
Alina Rzepnikowska

- Hutchings, P. B. & Sullivan, K. E. (2019). Prejudice and the Brexit vote: a tangled web. Palgrave Communications, 5, link
- photograph of The Who by Art Kane via and via and by Colin Jones via

Friday, 14 February 2020

Cultures Do Not Develop in a Vacuum

This is so beautiful. So beautiful. Unlike some reactions.

"SAS is a Scandinavian airline that brings travelers to, from an within Scandinavia. We stand by the core message in the commercial, that travel enriches us.
When we travel, we influence our surroundings and we are influenced by others. The experiences we bring back from our travels inspire us as individuals, but also our society.
When analyzing the pattern and volume of reactions we have reason to suspect an online attack and that the campaign has been hijacked. We do not want to risk being a platform for views that we do not share. We have therefore temporarily removed the film from our channels and we are currently evaluating the next step."

Monday, 10 February 2020

"... to use our voice for the voiceless." Joaquin Phoenix

I’m full of so much gratitude now. I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees or anyone in this room, because we share the same love – that’s the love of film. And this form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life. I don’t know where I’d be without it.

But I think the greatest gift that it’s given me, and many people in [this industry] is the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless. I’ve been thinking about some of the distressing issues that we’ve been facing collectively.
I think at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality. I think, whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice.
We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender, one species, has the right to dominate, use and control another with impunity.
I think we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world. Many of us are guilty of an egocentric world view, and we believe that we’re the centre of the universe. (...)
We fear the idea of personal change, because we think we need to sacrifice something; to give something up. But human beings at our best are so creative and inventive, and we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and the environment.
I have been a scoundrel all my life, I’ve been selfish. I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with, and I’m grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance. I think that’s when we’re at our best: when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out for our past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow. When we educate each other; when we guide each other to redemption.

Joaquin Phoenix's Oscars speech, 2020

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photograph by Craig McDean via

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Every name's a story

"The new "What’s your name" spot from ad agency Iris centers on James, who is challenged when people continue to call him by his birth name, "Jemma," during his transition. He finds acceptance when he goes to Starbucks and orders a coffee, shares his name James and hears the barista calling it out."

"In highlighting the coffee chain as a safe haven for transgender people, Starbucks is establishing where it stands on inclusivity. By including the voices of transgender people who have organically shared their stories of trialing new names at Starbucks, the brand is showing that it is not only open to a diverse customer base, but that it is listening to all parts of that base when marketing around what makes its brand special." (via)

Thursday, 30 January 2020

A World of Enemies

“Politically speaking, tribal nationalism always insists that its own people is surrounded by “a world of enemies,” “one against all,” that a fundamental difference exists between this people and all others. It claims its people to be unique, individual, incompatible with all others, and denies theoretically the very possibility of a common mankind long before it is used to destroy the humanity of man.”
Hannah Arendt (1951)

photograph of Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) via

Monday, 27 January 2020


"Raised by a Jewish father who identifies as atheist, Borden was interested in how the horrific events of the Holocaust had influenced his father’s faith. As he explained to Feature Shoot, 'I think it was my dad’s ambivalence towards his heritage ― and his disturbing revelation that it had once been deemed punishable by death ― that really motivated me to create this body of work.'"

"The series features portraits from individuals of various ages, genders and nationalities, based in Australia, Israel, the U.K. and U.S. Each portrait is shot with minimal staging and equipment in the subjects’ homes. 'It would have been easier to set up a studio and photograph lots of people at the same time,' Borden said, 'but I wanted the pictures to be an authentic record of our meeting on that day.'" (literally via)

photographs by Harry Borden via and via and via

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Listening to Music while Driving

Listening to music while driving has an impact on men and women. In a study, female drivers reported "higher levels of perceived driver caution" and to be more aware of the experimental music background. Brodsky (2015), the author, notes that: "However, the most important difference between the genders relates to driving deficiencies. Namely, male drivers were involved in significantly more events at significantly greater severities in every driving condition". Here some details...

... condition no music:
event frequency: female - 8 (M), male - 12 (M)
event severity: female- 113 (M), male - 190 (M)
... condition preferred music:
event frequency: female - 10 (M), male - 13 (M)
event severity: female 150 (M), male - 216 (M)
This paper draws on a visceral approach to explore the role of sound/music for people who drive cars. We examine the ways in which gendered subjectivities emerge from the pleasures associated with listening to sound/music during short car trips. The first part of the paper reviews the recent literature on ‘feelings for cars’. We highlight why gender is often absent from the literature before offering a conceptual lens drawing on geographical feminist thinking to consider sound/music, feelings, gender and mobility. We draw on driving ethnographies to explore the role of sound/music in how gender is assembled with the flow of connections between bodies, spaces and affects/emotions. Considering the contextual pleasures of listening to sound/music on these trips and emergent gender subjectivities we provide a more nuanced interpretation of why people choose to drive cars. To conclude, we point to the implications for applied research for new context-specific transport and climate change policy.
Waitt, Harada & Duffy (2015)

- Selection of my Cinquecento Music List:

::: Mando Diao: Dance with Somebody: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Starbuck: Moonlight Feels Right: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Gnarls Barkley: Crazy: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Daft Punk: Lose Yourself to Dance: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Elvis: A Little Less Conversation: LISTEN/WATCH
::: The Buggles: Video Killed the Radio Star: LISTEN/WATCH
::: ABBA: Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Boney M: Ma Baker: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Donna Summer: I Feel Love: LISTEN/WATCH
::: KISS: I Was Made For Lovin' You: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Daft Punk: Around the World: LISTEN/WATCH

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- Brodsky, W. (2015). Driving With Music: Cognitive-Behavioural Implications. Farnham & Burlington: Ashgate.
- photograph by Elliott Erwitt (1955) via

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Slow. Or Absent.

"It appears that the recognition, even among social scientists, that age can serve as a potent attribute from which psychological and social benefit or harm can radiate has been slow in coming."
Levy & Banaji (2002)

"Recently, the literature has blossomed with definitions, commentary and research about microaggressions. The term microaggresion has been expanded to include broader social disparities in society such as sexism and heterosexism. However, ageism in relation to microaggresion is glaringly absent."
Gendron et al. (2015)

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- Gendron, T. L., Welleford, E. A., Inker, J., & White, J. T. (2015). The Language of Ageism: Why We Need to Use Words Carefully. The Gerontologist, 56(6), DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnv066
- Levy, B. R. & Banaji, M. R. (2002). Implicit Ageism. In T. D. Nelson (ed.) Ageism: Stereotyping and Prejudice against Older Persons (49-75). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
- photograph by the amazing Vivian Maier via

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Quoting Stellan Skarsgård

"I was lucky to have smart parents. What they were interested in they’d talk about at home, so topics like the civil rights movement were common currency at the dinner table. From an early age we talked about black history and the Holocaust. It was a humanistic upbringing. I’ve tried to give my children a similar existence."
Stellan Skarsgård

photograph via

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

You Are Not Alone

"The value of a brand could be greater by creating real empathy with the youth, instead of going and selling them a Sprite. We got out of the habitual marketing tone, and out of what we are supposed to do and we ran away from the target clichés."
Maxi Itzkoff, creative director of campaign

The campaign was launched by Sprite Argentina (part of the Coca-Cola company) in November 2019.

image via

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Nothing Beats A Londoner

Here we go, Nike celebrating diversity again, London's diversity.

"The new Cannes Social & Influencer Lions has its first Grand Prix winner: Nike’s “Nothing Beats a Londoner” from Wieden+Kennedy, London. A key component of the campaign is a short film--directed by the Megaforce collective and produced by Riff Raff Films--which centers on enterprising, fiercely competitive, young Londoners who shape sport and culture in the metropolis around them." (via)

image via

Saturday, 11 January 2020

F You (Lily Allen, 2009)

Look inside
Look inside your tiny mind
Now look a bit harder
'Cause we're so uninspired, so sick and tired of all the hatred you harbor

So you say
It's not okay to be gay
Well I think you're just evil
You're just some racist who can't tie my laces
Your point of view is medieval

F you F you very, very much
'Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch

F you F you very, very much
'Cause your words don't translate
And it's getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

Do you get
Do you get a little kick out of being slow-minded?
You want to be like your father
It's approval you're after
Well that's not how you find it

Do you
Do you really enjoy living a life that's so hateful?
'Cause there's a hole where your soul should be
You're losing control of it and it's really distasteful ...

lyrics via

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More Lily Allen on YouTube:

::: The Fear: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Not Fair: LISTEN/WATCH
::: As Long As I Got You: LISTEN/WATCH

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image via

Thursday, 9 January 2020

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Martin Luther King's Letter from Jefferson County Jail

16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. (...) I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." (...)

(...) more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. (...) Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. (...)
Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation. (...)
You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue. (...)

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. (...)
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. (...)
(...) I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.
When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.
In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed. (...)
Never before have I written so long a letter. I'm afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers? (...)
Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,
Martin Luther King, Jr.

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photographs via (Rev. Abernathiy, left, and Rev. King leading demonstrators as they attempt to march on Birmingham City Hall, 12 April 1963; AP Photo/Horace Cort) and via and via

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Disability + Job Application

According to an Opinium survey, disabled people have to apply for 60% more jobs than non-disabled people. While 69% of non-disabled applicants are invited to a job interview, only 51% of applications from disabled people result in a job interview. Since two in five are not confident about finding a job and 27% believe they are less likely to be hired due to their disability, more than half of disabled people apply for jobs they are overqualified for feeling their disability would make them a less attractive candidate (via).

photograph "504 sit-in, Anthony Tusler, 1977, from the collection of American Association of People with Disabilities" via

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Skiing's Whiteness

According to Clifford, downhill skiing is the "whitest and least integrated popular sport in America" although Black American ski organisations have been promoting Black people skiing for decades. In 2003, Black Americans made up only 2% of the American skiing market. A survey of articles in Skiing magazine (1993-2010) came to the conclusion that there were articles dealing with disabled skiing, gay skiing, skiing in Africa, but none dedicated to "African American skiing".

Here I argue that, in addition to specific structural constraints typically used to explain Black underrepresentation in skiing, there are powerful symbolic forces which work to define and maintain skiing and its associated social spaces as essentially White. As an arena of both sports and leisure tourism (...), the discourses surrounding skiing’s all-White imagery range from residual scientific racialism regarding body types and essential differences to exclusionary tactics utilized in managing residential communities.
Harrison (2013:316)
According to Harrison (2013), Black people's underrepresentation cannot fully be explained by skiing's high costs. Washburn's alternative explanation is that Black people shy from sports they perceive as White. A cultural explanation highlights the structures and points out that skiing is usually passed down from partents to children producing patterned behaviours.
By examining the racialized construction of downhill skiing, we can better understand the processes through which exclusionary geographies are secured outside of urban areas as well as within them — for it can reasonably be argued that ski resorts seek to reclaim the appeal of the urban experience in all White. Based on the current skiing landscape, we might join Philipp (2000) in pondering the extent to which leisure spaces function as mechanisms for preserving, rather than eroding, social segregation. The boundaries of Whiteness serve as the chief barrier through which racial stratification has been maintained in U.S. society. As one of the most racially exclusive leisure activities in America, skiing offers a spectacular view of the (mountainous) spaces where the preservation of Whiteness has been most successful.
Harrison (2013:333)

- Harrison, A. K. (2013). Black Skiing, Everyday Racism, and the Racial Spatiality of Whiteness. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 37(4), 315-339.
- photographs taken in Snowmass Village, 1972 via and in Cortina d'Ampezzo, 1962, by Slim Aarons (1916-2006) via