Tuesday 30 June 2020

The Elderly, the Pandemic, ... Our Indifference.

(...) Notice how the all-too-familiar rhetoric of dehumanization works: “The elderly” are bunched together as a faceless mass, all of them considered culprits and thus effectively deserving of the suffering the pandemic will inflict upon them. Lost entirely is the fact that the elderly are individual human beings, each with a distinctive face and voice, each with hopes and dreams, memories and regrets, friendships and marriages, loves lost and loves sustained. But they deserve to die—and as for us, we can just go about our business. (...)

What does it say about our society that people think of the elderly so dismissively—and moreover, that they feel no shame about expressing such thoughts publicly? I find myself wondering whether this colossal moral failure is exacerbated by the most troubled parts of our cultural and economic life. When people are measured and valued by their economic productivity, it is easy to treat people whose most economically productive days have passed as, well, worthless.

From a religious perspective, if there is one thing we ought to teach our children, it is that our worth as human beings does not depend on or derive from what we do or accomplish or produce; we are, each of us, infinitely valuable just because we are created in the image of God. We mattered before we were old enough to be economically productive, and we will go on mattering even after we cease to be economically productive.

Varied ethical and religious traditions find their own ways to affirm an elemental truth of human life: The elderly deserve our respect and, when necessary, our protection. The mark of a decent society is that it resists the temptation to spurn the defenseless. It is almost a truism that the moral fabric of a society is best measured by how it treats the vulnerable in its midst—and yet it is a lesson we never seem to tire of forgetting. “You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old,” the Bible says—look out for them and, in the process, become more human yourself.

Shai Held (president, dean, and chair in Jewish Thought at Hadar)

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potograph by wonderful Vivian Maier via

Monday 29 June 2020

Quoting Robert Kennedy

“Ultimately, America's answer to the intolerant man is diversity.”
Robert Kennedy

photograph (Philadelphia, 1968, (c) Associated Press) via

Sunday 28 June 2020

"(...) in times of crisis or danger, it grew into a paranoid xenophobia." Excerpt.

The primary mentality existing in a society where local cultures and the corporate ideal predominated, created self-contained compartments identified as exclusive and impervious to penetration by aliens or outsiders. Each social and cultural compartment contained within itself a sense of its own unique and exclusive identity, shared by no other community. Everyhing done in that community centered historically upon the members of that community. This sense of exclusiveness existed in a less harmful state of being for centuries, but in times of crisis or danger, it grew into a paranoid xenophobia.

Communities based upon the principle of association functioned at their best when all the distinct and different sub-groups lived alongside and amongst one another under the assumption of peace. If, however, dissension overtook the endeavor of peaceful association and even cooperation among the different groups, and suspicion grew to the point of increased violence and warfare, then the joint endeavor had failed and paranoid xenophobia marked the associationist principle.

Under such circumstances in the 19th century some states and societies identified assimilationism as a new goal for social cooperation. By eradicating all the cultural differences that distinguised the diverse groups from one another, the tension and violence that had grown powerful could perhaps decrease or disappear. If such an effort failed, then the assimilationism could become the tool of a xenophobic majority seeking to create a single national community. Ethnic cleansing or exportation of various "minorities" beyond the boundaries of the new national sphere would emerge as methods of xenophobic unification.
(Reid, 2000:185)

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- Reid, J. J. (2000). Crisis of the Ottoman Empire. Prelude to Collapse 1839-1878. Quellen und Studien zur Geschichte des östlichen Europa, Band 57. Stuttgart. Franz Steiner Verlag.
- photographs (Fieldgate Mansions, 1973-1984) by David Hoffman via

Thursday 25 June 2020

Nick Gabaldon. Surfing against Segregation.

"Race wasn't really an issue at Malibu. Everyone liked him. And he was a pretty smooth surfer, too."
Rick Grigg (a teenager who surfed with Gabaldon)

Nick Gabaldon (1927-1951) was the first documented black US-American surfer. He learned to surf at the Inkwell in Santa Monica which was a tiny (about 60 meters), roped-off, segregated beach designated for the black community at the time. Gabaldon paddled many miles to Malibu, "one of California's best waves" since he had no car and surfed on a borrowed lifeguard's paddleboard (via and via and via).
According to most reports, on June 5, 1951, Nick Gabaldon caught his last wave. During an eight-foot south swell, Gabaldon lost control of his board and struck a piling beneath the Malibu Pier. His board washed up on the beach shortly after. Three days later, lifeguards recovered his body, and the small community of (white) surfers who had come to accept and respect Nick mourned. (...)
For Nick, surfing was a vehicle to improve his world. The ocean was his medium, which is fitting because the sea knows no prejudice; it’s the ultimate equalizer. As is a basketball court. Or a soccer pitch. Or a football field. Or, especially, a great story. (via)
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image via

Monday 22 June 2020

Waterskiing. Gender. Injuries.

Not only do more men than women participate in waterskiing, men are also more likely to sustain injuries (Muzumdar, 2008) and have "significantly more strains and sprains than females" (Loughlin, 2013).

- Loughlin, S. (2013). Investigation of injuries occurring within competitive water-skiing in the UK. International Journal of Exercise Science 6(1), 29-42.
- Muzumdar, P. (2008). Waterskiing. In C. H. Tator (ed.) Catastrophic Injuries in Sports and Recreation. Causes and Prevention - A Canadian Study (209-220). Toronto, Buffalo & London: University of Toronto Press.
- photograph via

Saturday 20 June 2020

It takes wealth to make wealth...

Income is primarily earned in the labour market. Wealth, however, is mainly accumulated by the transfer of resources across generations. In other words, it takes wealth to make wealth. A further, and not really surprising, distinction is that wealth is far more unequally distributed than income. In the U.S., the "median black household holds just ten percent of the wealth of median white household, and while blacks constitute thirteen percent of America’s population, they hold less than three percent of its wealth."
(Darity et al, 2018)

- Darity, W. Jr., Hamilton, D., Paul, M., Aja, A., Price, A., Moore, A., & Chiopris, C. (2018). What We Get Wrong About Closing the Racial Wealth Gap. Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity Insight Center for Community Economic Development, link
- photograph by Garry Winogrand via

Thursday 18 June 2020

"...instead of blaming him if married love begins to cool, she should question herself."

Often a wife fails to realize that doubts due to one intimate neglect shut her out from happy married love.

A man marries a woman because he loves her. So instead of blaming him if married love begins to cool, she should question herself. Is she truly trying to keep her husband and herself eager, happy married lovers? One most effective way to safeguard her dainty feminine allure is by practicing complete feminine hygiene as provided by vaginal douches with a scientifically correct preparation like "Lysol". So easy a way to keep married lovers apart.
(...) You, too, can rely on "Lysol" to help protect your married happiness...keep you desirable!

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image via

Tuesday 16 June 2020

It's all about sex, or is it? Humans, horses and temperament. An abstract.

We propose that the anthropomorphic application of gender stereotypes to animals influences human-animal interactions and human expectations, often with negative consequences for female animals. An online survey was conducted to explore riders’ perceptions of horse temperament and suitability for ridden work, based on horse sex. The questionnaire asked respondents to allocate three hypothetical horses (a mare, gelding and stallion) to four riders compromising a woman, man, girl and boy. Riders were described as equally capable of riding each horse and each horse was described as suitable for all riders. Participants were also asked which horses (mares, geldings or stallions) were most suitable for the three equestrian disciplines of show-jumping, dressage and trail-riding.

Logistic regression analyses were conducted to investigate people’s perceptions about suitability of horse types for particular riders, to evaluate if age, strength or gender were important in rider choice and to investigate riders’ allocation of various descriptors to a gelding, stallion or mare. There were 1,233 survey respondents, 94% of whom were female and 75% of whom were riders with at least eight years of experience. Binomial logistic regression revealed the girl had 2.5 times the odds of being allocated the gelding compared to the boy (p<0.001). Respondents were significantly more likely to allocate the stallion to the man and nearly 50% of respondents did not allocate a horse to the boy, even though they ranked rider gender as least important to their choice (p<0.001). In a forced choice selection of a positive or negative descriptor from a series of nine paired terms to describe horse temperament, a greater proportion of respondents assigned geldings positive ratings on terms such as calm,trainable, reliable and predictable. In terms of suitability for the three equestrian disciplines of show-jumping, dressage and trail-riding, participants overwhelmingly chose geldings for trail-riding, with mares being least preferred for both dressage and show-jumping disciplines. The results suggest that female riders are entering the horse-human dyad with gendered ideas about horse temperament and view horse-riding as an activity primarily for women and girls. This could have far-reaching implications for equine training and welfare.

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- Fenner, K., Caspar, G., Hyde ,M., Henshall, C., Dhand, N., Probyn-Rapsey, F., Dashper, C., McLean, A., McGreevy, P. (2019). It's all about sex, or is it? Humans, horses and temperament; link
- photograph of Elizabeth Taylor via

Monday 15 June 2020

I'll tell you something banal...

"I'll tell you something banal. We're emotional illiterates. And not only you and I – practically everybody, that's the depressing thing. We're taught everything about the body and about agriculture in Madagascar and about the square root of pi, or whatever the hell it's called, but not a word about the soul. We're abysmally ignorant, about both ourselves and others. There's a lot of loose talk nowadays to the effect that children should be brought up to know all about brotherhood and understanding and coexistence and equality and everything else that's all the rage just now...

... But it doesn't dawn on anyone that we must first learn something about ourselves and our own feelings. Our own fear and loneliness and anger. We're left without a chance, ignorant and remorseful among the ruins of our ambitions. To make a child aware of its soul is something almost indecent. You're regarded as a dirty old man. How can you understand other people if you don't know anything about yourself? Now you're yawning, so that's the end of the lecture."
Ingmar Bergman

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photograph via

Wednesday 10 June 2020

Roma Città Aperta (1945)

The film "Rome, Open City" was conceptualised in Italy before the end of WWII and shot in 1945 (via). From 1950 to 1961, Rossellini's masterpiece was prohibited in West Germany since "it showed the cruelty of German Gestapo" (Bösch, 2017) and the Italian resistance against the occupation of Rome. Generally speaking, films showing the contribution of the German population to Nazi cruelty were not welcome. Movies harming Germany's reputation or the country's relation to others were to be banned (Kötzing, 2013).

The film "instantly, markedly, and permanently changed the landscape of film history. It has been credited with helping to initiate and guide a revolution in and reinvention of modern cinema, bold claims that are substantiated when we examine its enormous impact, even to this day, on how films are conceptualized, made, structured, theorized, circulated, and viewed." (Gottlieb, 2004:1)

- Bösch, F. (2017). Mass Media and Historical Change. Germany in International Perspective, 1400 to the Present. New York & Oxford: berghahn.
- Gottlieb, S. (2004). Open City: Reappropriating the Old, Making the New. In S. Gottlieb (ed.) Roberto Rosselini's Rome Open City. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Kötzing, A. (2013). Kultur- und Filmpolitik im Kalten Krieg. Die Filmfestivals von Leipzig und Oberhausen in gesamtdeutscher Perspektive 1954-1972. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag.
- Roma Città Aperta, in German, link
- images of wonderful, stunning, amazing Anna Magnani and of Aldo Fabrizi via and via

Tuesday 9 June 2020

"With great sorrow and disappointment, I repeat those words today, nearly five decades later."

Rosalynn and I are pained by the tragic racial injustices and consequent backlash across our nation in recent weeks. Our hearts are with the victims’ families and all who feel hopeless in the face of pervasive racial discrimination and outright cruelty. We all must shine a spotlight on the immorality of racial discrimination. But violence, whether spontaneous or consciously incited, is not a solution.

As a white male of the South, I know all too well the impact of segregation and injustice to African Americans. As a politician, I felt a responsibility to bring equity to my state and our country. In my 1974 inaugural address as Georgia’s governor, I said: “The time for racial discrimination is over.” With great sorrow and disappointment, I repeat those words today, nearly five decades later. Dehumanizing people debases us all; humanity is beautifully and almost infinitely diverse. The bonds of our common humanity must overcome the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices.

Since leaving the White House in 1981, Rosalynn and I have strived to advance human rights in countries around the world. In this quest, we have seen that silence can be as deadly as violence. People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say “no more” to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy. We are responsible for creating a world of peace and equality for ourselves and future generations.

We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this.

Jimmy Carter (June 2020)

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photograph (Ira Schwarz/ASSOCIATED PRESS, 1978) via

Monday 8 June 2020

Quoting Michelangelo Antonioni

"I meant exactly what I said: that we are saddled with a culture that hasn't advanced as far as science."
"Scientific man is already on the moon, and yet we are still living with the moral concepts of Homer." 
Michelangelo Antonioni (1912-2007)

photograph via

Friday 5 June 2020

Le Vieux Fusil (1974): Another Movie Castrated for the German Audience

"Le Vieux Fusil" ("The Old Gun") is an excellent example of post-war film censorship in Western Germany. For the Western German version, additional scenes were shot and included while extremely brutal scenes were cut, inhuman dialogues were modified and diluted. There, the film had the harmless title "Abschied in der Nacht". In Eastern Germany, however, the title was "Das alte Gewehr" and the film was shown in cinemas in an uncensored version. Only in 2007, was this uncensored version released to the German market.

In France, on the other hand, it was immediately awarded the César for Best Film, more awards and nominations followed, and it attracted rave reviews. Years later, it received the "César des Cèsars". In Germany, the portrayal of Nazis was not appreciated, since Germans felt they had been degradated to caricatures, cowards and brutal persons. The film should have shown "real enemies", and, besides, it was not a "real" anti-war film, too little analyses of violence and murder had been done while showing too much focus on "primitive suspense" and bloodthirsty effects (via and via). This reaction and description is highly interesting when considering that the massacre shown in the film had really taken place killing hundreds of people...
Among the many, many atrocities committed during World War Two, the events at one French village stand out. (via)
On 10th of June 1944, troops of the 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division destroyed the village Oradour-sur-Glane in Nazi-occupied France killing 642 people within a few hours, among them 207 children, six of them less than six months old. More than 400 of them were herded into the village church which was soaked in petrol before being set on fire. Only seven villagers survived (via and via and via).

The SS men next proceeded to the church and placed an incendiary device beside it. When it was ignited, women and children tried to escape through the doors and windows, only to be met with machine-gun fire. 247 women and 205 children died in the attack. The only survivor was 47-year-old Marguerite Rouffanche. She escaped through a rear sacristy window, followed by a young woman and child.[3] All three were shot, two of them fatally. Rouffanche crawled to some pea bushes and remained hidden overnight until she was found and rescued the next morning. About twenty villagers had fled Oradour-sur-Glane as soon as the SS unit had appeared. That night, the village was partially razed.
Several days later, the survivors were allowed to bury the 642 dead inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane who had been killed in just a few hours. (via)
The massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane, committed by German SS troops 75 years ago, remains a symbol of unimaginable inhumanity and horror, even today. We bow in shame and deep sadness before the victims and their families.
Michael Roth, Germany's Minister of State for Europe
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- images via and via

- Nazi massacre village Oradour-sur-Glane: Where ghosts must live on, The Guardian, link
- Oradour-sur-Glane: On the emergence of a glocal site of memory in France, ResearchGate, link
- The Oradour Massacre, European Journal, YouTube, link

Thursday 4 June 2020

Mechanical Asphyxia

A black man and a white woman hold their hands up in a front of police officers in Long Beach, California, during a protest against the death of George Floyd.

photograph (AFP) via

Wednesday 3 June 2020

The Blonde Cave Dweller: Two Explorers, Similar Experiences, Different Media Coverage.

There have been several experiments to study the effects of isolation on humans (biological rhythms, eating and sleeping patterns, etc.), some of them carried out in caves, and one of them in the French Alps in 1965. That time, Antoine Senni (male record of 126 days) and Josie Laures (female record of 88 days) spent a long time in different caves, each in complete isolation and loneliness (via and via).

While their experiences were rather similar, media coverage made a difference. Antoine Senni became "the forgotten man", media focused on "pretty Josy Laures" who "got all the publicity". In an article, they were described as "a blonde, dark-eyed girl of 26 and a 35-year-old furniture". manufacturer." One article was titled "Blonde Cave Dweller Out of Hospital". A video news report comes to the conclusion: "If the resulting data helps astronauts, Josie will be proud to have been a guinea pig in space exploration. Her boyfriends hope it’ll be for the last time." (via)
After Laures spent some time in Paris getting medical tests, the Tribune reported that she had “fully recovered from her ordeal, tho she has not yet lost extra weight she put on while in the cave.” And if you’re thinking “Well, that’s rude, but maybe it’s relevant, since the experiment was to test the physical and mental effects of isolation,” another article reveals that the “extra weight” she put on was a mere four pounds. No word on the fluctuation of Senni’s weight in the cave.
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photograph via