Monday 30 January 2023

Becoming "The" Ernst Haas

Ernst Haas was born in Vienna in 1921. As a child, he decided to become a painter, however, he was drafted into the military for two years after the Anschluss of Austria to the German Reich in 1938. When returning to Vienna after his service, he entered medical school which he was forced to leave after one year of study because of his Jewish ancestry (via).

His father was an amateur photographer. After his death in 1940, Haas started printing his father's negatives teaching himself technical aspects of photography and developing an interest in the creative ones. In photography, he saw the chance to combine his two goals, i.e. becoming an explorer and a painter (via). Haas, in fact, became an early master of colour photography, a member of Magnum, the man behind the iconic photograph of the Marlboro Man, and much more (via).

photographs by Ernst Haas via and via and via

Thursday 26 January 2023

The Impact of Wearing Finger Rings on Symptoms of Dementia

In a study, seven female Japanese dementia (Alzheimer's disease) patients (two discontinued wearing the ring since they thougt they might be forced to buy, data is based on five subjects) living in five small-scale nursing homes were asked to put rings (average price eight dollars) on their fingers from 9:00 to 19:00 for seven days. According to a majority of nursing care providers, the "irritability/lability" disappeared during the ring-wearing intervention period in those patients (n=3) showing an interest in rings. There was no effect in the two subjects not displaying an interest in rings.

Without having been asked, the nursing staff told the patients that they looked so beautiful when they saw them wearing rings. The researchers explain the decrease in irritability and lability with the women knowing about their own status of collapsing intellect and words such as "you look so beautiful" having a positive effect on self-esteem alleviating irritability and lability (Yokoi et al., 2017).

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- Teruo Yokoi, Hitoshi Okamura, Tomoka Yamamoto, Katsuya Watanabe, Shigeko Yokoi, Hitoshi Atae, Masayuki Ueda, Takahiro Kuwayama, Shigekazu Sakamoto, Saaya Tomino, Hideo Fujii, Takefumi Honda, Takayosi Morita, Takafumi Yukawa, & Nobuko Harada (2017). Effect of wearing fingers rings on the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia: An exploratory study. SAGE Open Medicine, Vol. 5, link
- photograph of Elizabeth Taylor via

Tuesday 24 January 2023

"They are not demographics, they are people."

Keith Kahn-Harris, a sociologist teaching Jewish studies, noticed the lack of diversity when it comes to representing British Jews. In fact, a great many articles were illustrated with the same Getty Images photograph, i.e., haredi Orthodox men seen from behind. Kahn-Harris tracked down the photographer - Robert Stothard - to learn about its background. The image, that had become the so-called go-to photograph for all sorts of stories about the Jewish community, or communities, had originally been taken to illustrate an article on police presence in London's Jewish neighbourhoods. In 2019, Kahn-Harris and Stothard started working on a new series of photographs of British Jews, a series that would no longer misrepresent their diversity. The photobook "What does a Jew Look Like" was published in 2022, including narratives written by the persons themselves (via).

Above: "There were few reminders of our heritage in our day-to-day lives bar the Chanukah cards we opened alongside our Christmas ones. Adolescence changed that, though. Keen for us to learn our history, our mother took us, at 12 and 13, to Auschwitz during the school holidays... I lit a menorah at home for the first time this year, despite still being irreligious, and was moved significantly by the experience. After all, a lack of faith made no difference to the Gestapo or the KGB​." Rio, Leeds (via)

Getty Images commissioned me to do a set of images depicting increased police presence on the streets in the wake of the 2015 Islamist terrorist attacks in Paris. There were fears of copycat attacks in Britain,” explains Stothard. “So when I took the photos they were news pics. But since then, one image in particular has been clumsily repurposed, become a decontextualised and ubiquitous stock image. It has even been used to illustrate a story about campus antisemitism. It made me very uncomfortable. Robert Stothard

Above: Anonymous.

There are only about 300,000 Jews in Britain so it’s quite easy to live here and never meet a real, live one. The way we are portrayed in the media, in public, is important, it’s how impressions are formed. So the aim of the book is simple – we want non-Jews, and even some Jews, to understand that there is no such thing as the generic Jew. Keith Kahn-Harris

Above: "When the Prodigy’s sound system broke down mid-set at Glastonbury back in 1997, I was asked to go on stage and keep the frustrated crowd at bay while they tried to fix it. I didn’t have any jokes and was getting bottles thrown at me, so I decided to sing Hava Nagila to 90,000 people and thankfully it worked a treat. That song really saved my arse that night​." Paul, north London (via)

Above: "am a practicing artist – concentrating on drawing and installation, my work explores themes of identity, memory, sexual violence, and the body. Largely autobiographical, I use biological materials such as broken eggshells and living matter – plants, insects, fungus – as media, either drawing directly onto them or using them to transform objects and spaces. I was brought up with a very strong religious and cultural identity, but in a non-traditional household. Our family was part of the radical feminist movement; I was conceived through donor insemination and the household was very much part of that ‘80s leftist Stoke Newington scene. There was always a degree of balancing political and personal ideology with religious practice. To make keeping kosher dietary laws easier, we were vegetarian. I went to a Jewish primary school. We’d go on Friday to Ridley Road market to buy challah, and we lit candles and had traditional Friday night dinner to welcome in Shabbat, when I wasn’t allowed to turn on the TV or touch anything electric. As I got older and my mum left the more radical circles, we became more traditionally observant and moved to a more Jewish area of London. I studied in seminary for two years pre-university and got married whilst a student to my long-term boyfriend. As an adult, I have moved back to East London and now live with my husband in Bow. I have a studio in Woolwich where I work and can plan projects. I lived in Edgware for many years but felt stifled and constrained by the atmosphere there – the main thing I miss about it is the excellent foraging in the local woodlands! Living away from the North West London Jewish bubble allows me more freedom to be religious and observant but also to lead a more unconventional life without the scrutiny or pressure of a curious and conservative community. I do not currently want children so many of the tropes of religious married life do not fit my own. I can cover my hair, keep kosher, go to shul, go to the mikvah and fulfil mitzvot without having to live in a row of houses all of which have mezuzot." Tilla, east London (via)

Above: "The photo was taken in Norfolk Heritage Park, Sheffield. That’s the place I usually walk on Shabbat. I’ve had a relationship with trees since I was a child. I’ve lived in Sheffield for over four years now, after moving from London, where I was born and raised. I came to Sheffield to get away from the London anxiety! I’m a member of the Seven Hills Synagogue. It’s small, maybe 100 people, so it’s a very tight-knit and friendly community. We don’t have our own building, so we meet in a community centre every other week. I’m part of a sub-group here where we build up diversity and inclusivity within the Jewish community, trying to engage with our members to talk about the presence of Disabled Jews, Black Jews, Jews of Colour and Queer Jews. It’s a way to help them adapt within those spaces through social activities and promote an accepting diversity of Jews everywhere. My parents are Nigerian Igbos. They moved to the UK in the 80s but divorced in the early 2000s. Though my Mum is Christian, some reputable anthropologists believe in the theory that Igbos have Hebrew Israelite origins. Ironically, I first heard about Judaism through my childhood learning difficulties when I was seven years old. I went to a secular school in the Jewish Haredi neighbourhood of Stamford Hill. I had a teaching assistant who was a secular Jew, and I asked her questions whenever we went to the library nearby. For example, once I asked, ‘Why are these people dressed like that?’ She told me there are strictly practising Jews and explained the different movements of Judaism. I embraced Judaism in the early 2010s as I love the idea of tikkun olam, being spiritually conscious, doing tzedakah, and celebrating my ancestors contribution to the Torah. I want to build consciousness of overseas Afro-Caribbean Jewish communities in the UK to advocate for their recognition within Jewish Education. There are other Black Jews with Afro-Caribbean heritage in cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester. The problematic issue in Jewish spaces is explaining the connections between African ethnic groups and the biblical tribe of Israel; people get confused, and I constantly have to explain. Not only ethnic groups such as the Igbo, the Akan, the Lemba, and the Abayudaya — but other African Jewish communities make the same claim." Kenneth, Sheffield (via)

Above: "‘Are there any Jews?’ This was the first question my wife asked me nearly 15 years ago when I was offered a teaching post in Scotland. I conducted online research and it appeared that Edinburgh was the new Jerusalem!" Joe, Edinburgh (via)

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photographs via and via and via and via and via and via

Monday 23 January 2023

Mous Lamrabat's Mousganistan

Moroccan-Belgian photographer Mous Lamrabat created Mousganistan, a fantasy world in his head and "utopian frame of love" (via), a "place where life is at peace and people are loved, no matter where you are from" (via), a place that is "free, real and easy going" (via). 

Asked what it takes a person to immigrate to this place, why, and where it is, Lamrabat replies: "pffff, man. mousganistan is a utopia, it’s a place in my head and sometimes it's my escape from the world. i have been going there a lot lately. there are so many things going wrong in the world at this moment. some people can take it and deal with it but i can’t. it literally depresses me. when i escape to this place that i created in my head, it feels like home and i feel untouchable. it’s a space where i can make sense of everything and search for solutions. it’s not possible to change the world on your own but i do what i can by sharing my messages. the most important one is still: “life shouldn’t be hard”. i feel we need to go back to the purest forms of humanity and see how “simple” it all can be… and that’s how you get into mousganistan." Mous Lamrabat

About Mousghanistan: "It’s something I’m fighting for the next generation – to be themselves and be proud of where they come from. I remember we would go on school trips and my mom made sandwiches with homemade Moroccan bread and ingredients no one ever saw. I’d hide it and go eat on my own. I didn’t know it back then, but right now, it’s much better than my cheese sandwich. These are the things that are important to me. You have different things growing up but you should embrace them. I’m super proud that I’ve seen a lot of young MENA artists doing that recently. They mix things with where they come from and the world they live in. It’s nice to see that promise in them. In an art form, you can do much more than in real life. If you see war images on the news or on your phone, people are so used to it. We have a filter for it. If you take problems and put them in a gallery or museum, it’s different. People stand there and try to understand them."
Mous Lamrabat

photographs via and via and via

Saturday 21 January 2023

Mous Lamrabat. Too Moroccan, Too European.

"as a child of first generation immigrants, there is always a point in your life where you feel like you don’t fit in anywhere; not in the country you were born in nor in the country you were raised in. i felt like i was too moroccan to fit in as a belgian and too european to fit in as a moroccan, and this is something that almost every immigrant has to deal with. wherever you want to live on this planet, you will always feel like an outsider...

... as a result, we do our very best to be accepted and to be “normal”, consciously or subconsciously. luckily, at some point, i didn’t want to do that anymore. i started questioning (and still do till this day) the concept of “normal” and all the standards and rules that society imposed on us. since then, everything changed for me: the way i look at things, the way i act, the way i work, the way i think creatively… my work is a big basket of things that interest me and that mean something to me on a deeper level. so, since i grew up in europe and lived day in and day out in a super-traditional house hold, playing basketball, listening to hip-hop, watching cartoons… these are the things that made me who i am and this is the person you see within my work. morocco is an important and influential place for me as well because when i needed to think a lot about what i actually wanted to do or be, i spent 4 months in morocco and everything came together. i realized there is not a “right” way to do things. you need to know what the right way is for you!"
Mous Lamrabat

"I see it [representing the Middle East] as my responsibility. I’ll do a lot for the North African, African, Arab world because I am all of these. My main goal is to unite people. That was the cool thing about my first exhibition, it had all colours and ages. I was putting very loud music every weekend in the exhibition. Sometimes young Moroccan women were dancing and all these other people were just so intrigued. They were clapping and sometimes they’d even join in. Seeing all these people unite in the space that I created made me wish that I could have an exhibition that spread all over the world – just to imagine that effect."
Mous Lamrabat

"We as Arabs/North Africans/Muslims are not represented in a good way. So yeah, I want to show a new side of us that is new for the West, and maybe even to ourselves. Putting all these different cultures together attracts a bigger audience because a lot of different minorities and majorities recognize something familiar in the images. So, when I have an exhibition, I really enjoy seeing all these cultures, colors, and ages coming together for something that I created for them. It makes me feel like a kid with divorced parents trying to get them back together."
Mous Lamrabat

"At some point, I was just a fashion photographer. I was just doing what people asked of me. So, I took an eight-month break. No photography – just letting it happen. All of a sudden it was right there in front of me. I had been doing it since I was a teenager. This is me. This is what I should do – show that we can be one person with different identities."
Mous Lamrabat

Asked about growing up as a Moroccan-Belgian living in-between two worlds and how it first came to him to merge his two cultural backgrounds together: "I think I started mixing the two when I started looking for my own DNA. I didn’t know which one to choose. Should I go more towards the West and do fashion photography like everybody else, or should I start shooting more documentary-style photos in places that are close to me like Morocco? After a long period of thinking I decided I didn’t want to choose between the two! So, I just did both, simply because I love doing both."
Mous Lamrabat

"I have a soft heart. When I have to create an editorial, I really can’t ignore what’s going on in the world. I want to create images that we’d be proud of 10 years later. For me, that’s the best part about being a fashion photographer – anything could be fashion, and you could use that. Racism is something that I’m very sensitive to because I’ve experienced it. I used to live in a city that was quite racist, and I saw a lot and I’ve been through a lot. As for women, I think that women are super beings. I have a lot of women in my life, with have five sisters and my mom. I think that’s the reason why I’m quite sensitive to and respect women. As for our religion, well, it’s tough. I don’t know who did the ‘marketing plan’ of not counting Arabs or Muslims as equals with the rest of the world, but that’s still the case. For example, if you see an Arab country being bombed and people dying, the reactions aren’t always the same as if it were a Western country. I think there’s a mentality where they think that, in Arab countries, people are ‘used to it’. Is an Arab life or a Muslim life not worth as much as any other?"
Mous Lamrabat

"i do believe in the concept of cultural appropriation but it also depends on why you are doing it. if it's for your own benefit i think it’s a definite no-go. but, if you are interested in different cultures and you visit these places and you create something with the people that are a part of said culture without any commercial intent behind it… then i feel like it’s genuine interest rather than cultural appropriation. the commercial part is a big factor for me here. but that’s personal, everybody draws their own line."
Mous Lamrabat

"you’ve been a vocal supporter of the black lives matters movement. in your opinion, how relevant is that movement to the rest of the world and why? this shouldn’t even be a question. the blm movement is super relevant… as relevant as the air we breathe. it may sound a bit corny, but everyone should be treated equal. no matter who, what, where, how... even if it felt like a flaw growing up, not to be “normal” (or white in my case), i’m blessed, and after all these years i can say: “i’m very happy and i’m very lucky that i’m a person of colour”."
Mous Lamrabat

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photographs by Mous Lamrabat via and via and via 

Thursday 19 January 2023

Mous Lamrabat. His Photography, the "Orient", the West, and the Third Culture.

Moroccan-Belgian photographer and "third-culture kid" Mous Lamrabat "fuses his North African background with western references" (via). Inspired by the identity crises he had coming from many places at once and growing up with and between two worlds and, at the same time, in a third culture, in his work, he blends the lines between cultures. Lamrabat turns the crises of identity into an opportunity for beauty (via and via and via).

"i also like to connect different parts of the world, namely the “west” and the “orient” because i’m both. as a kid, i loved wearing djellabas and rocking them with my jordan sneakers. it felt “cool” at that time because that’s who i was: a mixture of identities. doesn’t it make sense that your “idea-basket” gets larger when you live in different cultures or you live in multiple places in the world?"
Mous Lamrabat

Asked what aspect of western culture he would eliminate if he could: "this is a dangerous question but i’ll try to be as honest as possible. i traveled many times and to many places around the world and the thing that bothers me most, is when i see europeans in foreign countries looking at the locals’ way of living as though it’s not normal. everybody on this planet has their own “normal” and that’s what’s most interesting about our planet. so, if i can eliminate something it would be that western people should stop acting like their way is the best way."
Mous Lamrabat

... and what aspect of "oriental" culture he would eliminate: "it's sad to say but there is a lot of racism within the oriental culture. not towards other continents but more within. i can’t say what the source of this racism is, but it's painful to see that there is no unity within this big region. we would be one of the strongest and richest part of the world."
Mous Lamrabat

Asked if westernisation was a positive or negative thing: "i thought about it a lot and i must say that i’m not a fan. who are “we” to say that our way is the best way and how the whole world should function? i’m more interested in getting to know different ways/systems of living instead of only knowing one, because i really don’t believe we were put on this planet to work hard all our life to pay off debts. i would love to visit another planet one day to see what their way is."
Mous Lamrabat

"The West gives you the feeling that you are different but that’s fine. It’s good. I have two worlds that I live in and, as a creative, it’s the best thing that you can have. This is what I try to promote in my work for the next generations. Don’t sell yourself out just to be accepted more. Crafting that individuality can be hard. Take social media. It can feel like it’s trying to shape one person, one identity. The more you practice that way of thinking, the more it becomes normal. Then you have this big group of people who think the same, look the same, are the same."
Mous Lamrabat

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photographs via and via 

Wednesday 11 January 2023

The Fortunate American Woman And Some More Phyllis Schlafly Quotes

Phyllis Schlafly, née Phyllis Stewart, was a US-American political activist opposing the women's movement and the Equal Rights Amendment, who was convinced that ...

"American women are so fortunate. When I got married, all I wanted in the world was a dryer so I didn't have to hang up my diapers. And now women have paper diapers and all sorts of conveniences in the home. And it is the man and the technology that has made the home such a pleasant place for women to be."
Phyllis Schlafly

"Suppose the pay gap between men and women were magically eliminated. If that happened, simple arithmetic suggests that half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate."
Phyllis Schlafly

"What I am defending is the real rights of women. A woman should have the right to be in the home as a wife and mother."
Phyllis Schlafly

"Feminism is doomed to failure because it is based on an attempt to repeal and restructure human nature."
Phyllis Schlafly

"I think the main goal of the feminist movement was the status degradation of the full-time homemaker. They really wanted to get all women out of the homes and into the workforce. And again and again, they taught that the only fulfilling lifestyle was to be in the workforce reporting to a boss instead of being in the home reporting to a husband."
Phyllis Schlafly

"A lot of people don't understand what feminism is. They think it is about advance and success for women, but it's not that at all. It is about power for the female left. And they have this, I think, ridiculous idea that American women are oppressed by the patriarchy and we need laws and government to solve our problems for us."
Phyllis Schlafly

"Sex education classes are like in-home sales parties for abortions."

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photograph via

Monday 9 January 2023

Phyllis Schlafly's Campaign Against the Equal Rights Amendment

Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) - one husband, six children, sixteen grandchildren - founded the STOP (Stop Taking Our Privileges) ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) campaign after Congress passed the amendment in 1972 aiming to protect so-called family values and women since the ERA would deprive them of the special privileges. 
When you make the laws apply equally to men and women, you end up taking away many of the rights that women now have.

Schlafly's campaign fought until the final ERA deadline in 1982 and Schlafly continued expressing her stance throughout her life opposing the "radical feminist movement" that was reversing gender roles, forcing women to abandon their traditional roles, encouraging same-sex marriages, unisex bathrooms, women in combat, and taxpayer-funded abortions, threatening families, and the dignity of women's role of homemakers, forcing them to join the paid workforce, eliminating Social Security benefits for widows and homemakers, abolish child support and alimony laws (via and via).

From a pamphlet:
“ERA will invalidate all state laws which require a husband to support his wife. ERA will impose on women the equal (50%) financial obligation to support their spouses (under criminal penalties, just like husbands). ERA will impose on mothers the equal (50%) financial obligation for the financial support of their infant and minor children. ERA will deprive senior women, who have spent many years in the home as wife and mother, of their present right to be supported by their husbands and to be provided with a home.”“ERA will make women subject to the draft on an equal basis with men in all our future wars. ERA will make women and mothers subject to military combat and warship duty.”“ERA will deprive women in industry of their legal protections against being involuntarily assigned to heavy-lifting, strenuous, and dangerous men’s jobs, and compulsory overtime.”“ERA is a fraud. It pretends to improve the status of women but actually is a big takeaway of the rights women now possess.”

Interestingly, ...
Schlafly’s opposition to the ERA was unique for its aggressive disdain for feminism and its political savvy. But it revealed an older tension that gripped women’s organizing since the late 19th century. Before and after the passage of the 19th Amendment, many feminists wondered if legally mandated equality actually served poor and working-class women since these measures could potentially undo hard-fought protections that acknowledged women’s disadvantaged position in the workplace and the home. (Wiesner & Mellon, 2020)
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photograph of Phyllis Schlafly (copyright Underwood Archives, UIG, Everett Collection; Warren K. Leffler) via 

Friday 6 January 2023

What Muslims and Atheists Have in Common

For a study on discrimination based on religious affiliations, researchers sent emails to 45.000 school principals in 33 states in America. What all emails shared was that they pretended being written by a family new to the community. What they differed in was the belief system which was communicated through a faith-oriented quote in the signature: Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or atheist. The basic version asked for a meeting to learn more about the school, a second version looked for a school right for their beliefs, a third one asked about accommodation of religious needs at school, and there was a control email with no religious expression at all.

No response was explicitly negative. However, the lack of responses indicated a clear pattern. About half of emails got a response, those signalling affiliation with Islam or atheism (which was indicated by a quote attributed to the prophet Muhammad or to the atheist Richard Dawkins), however, were ca. 5 percentage points less likely to receive a response compared to the control mails.

Religious bias in response to a routine inquiry from a public school official, amounting to a 5 to 13 percent lower chance of response, reflects substantial evidence of bias.
Steve Pfaff

Mails suggesting that their schools might have to accommodate religious requests from parents led to the following reactions: The probability of a response declined by 13 percentage points for atheists, 9 percentage points for Mulism, 7.8 percentage points for Catholics and 5.5 percentage points for Protestants.

The findings were evidents nationwide, whether an urban or rural, a diverse or homogeneous community, no matter what geography or political ideology (via).

Abstract: Although public administration scholars have long studied discrimination on the basis of race/ethnicity, class, and gender, little to no research exists on whether street-level bureaucrats provide differential services based on the religious identity of their constituents. This article reports the results from a large-scale correspondence study of street-level bureaucrats in the American public school system. The authors emailed the principals of a large sample of public schools and asked for a meeting, randomly assigning the religious (non)affiliation of the family. To get at potential causal mechanisms, religious belief intensity was also randomly assigned. The findings show evidence of substantial discrimination against Muslims and atheists on a par with, and sometimes larger than, the racial discrimination found in previous studies. These individuals are substantially less likely to receive a response, with discrimination growing when they signal that their beliefs are more intense. Protestants and Catholics face no discrimination unless they signal that their religious beliefs are intense. (Pfaff et al., 2020, literally)

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- Pfaff, S., Crabtree, C., Kern, H. L. & Holbein, J. B. (2020). Do Street-Level Bureaucrats Discriminate Based on Religion? A Large-Scale Corespondence Experiment among American Public School Principals. Wiley Online Library.
- photograph "God Inc." by Carl De Keyzer (Daytona Beach, 1990, Magnum Photos) via