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Tag Archives: Society

Do meditators annoy you? Try meditating

Nothing seems guaranteed to spark an explosion of schadenfreude, in the world of psychology, like a new piece of research suggesting meditation might be hogwash. The latest, a review of 54 existing studies, found that mindfulness did little to boost compassion or empathy – and that other activities, such as watching a nature documentary, might help as much. (“Mindfulness No Better Than Watching TV,” ran the gleeful headline on a post by neurologist Steven Novella.)

https://amp.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/mar/23/chill-out-meditators-annoying-oliver-burkeman

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Posted by on April 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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The town that’s found a potent cure for illness – community

It could, if the results stand up, be one of the most dramatic medical breakthroughs of recent decades. It could transform treatment regimes, save lives, and save health services a fortune. Is it a drug? A device? A surgical procedure? No, it’s a newfangled intervention called community. This week the results from a trial in the Somerset town of Frome are published informally, in the magazine Resurgence & Ecologist. (A scientific paper has been submitted to a medical journal and is awaiting peer review). We should be cautious about embracing data before it is published in the academic press, and must always avoid treating correlation as causation. But this shouldn’t stop us feeling a shiver of excitement about the implications, if the figures turn out to be robust and the experiment can be replicated.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/21/town-cure-illness-community-frome-somerset-isolation

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2018 in Europe

 

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Investeren in kinderobligaties

Er is iets vreemds aan de hand met de lichting jong volwassenen die geboren is tussen grofweg 1980 en 2000. Het is de meest intensief opgeleide generatie ooit. Niet eerder in de geschiedenis heeft een geboortecohort zoveel onderwijs genoten en zoveel diploma’s gehaald. Volgens de logica van de kenniseconomie zou zich dat moeten uitbetalen. In hogere salarissen, bijvoorbeeld, in robuuste banen en groeiende welvaart. Maar gelegd langs die meetlat zijn ze slechter af dan hun ouders en grootouders. ‘Iedere autoriteit, van moeders tot presidenten, heeft millennials op het hart gedrukt zo veel mogelijk menselijk kapitaal te verzamelen’, schrijft Malcolm Harris in zijn zojuist verschenen Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials. ‘En dat hebben we gedaan. Maar de markt heeft zich niet aan zijn kant van de afspraak gehouden. Wat is er gebeurd?’

Inderdaad, wat is er gebeurd? Hoe kan het dat, ook in Nederland, de arbeidsproductiviteit nog altijd een stijgende lijn vertoont, maar dat de gemiddelde beloning per werknemer is gestagneerd? De miljoenenvraag is, letterlijk, wie hier de extra winst opstrijkt. ‘Het aantal vaste arbeidscontracten neemt af ten gunste van andere baansoorten’, zo luidt de verklaring van het cbs bij deze

https://www.groene.nl/artikel/investeren-in-kinderobligaties

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2018 in Reportages

 

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Post-work: the radical idea of a world without jobs

Work is the master of the modern world. For most people, it is impossible to imagine society without it. It dominates and pervades everyday life – especially in Britain and the US – more completely than at any time in recent history. An obsession with employability runs through education. Even severely disabled welfare claimants are required to be work-seekers. Corporate superstars show off their epic work schedules. “Hard-working families” are idealised by politicians. Friends pitch each other business ideas. Tech companies persuade their employees that round-the-clock work is play. Gig economy companies claim that round-the-clock work is freedom. Workers commute further, strike less, retire later. Digital technology lets work invade leisure.

In all these mutually reinforcing ways, work increasingly forms our routines and psyches, and squeezes out other influences. As Joanna Biggs put it in her quietly disturbing 2015 book All Day Long: A Portrait of Britain at Work, “Work is … how we give our lives meaning when religion, party politics and community fall away.”

And yet work is not working, for ever more people, in ever more ways. We resist acknowledging these as more than isolated problems – such is work’s centrality to our belief systems – but the evidence of its failures is all around us.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jan/19/post-work-the-radical-idea-of-a-world-without-jobs

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2018 in Reportages

 

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As robots take our jobs, we need something else. I know what that is

Why bother designing robots when you can reduce human beings to machines? Last week, Amazon acquired a patent for a wristband that can track the hand movements of workers. If this technology is developed, it could grant companies almost total control over their workforce.

https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/07/robots-jobs-salaried-work-society-unpaid-george-monbiot

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Moralism and the Arts

It is hard to imagine admiring art that espouses child abuse, racial hatred, or torture. But just as we should not condemn a work of art because of the artist’s private behavior, we should also be careful about applying norms of social respectability to artistic expression.

NEW YORK – Chuck Close is an American artist, famous for painting large portraits. Severely paralyzed, Close is confined to a wheelchair. Former models have accused him of asking them to take their clothes off and of using sexual language that made them feel harassed. This behavior prompted the National Gallery in Washington, DC, to cancel a planned show of Close’s work. And Seattle University has removed a self-portrait by the artist from a university building.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/separating-art-and-artist-behavior-by-ian-buruma-2018-02

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Will tech giants move on from the internet, now we’ve all been harvested?

Much of the current hysteria about the technology industry is due to its highly ambiguous relationship with its users. Driven by the logics of both compassion and indifference, this relationship has always been erratic yet functional. These two clashing rationales, for example, allowed technology companies, frequently painted as Dr Evil, to claim the mantle of Mother Theresa. However, as the unresolved contradictions of these logics pile up, we can’t fail to notice the incoherence of the industry’s overall social vision.

The compassion story has some truth to it. Tech giants have pegged their business models on our ability to consume. Thus, their interests are somewhat aligned with ours: we need a paycheque to buy what’s being advertised. A charitable comparison might be to Henry Ford paying his workers enough to buy his cars; a less charitable might be to slave owners keeping slaves fed not to lose them to exhaustion. However, unlike Ford or slave owners, our tech moguls want someone else to fund their preferred solutions (eg the universal basic income).

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jan/28/morozov-artificial-intelligence-data-technology-online

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2018 in Reportages

 

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Belli e impossibili

“Credo che Will & Grace sia riuscito a educare il pubblico americano più di chiunque altro finora”, ha dichiarato John Biden nel 2012, parlando della più famosa serie tv con protagonisti omosessuali. Io ricordo una scena molto divertente in cui i due protagonisti maschi scherzano su un loro amico che è “un etero magro” e “un gay grasso”. Dietro quella battuta, però, si nasconde una realtà preoccupante: gli omosessuali maschi subiscono una fortissima pressione per quanto riguarda il loro aspetto fisico.

Nel documentario Dream boat, che segue cinque ragazzi in vacanza su una nave da crociera per soli uomini, l’indiano Dipanar, 32 anni, scopre in modo traumatico quanto sia spietato lo standard estetico a cui deve aderire.

Il ragazzo aveva accettato la sua omosessualità meno di due anni prima e la crociera era la sua grande occasione per trovare un’anima gemella. Si è preparato molto, tanto che sui fianchi morbidi si notano i segni di un dimagrimento fin troppo veloce. Ma le migliaia di ragazzi che affollano la nave – fisico scolpito, e per lo più bianchi – non sembrano neanche accorgersi di lui.

https://www.internazionale.it/bloc-notes/claudio-rossi-marcelli/2018/01/26/gay-belli-impossibili

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Life lessons from weightlifting: “strong women” are used to justify inequality

It is finally happening: I am becoming a strong woman. Not in every sense of the word – I’m still a squishy-hearted millennial snowflake marinated in political correctness. But these days I also go to the gym and chuck big bits of metal around.

Apparently I’m way behind the curve on this one. Trend watchers, and yes that is a real job, have been telling us for months that strength-training is the new craze among young and youngish women. For months, a great deal of presumably vital reporting has been done on how “strong is the new sexy”, with predictably patronising questions about what this really means for the moral and physical health of young women and thereby the nation: are these girls taking things too far? Do men really find muscular women attractive? Is this really empowering?

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/feminism/2018/01/life-lessons-weightlifting-strong-women-are-used-justify-inequality?amp

 

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Blade Runner 2049: A View of Post-Human Capitalism

How are capitalism and the prospect of post-humanity related? Usually it is posited that capitalism is (more) historical, and our humanity, inclusive of sexual difference, more basic, even ahistorical. However, what we are witnessing today is nothing less than an attempt to integrate the passage to post-humanity into capitalism. This is what the efforts of new billionaire gurus like Elon Musk are about; their prediction that capitalism “as we know it” is coming to an end refers to “human” capitalism, and the passage they talk about is the passage from  “human” to post-human capitalism. Blade Runner 2049 deals with this topic.

The first question to ask is: Why is the fact that two replicants (Deckard and Rachael) formed a sexual couple and created a human being in a human way, experienced as such a traumatic event, celebrated by some as a miracle and castigated by others as a threat? Is it about reproduction or about sex, i.e., about sexuality in its specific human form? The movie focuses exclusively on reproduction, again neglecting the big question: Can sexuality, deprived of its reproductive function, survive into the post-human era? The image of sexuality remains the standard one. The sexual act is shown from the male perspective, so that the flesh-and-blood android woman is reduced to the material support of the hologram fantasy-woman Joi created to serve the man: “she must overlap with an actual person’s body, so she is constantly slipping between the two identities, showing that the woman is the real divided subject, and the flesh and blood other just serves as a vehicle for the fantasy.“[1] The sex scene in the film is thus almost too directly “Lacanian” (in line with films like Her), ignoring authentic hetero-sexuality where the partner is not just a support for me to enact my fantasies but a real Other.[2] The movie also fails to explore the potentially antagonistic difference among androids themselves, that is, between the “real flesh” androids and an android whose body is just a 3D hologram projection. How does, in the sex scene, the flesh-and-blood android woman relate to being reduced to the material support of the male fantasy? Why doesn’t she resist and sabotage it?

http://thephilosophicalsalon.com/blade-runner-2049-a-view-of-post-human-capitalism/

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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