robertogreco + acceptance   28

The Brief Idyll of Late-Nineties Wong Kar-Wai
"In the summer of 1997 I was living in London, trying to figure out what to do with my life. I’d left college and had been in the city for a year, trying, like so many other twentysomethings, to write a novel. I’d given myself a year, but as the chapters took shape so did a curious tension about the way my life was playing out. Part of me was exhilarated and determined: I was writing about a country and people—my people—that did not exist in the pages of formal literature; I was exploring sexual and emotional boundaries, forming relationships with people who seemed mostly wrong for me, but whose unsuitability seemed so right; I was starting, I thought, to untangle the various strands of my cultural identity: Chinese, Malaysian, and above all, what it meant to be foreign, an outsider.

But the increasing clarity of all this was troubled by a growing unsettledness: I had imagined that the act of writing my country and people into existence would make me feel closer to them, but instead I felt more distant. The physical separation between me and my family in Malaysia, which had, up to then, been a source of liberation, now created a deep anxiety. All of a sudden I saw the huge gulf between the person I had been and the one I now was. In the space of just five or six years, university education had given me a different view of life, a different appreciation of its choices. My tastes had evolved, the way I used language had changed—not just in terms of syntax and grammar but the very fact that standard English was now my daily language, rather than the rich mixture of Malay, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Malaysian slang that I had used exclusively until the age of eighteen. I was writing about the place I was from, about the people I loved (and hated), but felt a million miles from them.

All around me, the world seemed to be repositioning itself in ways that seemed to mirror this exciting/confusing tension within me. Britain was in the grip of Cool Britannia fever, and London—multicultural, newly confident after the Labour Party’s victory in the elections—seemed to be the most exciting place on the planet, a city where minority groups of all kinds suddenly found their voice and artistic expression flourished alongside capitalism. On the other side of the world, where my family and friends lived, however, the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis had just erupted, bringing the previously buoyant economies of Southeast Asia to their knees. On the phone with my parents, I heard news of one friend after another who’d lost their job or business. A new anxiety lurked in the voices of all those I spoke to in Malaysia and elsewhere in the region: an unspoken fear of civil unrest, of anti-Chinese violence that inhabited the passages of our histories in times of crisis. These fears were not unfounded: less than a year later, in Jakarta, where my father worked at the time, widespread anti-Chinese riots led to the murders of over a thousand people and hundreds of incidents of rape and burning of Chinese-owned property and businesses. Stay where you are, don’t come back, various friends cautioned.

On TV, I watched the handover of Hong Kong to China after one hundred years of British colonial rule, a transition that felt at once thrilling and scary: the passing of a country from one regime to another, with no one able to predict how the future would pan out. My sister, who had recently moved to Hong Kong to find work, decided that it would change nothing for her, and that she would stay.

I sank deeper into the world of my novel. I sought refuge in a place where I was in control—but even there, things weren’t working out. My characters were all divorced from their surroundings, trying to figure out how to live in a world on the cusp of change. They fell in love with all the wrong people. They didn’t belong to the country they lived in. I wanted the novel to be an antidote to the confusion around me but it wanted to be part of that mess. I was exhausted by it and by the end of that year, abandoned the manuscript.

It was exactly at that time that Wong Kar-Wai’s Happy Together found its way into the art house movie theaters of Europe. That summer he had won the Best Director prize at Cannes for the film—the first non-Japanese Asian to do so—and I’d seen the movie posters in magazines: Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung sitting dreamily in the back of a car, their faces bathed in a hypnotic yellow light. I’d grown up with these actors, iconic figures in Asian pop culture. I’d seen all their movies, and like so many of my contemporaries, knew the words to all the Leslie Cheung songs, which still take up several gigabytes of memory on my iPhone. I’d seen and swooned over Wong Kar-Wai’s previous films, Chungking Express and Fallen Angels, as well as a curious early work called Days of Being Wild, set partly in the Philippines and also starring Leslie Cheung. I thought I knew what to expect from Happy Together. It turned out that I had no idea at all.

It’s impossible to describe the intense rush of blood to the head that I felt on seeing these two leading actors—young, handsome, but somehow old beyond their years—in the opening scene. They are in a small bed in a boarding house in Buenos Aires. They are far from home, wondering what to do with their lives, how to make their relationship work again. Within seconds they are making love—a boyish tussle with playful ass-slapping that morphs quickly into the kind of rough, quick sex that usually happens between strangers, not long-term partners.

It was the end of the twentieth century; I had watched countless European movies where explicit sex was so much a part of the moviemaking vocabulary that it had long since lost the ability to shock me. But the people in this film were not random French or German actors, they were familiar figures of my childhood, spitting into their hands to lubricate their fucking.

The two men are partners in a turbulent relationship with extreme highs and lows. They travel to Argentina—as far away from home as possible—to try and salvage what they can of their love. Their dream is to travel to see the Iguaçu Falls, a journey which takes on totemic qualities as the movie progresses and their relationship once again falters. They break up. Tony Leung takes a lousy job as a doorman at a tango bar; Leslie Cheung—promiscuous, volatile—becomes a sort of rent boy, though the precise nature of his relationships with other men is never clearly defined. (Over the years I’ve developed a resistance to remembering the characters’ names, wanting, I guess, to imagine that Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung were actually in a relationship.) Leslie drifts in and out of Tony Leung’s life, sometimes bringing his tricks to the bar where Tony works. From time to time they appear ready to get back together again, but they always miss their chance to connect—often in a literal sense, for example when one goes looking for the other, but goes into one door just as the other emerges from an adjacent one.

Their relationship is a series of missed connections, but it is more tragic than two people simply being in the wrong frame of mind at the wrong time. It is impossible for the men to achieve intimacy because they are unable to carve out their place in the world—neither in Buenos Aires nor in Hong Kong, which is referred to often but never in comforting or nostalgic terms. Their new city is not welcoming, and neither is their home country. The same set of problems they escaped from home to avoid follow them to this strange foreign place. The Buenos Aires they inhabit is at once real and unreal, sometimes gritty, other times so dreamy it seems like an imagined city. The mesmerizing visuals that Christopher Doyle created for that film (and would carry into Wong Kar-Wai’s future works) make us feel as if the characters are floating through the city, incapable of affixing themselves to it.

Late in the film, a major new character is introduced—an innocent, uncomplicated young man from Taiwan played by Chang Chen, who works in the Chinese restaurant where Tony Leung has found employment. They form a close friendship, one that seems nourishing and stable. But Tony Leung is still preoccupied by Leslie Cheung, even though they are no longer together. Does Chang Chen feel more for Tony Leung than mere friendship? Almost certainly, he does. He goes to Ushuaia, the farthest point of the Americas, but Tony Leung chooses to remain in Buenos Aires. Those missed connections again: that impossibility, for Tony Leung at least, to figure out how he truly feels because he is too far from home, cut off from his points of reference. That intense separation should have brought him objectivity; he should have gained clarity of thought and emotion. Instead his feelings remain trapped in a place he wants to leave behind, but is unable to forget.

In the closing scenes, Tony Leung finally manages to leave Buenos Aires and travels not to Hong Kong but Taipei. He goes to the night market where Chang Chen’s family runs a food store. Chang Chen isn’t there, he is still traveling the world. “I finally understood how he could be happy running around so free,” Tony Leung says in his low, sad, matter-of-fact voice-over. “It’s because he has a place he can always return to.”

When I think of that period in 1997, when I couldn’t walk down the street or fall asleep without seeing Tony and Leslie dancing the tango in a squalid kitchen, or hearing Caetano Veloso’s featherlight voice hovering over ravishing images of the Iguaçu Falls—I can’t help but think that we were in a short era of innocence before the complicated decades that lay ahead. The Hong Kong that Wong Kar-Wai refers to in that movie no longer exists. The film’s original title is 春光乍洩, which means the first emergence of spring sunshine—or, more idiomatically, a glimpse of something intimate. But perhaps it refers also to that brief moment of openness and… [more]
wongkar-wai  tashaw  film  memories  memory  place  belonging  home  1990s  1997  2019  youth  identity  storytelling  unsettledness  separation  malaysia  education  highered  highereducation  langauge  english  malay  cantonese  mandarin  chinese  malaysian  change  innocence  london  capitalism  jakarta  southeastasia  hongkong  china  tonyleung  lesliecheung  chunkingexpress  happytogether  fallenangels  daysofbeingwild  buenosaires  relationships  intimacy  families  connection  nostalgia  comfort  cities  taiwan  changchen  taipei  vulnerability  openness  acceptance  victimization  divisiveness 
10 days ago by robertogreco
Almost All the Colleges I Wanted to Go to Rejected Me. Now What? - The New York Times
"There’s a greater delusion here. We’re often encouraged to imagine our society as an egg-sorting machine: jumbo, extra-large, large, medium (and then the sizes that don’t show up in the supermarket: small, peewee). We’re drawn to the idea that the rewards of social life — money, esteem, opportunities at college and then, later, at work — are determined by talent and dedication. In this picture, everyone can be ranked on a scale of how meritorious they are. True, we can complicate that picture a little and acknowledge that skills are various; that one person might be a fine mathematician and another a fine musician. But even if you had multiple scales for multiple skills, you would find that the vast majority of us aren’t great at anything. A person can only be at the top if there are lots of people ranged below.

If your self-worth is tied to being better than others, then, you’re headed for trouble. Your classmate in the honors program can feel inadequate compared with a higher-performing classmate in that program, who can feel inadequate compared with a still-higher-performing classmate and so on up the line. They could all walk around in a state of dejection. But that would be an ethical error. Why ethical? Because ethics, in its classical sense, concerns itself with what makes a life go well.

In the end, what matters isn’t how we rank against others. (Though my hunch is that you’re the only student at your school to be published in The New York Times this week!) You started out with a bundle of talents and interests unlike anyone else’s — yes, even if you have an identical twin. Your life so far has allowed you to develop some of them and to take up projects that you are committed to: Maybe it’s playing the guitar decently, writing a short story, serving the needs of the less well off in your community, being a good Christian or Muslim. Maybe your aim right now is simply being a good friend, taking genuine pleasure in the good fortune of those you care about. “What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?” Dorothea asks in George Eliot’s “Middlemarch.”

You may acquit yourself, in these various endeavors, better or worse than another person, but nobody else is trying to do exactly the things you are trying to do with exactly the developed talents you have. Because we all come equipped with different capacities and have been born into different circumstances, and because we choose our own projects, each of us faces his or her own challenge, one that is, like you, unique. You have, as the great German thinker Johann Gottfried Herder once put it, your own measure.

The goal, therefore, isn’t to be the best; it’s to do your best. And don’t think this lets you off the hook. To become a better version of yourself is quite demanding enough. The 18th-century Hasidic rabbi Zusha is supposed to have said that when he died and appeared before the heavenly court, they could ask him, “Why were you not as great as Abraham?” and he wouldn’t be afraid; after all, he wasn’t given Abraham’s intellectual gifts. They could ask him, “Why weren’t you Moses?” and he wouldn’t be afraid; he didn’t have Moses’ skills as a leader. The question that frightened him was this: “Why weren’t you Zusha?” The scholar Martin Buber, writing in the past century, called this the “question of questions.”

I’ve talked about delusions. Here’s what’s true: Lots of things that happen to you — a good number of which will be a matter of sheer luck — will affect the life you make. But what will make your life a good one, along with luck, is a willingness to run with the opportunities that come your way.

Mourning all the things that didn’t turn out in your college-admissions season, you say that you can’t see yourself thriving in any school that has accepted you. Don’t trust that intuition for a moment. If acceptance from elite colleges is hard, self-acceptance can be harder.

Take up that question of questions. Think about what you can do with the opportunities you have, like going to a good college near home. If you do the work, make friends and enjoy reasonable luck there, you’ll come away from the college enriched and ready for the next phase of your life. So seize the day. The race you’re running has only one competitor, and it’s you."
colleges  universities  admissions  collegeadmissions  2019  kwameanthonyappiah  education  highered  highereducation  meritocracy  sorting  ranking  hierarchy  ethics  inequality  selectivity  personhood  acceptance  elitism  self-acceptance  delusions  measurement 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Welcome to Red Sauce America - Bon Appétit
"From chicken parm to clams casino, this is our celebration of the Italian-American restaurants we love.

The oversize portions. The red-and-white-checked tablecloths. A carafe of the house red. Old-school Italian-American restaurants, a.k.a. red sauce joints, are the kind of institutions you’ll find, with very few deviations, in just about any city in America. But as we discovered upon reaching out to dozens of writers, chefs, and celebrities, these restaurants are about a lot more than a plate of penne alla vodka. Whether or not you’re Italian, red sauce likely means something to you—about family, or home, or history, or politics, or class, or citizenship, or selfhood, or otherness, or all the above, or a million other things. And that’s what this package is all about. Welcome to Red Sauce America."

["A Home Is More Than a House. Sometimes It’s Also a Red Sauce Restaurant
The longer I live in Los Angeles, the more I try to find places where I feel like a thread in the fabric of something bigger than myself. Enter: Little Dom's." by Roxane Gay
https://www.bonappetit.com/story/home-red-sauce-restaurant

"When Will American Chinese Food Get the Red Sauce Treatment?
I look at the way Italian Americans have progressed from a demonized immigrant group to an unquestioned part of the country’s fabric, and I think, Damn, I want that too." by Chris Ying
https://www.bonappetit.com/story/american-chinese-food-red-sauce-treatment

"Why I Take All My First Dates to Olive Garden
It starts with free wine samples, endless breadsticks, and keeping my expectations low." by Kristen N. Arnett
https://www.bonappetit.com/story/first-dates-olive-garden

"The Bizarre History of Buca di Beppo, America’s Most Postmodern Red Sauce Chain
How a Lutheran from central Illinois created a genre-defining Italian-American restaurant." by Priya Krishna
https://www.bonappetit.com/story/bizarre-history-buca-di-beppo ]
food  us  italianamerican  italian  brettmartin  roxanegay  hilarycadigan  mikesula  tylerkord  sarahjampel  chrisying  amielstanek  redsauce  gregelwell  priyakrishna  alizaabaranel  paulfreedman  cleopatrazuli  alexdelany  andrewknowlton  baoong  mylestanzer  madeleinedavies  clairecarusillo  lizcook  laurenlarson  mollybirnbaum  elyseinamine  jendoll  kellyconaboy  emilyschultz  brettewarshaw  alexbeggs  bobbyfinger  ericginsburg  sarahcascone  traciemcmillan  melissamccart  giuliamelucci  marissaross  careypolis  kristenarnett  maggielange  alexpemoulie  christianelauterbach  amandashapiro  emmastraub  virginiawillis  andreknowlton  oldschool  sanfrancisco  losangeles  immigration  acceptance  families 
april 2019 by robertogreco
An Official Welcome - The New York Times [California Today]
"I’m a California native — born at U.C.L.A. Medical Center. But when I was 2, my dad got a good job in Kansas City, so my parents packed up and left the place where they grew up for the Midwest.

Now, I understand it for the smart career move that it was. For the 10 years we lived outside the Golden State, though, I only ever wanted to go back.

Whenever we’d fly into LAX to visit my grandparents and my cousins, it felt like coming home for reasons I couldn’t really articulate.

Part of it was that in Kansas, I never quite forgot that I looked different from my tawny-headed classmates, who sometimes asked if I was Chinese. That was hurtful only because it underscored that I’d never be like them at an age when I just wanted to fit in.

My mom is Japanese-American and my dad is of Russian Jewish descent. And in California, I felt like I could be just another face in the crowd — whether we were at an udon restaurant with my mom’s parents in Gardena or the West Hollywood comedy club where my paternal grandmother worked.

I share this because it captures the peculiar magic of California for me.

[image: "Out on one of my favorite assignments: Squid fishing off the Orange County coast in 2013. [photo by] Don Leach"]

We eventually moved back, to the Mission Viejo area. Then I went to college at U.C. Berkeley and worked in Bakersfield, Orange County and Los Angeles as a reporter. During that time, I learned California is a place that’s impossible to explain, to encapsulate in any one way.

But it’s a place where almost anyone can feel at home.

And that’s what I want California Today to help you feel. I want you to look forward to opening the newsletter every morning, knowing that you’ll start the day understanding your state a little better, even if it’s boundless.

To achieve this, we’ll be rethinking the newsletter from greeting to kicker. You’ll notice us trying different formats and features."
california  multiculturalism  identity  kansas  orangecounty  californiatoday  2018  jillcowan  missionviejo  experience  home  place  ethnicity  inclusivity  acceptance 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magical Cures Hide a Cold Truth - The Atlantic
"As a child I found these books fascinating, suggesting as they did a conspiracy of adults manipulating children’s every move. Now, as a mother of four, I find them even more fascinating, because it turns out that the conspiracy is real. Parents do constantly conspire with a bevy of licensed and unlicensed advisors—relatives, friends, doctors, teachers, social-media strangers, even representatives of the state. What all these people promise is what Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle provides: conformity. It’s something so unnatural that it can only happen through magic, and yet it’s what’s expected of children, then and now.

Much of this conformity is just common courtesy; no one wants to live in a world in which people don’t pick up their toys. But the conformity parents sometimes crave goes deeper than that, and the desperation of these books’ 1950s parents hasn’t gone away. My 21st-century children laugh at Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s picket-fenced planet, where Mrs. Brown does the mending while Mr. Brown smokes his pipe, and little Christopher Brown putting his elbows on the table incurs an intervention involving a trained pig (don’t ask). But the reality is that today, amid a middle-class panic about their families’ and their country’s future, there is intense demand for children’s conformity. It can be hard to see just how much conformity is required until you have a child—or two, or four—who simply won’t comply.

For large numbers of children, for instance, sitting in a cinderblock box for six hours a day is an awful way to learn. But it’s hard to appreciate just how awful it is until your child gets expelled from preschool for being unable to remain in the room. You don’t think about how many questions your children ask when you read together until they get kicked out of the library story hour; you don’t realize how eagerly they explore nature until the arboretum ejects them for failing to stay in line on the trail. When your children achieve good grades, you are delighted, until you sit through the presentations where every child recites an identical list of facts about the country they “researched” on Wikipedia, and you realize what success is. You wonder why their assignments are so uninspired, until your answer arrives in the form of paperwork about multiday standardized tests. You wonder why your child who reads five novels weekly has been flagged for poor reading skills, until you discover that said child spends all assessment time reading under the desk.

You appreciate the need for children to develop patience, mastery, tolerance for boredom. But demand piles upon demand until it becomes a kind of daily war, as if this structure were specifically designed to destroy the very things that it purports to nourish. Your children soon meet other repeat offenders who frequent the principals’ and psychologists’ offices, children who sit on exercise balls and wear weighted vests in class to better constrain them, like characters from Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” dystopia. You observe as your children uncover, like video-game Easter eggs, your state’s various statutes that trigger ejection from class; soon even your kindergartner discovers that all he needs to do to leave the room is announce an urge to kill himself, a fact he then exploits at will. You don’t blame the schools for these essential interventions, but you can hardly blame your child either for wanting out, because clearly something is wrong. Your children love learning, reading, exploring, creating; at home they write books, invent board games, make up languages, build gadgets out of old coffee makers. They appear to have the makings of successful adults—they’re resourceful, independent, and interested in contributing something to the world. But the markers of success in children are in many ways the opposite of these markers of success in adulthood, and in the meantime—a long, decade-plus meantime—children are trapped in a kind of juvenile detention where success is defined by how well adults can manage them, the chief adult being you, the parent.

Through all this, the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggles proliferate. Some are relatives or trusted friends; others are professionals, teachers, therapists, doctors, all offering their chests of cures. Some of these cures actually work. But even when they work, you begin to wonder what it means for them to work, to wonder what you are not seeing when all the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggles see is a tattletale or a truant or a child covered in dirt, an aberration to be evened out, fixed, cured. This harrowing question brings you to the farthest edge of your own limitations as a parent, which is also the nearest edge of your child’s freedom. And then you understand that control is a delusion—that all you can do is what Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle never does, which is to love the people your children actually are, instead of the people you want them to be."
conformity  children  parenting  books  culture  society  manners  2018  darahorn  unschooling  deschooling  difference  compliance  fear  punishment  discipline  openstudioproject  lcproject  tcsnnmy  sfsh  success  standardization  standardizedtesting  standards  assessment  creativity  acceptance  cures  curing  freedom 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Gifted and Talented and Complicated - The New York Times
"Child prodigies are exotic creatures, each unique and inexplicable. But they have a couple of things in common, as Ann Hulbert’s meticulous new book, “Off the Charts,” makes clear: First, most wunderkinds eventually experience some kind of schism with a devoted and sometimes domineering parent. “After all, no matter how richly collaborative a bond children forge with grown-up guides, some version of divorce is inevitable,” Hulbert writes. “It’s what modern experts would call developmentally appropriate.” Second, most prodigies grow up to be thoroughly unremarkable on paper. They do not, by and large, sustain their genius into adulthood.

What happens to alter the trajectory of shooting stars like Follett? In “Off the Charts,” Hulbert attempts to capture the complicated lives of child prodigies without descending into voyeurism or caricature. She has tried to “listen hard for the prodigies’ side of the story,” to her great credit.

This is an arduous task, and it sometimes shows in the writing, which can be stilted in its reliance on quotes and documentation. But Hulbert’s diligence results in a surprising payoff: The best advice for managing a child prodigy may be a wise strategy for parenting any child, including the many, many nonbrilliant ones.

Hulbert, The Atlantic’s literary editor, wrote her last book, “Raising America,” about the tortured history of parenting advice. So she is appropriately wary of preachy morality tales. “My goal isn’t to pile on the stark cautionary fare. Nor am I aiming to crack some ‘talent code,’” she writes in the prologue for “Off the Charts,” to our great relief.

Instead, she tries to place each of the boys and girls featured in the book in a specific time and place; their celebrity reveals much about their particular moment in American history. For example, Bobby Fischer’s chess prowess might not have been impressive enough for adults to overlook his breathtaking egotism — but for the launching of Sputnik and America’s anxiety about creeping Soviet domination in education and science. One era’s prodigy is another’s anonymous misfit.

The book begins with the story of two gifted boys who attended Harvard at the same time, in the early 1900s. Norbert Wiener, a budding philosopher and mathematician, was 14, and William Sidis, a star in linguistics and mathematics, was only 11. They were not friends, which was a shame. Both suffered under the weight of their elders’ intellectual expectations, combined with the impossibility of fitting in as boys among men. They were told they were superior, but then punished if they acted like it. Their identities depended on superhuman smarts, which made any academic failure feel like a knife to the heart.

Wiener would struggle with depression for the rest of his life, but he did manage to eventually find professional fulfillment at M.I.T., where he helped invent the field of cybernetics. Sidis was not so successful; after fleeing a criminal charge related to a political protest, he did low-level accounting work in New York. He continued to alienate others with his stubborn arrogance before dying at 46 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

What would have helped these boys and the other struggling prodigies in this book? Maybe nothing. But after poring over their words and stories, Hulbert has concluded that they might all offer parents similar advice: Accept who they are.

That doesn’t mean protecting them from failure or stress; quite the opposite. “What they want, and need, is the chance to obsess on their own idiosyncratic terms — to sweat and swerve, lose their balance, get their bearings, battle loneliness, discover resilience,” Hulbert writes. Interestingly, this is the same advice contemporary psychologists tend to give to all parents, not just the parents of prodigies. Parents must hold children accountable and help them thrive, which is easier said than done; but if they try to re-engineer the fundamentals of their offspring, they will fail spectacularly, sooner or later. And this lesson is particularly obvious in the extremes.

“Extraordinary achievement, though adults have rarely cared to admit it, takes a toll,” Hulbert writes. “It demands an intensity that rarely makes kids conventionally popular or socially comfortable. But if they get to claim that struggle for mastery as theirs, in all its unwieldiness, they just might sustain the energy and curiosity that ideally fuels such a quest.”

The special challenge for prodigies is that they are exceptional in more ways than one. “Genius is an abnormality, and abnormalities do not come one at a time,” explains Veda Kaplinsky, a longtime teacher of gifted students, in Andrew Solomon’s “Far From the Tree,” a book that is cited by Hulbert. “Many gifted kids have A.D.D. or O.C.D. or Asperger’s. When the parents are confronted with two sides of a kid, they’re so quick to acknowledge the positive, the talented, the exceptional; they are often in denial over everything else.”

The very traits that make prodigies so successful in one arena — their obsessiveness, a stubborn refusal to conform, a blistering drive to win — can make them pariahs in the rest of life. Whatever else they may say, most teachers do not in fact appreciate creativity and critical thinking in their own students. “Off the Charts” is jammed with stories of small geniuses being kicked out of places of learning. Matt Savage spent two days in a Boston-area Montessori preschool before being expelled. Thanks to parents who had the financial and emotional resources to help him find his way, he is now, at age 25, a renowned jazz musician.

Interestingly, some prodigies may actually do better when their eccentricities are seen by loving adults as disabilities first — and talents second. Hulbert tells the story of Jacob Barnett, born in 1998, who withdrew into autism as a toddler in Indiana. His parents tried every form of therapy they could find, before finally discovering that he could be drawn out through his captivation with astronomy. His mother, Kristine, took him to astronomy classes at the local university — not to jump-start his genius but to help coax him back to life. “If I had stopped and let myself bask in the awe of Jake’s amazing abilities — if I had stopped to ponder how unusual he really is — I don’t think I could have been a good mother to him,” she explained.

The most vivid section of the book comes at the end, when Hulbert reunites with the musical prodigy Marc Yu, a decade after first interviewing him at age 6. With his mother’s support, Yu had tried to ease up on his musical career and live a more normal life, an approach that had worked for other prodigies, including the child actress Shirley Temple. But Yu found that the strategies that worked at the keyboard were useless in high school, where no amount of discipline and focus could make him cool. The adorable, joke-cracking boy she’d remembered had grown into a lonely teenager. “I always expected things to go my way,” Yu told Hulbert. “If I wanted it, I worked hard enough, I got it, and people loved me. That’s no longer true, and I feel I exist in the shadow of popular kids.”

Yu’s story reinforces one of Hulbert’s central, if unsatisfying, findings: Children’s needs change. If you think you’ve got a child figured out, you will be proved wrong momentarily. As Hulbert writes: “Prodigies offer reminders writ large that children, in the end, flout our best and worst intentions.” And adults always overestimate their own influence."
children  prodigies  2017  annhulbert  success  parenting  2018  sfsh  acceptance  psychology  resilience  loneliness  depression 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Close-Up on Alain Gomis's "Félicité" on Notebook | MUBI
"It has become something of a bitter joke to speak of “strong women” in film. Not because cinema has suddenly become flooded with portraits of a wide variety of women and we need not point out the lack of such roles anymore, but because the idea is so basic it’s almost dehumanizing to ask for. The underlying plea is: write a character that’s complex, contains multitudes, has or fights for their agency. Write a human, please. The idea also has become simplistically defined, where “strong” is reduced to physical strength or the ability to bear endless suffering. In this way, strong becomes defined by a status quo “masculine” norm: the formula enshrined since the likes of Odysseus, the epic hero getting it done on their own.

Where there’s room to grow a concept of strength, then, returns to the original call for complexity. What if strength wasn’t only measured in one’s individualistic capability—as everything from the American Dream to the base tenants of capitalism would lead us to believe—but rather in an ability to grow as humans outwards towards the world? Not to close ourselves off from it, but to have the bravery to interact with it? For me, this was the profound core of Alain Gomis’s latest film, Félicité.

Winner of the Berlinale Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize, Best Film at FESPACO, and setting a new record at the Africa Movie Academy Awards by taking home six statues, Félicité follows a nightclub singer of the same name (an unforgettable debut performance by Véronique Beya Mputu) in Kinshasa. Her life is one of a proud self-sufficiency, as she earns her living with the power of her incredible voice night after night in a small bar in the Congolese capital. When her son is in a horrific accident, however, Félicité’s way of being is sent into chaos: in short order, she has to raise the cash to pay for his operation. This leads to a tense societal procedural on the level of the Dardennes’, combined with elements of a city symphony dedicated to the vibrancy of Kinshasa, as Gomis shoots the street life with a doc-style realism.

While this plight could have been the crux of Gomis’s film, instead it becomes the bridge to Félicité’s growth. After her son returns home with an amputated leg, Félicité begins, slowly, to accept the company (and help) of her neighbor, Tabu (Papi Mpaka). Prone to the drink and a mediocre mechanic at best, Tabu offers a gentle kindness and acceptance of Félicité as she is. It’s this fact that he never demands her life be re-ordered around him that makes their relationship so unique.

Given so many narratives around single women are constructed on a search for a man, that Félicité’s narrative takes this turn might cause some to pause. Yet, Gomis’s story is not based societal expectations and pressures around marriage (indeed, Félicité and Tabu’s relationship is far from “conventional”), but rather a deep humanist impulse: to be with others. It’s not, then, that Félicité’s sole quest is to find a man, but instead that in living her life she crosses paths with someone who she chooses to be with.

It’s this element of choice that adds such depth to Félicité’s form of strength. Yes, her life in Kinshasa is in some ways a Sisyphean struggle to survive, but the film doesn’t wallow in her dire circumstances and instead celebrates the agency and beauty that exists all around her. (Gomis uses the stunning score by the Kasai All Stars and Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste to emphasize this.) Time and again, Félicité has proven she has the strength to do it alone, but Tabu’s presence shows this isn’t the only way—and to accept this alternate way of being requires the strength to be vulnerable.
No scene better highlights this than when Tabu offers to fix her perpetually malfunctioning fridge. With great theatrics, Tabu reveals his handiwork to Félicité and her son, relishing in his glory—though it’s short lived. The motor soon sputters and dies, and Félicité can’t contain her laughter, which Tabu and her son soon join in, too. It’s here that Gomis poetically states that Félicité relationship with Tabu isn’t one based in gendered expectations of “having a man around.” Instead, their love lies in such moments of laughter that recognizes the other as a human who can offer far more than material aid; someone who can offer that immeasurable quality of joyful tenderness that comes when you open up to another. And there’s no weakness in accepting that."
towatch  film  congo  kinshasa  drc  alaingomis  2017  vulnerability  strength  relationships  openness  gender  masculinity  individualism  capitalism  human  humanism  kindness  acceptance  society  convention 
december 2017 by robertogreco
When You Try to Change People That's Not Love, It's Domination | On Being
"In an interview conducted nearly thirty years ago, social visionary bell hooks had this to say about love and domination:
“I want there to be a place in the world where people can engage in one another.”


While hooks was discussing racial and gender representation in film, her statement can be broadly applied to relationships at home, in neighborhoods, in cities, and across whole societies.

To say “I want there to be a place in the world where people can engage in one another’s differences in a way that is redemptive” is to exercise one’s moral, social, and theological imagination. It is to pray and think expansively, imagining a world yet unborn into being. It is to recognize that difference need not be an occasion for brutality, but an occasion for mutual enhancement.

“I want there to be a place in the world” is the line poets, musicians, and storytellers utter before composing and what first-time parents pronounce while staring at their sleeping newborn: the desire to see one’s significant other or child or close friend given the space to flourish as themselves, not as someone else.

Qualifying “I love you” with “In order to love you, I must make you something else” is to use love as a pretext for domination, not as a springboard for generative companionship. To say, “In order to love you, I must make you something else” is to blur the good news that a loving God and community receive us as we are, not as we want to be or pretend to be. Much of Christian preaching and formation emphasizes the latter — the pretending — which feeds the pious-sounding quip:
“God loves you just the way you are, but too much to leave you that way.”


While well-meaning, that statement plays into the assumption that God will love us more as we become something or someone else.

Domination is the attempt to change others, recast them, remake them, possess them, control them. Domination is what took place in the Canadian residential schools. Masterminds of the schools thought they were being loving toward the indigenous people they enrolled, but they were actually practicing a logic of colonialist domination.

Domination is an uncreative, if convincing, imitation of love. Love says, “I receive you as you are and want to imagine a world in which you are received as you are,” exposing domination as a failure of imagination; love is imagination when it is given permission to meditate on endless possibility. Like planting a seed, watering it, and watching it become the tree you always knew it was. The seed isn’t being made into something else, but is living out its fullest potential, the way a sculptor discovers her subject in a block of stone. This is one way of seeing the life of love, or what the Rev. Marcus Halley calls “episodes of grace,” a series of moments in which we are awakened to the unique ways in which we are loved by God; not possessed, recast, or remade by God, but loved.

It is difficult for many of us to discern the difference between love and domination because so much of what we’ve been told was love throughout our lives was actually domination. This was apparent to me in a coffee shop conversation I had with a person who had recently disclosed to their closest family members that they are transgender. After two years of conversations with those family members, that person was given an ultimatum by a sibling:
“We will always love you, but either you allow us to refer to you by the pronouns and name we grew up using for you, or we will be forced to end our relationship with you.”


This friend went on to say that nothing hurt more in that conversation than their sibling’s “but.” “That single word negated every word that preceded it,” they said. The sigh of relief my friend needed to breathe would have come had they heard they are loved and received as they are, full stop. No caveats, fine print, or need to pretend that they are something that they aren’t.

When Christians celebrate and receive the presence of God in the bread and wine of Eucharist, we hear what my friend so desperately wanted to hear from their family. This doesn’t mean that my friend, or any of us, is looking to simply feel good about ourselves, but that we yearn to be fully known, seen, and loved.

Public theology is at its best when it creates the space necessary for people of various gender identities, religious affiliations and non-affiliations, ethnicities, and economic levels to be known as their full selves, not pushed into a mold not meant for them. It is being less concerned about finding surface-level common ground than about holding space for people’s unique experiences of divinity and humanity."
domination  authority  broderickgreer  2017  bellhooks  teaching  relationships  power  brutality  violence  love  colonialism  control  self  humanism  huamnity  diversity  acceptance  inclusivity  gender  transgender  marcushalley  christianity  difference 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Gratitude and a possibly inappropriate technological intervention (25 Aug., 2017, at Interconnected)
"I was reading Melanie Klein's Envy and Gratitude and Other Works (which I still haven't finished) and there's something about Kleinian gratitude which is crucial in developing the primal relationship between mother (the good object) and child. It is also the basis for the child perceiving goodness in others and herself.

Conscious gratitude seems to be more focused on the other (rather than a self-centred idea of being the cause of goodness or its reverse): developing gratitude might allow for greater capacity for appreciation, acceptance, and sharing of love.

Gratitude is inherently outwards looking. And surprisingly hard! It touches all kinds of other feelings like deservedness, and is easily corrupted with responses like entitlement.

So I was thinking: a habit of gratitude would be an interesting thing to foster. Gratitude being a component of prayer, I know, but I don't pray. So. I need to get it somewhere else.

Anyway.

We can fix this with technology. I know, I know. Forgive me.

What I do is I have a folder in Ulysses, which is a writing app I have on my iPhone (and I use for everything). The folder is called: What I Am Grateful For.

Please also forgive the ugly dangling preposition. It upsets me too.

In that folder are tons of notes. Each note has a date, and a line of text: the thing I am grateful for that day. Sometimes big, mostly small. Sometimes easy to observe, sometimes really, really difficult. Always interesting to note when I’m going through a phase where gratitude is a challenge to attain, and with what that correlates.

Back to the tech.

Once a day, at midday, I get a notification which says "What are you grateful for today?" I tap the notification, and a text box opens up on my phone. I type into the text box and it gets saves into the folder.

Here's how that bit of automation works:

• I use an app called Workflow which is like a way to link together different apps and program them in a flowchart sort of way

• I've written a particular workflow called "Grateful Daily" that does all the work of opening the text input box and saving it to Ulysses. You can get the workflow here. If you copy the workflow, you'll have to update the special Ulysses code bit to make sure it saves to the right folder

• Another app called Launch Center Pro is able to trigger workflows on a timer. I have it set to run Grateful Daily at midday

Cross-app automation is a nascent but interesting area. I'm finding myself able to do pretty complex workflows from my phone now (I also have a process to edit and deploy code, using multiple different apps). It's got a way to go as a pattern of user behaviour, but I'd like to see iOS or Android take automation more seriously. To see where it could go. It has a different nature to automation on PCs, and I think there's the opportunity for these automation scripts to unbind from the smartphone and move into the cloud (somehow). Maybe use a bit more intelligence too. Centaur automation.

Yeah but so: gratitude.

To receive - and to be open to receiving! - something which is good, and to take it that goodness and to internalise it, but to also appreciate the goodness itself, and its source and the source’s reasons. A tricky business.

I don't even pretend to have even half a handhold on Klein, or Kleinian gratitude, or hell even gratitude, but her words opened something in me. (Thanks!)"
mattwebb  2017  gratitude  melanieklein  technology  relationships  goodness  entitlement  prayer  spirituality  receptiveness  appreciation  acceptance  love 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Craig Mod en Instagram: “Today a shop worker spoke to me in Japanese from behind and I had the distinct sensation of being not myself. They spoke with a confidence…”
"Today a shop worker spoke to me in Japanese from behind and I had the distinct sensation of being not myself. They spoke with a confidence that rarely presents itself to you as a non-Japanese. They spoke Japanese as if they knew me and knew I would understand. The out of body feeling was a momentary blip, a spliced-in frame of me as no longer the other. I knew it wasn’t true — I knew I was still the me always and forever not looking the part. Regardless, it was nice to luxuriate in mutual deception if just for a moment."
japan  bilingualism  craigmod  cv  japanese  dualism  language  acceptance  infiltration  deception 
july 2017 by robertogreco
My Grandmother’s Shroud - The New York Times
"When my grandmother, my mother’s mother, died in late June in Nigeria, I was in Italy, at a conference. I wasn’t with her when she slipped into a coma or, three days later, when she died. When my brother told me the news, I called my mother and other members of my family to commiserate with them. She was buried the day of her death, in keeping with Muslim custom, and I couldn’t attend her funeral. My mother, visiting friends in Houston, would also miss the funeral.

I opened my computer and began to search my folders for pictures of my grandmother. On each yearly trip to Nigeria for the past several years, I went to see her in Sagamu, a town an hour northeast of Lagos, where she was born and where she lived for most of her life. On these visits, she would say: ‘‘Sit next to me. I want to feel your hands in mine. Be close to me. I want your skin touching mine.’’ I was always happy to sit with her and to hold hands with her. Afterward, I took photos. I have photos now of her alone, in selfies with me, in the company of my mother and my aunts. In these photos, she has surprisingly smooth skin, hardly any gray hair and, in most of them, a trace of amusement. In one, especially touching photo, my wife, Karen, applies polish to her nails.

To remain close to our dead, we cherish images of them. We’ve done so for millenniums. Think of the Fayum portraits, which show us the faces of Egyptians during the Imperial Roman era with stunning immediacy. Images — paintings, sculptures, photographs — remind us how our loved ones looked in life. But in most places and at most times, portraiture was available only to society’s elites. Photography changed that. Almost everyone is now captured in photographs — and outlived by them. Photographs are there when people pass away. They serve as reservoirs of memory and as talismans for mourning.

My grandmother was born in 1928. Her given name was Abusatu, but we called her Mama. Mama’s father, Yusuf, was a stern imam in Sagamu, and Yusuf’s father, Salako, was said to have been even more severe. But Mama herself was serene and good-natured, kind and tolerant. She was deeply consoled by her religion but not doctrinaire. Of her five daughters, two (including her firstborn, my mother) married Christians and converted to Christianity. It made no difference to Mama. The family had Muslims, Christians and some, like myself, who drifted away from religion entirely. Mama loved us all. An example of her unobtrusive kindness: While I was a college student in the United States, she sent me a white hand-woven cotton blanket. I never knew why and didn’t ask. But it is to this day the most precious piece of cloth I own.

I was leaving Rome when I received the sad news of Mama’s death. She was approaching 89. The end came swiftly, and she was surrounded by family. You could say it was a good death. But why couldn’t she have lived to 99, or to 109, or forever? Death makes us protest the fact of death. It makes us wish for the impossible. I could objectively understand that it was unusual to have had a grandmother in my 40s, and that my 67-year-old mother was equally fortunate in having had a mother so long. My father was 5 when his mother died, and he has been mourning her for longer than my mother has been alive. But the grieving heart does not care for logic, and it refuses comparisons. I mourned Mama as I left Italy for New York.

I mourned her but did not, or was not able to, weep. I arrived in New York in the late afternoon, perhaps at the very moment Mama was being interred. My mother had forwarded a couple of photos taken by my cousin Adedoyin to my wife’s WhatsApp. Karen reached for her phone and showed me the pictures. They were a shock. One was of Mama, dead on her hospital bed, wearing a flowery nightdress and draped in a second flowery cloth, the oxygen tube still taped to her nostrils. Her right arm was limp at her side, and she was not quite like someone asleep but rather like someone passed out, open and vulnerable. The other photograph, which seemed to have been cropped, showed a figure wrapped in a shroud, tied up with white twine, set out on a bed in front of a framed portrait: a white bundle in vaguely human shape where my grandmother used to be. I burst into sudden hot tears.

What did these photographs open? Imagination can be delicate, imposing a protective decorum. A photograph insists on raw fact and confronts us with what we were perhaps avoiding. There she is, my dear Mama, helpless on the hospital bed, and I cannot help her. Days later, I would find out from my mother that in this first photograph, Mama was still in a coma and not dead yet. But looking at the second photograph, the one in which she is incontrovertibly dead, my thoughts raced through a grim logic. I thought: Why have they wrapped her face up? Then I thought: It must be stifling under that thing, she won’t be able to breathe! Then I thought: She’s dead and will never breathe again. Then my tears flowed.

Mama’s life was hard. An itinerant trader of kola nut and later the owner of a small provisions shop, she was one of my late grandfather’s five wives and by no means the best treated. She never went to school, and the only word she could write was her name, sometimes with the ‘‘s’’ reversed. But when Baba died more than 20 years ago, Mama moved out of his house and lived in the two-story house that my mother built her. She was a women’s leader, a kind of deaconess, at the local mosque. She went to parties, to market and to evening prayers. She lived in the security of her own house, in the company of her widowed second daughter, my aunt. In those later years, life became easier.

‘‘She has a single obsession,’’ my mother used to say, ‘‘and that’s her burial rites.’’ Mama insisted that she be buried the same day she died. ‘‘She’ll say, ‘And I must not be buried at the house,’ ’’ my mother said, ‘‘ ‘Because what’s rotten must be thrown out. And for seven days, food must be cooked and taken to the mosque and served to the poor.’ ’’ And most important, my mother said, Mama would reiterate that in a cupboard in the room next to the meeting room in her house was her robe, the one she must be buried in. It was of utmost importance to her to meet her maker wearing the robe with which she approached the Kaaba, the holiest shrine in Islam.

The hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, which she undertook in 1996, when she was 68, transfigured my grandmother. Through that journey, through her accomplishment of one of the central tenets of Islam, she sloughed off her old life and took on a new one, one that put her into a precise relationship with eternity. The year of her journey, thousands of Nigerian pilgrims were turned back, because of meningitis and cholera outbreaks. My grandmother was one of a few hundred who got through. When she returned from Mecca, many of her townspeople took to calling her ‘‘Alhaja Lucky.’’ And as though to fit the name, she wore the serene mien of someone who was under special protection.

My mother, an Anglican Christian, financed the journey, knowing what it would mean to her mother to fulfill this final pillar of the faith. But possibly, she had no idea how much it would mean. She anticipated the social satisfaction Mama would get from it but had not counted on the serious existential confirmation it provided.

In the last few years, I often thought of Mama’s pilgrimage robe. I thought about how fortunate she was to have something in her possession so sacred to her, something of such surpassing worth, that she wished to have it on when she met God. And she had her wish: Beneath the plain white shroud in which she was sheathed after she died was that simple pilgrimage robe.

I look at the various photographs from Alhaja Lucky’s last years on my computer. None of them really satisfy me. Many are blurry, most are banal. I really like only the ones of her hands: They remind me of her wish to have her hands touched by mine. But the photograph I cannot stop thinking about is the one Adedoyin took, of Mama in her funeral shroud. The image reminds me of newspaper photos of funerals in troubled zones in the Middle East: an angry crowd, a shrouded body held aloft. But Mama was not a victim of violence. She died peacefully, well past the age of 88, surrounded by family.

Nevertheless, the custom is connected. It is a reminder that the word ‘‘Muslim’’ — so much a part of current American political argument, and so often meant as a slur — is not and has never been an abstraction, not for me, and certainly not for millions of Americans for whom it is a lived reality or a fact of family. A lead headline in The New York Times just a few days after Mama’s burial read: ‘‘Travel Ban Says Grandparents Don’t Count as ‘Close Family.’ ’’ The headline was about travel restrictions on visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries. Nigeria was not on the list, but the cruelty and absurdity of the policy was vivid. It felt personal.

On the night of Mama’s burial, I lay down to sleep in my apartment in Brooklyn. I couldn’t shake the image of my cousin’s photograph. I went into the closet and took out the white cotton blanket Mama sent me all those years ago. It was a hot night, high summer. I draped the blanket over my body. In the darkness, I pulled the blanket slowly past my shoulders, past my chin, over my face, until I was entirely covered by it, until I was covered by Mama."
2017  tejucole  photography  death  memory  nigeria  aging  relationships  hajj  islam  purpose  grief  mourning  grieving  customs  objects  textiles  immigration  us  policy  connection  families  tolerance  religion  acceptance  mecca  eternity  belief  spirituality  burial  life  living  change  transformation  talismans 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Second Sight - The New Yorker
"Movement in the margins is not enough. Regularity becomes invisible. You switch up the moves, you introduce irregularity, in order to maintain visibility."



"The neurons in the visual system adapt to the stimulus, and redirect their attention."



"Years later, I lost faith. One form of binocular vision gave way to another. The world was now a series of interleaved apparitions. The thing was an image that could also bear an image. If one of the advantages of irreligion was an acceptance of others, that benefit was strangely echoed in the visual plane, which granted the things seen within the photographic rectangle a radical equality. This in part was why signs, pictures, ads, and murals came to mean so much: they were neither more nor less than the “real” elements by which they were framed. They were not to be excluded, nor were the spaces between things. “We see the world”: this simple statement becomes (Merleau-Ponty has also noted this) a tangled tree of meanings. Which world? See how? We who? Once absolute faith is no longer possible, perception moves forward on a case-by-case basis. The very contingency and brevity of vision become the long-sought miracle."



"The stage is set. Things seem to be prepared in advance for cameos, and even the sun is rigged like the expert lighting of a technician. The boundary between things and props is now dissolved, and the images of things have become things themselves."



"The body has to adjust to the environment, to the challenges in the environment. The body isn’t wrong, isn’t “disabled.” The environment itself—gravity, air, solidity or the lack of it, et cetera—is what is somehow wrong: ill-matched to the body’s abilities, inimical to its verticality, stability, or mobility."



"I rest at a concrete outcrop with a bunting of vintners’ blue nets, a blue the same color as the lake. It is as though something long awaited has come to fruition. A gust of wind sweeps in from across the lake. The curtain shifts, and suddenly everything can be seen. The scales fall from our eyes. The landscape opens. No longer are we alone: they are with us now, have been all along, all our living and all our dead."
tejucole  2017  margins  edges  attention  regularity  everyday  irregularity  visibility  invisibility  acceptance  belief  vision  photography  borders  liminalspaces  perception  brevity  ephemerality  adjustment  adaptability  disability  stability  mobility  verticality  body  bodies  contingency  sign  pictures  ads  images  advertising  between  betweenness  stimuli  liminality  ephemeral  disabilities 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Toward Humane Tech — Medium
"If you make technology, or work in the tech industry, I have good news for you: we won."

"We’re not nerds, or outsiders, or underdogs anymore. What we do, and what we make, shapes culture and society, deeply influencing everything from artistic expression to policy and regulation to the way we see our friends, family and selves.

But we haven’t taken responsibility for ourselves in a manner that befits the wealthiest and most powerful industry that’s ever been created. We fancy ourselves outlaws while we shape laws, and consider ourselves disruptive without sufficient consideration for the people and institutions we disrupt. We have to do better, and we will.

While thinking about this reality, and these problems, I’ve struggled with all the different dimensions of the challenge. We could address our profound issues around inclusion and diversity but still be wildly irresponsible about our environmental impact. We could start to respect legal processes and the need for thoughtful engagement with policy makers but still be cavalier about the privacy and security of our users’ data. We could continue to invest in design and user experience but remain thoughtless about the emotional and psychological impacts of the experiences we create. We could continue to bemoan the shortcomings of legacy industries while exacerbating issues like income inequality or social inequity.

I’m not hopeless about it; in fact, if there’s one unifying value that connects everyone in tech, no matter how critical or complacent they may be, it’s an underlying vein of optimism. I want to tap into that optimism, but direct it toward making sure we’re actually making things better, and not just for ourselves.

So I’m going to start to keep some notes, about the functional, pragmatic things we can do to make sure our technologies, and the community that creates those technologies, become far more humane. The conversation about the tech industry has changed profoundly in the past few years. It is no longer radical to raise issues of ethics or civics when evaluating a new product or company. But that’s the simplest starting point, a basic acknowledgment that what we do matters and actually affects people.

We have to think about inclusion, acceptance and diversity, to start. We need to think deeply about our language and communications, and the way we express what technology does. We need to question the mythologies we build around concepts like “founders” or “inventions” or even “startups”. We need to challenge our definitions of success and progress, and to stop considering our work in solely commercial terms. We need to radically improve our systems of compensation, to be responsible about credit and attribution, and to be generous and fair with reward and remuneration. We need to consider the impact our work has on the planet. We need to consider the impact our work has on civic and academic institutions, on artistic expression, on culture.

I’m optimistic, but I think this is going to continue to require a lot of hard work over a long period of time. My first step is to start taking notes about the goal we’re working toward. Let’s get to work."
anildash  2016  technology  siliconvalley  inclusion  inclusivity  diversity  acceptance  gender  language  communication  compensation  responsibility  attribution  environment  privacy  security  inequality  incomeinequality  law  legal  disruption  culture  society 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Why Identity and Emotion are Central To Motivating the Teen Brain | MindShift | KQED News
"For years, common experience and studies have prescribed that humans learn best in their earliest years of life – when the brain is developing at its fastest. Recently, though, research has suggested that the period of optimal learning extends well into adolescence.

The flurry of new findings may force a total rethinking of how educators and parents nurture this vulnerable age group, turning moments of frustration into previously unseen opportunities for learning and academic excitement.

New evidence shows that the window for formative brain development continues into the onset of puberty, between ages 9 and 13, and likely through the teenage years, according to Ronald Dahl, professor of community health and human development at the University of California, Berkeley. Dahl spoke at a recent Education Writers Association seminar on motivation and engagement.

Adolescence is a tornado of change: Not only is it the period of fastest physical change in life – aside from infancy – but also newfound drives, motivations, and feelings of sexuality are amplified. There are profound shifts to metabolisms and sleeping cycles, as well as social roles – especially in the context of schools. During these years, motivation is propelled not by a tangible goal to work toward, but by a feeling of wanting and thirst. Within the tumult of pre-teens or teens is an opportunity to enhance their desire and interest to learn.

In the past decade, neuroscientists have been able to identify what makes the adolescent brain so geared for the kind of inquiry that can pay dividends in the classroom. As children enter adolescence, some developing neural systems have already stabilized, Dahl said. But puberty creates a whole new set of elastic neural systems that, when interacting with the already stabilized systems, offers unique windows of opportunity for engagement and experiencing the world around them in multiple ways.

“Adolescence is a perfect storm of opportunities to align these changes in positive ways,” Dahl said. “Learning, exploration, acquiring skills and habits, intrinsic motivations, attitudes, setting goals and priorities: There’s compelling need for transdisciplinary research to understand unique opportunities for social and emotional learning. But few people do it in fear of these challenges.”

These new scientific insights have large implications for how schools teach adolescents, which have traditionally viewed this age group as troublesome.

The feelings of acceptance, rejection, admiration, among others, are all the story of adolescence. Children in this age group also seek physical sensations and thrills. There’s heightened awareness of social status, especially as they realize that acts of courage can earn them higher social status among peers. Their wildly swinging neurological systems also mean that adolescents can readjust quickly – making those years critical for educators to engage students in “the right ways,” when the brain is learning to calibrate complex social and emotional value systems that use feelings as fast signals, Dahl said.

Contrary to common belief, children in this age range don’t actually have “broken brains.” Rather, these children are undergoing a profound update to how they process the world around them. Adolescents are often considered bad decision-makers who are thrill-seekers. These myths, however, stem from young people’s desire to display courage, which is valued across cultures — and adolescents constantly seek the emotional satisfaction of being admired. In fact, Dahl said that adolescents take risks to overcome their fears, not seek them out.

“[Adolescents] are learning about the complex social world they must navigate, including the hierarchies, social rules for gaining acceptance and status, and the mystifying discovery of a sexual self,” Dahl said. “This is a flexible period for goal engagement, and the main part of what’s underneath what we think about setting goals in conscious ways – the bottom-up-based pull to feel motivated toward things.”

Adding to the confusion over how best to respond to adolescents is a wave of research showing children around the world are entering puberty at younger ages. One report found that in the 1860s, puberty for girls began at age 16. In the 1950s, it occurred at 13. Today it’s closer to eight years old. The transition for boys is similar, according to the report. The earlier onset of these pronounced biological changes puts pressure on educators and parents to update their expectations for what it means to be young, and how youth plays into adulthood.

“This is an interesting potential opportunity, with the longer time to learn activated motivational systems, longer time to increase skills and develop patterns of developing knowledge,” Dahl said. “If kids grow up in opportune settings, they can take advantage of the scaffolding and freedom to go on to take adult roles. But the risks are probably more amplified than opportunities for kids in disadvantaged settings.”

It’s still unclear how the earlier development happening in children might create other sets of challenges, Dahl noted, but it’s evident that it’s a key development window of motivational learning, a time when the brain more intensely senses motivational feelings, strengthening the patterns of connections to heartfelt goals, and creates potential for deep, sustained learning.

This period of learning is exemplified by even the forbidden love of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The young couple is brought together by a single brief encounter, after which all mental processes of planning, goals, motivations, longing, and desire are transformed. They begin to obsess over reuniting, and would sacrifice anything – including comfort, safety, family, and friends – to be together again.

Without the context that adolescents’ motives can explode entirely by the spark of a single passion, Romeo and Juliet’s story would be one of utter insanity, Dahl said. But adolescents’ abilities to rapidly reshape motivations and goals both supports their emotional volatility as well as presents a key period to find love – not necessarily romantically for others, but for academic activities and goals.

“With the feelings that pull you to persevere, maybe [adolescence is] a particularly opportune time to fall in love with learning itself, to love that feeling of exploring,” Dahl said. “There’s a new window to create that ‘Yes!’ feeling.”"
emmelinezhao  teens  motivation  identity  emotions  2015  adolescence  teaching  education  change  brain  acceptance  rejection  admiration  ronalddahl  parenting  sleep  inquiry  exploration  learning  intrinsicmotivation  goals  priorities  goalsetting  socialemotional  socialemotionallearning 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Time to stand - All this
Thirty years ago, in the “1984” Macintosh commercial directed by Ridley Scott, a young woman smashed the big screen her fellow citizens were forced to watch and obey. You imagine them standing up and rebelling afterwards.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axSnW-ygU5g

Today, in the “Up” Apple Watch commercial seemingly directed by Stanley Milgram, a young woman docilely stands when a little screen strapped to her wrist tells her to.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8GtyB3cees ]
apple  2015  docility  screens  power  control  1984  via:ayjay  ridleyscott  capitalism  consumerism  obedience  stanleymilgram  advertising  revolution  acceptance 
may 2015 by robertogreco
FreeManLooking (with tweets) · safferz · Storify
[Previously: “I am a homosexual, mum”
http://africasacountry.com/i-am-a-homosexual-mum/ ]

[…]

“"I am in your hands" a text I sent when defeated by my defenses. Because I loved him. Loved him. Releasing 2 love is very very hard.

It took doctors to tell me I was near death to let myself text him and say I love you, and i release myself to you. Gay love! God?!

How do you love when the ground shifts over your feet every minute?

How do you love when you can't hold hands in a hospital room?

how do you love with your parents, cousins friends, unable to digest?

How do you love as a gay man except by defiance always? defiance or self destruction?

Africans important 2 discuss these things, human people really are all first just about loving before food, human rights, procreation.

people think sexuality is about having sex. So, then why don't you all give up sexual love,a and passion?

so much of our world here is about quick borrowed intimacy..sharing a bed with a man and being free when when u do not fuck.

people call u in tears and leave wives to come to you not for sex but because who else will understand? and u hold them all night.

When Ruto opens his mouth or of of those fucking hate bishops, gays change routes coming home on public transportation.

gays try hard to not show themselves, but all of them live in fear always, u relax for a few months and some shit happens in the news...

when Ruto speaks and theca church people in the news, gays get evicted from apartments, get threatening text messages. EVERy time.

We find ourselves always protecting our straight people, loving them coz they r weak and brittle often. We can't shut off love, u see.

baldwin, was also just yet another black gay first born man saving his family first, putting his life 4 black people first, love: last.

So in the morning after he has cried and cried, you make coffee for him and give him support to put his straight face on and face Africa.

many gay African couples in the europe adopt and have children who r straight, & loved and still hide their families from people back home.

u hear stories how in primary school your own brother walked away in shame when you were beaten for being girly and u were five years old.

and that evening, ashamed and unable, you cracked jokes to make your brother feel okay, because u ra ashamed u shamed him.

Kenyan church can never invite Bishop Tutu 2 speak. He loves gays, straights, revolutionaries, feminists.

Why can't our churches march with women against violence in #idressasIwant - u can disagree and still show public support 4 women.

kenyan church r terrified of love and change and truth. They are there to police you to expect little, and pretend to expect much.

I have an essay to write about 3 homosexual men I helped humiliate in high school, I am deeply ashamed. Always.

Kenya will break! Break apart! If we open our hearts to being ourselves and to accepting that there is what we do not know.

Bishop Tutu the same product of the same Colonial missions. He just liberated himself t b 4 Africa, not to be a colonial sin collector.

Give credit 2 the man Tutu who can walk into the most dangerous township and preach love and tell them they have to love gay people 2.

When I went to SA, Tutu was a revelation. Just love love and freedom. I did not imagine such a thing could exist.

Enough!



me: fucking ego man V competitive, and I have had over the years had 2 fight myself 2 accommodate the Chimamanda jaggernaught.

Now. It is okay to have that fight inside you over that woman who is seemingly ruling the world. And u wanted 2 2.

Chimamanda and I agree on exactly nothing from the first day. And then she was like, then, this young young woman.

In our own relationship as writers, what has come to matter is..Chimamanda and I

Is that Chimamanda will have the confidence, each time, 2 go further than I will, for me, to ask me to take myself further.

In truth: I am theonw who is noisy conservative scared 2 try, and Chimamanda is the one writer who asks me to take my project further.

cozy work seems so experimental, people don't understand this thing. Real relevant honesty defines our friendship and working relationship.

Chimamands is the first human person who looked me in the eye and asked me, are you gay? That is what love looks like. Now I go to sleep.

when somebody does that 2 u, u have to step up and b the same kinda honest always with them and 4 them. That is a New Africa #chimamanda.

don't u feel that, that people see u, and choose not to see u?

So, Chimamanda is my big sister, & I am cool. and I am like older and got 2 Caine Prize before. Could give not a shit. Was neva like that.

people look around you, around you, and so few people get friend u look At u. Too painful and vulnerable

be true. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dlrXCYrNYI "

[continues]
binyavangawainaina  2015  africa  kenya  homeosexuality  defiance  resistance  love  southafrica  ninasimone  jamesbaldwin  sexuality  desmondtutu  identity  chimamandaadichie  chimamandangoziadichie  freedom  courage  bravery  acceptance  religion  christianity 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Our Unitarian Universalist Principles and Sources - UUA
"Unitarian Universalists hold the Principles as strong values and moral teachings. As Rev. Barbara Wells ten Hove explains, “The Principles are not dogma or doctrine, but rather a guide for those of us who choose to join and participate in Unitarian Universalist religious communities.”

1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part."
via:coreycaitlin  unitarianuniversalism  principles  religion  justice  dignity  acceptance  compassion  humanism  truth  meaning  conscience  democracy  peace  liberty  respect  independence 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Worry Beads | Tricycle
"We are not called upon as Buddhists to deny the world, and certainly not to escape from it. We are called to live with it, and to make our peace with all that is. In Buddhist terms, that peace is called Tathagata. The Thus Come One is enlightened as he is, not as he would wish himself to be. There is no escaping this. The world of worries we wish to escape from in the beginning of Buddhist practice is found to be enlightenment itself in the end. We don't understand this, of course, and so we keep striving for a distant, idealized kind of Buddhahood, only to reach its threshold and be turned back the way we came. In this way, we receive the teaching of the Buddha with every mala we say."
buddhism  religion  beads  worrybeads  rosaries  2014  clarkstrand  kombolói  acceptance  mala  glvo  tomake  fidgettools  anti-anxietydevices 
april 2014 by robertogreco
We 'Choose' for Poor Children Every Day - Bridging Differences - Education Week
"You challenge me: "What gives you confidence that we get to choose?" You insist that "I don't pretend for a second that I get to choose. At least not for other people's children."

But in fact you/we are choosing, every day. In acts small and big, from deciding small classes don't matter, to deciding to gentrify Manhattan. The people of Harlem didn't have a choice. It's some other "we" who are moving other people and their children to locations not specified. What/who is it that didn't "adapt"? It wasn't the working people of Detroit or New Orleans or Manhattan who failed to "adapt"—it was the industries they counted on, the expertise of those well-educated people who did have the power to make some choices and failed to do so.

It was my dear old mother who warned me about people who cry "crisis" too often. I should beware of them, she said. Tell me what years there hasn't been a "crisis" that was blamed on our public schools? (Read Richard Rothstein's The Way Things Were—it's truly a fun read.) Yes, in some ways, I'm more "conservative" than you: I know who gets hurt first when we "disrupt" regardless ....

Yes, there is a lot of money spent on education, and any good entrepreneur seeks his or her opportunities where the money is. And then looks for ways to make more. That's not a plot or a conspiracy. Just good straight thinking. But not all entrepreneurs are equal when it comes to pushing for their self-interest.

So we agree on tests? If we do, then it wasn't test scores that revealed the rot in Detroit's schools for the poor. If you walked into them, without any data, you'd know immediately that you wouldn't CHOOSE to send your children there. Although for many parents it was a "home" of a sort, better than having none.

You wouldn't CHOOSE to live where these children do either. So whites moved out—by choice—and left Detroit what it is today. Whether the kinds of solutions that those who remained are exploring are utopian or not, I'm on their side. They're trying to reconstruct a city built on a different set of assumptions—that a community can be rebuilt out of the ashes. I wish them all the best, and offer any help I can.

It's too easy, from perches of comfort and adaptability, to say that factories come and go, as do oceans and rivers and mountains, and species. But the triumph of the human species, up to now, rests on its use of its brains. We're not exempt from some "laws" of nature. Adaptation isn't accomplished overnight. If we don't use our brains better (and more empathetically) we, too, will become extinct—although I can't adapt to that idea yet!

You and I—or some other somebodies—are deciding the future of "other people's children" unless we provide ways for "them" to have a voice, a vote, and the resources to decide their own future. We need to restore a better balance between local communal life (with its power to effect some immediate changes like we did at the small self-governing schools I love) and distant, "objective" moneyed power. It's our democracy that rests on our rebuilding strength at the bottom. If we don't, we induce a passivity that surely cannot be in the self-interest of the least powerful, but might (just might) be in the self-interest of others. And then we blame them for being passive?

The experiment in democracy may or may not survive this round, but I'm not giving up on it. "Self-governance"—of, for, and by the people, Robert, is what's at stake. Do we agree that it's an essential aspiration, another way of describing what we mean by freedom within community, or communities of free citizens? If so, what would it look like in schools given, as you remind me, the realities we must all "accept"—for the moment. Until we create new realities."
deborahmeier  2014  edreform  reform  education  democracy  choice  passivity  robertpondiscio  entrepreneurship  gentrification  adaptability  opportunity  community  schools  publischools  policy  self-governance  citizenship  civics  acceptance 
march 2014 by robertogreco
xkcd: Sticks and Stones
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can make me think I deserved it."
xkcd  sticksandstones  childhood  acceptance  thingswetelleachother  thwwordsweuse  words  life  living 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Andrew Solomon: Love, no matter what | Video on TED.com
"What is it like to raise a child who's different from you in some fundamental way (like a prodigy, or a differently abled kid, or a criminal)? In this quietly moving talk, writer Andrew Solomon shares what he learned from talking to dozens of parents -- asking them: What's the line between unconditional love and unconditional acceptance?"
andrewsolomon  parenting  love  children  acceptance  2013  prodigies  disabilities  sexuality  diability  autism  downsyndrome  disability 
june 2013 by robertogreco
I Want a World | Swell Content - Swell Content
"I want a world where “killing it” and “crushing it” aren’t seen as positives.

Where my daughter is always invited to product meetings and my son can marry his boyfriend, no matter where they live.

Where my sister doesn’t have to pretend she’s a man to feel comfortable online.

Where I don’t have to make jokes about how many white dudes are speaking at a conference or sitting in a board room.

Where nobody has to defend their right to participate.

Where we don’t embrace violence and silencing others in our vernacular.

Where we work together and take the time to understand each other.

Where we listen and ask questions.

Where everyone’s welcome."

[See also: https://twitter.com/nicoleslaw/status/270937047055859712 ]
violence  acceptance  sexulaity  women  workplace  conferences  sexuality  gender  2012  participation  betterworld  inclusiveness  inclusion  nicolejones  nicolefenton  feminism  inclusivity  inlcusivity  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Jenova Chen: Journeyman • Articles • Eurogamer.net
"[Saint] Augustine wrote: 'People will venture out to the height of the mountain to seek for wonder. They will stand and stare at the width of the ocean to be filled with wonder. But they will pass one another in the street and feel nothing. Yet every individual is a miracle. How strange that nobody sees the wonder in one another.'"

"And because we are mostly lonely as human beings the desire to be accepted by others is so strong. When people experience a shared sense of loneliness their immediate reaction is to reach out and make contact. I would imagine anyone who is creating something is searching for connection.""

"…only three ways to create valuable games for adults…intellectually…emotionally…by creating a social environment…"
saintaugustine  wonder  emotion  acceptance  experience  ps3  humanism  2012  social  design  videogames  interviews  gaming  art  gamedesign  emotions  journey  jenovachen  from delicious
april 2012 by robertogreco
DEAR SUGAR, The Rumpus Advice Column #97: You Have Arrived At The Fire - The Rumpus.net
"You have a right to know those people. You deserve to receive their kindness, camaraderie, and expertise. You don’t have to make the same choices your parents made for you. You get to have your real, giant, gorgeous life. As you so clearly articulated, your stutter is not what’s keeping you from that. Your ideas about what it means to have a stutter are. So you need to change them.

Nobody worth your attention gives a damn if you stutter. Write this down on pieces of paper and tape them all over your room. Put one in every pocket of all of your pants. Nobody worth my attention gives a damn if I stutter! They might blush when you stutter. They might awkwardly try to help you communicate. But not because they think you’ve got “one unforgivable thing.” They do that because they have a moment of surprise or discomfort, that in their desire to make you feel okay they don’t quite know what to do and some of them do the wrong thing."
relationships  attention  camaraderie  2012  whatmatters  friendship  kindness  acceptance  speech  identity  stuttering  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
Vaclav Havel's Critique of the West - Philip K. Howard - International - The Atlantic
"Western governments…are organized on a flawed premise not far removed from the Soviet system that had just collapsed. "The modern era has been dominated by the culminating belief," he said, "that the world ... is a wholly knowable system governed by finite number of universal laws that man can grasp and rationally direct ... objectively describing, explaining, and controlling everything."

"We have to abandon the arrogant belief that the world is merely a puzzle to be solved"

""If democracy is ... to survive," he explained, "it must renew its respect for the nonmaterial order ... for the order of nature, for the order of humanity, and thus for secular authority as well."

It is not hard to imagine what Havel would do in our shoes. The difficulty of changing an entrenched system is no reason not to try. "I do not know whether or not the world will take the path which that reality offers. But I will not lose hope.""
government  dehumanization  diversity  acceptance  judgement  values  choice  control  centralization  hierarchy  bureaucracy  2011  civilization  responsibility  humans  humanism  order  wisdom  philosophy  democracy  anarchy  anarchism  vaclavhavel  from delicious
december 2011 by robertogreco
Diversity Lecture: Ta-Nehisi Coates - YouTube
"As part of our Bob and Aliecia Woodrick Diversity Learning Center Diversity Lecture Series, Grand Rapids Community College presents Ta-Nehisi Coates speaking on "A Deeper Black: The Meaning of Race in the Age of Obama.""
ta-nehisicoates  civilwar  2011  martinlutherkingjr  race  barackobama  identity  dropouts  learning  education  observation  obsession  blackhistory  us  abrahamlincoln  slavery  history  africanamerican  truth  hemingway  huckleberryfinn  marktwain  malcolmx  acceptance  understanding  safety  incarceration  society  bodyscanners  airports  convenience  inconvenience  comfort  self-esteem  justice  challenge  segregation  success  progress  policy  politics  desegregation  parenting  books  homeenvironment  reading  curiosity  exposure  youth  adolescence  teens  adults  moralauthority  wisdom  mlk 
november 2011 by robertogreco
‪How To Be Alone‬‏ - YouTube
"A video by fiilmaker, Andrea Dorfman, and poet/singer/songwriter, Tanya Davis.

Davis wrote the beautiful poem and performed in the video which Dorfman directed, shot, animated by hand and edited. The video was shot in Halifax, Nova Scotia and was produced by Bravo!FACT http://www.bravofact.com/

For more information on Tanya, go to http://www.tanyadavis.ca or visit her facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Tanya-Davis/8063194647?ref=sgm You can purchase her first two CDs Make A List and Gorgeous Morning on iTunes and look out for her third CD which will be released in the fall!

For more information on Andrea Dorfman, visit her facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrea-Dorfman-Films/110789945626226?ref=mf or http://www.andreadorfman.com "
alone  solitude  andeadorfman  tanyadavid  howto  art  psychology  film  animation  poetry  society  stillness  loneliness  silence  acceptance  well-being  peace  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco

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