Saturday, May 18, 2019

Toxic Masculinity: A Confusing Term

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In ‘My Cousin was my Hero, until the Day he Tried to Kill me’, a fascinating article about the toxic aspects of male identity, author Wil S. Hylton describes how his cousin and best childhood friend beat him up so badly that he had to be hospitalized.

There is a lot of talk about ‘toxic masculinity’ these days, especially since sexual harassment and abuse scandals have dominated the news. But what is meant by ‘toxic masculinity’? According to the ‘Good Men Project’, a..., ‘toxic masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of manhood, defined by violence, sex, status and aggression and showing emotions is considered a weakness.

But doesn’t the word ‘toxic’ mean ‘poisoning’? It mostly affects the one that is exposed to the toxic substance directly. Which are men. If the term 'toxic masculinity' is to be taken seriously, we should be focusing on men, not women.

What is meant by masculinity?
Your biological sex and your gender are not the same thing. Being borne a male does not predetermine gender identity — one’s sense of being male, female or another gender. So if you are born a male, you are not necessarily masculine.

The image of Neanderthal man with his club fighting saber toothed tigers while his woman is cooking dinner leads one to the conclusion that gender distinction between male and female is a natural state of affairs. But in fact, a new scientific study, headed by anthropologist Mark Dyble, shows that hunter-gatherer tribes were much more egalitarian and the social inequality between the sexes came later with the advent of agriculture. In other words, we ‘invented’ a version of masculinity that does not necessarily reflect what’s going on in nature.* Read more...

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Absence of Racism



 As children, my sisters and I spent several years (1950-52) in a French boarding school. The place was called Valmondois, near the town of Auvers, about 80 kilometers north of Paris. This was the dark and grizzly place made famous by Van Gogh and his paintings of the potato people.

The boarding school was actually not unattractive. The setting was rural, located in a lush wooded region. The supervision and teaching were adequate.

The Institution housed about seventy kids. It was a relatively middle-class boarding school, not a penal institution or a place for wayward juveniles, but neither a fancy Swiss-like place for millionaires’ kids. It was an institution where hard-working Parisians parked their children for a few years, visiting them on weekends, as did our mother.

The children ranged in age from seven to fourteen. When my mother dropped us off, my sisters were nearly eight and I was nearly ten. Not that toughness wasn’t expected. Any group of young children has its pecking order, its bullies, its sadists, its victims, its conflicts. Cliques always exist, groups gang up on their weakest members under the demagoguery of brutal and cunning leaders. Lord of the Flies is a familiar scenario. Read more...

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Mueller Report



Like many Americans, I have come to see the “Russiagate” scandal as tedious. I find our current president disgraceful, a man who is inflicting irreparable damage upon our country. However, after two years of scandal mongering, I find the democratic response pathetically ineffective. And the status quo may not change in the foreseeable future. Trump has a very good chance of being reelected. The Republicans have a good chance of holding on to power.

Plus: Russia-mongering has never appealed to me - not during the Red Scares of the 1950s and not now. To me, stoking the flames of anti-Communism in the past looked like a diversionary tactic by the plutocracy, and today’s anti-Russian frenzy feels a bit like a déja-vu.

BUT:
I clicked on the Mueller Report ’s URL anyway, lukewarmly, just for a quick glance at what I thought I already knew.

Well, let me tell you: It’s surprisingly impressive! The report shows beyond any doubt in juicy detail what sort of abominable regime a minority of the American people “elected” in 2016. Read more...

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Old New World Order

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I went to see the documentary ‘Apollo 11’ yesterday. It was the first of a series of manned moon landings, all of them American. The suspense was palpable. Even though every member of the audience knew the outcome, we were on the edge of our seats as the Eagle approached the surface of this never explore celestial body. It left me with a sense of awe and admiration. This happened a life-time ago, when I was in the prime of my life and still living in Europe, but this first landing was a symbol of what a super-power at the zenith of its ascent can accomplish. That was America at its best.

After WW2 ended, the United States established what is known as the “New World Order’. It was to prevent the world from repeating the mistakes that had led to a world that had been filled with wars and conflicts. Behind it was an ideology of liberalism backed up by military power.

I was born during the Second World War and have spent my entire life in the comfort and ease of what the United States created. The New Liberal Order was not created out of a sense of altruism, but because, as we all know, Americans are pragmatists: they do what is best for them, as most nations do. And what is best for America is a world with as little conflict as possible. It was to guarantee that the world would be a safe place to conduct trade, promote liberal values and avoid conflict by diplomacy and compromise. Read more...

The Game of 2020 Presidential Thrones



I’m a “list” kind of guy. OCD, some people might say.  So today I’ll share with you my analysis of the so-far 21 democrats  running for President of the US (See:“Phase Two Begins for 2020 Democratic Field,” Sacramento Bee, April 27, 2019: 7A). 

Each candidate gets  a score for qualification and one for electability.  These are based on what I have picked up about these candidates over the past few weeks, plus some of their demographic characteristics.

                                           Table One: 21 Democratic Presidential Candidates, Alphabetically

Candidate
Credentials
How qualified?*
Electa-bility*
Age
gender
Race
1. Joe Biden
Former Vice President
10
8.5
76
M
W
2. Cory Booker
Senator from N. J.
8.5
7
50
M
B
3.  Pete Buttigieg
Mayor of South Bend, Ind
10
5
37
M; gay
W
4.Julian Castro
Former HUD Secretary
8.5
7
44
M
Hispanic
5. John Delaney
Former House Rep. from Maryland
8.5
7.5
56
M
W
6. Tulsi Gabbard
House Rep. from Hi.
8.5
6.5
38
W
Samoan
7. Kirsten Gillibrand
Senator from N. Y.
8.5
7
52
W
W
8. Mike Gravel
Former Senator from Alaska
5
3
88
M
W
9. Kamala Harris
Senator from California
9
7.5
54
W
B
10. John Hickenlooper
Former Colo. governor
8.5
7.5
67
M
W
11. Jay Inslee
Governor of Wash.
8.5
7.5
68
M
W
12. Amy Klobuchar
Senator from Minnesota
9
7.5
58
W
W
13. Wayne Messam
Mayor of Miramar, Fla
7.5
7
44
M
B
14.Seth Moulton
House Rep. From Mass
7.5
7.5
40
M
W
15. Beto  O’Rourke
Former House Rep. from Texas
7.5
7.5
46
M
W
16.Tim Ryan
House Re. from Ohio
7.5
7.5
45
M
W
17. Bernie Sanders
Senator from Vermont
9
8
77
M
W
18. Eric Swalwell
House Rep. from Cal.
8.5
7.5
38
M
W
19. Elizabeth Warren
Senator from Mass
8.5
7.5
69
W
W
20.Marianne Williamson
Author
7.5
7
66
W
W
21. Andrew Yang
Entrepreneur
7.5
7
44
M
Chinese-Am.
* ten-point scale
Read more...

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Sous le Ciel de Paris

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It is at this moment, when the beautiful Notre Dame is burning, that I realize how much Paris means to me. It is the city where I grew up, and with all that has happened since then, now that I am in my golden years, I still love it, almost like a lover. I wrote about Paris in a previous post: Paris Mon Amour, when I revisited the city a few years ago.

Here, I am posting a beautiful tribute to the city of love, a series of photographs taken by my mother Ata Kando. No words can equal what she was able to express through these unbelievable images. She says it all, all that I miss, admire and love about Paris. It is still as beautiful as ever. The Notre Dame fire is a tragedy, it feels like a part of history itself has burnt down, but Paris will survive this, as she has done so many times throughout history.



Here is the direct link to the video: A Paris

leave comment here Read more...

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Notre Dame de Paris



The Notre Dame fire has affected me in a very personal way. I was surprised by the depth of my feelings about this incident. Clearly, it should not be compared to 9-11. Zero deaths vs. nearly 3,000. Nevertheless, many people (including me and several media pundits) compared the two events from the get-go. I suppose the two events had at least some visual resemblance - immense structures burning and collapsing, etc. But this deja-vu is superficial and meaningless.

So the question remains: Why has the Notre Dame fire captured the deepest sorrow and sympathy of millions worldwide? Why has it driven me to the verge of tears? (9-11 never did, it just made me mad as hell).

To me, the Notre Dame event is personal, and I believe that it is the same for most Frenchmen, and also for the millions of foreigners who have visited that shrine.

For one thing, I am flooded by unforgettable memories. All those times that I and members of my family visited the Grand Old Lady - “Our Lady,” literally - our beautiful experiences under the nave, on top right under the giant bells, cavorting on the roof and the balcony, trying to touch the gargoyles...My wife, my children, my grandchildren, my sisters, my parents, my friends, we all experienced Notre Dame repeatedly, often together. Read more...