The White Lies of Craft Culture
'Craft culture tells mostly white stories for mostly white consumers, and they nearly always sound the same: It begins somewhere remote-sounding like the mountains of Cottonwood, Idaho, or someplace quirky like a basement in Fort Collins, Colorado, or a loft in Brooklyn, where a (white) artisan, who has a vision of back in the day, when the food was real and the labor that produced it neither alienated nor obscured — and discovers a long-forgotten technique, plucked from an ur-knowledge as old as thought and a truth as pure as the soul.
These techniques and the goods they produce do have origins, specific ones rooted in history and in people. The character of craft culture, a special blend of bohemianism and capitalism, is not merely overwhelmingly white — a function of who generally has the wealth to start those microbreweries and old-school butcher shops, and to patronize them — it consistently engages in the erasure or exploitation of people of color whose intellectual and manual labor are often the foundation of the practices that transform so many of these small pleasures into something artful. A lie by omission may be a small one, but for a movement so vocally concerned with where things come from, the proprietors of craft culture often seem strangely uninterested in learning or conveying the stories of the people who first mastered those crafts.'
'We argue that the reason for the success of Reconstruction and occupation is largely due to the federal government channeling resources to communities of freed slaves. Occupied territories provided a safe space for black communities to grow and establish institutions, such as the Union League or churches, that provided educational, employment and political opportunities. Occupiers thus created a safer space for black advancement relative to areas outside occupier’s control. Likewise, the Freedmen’s Bureau directly channeled resources like education, health care and legal support into the hands of former slaves who had been legally denied these tools of social and economic advancement for centuries. In placing significant resources in the hands of freed slaves, the effects of Reconstruction endured for decades, persisting into the 1920s and in some cases 1940, nearly seventy years after Reconstruction and occupation ended.'
'But when Anjum stepped away, Geeta’s husband — a slight man named Mukesh — stood above Geeta, who was slumped on the side of a rope cot, and brought the stick down on her head several more times. She died on the spot.
What bothered Anjum, she said, was that the police had been contacted about the killing but almost immediately closed their investigation, releasing Mukesh after a few hours.´
'But researchers are increasingly painting a picture of a psychopathology so fundamental, so, well, biological, that efforts to talk it away can seem like trying to shoot guns into a continent, in Joseph Conrad’s unforgettable image from Heart of Darkness. By far the most remarkable recent finding about this transmogrification of the body is that some proportion of it can be reproduced in the next generation. The children of survivors—a surprising number of them, anyway—may be born less able to metabolize stress. They may be born more susceptible to PTSD, a vulnerability expressed in their molecules, neurons, cells, and genes.'
'The electricity in Ordos mostly comes from nearby coal-fired power plants, which provide a stable and constant source of electricity—although at a price to the environment. China’s less-developed regions, like the autonomous region of Xinjiang in the far west, or the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, have lately become popular with bitcoin miners. Xinjiang’s electricity also comes mostly from coal-powered plants, while Yunnan and Sichuan offer cheap and renewable energy from hydroelectric dams.'
'If the Brexit vote was driven by a populist message that immigrants and Europe’s open borders were to blame for the nation’s malaise, the fire has brought back into focus how years of steep government cuts have disproportionately hit the poorest, amplifying the pain from stagnant wages after the financial crisis.'
'Matching up photos of strangers’ faces is surprisingly difficult, and the average person is likely to be duped by matching hairstyles.'
'“Today…quiet tree-lined lanes of creeper- and flower-decked homes have become treeless, concrete, air-conditioned ghettos—artificially created heat islands in a city that once did not need even ceiling fans,” journalist Samar Halarnkar wrote recently.'
´De fait, aujourd’hui, les identités ethniques apparaissent nettement moins polarisées au Niger qu’au Mali.'
'Deaf people who attend hearing schools lack sexual education, but statistics show that those who attend deaf schools have it even worse. Deaf students who attended deaf schools had less knowledge about HIV than those who attended hearing schools, according to a 2006 survey. The same survey also found that 23% of deaf people thought of HIV as a “hearing people’s disease,” and that it did not affect them directly.'
'How does Angela Merkel wield power? If she gave an honest answer, she might cite Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikdo: “It’s not that I am so strong—they [are] wrestling with themselves and spending their energy on the air.”'
'The creation of India and Pakistan in 1947 led to horrific sectarian violence and made millions refugees overnight. Seventy years on, five survivors remember.'
'As an occupational group, truckers constitute an organic highway economy that includes dhabas (no-frills eateries adjoining highways), repair shops, brothels, roadside bars, tolls and informal road taxes. The stories they have in store offer sharp insight into the underbelly of the Indian economy: highway robbers operating in parts of the country like Rajasthan and Nagaland; the collusion between transporters, politicians and bureaucrats that’s given the transportation department a reputation for corruption; and the rampant overloading of trucks that’s estimated to cause the deaths of ten people every hour in road accidents.'
'Most democracies outside the English-speaking world elect more than one representative per district. When the number of seats per district can be adjusted, the principle of “one person, one vote” can often be achieved without redrawing boundaries lines at all. You simply add a seat to a district that has grown, and subtract that seat from the ones that shrink. That vastly reduces the possibility of reshaping outcomes by manipulating boundaries.'
'When nonlocal friends came to Beijing, they thought we were closer, but we weren’t actually in the same city, we may have been in a number of cities: they are Haidian, China; Guomao, China; Tongzhou, China; Shijingshan, China… If we use time as a measure, then someone from Tongzhou dating someone from Shijingshan would count as long-distance, and going from North Fifth Ring to Yizhuang can be called a business trip.'
"Gentrification, in this account, is not just about twenty-something white dudes with beards riding their fixed-gear bikes into unfamiliar neighborhoods, nor filament-bulb-lit craft beer bars opening up alongside bodegas. It is not really a cultural phenomenon, as it is so often depicted, nor one driven by individuals with a little more disposable income than their new neighbors. It is about profit and power, racism and violence on a massive scale."
"Put another way, Venezuela’s economic catastrophe dwarfs any in the history of the US, Western Europe, or the rest of Latin America. And yet these numbers grossly understate the magnitude of the collapse, as ongoing work with Miguel Angel Santos, Ricardo Villasmil, Douglas Barrios, Frank Muci, and Jose Ramón Morales at Harvard’s Center for International Development is revealing."
"According to the government’s monthly tally, which goes back to 2014, May and June also set consecutive records for the most total homicides. This year is on pace to be the deadliest yet.
It is an indictment of the drug war. The strategy of the United States and Mexico to relentlessly pursue high-ranking cartel leaders has not dampened the violence. To the contrary, some experts believe, the extradition of Mexico’s most notorious drug baron, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as El Chapo, to the United States this year helped generate the latest wave of violence as various factions look to fill the power vacuum left in his wake."
"This means that in some contexts the Greek adjective chloros should be translated as ‘fresh’ instead of ‘green’, or leukos as ‘shining’ rather than ‘white’. The Greeks were perfectly able to perceive the blue tint, but were not particularly interested in describing the blue tone of sky or sea – at least not in the same way as we are, with our modern sensibility."
Absolutely fascinating post on markets for cooperation in the animal kingdom.
"Now that President Trump’s hard line has made deportation a keener threat, a growing number of district attorneys are coming to the same reckoning, concluding that prosecutors should consider potential repercussions for immigrants before closing a plea deal."
"Ga is the latest nugget of internet slang to worm its way into the lexicons of Chinese young people, both online and offline. The term sparked the public’s renewed love affair with social awkwardness, something that has come to be known as ga wenhua: “awkward culture.”"
"But the attacks on “government schools” have a much older, darker heritage. They have their roots in American slavery, Jim Crow-era segregation, anti-Catholic sentiment and a particular form of Christian fundamentalism — and those roots are still visible today."
"Igor de Rachewiltz was a renowned Italian scholar of Mongolia. He began his academic career over seventy years ago as a teenager studying Japanese and Chinese under the legendary Giuseppe Tucci in Rome. He went on to pursue his interests in Mongolian and Mongolian history. In the mid 1950s, he moved to Canberra, Australia, where he worked at The Australian National University. He would become one of the world’s leading authorities on Genghis Khan / Chinggis Khan and Sino-Mongol relations during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries."
"Beyond the mystery of the diamonds, the most bizarre thing about Stepanov's photos is Mirny itself, a city perched on the edge of a hole so deep it affects the atmosphere above it. Helicopters can't fly over it—the downward force of the air would pull them in. You can see it from space."
"In 1415 the state banned the shipment of grain to the north by sea to compel use of the canal, for which thousands of barges were built. Such a decision would have dramatically reduced the need for shipping, and hence shipbuilding and the maintenance of fleets, leading to the halting of oceangoing ship construction altogether by Yongle’s successor in 1436."
"While Illinois' leaders waged a two-year budget battle, the state fell years behind in reimbursing medical providers for their services, skimping physicians and dentists even if their patients were up-to-date with their premiums.
At public universities, officials and workers say some doctors and dentists, particularly those outside an insurance plan's provider network, increasingly asked patients to pick up the state's tab during the impasse."
"In “Parkinson Law,” Northcote Parkinson’s witty essay on the rules of bureaucracy, there is an interesting section on how to sway parliamentary votes. Just surround the hesitant politician with your own partisans, Parkinson suggests, and convince him the die is already cast; that everyone is going to vote your way. Regardless of his views, he’ll be quick to jump on the winning wagon.
This is, at a glance, the most important insight of Naunihal Singh’s fascinating work on coups d’état."
"The head of Mongolia’s Corporate Union of Shamans was in a ger off to the side of the ceremonies. It is the union’s job to regulate shamans and certify their credentials – a taxing undertaking, as the number of shamans is increasing apace and anyone can become one if they claim that a spirit visits them. The union official, Jargalsaikhan, was looking unhappy."
"The story of this blue pigment highlights the role of cultural exchange at the heart of creative discovery and ranks among the more contradictory tales in the history of art. The vibrant hue, long considered to be quintessentially Japanese, was actually a European innovation."
Stunning article about Trump's mismanagement of the Department of Energy, which is responsible for preventing nuclear disaster.
"Gender-nonconforming people from our state have in fact been serving in the military to help preserve that national security for a very long time. One of the most remarkable cases is that of Albert Cashier, a transgender man who fought in the Civil War with the 95th Illinois Regiment."
"The government provided millions of euros to care for the migrants who had arrived at the reception center at Italy’s toe after traveling across deserts, war zones or choppy seas. But on many days, they were served little more than rancid chicken. Some did not eat at all when the food ran out.
At the same time, the priest who founded the local branch of the charity managing the center was spending money on expensive hotels and restaurants, splurging on fine wines and stashing thousands of euros in three safes at home, the authorities say. His business partners — mobsters and their associates — outfitted their bathtubs with golden taps."
"But the Wiederspan, Rhodes, and Shaefer paper shows something important: Funding a guaranteed income to eliminate poverty is doable for a country as rich as the United States."
"One of his interests — discovering the cause of widespread hearing loss among the Inuit of Greenland — dovetailed with a historical mystery he hoped to solve. While dining with Swedish colleagues in the late 1970s, he was told that both Peary and Henson, Peary’s main assistant on all but one of his Arctic expeditions, had left descendants in northern Greenland, the product of their relationships with Eskimo women.
Dr. Counter, who had been fascinated by Henson since childhood and had written extensively on the contributions of black Americans in remote places, made it his mission to track down their sons and descendants."
"Kyrgyzstan’s historically nomadic culture means that meat is the dominant element of almost every meal. But Dungans are predominantly employed in agriculture, so more emphasis is given to fresh vegetables. In fact, in markets across Kyrgyzstan, it is often the Dungans’ unique dialect—a fusion of both Chinese and Russian—that can be heard hawking vegetables."
"Whether they know the truth or not, your untouchable life is never something you can talk about.
It was like this for me in Punjab, in Delhi, in Bombay, in Bangalore, in Madras, in Warangal, in Kanpur, in Calcutta.
At 26, I came to America, where people know only skin color, not birth status. Some here love Indians and some hate them, but their feelings are not affected by caste. One time in a bar in Atlanta I told a guy I was untouchable, and he said, “Oh, but you’re so touchable.”
Only in talking to some friends I met here did I realize that my stories, my family’s stories, are not stories of shame."
"Disabled people often run into the idea that we can never offer care, just receive it. However, we often talk about the idea that we can still offer care from what our bodies can do. If my disabled body can’t lift yours onto the toilet, it doesn’t mean I can’t care for you—it means I contribute from what my particular body can do. Maybe instead of doing physical care, I can research a medical provider, buy groceries for you, or listen to you vent when one of your dates was ableist.
It’s also important to hold that every care exchange doesn’t have to be 50/50 all the time. This is especially important for folks with a lot of disability or other needs who need a lot of care to survive, who may not always be able to offer a ton back. People who need a lot of care are often told we are a “drain”—on the system, on our families or communities, and this can play out in everything from “better off dead” suicide laws targeting disabled people to parents and disabled folks feeling like we’re too “needy” to be part of movements. Everyone deserves to get the care we need."
"Our big human brains and delicate teeth evolved because wood made cooking possible. Other major technological and cultural advances also happened through our relationship with trees: shelter, shafted tools, musical instruments, paper. These connections continue to this day and are industrialized and magnified in wood- and fossil-wood-burning factories, clean drinking water piped into cities from forests, oxygenated air bathing our lungs, and CO2 sponged from the atmosphere by forests.
Our modern dependence on trees is mostly hidden from our senses. We don’t hear the rain passing through forest canopies on its way to the reservoir. We don’t smell the wood pellets and coal chunks that power our computers and homes. The wood that frames our houses, holds up our furniture, and gives us paper arrives with signs of its ecological history purged. So we imagine that we’ve transcended our ancestors’ close relationship with trees. But this is illusion. There is no good future for Homo sapiens without forests."
"When the United States invaded Iraq 14 years ago to topple Saddam Hussein, it saw Iraq as a potential cornerstone of a democratic and Western-facing Middle East, and vast amounts of blood and treasure — about 4,500 American lives lost, more than $1 trillion spent — were poured into the cause.
From Day 1, Iran saw something else: a chance to make a client state of Iraq, a former enemy against which it fought a war in the 1980s so brutal, with chemical weapons and trench warfare, that historians look to World War I for analogies. If it succeeded, Iraq would never again pose a threat, and it could serve as a jumping-off point to spread Iranian influence around the region.
In that contest, Iran won, and the United States lost."
"Reuters has found that Philip Morris International is running a secretive campaign to block or weaken treaty provisions that save millions of lives by curbing tobacco use."
"Often the barrier to medical care isn’t the disability but a health system poorly equipped to handle it: a lack of transportation, accessible medical equipment and safe methods of transfer. These structural problems can be compounded by cultural ones: stigma, communication challenges and inadequate training for clinicians and staff.
In one recent study, researchers called more than 250 specialty practices to make an appointment for a fictional patient they said was partly paralyzed because of a stroke and could not transfer herself from a wheelchair to the exam table. More than 20 percent of offices refused to book an appointment, saying that their building was inaccessible to wheelchairs, they didn’t have height-adjustable exam tables, or their staff wasn’t trained to move the patient. Many practices that did agree to make the appointment admitted they didn’t have the necessary equipment to move the patient, and might need to skip parts of the physical exam."
"The working class that actually exists bears little resemblance to the fantasies of the affluent, highly educated hacks who are paid to vomit their thoughts into newspaper columns. The new American working class is far more likely to be bussing tables at Applebee’s than wolfing down reheated appetizers until their Dockers rip."
"Post Senning suggests an ice breaker like, “Looks like it’s about to rain” or “This food looks delicious.” But these mini-commentaries don’t always have to be that mundane. Your opening line could be an appreciation of the quality of light coming through a window, he suggests.
Kio Stark, author of When Strangers Meet: How People You Don’t Know Can Transform You, refers to the shared-experience strategy as triangulation. “The triangle is made up of you, a stranger, and a third thing that closes the loop—that might be something that you’re both experiencing or seeing that’s worthy of notice.”"
A parable of Hong Kong. "It takes courage to live without roots: That’s what it said on the jacket of a novel. To live in the floating city required not only courage, but willpower and faith. In another novel there is a nonexistent knight who is nothing more than an empty suit of armour. Emperor Charlemagne asks him, what keeps you going? Willpower and faith, he replies.
With their willpower and faith, the inhabitants of the floating city toiled to create a liveable home. Within a few dozen years their efforts made the city vibrant, prosperous, and wealthy."
"I suggest that the sense of control that is often attributed to voters in the olden days was really a sense of satisfaction with outcomes. Long years of economic growth in the West, broadly shared in, and in excess of the expectations of people who had lived through wars and economic collapse, propelled this satisfaction. In retrospect, though, it’s easy to flatter ourselves that, if things went well, it’s because we made such good decisions. Things look rather different when expectations are suddenly, sharply disappointed, as in the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath. It’s all too easy for opportunistic politicians in such moments to tell the story: the reason why things went so badly is that control was taken away from you — whether by faceless international bureaucrats, greedy financiers, or alien others, whether they have immigrated or are still in their countries of origin, producing and competing against you."
"When Machelle Pearson learned last July that her life sentence would be vacated, she sent home a sepia-toned Polaroid of her late mother that she’d kept in a Bible during her 33 years of incarceration. But then her hopes of release were dashed. Pearson, like many of the roughly 2,500 people sentenced as teenagers to a mandatory sentence of life without parole, has been on a legal roller coaster ever since the Supreme Court ruled in a pair of decisions that juvenile lifers must be provided with a reasonable opportunity for release. Miller v. Alabama (2012) established that indiscriminately sentencing people under 18 to die in prison is unconstitutional. Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016) requires the Miller decision to be applied retroactively. These decisions establish that resentencing must take into account the fact that juveniles are inherently less culpable than adults due to brain-development patterns and their potential to be rehabilitated. In these cases, advocates successfully proved that teenagers sentenced to life in prison weren’t the irredeemable “superpredators” that they were made out to be in the 1980s and ’90s, when most of these individuals were sentenced—and that they didn’t deserve to die in prison. Nineteen states have eliminated mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles entirely. Hundreds of people have been resentenced to lesser terms since Miller, many since Montgomery. But most, like Pearson, have been in a kind of legislative limbo this past year, unsure of their rights. While the Supreme Court decisions have been hailed as victories of criminal-justice reform, some states are dragging their heels when it comes to giving juvenile lifers their day in court. These 2,500 adult men and women remain uncertain whether they’ll die in prison or be offered a second chance."
"We’ve long been interested in fistula surgery as a potential GiveWell priority program. However, as with other surgery charities, we have struggled to identify an organization that meets GiveWell’s criteria. Now, we’re working with a group called IDinsight and are excited that we may be able to consider a fistula surgery organization as a potential GiveWell top charity."
"In recent decades, the penal system and commercial bail have grown together—and quickly. It is estimated that 450,000 people (two-thirds of the total jail population) are non-convicted defendants. The vast majority—roughly five out of six—are behind bars because they cannot afford bail, bond companies refuse to bail them out, or the court will not allow them to post bail because of probation or parole violations, mandatory in-custody drug assessments, or other legal matters. "
"Squeezed by international sanctions and unable to produce many goods that anyone outside North Korea wants to buy — other than missile parts, textiles, coal and mushrooms — the government has sent tens of thousands of its impoverished citizens to cities and towns across the former Soviet Union to earn money for the state.
Human rights groups say this state-controlled traffic amounts to a slave trade, but so desperate are conditions in North Korea that laborers often pay bribes to get sent to Russia."