"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Sunday, April 07, 2019

Links - 7th April 2019 (1)

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo: Netflix’s new star, explained - "But the idea of optimizing your life to spark joy isn’t an unalloyed good for everyone. Since Kondo’s rise to fame in the US, again and again, a repeated criticism of the KonMari method has emerged: Can’t we make room in our lives for feelings besides joy?... Do we really need to make everything in our lives bring us joy? Isn’t that exhausting? Isn’t the need to optimize every last goddamn thing in the world, including all our stuff, one of the things that leads to millennial burnout?... KonMari is rarely recommended for people who are dealing with mental health issues: If you have a hoarding disorder, the problem you’re facing may be instead that, as one woman put it to the Atlantic in 2016, “Everything fucking gives me joy!”And how does the KonMari method work for practical things, the things that we have to keep around the house because we need them but that might not be joyful to us? What do I do if my frying pan doesn’t spark joy for me? Should I throw it out and replace it with a shinier, prettier, more functional version? Should I stop cooking dishes that require it? This problem of practicality is where we get to one of the hidden traps of the KonMari method: While it’s sometimes thought of as the philosophy of a minimalist, anti-consumerist lifestyle, it’s not. It’s actually extremely expensive. If I want everything around me to make me joyful — including my cleaning supplies, including my kitchenware — then I can discard what I don’t like, sure, but at a certain point I’ll have to get new versions of the stuff I actually need, versions that will spark joy for me. And the replacements I bring into my home will cost money... for the purposes of her brand, what matters is less the efficacy of her method and more the fantasy that she is selling: the fantasy of that perfect drawer, with the shirts lined up in a beautiful, regimented rainbow. A tidy life, and a world under perfect control."

Marie Kondo, you know what would spark joy? Buying less crap | Alexandra Spring - "As Eiko Maruko Sinewer, author of Waste, Consuming Postwar Japan, told me once, the Konmari method is a short-term strategy. “If you go shopping and you pick up a shirt, and that shirt brings you joy, then you buy it. Then, two weeks later, it no longer brings you joy, you can throw it away and there’s no attention to [the fact that] maybe you should have thought about the end life of that shirt when you bought it.”... Dumping unwanted stuff at charity shops isn’t the answer either. Only a tiny percentage of clothing donated, for instance, goes on sale. The unusable junk is sent to landfill, much of the rest is exported to impoverished countries, where it is on-sold relatively cheaply to the population. That sounds good in theory but, in reality, it can have a devastating impact on local markets, given the variable quality of secondhand clothes. It can also limit the development of local industries, and can speed up the demise of traditional clothes. Why make something original when there are cheap jeans and designer knock-off tops readily available? There is another Japanese tradition that Kondo – and the rest of us – could embrace. It’s called mottainai. It has a long history but essentially it expresses regret at the idea of waste and reflects an awareness of interdependence and impermanence of things. Mottainai is all about reusing, repurposing, repairing and respecting items... what would really spark joy would be a world that isn’t overflowing with garbage."

The dark side of Marie Kondo living - "Far from symbolizing the triumph of order, our unequivocal embrace of the KonMari POV represents the sweeping triumph of neurosis over common sense. We are not “detoxing” our environment as much borrowing someone else’s neurosis as a form of distraction... Kondo’s animism, always seen as a dash of cultural whimsy, has a dark side. She gives more thought to how socks “feel” than she does the humans who wear them. Husbands, kids and parents are presented as the obstacles to achieving one’s dream lifestyle. Call them spark-joy-killers. Her family eventually prohibited her from purging their goods without permission. “Don’t let your family see” is one of the rules she imparts."

For the Children of Refugees, Marie Kondo's 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up' Reveals the Privilege of Clutter - "Like many who are privileged enough to not have to worry about having basic things, I tend to idolize the opposite—the empty spaces of yoga studios, the delightful feeling of sorting through a pile of stuff that I can discard... At its heart, the KonMari method is a quest for purity. To Kondo, living your life surrounded by unnecessary items is “undisciplined,” while a well-tidied house filled with only the barest essentials is the ultimate sign of personal fulfillment... Kondo seems suspicious of the idea that our relationship with items might change over time. She instructs her readers to get rid of books we never finished, and clothes we only wore once or twice. She warns us not to give our precious things to our family and friends, unless they expressly ask for them. She’s especially skeptical of items that have sentimental value... Of course, in order to feel comfortable throwing out all your old socks and handbags, you have to feel pretty confident that you can easily get new ones. Embracing a minimalist lifestyle is an act of trust... Kondo’s advice to live in the moment and discard the things you don’t need seems to ignore some important truths about what it means to be human"

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo Is Inadvertently About Women's Invisible Labor - "In 2012, UCLA's Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) found that—in a systematic study of 32 middle-class, dual-income families in Los Angeles—only 25 percent of garages could actually store cars because there was too much other stuff in them... Even after Kondo’s intervention, Rachel continues to use the language of self-judgment to describe her home: “I don't let myself get lazy, I want to do it because I want to keep this feeling going.” This implies she is still the primary proprietor of the task"
Feminism means blaming men for women's choices when they want to do things

Just Bento/Just Hungry - Makiko Itoh on Food and Japanese Culture - "what is even sillier are statements along the lines that [Kondo's] methods or philosophy or whatever are representative of Japanese zen minimalist wabi-sabi-wasabi woo woo. How do you think her book became a bestseller in Japan in the first place, not to mention the Danshari book?... her methods are not particularly Japanese at all. Just because she is one of the very few recognizable Japanese people in the west doesn’t mean she speaks for the whole frigging society in any shape or form."

Media Predictably Concluded A Study Showed Sexism. Here’s What It Actually Showed. - "The most recent example comes from a study on participants’ reactions to seeing a child cry while getting their blood drawn. Participants were then told either the child was named “Samantha” or “Samuel” and asked to rate his or her pain based on what they saw in the video. The results showed, overall, that “Samantha’s” pain was rated at 45.9 on a 100-point scale and “Samuel’s” pain was rated at 50.4 on the same scale... Brian D. Earp, one of the researchers for the paper, took to Twitter to point out how the media got his study so wrong.“From gender bias to media bias? A thread on how our study looking at adult perceptions of children's pain got misconstrued. A reminder of the importance of taking media coverage with a grain of salt, reading original studies when possible, and guarding against confirmation bias”... "the effect in our study was observed *only* in female participants--not ‘Americans’ or ‘parents’ or ‘people’ in general. In fact, male participants rated girl pain *higher* than boy pain (albeit not to a statistically significant degree)"... the study “did not measure ‘sexism’ or ‘credibility’ or the extent to which adult raters 'cared' about the pain of boys vs. girls--or even whether they took the pain of boys ‘more seriously’ than that of girls” and it didn’t “show that pain is ‘often missed’ in girls.”... the researchers don’t know what the practical or clinical significance is yet and does not speculate as to that effect... it is women who judge boys’ pain as more significant than girls’ pain, which completely blows the sexism argument out of the water."
Maybe the moral of the story is that to improve how we treat women, we need fewer female doctors since women downplay female pain

The Rise of the Adventure Playgrounds - "pushback against the overly sanitized playground has grown considerably, with new research supporting the importance of play—especially unstructured play—for early childhood development. Critics also argue that concerns about actual harm are overstated. These findings have raised questions about playground design. Is the current playground model fostering creativity, independence, and problem-solving? What does risk really mean—and when is it OK?.. knowing that they’re in a high-risk environment makes kids pay more attention, whereas super sanitized environments may have the opposite effect... these types of playgrounds had 53 percent more visitors than America’s cookie cutter ones, and children are up to 18 percent more physically active. They were also cheaper and safer... cities continue to be held back by a deep fear of lawsuits—even though Gill’s research shows that actual cases of litigation are extremely rare in Europe and Canada. America is more litigious, but even there, costs are relatively low"

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, Why the Heat about Meat? - "With some people, some of these issues actually seem to be quite hardwired in them. It's almost like a sort of religious fundamentalism. People have come to believe that certain things are true. And they do believe that the rest of the medical establishment, the scientific establishment, and perhaps journalists, who, you know, repeat the establishment lines like me, have all got it wrong. And not only that, but they think that somehow we've tried to silence then and silence their correct opinions so that the whole thing becomes very heated and very negative...
People don't really understand how science works. Basic principles like risk. For instance, a glass of wine a day gives you a 6% increased risk of breast cancer. Well, if that's the case, then that does depend very much on what your risk was to start with. 6% of say, a 5% risk at the moment is almost nothing at all. So those sorts of things are not well understood. But it isn't the whole story. A lot of people think that they know all about food, because we all eat food. So you have your own experience, you've got your own lived experience. And if, for instance, you lose weight, and you feel incredibly well and healthy on a certain diet, then you are going to believe that that's actually the way everybody should go. So I think this is very particular to food. The trouble is, with all of these arguments that splitting this into binary forms. So carbohydrates is bad, and fat is good, or vice versa, is a disaster really for for all of us who eat food. We all need a mixture of all these things...
There is a suspicion which is probably correct that if vegetarians and vegans ever became the majority meat would be under severe risk of being banned. And so it's all right, having a small number of vegan and vegetarians in a society but you don't want it to explode too much. Because unfortunately, with the kind of mob rule that we have, as a democracy, the tyranny of the majority could prevail and meat could be banned. And I guess in a way the proposed meat tax is seen by the vegans and vegetarians as one small step towards that."
On food as religion
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