Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Is Extreme Racism a Mental Illness?

"Yes. It can be a delusional symptom of psychotic disorders."
Alvin F. Poussaint

"The American Psychiatric Association has never officially recognized extreme racism (as opposed to ordinary prejudice) as a mental health problem, although the issue was raised more than 30 years ago. After several racist killings in the civil rights era, a group of black psychiatrists sought to have extreme bigotry classified as a mental disorder. The association's officials rejected the recommendation, arguing that because so many Americans are racist, even extreme racism in this country is normative—a cultural problem rather than an indication of psychopathology." Alvin F. Poussaint
According to US-American psychiatrist Alvin Francis Poussaint, perceiving extreme racism as not pathologic means lending it legitimacy. He calls it a delusional symptom as (extreme) racists seek to resolve their internal conflicts by scapegoating a whole group of people. Poussaint also points out positive correlations between extreme prejudice and indicators of psychopathology and mentions the danger of violence (via).  It is unclear how "extreme racism" is operationalised. In addition, if Poussaint is right (and there is something logical about seeing racism as a disorder), legal consequences need to be considered if extreme racism is classified as a mental disorder. In 1981, for instance, a white man killed his Chinese American neigbhour and constructed his defense on his "anxiety neurosis" (he seriously claimed to be afraid of "Orientals" and their martial arts capabilities). There have been attempts to classify racism as a mental illness (e.g. prejudice personality, intolerant personality disorder, pathological bias) for decades. Individualising racism completely may make it more difficult to tackle social inequalities (via). On the other hand, racism could perhaps be made less acceptable by labelling it as a disorder, as "not normal" in a normative sense... More discussion is needed.
"Examining racism’s shifting definition and subsequent treatment as cause and consequence of mental illness asks that we consider what psychologist Steven Bartlett terms the “social consequences of disease labeling.” Framing racism as a mental illness — and therefore an individual problem to be tackled psychologically — makes it harder for policymakers create effective policies to combat everyday social and political inequalities." W. Carson Byrd & James M. Thomas 
"As a clinical psychiatrist, I have treated several patients who projected their own unacceptable behavior and fears onto ethnic minorities, scapegoating them for society's problems. Their strong racist feelings, which were tied to fixed belief systems impervious to reality checks, were symptoms of serious mental dysfunction. When these patients became more aware of their own problems, they grew less paranoid—and less prejudiced." Alvin F. Poussaint

"To be suspicious of a man because of the color of his skin, the texture of his hair, his place of origin, the way he speaks the language, or the area in which he lives, is to be paranoid."
Earle L. Biassey, 1972

Sharon Tate, 26 and eight months pregnant, was one of the nine victims brutally killed by the Manson Family. The slaughtering was orchestrated by Charles Manson, "one of the most virulent racists that ever walked the planet", a psychopath with a swastika etched into his forehead. In order to incite the "race war" he was tired of waiting for, he ordered his followers to carry out the murders leaving words used by black power groups (which his devotees did with the blood of the victims). His followers did as they were told since otherwise they themselves would have been butchered by the remaining blacks who would finally win as they were "essentially savages" (via).
"Black men, thus deprived of the white women whom the political changes of the 1960s had made sexually available to them, would be without an outlet for their frustrations and would lash out in violent crimes against whites. A resultant murderous rampage against blacks by frightened whites would then be exploited by militant blacks to provoke an internecine war of near-extermination between racist and non-racist whites over blacks' treatment. Then the militant blacks would arise to sneakily finish off the few whites they would know to have survived; indeed, they would kill off all non-blacks.In this holocaust, the members of the enlarged Family would have little to fear; they would wait out the war in a secret city that was underneath Death Valley that they would reach through a hole in the ground. As the only actual remaining whites upon the race war's true conclusion, they would emerge from underground to rule the now-satisfied blacks, who, as the vision went, would be incapable of running the world. At that point, Manson "would scratch [the black man's] fuzzy head and kick him in the butt and tell him to go pick the cotton and go be a good nigger"." (via)
"His overriding fantasy was of a race war. He was a loser who would become a winner, and he would do it through white supremacy. The thing he called Helter-Skelter would ignite this war. This was the rationale for the slayings. It was a holy war then against the rich and the powerful. The racial aspects seem to me to be forgotten by those who sought to understand him and who gave him the attention he craved." Suzanne Moore

- Biassey, E. L. (1972). Paranoia and Racism in the United States. Journal of the National Medical Association, 64(4), 353-358.
- Poussaint, A. F. (2002). Is Extreme Racism a Mental Illness? Western Journal of Medicine, 176(1), 4.
- photographs of Sharon Tate (1943-1969) via and via and via and via

Monday, 20 November 2017

Narrative images: The Lost Year

"A high school student being educated via television during the period that schools in Little Rock, Arkansas, were closed to avoid integration" (via). The photograph was taken by Thomas O'Halloran in September 1958 (via).

"'The Lost Year' refers to the 1958–59 school year in Little Rock (Pulaski County), when all the city’s high schools were closed in an effort to block desegregation. One year after Governor Faubus used state troops to thwart federal court mandates for desegregation by the Little Rock Nine at Central High School, in September 1958, he invoked newly passed state laws to forestall further desegregation and closed Little Rock’s four high schools: Central High, Hall High, Little Rock Technical High (a white school), and Horace Mann (a black school). A total of 3,665 students, both black and white, were denied a free public education for an entire year which, increased racial tensions and further divided the community into opposing camps.

(...) Perhaps the greatest consequences were the effects on displaced students and their families. Some of the educational alternatives that displaced students found were nearby public schools, in-state public schools where students lived with friends or relatives, out-of-state public and private schools, correspondence courses, parochial schooling, and early entrance into college. Nearby schools such as Jacksonville (Pulaski County) and Mabelvale (Pulaski County) for white students and Wrightsville (Pulaski County) for black students absorbed as many students as they could. Some students, as young as fifteen years old, moved in with relatives in public schools across all of Arkansas, and even out of state. The number of displaced white students was 2,915. Of those, thirty-five percent found public schools to attend in the state. Private schools in Little Rock took forty-four percent of the displaced white students. A total of ninety-three percent of white students found some form of alternative schooling. This was not the case for displaced black students. Among the 750 black students who were displaced, thirty-seven percent found public schools in Arkansas to attend. Some located parochial schooling, out-of-state public and private schooling, and some did enter college early or take correspondence courses. However, fifty percent of displaced black students found no schooling at all. The NAACP, through Roy Wilkins, stated that opening private high schools for displaced black students would defeat their intent to gain equal access for all students to public education. Some of the students from both races went to the military, some went to work, and some married early or simply dropped out. Interviews with many former students indicate lifelong consequences because of this denial of a free public education."

Via/More: The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture

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photograph via

Sunday, 19 November 2017

National Crowd Symbols, by Elias Canetti (1960)

The following excerpts are taken from Elias Canetti's "Crowds and Power". "Crowds and Power" is considered to be his major work and an outgrowth of his interest in mass psychology, the emotions of crowds, the psychopathology of power, and the allure of fascism. Canetti (1905-1994) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1981 (via).

"Most attempts to find out what nations really are have suffered from an intrinsic defect: they have been attempts to define the general concept of nationality. People have said that a nation is this or that, apparently believing that all that mattered was to find the right defmition; once found, this would be applicable to all nations equally. They have adduced language or territory, written literature, history, form of government or so-called national feeling; and in every case the exceptions have proved more important than the rule. It has been like clutching at some adventitious garment, in the belief that the living creature within could be thus grasped.

Apart from this seemingly objective approach, there is another, more naïve one, which consists in being interested in one nation only one's own-and indifferent to all the rest. Its components are an unshakeable belief in the superiority of this one nation; prophetic visions of unique greatness, and a peculiar mixture of moral and feral pretensions. But it must not be assumed that all these national ideologies have the same content. It is only in their importunate appetite and the claims they make that they are alike. They want the same thing. but in themselves they are different. They want aggrandisement, and substantiate their claim with the fact of their increase. There is no nation, it seems, which has not been promised the whole earth, and none which is not bound to inherit it in the course of nature. All the other nations who hear of this feel threatened, and their fear blinds them to everything except the threat. Thus people overlook the fact that the concrete contents of these national claims. the real ideologies behind them, are very different from one another. One must take the trouble to fmd out what is peculiar in each nation; and do it without being infected by its greed. One must stand apart, a devotee of none, but profoundly and honestly interested in all of them. One should allow each to unfold in one's mind as though one were condemned actually to belong to it for a good part of a lifetime. But one must never surrender entirely to one at the cost of all the others.

For it is idle to speak of nations as though there were not real differences between them. They wage long wars against one another and a considerable proportion of each nation takes an active part in these wars. "What they are fighting for is proclaimed often enough, but what they fight as is unknown. It is true they have a name for it; they say they fight as Frenchmen or as Germans, English or Japanese. But what meaning is attached to any of these words by the person using it of himself? In what does he believe himself to be different when, as a Frenchman or a German, a Japanese or an Englishman, he goes to war? The factual differences do not matter so much. An investigation of customs, traditions, politics and literature, could be thorough and still not touch the distinctive character of a nation, that which, when it goes to war, becomes its faith.

Thus nations are regarded here as though they were religions; and they do in fact tend to tum into something resembling religions from time to time. The germ is always latent in them, becoming active in times of war.

We can take it for granted that no member of a nation ever sees himself as alone. As soon as he is named, or names himself, something more comprehensive moves into his consciousness, a larger unit to which he feels himself to be related. The nature of this unit is no more a matter of indifference than his relationship to it. It is not simply the geographical unit of his country, as it is found on a map; the average man is indifferent to this. Frontiers may have their tension for him, but not the whole area of a country. Nor does he think of his language, distinctly and recognisably though this may differ from that of others. Words which are familiar to him certainly affect him deeply, and especially in times of excitement. But it is not a vocabulary which stands behind him, and which he is ready to fight for. And the history of his nation means even less to the man in the street. He does not know its true course, nor the fullness of its continuity. He does not know how his nation used to live, and only a few of the names of those who lived before him. The figures and moments of which he is aware are remote from anything the proper historian understands as history.

The larger unit to which he feels himself related is always a crowd or a crowd symbol. It always has some of the characteristics of crowds or their symbols: density, growth and infinite openness; surprising, or very striking, cohesion; a common rhythm or a sudden discharge. Many of these symbols have already been treated at length, for example, sea, forest and com. It is unnecessary to recapitulate here the qualities and functions which have made them crowd symbols. They will recur in the discussion of the conceptions and feelings nations have about themselves. But it must be stressed that these crowd symbols are never seen as naked or isolated. Every member of a nation always sees himself, or his picture of himself, in a fixed relationship to the particular symbol which has become the most important for his nation. In its periodic reappearance when the moment demands it lies the continuity of national feeling. A nation's consciousness of itself changes when, and only when, its symbol changes. It is less immutable than one supposes, a fact which offers some hope for the continued existence of mankind."


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photographs via and via

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Ethnocentrism and the Tragedy World Map

"Cultural proximity, or how relatable an event is due to audience’s identifying with the protagonists, has been noted in influencing viewer preferences (Straubhaar, 1991) and has been shown to be an important variable in how the media select and frame stories (Galtung & Ruge, 1965; Moeller, 2006; Cottle, 2013). Summed rather crudely by a Sky US correspondent, cultural proximity means that, in terms of media value, “one British person equals however many Bangladeshi etcetera” (in Cottle, 2013: 235). The 2004 East Asia tsunami provides the exemplary instance of this in action, with the CARMA report finding 40 percent of all the media’s coverage focused on westerners affected by the disaster, who made up less than one percent of the victims (Franks, 2006)."
Callum Martin, 2015

"The international news calculus is always the same. First, is there a local person in the disaster or on board a plane that has crashed? If so, the local victims get intense focus that simplifies [the] international crisis or conflict for readers. … Overall, there is this concept of ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ victims in the media."
Jack Lule, Lehigh University

- Flooding in 2017, some headlines and excerpts:

"As Storm Harvey threatens Louisiana and leaves heavy floods across parts of Texas, thousands of people affected by disasters in Asia and Africa have also been tweeting and sharing pictures of their experiences.
But news outlets have focussed headlines and bulletins largely on the disaster in the US, prompting accusations from social media users of giving disproportionate attention to stories about wealthier countries."
BBC, August 2017

"Harvey has gathered headlines as the most powerful storm to hit Texas in half a century, but floods have killed many more people in Africa and Asia this year amid extreme weather worldwide."
VOA News, August 2017

"More than 1,200 people have died across India, Bangladesh and Nepal as a result of flooding, with 40 million affected by the devastation."
The Guardian, August 2017

"Houston animals are lost, cold and suffering too"
Newsweek, August 2017

"27 cats, 8 dogs rescued from Houston flooding arrive at MaxFund Denver"
The Denver Post, September 2017

- Ebola

"How the world ignored Africa’s Ebola tragedy
Had the deadly virus started in the West, the response would have been vastly different"
The Daily Telegraph, October 2014

"(...) despite taking thousands of lives in Africa, Ebola did not capture the global spotlight until the first Americans became infected and arrived back in the United States for treatment."
Forbes, February 2016

- Some more examples

"When Nepal was struck with an earthquake, nearly a quarter of all global coverage in the first 24 hours was about the foreign tourists trapped on Mouth Everest."
Forbes, February 2016

"(...) the November 2015 Paris attacks garnered more than nine times the global media attention as the April 2015 Kenyan attack, despite the Garissa attack involving the targeted killing of children at school."
Forbes, February 2016

"In the case of Zika, Google Trends shows that interest in the virus did not really begin until this past December and accelerated in January as the first American infection was confirmed and concerns rose over the potential of the Summer Olympics to create a global epidemic."
Forbes, February 2016

"Guatemala experienced one of the worst earthquakes in this century in the Western hemisphere,” with the official death toll later put at 4,000. “Yet, proportionate to the number of victims, it received one-third of the coverage given the Italian earthquake” that killed nearly 1,000 people that year."
William C. Adams, George Washington University

"As media coverage focused on the Paris terror attacks last week [leaving 17 dead], more than 2000 Nigerians were reported to have been killed by Islamist militants. What makes one massacre more newsworthy than another?"
The Guardian, January 2015

- Finally:

"The majority of what we know about the latest on the Syrian civil war, or reconstruction in Haiti or the spread of the Zika virus is determined by editorial decisions of what is “important” or “relevant” for us to know. As computer algorithms begin to play an ever-growing role in making these decisions for us, we are fast reaching a world where “likes” will become the new arbitrator of what is important in the world and where, in spite of more and more information, we will know less and less."
Forbes, February 2016

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images via and via and via

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Cyrus Cylinder: The First Charter of Human Rights

The rugby ball-sized clay cylinder was made on the order of the Persian King Cyrus about 2.600 years ago, at a time, the empire stretched from the Balkans to Central Asia. Cyrus had the reputation of being a "liberal and enlightened monarch", his empire was "the first model based on diversity and tolerance of different cultures and religions", a model that later inspired Jefferson, Truman, and King George V. Some scientists call it the "first bill on human rights" (via and via). A replica of the world's first charter of human rights is kept at the United Nations Headquarters (via).

An excerpt from the cylinder:
“I ordered that all shall be free to worship their gods without harm … I ordered closed places of worship … to be reopened. … I brought their people together and rebuilt their homes.”
"Cyrus’ words heralded an exemplary policy of religious tolerance, producing stability across his vast multicultural domain — and suggesting that more freedom, rather than less, can be a recipe for a safer and more secure world."
Katrina Lantos Swett & Daniel I. Mark

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photograph via

Monday, 6 November 2017

Narrative images: The Last Day Women Walked the Streets of Tehran with Their Heads Uncovered

"This turned out to be the last day women walked the streets of Tehran uncovered. It was our first disappointment with the new post-revolution rulers of Iran."
Hengameh Golestan

On 8 March 1979, Iranian women protested against the new "Hijab Law" that had been introduced the day before. Women, from that day on, have been forced to wear scarves when leaving the house.

"Many people in Tehran went on strike and took to the streets. It was a huge demonstration with women – and men – from all professions there, students, doctors, lawyers. We were fighting for freedom: political and religious, but also individual."
Hengameh Golestan

photographs taken by Hengameh Golestan via and via and via

Saturday, 4 November 2017

I, Too

Langston Hughes's poem "I, Too" was first published in 1926. Today, the quote "I, too, am America" is written in large letters on the wall of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture that opened in Washington, DC in 2016.

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

by Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

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In 18 lines, Hughes expresses the relationship of black US-Americans to the majority society, its complexity, its pain.
"There is a multi-dimensional pun in the title, “I, too” in the lines that open and close the poem. If you hear the word as the number two, it suddenly shifts the terrain to someone who is secondary, subordinate, even, inferior.Hughes powerfully speaks for the second-class, those excluded. The full-throated drama of the poem portrays African-Americans moving from out of sight, eating in the kitchen, and taking their place at the dining room table co-equal with the “company” that is dining. Intriguingly, Langston doesn’t amplify on who owns the kitchen. The house, of course, is the United States and the owners of the house and the kitchen are never specified or seen because they cannot be embodied. Hughes’ sly wink is to the African-Americans who worked in the plantation houses as slaves and servants. He honors those who lived below stairs or in the cabins. Even excluded, the presence of African-Americans was made palpable by the smooth running of the house, the appearance of meals on the table, and the continuity of material life. Enduring the unendurable, their spirit lives now in these galleries and among the scores of relic artifacts in the museum’s underground history galleries and in the soaring arts and culture galleries at the top of the bronze corona-shaped building." David C. Ward
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Photograph of Langston Hughes taken by the great Gordon Parks in Illinois, 1941 via

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Born this day ... Hannah Höch

Hannah Höch (1889-1978), née Anna Therese Johanne Höch, was a German artist, a "rare female practicing prominently in the arts in the early part of the twentieth century - near unique as a female active in the Dada movement" (via) since Dada was a "men's club" (Hemus, 2008). In her artwork, she addressed women's status in modern society, a status she kept challenging (via). Today, a Google Doodle is dedicated to the woman art history forgot (via).

"Looking back on that great early 20th century upsurge which turned art upside down, it’s all men, men, men. Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism and all the other great world-changing isms were about testosterone-fuelled mega-egos buffeting each other in the creation of mind-bending imagery and belligerent manifestos. There were, of course, plenty of women around in Paris, Berlin and the other great centres, but they tend — even if they were artists themselves — to be seen as appendages to better-known men; as muses, models and tea-makers rather than as contributors to the greatest artistic revolution the world has even seen."
Mark Hudson

A famous work of hers is "Cut with the Kitchen Knife" using "kitchen knife" to "symbolise her cutting through male-dominated society" (via).
"Höch was one of several women associated with Dada, besides artist Sophie Täuber and performer/poet Emmy Hennings, but she was not given a nickname or included in all of the Berlin group’s activities. The significance of her position in Dada, and in Germany, is highlighted: having worked in the industry, Höch often used images from fashion magazines, pasting male heads on to female bodies or vice versa. Her critique of traditional gender roles and how they upheld a conservative society is often subtle, especially when compared to post-war feminist art, but is most effective when making explicit the role of violence in maintaining them: The Father (1920) is particularly jarring, placing a composite of male authority heads onto a woman’s body in a white dress, her feet in stilettos, with a boxer punching the baby in her arms." 
The mid-1920s idea of  the "New Woman" - a product of women getting the vote - was one Höch very much engaged in. This idea was based on gender equality, nevertheless, many of the modern working women with bobbed hair remained in low-status work with unequal pay. Once married, women were not allowed to jobs able-bodied veterans could take.
"Within her circles, Höch was the New Woman, sharing both her style and her frustrations, and her background made her acutely aware of how this figure was a media creation and an advertising target. Portrait of Hannah Höch (1926) and another from 1929 show her looking like the New Woman, with her short hair and androgynous dress, but far from satisfied, let alone liberated." (via)

In the 1930s, Höch was labelled a "cultural Bolshevist" by the Nazis (via), her art branded as "degenerate" (via).
"Höch died in 1978, her place in 20th‑century art history almost, but not quite assured. Postwar histories of dadaism tended to patronise at best; she does not appear at all in Robert Motherwell's 1951 Dada Painters and Poets, and Hans Richter, in 1965, called her "a good girl" with a "slightly nun-like grace". But gradually she snuck into the canon – she was part of the major Dada, Surrealism and their Heritage exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1968 – and scholars and curators have since belatedly recognised that she was both a key dadaist and considerably more: a true pioneer of photomontage and a complex, funny critic of mainstream and art-world misogyny alike."
Brian Dillon

- Hemus, R. (2008). Why Have There Been No Great Women Dadaists? In Kokoli, A. M. (ed.) Feminism Reframed. Reflections on Art and Difference, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 41-60
- photographs via and via (1975, by Stefan Moses) and via (1974, by Dietmar Bührer) and via

Monday, 30 October 2017

Asian-Americans: Facing Less Prejudice When Overweight

"We found that there was a paradoxical social benefit for Asian-Americans, where extra weight allows them to be seen as more American and less likely to face prejudice directed at those assumed to be foreign."
Sapna Cheryan

According to a study carried out by Handron et al., heavier Asian-Americans are seen as more US-American than those of normal weight and less likely to be viewed as being in the country illegally.

Interestingly, only Asian-Americans are considered to be more US-American when they were overweight:
"Asian-Americans but not white, black, or Latino Americans are associated with foreign countries that are not seen as stereotypically overweight, which enables greater weight to signal an American identity." (via)
"Can being overweight, a factor that commonly leads to stigmatization, ironically buffer some people from race-based assumptions about who is American? In 10 studies, participants were shown portraits that were edited to make the photographed person appear either overweight (body mass index, or BMI > 25) or normal weight (BMI < 25). A meta-analysis of these studies revealed that overweight Asian individuals were perceived as significantly more American than normal-weight versions of the same people, whereas this was not true for White, Black, or Latino individuals. A second meta-analysis showed that overweight Asian men were perceived as less likely to be in the United States without documentation than their normal-weight counterparts. A final study demonstrated that weight stereotypes about presumed countries of origin shape who is considered American. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that perceptions of nationality are malleable and that perceived race and body shape interact to inform these judgments."
Handron et al., 2017

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- Handron, C., Kirby, T. A., Wang, J., Matskewich, H. E. & Cheryan, S. (2017). Unexpected Gains. Being Overweight Buffers Asian Americans From Prejudice Against Foreigners. Psychological Science, 28(9), 1214-1227.
- photograph by Dorothea Lange (1942) via, title: "Oakland, Calif., Mar. 1942. A large sign reading "I am an American" placed in the window of a store, at [401 - 403 Eighth] and Franklin streets, on December 8, the day after Pearl Harbor. The store was closed following orders to persons of Japanese descent to evacuate from certain West Coast areas. The owner, a University of California graduate, will be housed with hundreds of evacuees in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration of the war" (literally via)

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Quoting Charlotte Brontë

"Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow firm there, firm as weeds among stones."
Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)

photograph (Paris, 1951) via

Friday, 27 October 2017

"... we felt you might enjoy a different body styling for a change."

Anglia's lines are so well-known to rally-followers (and rally-driving Anglia-followers) we felt you might enjoy a different body styling for a change.

To go on, however, Anglia's rugged dependability and performance are equally recognized by rally fans.
It's highly economical, handles like a charm and looks every inch the talented, gutsy little bundle of going concern it is.
Actually, you'd be quite safe and happy if you bought it on its reputation alone.
But it's more fun to try it out, so see your Anglia dealer.
He has all the details.

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image (1963/64) via

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Excitement for Him, Peace of Mind for the Little Lady

FOR HIM, performance-driving the automatic. No more over-riding gears. No more danger of reverse instead of low, or searching for second and drive detents as with the usual automatic selector. Now select the proper gear at the proper time with safety and confidence. Start in low (no possibility of reverse this time) and push forward and to the right on the "stick" for second. No chance, no feeling for the detent with "safety latch", a positive stop - a positive second. Ready for high, again to the right and forward as hard as you please and "bang", high - not neutral. Every selection quick and safe no matter the degree of excitement.

This key on his personal key ring prevents use of the competition gate by the curious parking lot attendant, or the automatic minded little lady. No chance of them over-revving the engine waiting for the automatic shift.

FOR HER, the usual peace of mind of the automatic transmission plus an extra bit of admiration for "her man" who really wanted a 4-speed standard stick but thought this extra just for her. The Dual Gate was designed for those who desire both the ease and convenience of an automatic plus the performance of a manually shifted transmission. It will add individualism and pride of ownership to that personal car which the family can borrow. A simple flip of the latch to the normal position, without the need of the key, and the manual shifting (His) gate is closed to all but the key holder. Also, we have put a little fun into driving the automatic.

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image via

Monday, 23 October 2017

Skateistan: Empowerment through Skateboarding

"At Skateistan, our vision is to create leaders that make a better world."

In 2007, Oliver Percovich went to Afghanistan "carrying with him three skateboards and an open spirit". He lent his skateboards to Afghan teenagers who became the country's first skateboarders.
"As Oliver and his new friends skated around the streets in Kabul, they saw the pull that the skateboard had with youth of all socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities and genders. Skateboarding quickly created a community that overcame social divisions."
The following year, he started preparig the launch of a non-profit organisation that uses skateboarding to empower children and teenagers. At various locations (among them an orphanage) in Kabul, regular skate sessions were run which attracted dozens of (street-working) children. Girls, who are not allowed to play sports in Afghanistan, came to skate regularly.

In 2009, Skateistan began providing both skateboarding and education - the Skate and Create programme was born. Registered students spent "an equal amount of time learning in the classroom as on a skateboard". Soon, Skateistan's Back-to-School programme was launched supporting students to enroll in the public school system in Afghanistan.

Then, skate lessons for children with disabilities began to run weekly.

Meanwhile, Skateistan Cambodia and South Africa have been formed (via).

Skateistan on YouTube:

::: The Future of Skateistan: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Faranas' story: WATCH/LISTEN

photographs by Jessica Fulford-Dobson via and via and via and via and via

Friday, 20 October 2017

Bacha Posh: Gender-bending girls in Afghanistan

"They say your life becomes complete only if you have a son."
Azita Rafhat

"Whoever came [to our house] would say: 'Oh, we're sorry for you not having a son.' So we thought it would be a good idea to disguise our daughter, as she wanted this too." Azita Rafhat
For both social and economic reasons, many girls aged between five and twelve are disguised as boys and, for instance, sent to the market to sell water or chewing gum. Having a Bacha Posh is a matter of honour or reputation for some families since families without sons are pitied. It is also a means of economic survival as daughter turned into a son is sent to work and can add to the family income. In some cases, the girls decide to become Bacha Posh because living a boy's life can be an empowering experience in Afghanistan.
These girls are dressed as boys and get a male name they use when they are outside of the home. They are brought up as boys until they are about 17 or 18. At that age they are supposed to switch back to the traditional Afghan female role model. This change is not always an easy one. Disguised daughters can attend better schools and play sports, they have more freedom, freedom they lose the moment they turn into females (via and via).
"People use bad words for girls. They scream at them on the streets. When I see that, I don’t want to be a girl. When I am a boy, they don’t speak to me like that." a 15-year-old girl

"When I was a kid my parents disguised me as a boy because I didn't have a brother. Until very recently, as a boy, I would go out, play with other boys and have more freedom." Elaha
Elaha, for instance, lived as a boy for 20 years and reverted shortly before going to university. She does not "feel fully female" as her habits are not "girlish" - as a boy she used to go out, play with boys and have more freedom. She does not want to get married (via).
"If my parents force me to get married, I will compensate for the sorrows of Afghan women and beat my husband so badly that he will take me to court every day." Elaha

"I experienced both the world of men and of women and it helped me to be more ambitious in my career."
Azita Rafhat

"The tradition has had a damaging effect on some girls who feel they have missed out on essential childhood memories as well as losing their identity.
For others it has been good experiencing freedoms they would never have had if they had lived as girls.
But for many the key question is: will there be a day when Afghan girls get as much freedom and respect as boys?" BBC

::: She is My Son: WATCH

Photographs of Tamana Airways, 11, a Bacha Posh who every day after school dresses as a boy and sells biscuits, candles and drinks in Kabul's streets (via).

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photographs by Casper Hedberg via and via and via and via and via, copyright by owner

Monday, 16 October 2017

Narrative images: Searching for Atlantis and the Aryan Myth in Tibet

In 1938, Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler sent an expedition to Tibet to search for the "Ur-Arier", to find evidence for the theory that Tibet was home to the "Aryan race". Himmler was convinced that Aryans - coming from an ancient civilisation in Atlantis - had escaped and survived the past millennia in the Himalayas and was determined to rediscover this lost Aryan race, this "master race" that had lived on the mythical island of Atlantis before the island paradise was engulfed by the sea. The swastika, by the way, was one of the "evidences" to back the theory as it was a symbol of good luck in Tibetan culture and also used in Nazi Germany (via and via).

The photographs depict anthropologist Dr. Bruno Beger taking cranial measurements in Tibet. Beger came to the conclusion that Tibetan people represented "a staging post between the Mongol and European races" and that they could play "an important role in the region, serving as an allied race in a world dominated by Germany and Japan." (Z., 2005).

In 1971, Bruno Beger was convicted as an accessory to 86 murders - Beger measured and selected imprisoned people in the concentration camp of Auschwitz, people who were afterwards gassed - and was sentenced to three years. Not only did he receive the minimum sentence. Beger did not serve any time in prison. He died in 2009 at the age of 98 (via and via).

Bruno Beger and the Skeleton Collection LINK

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- Z., Mickey (2005) Source of the Blood: Nazi Germany's Search for its Aryan Roots. In: Peet, P. (ed.) Disinformation Guide to Ancient Aliens, Lost Civilizations, Astonishing Archeology & Hidden History. disinformation
- photographs taken by Ernst Krause in 1938 via and via

Friday, 13 October 2017

Skunk Anansie & Ageism

Excerpts from an interview (2013) with Skin after releasing the album "Black Traffic". Skin was asked if she was pleased with the response she had received (via).
"Yeah, everyone’s been really lovely, apart from one review in the NME! [Pete Cashmore of NME rated the album 1/10 with the summary “The people who made this album have an average age of 46. They need to retire. NOW.”] (...)"

"The fans love the album they come to see us live and we have rave, rave, rave reviews apart from that NME review! (...)
The point of that review was that we’re too old to be in a rock band!!! You know, they’ve hated Skunk Anansie from like the minute we sold 100,000 records. And because this is a good album, they don’t want to admit it’s a good album so they literally had to scratch around and try to find a way to slag us off instead of being honest and saying, “You know I’ve never liked this band but this is a really good album”. A good journalist would have done that. But they landed on our age as the only thing they could slag off about us.
You know life doesn’t end at 40. If you love to do something, say you want to be a writer for the rest of your life, what’s to stop you doing that as long as you’re good and as long as you put out stuff that people want to read. It should be the same in any profession. You know if you’re a dancer, keep dancing until your body says no. If you’re a good dancer, then dance.
Ultimately it was very ageist. If you were to apply that level of ageism to racism or homophobia everybody would have gone crazy. If you don’t like the band and you don’t like the album and all you can say is that we’re old then just don’t f*** review us. I mean everybody gets old, but this is a f*** good album!"

More Skunk Anansie:

::: You'll Follow Me Down (with Luciano Pavarotti): LISTEN/WATCH
::: Because of You: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Hedonism: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Kill Everything: LISTEN
::: You Saved Me: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Over the Love: LISTEN/WATCH
::: You Do Something to Me: LISTEN/WATCH

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Avoidable Blindness and Gender

"By far most of the people who go avoidably blind are women."
Brian Doolan, The Fred Hollows Foundation

About two-thirds of the world's blind are women ... in industrialised countries because of their higher life expectancy, in non-industrialised countries because women have little access to surgery. Cataract (which can be cured by surgery and is responsible for most avoidable blindness) surgical coverage among women in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, for instance, is consistently lower and sometimes half that in men (via).

"In a rapid assessment of cataract surgical services in Pakistan, cataract surgical coverage was found to be 92% for males and 73% for females." (WHO)

"In a cluster sample survey in the Menoufia governorate in Egypt, in which 2426 individuals aged 50 and over were examined, 12% were blind; of these 38.3% were male and 61.7% were female." (WHO)
Women face barriers ranging from the cost of surgery, the inability to travel, lacking social support to lacking access to information (via). By 2010, the number of people living with blindness could triple worldwide (via), many of the people affected will be women, poor, poor women.
"In many cultures and regions, within families and the context of communities, blind and vision-impaired women are not considered as important as men to get services. It’s a question of financing and cost recovery where investment in families is rather going to men and to the younger generation than to women and the older generation." Johannes Trimmel

"It's obscene to let people go blind when they don't have to."
Fred Hollows

"The bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis is responsible for the infectious eye disease of trachoma and is a leading cause of blindness in developing countries. Trachoma infection rates are higher in girls and women, as are repeat infections that can lead to blindness. As primary caregivers, young girls and mothers are more exposed to the infectious agent present in the eye secretions of infants. Peak rates of infection occur in pre-school children, which at this age leads to higher rates of scarring, trichiasis and blindness. Trachomatous trichiasis is the stage of trachoma characterized by inturned eyelashes which abrade the cornea and leads to blindness.
In a recent Egyptian study, recurrence rates of trichiasis after surgery were 44.4% for women, and 37.7% for men. These gender differences may be the result of women delaying surgery. Studies suggest that infection loads and rates of reinfection are higher among girls than in boys. Trachoma-related blindness has been found to be 2 to 4 times higher in women than in men.
A study in Oman found more blindness in women due to trachoma; out of 85 sampled blind women, 25 had trachomarelated blindness and out of 49 sampled blind men, 8 had trachoma-related blindness."

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photographs by Brent Stirton via and via, copyright by the respective owners

Friday, 6 October 2017

Mississippi Appendectomy: Racism and Forced Sterilisation

"Mississippi appendectomies, they were called because they would tell women that they needed to get their appendix out, but then sterilize them."

Nazi Germany had "the utopian view of a society cleansed of everything sick, alien, and disturbing". Jews, homosexuals, Marxists, and other groups were so-called health hazards that were eliminated in the most atrocious ways, one of them by sterilising them. When medicine was turned into destruction and the Sterilisation Laws were passed, "German physicians used American physicians as their models" (Byrd & Clayton, 2002). At the Nuremberg trials, they cited Virginia's 1924 Eugenical Sterilization Act as part of their defense (via). The first sterilisation law was passed in Indiana, U.S.A. in 1907 to keep disabled people from having children (via).
"Nazi physicians on more than one occasion argued that German racial policies were relatively "liberal" compared with the treatment of blacks in the United States. Evidence of this was usually taken from the fact that, in several southern states, a person with 1/32nd black ancestry was legally black, whereas if someone were 1/8th Jewish in Germany (and, for many purposes, 1/4th Jewish), that person was legally Aryan (a 1/4 Jew for example, could marry a full-blooded German). Nazi physicians spent a great deal of time discussing American miscegenation legislation; German medical journals reproduced charts showing the states in which blacks could or could not marry whites, could or could not vote, and so forth."
In the U.S., black Americans, Latino Americans, and poor Americans became victims of forced sterilisations. At one mental health hospital in South Carolina, for instance, during the ten years between 1949 and 1960, 102 out of 104 surgical sterilisations were carried out on black Americans although the hospital had admitted twice as many Whites as Blacks. According to civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) - who coined the term Mississippi Appendectomy and who herself was a victim of forced sterilisation - 60% of the black women taken to Sunflower Mississippi City Hospital were sterilised without any medical reason. Often, they did not even know about it (Byrd & Clayton, 2002).
"It was a common belief among Blacks in the South that Black women were routinely sterilized without their informed consent and for no valid medical reason. Teaching hospitals performed unnecessary hysterectomies on poor Black women as practice for their medical residents. This sort of abuse was so widespread in the South that these operations came to be known as “Mississippi appendectomies." Dorothy Roberts

"At some point in the century, more than half of the states in the U.S. had similar programs that allowed for the sterilization of those the government deemed unfit to procreate." 

Only seven of the 33 states have publicly acknowledged or publicly apologised to victims. Most of the programmes started in the early 1930s targeting people in "institutions for mental illness or mental retardation". Slowly, they began targeting "the blind, the deaf, the disabled, alcoholics, those with epilepsy, and ultimately the rural poor on welfare would fall unter the umbrella of 'unfit to procreate'", as well as criminals, "promiscuous" women (including victims of rape), and pregnant women out wedlock. 65.000 US-Americans were sterilised before the last programme was shut down in the 1980s (via).

In North Carolina ("home to the third most prolific and arguably the most racist sterilization program in the nation"), over 7.600 women, men, and children were sterilised during the state's sterilisation programme's 45-year reign, most often without consent. North Carolina was the only state where social workers had the right to suggest who was to be sterilised. Their recommendations were rarely turned down by the eugenics board (95% were accepted). In this climate, doctors felt encouraged and entitled to sterilise people whenever they saw fit.

"I was raped twice, once by the perpetrator and once by the state of North Carolina."
Elaine Riddick

A study of sterilisations carried out in California, "the most aggressive sterilizer in the nation" came to the following conclusions:
"Our dataset reveals that those sterilized in state institutions often were young women pronounced promiscuous; the sons and daughters of Mexican, Italian, and Japanese immigrants, frequently with parents too destitute to care for them; and men and women who transgressed sexual norms. Preliminary statistical analysis demonstrates that during the peak decade of operations from 1935 to 1944 Spanish-surnamed patients were 3.5 times more likely to be sterilized than patients in the general institutional population."
Alexandra Minna Stern
"In his exhaustive survey of state hospitals and homes in the late 1920s, and in a follow-up study about a decade later, Popenoe found that the foreign-born were disproportionately affected, constituting 39% of men and 31% of women sterilized. Of these, immigrants from Scandinavia, Britain, Italy, Russia, Poland, and Germany were most represented. These records also reveal that African Americans and Mexicans were operated on at rates that exceeded their population. Although in the 1920 census they made up about 4% of the state population, Mexican men and Mexican women, respectively, comprised 7% and 8% of those sterilized. Without the forced repatriations of hundreds of Mexicans from state facilities, orchestrated by the Deportation Office of the Department of Institutions, it very likely that this figure would have been higher. More striking, at the Norwalk State Hospital, in southern California, where a total of 380 Mexicans constituted 7.8% of admissions from 1921 to 1930, they were sterilized at rates of 11% for females and 13% for males. In addition, whereas African Americans constituted just over 1% of California’s population, they accounted for 4% of total sterilizations." Minna Stern, 2005

Native Americans were another target group of forced sterilisation - not so long ago. Between 1970 and 1976, about 25 to 50% of Native American women were sterilised in Albuquerque alone. Not a single woman was interviewed, neither was informed consent considered to be necessary.
"What may be the most disturbing aspect of the investigations followed: it was physicians and healthcare professionals in the IHS who coerced these women. It was they who abandoned their professional responsibility to protect the vulnerable through appropriate, non-eugenic indications for surgery and informed consent prior to the procedures. On a Navaho reservation alone, from 1972-1978, there was a 130% increase in abortions (a ratio of abortions per 1000 deliveries increasing from 34 to 77). The same study demonstrated that between 1972 and 1978, sterilization procedures went from 15.1% to 30.7% of total female surgeries on that one reservation. Healthcare professionals’ coercive tactics included the threat of withdrawing future healthcare provisions or custody of Native American children already born—if consent for sterilization was withheld." Rutecki, 2010

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court:

Part 2. Jurisdiction, Admissibility and Applicable Law

Article 6: Genocide
For the purpose of this Statute, "genocide" means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group

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- Byrd, W. M. & Clayton, L. A. (2002) An American Health Dilemma. Race, Medicine, and Health Care in the United States. 1900 - 2000. New York & London: Routledge
- Minna Stern, A. (2005) Sterilized in the Name of Public Health. Race, Immigration, and Reproductive Control in Modern California. American Journal of Public Health, 95(7), 1128-1138
- Rutecki, G. W. (2010) Forced Sterilization of Native Americans: Late Twentieth Century Physician Cooperation with National Eugenic Policies. CBHD
- photographs of Fannie Lou Hamer via and via and via and via and via

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Tattoos, Beauty and Matriarchal Power

"Tattoos were a symbol of matriarchal power." 
Yumna Al-Arashi

“I remember the moment my Yemeni grandmother scorned my aunts and cousins for making fun of my tattoo. The room fell silent. She said that by insulting me, I was also insulting her mother, and all of the women who came before her. Soon after, she shared faded photographs of my great-grandmother, who was beautifully adorned with lines and geometric patterns all over her face. My grandmother told me, ‘There was a love of individuality that my mother took in pride. I thought it was lost, but now I see her in you.’”
Yumna Al-Arashi

Yumna Al-Arashi was inspired by the story of her late great-grandmother and started searching for and photographing the probably last generation of women with facial tattoos in North Africa. The main reasons why these tattoos are vanishing are the spread of Western ideals of beauty - what was one beautiful is seen as weird and backwards by younger generations - and Islam which prohibits permanent changes to the body (via). In Algeria, there is also the "French Myth" according to which tattoos protected Algerian women from French soldiers by making them unattractive in Western eyes (via).
"The custom, once prevalent throughout the Middle East and North Africa, dates back thousands of years. (...) In large part, the appeal is aesthetic. Young daughters admired their mothers’ tattoos and yearned to one day get their own, just as Western girls count down the days until they can apply lipstick like their mothers. The designs themselves held rich symbolism, communicating connectedness to the earth and the fruits it produced, as well as the cosmos that made it so. Certain images also carried spiritual powers, including the ability to protect oneself and one’s loved ones from evil spirits.(...)Women, for the most part, stopped tattooing their faces and bodies in the 1930s and 1940s. Some elderly women with tattoos have since opted to remove them because of the religious connotations. The ever-shrinking remaining generation of women bearing the traditional ink are now in their 70s and older." Priscilla Frank

“I wanted these tattoos for as long as I could remember I wanted them to show my beauty, to highlight it. Every beautiful woman had tattoos. They symbolize my power, my beauty, and my ability to connect to the Earth. It’s something I’m so proud of.”
A woman

Photograph above:
“I have the stars and the moon on my cheeks. They’re the most beautiful things my eyes have seen. I don’t know how to read or write and I don’t have any devices like you, but I know my land and my Earth, the stars and moon help me navigate it. That’s why I’m here.”
Brika, Tunisia

photographs via

Monday, 2 October 2017


"The standout is Truth, taking and synthesising these themes into a gloriously cinematic, choir-laden masterpiece, seeking to remind us of the beautiful harmonies that differences bring."
Tara Joshi

"The whole project is the video and then my sister [Amani Washington] did a series of paintings. So the music and the paintings are an abstract metaphor for something that I wanted the video to bring to reality—to show [the beauty you’d experience] if you were able to have a zoom-out view of [Los Angeles, a big city that’s] very representative of the spirit of the United States. If you were to zoom out and be able to see these different people experiencing these different things simultaneously, how would it feel? It felt exactly like the way I thought it would. It feels beautiful. It feels warm. It feels the way it feels to live in the city: Walk past one house, and [take in the] smells and the sounds and the sights, and then you walk past another house and it’s a whole ’nother set. So that whole idea of zooming out and having this view of the people and their different ways."
Kamasi Washington

"The concept for Harmony and the video for “Truth” make clear that Washington is framing his work so that they’re in conversation with the biggest social issues facing the world. His music is both a challenge and a balm, the starting point of a conversation and a place you can go to meditate on what’s been said. Following on its massive and sometimes unwieldy predecessor, Harmony of Difference, a brief and concentrated blast of emotion, is a great place to catch up on what Washington has to say."
Mark Richardson

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Quoting Stevie Wonder

"Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn't mean he lacks vision."
Stevie Wonder

"Sometimes, I feel I am really blessed to be blind because I probably would not last a minute if I were able to see things."
Stevie Wonder

"Clearly, love is love, between a man and a woman, a woman and a man, a woman and a woman and a man and a man. What I'm not confused about is the world needing much more love, no hate, no prejudice, no bigotry and more unity, peace and understanding. Period."
Stevie Wonder

"I am all for anything that is going to better equip a person who is physically challenged in any way, to have an opportunity to be able to do what they are able to do."
Stevie Wonder

"I am not a normal man."
Stevie Wonder

"Do you know, it's funny, but I never thought of being blind as a disadvantage, and I never thought of being black as a disadvantage."
Stevie Wonder

"When I was a child, kids used to make fun of me because I was blind. But I just became more curious, 'How can I climb this tree and get an apple for this girl?' That's what mattered to me."
Stevie Wonder

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Stevie Wonder on YouTube:

::: Superstition: LISTEN/WATCH
::: For Once in My Life: LISTEN/WATCH
::: I'm Gonna Make You Love Me: LISTEN/WATCH
::: The Shadow of Your Smile: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterdy: LISTEN/WATCH

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photograph of Stevie Wonder via

Friday, 29 September 2017

Beauty Warriors

"To be successful, you must be perfect and look perfect—these are our society’s rules, which we all follow without even realizing how ridiculous the standards are. We often forget about the importance of inner beauty."
Evija Laivina

"The series “Beauty Warriors” is (sic) collection of photographs featuring strange and unusual-looking beauty products. All the products were bought on Ebay, and most items were made in China. These products promise instant cures to almost all beauty problems; they fight “problem zones” and promise to cure problems without surgical intervention. Each item visually appeals to me and I tried to show the relationship between beauty product and model."
Evija Laivina

Evija Laivina is an HND Contemporary Art Practice student at Inverness College UHI (via). Her “Beauty Warriors” received the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2017 Student Spotlight Award.

"In today’s world, success is closely tied to perceived perfection. Appropriating the style of traditional portraiture, this series questions the use of products that promise to augment our physical appearance."
Evija Laiviņa

photographs via, copyright by the artist