A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘human beings

[LINK] “Naomi Lewis’s ‘my big Jewish nose’ essay sparks controversy”

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CBC describes the controversy surrounding an extended personal essay by Calgary woman Naomi Lewis, published in the Calgary Herald, describing her complex personal relationship with her nose.

In A Bridge Too Far: The story of my big Jewish nose, 38-year-old Lewis writes about her experience getting a nose job at age 14. She also shares the experiences and complicated relationships between others in her life and their noses.

She interviewed her mother, aunt, father and two cosmetic surgeons in the hope of presenting different perspectives on why some Jewish women feel compelled to get nose jobs.

“It’s something that I’ve thought about quite a bit since it happened and I regretted it,” Lewis told CBC Radio’s Calgary Eyeopener.

“The more that I thought about it, the more it seemed related to a sort of internalized racism, a kind of after-effect of intergenerational trauma. I have a lot of Holocaust survivors in my family and I think that the cultural phenomena whereby Jewish women have more nose jobs than anyone else, historically, I think is related to that kind of persecution and a kind of internalized self-loathing.”

In response to the essay, Calgary Rabbi Shaul Osadchey wrote an op-ed piece blasting it as a “defamatory, borderline anti-Semitic, and anti-multiculturalism article.”

Osadchey said the article perpetuates offensive stereotypes that “lead to prejudice and discrimination on an individual level, which in term ultimately leads towards the gas chamber and the path of genocide.”

My reaction, as a non-Jewish reader, was that this was a sensitive essay examining one woman’s complex relationship with pervasive stereotypes and her own body. You?

Written by Randy McDonald

August 26, 2014 at 8:01 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • Centauri Dreamns comments on the way SETI is akin to casino gambling.
  • Crasstalk’s commentary on a ridiculous New York Post article arguing that catcalling is a good thing should be read.
  • D-Brief notes evidence suggesting that the short height of Africa’s Pygmies evolved on multiple occasions.
  • Eastern Approaches interviews Ukrainian rebels on the Russian side of the porous Russian-Ukrainian border.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Edward Hugh considers the chances of the Euro crisis reigniting over Italian and southern European debt.
  • Language Hat links to an article tracing efforts to preserve the Californian language of Wukchumni via its last speaker.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes a ridiculously terrible American journalist (morally and otherwise).
  • Marginal Revolution notes the continuing economic decline of print journalism.
  • Personal Reflection’s Jim Belshaw complains about the Australian government in terms akin to ones I’ve heard of in Canada.
  • Torontoist quotes Toronto city councillor Josh Matlow’s complaint that the fare for the proposed express train to Pearson is not very competitive with taxis.
  • Towleroad points to a recent pogrom against queer people in Uganda, killing seven.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell is appalled by ill-thought media-driven criticism of British public healthcare.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Bad Astronomy notes that some Ukrainian astronomers have insulted Putin by naming a star after him.
  • blogTO notes on the park front that the bandmembers of Rush will be honoured with a park in their own name in their own neighbourhood, and turns to the discussion about the
  • Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly asks readers if they can describe their job in five words.
  • Joe. My. God. links to a new Australian study suggesting the children of same-sex couples might turn out better than the children of traditional family structures.
  • Language Hat links to an interesting speculation of Victor Mair’s, to the effect that all languages include at least a thousand basic concepts, suggesting this might reflect something about the human mind.
  • Language Log notes garbled language about the greenhouse effect on Earth and Mars.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests that, based on a study, the Chinese language has the lowest percentage of borrowed words of any major language.
  • Personal Reflection’s Jim Belshaw notes, as a white Australian, problems with being involved in the struggles of Aborigines.
  • Savage Minds notes the use of archeology in Israel to justify the displacement of Palestinians.
  • Towleroad examines how a picture of a gay male couple with their newborn child has gone viral.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s Will Baude shared the voices of some Americans critical of the Declaration of Independence. (Frederick Douglass’ issues were well-founded.)
  • Window on Eurasia notes the exile of another Crimean Tatar from his Russian-annexed homeland and observes a call for less education in languages other than Russian that might hit worldly Russians as badly as it would ethnic minorities.

[LINK] “Scientists Translate Chimpanzee and Bonobo Gestures That Resemble Human Language”

Wired‘s Brandon Keim reports on claims by scientists to have observed what might be proto-language among chimpanzees, one based on gestures.

It will be interesting to watch this develop. It is noteworthy that chimpanzees can’t speak because they’re physically unable to, and that other primates like the famous Koko the gorilla have mastered sign language. What was going on unnoticed in the wild?

Scientists have described the communications of chimpanzees and bonobos in new and unsurpassed detail, offering a lexicon for our closest living relatives and even a glimpse into the origins of human language.

The research, contained in two new studies published July 3 in Current Biology, focuses on physical gestures. These are the primary form of communication in bonobos and chimps, used more readily than vocalizations.

One study describes how a certain bonobo gesture conveys an informational complexity not previously observed in non-human great apes. The other study identifies the meanings of no fewer than 36 chimpanzee gestures.

“What we’ve shown is a very rich system of many different meanings,” said primatologist Richard Byrne of Scotland’s University of St. Andrews, co-author of the chimpanzee study. “We have the closest thing to human language that you can see in nature.”

Byrne’s co-author, fellow University of St. Andrews primatologist Catherine Hobaiter, spent 18 months observing a group of chimpanzees in the Budongo Forest Reserve in western Kenya. Hobaiter painstakingly documented more than 4,500 gestures in 3,400 incidents of chimp-to-chimp gesturing, noting both the motions used and the responses of nearby chimps.

Subsequent statistical analysis boiled those observations down to 36 established gestures and 15 clear-cut meanings. (Multiple gestures are sometimes used for the same purpose, perhaps conveying some not-yet-understood nuance.) Stomping two feet, for example, is used to initiate play. Reaching means, “I want that,” and an air-hug embrace is a request for contact.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 4, 2014 at 7:33 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Andart’s Anders Sandberg links to a paper of his examining the ethics of brain emulations. How ethical is it do make very life-like simulations of minds?
  • blogTO notes a public art movement tracing the former path of the Don River.
  • The Burgh Diaspora’s Jim Russell notes that population change in the US is a consequence of migration and natural change.
  • Centauri Dreams considers intergalactic travel. Given the huge travel times involved, travelling on a hypervelocity star ejected from a solar system may be more secure.
  • The Cranky Sociologists’ SocProf notes that not caring about a particular social issue until it affects you actually isn’t good for society as a whole.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to one paper suggesting between 5.3 and 10% of Sun-like star ssupport Earth-sized planets in their circumstellar habitable zones, and another identifying HIP 114328 as a solar twin.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the latest developments in marriage equality in Finland.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen notes that Scottish devolution hasn’t changed much policy, perhaps passing over the possibility that perhaps devolution has prevented change.
  • Patrick Cain maps the 2014 Ontario election.
  • Torontoist notes that the Toronto Star has given the Toronto Public Library more than a million of its vintage photographs.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that, according to a recent court ruling, smartphones in the US are safe from arbitrary search.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine is steadily losing its position there.

[DM] “On the longevity and extended health of Icarians, among others”

I’ve a brief post up at Demography Matters taking a look at the longevity of certain Greek islanders, among others, and wondering what it might mean for the rest of us.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 26, 2014 at 3:59 am

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Centauri Dreams features an essay by Andreas Hein arguing that interstellar travel will be quite easy after the singularity hits, when our minds can be copied onto physical substrates.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that the dispute between Vietnam and China over their maritime boundaries runs the risk of intensifying.
  • Far Outliers chronicles the Australian creation of the Ferdinand radio network in the 1930s, a network of civilian radio broadcasters in northern Australia and Papua New Guinea charged with reporting on border security.
  • Joe. My. God. notes controversy in Israel over a harmless music video by trans pop star Dana International.
  • Language Hat notes one Russian writer’s suggestion on how Russian-language writers can avoid Russian state censorship: write in officially recognized variants of the Russian language (Ukrainian Russian, Latvian Russian, et cetera).
  • Language Log examines “patchwriting”, a subtle variant of plagiarism.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money is just one blog noting the insanity of George F. Will’s claim that being a rape victim on a university campus is a coveted status.
  • The Map Room’s Jonathan Crowe links to OpenGeoFiction, an online collaborative map-creation fiction.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that, before Hitler, the Biblical pharoah was the figure used as the embodiment of evil.
  • The New APPS Blog takes issue with the claim that photographs sully our memories. Arguably they supplement it instead.
  • Personal Reflection’s Jim Belshaw notes, following Australia’s recent budget cuts, how young people lacking connections can find it very difficult to get ahead.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that ethnic minorities and secessionist groups in Moldova are being mobilized as that country moves towards the European Union, and observes the maritime sanctions placed against Crimean ports.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell is very skeptical of UKIP founder Alan Sked’s statements that the party was founded free of bigotry.
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