A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘orientalism

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Architectuul looks at the history of brutalism in late 20th century Turkey.
  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait looks at the evidence for the Milky Way Galaxy having seen a great period of starburst two billion years ago, and notes how crowded the Milky Way Galaxy is in the direction of Sagittarius.
  • Centauri Dreams considers if astrometry might start to become useful as a method for detecting planets, and considers what the New Horizons data, to Pluto and to Ultima Thule, will be known for.
  • Belle Waring at Crooked Timber considers if talk of forgiveness is, among other things, sound.
  • D-Brief considers the possibility that the differing natures of the faces of the Moon can be explained by an ancient dwarf planet impact, and shares images of dust-ringed galaxy NGC 4485.
  • Dead Things notes the discovery of fossil fungi one billion years old in Nunavut.
  • Far Outliers looks at how, over 1990, Russia became increasingly independent from the Soviet Union, and looks at the final day in office of Gorbachev.
  • Gizmodo notes the discovery of literally frozen oceans of water beneath the north polar region of Mars, and looks at an unusual supernova, J005311 ten thousand light-years away in Cassiopeia, product of a collision between two white dwarfs.
  • JSTOR Daily notes how the colour of navy blue is a direct consequence of slavery and militarism, and observes the historical influence, or lack thereof, of Chinese peasant agriculture on organic farming in the US.
  • Language Log considers a Chinese-language text from San Francisco combining elements of Mandarin and Cantonese.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the terrible environmental consequences of the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia, and Shakezula at Lawyers, Guns and Money takes a look at how, and perhaps why, Sam Harris identifies milkshake-throwing at far-right people as a form of “mock assassination”.
  • The Map Room Blog shares a personal take on mapmaking on the Moon during the Apollo era.
  • Marginal Revolution observes a paper suggesting members of the Chinese communist party are more liberal than the general Chinese population. The blog also notes how Soviet quotas led to a senseless and useless mass slaughter of whales.
  • Russell Darnley writes about the complex and tense relationship between Indonesia and Australia, each with their own preoccupations.
  • Martin Filler writes at the NYR Daily about I.M. Pei as an architect specializing in an “establishment modernism”. The site also takes a look at Orientalism, as a phenomenon, as it exists in the post-9/11 era.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reflects on the meaning of Australia’s New England.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes how Hayabusa 2 is having problems recovering a marker from asteroid Ryugu.
  • Peter Rukavina reports on an outstanding Jane Siberry concert on the Island.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog shares a map of homophobia in Europe.
  • The Signal looks at how the Library of Congress makes use of wikidata.
  • The Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle reports, with photos, from his latest walks this spring.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel considers what the Earth looked like when hominids emerged, and explains how amateur astronomers can capture remarkable images.
  • Frank Jacobs at Strange Maps shares a controversial map depicting the shift away from CNN towards Fox News across the United States.
  • Daniel Little at Understanding Society examines the Boeing 737 MAX disaster as an organizational failure.
  • Window on Eurasia looks why Turkey is backing away from supporting the Circassians, and suggests that the use of the Russian Orthodox Church by the Russian state as a tool of its rule might hurt the church badly.
  • Arnold Zwicky takes apart, linguistically and otherwise, a comic playing on the trope of Lassie warning about something happening to Timmy. He also
    reports on a far-removed branch of the Zwicky family hailing from Belarus, as the Tsvikis.

[LINK] “What’s Wrong With Happiness”

Wonkman notes that the concept of Gross National Happiness pioneered by the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is, among other things, the sham put on by a totalitarian monarchy prone to committing crimes against its subjects that’s happy to be the benefit of an Orientalist othering.

[W]hat makes it well and truly twisted is that the Bhutanese government pursues these policies and practices explicitly in order to promote the appearance of happiness. According to the government, happiness is a characteristic of the Bhutanese. Any form of dissent or apparent unhappiness is unpatriotic and intolerable. (Why do you think they’re deporting their own citizens by the thousands? They were endangering the national happiness, so they had to go.)

It’s fashionable in the west for us to talk about Bhutan as if it’s this nation of jolly savages: sure, they might not have an economy, but they’re happier than we are! And isn’t that swell? Isn’t it great how they’ve subverted western notions of commercial happiness? Hooray!

The actual picture is much, much bleaker. Bhutan is a nation without human rights, with a government who actively works to subvert human dignity. The Bhutanese people might be smiling, but it’s largely because their government has installed fish hooks in their cheeks.

This entire happiness obsession amounts to an especially successful gambit. By emphasizing happiness (defined on the government’s terms), the Bhutanese government distracts us from everything that’s wrong with their country: the non-existent economy, the absence of human rights, the flagrant violations of UN resolutions about the rights of citizens and refugees, and the despotic government in charge of it all.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 23, 2013 at 12:52 am