dissabte, 15 de juny de 2019

The mindfulness conspiracy by Ronald Purser


The long read
The mindfulness conspiracy
It is sold as a force that can help us cope with the ravages of capitalism, but with its inward focus, mindful meditation may be the enemy of activism. By Ronald Purser

Fri 14 Jun 2019 06.00 BST



(...)
If mindfulness just helps people cope with the toxic conditions that make them stressed in the first place, then perhaps we could aim a bit higher. Should we celebrate the fact that this perversion is helping people to “auto-exploit” themselves? This is the core of the problem.

(...)
Over the past few decades, neoliberalism has outgrown its conservative roots. It has hijacked public discourse to the extent that even self-professed progressives, such as Kabat-Zinn, think in neoliberal terms. Market values have invaded every corner of human life, defining how most of us are forced to interpret and live in the world.

Perhaps the most straightforward definition of neoliberalism comes from the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who calls it “a programme for destroying collective structures that may impede the pure market logic”. We are generally conditioned to think that a market-based society provides us with ample (if not equal) opportunities for increasing the value of our “human capital” and self-worth. And in order to fully actualise personal freedom and potential, we need to maximise our own welfare, freedom, and happiness by deftly managing internal resources.

Since competition is so central, neoliberal ideology holds that all decisions about how society is run should be left to the workings of the marketplace, the most efficient mechanism for allowing competitors to maximise their own good. Other social actors – including the state, voluntary associations, and the like – are just obstacles to the smooth operation of market logic.

(...)
All of this may help you to sleep better at night. But the consequences for society are potentially dire. The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek has analysed this trend. As he sees it, mindfulness is “establishing itself as the hegemonic ideology of global capitalism”, by helping people “to fully participate in the capitalist dynamic while retaining the appearance of mental sanity”.

(...)
An illustrative example is the practice of recycling. The real problem is the mass production of plastics by corporations, and their overuse in retail. However, consumers are led to believe that being personally wasteful is the underlying issue, which can be fixed if they change their habits. As a recent essay in Scientific American scoffs: “Recycling plastic is to saving the Earth what hammering a nail is to halting a falling skyscraper.”

(...)
At face value, these efforts seem benevolent, but they obscure the real problem, which is the role that corporate polluters play in the plastic problem. This clever misdirection has led journalist and author Heather Rogers to describe Keep America Beautiful as the first corporate greenwashing front, as it has helped shift the public focus to consumer recycling behaviour and thwarted legislation that would increase extended producer responsibility for waste management.



Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd.

dimarts, 11 de juny de 2019

Rius d’Europa. 01. El Danubi


Rius d’Europa. 01. El Danubi

La geografia és una d’aquelles branques del coneixement que és tan ignorada com odiada per la major part dels estudiants. A força de ser ridiculitzada per molts que entenen que es tracta d’una mera enumeració de topònims, ha acabat per ser arraconada en la pràctica docent. El resultat és que una bona part de la població no té ni idea d’una sèrie de referents necessaris per comprendre, si més no, la ubicació de molts esdeveniments històrics i polítics.

Malgrat que en la meva dotació genètica el gen garrulo és dominant, tractaré d’ajudar a resoldre una mica aquestes carències de les quals jo soc un veritable exemple. Començarem pel segon riu més llarg: el Danubi.

La primera en el front: Si el Danubi és el segon, quin és el primer? Resposta: el Volga. Cal admetre però que el Volga ens queda una mica lluny. De fet pertany a la conca del Caspi. Ja ho tractarem més endavant.

Tornem al Danubi. Neix a la Selva Negra alemanya prop de les fronteres de França i Suïssa. Un cop nascut cal posar-li un nom. En català li diem Danubi, en castellà Danubio, en anglès Danube i en alemany Donau. Si et fixes, hi ha una rel constant, amb vocals diferents: D+vocal+n. La gràcia és que aquesta rel indoeuropea vol dir.... riu. Encara sort que Strauss li va donar una mica més de categoria amb la seva música. No oblidis aquesta rel perquè ens servirà per als altres rius del vessant del Mar Negre: el Dniester, el Dnieper i el Don.


Dins Alemanya cal destacar que es troba al sud de Stuttgart i al nord de Munic. Quan deixa Alemanya entra a Àustria passant per Linz i Viena. Linz la podem recordar per la Simfonia 36 de Mozart. Resulta que estava, el 1783, per allí de vacances i el van tractar molt bé. Tant que li van convidar a un concert però ell no portava res escrit. Total que es va posar a fer-ne una simfonia a “tot drap” i li va sortir la 36. També podem posar Linz al mapa per estar a sols 25 km del camp de concentració de Mauthausen. Passant per Viena recuperem la part artística i no podem deixar de pensar en Strauss i el seu Danubi blau. Altres veïns de Viena, a banda de Strauss, foren Mozart o Freud.

Quan el Danubi abandona Àustria li entra la vocació política i es dedica a marcar fronteres. Així el primer que fa és passar per Bratislava (capital d’Eslovàquia després de la seva partició de l’antiga Txecoslovàquia)  i marcar bona part de la frontera sud d’Eslovàquia amb Hongria. Però quan ensuma Budapest no s’hi pot estar i gira cap al sud travessant tota Hongria en sentit Nord-Sud. Budapest (formada per Buda i Pest) i el Danubi tenen una imatge icònica on el Parlament s’emmiralla al riu.

Quan se li acaba Hongria, el nostre Danubi torna a marcar frontera. Ara separa Croàcia de Sèrbia. Però abans d’arribar a Bòsnia decideix girar a l’oest i marcar-se un Belgrad. De Belgrad, el que no podem oblidar és la seva vinculació amb Tesla. De fet l’aeroport té el seu nom i, com a curiositat, les seves cendres es troben dins una esfera daurada, el seu objecte preferit, al museu Nikola Tesla.

Continua cap a l’oest i ara sí que la vocació de frontera és màxima. Fa de frontera entre Sèrbia i Romania. A partir d’aquest punt forma la quasi total frontera entre Romania i Bulgària. Quan ja està arribant al Mar Negre li dona un rampell i es dirigeix cap al Nord. La frontera, evidentment, no li fa cas, ja que hauria significat l’aïllament de Romania respecte al mar.

Ara, just abans de morir, en un punt acarona Romania, Moldàvia i Ucraïna. A partir d’aquí continua essent frontera, l’última, entre Ucraïna i Romania però ja és pràcticament delta.

Hem fet un ràpid viatge de 2850 kilòmetres, és a dir, si fa no fa, la distància entre Barcelona i Minsk. Un tros de riu!

dijous, 6 de juny de 2019

Semáforos y formas de dormir en Una lección olvidada de Guillermo Altares

Traffic lights and sleeping ways
Semàfors i formes de dormir


“Uno de los emblemas de ese cambio fue la construcción de semáforos: el primero se instaló en Londres en diciembre de 1868, en la esquina entre Palace Yard y Bridge Street. La capital británica de nuevo se adelantó a las ciudades del resto del mundo: el primer semáforo en París no se instaló hasta 1923 y en Berlín hasta 1924. En Estados Unidos, el primero fue construido en Salt Lake City en 1912; en Nueva York, el instrumento para regular el tráfico con colores no llegó hasta 1918. También el transporte, en este caso el tren, supuso un avance crucial que ahora regula nuestras vidas: la unificación del sistema horario, decretada en 1880 con la hora de Londres. Antes del ferrocarril, los pueblos se regían por la hora del reloj de su campanario, pero la necesidad de establecer horarios fijos, no sólo para los viajeros sino para la seguridad de los convoyes, hizo que tuviese que fijarse la misma hora en todas partes. El tiempo universal con respecto al meridiano de Greenwich –en las afueras de Londres- fue adoptado por veintisiete países reunidos en Washington en 1884. (…) /página 264/

Por ejemplo, la paulatina generalización de la electricidad cambió la forma en que dormimos. Estudiosos como Roger Ekirch han demostrado que antes de la era industrial, esto es, durante la mayor parte de la historia de la humanidad, dormíamos en dos fases: la gente se acostaba después de cenar, dormía hasta la medianoche, luego se levantaba durante unas horas y hacía el amor, rezaba, leía o cocinaba a la luz de las velas, y luego volvía a meterse en la cama hasta el amanecer. El sueño continuo es un invento del siglo XIX. (…) /página 265/
Guillermo Altares
Una lección olvidada. Viajes por la historia de Europa
Tusquets Editores
5ª edición enero 2019

dimecres, 5 de juny de 2019

Men built this system by Ellie Mae O’Hagan


Una nova perspectiva del feminisme molt en línia amb La trampa de la diversidad de Daniel Bernabé.

Men built this system. No wonder gender equality remains as far off as ever
Ellie Mae O’Hagan

With not a single country on track to achieve gender parity by 2030, it’s clear that radical overhaul is required

Tue 4 Jun 2019 11.30 BST Last modified on Tue 4 Jun 2019 14.16 BST

I’m not going to lie; it’s annoying to start one’s week with the news that no country in the entire world is set to achieve gender equality by 2030. Given that our world leaders seem to continually miss targets on every measure put forward to improve things, from climate change to poverty, I’m starting to suspect they don’t really care about anything.

In any case, the UN reports that all but 10 countries have men as heads of government, so I’m tempted to paraphrase Greta Thunberg: we’re not here for you to tell us what you consider is politically possible in the society that you have created. The modern world was created by men, and it shows. The pay gap remains 23%; women are more likely to be in vulnerable work; we have less access to financial institutions; we’re less likely to have workplace protections and benefits; and we spend 2.5 times more of our time on unpaid work – in fact, women do so much unpaid work that if it were paid, it would account for between 10% and 39% of GDP.

The bottom line is that gender inequality is a choice countries are making, not an inevitability. And although a lack of women leaders isn’t helping, let’s not be shallow enough to think that simply putting women in charge of a broken system would fix the problem. Only deep economic change will provide the foundations for gender equality – and perhaps that’s why those who are doing just fine, thank you very much, are dragging their heels.

Britain currently ranks 17 out of 129 across the world, in a chart topped by Denmark. But since no country is set to meet the 2030 target at this point, there’s no reason why Britain can’t leapfrog over the 16 countries above it, achieve gender equality and act as a blueprint for other nations to follow. So how would we do it? Here are some ideas:

An end to austerity and massive investment in the welfare system
(…)

Invest in measures to keep women safe from male violence
(…)

Strengthen trade unions and improve working conditions
(…)

Improve women’s social status
(…)

Go internationalist
(…)

If you’re starting to suspect that these suggestions are less a manifesto and more a list of ways to undermine capitalism, you may be right. But what’s clear from this damning news is that attempting to tackle gender inequality within the current system simply isn’t working. Perhaps it’s time to create a new one.

Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd.

VOCABULARY

Overhaul: Renovation, repair
Drag your ˈfeet/ˈheels: Do something very slowly or delay doing something because you do not want to do it: How much longer will the government go on dragging its feet about whether to invest more money in the railways?
Turn away: To refuse admittance or assistance to
bell hooks: Gloria Jean Watkins (born September 25, 1952), better known by her pen name bell hooks, is an American author, professor, feminist, and social activist. Note is used in not capital letters because is a pen name. A pen name (nom de plume or literary double) is a pseudonym (or, in some cases, a variant form of a real name) adopted by an author and printed on the title page or by-line of their works in place of their "real" name.
Darndest / darnedest / damnedest:   The best
No pun intended: The pun, also called paronomasia, is a form of word play that exploits multiple meanings of a term, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect.


dimarts, 4 de juny de 2019

Waitrose launches packaging-free trial by Rebecca Smithers


Waitrose launches packaging-free trial
Oxford store offers refillable options for items such as alcohol, rice and cleaning materials

Rebecca Smithers Consumer affairs correspondent     Tue 4 Jun 2019 00.01 BST

Waitrose has unveiled its vision of environmentally conscious shopping, offering customers the chance to buy food and drink that is completely free of packaging as part of a ground-breaking trial for a large retailer.

In a new drive to try to eliminate unnecessary plastic and packaging, shoppers will be able to fill their own containers with a range of products from a series of dispensers, using the first dedicated refill station installed by a major UK supermarket.

In a trial starting this week at a Waitrose supermarket in Oxford, customers are being given refillable options for products including wine and beer, rice and cleaning materials, with prices typically 15% cheaper than the packaged alternatives.

A standalone pick and mix range of frozen fruit and a borrow-a-box scheme to help carry shopping home are other new retail formats being tested by Waitrose at the Botley Road shop.

Waitrose has transformed the store by removing hundreds of products from their packaging, although shoppers will still be able to buy the packaged versions if they wish.

Plastic waste has become a major environmental issue, with television programmes such as Blue Planet exposing its detrimental effects on the oceans, and media coverage highlighting the dangers of a global plastic binge.

Waitrose is among the UK’s supermarkets which have signed up to the UK Plastics Pact – an industry-wide initiative to transform packaging and reduce avoidable plastic waste. However, retailers have been criticised for not doing more to tackle the issue at an earlier stage.


“This test has potential to shape how people might shop with us in the future so it will be fascinating to see which concepts our customers have an appetite for,” said Waitrose’s Tor Harris.

Ariana Densham, an oceans campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “This is a genuinely bold step from Waitrose to trial food dispensers so customers can use refillable tubs and jars. Lots of supermarkets are starting to sell loose fruit and vegetables, but this kind of innovation could spark a refill culture that’s so desperately needed to cut plastics in mainstream shops.

“The top 10 UK supermarkets produce 810,000 tonnes of throwaway packaging each year, so we need to see other major retailers taking plastic reduction seriously and following Waitrose’s lead.”

A choice of 160 loose fruit and vegetables will be available, along with four different wines and four beers on tap to be taken home in reusable bottles and nearly 30 products including pasta, rice, grains, couscous, lentils, cereals, dried fruit and seeds available from dispensers.

The “unpackaged” model relying on refills has already been adopted by some independent retailers, delicatessens and farm shops but this is the first time it is being used at a national supermarket chain.

For the borrow-a-box scheme, customers will pay a £5 deposit which is refundable when the container is returned. A frozen pick and mix section initially selling fruit such as blueberries and mango will encourage shoppers to bring in their own containers.

“Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd”.


VOCABULARY

A standalone pick: (?) ‘Una selecció autònoma, separada, exclusiva...’
Binge: ​ An occasion when an activity is done in an extreme way, especially eating, drinking, or spending money. Binge eating disorder.
Tackle: If you tackle a difficult problem or task, you deal with it in a very determined or efficient way.
Loose fruit: Fruit separated pieces.
Beers on tap: If drinks are on tap, they come from a tap rather than from a bottle. In Spanish we say “de barril”, not “de grifo”.

dilluns, 3 de juny de 2019

The president of the USA has been invited to meet the Queen of England by First Dog on the Moon

The president of the United States has been invited to meet the Queen of England




First Dog on the Moon




Sprinkle: A small quantity
Hawthorn twigs:ramitas de espino’ / ‘branquetes d’espinaler’
Dung:Estiércol’ / ‘Fems
Civets:Gineta’ / ‘Gat mesquer
He’s just making things up:Se está inventando cosas’ / ‘S’està inventant coses


Cruet: ‘Vinagrera’
The very Queen of England:La mismísima reina de Inglaterra’ / ‘L’autèntica reina d’Anglaterra’
Hand it to someone: Said to acknowledge how well someone has done something or how good they are at it, even though you do not like the person or do not approve of their actions: Whatever you thought of his act, you had to hand it to him – he knew how to make money.

Cartoon by First Dog on the Moon

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2019/jun/03/the-president-of-the-united-states-cant-talk-like-this-to-the-very-queen-of-england

Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd.

Three dog's stories from Crumbs of Comfort (by Dave)


Unes histories de gossos amb final feliç recollides a Crumbs of Comfort:

 Friday, May 17, 2019
"UNADOPTABLE" DOG NOW A HERO

Melissa Lambert of Waynesboro, Pa., really didn't want a dog. She and her husband were busy enough taking care of three children, ages three to eight. But then she met Edgar, a Treeing Walker Coonhound who turned up at the local humane society.  She adopted the 4-year-old who had spent his life on the streets and was once labeled by a shelter in West Virginia as "unadoptable."

Months later, the Lamberts are calling Edgar a hero for scaring off a man who entered their home looking for a child to abduct. It was night. Everyone was asleep when the man broke through a first-floor window on April 28. Edgar is a pretty calm dog, and was sleeping with the couple when he suddenly "went nuts." He was in a pure rage, and could not be quieted. That's when they heard footsteps on the kitchen floor downstairs. The intruder fled, and was arrested the next day. He admitted he was trolling the neighborhood looking for unsupervised children. But Edgar refused to let that happen. When the couple explained to police how the dog had "started losing his mind," they could hardly believe it.

Turn up: Aparèixer’
Go nuts: ‘Tornar-se boig’
Flee / fled / fled: ‘Escapar’


Thursday, May 9, 2019
DEAF DOG LEARNS SIGN LANGUAGE

Emerson is a good dog, but sadly he's deaf, so he seemed unable to find a "forever home." Now he has a wonderful life, thanks to his new owner, Nick Abbot, who is also deaf. They pair have bonded since Nick, who is from Maine, adopted Emerson as a 12-week-old puppy and taught him some sign language.

Nick learned about Emerson through a Facebook post about him. He went to see the pup, and says "He came right to me at the door and sat right away at my feet and stayed there. So you can tell he kind of picked me. I knew we'd get along and understand each other pretty good." Even though they can't hear each other, they are able to communicate. If Nick signs the letter S, Nick sits down. If he sweeps one hand sideways, Nick lies down. Over the years, who know how many signs he'll learn?

Have bond: ‘Unir-se’
So you can tell he kind of picked me: ‘Així que pots ben dir que, d’alguna manera, ell em va escollir a mi’

Tuesday, March 5, 2019
"DO YOU KNOW THIS LOST DOG?"

Jason Gasparik found a lost dog wandering near Ballantyne Commons Parkway in Charlotte, North Carolina, recently. He checked it for a microchip, and found one, but sadly it was not registered and no data was available. But Jason didn't give up. He posted information about the lost dog on his social media accounts and several lost pet Facebook pages.

When none of his efforts found the dog's owner, Jason went the extra mile, standing with the canine on the corner near where she was found, holding a sign that said "Do you know this lost dog?" During the two days Jason stood by the street, the canine's owner, Ed, was driving around looking for his lost lab named Indy. Because of a back injury, Ed could not walk easily, but he'd stop his car and ask folks if they'd seen his dog. When he showed his photo of Indy to a lady walking her own lab, she remembered Jason's social posts and his hours on the street corner. She connected the two men, and Indy was happy to be reunited with her rightful owner.

Do give up: ‘Renunciar’
Go the extra mile: To be willing to make a special effort to do or achieve something.
Lab: In this case refers is a short for Labrador retriever.