NHK reported this week that a Kyoto prefecture public relations office that deals with complaints and citizen requests is using dummies to increase work efficiency.
The five upper-body-only mannequins sit on the staff desks facing the employees to ensure they don’t relax. Each is given a name, age, gender and occupation. Yoshiko Naniwano, for example, is a 66-year-old lady from Osaka who came to visit Kyoto for sightseeing. She has some complaints to make. Another is a 32-year-old woman raising her kids. And there’s a 24-year-old graduate student who is job hunting.
“I feel like being watched. The tense feeling in a good sense makes me work more efficiently,” says one employee. The initiative has been so successful so far the office plans to employ more dummies soon.
He’s an Indian, and Brazilian officials have concluded that he’s the last survivor of an uncontacted tribe. They first became aware of his existence nearly 15 years ago and for a decade launched numerous expeditions to track him, to ensure his safety, and to try to establish peaceful contact with him. In 2007, with ranching and logging closing in quickly on all sides, government officials declared a 31-square-mile area around him off-limits to trespassing and development.
It’s meant to be a safe zone. He’s still in there. Alone.
Certainly other last tribesmen and -women have succumbed unobserved throughout history, the world unaware of their passing. But what makes the man in Brazil unique is not merely the extent of his solitude or the fact that the government is aware of his existence. It’s the way they’ve responded to it.
Advanced societies invariably have subsumed whatever indigenous populations they’ve encountered, determining those tribes’ fates for them. But Brazil is in the middle of an experiment. If peaceful contact is established with the lone Indian, they want it to be his choice. They’ve dubbed this the “Policy of No Contact.” After years of often-tragic attempts to assimilate into modern life the people who still inhabit the few remaining wild places on the planet, the policy is a step in a totally different direction. The case of the lone Indian represents its most challenging test.
12) Everyone is proud of where they are from. When you meet someone local in another country, most people will be quick to tell you something about their city/province/country that they are proud of. Pride and patriotism seem to be universal values. I remember trying to cross the street once in Palau, one of the smallest countries in the world, and a high school kid came up to me and said, “This is how we cross the street in PALAU!” Even crossing the street became an act to tell me about his pride in his country. People involved in making foreign policy should be very aware of this.
“Being popular and well liked is not in your best interest… if you behave in a manner pleasing to most, then you are probably doing something wrong. The masses have never been arbiters of the sublime, and they often fail to recognize the truly great individual. Taking into account the public’s regrettable lack of taste, it is incumbent upon you not to fit in.”— Janeane Garofalo, Feel This Book (via nobackseats, missworld, earlyfrost, ephemere)
Are Palestinians the only group so blocked from making pages? Well, not really… after a little fiddling around, I discovered that al-Qaida Refugee ResearchNet and Nazi Refugee ResearchNet are filtered too.
It does seem a bit odd, however, that a population of up to 12 million people, receiving more than a billion dollars in international aid, recognized by the UN, and enjoying a degree of formal diplomatic recognition from the United States — is placed in the same filtered category as Nazis and al-Qaida.
I’ve sent an email to Facebook customer service—we’ll see what they say.
Just to be sure, I tried myself to create a “Palestinian sports” page — not allowed.
“The people who run our cities don’t understand graffiti because they think nothing has the right to exist unless it makes a profit. The people who truly deface our neighborhoods are the companies that scrawl giant slogans across buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy their stuff. Any advertisement in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours, it belongs to you, it’s yours to take, rearrange and re use. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.”—Banksy
At every stage of early development, human babies lag behind infants from other species. A kitten can amble across a room within moments of birth and catch its first mouse within weeks, while its wide-eyed human counterpart takes months to make her first step, and years to learn even simple tasks, such as how to tie a shoelace or skip a rope, let alone prepare a three-course meal. Yet, in the cognitive race, human babies turn out to be much like the tortoise in Aesop’s fable: emerging triumphant after a slow and steady climb to the finish. As adults, we drive fancy sports cars, leap nimbly across football fields and ballet stages, write lengthy dissertations on every conceivable subject, and launch rockets into space. We have a mastery over our selves and our environments that is peculiar to our species.
Yet, this victory seems puzzling. In the fable, the tortoise wins the race because the hare takes a nap. But, if anything, human infants nap even more than kittens! And unlike the noble tortoise, babies are helpless, and more to the point, hopeless. They could not learn the basic skills necessary to their independent survival even if they tried. How do human babies manage to turn things around in the end?
In a recent article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, Sharon Thompson-Schill, Michael Ramscar and Evangelia Chrysikou make the case that this very helplessness is what allows human babies to advance far beyond other animals. They propose that our delayed cortical development is precisely what enables us to acquire the cultural building blocks, such as language, that make up the foundations of human achievement. Indeed, the trio makes clear that our early vulnerability is an evolutionary “engineering trade-off,” much like the human larynx—which, while it facilitates the intricate productions of human speech, is actually quite a precarious adaptation for anyone trying to swallow safely. In the same way, they suggest, our ability to learn language comes at the price of an extended period of cognitive immaturity…
“The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor—not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules.”
Along comes “Just Give Money to the Poor: The Development Revolution from the Global South.” The book’s authors, three development scholars, contend that prudently run cash-transfer programs from Mexico to South Africa to Indonesia argue for a greater emphasis on direct payments to the poor, to spend as they see fit. Mr. Chakrabortty calls it “among the most talked-about new ideas in aid.” A couple of years ago, Oxfam tried the idea out in a few villages in Vietnam. Charity workers gave the equivalent of three years’ wages in one go to more than 400 families. When they returned they found that poverty had dropped through the floor, with most of the money spent sensibly on food or fertilizers, seeds and cows. But older people had put some cash towards coffins, explaining that funerals were a major expense. And one group had built a communal house, to practice yoga.
In the last few years, doing good and helping others has become fashionable with companies clamoring to get on the do-gooding bandwagon. One of the more interesting efforts is the buy-one, give-one model, a concept most associated with TOMS shoes but which is quickly gaining additional corporate followers. And while it’s certainly hard to criticize any of these companies’ efforts, I can’t help but wonder if we might be overcelebrating.
This all sounds great, but upon further examination, I’m honestly not so sure. It seems to me that $160 (the cost of the two items) spent another way could do far more good than some shoes and a pair of specs. For instance, other organizations dedicated to providing glasses to the developing world have managed to drop the cost as low as $19 a pair. The $95 you’d use to buy a pair from Warby Parker could send more than four pairs to the developing world. Which leads me to this question: In supporting brands like TOMS, are we really trying to do good? Or are we just buying stuff that comes with a case of the warm-and-fuzzies?
Of course, there are other, more complex layers to this debate. As Carolina Vallejo has asked with her Design for the First World project: Who the heck are we to decide what other people need most? I’m not saying that shoes or glasses aren’t of value to any particular group of people. But are they more valuable than a new school, or clean water, or livestock, or pharmaceuticals? The truth is, I don’t know.
And while I think that TOMS’s Blake Mycoskie and those like him are doing fantastic things, I worry that someone who buys a pair of TOMS will consider their job done. They’ll feel good about their $50 shoe purchase, knowing they’ve just given a pair to a child in need when a donation of half that amount could have possibly helped that child in substantially more impactful ways.
Please don’t get me wrong: I applaud the efforts of these companies in adding a humanitarian component to their business. I, myself, am the proud owner of a pair of TOMS. I’m just saying that as with most things, the buy-one, give-one phenomenon isn’t quite as simple as it seems on the surface. The logical stance is that doing some good is better than doing nothing. I’m just wondering how much good we’re actually doing.