Week In Review
The Week In Review is a roundup of interesting, inspiring or thought-provoking things I've read this week. "How are you to imagine anything if the images are always provided for you? To defend ourselves...we must learn to read. To stimulate our own imagination, to cultivate our own consciousness, our own belief system. We all need these skills to defend, to preserve, our own minds." -- Adrien Brody
The Maasai Want Their Brand Back | Ephrat Livni, Quartz
The Maasai are saying that companies borrowing traditional designs and patterns of cloth and beading, as well as their name, should pay for the privilege or desist, just as Burberry would demand. But IP rights have to be enforced by those who claim them. There’s no international IP police that will ensure justice, but there are rules and forums for making claims internationally. Each claimant must prosecute their own cases, and claims can be lost if people sleep on their rights too long. In practice and principle, IP law rewards those who promptly police their rights themselves, which is why the initiative organized the Maasai.
MIPI consults with the Maasai through community boards and gatherings on appropriate usage of the cultural brand to “regain control” of it in ways approved by the people. The initiative is ambitious, an effort to turn a people across two countries into one unified whole, armed with attorneys. MIPI has even drafted a Maasai constitution.
We're Living in a Copycat Culture | Sadie Stein, T Magazine
As the deep vaults of history are made accessible to everyone via technology, the past has become an alternative present. Swipe through Instagram and you can find cults of people devoted to dressing like flappers or cooking like Victorians or decorating their homes as if they were goat herders in 17th-century Lithuania — minus, of course, the anachronistic demands of age or class or race. (It’s a sort of utopia where no one dies of smallpox.) We can dress in one decade, eat in another and enjoy the music of a third, without abandoning the comforts of now. (A more sinister version of all this can be found on HBO’s “Westworld.”)
There is a theory called “block universe,” which suggests the present does not relentlessly flow like a river into the future. Rather, time is frozen, with an equally real past, present and future. Such a theory offers another intriguing rationale for our current strain of nostalgia: that perhaps the past’s mistakes are still happening and can be corrected...
A fashion designer breaks down why some clothes are worth spending more on | Marc Bain, Quartz
The difference isn’t just in how much workers make and the conditions they work in, but also the work they’re doing. Elizabeth Suzann top-stitches high-stress seams for durability, according to Pape, and uses French seams, which leave no raw fabric edges exposed, ensuring edges don’t unravel and giving the inside of the garment a cleaner look. These methods are most common in high-end clothing, since they’re time and labor-intensive.
Factories focused on quickly and cheaply churning out large quantities of clothes, on the other hand, typically use a serging machine to finish edges, which isn’t necessarily a problem. The greater concern is that they may also cut corners when sewing clothes to save time, leading to items that fall apart after little wear.
Politics, The Environment, and Humanity
The Spirit of Standing Rock on the Move | Stephanie Woodward, YES! Magazine
A beautiful, important read on the echoes of Standing Rock in Native American struggles for land and water, environmental and human rights, and for survival in seven tribes across the country.
Native-led campaigns take place in courtrooms, legislatures, and other government chambers. They also occur during face-offs on the prairie, desert, and tundra. "So far, we haven't had to stand in front of bulldozers," says Kimberly Williams, Curyung tribal member and director of an Alaska Native group seeking to protect the massive Bristol Bay salmon fishery from a proposed mine. "But I'm ready to."
"What we learned at Standing Rock is the power of unity," says Orona. "Hundreds of indigenous nations from all over the country and the globe stood together, along with supporters, and that endures."
By the end of November 2016, more than 300 tribes were represented at the Standing Rock camps. Back home, each tribe faces its own struggle against government and industry, with decades of destruction and injustice behind and years of fighting ahead.
Also, speaking of Standing Rock, public comment on the Dakota Access Pipeline is open until February 20. Here is an excellent overview on using the public commenting mechanism of our democracy to make your opinion on the matter known to the government.
Don't Call Trump "Crazy": The Dangers of Pathologizing Bad Politics | Kelly Hayes, Truthout
An interview with Dr. Allen Frances, author of the clinical diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. He says this:
It's an insult to people who have real mental illness to be lumped with Trump. Most people with mental illness are well-meaning, well-mannered and well-behaved. And Trump is none of these. Trump is bad, not mad. And when bad people are labelled mentally ill, it stigmatizes mental illness.
In order to qualify for a mental disorder you not only have to have the personality features, you also have to have clinically significant distress or impairment caused by them. Trump causes distress, but there is no evidence that he experiences it. And instead of being impaired by his narcissistic behavior, he is rewarded for it, to the extent of being elected president of the United States.
An Ad Hoc Affair: Jane Jacob's clear-eyed vision of humanity | Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, The Nation
Death and Life’s first sentence didn’t mince words: “This book is an attack on current city planning and rebuilding.” The heart of the work was arguably “The Conditions for City Diversity” (Part II out of four), in which she laid out the arguments that would become canonical. Against the planners who sought to neatly divide a city’s neighborhoods by use—residential, commercial, industrial, and so on—Jacobs advocated the opposite: “mixed primary uses,” or homes and stores and restaurants and offices all in close proximity. In such areas, different people were on the street for different reasons at different times of day, contributing to the vitality of the neighborhood, attracting new enterprises in a virtuous circle, and providing a continuous stream of “eyes on the street” to keep it safe.
Jacobs also advocated short blocks, with frequent opportunities for turning corners, as opposed to the “superblocks” loved by planners; buildings of different ages and conditions, in order to support a variety of ventures, including more experimental ones; and residential density, which had heretofore been seen as unwholesome congestion. All of this was conveyed in prose that was sometimes caustic, sometimes aphoristic, and always exceptionally lucid and vigorous.
What have you read this week?