Et tu, Japan?

Naomi Osaka, who represents Japan, served as the final Olympic torchbearer for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, lighting the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony.

However, before I am an athlete, I am a black woman. And as a black woman, I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis. [Naomi Osaka (August 2020), Twitter]

Zero Tolerance

The idea of zero tolerance is also informed by risk aversion. It represents an attempt to abolish, administratively, the risks associated with the expression of an unwelcome idea or belief. Of course, in one sense, tolerance is risky. Once conventional restraints on belief, opinion and speech are removed it becomes difficult to predict the future course of public life. The freedom to speak and to pursue knowledge has a habit of going off in unexpected directions. [Frank Furedi (2018), How Fear Works: Culture of Fear in the Twenty-First Century]

20 Things I’ve Learned About Humanity During The Covid-19 Pandemic

By ZUBBY

    1. Most people would rather be in the majority, than be right.
    2. At least 20% of the population has strong authoritarian tendencies, which will emerge under the right conditions.
    3. Fear of death is only rivaled by the fear of social disapproval. The latter could be stronger.
    4. Propaganda is just as effective in the modern day as it was 100 years ago. Access to limitless information has not made the average person any wiser.
    5. Anything and everything can and will be politicized by the media, government, and those who trust them.
    6. Many politicians and large corporations will gladly sacrifice human lives if it is conducive to their political and financial aspirations.
    7. Most people believe the government acts in the best interests of the people. Even many who are vocal critics of the government.
    8. Once they have made up their mind, most people would rather to commit to being wrong, than admit they were wrong.
    9. Humans can be trained and conditioned quickly and relatively easily to significantly alter their behaviors – for better or worse.
    10. When sufficiently frightened, most people will not only accept authoritarianism, but demand it.
    11. People who are dismissed as ‘conspiracy theorists’ are often well researched and simply ahead of the mainstream narrative.
    12. Most people value safety and security more than freedom and liberty, even if ‘safety’ is merely an illusion.
    13. Hedonistic adaptation occurs in both directions, and once inertia sets in, it is difficult to get people back to the previous normal.
    14. A significant percentage of people thoroughly enjoy being subjugated.
    15. ‘The Science’ has evolved into a secular pseudo-religion for millions of people in the West. This religion has little to do with science itself.
    16. Most people care more about looking like they are doing the right thing, rather than actually doing the right thing.
    17. Politics, the media, science, and the healthcare industries are all corrupt, to varying degrees. Scientists and doctors can be bought as easily as politicians.
    18. If you make people comfortable enough, they will not revolt. You can keep millions docile as you strip their rights, by giving them money, food, and entertainment.
    19. People are overly complacent and lack vigilance when it comes to defending their own freedoms from government overreach.
    20. It’s easier to fool a person than to convince them that they have been fooled.
    21. (Bonus thought) Most people are fairly compassionate and have good intentions, which is good. As a result, most people deeply struggle to understand that some people, including our ‘leaders’, can have malicious or perverse intentions.

Solstício do Inverno

A Quitéria, jovem de 18 anos que, por infelicidade, nasceu numa família católica e que, para maior desgraça, frequentou um colégio cristão, foi-se confessar ao Padre Zé.
– Senhor Padre Zé, pode-me confessar?
– Com certeza, Quitéria. Quando foi a última vez que o fizeste?
– Acho que foi antes do Natal.
– Queres dizer antes do solstício do inverno, não é? Como sabes, Advento, Natal, Quaresma e Páscoa, são designações cristãs autorreferenciais, que dividem os homens e ofendem os nossos irmãos muçulmanos, judeus, hindus, ateus e agnósticos. Por isso, o novo calendário litúrgico, em vez de utilizar denominações supremacistas e confessionais, usa as estações do ano, que são mais inclusivas, inter-religiosas e universais. E que pecados cometeste, desde então?
[P. Gonçalo Portocarrero de Almada (2021), Observador]

No Trace Of Individuality

[After Dark (2004), by Haruki Murakami]
The camera draws back slowly to convey an image of the entire room. Then it begins observing details in search of clues. This is by no means a highly decorated room. Neither is it a room that suggests the tastes or individuality of its occupant. Without detailed observation, it would be hard to tell that this was the room of a young girl. There are no dolls, stuffed animals, or other accessories to be seen. No posters or calendars. On the side facing the window, one old wooden desk and a swivel chair. The window itself is covered by a roll-down window blind. On the desk is a simple black lamp and a brand-new notebook computer (its top closed). A few ballpoint pens and pencils in a mug. By the wall stands a plain wood-framed single bed, and there sleeps Eri Asai. The bedclothes are solid white. On shelves attached to the opposite wall, a compact stereo and a small pile of CDs in their cases. Next to those, a phone. A dresser with mirror attached. The only things placed in front of the mirror are lip balm and a small, round hairbrush. On that wall is a walk-in closet. As the room’s only decorative touch, five photographs in small frames are lined up on a shelf, all of them photos of Eri Asai. She is alone in all of them. None show her with friends or family. There is a small bookcase, but it contains only a handful of books, mostly college textbooks. And a pile of large-size fashion magazines. It would be hard to conclude that she is a voracious reader. Honestly speaking, the information regarding Eri Asai that we can glean from the appearance of this room is far from abundant. It gives the impression that preparations have been made to hide her personality and cleverly elude observing eyes. Near the head of the bed a digital clock soundlessly and steadily renews its display of the time. We wait. We hold our breath and listen. The clock displays 0:00.

That was it all right

“A telegram for you, sir.” I poked my finger along under the fold that was fastened down, spread it open, and read it. It had been forwarded from Paris:

COULD YOU COME HOTEL MONTANA MADRID
AM RATHER IN TROUBLE BRETT.

I saw the concierge standing in the doorway.
“Bring me a telegram form, please.”
He brought it and I took out my fountain-pen and printed:

LADY ASHLEY HOTEL MONTANA MADRID
ARRIVING SUD EXPRESS TOMORROW LOVE
JAKE.

That seemed to handle it. That was it. Send a girl off with one man. Introduce her to another to go off with him. Now go and bring her back. And sign the wire with love. That was it all right. I went in to lunch.

[The Sun Also Rises (1926), Ernest Hemingway]