within the world

Making the right choice does not always lead to a good outcome—sometimes there are only bad outcomes to choose from

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Albania is a country in the Balkans that has a long history of patriarchal traditions. Albania is traditionally a patricentric society, so having sons in the family is very important. When a family does not have sons, or loses their sons, then a sworn virgin can be a suitable replacement.

A sworn virgin is a woman who, either at birth, or by her own choice, decides to take on male gender roles. The sworn virgin makes a vow of chastity, does traditionally male labor, and usually wears male styled clothing. The vow of becoming a sworn virgin means that the woman no longer has marital obligations, the woman can become the head of her own household and would then have rights to inheritance. One of the main causes that make taking the vow necessary for Albanian families is the power of the Kanun. The Kanun is a medieval code of rules that are the foundation of Albanian culture. Many of the rules focus on honor and regulate the community life.

The Kanun regulates all aspects of Albanian life. The Kanun focuses on aspects of familial honor. A major part of this idea results in “blood feuds.” Blood feuds are deadly feuds between families. A blood feud can start from an insult or theft; they serve the purpose of righting a perceived wrong, honor being more important that a human life. When families become enemies “the enemy family’s honor can only be repaired with more blood. Any male member of the…family tall enough to lift a rifle is a legitimate target.” If a woman is murdered, according to the code, her death can be avenged by killing a woman in the enemy family of killing their dog.

The Kanun has specific rules for the role of women in Albania, perpetuating male dominance in a patriarchal society. Albania has roots as a peasant society where gender roles are very significant. The man is the head of the family, the owner and over seer of the land and the main decision maker. The importance of gender roles and the man’s position of power breed the desire for a passive and compliant woman. According to the article by Arsovska, the Kanun states, “a man has the right to beat and publicly humiliate his wife if she disobeys him. He is also allowed to cut her hair, strip her nude, expel her from the house and drive her with a whip through the village. The Kanun specifies that a man may kill his wife for two reasons: infidelity and betrayal of hospitality.” Further, a woman is considered half of a man, equivalent to a dog and always subservient to her husband or father before she is married.

[…]

In a situation where all the male family members are killed during a blood feud, the family would be destitute, or an unmarried daughter can take the vow to be a sworn virgin. The sworn virgin would then be the head of the household, have rights to the inheritance and be in charge of retaliation of the blood feud. Women are also forbidden from being an active participant in their engagements and marriages. If the woman does not want to marry the man she is arranged to be married to and runs away, her family would bring her back to the man with a single bullet. The meaning of the bullet is if the wife tries to leave again the husband can kill her with the bullet. Some women receive a locket with a bullet inside on their wedding day, the bullet being the bullet she would be killed with if she were to be unfaithful or try to leave her husband. The only honorable way for a woman to avoid an unwanted arranged marriage would be to take the vow. If a woman refuses an arranged marriage it could incite a blood feud between the two houses. Another reason some women take the vow to become a sworn virgin is if their parents do not produce a son. It is considered shameful if a family has no male offspring and some girls will be raised as boys from birth. All cases of a female becoming a sworn virgin have to do with familial honor.

The vow to become a sworn virgin is not to be taken lightly. The vow is considered sacred and is meant for life. The woman making the vow goes before twelve elders of the community and makes a vow of chastity. The traditional punishment for breaking the vow is death. If a sworn virgin is found to break her vow of celibacy she would traditionally be burned alive, although it is unrecorded how often this punishment gets carried out.

[…]

A sworn virgin is able to enjoy the status of being a man, they are able to interact freely with men, smoke cigarettes, carry guns and leave their houses without a male escort.

[…]

The role of the sworn virgin should not be considered lesbianism, as the traditional role of sexual intercourse in Albania is strictly for procreation. Homosexuality was illegal for men in Albania until 1995, and lesbians have never been mentioned in the Kanun or by the state, which would imply that it is a completely foreign or non existent concept to traditional Albanians.

[…]

Even as a sworn virgin, there are times when they are still discriminated against by men and still treated as less than a man. One sworn virgin was not able to become a member of a marksmen club, and another example is of a sworn virgin who, after their death, was buried as a man but did not receive the traditional mourning that men usually receive.

[…]

It is unknown how many sworn virgins are still in existence today, as the post communist Albanian government does not recognize tradition rules from the Kanun. A ‘cultural revolution’ took place in Albania in 1974, declaring all traditional customs as non-existent, so there is no new official records kept of women that take the vow.

{ Elizabeth Rush, The Cultural Role and Identity of Albanian Sworn Virgins | Continue reading }

oil on canvas { Picasso, Femme en bleu, 1944 }

quote { The lesser of two evils: Explaining a bad choice by revealing the choice set }

Plus, we had a dozen guys up there, most of them ex-cheats, who knew every trick in the house

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McCarthy successfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1946. After three largely undistinguished years in the Senate, McCarthy rose suddenly to national fame in February 1950 when he asserted in a speech that he had a list of “members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring” who were employed in the State Department. […] At the time of McCarthy’s speech, communism was a significant concern in the United States. […]

McCarthy presented a case-by-case analysis of his 81 “loyalty risks” employed at the State Department. It is widely accepted that most of McCarthy’s cases were selected from the so-called “Lee list”, a report that had been compiled three years earlier for the House Appropriations Committee. Led by a former FBI agent named Robert E. Lee, the House investigators had reviewed security clearance documents on State Department employees, and had determined that there were “incidents of inefficiencies” in the security reviews of 108 employees. McCarthy hid the source of his list, stating that he had penetrated the “iron curtain” of State Department secrecy with the aid of “some good, loyal Americans in the State Department”. In reciting the information from the Lee list cases, McCarthy consistently exaggerated, representing the hearsay of witnesses as facts and converting phrases such as “inclined towards Communism” to “a Communist”. […]

In response to McCarthy’s charges, the Senate voted unanimously to investigate. […] From its beginning, the Tydings Committee was marked by partisan infighting. Its final report, written by the Democratic majority, concluded that the individuals on McCarthy’s list were neither Communists nor pro-communist, and said the State Department had an effective security program. […] The full Senate voted three times on whether to accept the report, and each time the voting was precisely divided along party lines. […]

McCarthy also began investigations into the numerous homosexuals [homosexuality was prohibited by law at the time] working in the foreign policy bureaucracy, who were considered prime candidates for blackmail by the Soviets. […]

One of the strongest bases of anti-Communist sentiment in the United States was the Catholic community, which constituted over 20% of the national vote. McCarthy identified himself as Catholic, and although the great majority of Catholics were Democrats, as his fame as a leading anti-Communist grew, he became popular in Catholic communities across the country, with strong support from many leading Catholics, diocesan newspapers, and Catholic journals. […]

McCarthy established a bond with the powerful Kennedy family, which had high visibility among Catholics. McCarthy became a close friend of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., himself a fervent anti-Communist, and was a frequent guest at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. He dated two of Kennedy’s daughters, Patricia and Eunice. […]

Robert Kennedy was chosen by McCarthy as a counsel for his investigatory committee, but resigned after six months due to disagreements with McCarthy and Committee Counsel Roy Cohn [As McCarthy’s chief counsel, Cohn came to be closely associated with McCarthyism and its downfall. He is also noted for representing and mentoring Donald J. Trump during his early business career. Cohn was disbarred by the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court for unethical conduct in 1986, dying five weeks later from AIDS.]

Unlike many Democrats, John F. Kennedy, who served in the Senate with McCarthy from 1953 until the latter’s death in 1957, never attacked McCarthy. McCarthy had refused to campaign for Kennedy’s 1952 opponent, Republican incumbent Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., due to his friendship with the Kennedys. […]

Journalist Richard Rovere (1959) wrote: “McCarthy had always been a heavy drinker, and there were times in those seasons of discontent when he drank more than ever. But he was not always drunk. He went on the wagon (for him this meant beer instead of whiskey) for days and weeks at a time. The difficulty toward the end was that he couldn’t hold the stuff. He went to pieces on his second or third drink. And he did not snap back quickly.”

McCarthy had also become addicted to heroin. Harry J. Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, became aware of McCarthy’s addiction in the 1950s, and demanded he stop using the drug. McCarthy refused.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

photo { Miron Zownir, NYC, 1983 }

Baloo: [tugging on Bagheera’s tail] C’mon, Baggy, get with the beat!

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The Chinese made 50 times more mobile payments in 2016 than U.S. consumers did, tripling to $5.5 trillion in China while U.S. payments only grew 39 percent, to $112 billion. […]

David Rennie, Beijing bureau chief for The Economist, gets somewhat closer to the truth in his forecasting exercise, projected to 2024. Like Rolland, Rennie starts by imagining a dystopian negation of the West. China’s intelligence services, working with the country’s technology firms, have turned millions of cars in America, Europe, and Asia into remote spying devices, letting Beijing track vehicles in real time and identify passengers with facial-recognition technology. […]

The Chinese order will break with the Western model by moving decisively away from Enlightenment ideals of transparency and public knowledge. Even in its formative stage, the Belt and Road Initiative is an exercise in the opacity of power. There are explicit plans and an esoteric practice where deals are agreed upon, often with no written evidence, and rigid hierarchies of access and knowledge. Some of the participants know only the broadest strokes of the plan, sufficient to defend it and to communicate with lower levels; others know nothing; and only a few can see months or years in advance. Or, as you sometimes hear in Beijing, just as every individual has a right to privacy, the party also has a right to privacy. The Belt and Road Initiative is like Holy Writ—never revealed completely and all at once, but only bit by bit and over many decades. […]

When we describe a new Chinese world order, we have to keep in mind there will be other shareholders, other shapers, and other balancers. The West will diminish in reach and influence, but 30 years from now it will continue to offer a powerful alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative, even if it may also be expected to evolve in response to the Chinese challenge.

{ Foreign Policy | Continue reading }

chromogenic print, mounted on gatefold layout board { Hope Dworaczyk, First 3-D Playmate of the Month, June 2010 }

‘The love of stinking.’ –Nietzsche

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{ aversion | panic | Thanks Tim }

related { Dick Stain Donald Trump got zero comments for the Stock Market Drop }

‘And above all, away with the body, this wretched idée fixe of the senses.’ –Nietzsche

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We present a new tool that provides a means to measure the psychological and cultural distance between two societies and create a distance scale with any population as the point of comparison. Since psychological data is dominated by samples drawn from the United States or other WEIRD nations, this tool provides a “WEIRD scale.” […]

Decades of psychological research designed to uncover truths about human psychology may have instead uncovered truths about a thin slice of our species – those who live in Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic (WEIRD) nations. […]

Just how psychologically different are the nations of the world compared to each other and to the over-scrutinized United States? Many hard drives have been filled with the ways in which China and Japan differ from the United States and Canada, but just how psychologically distant is the culture of China from Japan, the United States from Canada, or Azerbaijan from Zambia? Here we introduce a robust method for quantifying this distance. […]

[We compared] the cultural differences between regions of the four largest populations—China, India, United States and European Union. These analyses reveal that the cultural differences between regions of the overscrutinized United States are considerably smaller than the European Union, China, or India. […]

The Far East has always held a certain exoticism, which may have driven a generation of cultural psychologists to document the many ways in which East Asian societies differ from the West. However, the most extensively researched East Asian nations aren’t anywhere near the extreme on the WEIRD scale and some are barely halfway. Moreover, there is considerable diversity within China, let alone between China, Japan, and Hong Kong. This diversity has been exploited by other researchers, for example, showing the role of agriculture on individualism and collectivism, but nowhere the levels performed within the United States, where we know state by state differences in psychological differences such as tightness-looseness. […]

Relatively little attention has been paid to the Middle East and Africa both by the World Values Survey and the psychological sciences. However, given the relative cultural distance to the United States and Africa’s large genetic, linguistic, and likely cultural variation, we have every reason to suspect the WEIRD scale will continue to stretch as we map out these psychological terra incognita. These regions, as well as other underrepresented regions, such as the South Pacific, may in fact hold a treasure trove of findings for the next wave of cultural psychologists.

{ SSRN | PDF }

You got a question, you ask the 8 ball

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One of the curious features of language is that it varies from one place to another.

Even among speakers of the same language, regional variations are common, and the divide between these regions can be surprisingly sharp. […]

For example, the term “you guys” is used most often in the northern parts of the US, while “y’all” is used more in the south.

{ Technology Review | Continue reading }

5 On Your Side

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movies and shows have been using the fake 555 numbers since as far back as the 1950s. […]

The number 555-2368 has risen to particularly rarefied air […] dialing 555-2368 will get you the Ghostbusters, the hotel room from Memento, Jim Rockford of The Rockford Files, and Jaime Sommers from The Bionic Woman, among others. […]

Since 1994, 555 numbers have actually been available for personal or business use. […] except for 555-0100 through 555-0199, which were held back for fictional use.

{ MentalFloss | Continue reading }

The heart of the rool! And hit the hencoop.

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In 2017, the United States imported approximately 10.14 million barrels per day (MMb/d) of petroleum from about 84 countries. Petroleum includes crude oil, hydrocarbon gas liquids, refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel, and biofuels including ethanol and biodiesel. Crude oil accounted for about 79% of U.S. gross petroleum imports in 2017 and non-crude oil petroleum accounted for about 21% of gross petroleum imports.

In 2017, the United States exported about 6.38 MMb/d of petroleum to 186 countries, of which about 18% was crude oil and 82% was non-crude oil petroleum.

The resulting net imports (imports minus exports) of petroleum were about 3.77 MMb/d.

The top five source countries of U.S. petroleum imports in 2017 were Canada (40%), Saudi Arabia (9%), Mexico (7%), Venezuela (7%), and Iraq (6%).

The top five destination countries of U.S. petroleum exports in 2017 were Mexico (17%), Canada (14%), China (7%), Brazil (6%), Japan (5%).

{ EIA | Continue reading }

still { The Oily Maniac, 1976 }

Funny how love becomes a cold rainy day

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Nauru is an island country in Micronesia, a subregion of Oceania, in the Central Pacific.

With 11,347 residents in a 21-square-kilometre (8.1 sq mi) area, Nauru is the third-smallest state by area in the world, behind only Vatican City and Monaco.

The Nauruan economy peaked in the mid-1970s to early-1980s, when the phosphate deposits that originate from the droppings of sea birds began to be depleted. At its peak, Nauru’s GDP per capita was estimated to be US$50,000, second only to Saudi Arabia.

In anticipation of the exhaustion of its phosphate deposits, substantial amounts of the income from phosphates were invested in trust funds aimed to help cushion the transition and provide for Nauru’s economic future. However, because of mismanagement, including some wasteful foreign investment activities, the government is now facing virtual bankruptcy.

The phosphate reserves on Nauru are now almost entirely depleted. Phosphate mining in the central plateau has left a barren terrain of jagged limestone pinnacles up to 15 metres (49 ft) high. Mining has stripped and devastated about 80 per cent of Nauru’s land area leaving it uninhabitable, and has also affected the surrounding exclusive economic zone; 40 per cent of marine life is estimated to have been killed by silt and phosphate runoff.

In the 1990s, Nauru became an illegal money laundering centre, a tax haven and offered passports to foreign nationals for a fee. During the 1990s, it was possible to establish a licensed bank in Nauru for only US$25,000 with no other requirements. Under pressure from FATF, Nauru introduced anti-avoidance legislation in 2003, after which foreign hot money left the country.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

drone photo { Aydın Büyüktaş }

THREAT TO ‘SHOOT THE PLACE UP’

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Vyacheslav Molotov (1890 – 1986) was a Soviet politician and diplomat, and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin. […] Molotov served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1939 to 1949 and from 1953 to 1956. […]

The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union (USSR) and Finland. It began with a Soviet invasion of Finland on 30 November 1939, three months after the outbreak of World War II, and ended three and a half months later with the Moscow Peace Treaty on 13 March 1940. […]

The Molotov cocktail is a term coined by the Finns during the Winter War, as a generic name used for a variety of improvised incendiary weapons. During the Winter War, the Soviet air force made extensive use of incendiaries and cluster bombs against Finnish troops and fortifications. When Molotov claimed in radio broadcasts that they were not bombing, but rather delivering food to the starving Finns, the Finns started to call the air bombs Molotov bread baskets. Soon they responded by attacking advancing tanks with “Molotov cocktails,” which were “a drink to go with the food.”

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

watercolour on paper { JMW Turner, Clouds at Dawn or Sunset, c.1834 }

‘Tis the first art of kings, the power to suffer hate.’ –Seneca

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During winter the khazri sweeps through, driven by polar air masses

In 1905 about half of the world’s oil was produced in or near Baku. […] Baku is reputed to be the world’s lowest capital city, standing about 28 meters below sea level. […] It is the first Shiite country I have visited, and it seems less conservative than say the Turkey of ten years ago. […] Baku has three working synagogues, and, unlike in almost every other country in the world, they do not require police protection.  It is a remarkably safe city.

{ Marginal Revolution | Continue reading }

related { Baku, most polluted city in the world, 2008 }