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aries1988 : portrait   21

Mohamed Morsi, Who Brought the Muslim Brotherhood to the Egyptian Presidency | The New Yorker
Peter Hessler on the death of Mohamed Morsi, the former President of Egypt, who was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and came to power in the wake of the Arab…

The former President has been described as a martyr, but the term isn’t exactly appropriate. A martyr dies for a larger cause; a victim dies because of larger forces. There’s a tendency for some Americans to view the Muslim Brotherhood as a kind of negative essence of Islam, as if all of the flaws of the organization can be attributed to the faith that its followers espouse. But the group is a product of its history: it was founded during a period of colonial occupation, and then it was shaped by decades of government repression. The issue isn’t just that the institutions of the state were always opposed to the Brothers but that the group itself has internalized the brutality and dysfunction of its environment.

In a nation of splintered institutions, frustrated idealism, and dysfunctional governance, even the highest seat of power can turn into a trap—a caged man shouting, “I am the President of the Republic!”
portrait  president  egypt  revolution  islam  arab  politics  history  prison 
june 2019 by aries1988
Liu Cixin’s War of the Worlds
For the Chinese, achieving parity with the West is a long-cherished goal, envisaged as a restoration of greatness after the humiliation of Western occupations and the self-inflicted wounds of the Mao era.

In 2015, China’s then Vice-President, Li Yuanchao, invited Liu to Zhongnanhai—an off-limits complex of government accommodation sometimes compared to the Kremlin—to discuss the books and showed Liu his own copies, which were dense with highlights and annotations.

Liu’s fellow sci-fi writers in China call him Da Liu—Big Liu—but he is small, with an unusually round head, which seems too large for his slight, wiry physique. He has the unassuming presence, belying an unflappable intelligence, of an operative posing as an accountant. Rarely making eye contact, he maintains an expression at once detached and preoccupied, as if too impatient for the future to commit his full attention to the present.

his father had turned him on to speculative fiction, giving him a copy of Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” To the young Liu, reading Verne’s book was like walking through a door to another world. “Everything in it was described with such authority and scrupulous attention to detail that I thought it had to be real,” Liu told me.

Although physics furnishes the novels’ premises, it is politics that drives the plots. At every turn, the characters are forced to make brutal calculations in which moral absolutism is pitted against the greater good. In their pursuit of survival, men and women employ Machiavellian game theory and adopt a bleak consequentialism. In Liu’s fictional universe, idealism is fatal and kindness an exorbitant luxury. As one general says in the trilogy, “In a time of war, we can’t afford to be too scrupulous.” Indeed, it is usually when people do not play by the rules of Realpolitik that the most lives are lost.

“What about individual liberty and freedom of governance?” He sighed, as if exhausted by a debate going on in his head. “But that’s not what Chinese people care about. For ordinary folks, it’s the cost of health care, real-estate prices, their children’s education. Not democracy.”

“Here’s the truth: if you were to become the President of China tomorrow, you would find that you had no other choice than to do exactly as he has done.”

It was an opinion entirely consistent with his systems-level view of human societies, just as mine reflected a belief in democracy and individualism as principles to be upheld regardless of outcomes.

When Liu is at his most relaxed, which is usually when he’s looking at, or learning about, something, he sounds almost like a child. There’s an upward lilt to his voice that suggests a kind of naïve wonder—someone happily lost in his own boundless curiosity.
interview  scifi  chinese  politics  today  history  bio  portrait  family 
june 2019 by aries1988
Will John Bolton Bring on Armageddon—Or Stave It Off?

One thing liberals and neoconservatives share, Bolton suggested, is an irrational, “theological” attachment to principles—the principle that treaties and alliances are good (in the case of internationalist liberals) or that democracy must be spread at the expense of all else (in the case of neoconservatives). By contrast, he thought treaties and alliances needed unsentimental evaluation. One of the Russians on Putin’s team told him, “You strike me as a pragmatic diplomat.” “I said, ‘That’s the nicest thing anyone’s said about me for a long time.’ ” Bolton recalled, “Even in the Bush 43 administration, when we were most accused of unilateralism, I didn’t get up every morning thinking, What act of unilateralism can I accomplish today? I got up thinking, What interest of the United States are we going to advance today?”

It’s difficult to exaggerate how hard it is to earn a reputation as a dick in Washington. It’s like being known as a real nerd by fellow scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, or as the resident prude by sisters at a nunnery. In Washington, boorishness can be a virtue, if the boor in question is on your side and gets things done. (Witness the admiration for Lyndon B. Johnson, who would sit on the toilet and summon aides to talk policy while smelling his fumes, and the contempt for the pious Jimmy Carter.) But Bolton is almost universally known for being off-putting and ill-tempered. “One of the world’s cheapest people,” says an ex-colleague. “An extremely unpleasant person,” says another.

At the UN, he exuded contempt. In his memoir he says the General Assembly hall’s architecture is “vaguely fascist.” He scoffs at the tendency to treat Kofi Annan, the secretary general, as “a secular pope,” and he calls General Assembly President Jan Eliasson “President of the World.” Neither title is meant as a compliment. Nor is the nickname “EUroids,” which he uses to describe Europeans he considers pains in the ass.

“Bolton is a sovereigntist,” John Yoo told me. “He thinks the U.S. should not be bound by international organizations, and we should not be ceding our authority to the United Nations or NAFTA.” After the Cold War, “the U.S. tied itself down with multilateral institutions, primarily run by Europeans, to constrain our freedom of action—to tie down Gulliver.” Every time the United States joins an alliance, or consents to arbitration on equal terms with, say, Latvia or Guinea, one more rope is lashed over Gulliver’s limbs.

Bolton may have mind-melded with Trump better than McMaster did, but inevitably the president and his national security adviser will disagree, both on style and on substance. One is an unreconstructed Cold Warrior; the other is an isolationist. One says nothing without precise calculation; the other speaks seemingly without consulting his own prefrontal cortex. As the differences between their personalities multiply, savvy enemies will simply cease to believe that Bolton carries Trump’s authority. Trump, flattered, will agree.
interview  portrait  trump  administration 
march 2019 by aries1988
How to Control Your Citizens: Opportunity. Nationalism. Fear. - The New York Times
“Today you have the largest bureaucracy in history, with a capacity to intrude in anything,” said William C. Kirby, a professor of China studies at Harvard. “It isn’t just ideology. There are now enormous numbers of interest groups that don’t like competition.”

For guidance, Mr. Ni often looks to Jack Ma, the executive chairman of Alibaba, who is China’s richest man and a cultlike figure among many businessmen. Mr. Ni is currently enrolled in a business school program that Mr. Ma established to cultivate China’s next generation of entrepreneurs.

Over the years, Mr. Ma has spoken publicly about the push-pull relationship between private companies and the government, though there is one piece of his advice for entrepreneurs that Mr. Ni seems to have especially taken to heart: “Fall in love. But don’t marry.”

part of it was something deeper: a desire to help the country catch up with the West and to reconnect with her Chinese roots.

Exposed to liberal democracy, Ms. Hua’s generation was supposed to be the one that demanded it at home. Middle-class Chinese students poured into universities in the United States and Europe — then seen as the most promising path to wealth and prestige — and some Western analysts predicted that they would return to China as a force for political change.

Like many other middle-class parents, Ms. Hua worries about repression and rampant materialism in Chinese society. Yet many of these parents say they want their children to see themselves as Chinese above all else — to understand China’s roots as an agrarian society and to have a sense of pride in the perseverance of the Chinese people through decades of poverty and strife.

Even as some analysts argue that China’s success has more to do with the resilience of its people than the Communist Party and its policies, leaders have been adept at shaping a politicized nationalism that reinforces the primacy of the party — and defends the authoritarian model as the best bulwark against chaos.

“Chinese nationalism binds the people with the state, not to each other,” said Minxin Pei, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.
entrepreneurial  china  jiangsu  portrait  rich  conflict  state  parents  children  education  identity  chinese 
november 2018 by aries1988
seoul_wave - YouTube
Brandon Li
Published on Aug 5, 2018
I spent a month in Seoul and saw a city racing to the future. Here's the film I made with the help of the great people I met along the way.
korea  portrait  video  nation  korean 
august 2018 by aries1988
The Thoughts of Chairman Xi - BBC News
“Tell China’s story well,” he urges people with Chinese roots, wherever they are in the world. He insists that they should “identify with China’s interests” whether or not they are Chinese nationals.

Beijing’s embassies encourage the growing Chinese student bodies on campuses in the West to silence competing narratives.

Under Xi Jinping, dwelling on inconvenient facts of history or insulting revolutionary heroes and martyrs is now a punishable offence called “historical nihilism”.

He wants his citizens to identify with “the motherland, the Chinese nation or race, Chinese culture, and the Chinese socialist road”. He calls these the “four identifications” and has distilled them into two key slogans - the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the Chinese dream.

Richard Nixon had argued: “Taking the long view, we simply cannot afford to leave China forever outside the family of nations, there to nurture its fantasies, cherish its hates and threaten its neighbours.”

When the door to the West inched open a decade later, some princelings of Xi’s generation took the opportunity to leave.
portrait  mao  2017  china  politics  leader  photo  story 
october 2017 by aries1988
His Kampf

Was Hitchens’s critique of Christianity, he said, not as wan and naive as Christianity itself? Christianity had bound together the civilizations of Europe, and now Hitchens wanted to replace it with—well, what exactly? American neoliberal internationalism? Why should anyone care if Christianity was irrational and illiberal, when rationality and liberalism had never been its purpose? Hitchens had missed the point.

In his view, the Bush administration had manipulated the country into war. “Spreading democracy” and “freedom” are, Spencer said, false ideals, distracting Americans from what really matters—namely, a consciousness of their identity as whites with a shared Christian heritage.

In December, the hipster-Marxist magazine Jacobin published an online essay, “The Elite Roots of Richard Spencer’s Racism,” that sought to understand his white supremacy. “He represents a common and longstanding (if overlooked) phenomenon: the well-educated and financially comfortable bigot,” the author, Michael Phillips, wrote. “His blend of racism and elitism represents only an extreme version of a worldview that has long prevailed among the affluent in Spencer’s hometown.”

Among the German ideas he adopted was a concept of race different from the one he and I had been taught in our multicultural workshops in the ’90s. In the modern era, American discussion of race has limited itself, by convention, to a few canonical categories: black, white, Asian, American Indian, Hispanic. “Race isn’t just color,” Spencer told an audience in December. “Color is, in a way, a minor aspect of race.”

For Spencer, race is more akin to the German Volksgeist, literally “the spirit of a people.” Volksgeist is associated, historically, with Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744–1803), and Germans became enchanted with it during the 19th century. Some would say the Second World War was the culmination of German devotion to their own Volksgeist. Herder’s followers proposed that each people has an essence that distinguishes it from others.

As one who knew Spencer when we were both hapless, overprivileged adolescents, sharing a desire to transcend our origins, what interests me the most about him is his self-reinvention, the intellectual costume changes (foppish actor, grad-school blowhard, opera-director manqué, and now architect of a white utopian dream of world-historical consequence) spanning three decades. After all, it is said that one of the great advantages of America is that its daughters and sons can escape the strictures of the world in which they were raised, be unlike their forefathers. Spencer has certainly done that.
portrait  altright  leader  university  idea  opinion  religion  usa  west  african  racism  Philosophy  intelligentsia  nazi 
june 2017 by aries1988
Gerrard Gethings’ farmyard animals
The British photographer has made a career out of persuading often truculent subjects to stand before his camera. One of the benefits of photographing animals, he says, is that they neither understand him nor tell him how they feel.
animal  portrait  photo 
january 2017 by aries1988
Barack Obama: anthropologist-in-chief —
But it’s in Obama’s diplomacy that the organic anthropologist shows clearest. After talks last year with the Afghan president and anthropologist Ashraf Ghani, Obama quoted the anthropologist Ruth Benedict: “The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences.”` Anthropologists accept that different people see the world differently: Indonesian blacksmiths don’t think like Californian accountants. The anthropologist attempts to communicate with the other tribe, understand it, and bridge those differences rather than try to erase them.

Gudeman says: “You never hear Obama talk about rogue nations. An anthropologist does not say, ‘My culture is superior.’”
anthropoligist  politics  obama  usa  leader  portrait  story  childhood  comparison 
september 2016 by aries1988
All Due Respect - The New Yorker
In Japan, it’s a crime to own a gun, another crime to own a bullet, and a third crime to pull the trigger: three charges before you even think about a target.

The name refers to an unlucky hand at cards—yakuza means eight-nine-three—and bluffing has always been part of the image. Many gangsters are Korean-Japanese or members of other minority groups that traditionally have been scorned. These outsiders proved to be nimble after Japan’s defeat in the Second World War, an era that is explored in Tokyo Underworld, by Robert Whiting. During this period, organized-crime groups established black markets where citizens could acquire necessities, and they were skilled at dealing with the occupying Americans. As Japan rebuilt, the yakuza got involved in real estate and in public-works projects.

For the most part, the yakuza eschewed violence against civilians, because the image of criminality was effective enough in an orderly society.

Adelstein says that the key to his work is the Japanese concept of giri, or reciprocity. His typical routine involves exchanging small favors with contacts, collecting bits of information that can be leveraged elsewhere.
reportage  portrait  crime  japan  american  story  mafia  instapaper_favs 
june 2016 by aries1988
一百年后,人类社会会如何评价比尔·盖茨? - Arthur Tang 的回答 - 知乎
portrait  leader  pc  computer  critic  opinion  reading 
may 2016 by aries1988
The Auteur of Anime :: JapanFocus
He not only draws characters and storyboards for the films he directs; he also writes the rich, strange screenplays, which blend Japanese mythology with modern psychological realism. He is, in short, an auteur of children’s entertainment, perhaps the world’s first.

When I visited the museum this summer, it struck me as one of the few kid-oriented attractions I know that take seriously the notion of children as natural aesthetes—in part because it portrays for them a creative life that they might plausibly lead as adults.

Miyazaki dwells on the latent phase of childhood, so that his girl characters are often close friends with boys. And they can be bratty and grievously sad, as well as plucky and resourceful.

In a 1993 televised discussion between Miyazaki and the director Akira Kurosawa, Kurosawa mentioned how much he admired the sweetly surreal cat bus.

The behavior of pigs is very similar to human behavior, Miyazaki has said. I really like pigs at heart, for their strengths as well as their weaknesses.

As a senior in high school, Miyazaki had sneaked out to see the first Japanese animated film made in color, The Legend of the White Snake, when he was supposed to be studying for his entrance exams. The film had a big impact on him, he wrote years later, because while he could see that it was cheap melodrama, its naked emotionalism touched him.

His image of Japan was so shaken by memories of the country’s postwar devastation that for years afterward, he told Kurosawa, his imagination turned reflexively to Europe—a fantasy version, stitched together in his mind, that had never experienced the Second World War. (In his films, Europe looks like a harmonious amalgam of Scandinavia, Alsace, and the Amalfi coast, with a bit of Dalmatia tossed in.)

The name was Miyazaki’s choice; ghibli is a word that Italian pilots once used to describe a wind blowing from the Sahara. To Miyazaki, the name conveyed a message, almost a threat—something like Let’s blow a sensational wind through the Japanese animation world, Suzuki recalled, in a speech years later.
portrait  anime  japanese  instapaper_favs 
august 2014 by aries1988

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