Kisenosato Retires

January 16, 2019

Longtime readers will be familiar with our 20-year addiction to the sport of sumo.  Since at least 2012, I have been following and cheering on a Japanese rikishi called Kisenosato.

As background, the highest ranks of the deeply Japanese sport of sumo have been dominated for twenty and more years by rikishi from Mongolia and eastern Europe, including the current, and possibly greatest ever, yokuzana (or Grand Champion), Hakuho. The young Kisenosato was promoted as the latest and greatest hope for a Japanese to regain the top spot.

Unfortunately, there were times in Kisenosato’s career when he just didn’t seem to focus and it took him many years to finally reach the highest ranks.  By then his body was beaten up and he has fought very little over the last eighteen months, withdrawing from several basho (tournaments) in a row through injury.

Yesterday was day four of the January basho, which Kisenosato had chosen as his comeback tournament.  He was welcomed with open arms by the Japanese crowd but, unfortunately his sumo was not good enough and he lost the first three days’ bouts.

Sumo is a sport of very strict tradition, there are rules both written and unwritten that must be followed.  Grand Champions are expected to win a very high percentage of their fights. If they do not, the weight of tradition begins to pressure them into retirement.  After his year out with injury, Kisenosato had to immediately re-establish his position in the hierarchy.  He couldn’t do it and so today he announced his immediate retirement.  It is, I think, a sad end to an unfulfilled career.

Luckily, as we have seen in this basho and the previous one, there is a batch of young Japanese rikishi who are just bursting through: Mitakeumi, Takakeisho, Abi and several others are capable of beating anyone on their day.  The first four days of this basho have witnessed the defeat of most of the upper level rikishi by up-and-comers: It makes for a great tournament.

Advertisements

Bravo to Gillette!

January 16, 2019

 

This is a very brave corporate statement in support of #MeToo, noting that a large number of men need to change their actions and their thinking if we are ever to rid ourselves of a domineering patriarchy.

I’m not dumb enough to think they put this out without massive research in focus groups and elsewhere where they learned that it would not be a fatal mistake to launch such an “attack” on its own target market.  However, I am intelligent enough to recognise that Gillette didn’t need to do this, didn’t need to take the risk but did it away because it was the right thing to do.

The risk, of course, comes from the response to the ad by the large number of unreconstructed males, the very same group who perpetuate the problems highlighted in the ad.  A wide variety of these responses can be found most easily in the 1,650 comments on the YouTube video.

Some are simply sticking their head in the sand and hoping it will go away:  “RIP Gillette”, “Goodbye Gillette”, “buy anything but this product”, “you just lost a customer for life”, “what a bunch of fools”, etc.

Others were more expressive: “it feels like Gillette is calling me a rapist”, “the entire country is sick of feminism,” and the ad is “dripping with contempt for men.”

But the antediluvian rednecks were loudest: “Men get treated like they’re bad just for being a man,” for example. (Compare and contrast: “Nazis get treated like they’re bad just for being Nazis.”) Those responsible for the ad should be “put in camps to be worked to death”. They say the ad is “misogynistic and racist” but is “still not quite gay enough.” “Now we can’t even shave without radical feminist ideology.”

It is “left wing propaganda” paid for by “your liberal masters,” and is “a garbage political narrative.” One even suggested that “big corporation sides with communists in the culture war.”

How can the idea of treating people as people rather than as sexual or dominatable objects be considered “radical”?

Unfortunately, the number and extent of these comments proves that there is a genuine need for more public service messages of this kind.


Setting Up A Workplace Co-op

January 11, 2019

As an anarchist, I am always interested in finding alternative (i.e. non-capitalist) ways of organising production and society.  The idea of worker co-operatives has always appealed to me as a step toward both an economy and a decision-making process based on mutual aid rather than exploitation.

I came across this really interesting video that covers a lot of ground about setting up a co-op and thought it worth sharing:

 

It has to be remembered that all of the organization discussed here is setting up within a capitalist economy; establishing it within a mutual aid model would need some tweaks.

However, variations of the basic model works at any scale, as I have discussed previously in regard to the banking industry.


Jimmy Carter Speaks Truth To Power

January 8, 2019

Photo: Pete Muller/AP

Jimmy Carter is one of the very few absolutely decent human beings to have achieved political power. I didn’t have to agree with a single one of his policies to be able to look back and recognize the genuine humanity of the man. And his life since “retirement” has been filled with useful public service and a disavowal of many of the perks a Presidency is supposed to endow. He has nothing left to prove.

When a person of that calibre in their nineties decides that the country is in a dangerous mess, then it is worth listening to what they have to say:

“the United States is now an “oligarchy” in which “unlimited political bribery” has created “a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.”

Both Democrats and Republicans, Carter said, “look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves … Somebody’s who’s already in Congress has a lot more to sell to an avid contributor than somebody who’s just a challenger.”

 


A Writer’s Lot is Not Paved with Riches

January 7, 2019

The latest survey on incomes by the Author’s Guild makes sorry reading.  The median income for all authors in 2017 was $6,080 a fall of 42% since 2009.   Median income for all authors claiming it as their full-time work was just $20,300.

Income from book sales seems to have tumbled the most, and most especially for writers of literary fiction.

The Author’s Guild report is detailed and fascinating and worth reading by anyone concerned with the future of literature, reading, libraries, bookstores, and all the ancillaries that go along with the art of writing and reading.


Meet The Councillors At GWAC

January 5, 2019

The next Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) general meeting is on Monday 14th January at 7:00pm. The venue for the meeting has changed to the Mezzanine above the Britannia Ice Rink.

The main topic advertised is:  “Meet new city councillors and discuss the role of neighbourhood residents’ councils.”

I don’t know which councillors in particular will be there, but the topic itself is ripe for discussion after more than a decade in which Vision and its minions heaped abuse at neighbourhood groups.


Movie Posters Of 2018

December 27, 2018

The always reliable Creative Review has posted their list of the best movie posters of the year.

This is an excellent vehicle to publicise lesser-known films as well as more popular examples of modern design.

City boy to the core, I found myself drawn to this poster for L’Empereur de Paris which was previously unknown to me.