Category Archives: People

In the Beginning, Woman Was the Sun

“In the Beginning, Woman Was the Sun
An authentic person
Today, she is the moon
Living through others
Reflecting the brilliance of others.

…….And now the Bluestocking, a journal created for the first time with the brains and hands of today’s Japanese women, raises its voice.
…..Let’s us reveal our hidden sun, our unrecognised genius!
Let it come from behind the cloud!
That is the cry of our faith, or our personality, of our instinct, which is the master of all instincts”.

The manifesto of Seitō, September 1911

So, begins the opening manifesto to the journal Seitō, (Bluestocking) founded in 1911, in Japan,  the last year of the Meiji period by a group of young women interesting in creating a forum for female self-expression.  The author of the manifesto and editor of the journal was Hiratsuka Raichō, born Haru Hiratsuka (1866-1971). She is considered to be the leader of the women’s movement in Japan.

Not content to let women blithely accept their position of subservience, Raichō began to call women to recover their original strength. We are reading, in the introduction of her autobiography “In the Beginning, Woman Was the Sun”, Columbia University Press (24 Nov 2006),

Hiratsuka_Raicho,(1886-1971) Image Credit: Wikipedia

…….”The journal [Seitō], immediately attracted attention. Other women’s magazines were already in existence, but they were mainly devoted to practical advice on home and family. Seito was the first to call for women’s spiritual revolution. Among its contributors were Yosano Akiko, Tamura Toshiko, and Okamoto Kanoko, who wrote fiction and poetry, and others who translated Chekhov, Maupassant, and Anatole France.

Within two years of its founding, the journal began to shift from literature to larger issues affecting women, and became identified with candid discussions of female sexuality, chastity, and abortion—topics scrupulously avoided by other women’s journals of the era. Several issues of Seito were censored. The private lives of some of the contributors—their easy involvement in love affairs, their defiance of moral and social convention—also gave the journal notoriety as the “training school” for “New Women” or “made-in-Japan Noras.” In 1914, Raicho herself began to live openly with her younger lover, an artist named Okumura Hiroshi, with whom she had two children out of wedlock in 1915 and 1917. (Their relationship was monogamous, and they married in 1941.)”

Seitō was the first feminist group in Japan. It took its name from the Blue Stocking Society (rather a salon) that was founded by Elizabeth Montagu and other women in the 1750s in England.

References: “Meiji Japan: Political, Economic and Social History 1868-1912“, by Peter Kornicki,
In the Beginning, Woman Was the Sun: The Autobiography of a Japanese Feminist” by Hiratsuka Raicho

Paul vs Paul. Μια ενδιαφέρουσα αντιπαράθεση!

Πολύ ενδιαφέρουσα και αρκετά ‘πολεμική’ η ατμόσφαιρα στις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες μεταξύ δύο Paul. Του Paul Ryan και του  Paul Krugman. Οι περισσότεροι γνωρίζουν τον Paul Krugman; για τον Paul Ryan, το ανερχόμενο αστέρι των Ρεπουμπλικάνων, έχω γράψει παλαιότερα εδώ.

Τις τελευταίες μέρες μια σειρά δημοσιεύσεων και αντιπαραθέσεων έχει ξεσπάσει στα αμερικανικά ΜΜΕ με αφορμή το Op-Ed του  Krugman στις 6/8, ‘Ryan’s plan is a fraud; the math doesn’t work’ και την απάντηση από τον Ryan την επόμενη μέρα.

Την αντιπαράθεση των δύο, ακλούθησε μια σειρά δημοσιεύσεων σε διάφορα έντυπα, χαρακτηριστικά αναφέρω το ‘Ryan responds to scurrilous Krugman attack on “Roadmap to America’s Future“’ στο Washington Examiner που πρόσφατα δημοσίευσε  μια σειρά από τρία μέρη βασισμένη στο Roadmap for America’s Future του Paul Ryan.

Η συνέχεια προβλέπεται αρκετά ενδιαφέρουσα.

Climate Change agreement: Local Solutions to a Global problem.

President Barck Obama said yesterday, that he will travel to Copenhagen if a framework agreement between countries would be ensured. In this case, he said, his “presence in Copenhagen will make a difference in tipping us over edge then certainly that’s something that I will do” (Reuters).

He remains optimistic that the summit on December could yield a “framework” agreement.

Obama, who has faced resistance from opposition Republicans and even some fellow Democrats to setting caps on greenhouse gas emissions, also acknowledged that the U.S. Senate would not pass climate change legislation before Copenhagen.

He added that “The key now is for the United States and China, the two largest emitters in the world, is to be able to come up with a framework that, along with other big emitters like the Europeans and those countries that are projected to be large emitters in the future, like India, can all buy into.” (Reuters)

Whether we are ready for a strong deal in Copenhagen or not, it is optimistic that many large emitters such as US, China, India and Brazil, have independently taken steps to reduce their carbon emissions.

Last month, on his weekly radio program Coffee with the President, the Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said that Brazil will offer to reduce the pace of deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest by 80 percent by 2020, in other words, Brazil will emit some 4.8 billion fewer tons of carbon dioxide gas.

Indonesia, the world’s third largest greenhouse emitter, also offered a plan to curve its carbon dioxide emissions. Agus Purnomo, the head of Indonesia’s delegation said during the climate negotiations in Bangkok last month, that Indonesia would reduce emissions 26 percent by 2020, and an additional 15 percent if they get financial support. He said that the cuts would come through a combination of renewable energy, energy efficiency and reducing deforestation.

China and India have also signed a memorandum in order to coordinate their approach to climate negotiations and some domestic policies, such as deforestation (The Guardian).

It seems to me  that leaders, especially in developing countries have realised the impacts that climate change would have to their nations, but they have decided to follow a more local approach to mitigate these impacts and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, without having negative effects on their economic growth.

I believe that a global deal is the best way to fight climate change, but if this is not backed up by a variety of efforts at the national, regional, and local levels, there is not guarantee that will work well. Also, it will take too long to produce positive results.

Climate change is the result of many individual and local decisions. Local solutions may be the most efficient and prompt way to reduce greenhouse gases, fight environmental problems, such as deforestation and pollution and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe” Remembering Carl Sagan

This is one of my favourite’s quotes. It comes from Carl Sagan, to me the most inspirational scientist, a brialliant, passionate man and an agile communicator. He would have turned 75 today.

“When you are in love, you want to tell the world. I have been in love with science, so it seems the most natural thing in the world to tell people about it.”

“If you look into science, you will find a sense of intricacy, depth, and exquisite beauty which, I believe, is more powerful that the offerings of any bureaucratic religion.”

No one else did more to open science and share the love of discovery and space exploration.

Conversations with Carl Sagan

WoW!!!! Incredible Wave Photography

Clark Little is a photographer who lives in Hawaii. The last few years he gained international recognition for his North Shore shorebreak wave photography. Check out his amazing photos.

The two below are my favourites.

wave-tube-08

“Tubes” as they are known are a surfers lifeblood and a thing of natural beauty. Armed  with a waterproof camera and perfect timing, Clark Little, was able to snap these incredible pictures.

wave-tube-10

Credit: http://internetpopculture.com/2009/09/15/inside-the-tube-incredible-wave-photography/

A woman in the land of Berlusconi

I live in Italy for about a year now. Being a Greek, I thought it would be relatively easy to adapt to local attitudes and culture. But, it seems that my personality, ideas and beliefs, as well as, the fact that I have lived in a north country (UK), where certain behaviours are considered to be suggestive and offensive indeed, made things not so easy, after all. After almost a year, I still find it quite difficult to fit in, to get used and to understand certain things.

One of them is the fanciness and the sympathy that the majority of Italians show towards Silvio Berlusconi. Italy’s Premier Silvio Berlusconi has made headlines around the world, lately. The reason? It is widely known that he is extremely fond to younger women. Few weeks ago, he proposed as candidates for European elections, a number of “show girls”, as his wife, who she is threatening to divorce him, called them.

In other countries this “unceasingly conduct”, with very young women, especially, from a Prime-minister, would have caused shock waves. But, not in Italy! Here, things are different. Newspapers in Italy show that his popularity among the Italian voters has been rocketed, despite the fact that his behaviour has been criticised – mildly though- by the Vatican.

How does his popularity remain intact among the majority of Italians, and especially among the Italian women? I think Berlusconi uses this flirtatious behaviour and the incidents with young women to build up his image as a charmer, an image that may have an effect in many Italians. He also manages very cleverly indeed, to turn everything around him into a joke. Ok! He may have this “foible” toward younger women, he may have and some other… flaws as well, but who hasn’t, after all. He is one of us, one of the people we meet everyday on the street, going to work, he behaves accordingly. He does not belong to this, untouchable, political elite that stands above and away from you and your problems. The only explanation that it comes to me is that a big part of women in Italy are still under the spell of wealth and power he represents. Berlusconi is immensely wealthy; indeed there are several jokes in Italy of Berlusconi, meeting a beautiful woman and ask her to accompany him in a store and buy whatever she wants. That image of sexiness and wealth, of male arrogance, a man that can be smooth and rough the same time, maybe still sends waves of desire and attracts many women.

It is also significant that he controls the majority of the media in Italy. He uses them in a way that he builds further his image as a populist and charming leader. And, his image is everywhere, from the serious newspapers like the “Republica”, to the wide circulated weekly gossip magazine “Chi”, and always in a sympathetic and charming way.

But, what is the big mystery to me, is how such a short, not good looking man, in his seventies, with such offensive behaviour and close relationships with the far right, has managed to have such a popularity among the women.

Personally, I find this attitude and behaviour tasteless, stupid and deeply offensive but here it is, the Italian women seem to have a different opinion.

All these, made me wonder about the feminist movement in Italy. Where are, and how feminists reacts to this behaviour by their Primeminister? Italy used to have a strong feminist movement, but in the last 10 years or so, things have not been very well. There is some feminist opposition, but these women are struggling to find some space in the media to express their thoughts and opinion.The worst enemy of the feminists, though, is this lightness that exists everywhere in Italy today. It is very common, if a woman tries to express a more serious speech, to be accused of snobbyness, or even that she talks that way because she lacks beauty and grace.

It is not easy to be a woman in the land of Berlusconi.

Sir Nicholas Stern warning over climate change

British economist Sir Nicholas Stern came to Athens, Greece for just one day, guest of  the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises in the event for Sustainable Development. During his talk at the Concert Hall on 26 November 2008, he said that if we don’t take action there is a strong possibility that the increase in global temperatures over the coming decades to reach the 5 degrees Celsius.

Sir Nicholas Stern. Image Credit:http://admin.sev.org.gr

Sir Nicholas  Stern said that the risks of climate change would be bigger than we thought before.  The reason for that is that the carbon emissions are increasing faster than we envisaged a few years ago, also the absorbing capacity of the planet seems to be less than we assumed so more of those emissions end up in the atmosphere as increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and some of the effects come faster than we thought.

The only solution, he said,  to fight global warming is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 to zero, by replacing the existing technologies for energy production with renewable carbon-free ones.  He added that  the pace of change of technologies and the increase of understanding on these issues is very encouraging as it is the increasing political commitment to bring down carbon emissions.

Sir Nicholas Stern warned that South-eastern Europe, (especially Italy and Greece) have greater risks turning into a desert the next 100 years unless climate change is reversed.

He said that the current economic crisis will last at least two years and he noted that it must be addressed together with the environmental crisis.