Brinkmanship over rationality.

The build-up to US president Donald Trump’s 100th day in office has been, as is his custom, conflicted. Worried about negative publicity, Trump has recently tried to downplay the 100-day mark as an “artificial barrier.” Which it arguably is—but he set it himself, declaring a bold set of 28 promises to fulfil in 100 days…

via Trump made 28 promises for his first 100 days. We made him a scorecard — Quartz

The Body in Science, the Body in Culture: nakedness without/with norm violation

These are two very different things.

The permission allotted to professionals in clinics and hospitals, to view our nude or partially  nude bodies for medical purposes, stands in stark contrast to being arrested for cooking steak on the back deck bar-b-q, while in the nude (or even topless if a female) because it feels comfortable.

Being nude (like other things) is a function of time, place, and circumstance. So in the first instance of being in a clinic or hospital, we forfeit body privacy for the higher need of getting well. Showing doctors and nurses our bodies is bound by the time of visit (hours or days), the location (screened off bed/table/room), and problem at hand (illness or disease). There are expected norms (standards of behaviour) that apply, namely, you show your affected body part(s) when asked, because any shame you may have previouly harboured is now moved to another part of your brain and forgotten, at least temporarily. This expected behaviour from being a ‘patient’ flows from a latent psychological deference hierarchy in our minds, from which we control, by order of their deference status, who sees what, when, where, and how. We give this viewing privilege to doctors and nurses, because of their assumed role objectivity. Here the body is an object of science. It is a specimen under examination, and it doesn’t matter what our own age, sex, religion, ethnicity, occupation, education, or social status is. We defer to their expertise in exposing our bodies to them. They don’t judge what we look like. as part of their role. This is not a public event.

And the police aren’t called.

In the second instance, different norms apply. This the public arena, and unless you have already secured the ‘permission’ of your surrounding neighbours, you are taking a risk bar-b-queing in the nude (apart from getting splashed or dripped on). Current Canadian formal and informal norms around public nudity are at least the following:

  1. nudity in private settings (home, bars, nude beaches, nudist/naturist resorts) is okay;
  2. nude hiking, canoeing, camping, is permitted by our criminal code in remote public parks and federal areas;
  3. total nudity in all other public areas is not permitted by law;
  4. partial nudity, i.e., toplessness in women, is now pemitted by law in most public areas in most provinces (yes, a woman can walk down the street in Toronto, or cut her front lawn in Sioux Saint Marie while topless);
  5. total nudity is allowed in certain situations, e.g., downtown parades for a cause;
  6. nude statues and paintings are okay.

Science and culture mostly stand apart when it comes to seeing the nude body. Yet they both circumscribe it by time, place and circumstance. The Western tradition over the past 200 years has been to increasingly sexualize the nude body in media depictions. Nudity and partial nudity, especially of women, sells. It has become an international capitalist enterprise making millions or billions annually, and shows minimal signs of morphing into complete body acceptance and desexualization. Nudist/naturist movements across the globe have had some success in the past 90 years in enlightening their citizens, and it is estimated that in liberal democratic countries there are over 33 million card-carrying nudists/naturists. And more middle-aged people, i.e., those who suported equal topless rights, et., are apparently living in the nude in their homes. But the millenial generation of today is showing little interest in picking up this gauntlet. Some social change crawls on its stomach, until the moral pendulum swings the other way. Human rights advocacy and public protest are not within the scope of current millenials’ thinking. They just want jobs and friendships and privacy over all other values.

Law infringement involving mere nudity makes prosecution difficult because of having to prove intent. When one person walks nude down a busy street, an arrest will probably be made on the basis of ‘exhibitionism’, mental condition, or some sort of sexual ‘perversion’. When 300 people walk nude down a busy street, it is interpreted as a ‘demonstration’ and thus permitted. And if they stood still, it might be seen as a work of art.

Society has not yet reached the point where we have no need to justify our nudity on the basis of time, place, and circumstance. Although we are born nude, unlike all other animals, we lack the basic right to be what we are, where we are. Nudity, especially in public places, has become over centuries attenuated to morality, and historically is now a cultural phenomenon. It is culture, not nature, that has created norms against the body as it is. Culture, is of course maleable,  changeable, and whimsical, as it responds to human political power structues, persons of influence, and social fads. But core change takes time, especially because today the nude body being considered is a sensual, media-magnetized, and heavily sexualized, source of an individual’s self-concept. To change people’s minds you need to first get their attention, and then to convince them change is necessary or in their best interests.

But the obstacles to complete body acceptance are enormous.

Age, sex, education, employment, religion, ethnicity, nationality, political beliefs, ignorance, prejudice – they can all determine one’s receptivity to social change…that would in this case turn the clock back 50,000 years, and forward perhaps many decades. The medical/scientific ambience treats the nude body as amoral, neither moral nor immoral. Its neutrality is protected and enforced by professional norms, not social norms. Society and science are conversely related in this sense with regard to norm violation. The nude backyard bar-b-qer may become commonplace one day, but if he burns himself he’s safe as a nude today in the arms of medical science. Like many things, social change towards nude body acceptance comes down to walking the path in increasing numbers, because numbers can change policy.


Getting walled in? The US will soon be in a closet with no lights on.

President Donald Trump‘s proposed border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is more unpopular than ever — with double the number of Americans opposing its construction than those who want it built, according to a new poll. A recent Quinnipiac poll, which surveyed 1,062 Americans between April 12 and 18, shows 64% of American voters oppose…

via Most Americans Oppose President Trump’s Border Wall — TIME

Lab-grown meat is about to go global, and one firm is feverishly paving the way — Quartz A revolution in the making.

Bruce Friedrich is about to up the ante in the effort to get more people eating plant-based and cell-cultured meat. With a staff that will soon exceed 30, Friedrich’s DC-based firm is expanding its attention from the United States to the entire world. Formed only a year ago, the Good Food Institute (GFI) staff has…

via Lab-grown meat is about to go global, and one firm is feverishly paving the way — Quartz

Twitter Sues Trump Administration to Block Investigation Into “Rogue” Account — Fortune

Twitter took the extraordinary step on Thursday of suing the Department of Homeland Security, asking a federal judge in San Francisco to stop the agency’s efforts to unmask the identify of the user behind a “rogue” account. The account, @ALT_uscis, is one of a number that purport to be alternatives to real government agencies–in this…

via Twitter Sues Trump Administration to Block Investigation Into “Rogue” Account — Fortune

‘Call to Action’: Harvard Students Launch Resistance School to Combat President Trump — TIME Now THIS is very significant!

For more than 15,000 students across the country, Wednesday marked the first day of Resistance School — a program where the educational focus is mobilizing against President Donald Trump’s administration. “Each one of us has people in our lives who were disserved by the outcome of the election and saw it as a call to…

via ‘Call to Action’: Harvard Students Launch Resistance School to Combat President Trump — TIME

Donald Trump Is Methodically Undoing Barack Obama’s Policies. Bit by Bit — TIME Time will tell.

(WASHINGTON) — Amid the turmoil over staff shake-ups, blocked travel bans and the Russia cloud hanging overhead, President Donald Trump is steadily plugging away at a major piece of his agenda: Undoing Obama. From abortion to energy to climate change and personal investments, Trump is keeping his promises in methodically overturning regulations and policies adopted…

via Donald Trump Is Methodically Undoing Barack Obama’s Policies. Bit by Bit — TIME

The New World Order: Every Country for Itself — TIME Fear and insecurity breed entrenchment.

It’s official: Britain is done with Europe. Prime Minister Theresa May has formally triggered the process for withdrawing from the European Union, ensuring that the United Kingdom, one of the largest and most prosperous countries in the EU, will soon leave the 28-member bloc. While the process could drag on for two years or more,…

via The New World Order: Every Country for Itself — TIME

How Investing in Robots Actually Helps Human Jobs — TIME The more we learn, the less we know, and therefore more opportunities emerge.

America’s manufacturing heyday is gone, and so are millions of jobs, lost to modernization. Despite what Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin might think, the National Bureau of Economic Research and Silicon Valley executives, among many others, know it’s already happening. And a new report from PwC estimates that 38 percent of American jobs are at “high…

via How Investing in Robots Actually Helps Human Jobs — TIME

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley Says Russia Was ‘Certainly Involved’ in 2016 Election — TIME Impeachment now near?

Nikki Haley, President Trump’s Ambassador to the United Nations, said unequivocally Sunday that she believes Russia was “involved” in the 2016 election. “Certainly, I think Russia was involved in the election. There’s no question about that,” Haley told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz in an interview on This Week.” And I think when they finish with…

via U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley Says Russia Was ‘Certainly Involved’ in 2016 Election — TIME