Culture

Moral sacrifice is subjective

Perhaps you've heard of the so-called trolley problem, also known as the train problem. The old philosophical question goes like this:

There is a trolley barreling down the tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks, therefore saving the five people. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options:

  1. Do nothing and allow the trolley to kill the five people on the main track.
  2. Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.

What is the right thing to do?

The Decade of Indigenous Languages

The United Nation declared a “Decade of Indigenous Languages”, beginning on January 1, 2022. There are currently over 7000 languages in the world, but roughly 40% of those languages are endangered, as adults no longer speak the language to their children. According to the U.N., one language is lost every two weeks. 

Languages become extinct due to colonization, urbanization and globalization. Colonists may purposely try to eradicate the language and culture of the indigenous people. When indigenous people leave their homelands to find work in cities, they need to speak the dominant language to survive. And young people need to use it to participate in today's global world.

New Year's traditions

In Denmark, they save all of their unused dishes and plates until the 31st of December when they affectionately shatter them against the doors of all their friends and family to banish bad spirits.

In the Philippines, it’s all about the cash. They believe that everything should be round so as to represent coins and bring wealth. Round food, round clothes, as long as it’s round.

In Bolivia, coins are baked into sweets and whoever finds the coins has good luck for the next year.

In Japan, they ring all of their bells 108 times in alignment with the Buddhist belief that this brings cleanness. It’s also considered good to be smiling going into the New Year as it supposedly brings good luck.

Men artists: Gustave Caillebotte

Gustave Caillebotte (1848–1894) was part of the French Impressionist art movement, the first school of art to break away from classical painting. Impressionism focuses on the light and colors of a particular moment in time. Because artists wanted to capture a brief moment and didn't have cameras yet, they needed to paint quickly. So they used quick, flat strokes without precise detail.

They also used colors in new ways. The best example is that shadows aren't just the object's color with gray or brown mixed in. Instead, the painters added strokes of the complementary color of the object (e.g., strokes of red in the shadow of something green). This makes the shadows come alive. 

Men artists: Naoki Onogawa

Tokyo-based artist Naoki Onogawa folds hundreds of tiny cranes (no bigger than a centimeter each) by hand, then attaches them to branching wire forms. The results look like bonsai trees—bonsai trees with birds for leaves. 

Onogawa started making the sculptures after visiting the site of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. At first he felt terrified by our powerlessness over nature. But then he saw 1,000 paper cranes at the site of a ruined school building. He was "empowered by the power of life ... that shined so brightly in the aftermath" of the disaster. It inspired him to create his own art with origami cranes.

Men artists: Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988) was part of the Neo-Expressionist movement of the 1980s, led by Andy Warhol. Basquiat's primitive style grew out of his time as a graffiti artist in New York City. People first knew him as part of the anonymous duo SAMO© (pronounced "same-o"), with Al Diaz. They were among the first to use words to communicate thoughts, rather than just tags with names and numbers.

For 3 years, from the age of 17–20, Basquiat sold his art on t-shirts and postcards on the street for a couple of bucks each. Finally, he made it into a group show at an art gallery. People and critics loved his work, and in no time people were paying $50,000 or more for one of his pieces.

The child of a Haitian father and Puerto Rican mother, Jean-Michel Basquiat brought the Black and Latino experience into the fine art world. His art was angry and harsh, yet also poetic. He was able to express a reality that had long been excluded from elite society.

What is accent-ism?

It is not a secret that people might judge you by the way you speak. For example, if you sound confident, people might trust you. 

But for some people, it is also about what accent you have. Studies showed that people might link your accent to not only your place of birth, but also your personal characteristics. Some accents are perceived as "good" or "correct." Listeners think that the speaker is intelligent, honest and hard-working because of their accent. On the other hand, some accents are seen as something negative and needing correction, with speakers seen as less intelligent. Both positive and negative conclusions are stereotypes.

Women artists: Tamara de Lempicka

Tamara de Limpicka (1898–1980) was a key artist in the Art Deco period of the 1920s and '30s. Born in Poland, she also spent a lot of time in France and the U.S. Her real fame came when high-fashion magazines began to use her art for their covers. Soon she was painting portraits of the aristocracy, and even royalty. Although her name is not well-known today outside of Art Deco fans, de Lempicka was one of the most important and popular artists of the Art Deco movement.

Art Deco grew out of Cubism and the Arts and Crafts movement, adding elements of "exotic" Asian, Egyptian and Mayan art. It used simple forms and planes of color to create new designs representing luxury and wealth. The pieces also represented faith in social and technological progress.

How people approach deadlines

According to The New Yorker, as the last day to complete a task approaches, people respond to the pressure differently. Some, perhaps well-adjusted and diligent people, jump in, figuring that the anxiety of an unpaid bill or an unfinished project is far more painful than the difficulty of sticking to a sensible schedule. However, others live in denial until the last minute, when they bolt to the end, vowing that they’ll do it all differently next time. And still others dismiss deadlines altogether, believing them to be at best imaginary and at worst contrary to creativity.

Women artists: Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo (1907–1954) is thought of today as one of Mexico's greatest artists. Her most famous paintings are self-portraits. Of her 143 paintings, 55 were self-portraits. She once said, "I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.”

Kahlo grew up during the Mexican Revolution and was part of the Mexicanidad movement, which celebrated indigenous Mexican culture. She painted in a Magical Realist folk art style, with the colors and imagery of Mexican indigenous culture. Magical Realism combines realistic detail with surrealistic imagery. In the painting shown above, Roots, Kahlo depicts herself lying on rocky ground with vines growing out of her chest. The details are very realistic, but the image itself is surreal.