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Given that dreams are demented stories, with arcless plots, characters that resemble someone you know but not exactly, and sudden set changes, how does one translate a dream into a number? In Haiti, the answer lies not in psychoanalysis, but in something called the tchala. Practically every borlette shack has one. The tchala is a numerology reference book that lists common elements of dreams alongside a corresponding two-digit number for each. The index is written in French, which poses an obstacle for the vast majority of players, but the borlette workers are supposed to be literate and French-proficient.
The tchala is as comprehensive as a decent dictionary, with entries ranging from “abandonment” to “zigzag”. And it’s beautifully specific. There is an entry for “rain”, of course, but also rain in the moonlight, rain in the sunshine, rain falling on a tomb, with clouds and wind, with neither clouds nor wind – eleven in total. Under “Beans”: white beans, congo beans, black beans, red beans, tender beans, dry beans, bean soup, and beans the dreamer can’t identify. Horses, which are perhaps the stuff of dreams in the countryside, merit 36 entries. –“Haiti puts its faith in the lottery,” Pooja Bhatia, The National
The central theme of the course was that this twinned combination of capitalism and racism has produced a cult of “white privilege,” which permeates every aspect of our lives. “Canada is a white supremacist country, so I assume that I’m racist,” one of the students said matter-of-factly during our first session. “It’s not about not being racist. Because I know I am. It’s about becoming less racist.” At this, another student told the class: “I hate when people tell me they’re colour-blind. That is the most overt kind of racism. When people say ‘I don’t see your race,’ I know that’s wrong. To ignore race is to be more racist than to acknowledge race. I call it neo-racism.”
All of the students were white (to my eyes, anyway). And most were involved in what might broadly be termed the anti-racism industry — an overlapping hodgepodge of community-outreach activists, equity officers, women’s studies instructors and the like. Most said they’d come so they could integrate anti-racism into their work. Yet a good deal of the course consisted of them unburdening themselves of their own racist guilt. The instructor set the tone, describing an episode in which she’d lectured a colleague of colour about his job. “When I realized what I was doing, I approached him afterward and apologized,” she told the class. “I said to him. ‘I’m so sorry! I’m unloading so much whiteness on you right now.’ ” –“White & guilty: ‘Whiteness’ workshop helps expose your inner racist,” Jonathan Kay, National Post
The imbalances and injustices of the material world are probably not so easily corrected, even in the spirit world. The big problem of course is that in time every memorial loses its force and is overgrown by the jungle, by greed, by apathy. Some of my companions feel especially affronted by the Japanese tours that are now offered on the island. When I took my first tour of Corregidor in 1999, Japanese tourists sat uncomfortably in the same tranvia’s as Filipinos and Americans, but now they’re segregated and given a version of history less unpleasant for them. The Japanese tour guide wants to put a Japanese flag on Topside apparently. “I’ll tie him to it and shoot him,” one of my companions says as we’re discussing this. But that’s just bravado speaking. The most you can do really is grumble or pee on the foot of the Goddess of Mercy at the Japanese memorial as one of my Filipino guides did once. “They didn’t know mercy during the war,” he told me, “when they slaughtered a hundred thousand civilians in Manila. Maybe they knew some girl named Mercy. They probably killed her, too.” And then he laughed ruefully. –“Old Ghosts of Corregidor,” Robin Hemley, McSweeney’s
More from Rafe Bartholomew:
For the past three years my dosimeter had sat silently on a narrow shelf just inside the door of a house in Tokyo, upticking its final digit every twenty-four hours by one or two, the increase never failing — for radiation is the ruthless companion of time. Wherever we are, radiation finds and damages us, at best imperceptibly. During those three years, my American neighbors had lost sight of the accident at Fukushima. In March 2011, a tsunami had killed hundreds, or thousands; yes, they remembered that. Several also recollected the earthquake that caused it, but as for the hydrogen explosion and containment breach at Nuclear Plant No. 1, that must have been fixed by now — for its effluents no longer shone forth from our national news. Meanwhile, my dosimeter increased its figure, one or two digits per day, more or less as it would have in San Francisco — well, a trifle more, actually. And in Tokyo, as in San Francisco, people went about their business, except on Friday nights, when the stretch between the Kasumigaseki and Kokkai-Gijido-mae subway stations — half a dozen blocks of sidewalk, which commenced at an antinuclear tent that had already been on this spot for more than 900 days and ended at the prime minister’s lair — became a dim and feeble carnival of pamphleteers and Fukushima refugees peddling handicrafts.
One Friday evening, the refugees’ half of the sidewalk was demarcated by police barriers, and a line of officers slouched at ease in the street, some with yellow bullhorns hanging from their necks. At the very end of the street, where the National Diet glowed white and strange behind other buildings, a policeman set up a microphone, then deployed a small video camera in the direction of the muscular young people in drums against fascists jackets who now, at six-thirty sharp, began chanting: “We don’t need nuclear energy! Stop nuclear power plants! Stop them, stop them, stop them! No restart! No restart!” The police assumed a stiffer stance; the drumming and chanting were almost uncomfortably loud. Commuters hurried past along the open space between the police and the protesters, staring straight ahead, covering their ears. Finally, a fellow in a shabby sweater appeared, and murmured along with the chants as he rounded the corner. He was the only one who seemed to sympathize; few others reacted at all.
Number of U.S. congressional districts in which trade with China has produced more jobs than it has cost:
Young bilingual children who learned one language first are likelier than monolingual children and bilingual children who learned languages simultaneously to say that a dog adopted by owls will hoot.
An Oklahoma legislative committee voted to defund Advanced Placement U.S. History courses, accusing the curriculum of portraying the United States as “a nation of oppressors and exploiters.”
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“He could be one of a million beach-bound, black-socked Florida retirees, not the man who, by some odd happenstance of life, possesses the brain of Albert Einstein — literally cut it out of the dead scientist's head.”