To get back in the LJ posting habit and to work on my writing skils, I'm going to try some article summaries. Just ones that I think are interesting though.
Detailed article with a lot of good interviews on hikikomori (withdrawl). The phenomenon isn't a new story. Young Japanese, 80% of them male, locking themselves away in their room and venturing out only rarely. Conservative estimates put their numbers at 100k to 300k. "Men start to feel the pressure in junior high school, and their success is largely defined in a couple of years," (James Roberson). Obviously the fact that their parents are willing to put up with this craziness also plays a role.
The new part of the story, at least for me, was about the programs implemented to help them. "Rental sisters" who act like siblings try to cajole them out into the world. The process is interesting, it involved writing letters to them, meeting in person, finding out what they like to do, and trying to put it to constructive use. For example, one hikkomori liked making model cars. So the counselor asked him to make one for a local daycare center. Other forms of therapy are also discussed, like not putting their food infront of their doors but instead expecting them to come to the dining room. The close by the reporter is the money quote: ""I'd like to be a scriptwriter." He also wants to enroll in a university. "But there are idealistic dreams," he said, "and then there's reality." Neither plan seemed particularly far-fetched, I told him. "You think so?" he said. "I don't know. It might be too late for me." He is 23 years old."
--I've commented before on how a lot of this apathy shows in anime I watch. For example, stories like Eva or X where people struggle with whether or not they should try to prevent the destruction of the world. It makes me wonder what American pop culture themes strick other countries as weird.
This article advocates a next generation in civil rights thinking. The problem the author addresses is "covering." "Persons who are ready to admit possession of a stigma. . .may nonetheless make a great effort to keep the stigma from looming large." (Erving Goffman). Basic idea is that you may admit to being overweight, disabled, gay, religious, athiest, or the like while at the same time feel obligated to play down this characteristic.
He gave some sample unsuccessful lawsuits: an African-American woman fired for having cornrows, hispanic jurors dismissed for knowing spanish, a new mother being transfered to a lower income job, a lesbian attorney losing a job offer because she was getting ceremonially married, and an air force officer banned from wearing his yarmulke indoors. The cases were dismissed because the reasons touched on non-protected areas. Typically they involve cases of voluntary behavior rather than in-born characteristics (although discrimination by sexual orientation is often still legal).
Yoshino suggests that we put the oneous on authorities to explain why they require "covering." Refreshingly, widespread new legal protections aren't his proposed solution. He suggests instead widespread discussion of the idea: "What will constitute a good-enough reason to justify assimilation will obviously be controversial. We have come to some consensus that certain reasons are illegitimate - like racism, sexism or religious intolerance. Beyond that, we should expect conversations rather than foreordained results ....My personal inclination is always to privilege the claims of the individual against countervailing interests like "neatness" or "workplace harmony." But we should have that conversation. "
--I'm not sure national conversation ever do much good. However, his ideas seem reasonable and I give him points for equitably applying the conclusions.
"Poly-trauma"-- a term for wounded vets coming back with head and other injuries. In past wars, they'd probably be dead. Story covers one Marine that's had to relearn to walk, speak, read, and write. (Narrated Slideshow version of the article)
--The article makes me feel better about our VA hospitals, they seem to be giving this guy the treatment he deserves.