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Shanghai Noir

The Dancing Girl and the Turtle: publication date 01.04.2017

This is me, age 3, mugging for the camera. I found this photo in the album I inherited last year from my maternal grandfather.

I'm sure he would have been amazed at the job opportunities now available in China, the country of his birth. Not only for men but also women. Although maybe he would have been as old school as my father who, upon the occasion of my graduation from law school, said he was sorry I'd have to work for a living. I suppose he would have preferred that I had married.

In China these days, marriage is not the only option for women. But that's not saying much. A few weeks ago, I ranted about the #ricebunny and the brief rise of a Chinese #MeToo movement. This week, courtesy of The New York Times, I learned about a new profession for women in China: the programmer motivator.

"Qualifications: Must be attractive, know how to charm socially awkward programmers and give relaxing massages."

It seems that, despite the great strides made in female emancipation around the world, progress is only relative. There are some, including the woman interviewed for this article, Shen Yue, who believe that some feminist ideas are too extreme:

"I think women should be independent, self-reliant and have self-respect. And that's enough."

When I was a kid, I was taught to think the same. But I was also raised to believe that there were no limits to what I could achieve, other than my own will to do so. Have we somehow collectively slipped into a vortex of time where the past is better than the present?

Nostalgia is defined as "a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past." It can be the belief that things were better back then. Nostalgia is the theme of this week's blog plot: Family Photos. You can blame my grandfather's photo album and a cheesy poem my mom sent to me. You could also say that nostalgia is the theme behind Joodse Huizen 4, a series of essays centered around the houses across the Netherlands where Jewish families once lived and the topic of this week's book review.

Sweet Dream
Mirror, Mirror
Fact vs Fiction
Father Jacquinot

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