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a blog by Ann Althouse

"Strict gender roles have governed domestic life in Japan for generations. Men often retire without ever having held a paring knife..."

"... or washed a dish. Those who lose a spouse often find themselves unable to do the most rudimentary chores. An old Japanese saying — 'Danshi-chubo-ni-hairazu,' or 'men should be ashamed to be found in the kitchen' — has spooked husbands from most any housework. Even those who wanted to help typically lacked the know-how.... Simmering resentments frequently come to a head once a man’s career ends and his wife starts to question the arrangement, Tokukura said. 'The power dynamic changes. The wife asks, "Why do I have to do all the housework if you are no longer bringing in the money?"'"

From "Older Japanese men, lost in the kitchen, turn to housework school" (WaPo).

At housework school, old men meet other other old men:

Five of them were fixing a meal recently, Kaneko standing tall in front of the stove and helming the frying pan as the others took turns placing mounds of minced chicken in oil.

“Don’t overdo it,” he warned 80-year-old Kikuo Yano, laughing as he rounded out the nuggets with a spoon. Yano has been taking classes this fall to surprise his wife of 43 years.

“All this time my wife has done everything,” the retired architect acknowledged. “I haven’t done anything around the house. If I don’t know how to, I guess there’s nothing I can do. But if I learn how to do it, then it’s time I help.”

He now wakes up early to press his clothes. Ten times he has practiced a curry dish he plans on serving his family on New Year’s Day. “You see this shirt?” he says, running his hands up and down the sleeve, a smile stretching across his face. “I ironed it myself."

Out with the old — "men should be ashamed" — and in with the new —  "I ironed it myself."

I like the idea of taking distinct pride in doing the humble, simple, concrete things in life. It's a shame to imbue these things with shame (especially if that is part of system of subordinating others).

When AI does Thanksgiving: "It's doing it without emotion. There's no context. I don't feel anything... It feels very machine-generated. There's no backstory."

A NYT food editor, Priya Krishna, asks AI to generate Thanksgiving recipes, then follows the recipes to the letter: 


This was an interesting project, well presented, so just a few comments: 

1. The human beings tasting the food knew how it was made, so their judgment was affected by how they feel about artificial intelligence: There's no emotion, no context. 

2. The tasters all work in the NYT food department. They openly exult that the machines aren't going to take their jobs. In other words: They had an economic interest in rejecting the work of machines.

3. Nothing stops us from using the AI to generate a first draft of a recipe and then to use our own intuition in changing the recipe as we go along or to make it a second time with improvements. That would add a sense of context and backstory.

4. In the future, how we interacted with AI on the way to putting this dinner on the table may become story — and why wouldn't it take on context and emotion, just as much as if you'd followed a human-made recipe that you got from a cookbook or website? It's only the old family recipes that are fully, emotively contextualized.

5. A lot of those family recipes aren't all that good.

6. A lot of human emotion isn't that good. I think it's funny that people assume that the emotion people will bring to the project is about warmth and love and beauty. There's some bad emotion too, including the smugness about the goodness of your own recipes and the desire to force others to eat that stuff you made.

7. Please, ladies, tie back your long hair when you are leaning into the food!

We're taking the TikToks up to 11 tonight. Some people love them.

 1. In Japan, they don't say "See? I told you!"

2. Stop saying "This photograph looks like a Renaissance painting."

3. In what world would he eat 20 tortillas?

4. She made a pact with herself to have higher standards.

5. When your partner makes a bid for your attention.

6. Do you want to go to a haunted house?

7. Do you want... a what?

8. Here, take this harmonica.

9. Hey, a tambourine man.

10. And, here, just in case you need a dancer to interpret "Like a Rolling Stone."

11. The heterosexual man who wants a husband... why?

"Of course, leaning into ugliness — or at least less obvious curation — is still an aesthetic choice, intended to signify an irreverence or a rejection of norms...."

"As Alicia Kennedy writes: '"Bad" photos are in, but the thing about them is that they’re not really bad or even insouciant: They’re just a different approach, less big bright lighting, a little grainy, still beautifully plated.'... This trend toward DIY-looking food also opens up the door to greater inclusivity... For disabled and neurodivergent people who have trouble with fine-tuned decoration or people with disabilities who live with inaccessible kitchens where it’s hard to cook, much less stage a meal, 'the shift to DIY helps with the pressure'.... [S]eeing other people... unafraid to make work that looks amateur, imperfect, and unprofessional has given me a sense that it’s okay to do the same.... The pressure of showing the 'right' thing on Instagram isn’t entirely alleviated, but I’ve found a space where it’s okay to have realistic ambitions...."

From "The Great Food Instagram Vibe Shift/The food blogger aesthetic has given way to something more realistic and DIY: Laissez-faire Instagram food is here" (Eater).

It's nice to see social media trending toward what is comfortable and doable rather than strainingly aspirational. This article is about food and photography, but I think it's a more general trend, reminiscent of the late 60s, early 70s, when naturalness and ease felt like the essence of beauty and meticulous striving looked awful.

I mean, just to poke around at Eater, here's "Best Dressed/What Are We Wearing to Restaurants Now, Paris? At Folderol, a combination natural wine bar and ice cream shop in Paris, neighborhood block party vibes feel distinctly Parisian." 

A French woman — complimented for looking "quite put together" — says "The cap was brought from the U.S. by a friend of mine, which is why I like it so much. These are my new Nikes and they are the most comfortable sneakers on earth; I feel like I have a marshmallow on each foot."

Remember when Americans were told that we stand out as obvious Americans in France because we wear sneakers? There are many photos at that link and most of the Parisians are wearing sneakers. And none are wearing try-hard shoes. I'm seeing Doc Martens and Birkenstock clogs.

Here are 10 TikToks to amuse you for a few precious moments. Some people love them.

1. Painting invisibility.

2. What the hell is the internet?

3. One by one, he's eliminating the least popular state and merging it with a neighboring state.

4. One by one, they're replacing family photos with photos of Danny DeVito until Mom notices.

5. The man deserves a medal for all the years he's patiently listened to his wife tell stories like this.

6. Chef Reactions judges the French grandfather's making of lunch.

7. "Have you ever wondered what items in your place just give men 'ick'?"

8. "We're going to go look at wedding dresses."

9. My favorite music-and-the-child video of all time.

10. Finally, the dolls.

For you edification and amusement, I've lined up 10 TikToks. Some people love them!

1. Very nice slow-motion photography.

2. This dinner makes itself.

3. AI shows "Simpsons" characters as real people.

4. You are ugly. He can help.

5. Mississippi John Hurt sings "That Lonesome Valley."

6. Buck Dancing, filmed in 1894.

7. An ocean is forming within Pakistan.

8. Teens are asked "How gay are you?"

9. An impression of a Gen Z person on their deathbed.

10. And let Ricky Gourmet help you with the overbearing heat of summer.

It's Saturday night, I think we'll take it up to 11 TikToks. Some people love it!

2. The 87-year-old French grandfather makes lunch.

3. So many ways to react to the bike path shout "On your left."

5. Finding and restoring mahogany in an old house. 

8. One song, one singer — lots of different styles.

9. Three young ladies play "These Boots Are Made For Walking" on upright bass, cello, and acoustic guitar.

10. Three other young ladies respond to a request that they sing "Go to Sleep" (from "Brother, Where Art Thou"?).

11. Back when he used to get invited to parties, he'd answer the question "How are you doing?" with a short quote from an obscure poet.

Oh, my! I've got 14 tonight! Let me know which TikTok videos won you over this time.

1. The mouse is going to eat your food, so why not embrace reality and construct a cheeseboard for the little darling.

2. Painting the one who says "I am too ugly to be painted."

3. So you say girls don't have hobbies?

4. The awesome high dive.

5. "Michigan is the Texas of the Midwest," etc.

6. How to deflect passive aggression.

7. The Jesus miracle nobody talks about.

8. The little girl has serious problems with the family dog and the family decor.

9. Sticker review suddenly becomes a phone-camera review.

10. The scar experiment.

11. Stand in awe of your ability to retain fat.

12. When you're in the mood to eat a wicker chair, what should you eat?

13. How exactly did kale become a thing?

14. Instant Karma Karen.

Here are 9 TikTokk videos I found to while away your next 10 minutes. Let me know what you like best.

1. The lizard's table manners.

2. The chef disapproves.

3.  A drawing of chaos and order.

4. Sidewalk chalk art.

5. Broadway Barbara can help you get a good night's sleep.

6. Nurse Melissa is back with her Nancy Pelosi lip-synching.

7. Infuse other exercise classes with religion the way yoga classes use Hinduism.

8. "I want to be the Bob Woodward of 'Family Feud' clips. I want to lead a ragtag group of journalists into the Steve Harvey reaction underworld, like that movie 'Spotlight.'"

9. Evel Knieval and all his friends.

When AI does Thanksgiving: "It's doing it without emotion. There's no context. I don't feel anything... It feels very machine-generated. There's no backstory."

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