Should everyone work as hard as the Chinese and Americans? No. Nuh-uh. Nope | Helen Lewis | Comment is free | The Guardian

The fuss about Jeremy Corbyn’s recent holiday is ridiculous. Every human being needs a break

Source: Should everyone work as hard as the Chinese and Americans? No. Nuh-uh. Nope | Helen Lewis | Comment is free | The Guardian

When the idiot George Osborne talked about Britons working as hard as the Chinese, I thought, er, “What an idiot.”

As far as I can tell, the only people who work hard in China are migrant workers, peasant farmers, and foreign teachers on international programmes. As one of the comments on the article said, there’s a lot of presenteeism here from the women in supermarkets who stand around gossiping all day to office workers who only do anything when the boss turns up to school librarians who sit around making sure no one goes near the books themselves.

In China, it’s all about the outward appearance of hard work, but this is really a culture of minimalism. At school, pupils do as little as they possibly can to complete work (e.g. responses to text types – write it once to perfection!), an attitude which follows them through their lives.

When I go back to the office after class, I inevitably have work to do; and even when I’ve finished that, I’m usually thinking about what I need to do next. There is occasional faffing about, but that tends to be the exception rather than the rule.

I also hasten to add that the age of retirement for women in China is 55, and 60 for men, and that’s followed by a lifetime of pension payments (though not necessarily for everyone). And so for a lifetime of turning up at work inhumanly early in the morning (well, to a point; we’re still in a lot earlier than the admin staff), taking 90-minute lunches, and avoiding hard work, there’s a nice little reward at the end.

Disintegration of the mind

Still Alice.

Alice Howland is a 50-year-old lecturer in Linguistics at Columbia (and – thankfully – we’re spared a lot of gushing about what a genius she is) who starts forgetting words, and then things in general, even those which she has only been told moments earlier. She goes to a neurologist who diagnoses early onset Alzheimer’s disease, which she inherited from her father, and which she has passed to at least one of her children.

Howland does what she can to retain her memories, testing herself every day to see whether she’s still capable of remembering basic facts. Before the disease has gone too far, she makes a video to tell herself where she has stashed a bottle of sleeping pills which she is to take when she can no longer answer the questions she puts to herself. The obvious problem is that she’s likely to have forgotten about the video by that stage, and it’s by accident that she stumbles across it later on. Howland’s attempt to instruct herself to commit suicide fails because the nurse arrives, but she struggles to retain the instructions.

The film ends with Howland unable to produce much more than noises.

Julianne Moore largely dominates the film in which the rest of the cast has a supporting role. This is perhaps for the best because otherwise it would be easy for this to have become mawkishly sentimental (little is made of the end of her academic career) or filled with shouting borne of frustration with her inability to recall things. Similarly, Howland’s decline is tragic, but it’s presented as a tragedy which is a natural consequence of the disease.