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aries1988 : american   71

One is Chinese. One is American. How a journalist discovered and reunited identical twins

The mother had given birth in a bamboo grove, trying to avoid detection by the government. She and her husband then fled to another province with one twin while leaving the other with an uncle and aunt. But one day when the girls were almost 2 years old, five men working for family planning stormed the house, restrained the aunt and took away the screaming toddler.

He told me his father had been pressuring them to have a boy — in keeping with rural tradition in which the family line is continued through men. His family had lived in Gaofeng for hundreds of years, and it was the men who tended the graves in the family cemetery. When the twins were born, he was pleased to be defying the expectations. “I was so happy when they were born. I couldn’t stop laughing.”

She kept replaying in her head a scene she’d read in a magazine about a 2-year-old girl crying “No, Daddy!” as her father threw her down a well.

“I cried whenever I thought about that girl,” she said. “I knew we had to adopt from China.”

The twins didn’t look directly at each other. They stood side by side, facing a photographer we had brought along. Nobody spoke. Nobody moved. I imagined the twins as a bride and groom in an arranged marriage meeting for the first time.

Nearly 150,000 children have been adopted from China since 1992, 96,000 of them Americans, mostly girls.
hunan  tragedy  twin  american  chinese  reunion 
13 days ago by aries1988
Let a Thousand Mulans Bloom

The intention was apparently to create a mythic version of China, analogous to Black Panther’s Wakanda, but many fear a slurry of incongruous iconography devoid of meaning.

I’ve seen online criticism of this mythic approach that likens it to other examples of diaspora culture, like General Tso’s chicken, as well as jokes about how producers shouldn’t have hired set designers from Chinatown. But what underpins these quips is the idea that the diaspora has had its Chineseness corrupted by Western society, that diaspora cultures with their own real histories are no longer “authentic.”

The danger of a mythic mashup of Chinese culture is thus less that it is historically inaccurate and more that it reiterates the idea constantly pushed by the Chinese government—that there is an ancient and eternal Chinese nation-state. It turns the “One China” policy into mythology. It isn’t so much pandering that I fear but the idea of a flattering of very modern—and exclusive—ideas about Chinese identity rather than one that interrogates and reinvents them.

For all its songs and wise-cracking dragons, it also reframes Mulan’s story as one of struggling to meet parental expectations, a sense of alienation from one’s wider culture, and self-discovery in disguise, all of which resonated with the diaspora audience.

somewhere along the process the diaspora was cut out of the conversation. That’s visible in Mulan’s surname, which is now written and pronounced as Hua (Mandarin) and not Fa (Cantonese).
diaspora  chinese  american  entertainment  movie  classic  female  warrior  question  debate  disney  critic 
5 weeks ago by aries1988
I.M. Pei: Establishment Modernism Lite

while we were in Kyoto together, as a thank-you for some service he had performed for the Japanese government, officials arranged at his request for a rare private viewing of one of the greatest treasures of Chinese art: Six Persimmons, a thirteenth-century ink painting by the monk Mu Qi, now stored at the Daitoku-ji temple. Knowing my love of art he invited me to join him, though he explained that we would be required to wear white gloves and stuff wads of gauze in our mouths lest we emitted any droplets of saliva if we spoke near the unframed relic. This generous gesture was typical of his genuine thoughtfulness, and when I ran into him several years later he beamed and asked, ”Remember Six Persimmons?”
critic  museum  architecture  journalist  becoming  chinese  american 
12 weeks ago by aries1988
Should You Be Able to Disinherit Your Child

Now Mr. Hallyday has prompted a new debate about disinheriting children. The French idea of forcibly breaking up estates originated after the French Revolution, among reformers who wanted to weaken the aristocracy and make sure that no single heir became too rich. That principle is now taken so much for granted that many French people were shocked to learn that Americans can simply cut some children off.

“We found this very violent, as if their very existence was being denied,” explained Ms. Pieau, who’s also editor of the French celebrity magazine Closer. The rock star Eddy Mitchell, Mr. Hallyday’s longtime friend, said, “In the U.S., you have the right to disinherit your children in favor of your cat or your dog, but we are not Americans.”
law  français  american  heritage 
12 weeks ago by aries1988
A Certain Idea of France | Peter Hitchens

Charles de Gaulle’s life would perhaps have been better lived in the seventeenth or eighteenth century, in times when personal courage, mystical imagination, chivalry, and religious fervor were more welcome than they are now. In this world of the United Nations, risk assessment, lawyers, Geneva Conventions, television and superpowers, there is not really enough room for such a man to swing his sword, just as there is no room for old-fashioned great powers in the shadow of superpowers. Had he not been so magnificent, he would have been ridiculous. He looked, more than anything else, like a camel, not least because of the superior expression on his face suggesting that he alone knew the secret One Hundredth Name of God, which camels are supposed to know.

It is a strange fact that the potentially attractive political combination of liberty, domestic socialism, well-armed patriotism, and social conservatism seldom exists in the advanced countries of the West.

François ­Mitterrand, his old rival, undid almost all of de Gaulle’s work. He wholly rejected the general’s belief in an enduring, sovereign France. ­Mitterrand had been decorated by Pétain’s collaborationist Vichy government, and like many intelligent Frenchmen, saw 1940 as a moment of truth that France could not thereafter ignore. It fell to people like him to implement Hector Dexter’s vision of a Europe whose common cultural bond was Coca-Cola, and ­McDonald’s, too.
leader  president  france  français  history  ww2  europe  eu  fail  politics  bio  american  anti 
march 2019 by aries1988
Why Are Americans Still Uncomfortable with Atheism?

Lack of belief in God is still too often taken to mean the absence of any other meaningful moral beliefs, and that has made atheists an easy minority to revile. This is especially true in America, where an insistence on the idea that we are a Christian nation has tied patriotism to religiosity, leading to such strange paroxysms as the one produced by President Trump at last year’s Values Voter Summit: “In America, we don’t worship government—we worship God.”

the national prejudice against them long predates Daniel Seeger and his draft board. It has its roots both in the intellectual history of the country and in a persistent anti-intellectual impulse: the widespread failure to consider what it is that unbelievers actually believe.

From John Locke they inherited the idea that atheists cannot be good citizens and should not be brought into the social contract; in “A Letter Concerning Toleration,” Locke had written, “Those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of a God.”

Two centuries after the Founders wrote a godless constitution, the federal government got religion: between 1953 and 1957, a prayer breakfast appeared on the White House calendar, a prayer room opened in the Capitol, “In God We Trust” was added to all currency, and “under God” was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance.

Like saying “God bless you” when someone sneezes, the courts concluded, these “under God”s and “In God We Trust”s are innocuous; they belong to the realm of patriotism, not prayer.

Much of the animosity and opprobrium directed at nonbelievers in America comes from the suspicion that those who do not believe in God could not possibly believe in anything else, moral or otherwise.

Unlike the linguist—and new atheist—Steven Pinker, Gray regards the idea that the world is getting better as self-evidently silly. “The cumulative increase of knowledge in science has no parallel in ethics or politics,” he points out. Religions are still thriving, as are wars between them, and secular regimes have wrought as much, if not more, havoc under the auspices of Jacobinism, Bolshevism, Nazism, and Maoism.
religion  law  usa  american  mentality  politics  atheism 
october 2018 by aries1988
Damien Chazelle’s “First Man,” Reviewed | The New Yorker

Chazelle, true to the title, and more intimate in his dramatic scope than Kaufman, is consumed by the curious case of Armstrong, forsaking all others. Long before he becomes the only man on the moon, he looks like the loneliest man in America.

If Armstrong is merely a name to you, take a look at the real Neil: those broad unfazeable features, the undemanding steadiness of the gaze, and a mouth that is happy, if conditions are favorable, to curve into a smile. Now consider Gosling—the sad-eyed heartthrob, a veteran of The Notebook (2004), and a tender presence who can’t help drawing us into his plights.

Recruiting Gosling to its emotional cause, First Man proceeds on the assumption that folk who are modest in displaying their feelings, like Armstrong, must by definition be deeply repressed and taut with untold misery. But they’re not. They’re just modest.
movie  cosmos  critic  rightwing  hollywood  actor  personality  emotion  stereotype  astronaut  american 
october 2018 by aries1988
“First Man,” Reviewed: Damien Chazelle’s Neil Armstrong Bio-Pic Is an Accidental Right-Wing Fetish Object | The New Yorker

First Man is worthy of enduring as a right-wing fetish object. It is a film of deluded, cultish longing for an earlier era of American life, one defined not by conservative politics but, rather, by a narrow and regressive emotional perspective that shapes and distorts the substance of the film.

the movie doesn’t stint on the distinctive Americanism of the action onscreen (including, in a scene of Armstrong ascending from the ground to the capsule of Apollo 11 in an elevator, a point-of-view shot that reveals, majestically, the words United States painted, vertically, on the side of the very tall rocket).

In its explicit content, and by artful omission, First Man subscribes to the misbegotten political premise that America used to be greater—and that the liberating and equalizing activism of the sixties ignored, dismissed, and even undermined that greatness.
critic  movie  rightwing  astronaut  nasa  society  usa  american  hollywood  hero  family  personality  children  death  moon  opinion  1960s 
october 2018 by aries1988
陈浩武:两个美国人与日本的两部宪法——日本明治维新150周年研讨会(2)
《明治宪法》的核心,是确立了天皇在日本政治权力中的核心地位,有极强的帝国特色。按照秦晖教授的观点,这是从“周制”走向“秦制”。秦老师所说的“周制”,是指的诸侯分封制;而“秦制”则是大一统的极权专制。1875年,木户孝允、大久保利通和伊藤博文在大阪举行了立宪会议,会议决定设立贵族组成的元老院,由元老院提供提案,授予天皇至高无上的绝对权力。按照历史学家的说法:比罗马元老院授予尼禄、凯撒和奥古斯都的权力还要绝对。正是普鲁士宪法中的强烈国家主义倾向,给日本未来的发展留下了潜在的专制政治病毒。

麦克阿瑟将军在给宪法起草小组的信件中,明确提出制宪三项原则:
第一,天皇处于国家元首地位,世袭,但天皇仅仅为国家的象征存在,天皇的职务和权能基于宪法行使;
第二,废止作为国家主权的战争权力,不批准成立日本陆海空军,日本军队不授予交战权;
第三,日本封建制度将终结,贵族的权利除天皇外,以现存一代为限,华族不再享有国民之外的政治权力,预算模式仿照英国。

1946年元旦,天皇发表《人间宣言》,在这个宣言中,天皇表示:
“维系朕与国民之纽带,为相互信赖与仲爱,非以野史神话为凭,亦非植根于天皇即神及日本民族优于异族而命定统治世界之虚伪观念”。
constitution  japan  american  history 
october 2018 by aries1988
A New Citizen Decides to Leave the Tumult of Trump’s America
Rebecca Mead on the wrenching choice, after decades in New York and securing U.S. citizenship, to return to Britain.
story  british  london  newyork  american  son  culture  uk  immigrant 
august 2018 by aries1988
【纪念】那个写《叫魂》的孔飞力,离开我们已经两年了

陈达凯又盯在我背后,只要通信或见面,一定问《叫魂》翻译得怎么样了?反而是孔飞力先生,老神在在,从来不问翻译进度的事。
book  american  china  qing  society  historian 
february 2018 by aries1988
異鄉人——馬立安:在深圳住了二十多年的美國人類學家,為什麼執迷城中村?|端傳媒 Initium Media
「沒有城中村就沒有深圳。」二十餘年來,她看到「深圳奇蹟」背後的歷史,亦發起對命運選擇的追問。
shenzhen  story  gaijin  american 
january 2018 by aries1988
Twitter
RT : Literally every French person listening to this week and realizing is featured: 😍 'Becomi…
comedy  humor  adventure  american  usa  français  france  comparison  podcast 
january 2018 by aries1988
Sleeper hit: travelling across America via Amtrak’s trains

Trains were once the most romantic means of travel. They changed our perception of distance, shrinking and expanding the world while offering a moving window on to the grandeur of its landscapes.
travel  train  story  usa  history  american 
november 2017 by aries1988
The First Time I Met Americans - The New York Times
Children 16 and younger were evacuated to the countryside, separated from their parents. It was not so different from the experiences of British children in London in 1940, but the children of Hanoi endured all of this much longer — from 1964 to 1973 — and our life during wartime was tougher.

I didn’t think we would win a victory like my father’s generation had at Dien Bien Phu, and I also understood that the Americans were many times stronger than the French. But I strongly believed, as did most of my comrades, what President Ho had told us many times — that eventually the United States would give up and go home.

I don’t know the overall survival statistics, but out of the 25 boys from my high school who went to war, 11 were killed. Of the three young men from my apartment building in Hanoi who enlisted with me, I was the only one to return.
story  soldier  vietnam  war  1970s  american  literature  usa 
november 2017 by aries1988
China Refuses to Admit It Has a Rape Problem. I Would Know. – Foreign Policy
With China’s opening also came first a trickle, and then a flood, of foreign popular culture. Japanese fashion, Hong Kong magazines, and Hollywood films exposed a mass Chinese audience to ideas of young love, romantic choice, and sexual freedom. When a slightly censored version of The Bridges of Madison County, a movie that portrayed a passionate extramarital affair, opened in Beijing in 1996, it sold 1.3 million tickets on its first weekend there.

In the show’s 10 seasons, the six main characters had a combined total of 85 sexual partners who appeared on screen. The sitcom — and by association, American culture and the entire West writ large — came to embody the sexual freedoms that had revolutionized the Chinese bedroom.
politics  feminism  story  china  american  sex  crime  21C 
october 2017 by aries1988
Cyberpunk Cities Fetishize Asian Culture But Have No Asians - Motherboard
The neon kanji billboards. Neander Wallace's yukata, and Joi's cheongsam. The busy Chinatown. The interactive wall of anime apps. K's rice-filled bento box. The dual Japanese-English text on everything. All signs that point to a vibrant, multicultural city, but somehow devoid of non-white characters.

"Since the late 1970s, a key idea in Western science fiction has been that Japan represents the future. Japan's 'weird' culture is a figure for an incomprehensible tomorrow," wrote Annalee Newitz about our fetishization of Japan's idiosyncrasies.
scifi  asia  ethnic  american  culture  movie  opinion 
october 2017 by aries1988
LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman: ‘Board games inspired my business strategy’

Settlers of Catan is part of a group of so-called “German-style board games” which reward strategy rather than luck and are less centred on themes of conflict than many US board games. Devised in 1995 by designer Klaus Teuber, it has also been reimagined as a very popular app. Set on a fictional island in Viking times, the aim is to collect and trade commodity cards (such as wool, grain and brick), before exchanging them for plastic roads and settlements to occupy the board. Points are awarded for things like having the longest road, and the first player to reach 10 points wins.

He says he prefers games to that other great standby of American males, hanging out watching sports. “People are bad about social stuff. They get uncomfortable in silence. One of the benefits of a board game is it replaces the silence, it keeps the momentum of the conversation going.”

Discussing books he has read recently, he enthuses about Nonzero by Robert Wright — “one of my favourite intellectual authors. Basically, his theory is you have cultural evolution because you have a preference for non-zero sum games.” As society evolves, there are more and more interactions where both sides come out a winner.
game  comparison  technology  siliconvalley  american  entrepreneurial  politics  human  ai  thinking  future 
october 2017 by aries1988
The Anglo-Saxon is not American or British but a French alter-ego – Emile Chabal | Aeon Essays

when the French refer to ‘the Anglo-Saxon’ or use the term as an adjective, they are usually talking about themselves. The Anglo-Saxon is a mirror on Frenchness; it is France’s alter-ego and often its most feared enemy.

It was only in the 1860s that a new meaning began to appear in the wake of Napoleon III’s abortive attempts to extend the French empire into Latin America. In learned publications such as the Revue des races latines, founded in 1857, ‘Anglo-Saxonism’ was juxtaposed with ‘Latinity’ in an attempt to place France at the heart of a global Latin world that stretched from South America and the Caribbean to Madrid and Paris.

As has been the case ever since, the French both feared and admired the Anglo-Saxon at the turn of the 19th-century – and they used it as a vehicle for discussing their own national anxieties.

At times, English speakers can even fall into the same trap as their French counterparts when they lazily describe an idea or a way of thinking as ‘Anglo-American’ or ‘Atlantic’.
français  concept  uk  american  english  culture  identity  history  origin  instapaper_favs 
september 2017 by aries1988
À quoi rêvent les femmes américaines

il est difficile d'entretenir un climat d'intimité avec une femme outre-Atlantique, tant elle ponctue systématiquement la conversation et cela avec la sonorité d'un klaxon par des expressions peu confidentielles du genre : «It's absolutely crazy !» (C'est vraiment dingue), «Unbelievable !» (Incroyable !) ou «This dinner was amazing ! The best dinner in my whole life !» (Ce dîner était étonnant. Le meilleur que j'aie eu dans ma vie entière). Tout cela pour dire : «OK, c'était sympa !»
anecdote  usa  american  female  wife  marriage  français 
september 2017 by aries1988
A Sri Lankan Museum on Staten Island
A high-school student showcases relics from her family’s country in the basement of their restaurant.
asia  identity  american  teenager  immigrant  story  museum 
august 2017 by aries1988
Travels in Siberia—I
The Ural Mountains, which cross Russia north to south from the Arctic Ocean to Kazakhstan, are the western edge of Siberia. The Urals also separate Europe from Asia. As a mountain range with the big job of dividing two continents, the Urals aren’t much. It is possible to drive over them, as I have done, and not know. In central Russia, the summits of the Urals average between one thousand and two thousand feet. But after you cross the Urals the land opens out, the villages are farther apart, the concrete bus shelters along the highway become fewer, and suddenly you realize you’re in Siberia.

In much of Siberia, the land doesn’t do much of anything besides gradually sag northward to the Arctic. The rivers of western Siberia flow so slowly that they hardly seem to move at all. There the rivers run muddy; in eastern Siberia, with its real mountains and sharper drop to the Pacific, many of the rivers run clear.

Now and then, a passenger train goes by, and, if the time is summer and the weather, as usual, hot, many shirtless passengers are hanging from the open windows with the curtains flapping beside them. Not even the most luxurious car on the Trans-Siberian Railway offers air-conditioning.

To astronomers, Siberia provides the advantage of skies largely untroubled by light pollution and, in some places, cloud-free for more than two hundred days a year. Looking up at the clarity of the night in Siberia, you feel that you are in the sky yourself. Never in my life had I seen so many satellites and shooting stars.

Exile under the tsars could be a rather mild proposition, especially compared with what the Soviets later devised; during his exile Lenin received a government stipend of twelve rubles a month, which covered room and board along with extras like books. He was able to get a lot of reading done. All in all, Siberia seems to have agreed with Lenin splendidly, and seasoned him as a political thinker.

The first Russian ruler to style himself officially as tsar, Ivan IV (Ivan Grozny, Ivan the Fear-Inspiring, the Terrible), was also the first to add “Lord of All the Siberian Land” to his titles. He was able to do this because he had conquered the Tatar city of Kazan, a Muslim stronghold on the Volga River which had long blocked Russian moves eastward. With Kazan out of the way, Russian adventurers could go beyond the frontiers to previously unexplored lands across the Urals.

(Later, in my more uncertain moods, I wondered if my guides might be Ivan Susanin, and the Polish army might be me.)

Any stop sign in such a rural place in America (let alone a stop sign written in a foreign language) would likely have a few bullet holes.
humor  russia  siberia  travel  story  russian  history  geography  comparison  american 
june 2017 by aries1988
That’s the Way it Crumbles by Matthew Engel — the conquest of English
Words not indigenous to these shores subsequently flooded in, “like the beetle that killed Britain’s elm trees”. Now American words “are in danger of taking over” — and Engel’s comprehensive list includes cans (tins), goose bumps (goose pimples), autopsy (post-mortem), cars (railway carriages), fries (chips), cookies (biscuits), short pants (short trousers) and baggage (luggage).

We “testify” in court, where it used to be called “giving evidence”. People who should know better want employees who “think outside the box” and “push the envelope”. They talk about being mad when they mean angry, or of fighting when they mean having a verbal argument.
english  book  american  uk  culture  vocabulary  comparison  british 
june 2017 by aries1988
How A Theory Of Crime And Policing Was Born, And Went Terribly Wrong : NPR
In 1969, Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist from Stanford University, ran an interesting field study. He abandoned two cars in two very different places: one in a mostly poor, crime-ridden section of New York City, and the other in a fairly affluent neighborhood of Palo Alto, Calif. Both cars were left without license plates and parked with their hoods up.
theory  crime  society  usa  african  american 
june 2017 by aries1988
Alienation 101
No single front in bilateral relations connects more people in both countries, or has the potential to influence a cohort so vital to the future: the sons and daughters of China’s ruling class.

karaoke bars and bubble-tea shops, which now outnumber Starbucks in Iowa City.

Some nights, Haddy goes to bed and realises she hasn’t spoken a word of English all day.
usa  chinese  youth  study  student  life  conflict  american  reportage  comparison  campus  moi 
may 2017 by aries1988
Saying Goodbye To Japan : Japan Subculture Research Center

The longer you’re in Japan, the more jaded one tends to become about the things that make being here so interesting in the first place.
teenager  japan  story  school  japanese  etiquette  american 
may 2017 by aries1988
Lunch with the FT: Donald Keene
as an 18-year-old, he came across a translation of The Tale of Genji in the Astor Hotel in New York.

worst of all, there were troops of Chinese children being led through. I was just so heartbroken by that. They deliberately inculcated hatred. These terrible things happened, yes. But you must get on with it.” These are sensitive matters, that still dog Asian politics. I could ask why Keene seems more troubled by Chinese propaganda than by Japanese atrocities.

while men were writing in classical Chinese, women more or less took over a whole new Japanese syllabary, hiragana, sometimes known as “women’s script”.
japan  japanese  american  literature  story  bio  china  war  gaijin  immigrant 
may 2017 by aries1988
Andrew Sullivan: Why the Reactionary Right Must Be Taken Seriously
Reactionism is not the same thing as conservatism. It’s far more potent a brew. Reactionary thought begins, usually, with acute despair at the present moment and a memory of a previous golden age. It then posits a moment in the past when everything went to hell and proposes to turn things back to what they once were. It is not simply a conservative preference for things as they are, with a few nudges back, but a passionate loathing of the status quo and a desire to return to the past in one emotionally cathartic revolt.

Politics comes before economics, Anton insists. Free trade may boost our economy, encourage efficiencies, and advance innovation and wealth, but it affects different people differently. And this matters in a democracy. A society’s stability and fairness and unity count for more than its aggregate wealth — especially when, as in recent decades, almost all the direct benefits have gone to the superrich, and all the costs have been paid by the working poor.

Why is my country benefiting foreigners and new immigrants, many of them arriving illegally, while making life tougher for its own people? And why doesn’t it matter what I think?

A nation, they believe, is not just a random group of people within an arbitrary set of borders. It’s a product of a certain history and the repository of a distinctive culture. A citizen should be educated to understand that country’s history and take pride in its culture and traditions.

I read the Christian traditionalist Rod Dreher with affection. His evocation of Christian life and thought over the centuries and his panic at its disappearance from our world are poignant. We are losing a vast civilization that honed answers to the deepest questions that human beings can ask, replacing it with vapid pseudo-religions, pills, therapy, and reality TV.

Because in some key respects, reactionaries are right. Great leaps forward in history are often, in fact, giant leaps back. The Reformation did initiate brutal sectarian warfare. The French Revolution did degenerate into barbarous tyranny. Communist utopias — allegedly the wave of an Elysian future — turned into murderous nightmares. Modern neoliberalism has, for its part, created a global capitalist machine that is seemingly beyond anyone’s control, fast destroying the planet’s climate, wiping out vast tracts of life on Earth while consigning millions of Americans to economic stagnation and cultural despair.

Beyond all that, neo-reactionaries have a glaring problem, which is that their proposed solutions are so radical they have no chance whatsoever of coming into existence — and would be deeply reckless to attempt.

There is, perhaps, a way to use reactionary insights and still construct a feasible center-right agenda. Such a program would junk Reaganite economics as outdated but keep revenue-neutral tax reform, it could even favor redistribution to counter the deep risk to democracy that soaring inequality fosters, and it could fix Obamacare’s technical problems. You could add to this mix stronger border control, a reduction in legal immigration, a pause in free-trade expansion, a technological overhaul of the government bureaucracy, and a reassertion of Americanism over multiculturalism.

The left, for its part, must, it seems to me, escape its own bubble and confront the accelerating extremism of its identity politics and its disdain for millions of “deplorable” white Americans.
thinking  essay  politics  conservatism  conflict  immigration  american  usa  2017  liberalism 
may 2017 by aries1988
Learning Arabic from Egypt’s Revolution

In Dardasha, icons of little bombs with burning fuses had been printed next to the kind of phrase that, even during a revolution, qualified as explosive: Your son is really smart, Madame Fathiya. Fortunately, this compliment-bomb was promptly disarmed: This is what God has willed, Madame Fathiya, your son is really smart.

Grammar functions as a kind of spice, similar to the way that Sichuanese cuisine uses strong flavors to create satisfying meals that actually contain little meat.

Western academics call it modern standard Arabic, although the language retains strong links to the time of Muhammed. Back then, Arabic lacked a strong written literary tradition, and, in the eyes of believers, the Prophet’s illiteracy is evidence of the divine nature of the Quran. Even a skeptic like Rifaat told us that the Quran is so beautiful that it could only have come from God.

In China, the Han dynasty, which was founded in 206 B.C.E., codified and standardized the Confucian, or Ruist, classics, a process that helped set the terms for the writing system. By taking these centuries-old texts as their model of proper Chinese writing, the Han prescribed an idealized language—classical Chinese—that was probably never spoken in day-to-day life.

traditionalists feared further cultural damage. It will not be long before our ancestral language loses its form, God forbid, an editor at the newspaper Al-Ahram wrote, in 1882. How can we support a weak spoken language which will eliminate the sacred original language?

Most important, classical Chinese wasn’t tied to a religion or a divine text.

while places like German Switzerland also practice diglossia, the use of two languages, the difference is that both Swiss German and High German are living, spoken languages. The majority of Arab children are put in a position that I cannot think of an equivalent for any other group of children in the world, she said.
language  speaking  culture  arab  egypt  today  politics  news  journalism  story  learn  american  history  explained 
april 2017 by aries1988
An American Immigrant in Paris

I’ve grown attached to France, too. That’s partly because the rest of the world has gotten worse. France is also where I had my children, wrote my books, and where I know the supermarket by heart — though I suspect I’ll always write grocery lists in English.
soulsearching  français  american  story  expat  life  couple  international  opinion  motherland 
march 2017 by aries1988
Why the English word 'black' became the new 'noir' in France

Both countries are idealistic, rooted in 18th-century revolutions and grand principles. But while many in the US value racial and ethnic difference, France sees itself as a color-blind society that rejects the race-based policies of its colonial past. So, using the word noir is almost un-French.

Which has left some black French residents questioning continued racism in France and looking to the United States for black role models: Michael Jackson, Carl Lewis, Barack and Michelle Obama. The English word black is inspirational.
american  african  vocabulary  france  race  comparison 
march 2017 by aries1988
I will survive

Survivalism has a long history in America. The early settlers were survivalists, though they did not use the term. They built their own houses, grew their own food and filled their stores with whatever supplies they could, knowing that failure to do so might be fatal. The pioneers who trekked out West in the 19th century expected to meet hardship and danger. Those who went well armed and well prepared were more likely to survive.

Roughly four in ten expect Jesus to return by 2050, and although the Book of Revelation is hardly crystal clear about the details, many think the Second Coming will be preceded by a Great Tribulation involving earthquakes, floods, famine, the rise of the Antichrist and the death of most of humanity.

To keep inventories low and cut costs, companies have come to rely on just-in-time delivery. If a disaster were to disrupt all this, people could quickly find themselves without diabetes drugs, oxygen for respirators and spare parts for more or less everything.
disaster  interview  home  diy  survive  american 
january 2017 by aries1988
Lunch with M.

Conceived in France at the beginning of the last century, the Michelin guide today has editions in twenty-three countries and is one of the best-selling restaurant guides in the world. It operates on the principle that only reviews by anonymous, professionally trained experts can be trusted for accurate assessments of a restaurant’s food and service.

Only twenty-six three-star restaurants exist in France, and only eighty-one in the world.

Since coming to America, Michelin has learned that its brand of Gallic opacity and unapologetic gastronomic élitism has been a tougher sell here than it was in Europe or Asia.

I asked Maxime how she chooses what to order.

You’re looking for something that really tests a number of quality ingredients and then something that’s a little complex, because you want to see what the kitchen can do, she said. We would never order something like a salad. We rarely order soup.

Automobiles were still a rarity on roads in France. The brothers had the idea that a guidebook to hotels in the French countryside would encourage people to climb into a car (equipped with Michelin tires) and hit the open road.

the star system for ranking food, with one star denoting a very good restaurant in its class; two stars excellent cooking, worth a detour; and three stars exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.

The French chef Paul Bocuse, who helped create nouvelle cuisine in the nineteen-sixties, and whose restaurant near Lyons has held a three-star Michelin ranking for a record forty-five years, has said, Michelin is the only guide that counts.

criticisms often levelled against Michelin: that its approach to restaurants and food is too wedded to an ideal of formal, technical accuracy that is not applicable to restaurants outside France.

For a restaurant like Jean Georges, filling out the reports would take two to three hours. A Chinese restaurant might take an hour.
story  français  cuisine  guide  michelin  usa  american  comparison  secrecy  gastronomy  future  expert  instapaper_favs 
january 2017 by aries1988
中国和日本的反差,杜威百年前怎么看? - 纽约时报中文网

但是当时中国的自由知识分子同样有着困惑,杜威在书信中写道,学生们最容易向我问到的问题是‘我们所有关于永久和平和世界主义的希望都在巴黎破碎了,这已经说明,强权就是真理。强国总是为了自己的目的牺牲弱国。那么,难道中国就不应该将军国主义也纳入我们的教育体系吗?’
history  comparison  china  japan  society  ww1  american  intelligentsia 
january 2017 by aries1988
外刊扫描|“战争认识”:日本人迟迟不愿正视历史?
1931年的满洲事变、1937年的日中战争以及1941年的太平洋战争,在中国往往被看成一个整体来作评判。而在日本,它们之间的界限被明确、刻意地区分开来。1937年开始的日中战争被看成亚洲内部战争,在亚洲战场上同欧美展开的是人种战争,与苏联则是意识形态之争,除此之外还有自存自卫、亚洲解放等等各种各样的解释。在对日本本国国民的舆论调查中,认为太平洋战争是侵略战争的占52%,认为资源匮乏而不得已向他国采取军事行动,为了生存而战的占45%,认为太平洋战争美日双方都有责任的占56%。

日德之间存在着主体选择的差异。日本认为,德国在纳粹统治时期,当时的国民对政策决定的积极赞同和强烈支持不同,日本在发动战争时,大部分的国民在当时环境下只有顺从,却要承担起战争时期不断的空袭以及原子弹攻击这样的后果。普通的日本民众无法接受,受害者意识油然而生。对于德国来说,纳粹以及支持纳粹上台的德国民众理应承担战争全责,而日本真正应该承担责任的是旧日本军,特别是陆军。

教科书塑造了普通大众最基本的历史认识。教科书中所书写的历史,也往往被当做常识。在学校教育中,每每涉及到各自国家的历史,同时也意味着他要肩负着传达政治正确的重任。各国的历史教科书分别记述了各自不同的历史观,若非亲身处在全球商业和社交聚会中,面对不同文化的冲击,否则自身很难会发现这一点。

1949年后的中国继承了民国时期对抗战的评价话语,长时间受到革命史观的熏陶。而临海的日本,关于这场战争的历史认识随着战后思想的改变而不断变换。这种历史认识的差异成为中日两国民众频频产生误解的主因。
japanese  ww2  opinion  comparison  american  history  textbook  school  deutschland  china  conflict  question 
november 2016 by aries1988
An American Neurotic in Paris

No matter how familiar Paris becomes, something always reminds me that I don’t belong. The other evening, as I chastised the lady who had cut in line at the supermarket, I realized she was grinning at me — amused by my accent. During conversations in French, I often have the sensation that someone is hitting my head. When surrounded by Parisians, I feel 40 percent fatter, and half as funny. Even my shrink eventually took pity and offered to do the sessions in English. (It turns out she’s fluent.)
paris  story  expat  american 
november 2016 by aries1988
Can Women Bring Down Trump? 
Italian women have some advice for American women based on their experience with Berlusconi.
italia  female  advice  american  2016  politics  sexism 
november 2016 by aries1988
Jason Bourne vs James Bond - FT.com
https://www.instapaper.com/read/751278094
Matt Damon, the 45-year-old actor who plays him, summed up the difference between the two men in a recent interview. “Bond is a misogynist who likes swilling martinis and killing people and then telling jokes about it. Jason Bourne is a serial monogamist — he’s tortured by the things he’s done and feels empathy and compassion for other people. And Bourne would obviously win in a fight!” Obviously.
essay  movie  hero  masculine  comparison  uk  usa  spy  female  hollywood  british  american  manliness  story  world  instapaper_favs 
july 2016 by aries1988
The Great American Obstacle Course - The New Yorker
At the heart of Esquire’s “American Ninja Warrior” is the Great American Obstacle Course, and its obstacles, like those of American life, are meant to teach us…
challenge  sports  human  self  ninja  tv  american  instapaper_favs 
july 2016 by aries1988
All Due Respect - The New Yorker
In Japan, it’s a crime to own a gun, another crime to own a bullet, and a third crime to pull the trigger: three charges before you even think about a target.

The name refers to an unlucky hand at cards—yakuza means eight-nine-three—and bluffing has always been part of the image. Many gangsters are Korean-Japanese or members of other minority groups that traditionally have been scorned. These outsiders proved to be nimble after Japan’s defeat in the Second World War, an era that is explored in Tokyo Underworld, by Robert Whiting. During this period, organized-crime groups established black markets where citizens could acquire necessities, and they were skilled at dealing with the occupying Americans. As Japan rebuilt, the yakuza got involved in real estate and in public-works projects.

For the most part, the yakuza eschewed violence against civilians, because the image of criminality was effective enough in an orderly society.

Adelstein says that the key to his work is the Japanese concept of giri, or reciprocity. His typical routine involves exchanging small favors with contacts, collecting bits of information that can be leveraged elsewhere.
reportage  portrait  crime  japan  american  story  mafia  instapaper_favs 
june 2016 by aries1988
How the New York Times plans to conquer the world
We believe there’s a gap we’re well positioned to fill, said Dunbar-Johnson. The Economist addresses its readers as if they’re aspiring heads of state. The Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal try to address them as if they’re captains of industry. Our readers are people who are deeply curious about the world, not necessarily because they want to run it, but because they want to understand it and make it better.

The bigger question, he said, is what the problem that the Times solves for people is supposed to be, and whether it helps people be part of communities that they want to or need to be part of. Reading the New York Times is part of being a certain kind of person in the US. It is less clear that the Times occupies a similar position with its target audiences around the world.

From the perspective of Latin America, that was much more important, said Polgreen. Similarly, she said, Imagine you’re a reader in France and come to the New York Times homepage. It’s completely dominated by what to a foreign reader feels like really small-bore American politics.
media  journalism  american  world  globalization  competition  evolution  relevancy  business  news 
may 2016 by aries1988
A Deadly Deployment, a Navy SEAL’s Despair
Fellow officers saw the death of Cmdr. Job W. Price, which was ruled a suicide, as a cautionary tale of how men were ground down by years of fighting and losing comrades.
story  american  soldier  afghanistan  war  leader  local  camaraderie 
january 2016 by aries1988
Meet the American Who Joined Mao’s Revolution — War Is Boring
But after the outbreak of World War II, he was drafted into the Army and sent to Stanford's Army Far Eastern Language and Area School to learn Japanese. When he arrived, he chose to learn Chinese instead  —  believing that learning Japanese would mean serving in the lengthy post-war occupation.

He wanted to return to the United States  —  and his labor activism  —  as soon as he possibly could. He thought China would be a nice short adventure. He wouldn't return to America for more than three decades.

More importantly, Mao had a knack for making everyone around him feel like they brought something important to the table. "He was one of the best listeners I've ever met," Rittenberg adds.

Rittenberg believes that American officials' perception of communism as monolithic led to major miscalculations throughout the Cold War. The United States had a golden opportunity to exploit the factionalization of communist governments and movements  —  and failed to take it.

Instead, the Americans' refusal to negotiate sent the Chinese communists down the path of not just closer ties with Stalin's Russia, but toward Stalinist ideas and governance. "History could have been very, very different."

"I had been a true Leninist," he says, which meant he believed that to establish a perfect democracy one had to first create a perfect dictatorship. But his years in China led him to believe that dictatorship only leads to dictatorship, and that Mao's ascendance to power is more than enough evidence for it.
story  mao  american  communism  gaijin 
august 2015 by aries1988
美式相声成就了黄西
美式单口相声每个段子都非常短,包袱特别密,要求每10-15秒观众就得有反应。曾经有一个著名的美式单口相声演员说,每个段子至少应该在舞台上演72遍才能立得住。这话虽然有点夸张,但也说明一个道理:有时自己觉得好笑的段子别人不一定觉得好笑,必须经过实践的检验才能算数。我写过那么多段子,100个里面最后大概只有2个可用。

美式相声界有个不成文的规定,如果你不先拿自己开玩笑,你就没权力拿其他人开玩笑。

我在北京的时候专门去天桥和东城区相声俱乐部听过几次,最大的感触就是国内相声演员居然还在表演传统段子,那些段子我小时候就听过,可观众们还在笑,这让我很惊奇。美国相声非常讲究紧跟时代,如果有谁现在还讲布什的笑话,肯定会被观众嘘。
american  comedy  chinese  comparison 
may 2015 by aries1988
An American Hero in China | ChinaFile
The answer is partly that reporters in free societies have an obligation to dissect problems. Journalists at home rarely write about the highways that work because this is assumed to be a given; what citizens need to know about is the backlog of unrepaired bridges. But when applied abroad, this practice means a steady stream of negative stories with no overall sense of the broad situation of the country—in the case of China, reports of dissidents, internecine contests for power, and impending crises.

countless studies show that one of the best measures to alleviate poverty is building infrastructure, and here we were on a road that was something of a miracle to local people, allowing them to get their products to market, their children to schools, and themselves to jobs in the cities. China was in the midst of an unparalleled and largely successful attempt to reduce poverty, so why wouldn’t we write about this, he asked. All I could do was stammer that good news is no news. Back in Beijing a few days later, I wrote a story about a girl who was so poor she lived in a pig stall. My editors loved it and readers pledged money, but I was often nagged by the feeling that this had been the easy story. More challenging to expectations would have been to look at how lives had changed in this poor part of the country.

Hessler saw the story of China in the 1990s and 2000s as driven not by nationally known personalities or dramatic news events, but by an epochal movement of hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, and out of the village life that had dominated Chinese civilization. It was the rise of individuals—people with their own aspirations and goals, which they pursued in the space granted by the post-Mao state. Hessler lived in China while people like future Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo were publicly active, but he never wrote about them. To him, they might be noble but were marginal. That they were persecuted proved the state’s paranoia, not their larger significance for China’s future.

In each place, the same pattern emerged: the most talented people either were recruited by the Party or quietly disengaged from it. The only people who actually fought the Party were poorly connected and often dysfunctional—petitioners, for example, or other marginal figures. Many were interesting and he wrote about them in depth, but they were not driving events.

This is why I think it’s a big mistake to focus too much on the high-profile and truly remarkable dissidents, Hessler told me. It gives the American reader the impression that the really smart people in China are opposed to the Party.

These strongly held ideas underpin his books. Many journalists in China have been turned off—I often heard them say they wished he would finally tackle a real topic rather than his allegorical tales from small towns.
reportage  journalism  journalist  china  american  community  pattern  history 
may 2015 by aries1988
How to fire up America | The Economist
They are also wrong about demography. From Europe to north-east Asia, the 21st century risks being an age of old people, slow growth and sour, timid politics. Swelling armies of the elderly will fight to defend their pensions and other public services. Between now and mid-century, Germany’s median age will rise to 52. China’s population growth will flatten and then fall; its labour force is already shrinking. Not America’s. By 2050 its median age will be a sprightly 41 and its population will still be growing. Latinos will be a big part of that story.

America has been granted an extraordinary stroke of luck: a big dose of youth and energy, just as its global competitors are greying. Making the most of this chance will take pragmatism and goodwill. Get it right, and a diverse, outward-facing America will have much to teach the world.
american  future  latino  workforce  immigration  opinion 
may 2015 by aries1988
Running the New York City Marathon at Age 60

Oh, to be able to run one mile as fast and elegantly as Haile. Not in this lifetime. Sometimes it seems every part of my body is going in a different direction, everything squishing about like water in a balloon.
run  aging  newyork  american  story  humor  essay  life  hobby  sports  elders 
april 2015 by aries1988
America Needs Its Own Emojis - NYTimes.com
Indeed, the Japanese vocabulary is most notable for what it fails to offer Americans. For example, there is no middle-finger hand signal. Or the good-luck signal of fingers crossed. No Vulcan salute to live long and prosper, which would have been much appreciated following the recent death of Leonard Nimoy, who played a Vulcan on “Star Trek.”

Want to tell your boss you’re too sick to go to work? The face mask emoji works in Japan, where regular people wear them in public. In America your boss might think you quit to go to med school or started robbing banks. (There is also no broken-down car, also useful for excuses.)

But please don’t get rid of what looks like a film noir sequence of emojis: lit cigarette, bomb, pistol, knife, pill, bloody hypodermic needle and money bag. That’s speaking my language.
internet  language  japanese  american  fun 
march 2015 by aries1988
Joel Lebowitz, la physique de l’engagement
Que se passe-t-il à l’intérieur d’un échantillon de cet objet, si une de ses extrémités est chauffée et l’autre mise dans la glace d’un seau à champagne ? La réponse n’est toujours pas connue, mais elle illustre l’une des motivations de cet éternel chercheur, toujours très actif. Comment expliquer les effets macroscopiques de la matière à partir de ces composants microscopiques ? Comment décrire les systèmes qui ne sont pas à l’équilibre thermodynamique ? Ou, dans le cas présent, peut-on déduire l’équation de propagation de la chaleur, connue depuis Fourier au XIXe siècle, d’après le comportement des particules élémentaires à l’intérieur de l’échantillon ?

Il raconte aussi qu’un collègue physicien, pour la 100e conférence Rutgers, a proposé de baptiser une nouvelle unité du nom de « Joel », comme il y a des ampères ou des volts. Ce serait l’unité de travail d’un chercheur.
scientist  Physics  materiaux  american  france  research  work 
november 2014 by aries1988
Drones and the Democracy Disconnect

There are few philosophers more clear-eyed, frank, even cynical when it comes to war than Niccolò Machiavelli.

Never have the American people been more removed from their wars, even while we are the most martial nation on earth, and drones are symptoms, and drivers, of this troubling alienation.
usa  american  war  ethic  drone  opinion  democracy  politics  state 
october 2014 by aries1988
南方周末 - 为什么我们总不满于美国人的道歉
问题恐怕在于文化差异,西方人是动机效果二元论者,而中国人是动机效果统一论者。我们是否也应该多多了解美国文化,不要把无谓的小事和本来可以平和解决的问题,随意拉升到“维护民族尊严”的高度?
http://www.instapaper.com/read/279544034
culture  conflict  comparison  mentality  debate  chinese  american  opinion 
august 2012 by aries1988
Japan-America military alliance: Hard landing | The Economist
The arrival of new American military aircraft into Japan this week could hardly have been less conspicuous
japan  american  china  military 
july 2012 by aries1988

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