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Opinion | Thirty Years After Tiananmen: Someone Always Remembers - The New York Times
This view is not limited to a few dissidents or foreign scholars, people out to make China look bad or who just can’t let bygones be bygones. The memory of Tiananmen is also being kept alive by people in China who believe that a government that uses force to stay in power is illegitimate.

History is also written with the smallest of gestures. Every spring I make a small trip to the Babaoshan cemetery in the western suburbs of Beijing to pay respects to two victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre
Four lines of the poem inscribed on the back of Xuehan’s tombstone explain, in a code of sorts, both the cause of his death and Xu Jue’s ritual:

Eight calla lilies
Nine yellow chrysanthemums
Six white tulips
Four red roses

Eight, nine, six, four. Year, month, day. June 4, 1989.

Two years ago, Ms. Xu died of cancer, at 77. Both years since, I’ve made the trip to the graves, thinking someone ought to put out the flowers. Each time, the 27 flowers were already there, tied in a neat bundle. Someone remembered. Someone always remembers.
1989/6/4  history  concept  minjian  people  china  censorship  family  death  memory  ritual  beijing 
9 weeks ago by aries1988
Yuval Noah Harari on Why Technology Favors Tyranny - The Atlantic

- In 2018 the common person feels increasingly irrelevant.
By 2050, a useless class might emerge, the result not only of a shortage of jobs or a lack of relevant education but also of insufficient mental stamina to continue learning new skills.

- whatever liberal democracy’s philosophical appeal, it has gained strength in no small part thanks to a practical advantage: The decentralized approach to decision making that is characteristic of liberalism—in both politics and economics.
In the late 20th century, democracies usually outperformed dictatorships, because they were far better at processing information.
Democracy distributes the power to process information and make decisions among many people and institutions, whereas dictatorship concentrates information and power in one place.
- If you disregard all privacy concerns and concentrate all the information relating to a billion people in one database, you’ll wind up with much better algorithms than if you respect individual privacy and have in your database only partial information on a million people.

- What will happen to this view of life as we rely on AI to make ever more decisions for us?
once we begin to count on AI to decide what to study, where to work, and whom to date or even marry, human life will cease to be a drama of decision making, and our conception of life will need to change. Democratic elections and free markets might cease to make sense. So might most religions and works of art.
If we are not careful, we will end up with downgraded humans misusing upgraded computers to wreak havoc on themselves and on the world.

- For starters, we need to place a much higher priority on understanding how the human mind works—particularly how our own wisdom and compassion can be cultivated.
- More practically, and more immediately, if we want to prevent the concentration of all wealth and power in the hands of a small elite, we must regulate the ownership of data.
advice  future  crisis  ai  society  politics  people  life  work  mentality  human  democracy  dictatorship  competition  liberalism 
september 2018 by aries1988
Xi Sets China on a Collision Course With History - The New York Times
Known as “modernization theory,” it says that once citizens reach a certain level of wealth, they will demand things like public accountability, free expression and a role in government. Authoritarian states, unable to meet these demands, either transition to democracy or collapse amid unrest.

So China is instead promoting “ideology and collective social values” that equate the government with Chinese culture, according to research by the China scholar Heike Holbig and Mr. Gilley. Patriotic songs and school textbooks have proliferated. So have mentions of “Xi Jinping Thought,” now an official ideology.
today  china  2018  xi  politics  state  people 
september 2018 by aries1988
Ballasting the US-China Relationship - John Pomfret & Paul Pickowicz | China 21
Historian Paul Pickowicz interviews acclaimed author John Pomfret about patterns in the long history of US-China relations, and how it informs the controversies in the current moment of Sino-American relations ranging from the impact of Chinese students on US universities, Xi Jinping’s end to presidential term limits, and trade and business relations.
podcast  book  usa  china  history  today  politics  leader  people 
april 2018 by aries1988
Steven Pinker: The Disconnect Between Pessimism and Optimism | Time

It’s not that people are naturally glum. On the contrary, they tend to see their lives through rosetinted glasses: they say they are happy, their schools are good, their neighborhoods are safe and that they are less likely than the average person to become the victim of an accident, a disease, a layoff or crime.

But when people are asked about their countries, they switch from Pollyanna to Eeyore: everyone else is miserable, they insist, and the world is going to hell in a handcart.

Most positive developments are not camera-friendly, and they aren’t built in a day. You never see a headline about a country that is not at war, or a city that has not been attacked by terrorists–or the fact that since yesterday, 180,000 people have escaped extreme poverty.

A quantitative mind-set, despite its nerdy aura, is not just a smarter way to understand the world but the morally enlightened one. It treats every human life as equal, rather than privileging the people who are closest to us or most photogenic. And it holds out the hope that we might identify the causes of our problems and thereby implement the measures that are most likely to solve them.
optimism  pessimism  history  mindset  enlightenment  perception  society  mentality  people  idea  development 
february 2018 by aries1988
Russia’s World Cup: a Putin own goal?
The thousands of visiting journalists (surely the largest foreign press contingent ever to spend a month in Russia) are likely to pump out the negative coverage that Russians call zloradstvo (evil-revelling). 

Doping wins Olympic medals but probably wouldn’t help much in skill-based, tactical football.
russia  image  world  politics  people 
november 2017 by aries1988
Letter of Recommendation Caceroladas
A community banging its pots and pans together as a democratic showing of discontent.
espagna  people  street  politics  demonstration  tool 
november 2017 by aries1988
The Long Shot - The New Yorker
Jia is not much interested in plot. His attraction to film seems to owe more to the dictum of André Bazin, the French theorist whom he counts as an inspiration, that photography “embalms time.” Jia crams his movies with so many hair styles, pop songs, and news references that they feel like time capsules of the here and now. He has a single, unwavering theme: the liminal space in which individuals try, usually in vain, to move from one life to another—floating migrants, laid-off factory hands, restless teen-agers, all trapped on the margins of China’s boom, with enough technology to glimpse the wider world but no way to reach it. In Jia’s cosmology, trains usually speed out of sight before you can catch them and motorcycles break down.

His characters are often inspired by people he grew up with—friends, in his words, “as ignorant and coarse and full of vitality as roadside weeds.”

the movement made a searing impression on him. “Although it failed, it didn’t really fail,” he said, “because it took freedom and democracy, individualism, individual rights, all these concepts, and disseminated them to many people, including me.”

Jia immersed himself in films from Taiwan and Europe, often watching three a day. Those which he could not find in the school archives he found on the street, as pirated V.H.S. tapes. He often pedalled his bicycle across town to watch screenings at a French cultural center in Beijing.

In contrast to the epic historical Chinese dramas that were popular at the time, Jia had revealed a bitterly unadorned image of contemporary life and its discontents. To older Chinese admirers especially, the film’s honesty was bittersweet. “We had been forbidden from telling the truth for such a long time that once we were allowed to do so, we did not know how to tell the truth,” the painter Chen Danqing wrote of the film.

He felt powerless. “My motivation for making films was not simply a love of movies but also a sense of idealism, a hope that I could help to change society.”

In “Still Life,” a building launches into the air like a rocket, and a flying saucer zips across the sky. (As Jia has explained to a film magazine, China’s “official speeches and pictures are like U.F.O.s that never touch the ground.”)

“Not because they are kung-fu movies—I like kung-fu movies—but because the film underscores power, that we should ‘bow down’ before power! For ‘harmony in the world,’ we should give up individual fights and efforts. The ‘authority of power,’ the focus of his films, is what makes me extremely uncomfortable.”

“My expression, my view on history, my view on the truth must be independent,” he says, “but I tell myself not to get marginalized, because being marginalized means you can’t do anything. Marginalization can be a kind of pleasant stance—I really admire many of those people—but I would rather expend enormous energy trying to dance with the many levels of the era in which we live.”
reportage  bio  movie  chinese  china  leader  art  idea  people  nostalgia  countryside  shanxi 
june 2017 by aries1988
Stuck on one idea of truth or beauty? Rhizomes can help | Aeon Ideas
Why did they invent such strange philosophical concepts as rhizomes? One reason is to help us appreciate the singularity of each thing as well as each thing’s myriad connections to other things. This vision of an interconnected world of singularities, in turn, can change how we act in the world.

According to Nietzsche, the task of modern philosophy is to overturn Platonism, to stop looking for eternal blueprints of how things should be, and instead value this world of difference and becoming. Taking up this assignment, Deleuze and Guattari propose that we think in terms of ‘rhizomes’. A rhizome is a plant such as a potato, couch grass or bamboo. Rhizomes do not have seeds or trunks; rather, they shoot out stems and reproduce when a part breaks off and grows again, each one slightly different from its predecessor. A Thousand Plateaus helps us see the distinctiveness and connectivity of multiple things that compose reality. ‘A rhizome,’ they wrote, ‘ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organisations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles.’ The concept of the rhizome helps us to view our lives as assemblages of words, institutions, songs, medicines, social movements, and countless other things that are related but also distinct.
concept  politics  culture  identity  academia  language  people 
may 2017 by aries1988
梁文道:假裝打招呼(打招呼的困惑之二)

其實只要在神州大地走上一圈,那些不 懂中國特殊國情的老外就會發現,中國遊客就是中國人,平時在家如何,到了外頭就是如何,對內對外一致平等。沒錯,很多人在國內就很習慣進店不打招呼,視侍應和店員如無物。我曾經以為,這是當代中國社會權力結構的表現,就和低級公務員看見高官要低腰打哈,公司職員一見上司就「總」前「總」後,而在上位者則可以挺着肚子當他們不存在一樣;是我們進來花錢的人做老闆,你這個服務員算老幾?我憑甚麼要多瞧你一眼。

那就像是各大城市地鐵廣播開台那句「尊敬的乘客」,其實你知道他們從來沒有尊敬過你;又有點像天橋上頭那些不知道真實作用有多少的口號標語;一切都是表面,一切都是行話。既然沒有人是真心的,何不乾脆回到最赤裸的真實,我進來是花錢,你不必廢話。
etiquette  chinese  language  comparison  people  life  shopping 
may 2017 by aries1988
梁文道:畫的比吃的還好(go dutch之二)
以前我也曾經在此談過,西歐吃得好的國家多半是天主教國家,比如法國、意大利和西班牙;而吃得沒那麼好的地方則以新教為主,例如德國;界線大致分明。並非財富之多寡與食材之豐缺決定了他們的吃喝方式,而是宗教信仰與人生態度。社會學老祖宗韋伯在上個世紀初關於「新教倫理」的論述現在已經是常識了,現在我們都曉得,不像犯了罪還可以懺悔或者先去煉獄過一過火的天主教徒,十六世紀至十九世紀的新教徒總有一種道德緊張,時時刻刻得盯着自己有沒有過錯,在這個俗世上是否建立起了良好的人格與功業,平時生活又夠不夠節制等等,半點也不敢鬆懈。
食慾當然也是他們要小心提防的對象,稍稍放縱就是中了撒旦的誘惑,從腸胃開出一條直接邁向地獄的高速通道。恰好荷蘭在它最繁盛的年代還要和西班牙交戰,正想擺脫這個天主教國家的控制,謀求獨立,於是宗教信仰與愛國主義合一,逐步塑造出荷蘭人的飲食文化。過度的奢華和放縱皆是天主教王國西班牙的特徵,一個好荷蘭新教徒則恰恰相反,不只要對抗西班牙式的糜爛,還要對抗天主教式的無度,這一切你全都能在荷蘭人畫的麵包和芝士上面看到迹象。
history  food  people  religion  idea  cuisine  netherlands 
november 2016 by aries1988
刘柠:我之喜欢日本,并没有到照单全收的程度——从一部电视纪录片扯起-墙外楼
“改革开放”初期引进的生产线早已被淘汰,北京的中日友好医院和中日青年交流中心已老旧不堪,位于首都机场高速入口处的松下彩色显像管有限公司(BMCC),曾经是中日经济合作的看板项目,数年前被某国有银行收购,改造成美术馆于去年开业。稍有点教育程度的国人都知道,我们的住房公积金制度是学新加坡,核电技术是从法国引进的,但却说不出哪些东西是来自日本。
opinion  media  japanese  china  japan  history  today  people  perception  comparison  1980s 
october 2016 by aries1988
从中国网民的愤怒,想到姚明的好脾气_易小荷_腾讯大家
因此,真正的奥林匹克精神绝对不是把孙杨等于全部中国人,指责孙杨就是指责中华民族,把不支持去围攻谩骂霍顿的人划分为“洋奴”,也绝不是自以为是的“网络打砸抢”,打着“爱国主义”的旗号进行暴力狂欢,趁机割裂人群,把全世界分为“中国”和“诋毁中国的国家”。
sports  people  nation  zeitgeist  chinese  today  olympics  nationalism 
august 2016 by aries1988
南方周末 - 不是记者也不是城管 刘涛的“野生摄影”
每到一个陌生的城市,刘涛都会在街头长时间暴走。前不久刘涛去南京做活动,虽然下着大雨,但他一下火车还是一头钻进居民区,暴走到凌晨两点。如果对一个城市不了解,没有基本的概念,就不好把握,所以要尽可能地看清楚。刘涛一般会深入老居民区,可能不会有太出彩的地方,但是会发现很多市民的生活细节——下班、出门、遛弯。他注意到南京很多细节与合肥不一样,小区都很安静,街上商店的音响不会把音量开得很大,垃圾筒是黄色的,居民的穿着打扮文化程度更高一些,普通老百姓更注重隐私。
hefei  photography  life  people 
august 2016 by aries1988
What makes train travel such an antidote to life’s stresses? | Aeon Essays
trains blurred the line between public and private. ‘Train travel requires people to do private things in public,’

And what’s fascinating about it is the possibility of being able to observe strangers. For women in particular who don’t have a lot of geographic mobility in urban spaces, riding on a train is as close as they can get to that flâneur experience of urban life – where you can sit and you can watch people and you can eavesdrop on conversations.’

When, several years ago, I returned to Russia after a long absence, I booked a 24-hour train journey for myself and my eight-year-old daughter from St Petersburg to Odessa in Ukraine. I wanted her to experience what I remembered: a whole day together, an uninterrupted passage of hours filled with books and conversations, an opportunity to spend time entirely on ourselves, by ourselves, and with ourselves.

Just like my mother more than 30 years earlier, I packed boiled eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, bread, cheese and apples. We ate all three meals together without television, telephone or the internet. When the conductor brought tea – much like I remembered from the Sochi express times, with two cubes of sugar, in a classic railway cup – we drank it with sweets we bought at an intermediate stop, looked out of the window, and talked.
essay  train  travel  transport  story  russia  family  nostalgia  history  people  female 
july 2016 by aries1988
Why the Remain Campaign Lost the Brexit Vote - The New Yorker
To get people to turn out and vote in your favor, you also have to give them something positive to rally behind. The Leave campaign, for all its lies and disinformation, provided just such a lure. It claimed that liberating Britain from the shackles of the E.U. would enable it to reclaim its former glory. The Remain side argued, in effect, that while the E.U. isn’t great, Britain would be even worse off without it. That turned out to be a losing story.
politics  referendum  people  democracy  campaign  opinion  fail  uk  Brexit  2016 
june 2016 by aries1988
Hazard lines
Exposure to any potential hazard involves a certain risk. It’s where we draw the line between high risk and low risk that defines what is safe and what is not. This gives rise to an interesting set of questions. Would everyone draw that line in the same place? Would we draw the same line for ourselves as we would for others? And, would we allow others to draw the line for us?

it’s well-documented that people have difficulty conceptualising ratios and fractions because they focus on numerators to the detriment of denominators, there’s been little movement away from using ratio metrics when presenting risk to the public.
nuclear  safety  science  people  perception  history  regulation  law  future  self 
june 2016 by aries1988
Making Art on the Open Seas - The New York Times
"Shipyard Worker, Nantong, China"
I was flown to China to meet a ship that had just gotten a bunch of work done in shipyard. I spent three really cold winter nights with this guy, standing security watch on the gangway. We did our best to communicate. I hand-rolled him some cigarettes. He let me take his photo in exchange. Every time a female worker came on the ship, he did the curvy woman outline with his hands. Credit: Martin Machado
art  painting  ocean  ship  cargo  people  world  port  transport 
may 2016 by aries1988
How to change the face of Europe - FT.com
‘Europe today faces a problem: it lacks a clear creation myth with unifying heroes’
https://www.instapaper.com/read/721544683
europe  crisis  opinion  currency  people  nation  globalization  leader  myth  human  concept  instapaper_favs 
may 2016 by aries1988
The truth about migration: How evolution made us xenophobes | New Scientist
Schaller and Neuberg believe that for both these reasons, human cultures evolved to be wary of close interaction with people who were different from their group.
evolution  immigration  people 
april 2016 by aries1988
The New Europeans
Graf von Rechberg is an interesting man. He invited asylum seekers into his home for dinner, but he held an almost apocalyptic view of their presence in Germany. Many of them, he predicted, would come to live in Muslim-majority ghettos like those in Paris, where they don’t do anything, don’t work and then watch some stupid Internet films, and then some will carry out terrorist attacks, he said. I can’t change that. I can only accept it, and that will be our future.
reportage  deutschland  people  immigration  immigrant  story  bayern  germany  instapaper_favs 
april 2016 by aries1988
Kim Jong-un’s Generational Ambitions
But having covered previous North Korean nuclear tests, I know the script: International outrage, emergency meetings and sanctions will follow in close suit. And as debate continues in regional capitals about what to do about the defiant North Koreans, their rock-star scientists will keep building better and more powerful nuclear weapons.

here is a small nation where the people are dancing in the streets celebrating the supposed creation of a bomb with the potential to exterminate whole cities. Footage of North Koreans cheering as they watched the news announced at noon local time Wednesday was like a scene out of an old Cold War movie, so anachronistic in this globalized era that the only response that makes any sense is to think the North Koreans are crazy.

C.I.A. estimates put it at roughly $1,800 per capita, on par with some of the poorest nations in the world. Geographically, North Korea was dealt a bad hand: Mountainous, with an extreme climate that veers from bitterly cold winters to blistering summers, it simply does not produce enough food to sustain its people, and outmoded agricultural practices have only worsened that shortfall.

What North Koreans do have in spades is pride, a characteristically Korean trait that has protected this small peninsula for 5,000 years. For North Koreans, pride is manna. They may be hungry every day, but pride is what keeps them going. Not everyone can feast off pride — tens of thousands of North Koreans have defected over the decades — but enough of the population is buoyed by this singular sense of national pride and a Korean sense of conformity to keep the regime afloat.
story  korea  weapon  war  enemy  people  children  society  psyche 
february 2016 by aries1988
Finally passing | The Economist
Mississippi's companions at the low end of the per-capita income table are West Virginia and Idaho, neither of which fought for the Confederacy. Like Mississippi, they lack a big city, have relatively uneducated populations and rely heavily on mining and agriculture. The poverty of the Deep South is less southern than rural.

In late 1865 Confederate veterans in Tennessee formed the Ku Klux Klan, a terrorist organisation that used violence against former slaves. It still survives, milder on the surface but vicious underneath.
numbers  usa  history  war  comparison  people 
january 2016 by aries1988
What Do We Really Know About Osama bin Laden’s Death? - NYTimes.com
These false stories couldn’t have reached the public without the help of the media. Reporters don’t just find facts; they look for narratives. And an appealing narrative can exert a powerful gravitational pull that winds up bending facts in its direction.

There are different ways to control a narrative. There’s the old- fashioned way: Classify documents that you don’t want seen and, as Gates said, ‘‘keep mum on the details.’’ But there’s also the more modern, social- media-savvy approach: Tell the story you want them to believe. Silence is one way to keep a secret. Talking is another. And they are not mutually exclusive.
media  people  truth  government 
december 2015 by aries1988
Paris Attacks Have Many in France Eager to Join the Fight
French military spending, which reached 42 billion euros, or more than $52 billion, last year for military operations, weapons, surveillance networks and other support, will grow by €600 million next year to finance the new positions and necessary equipment, Finance Minister Michel Sapin said last week. The French Army, currently the largest in Western Europe, will take on an additional 10,000 recruits this year and 15,000 more next year. The French national police force and gendarmerie will expand by about 5,000 members, along with 1,000 new customs inspection positions and 2,500 at the French Ministry of Justice.
nation  2015  military  people  français  terrorism 
december 2015 by aries1988
‘I Think About It Daily’: Life in a Time of Mass Shootings
Times readers responded by the thousands to a simple question: How often, if ever, do you think about the possibility of a shooting in your daily life?
people  life  guns  usa  story  death 
december 2015 by aries1988
Is Eastern Europe Really More Racist Than the West? - NYTimes.com
Western Europeans, in other words, may appear more tolerant when talking in the abstract, but are as intolerant as Eastern Europeans when it comes to attitudes toward specific groups. The “cultural gap” may just be that Western Europeans are more polished in the language of tolerance, while in reality being equally intolerant.

The migrants are confined to the Jungle because Britain refuses to let what Prime Minister David Cameron called a swarm cross the English Channel. Were the Jungle in Hungary or Poland, there would no doubt be an outcry. Yet few historians or journalists have bothered to write furious condemnations of the xenophobia exposed by this abomination on Britain’s doorstep.

But when asked about specific groups, the picture changed. In Eastern Europe, anti-Semitism is prevalent, while in Western Europe people tend to be more hostile to Muslims. The Pew survey found that 29 percent of Poles and Hungarians had an unfavorable view of Jews. Twenty-seven percent of Britons and a full 69 percent of Italians had a negative view of Muslims, while 30 percent of Germans disliked Turks.
opinion  poll  people  european  immigration  comparison 
november 2015 by aries1988
The Science Behind ‘They All Look Alike to Me’
Was the mistaken arrest of James Blake a case of racism, pure and simple, or a product of a real cognitive phenomenon that makes it hard for people of one race to distinguish among those of another?

Psychologists say that starting when they are infants and young children, people become attuned to the key facial features and characteristics of the those around them. Whites often become accustomed to focusing on differences in hair color and eye color. African-Americans grow more familiar with subtle shadings of skin color.
race  face  people  visual 
september 2015 by aries1988
Europe will fail the values test on refugees - FT.com
For almost 500 years, European nations dominated, colonised and populated the rest of the world. After 1945, the states of western Europe signed up to a new post-imperial and post-fascist set of values, based on universal human rights and enshrined in documents such as the 1951 UN Convention on refugees.

At some point, the desperation and hopes of the refugees are likely to collide with the fears and resentments of European voters. The eastern European members of the EU have made their unhappiness with refugee quotas very clear. Recent opinion polls also show that a majority of French people oppose any softening of asylum rules, and a British majority back the Cameron government’s determination not to accept EU-mandated quotas.
opinion  immigration  europe  2015  people  mentality 
september 2015 by aries1988
Science Isn’t Broken
Instead, you can think of the p-value as an index of surprise. How surprising would these results be if you assumed your hypothesis was false?

Researchers often make these calls as they go, and often there’s no obviously correct way to proceed, which makes it tempting to try different things until you get the result you’re looking for.

They’re just falling prey to natural human biases that lead them to tip the scales and set up studies to produce false-positive results.

What makes science so powerful is that it’s self-correcting — sure, false findings get published, but eventually new studies come along to overturn them, and the truth is revealed. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Science is not a magic wand that turns everything it touches to truth. Instead, science operates as a procedure of uncertainty reduction, said Nosek, of the Center for Open Science. The goal is to get less wrong over time. This concept is fundamental — whatever we know now is only our best approximation of the truth. We can never presume to have everything right.

As a society, our stories about how science works are also prone to error. The standard way of thinking about the scientific method is: ask a question, do a study, get an answer. But this notion is vastly oversimplified. A more common path to truth looks like this: ask a question, do a study, get a partial or ambiguous answer, then do another study, and then do another to keep testing potential hypotheses and homing in on a more complete answer. Human fallibilities send the scientific process hurtling in fits, starts and misdirections instead of in a straight line from question to truth.

The uncertainty inherent in science doesn’t mean that we can’t use it to make important policies or decisions. It just means that we should remain cautious and adopt a mindset that’s open to changing course if new data arises. We should make the best decisions we can with the current evidence and take care not to lose sight of its strength and degree of certainty.
science  scientist  opinion  research  mind  human  people  truth  instapaper_favs 
august 2015 by aries1988
The Chinese Lingerie Venders of Egypt
In her opinion, the Chinese are direct and honest, and she appreciates their remove from local gossip networks. They keep their secrets, she said.

I was certain that even the most self-confident American woman would be mortified by the idea of shopping for lingerie with her fiancé, her mother, and her teen-age brother, not to mention doing this in the presence of two Chinese shop owners, their assistant, and a foreign journalist. But I had witnessed similar scenes at other shops in Upper Egypt, where an arusa is almost always accompanied by family members or friends, and the ritual seems largely disconnected from sex in people’s minds.

Inequality between men and women, he said immediately. Here the women just stay home and sleep. If they want to develop, the first thing they need to do is solve this problem. That’s what China did after the revolution. It’s a waste of talent here. Look at my family—you see how my wife works. We couldn’t have the factory without her. And my daughter runs the shop. If they were Egyptian, they wouldn’t be doing that.

Their strategy is to make economic linkages, so if you break these economic linkages it’s going to hurt you as much as it hurts them.

through the Suez Canal. In addition, Egyptian universities are home to approximately two thousand Chinese students, most of them Muslim. The Chinese government is concerned that these students will acquire radical religious ideas, which is another reason that they feel they have a stake in Egypt’s stability and prosperity.

More than two decades ago, at the start of the economic boom in China, bosses hired young women because they could be paid less and controlled more easily than men. But it soon became clear that, in a society that traditionally had undervalued women, they were more motivated, and over the years their role and reputation began to change.
story  chinese  entrepreneurial  middle-east  life  people  gaijin 
august 2015 by aries1988
Johnson: The influence of English: Deep impact | The Economist
In many of the cases, the English version is simpler: ich erinnere das nicht is shorter and more straightforward than ich erinnere mich daran nicht. But even fairly complex grammar is usually easy for native speakers; the mind is a miracle that way. So the change to English betrays not simply a preference for simpliclity; it shows that speakers of German or French find themselves thinking rather a lot in English, so much so the English patterns spring to mind as readily as the German.
language  deutsch  mind  people  english  français 
july 2015 by aries1988
What Russians really think - FT.com
May 9 highlights the chasm that has opened between Russia’s view of itself and perceptions elsewhere. While many European countries mark the day with Holocaust commemorations and appeals for peace and international understanding, the Russian emphasis is on military glory and the Red Army’s role in liberating Europe.

Rationally I think the Lithuanians have the right to establish their own identity and have their own views on this, but I wanted to say: ‘No, no, don’t talk so bad about the Soviet Union!

The Baltics had very little industry before the Soviet Union — we gave them everything. But now they are throwing it away.

any kind of reappraisal of wartime history is politically difficult because the conventional version has become so central to Russian national identity. Of course, they want to preserve the victory narrative and the perspective that the Soviet Union acted to the benefit of its neighbours, but you have to have a dialogue about these things

Stalin was our wartime leader, and for every Russian the second world war is an issue so close to the heart because every family lost someone in that war.
reportage  russia  people  interview  history  narrative  mentality  europe  2015 
april 2015 by aries1988
Karl Ove Knausgaard Travels Through North America
One joy of life in the north comes after a winter storm, when the sky, freed of its burden, has paled, and the glow of the unseen sun is everywhere reflected by the snow, so that all things stand out sharp and clear.

The same thing happened nearly every time I had ordered something in the past week. The waiter or waitress would look questioningly at me and ask me to repeat myself. Every exchange of information was piecemeal, chopped into bits, full of misunderstandings and repetitions. It wasn’t that I didn’t speak English, it was that I stood on the outside of the flow that made things glide along easily and without friction, where everything said and done was as expected.

If there was one thing I had been looking forward to, and had intended to base my article on, it was the sound of adventure that American place names evoked. Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania. All my life I had kept encountering them, and when I saw them in writing, vast spaces opened up within me. The names were romantic, exotic, distant, yet so close, strange, but still familiar. This is what I had wanted to write about, what this almost mythological landscape was like in reality.

To be able to describe something, you have to feel some kind of emotional attachment to it, however faint. The external has to awaken something within; nothing means anything in itself, it is the resonance it produces, in the soul and in the language, that gives meaning to the thing described.

It’s deeply un-American, you know, not to make small talk. It’s a very important part of the culture of this country.
story  european  usa  scandinavia  people  comparison  norge  immigrant  culture  travel 
april 2015 by aries1988
Edsger W. Dijkstra - Wikiquote
FORTRAN's tragic fate has been its wide acceptance, mentally chaining thousands and thousands of programmers to our past mistakes.
computer  people  programming  quotes  fortran 
march 2015 by aries1988
‘Out of My Mouth Comes Unimpeachable Manly Truth’
The evening news on Rossiya 1 starts off with Ukraine. The anchors of the three networks are a clan of attractive, dead-eyed men and women. They speak in the same unshakable “out of my mouth comes unimpeachable manly truth” tone that Putin uses in his public addresses, sometimes mixing in a dollop of chilly sarcasm. Their patter has a hypnotic staccato quality, like a machine gun going off at regular intervals, often making it hard to remember that they are moving their mouths or inhaling and exhaling oxygen.

Few Russian families escaped unscathed from Hitler’s onslaught, and Nazi imagery, which remains stingingly potent, is invoked frequently and opportunistically, as a way of keeping historical wounds fresh.
russia  people  leader  tv  opinion  media 
february 2015 by aries1988
Bécassine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Seen as a stereotype and remnant of the contempt with which the Bretons were long seen, she is the typical provincial girl as seen by the more refined city people of Paris, the target audience of the young girls' magazine La Semaine de Suzette. But over the course of the stories, and coupled with the success she has, she is depicted more and more favourably. "Bécassine" is a nickname, derived from the French word for a number of birds of the family of the snipe, which is also used as a way of saying "fool" in French.
cartoon  google  france  people  caricature 
february 2015 by aries1988
England: A once and future realm | The Economist
“The English and Their History” is the perfect starting-point for anyone who wants to grapple with the complexity of the English question. Mr Tombs has marinated himself in the secondary literature. And he writes beautifully; there isn’t a lazy sentence in this text. Mr Tombs’s achievement is made all the more remarkable by the fact that he is the leading professor of French history at Cambridge: the guy who is supposed to explain the country’s troublesome neighbour to England’s future rulers rather than decipher the English to themselves and the world.

England’s history is as remarkable as it is old. England has not been subjugated since 1066. It has not been torn apart by civil war since the mid-17th century. Eleven people died in England’s notorious Peterloo massacre; 10,000 died in the Paris Commune. Yet this peaceable kingdom has been remarkably successful in projecting its power abroad. By the mid-19th century it ruled a quarter of the world’s population, using some brutality (its navy forced the Chinese to import opium) but mostly light-touch imperialism. In the late 19th century the Indian civil service employed no more than 2,000 people, fewer than the number who work today for Ofsted, the schools inspectorate.

But some things might surely be described as basic to the national character: a willingness to prick pomposity, distrust for grand theoretical schemes, an instinctive enthusiasm for globalisation, an ability to balance tradition with change or Establishment frippery with Nonconformist efficiency, a fondness for compromise but a willingness to avoid fudging when necessary.
reading  book  uk  people  history 
december 2014 by aries1988
Vivre son homosexualité dans la Drôme
Ce modus vivendi très éloigné des habitudes urbaines, et notamment parisiennes, fonctionne sans heurts. « Il y a une capacité d’indifférence d’un côté, une capacité de discrétion de l’autre, qui permet aux deux groupes de s’accommoder, sans que le groupe minoritaire ait à dissimuler ses lieux et ses réseaux »,résume le directeur scientifique de la FSS, François Héran. A. Ch.
life  people  france 
december 2014 by aries1988
Dans la société française, « les opinions antisémites atteignent une haute intensité »
Seuls 17 % des personnes issues de famille musulmane ne partagent aucun de ces préjugés contre les juifs, contre 53 % dans la population globale. « Les musulmans sont deux à trois fois plus nombreux que la moyenne à partager des préjugés contre les juifs », note Dominique Reynié, et cela d’autant plus qu’ils se déclarent pratiquants. Pour mesurer l’antisémitisme exprimé par les sondés, les enquêteurs ont construit un indicateur à partir de six propositions reprenant les préjugés les plus répandus. Les répondants étaient invités à dire s’ils étaient d’accord avec chacun d’eux. Figure entre parenthèses le pourcentage d’interviewés d’accord avec chaque proposition.
france  today  ethnic  poll  people  français 
december 2014 by aries1988
The Ebola Conspiracy Theories
“I view these things as a way of framing the world, of offering us narratives,” Professor Fenster said. “And they’re not necessarily a bad thing. Conspiracy theories are something that’s available in American discourse as a way of telling stories, as a way of explaining who we are.”

Nonetheless, some scholars find value in conspiracy theories because they allow us to vent and give voice to hidden fears. I view these things as a way of framing the world, of offering us narratives,Professor Fenster said. And they’re not necessarily a bad thing. Conspiracy theories are something that’s available in American discourse as a way of telling stories, as a way of explaining who we are.
people  conspiracy  epidemic 
october 2014 by aries1988
在南京
九月末因事回南京,正好遇上桂花盛开时节,满城香气。一下火车,站在站台上,就闻见远处风送来的桂花香气,心里十分珍惜而欢喜。翻检过去日记,自从离开南京以后,就再没有关于桂花的记录,而此次重逢,何其幸运。夜里住在虎踞路,出去散步,沿着悬铃木遮蔽的大道走,一路有市民从对面走来,手里捏几枝折来的桂花,路边一家卖烟酒水果的小店,角落里也用饮料瓶子养了几枝。这样的场景,看着觉得很有意思,因为贴近普通人的生活。一般人对香味的爱慕与追求,桂花大约是顶点了吧。所以虽然一向厌人折花,但对折桂花却好像能多一点理解似的。再往前走,才发现原来前面是一个种满桂树的小公园。夜色深浓,行人散去,只有桂花开得成枝成球,浸透了这秋分时节的夜气。
life  china  nostalgia  flower  nanjing  people 
october 2014 by aries1988
A Harsh Climate Calls for Banishment of the Needy - NYTimes.com
Svalbard has no restrictions on foreigners who want to move here, except that they must have a job. Under a 1920 international treaty that granted Norway sovereignty, the territory is open to all nationals of the more than 40 nations that have now signed the pact. A population that used to be homogeneously white now includes Thais, Chinese and other foreigners. Nearly a third of all residents are foreigners, including hundreds of Ukrainians working in a mining concession owned by Russia.
norge  story  people  work 
october 2014 by aries1988
The Physical Exam as Refuge - NYTimes.com

Countless times, I have found that it is only during the physical exam that patients reveal what is truly on their mind. Whether it is the cough that they are reminded of now that I am listening to their lungs, or whether it is the domestic violence, the eating disorder or the genital symptoms that they feel comfortable revealing once we are in a more intimate setting — there is something about touch that changes the dynamic.

But then the doctor and patient move to the exam table, and everything changes. This is often the first moment that they can talk directly, without the impediment of technology. They are physically closer to each other, actually touching. This is an intimacy, albeit of the nonromantic type, but an intimacy nonetheless. And all intimacies have an effect of changing the dynamics of the interaction. Obviously, there is a risk of changing for the worse, but in my experience it is almost always a change for the better. Once a doctor and patient are at the exam table, touching, talking without the computer between them, conversation of a different sort is possible.
doctor  people  temoignage  body  medicine  opinion  psychology  human  communication  practice 
october 2014 by aries1988
How to Stop Time
Sometimes you see icons of him turned upside down like an hourglass in the hope that he’ll hurry up and help you get your work done so he can be set right-side up again.

Whatever you’re doing, aren’t you by nature procrastinating from doing something else? Seen in this light, procrastination begins to look a lot like just plain existing. But then along come its foot soldiers — guilt, self-loathing, blame.

The 21st-century capitalist world, in its never-ending drive for expansion, consecrates an always-on productivity for the sake of the greater fiscal health.
productivity  history  explained  opinion  society  people  time 
september 2014 by aries1988
Tech Rides Are Focus of Hostility in Bay Area
What is at issue, however, is not Silicon Valley’s creativity but its wealth, and the sense of entitlement that brings. The tech companies’ position on the buses is this: We’re not driving our own cars, jamming the roads and polluting the air. We spend our money here in San Francisco, keeping high-end waiters and baristas and boutiques salespeople gainfully employed. Be grateful.

The protesters, and increasingly the community, respond: If we parked at a bus stop for just a moment, we would get a $279 ticket. Tech buses do it with impunity. And how do you spend your money in San Francisco if you spend all day 30 miles away?
today  technology  people  life  city  money  usa 
september 2014 by aries1988
On a Warmer Planet, Which Cities Will Be Safest? - NYTimes.com
“The answer is the Pacific Northwest, and probably especially west of the Cascades,” said Ben Strauss, vice president for climate impacts and director of the program on sea level rise at Climate Central, a research collaboration of scientists and journalists. “Actually, the strip of coastal land running from Canada down to the Bay Area is probably the best,” he added. “You see a lot less extreme heat; it’s the one place in the West where there’s no real expectation of major water stress, and while sea level will rise there as everywhere, the land rises steeply out of the ocean, so it’s a relatively small factor.”

A report by United Van Lines looking at relocation trends in 2013 found that its customers were moving primarily for economic reasons — a new job, lower costs of living — or quality-of-life considerations that were not climate related, such as public transit or green space. Coincidentally, Oregon — a predicted climate-change winner — topped the list of inbound moves, followed by South Carolina, North Carolina, the District of Columbia and South Dakota. The top states for outbound moves were New Jersey, Illinois, New York, West Virginia and Connecticut.

“What we see is that people are actually moving into harm’s way,” said Thomas C. Peterson, principal scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. “They’re moving from relatively safe places in the Midwest to places along the Florida coast, where the risk has been increasing.”

“Summer in Minnesota is projected to be like the climate is in northern Oklahoma — the trees and the forests there, the crops that farmers plant,” said Dr. Peterson of NOAA, citing the 2009 National Climate Assessment. “You build houses differently in Minnesota versus Oklahoma, you lay railroad tracks differently.”
usa  future  weather  challenge  people  life  city 
september 2014 by aries1988
A Man and His Cat - NYTimes.com
Biologists call cats “exploitive captives,” an evocative phrase that might be used to describe a lot of relationships, not all of them interspecies. I made the mistake, early on, of feeding the cat first thing in the morning, forgetting that the cat could control when I woke up — by meowing politely, sitting on my chest and staring at me, nudging me insistently with her face, or placing a single claw on my lip. She refused to drink water from a bowl, coveting what she believed was the superior-quality water I drank from a glass. I attempted to demonstrate to the cat that the water we drank was the very same water by pouring it from my glass into her bowl right in front of her, but she was utterly unmoved, like a birther being shown Obama’s long-form Hawaiian birth certificate. In the end I gave in and began serving her water in a glass tumbler, which she had to stick her whole face into to drink from.

What our mass spending on products to pamper animals who seem happiest while rolling in feces or eating the guts out of rodents — who don’t, in fact, seem significantly less happy if they lose half their limbs — tells us about ourselves as a nation is probably also something we don’t want to know.

WHENEVER I felt embarrassed about factoring a house pet’s desires into major life decisions, some grown-up-sounding part of me told myself, it’s just a cat. It’s generally believed that animals lack what we call consciousness, although we can’t quite agree on what exactly this is, and how we can pretend to any certainty about what goes on in an animal’s head has never been made clear to me. To anyone who has spent time with an animal, the notion that they have no interior lives seems so counterintuitive, such an obdurate denial of the empathetically self-evident, as to be almost psychotic. I suspect that some of those same psychological mechanisms must have allowed people to rationalize owning other people.

We don’t know what goes on inside an animal’s head; we may doubt whether they have anything we’d call consciousness, and we can’t know how much they understand or what their emotions feel like. I will never know what, if anything, the cat thought of me. But I can tell you this: A man who is in a room with a cat — whatever else we might say about that man — is not alone.
pet  animal  people  life  story  best  essay  cat  love 
september 2014 by aries1988
New Statesman | Wouldn’t be seen dead there: what our choice of café says about us
A handful of “crossover” places aside though, there is hardly any mixing in the bars and cafés – the shisha and tea houses are the preserve of the locals of North African origin, the Bangladeshis congregate in the call shops and convenience stores, Chinese and Orthodox Jewish residents rarely socialise en masse in bars, while the more affluent white residents drink in the craft-beer bars and more design-oriented cafés that have sprung up in recent years.
people  mentality  race  society  today 
august 2014 by aries1988
Is Every Speed Limit Too Low?
Every year, traffic engineers review the speed limit on thousands of stretches of road and highway. Most are reviewed by a member of the state’s Department of Transportation, often along with a member of the state police, as is the case in Michigan. In each case, the “survey team” has a clear approach: they want to set the speed limit so that 15% of drivers exceed it and 85% of drivers drive at or below the speed limit. In its 1992 report, the U.S. Department of Transportation cautioned, “Arbitrary, unrealistic and nonuniform speed limits have created a socially acceptable disregard for speed limits.” Lt. Megge has worked on roads with a compliance rate of nearly zero percent, and a common complaint among those given traffic citations is that they were speeding no more than anyone else. With higher speed limits, Megge says, police officers could focus their resources on what really matters: drunk drivers, people who don’t wear seat belts, drivers who run red lights, and, most importantly, the smaller number of drivers who actually speed at an unreasonable rate.
people  behavior  traffic  opinion  driving  law  science 
august 2014 by aries1988
The Bearable Lightness of Being: How Germans Are Learning to Like Themselves - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Bajram Avdijaj, 47, immigrated to Germany from Albania 22 years ago. Today he works in one of the most international parts of Munich: at a fruit and vegetable stand at the Viktualienmarkt market in the city center.

But look at Germany now: It has indisputably become a nation of immigration. Figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2012 show Germany ranking second in the world after the United States in attracting permanent immigrants, beating out even such melting pots as Britain and Canada. Germany drew 400,000 immigrants described by the international body as permanent in 2012. For some time, people wanted to settle in Germany. Now they can, the barriers have been lowered — and not just at the border. In 2010, former German President Christian Wulff made headlines around the world when he said that Islam is now a part of Germany. It’s the kind of statement that cannot be reversed.

Recently, Berlin’s prestigious Grause Kloster high school held a commencement ceremony for its graduating class. In her speech, the head of the parent’s association made a plea for a more diverse school, noting that there were almost no children of immigrants. It was just one of many examples of how things are slowly changing, even in strongholds of homogeneity like this. The school, founded in 1871 by the German Empire, includes Otto von Bismarck among its alumni.

Germany is benefitting from the fact that it modernized its economy in the early 2000s, preparing itself for the 21st century. The lethargic Rhine Capitalism model, which saw stores close for the weekend at 2 p.m. on Saturday, is history. Both business and society have adjusted and become more flexible. Companies became more efficient and began targeting the needs of the booming developing world.

Recently, Berlin's prestigious Grause Kloster high school held a commencement ceremony for its graduating class. In her speech, the head of the parent's association made a plea for a more diverse school, noting that there were almost no children of immigrants. It was just one of many examples of how things are slowly changing, even in strongholds of homogeneity like this. The school, founded in 1871 by the German Empire, includes Otto von Bismarck among its alumni.

After the fall of the Wall, a sort of Wild East atmosphere prevailed in East Berlin -- life seemed to move faster than the law and regulations could. Many young West Germans picked up and moved, at the same time discovering a new sense of freedom together with the East Germans. They didn't bother to apply for licenses for their bars and clubs, they squatted buildings and danced, partied and lived wherever they pleased. It was cheap, there was lots of space, a sense of openness to other people and other ideas. It was an openness that also beckoned people from around the world. They answered the call, too, coming to Berlin in droves.

they all want to be in Berlin, to be photographed leaping in front of the Brandenburg Gate. They experience Berlin as a place where they can manifest their own lightness of being.

Describing his view of the world, the Schiller Institute writes, "a man's duty lies above his own personal inclinations, how he must be both a patriot and a world citizen, which can never imply a contradiction, for the true interests of any one nation can never be at odds with the interests of the world as a whole."

no other country has done as much to come to terms with the history of its crimes. It was necessary in order to ascertain what was inherently German about that history and if there's a danger of it repeating itself. It was also necessary in order to send a message to the world that people here understand what Germany wrought on the world. But it also created a sense of gloom that was not only difficult for Germans to endure, but sometimes for others as well.
germany  german  story  people  nation  patriotism  instapaper_favs  history 
july 2014 by aries1988
Views of China and India Slide While UK’s Ratings Climb: Global Poll
The overall slip in views of China is largely driven by a strong deterioration of perceptions within the EU, where the marked improvement seen last year did not continue. Views have declined sharply in the UK, Germany, France, and Spain. The change in Britons’ perceptions over the last year is particularly striking, as favourable views have dropped 20 points (down to 37%) while negative perceptions have surged (up 18 points to 50%). British opinion of Chinese influence has therefore shifted from positive in 2012 to firmly negative this year. Double-digit movement in both positive and negative views has pushed German opinion much deeper into negative territory (13% positive vs 67% negative in 2013, from 42% positive vs 47% negative in 2012). Attitudes toward China have worsened dramatically in France and in Spain, where the percentage of negative views are the highest and second- highest respectively (68% and 67%, up 19 points in both cases). Two countries surveyed for the first time this year, Greece and Poland, also yield negative results with respective pluralities of 41 and 38 per cent holding unfavourable views.
china  today  world  people 
july 2014 by aries1988
战后零年 – 桃花坞
"绝不重演"的决心让二战之后的世界格局发生了重大改变:以色列的建立是为了让欧洲的几百万犹太难民有一个自己的国家;日本和平宪法的确立是为了不让军国主义重新兴起;欧盟的组成是为了保持欧洲国家之间不再兵戎相见;联合国的建立是为了维护世界新秩序。但是生活在1945年的人们,大概也不会想到在和平到来之后,亚洲的许多地方还要经历几年的内战,东西方冷战即将开始,朝鲜战争将在几年后爆发,而德国人将会经历50多年的分裂局面。
book  ww2  story  reconciliation  war  people  life 
june 2014 by aries1988
也说瑞士的语言现状——写给世界母语日
其次,意大利经济的发展对瑞士南部意大利语的使用有相当大的推动作用。由于提契诺州虽在意大利境外却与意大利共享语言文化并且紧临意大利经济中心伦巴底大区(Lombardia),因此不少意大利企业和企业家选择在提契诺设立离岸公司,特别是在交通便利、风景优美的卢加诺。这样一来,瑞士意大利语就在经济文书、商业谈判、法律事务、会计核算、跨国交往中发挥重要作用,成为“实用”的语言工具。相应地,生命力自然也就非常旺盛。

我个人的感觉是,瑞士的历史正与其处于各大政治势力和宗教文化势力的交界地带有关。它的联盟和中立都是欧洲政治、军事、宗教、文化博弈的结果。也正因为如此,它能够“条块拼装”聚而不混,能够屹立不倒“保持”中立,也才能够背靠“三棵大树”好乘凉。

中国的少民地区从地图上看似乎有大面积的少民语言单语社区,然而即便是这些少民单语地区,其政治、经济、文化、科技等发展水平与内地和临近汉族地区的发展完全不可同日而语。相应地不可能实现“稳定的条块拼装”,并且人口流动和强势语言(汉语)作为主要交流工具的现象不可避免。在这样不利的条件下,少民地区还必须通过自身的努力对本地语言的发展和推广作努力。
language  people  today  comparison 
june 2014 by aries1988
How to protect your kids' privacy online
Persuading my kids to care about privacy wasn’t easy. To them, “privacy” was just a word that meant “no.” Privacy was the reason they couldn’t post videos on YouTube or sign up for kids’ social networks. Privacy is the reason I complained to their teachers about posting pictures of them on a blog that wasn’t password-protected. So I began my family privacy project by explaining to my daughter how strong passwords would let her keep secrets from me—and her nosy younger brother.

We began by using a password methodology known as Diceware, which produces passwords that are easy to remember but hard for hackers to crack. Diceware is deceptively simple: You roll a six-sided die five times and use the results to pick five random words from the Diceware word list, which contains 7,776 short English words. The resulting passwords look something like this: “alger klm curry blond puck.”

Harriet even started to like DuckDuckGo, a privacy-protecting search engine whose logo is a cheerful duck in a bow tie. I set it up as her default search engine, and she happily showed the duck off to her friends.
howto  people  internet  privacy  tool  future 
february 2014 by aries1988
Great Falls, une leçon d'Amérique
Oui, je suis une sorte de Martien à Great Falls. Même lorsque nous parlons de «libertés», nous n'en avons pas la même expérience ni la même pratique, des deux côtés de l'Atlantique. C'est vrai également pour l'Histoire. Les Américains ne se sont pas rassemblés, comme nous, autour d'une ethnie, d'une langue, d'une tradition religieuse spécifique ou d'un territoire, en étant ballottés par les aléas de l'époque, la sagesse ou la folie de souverains. Ils ont fabriqué leur Histoire autour de leur Constitution, c'est-à-dire exclusivement autour de principes politiques. C'est une volonté qui les unit.
usa  people  zeitgeist 
february 2014 by aries1988
Jason Irwin dot See Eh? | Isolation
This is common whenever I try to strike up a conversation with people around town, even when it's just simple small talk. I'll admit that these interactions are more for me than the other person, as I'm trying to improve my Japanese, but I also believe that people enjoy communicating with each other from time to time. This isn't Canada where everybody will ask your name and how your family is doing with every coffee purchase, and the culture is such that people working in retail are treated worse than dog poop on the sidewalk, yet there is still the fundamental need people have for communication ... no?

Clearly not. It's not in the culture of city-dwellers to communicate with others, as strangers are threats. Speaking to foreigners is also taboo, as that would draw too much attention. We must keep to ourselves, perform the functions we're expected to perform, and wait until we can punch out to relax and shrug off our cloak of socially-mandated isolation.

There are a lot of things that I like about living in Japan. I just wish it were easier to talk to people.
people  life  japan  gaijin 
november 2013 by aries1988
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