Stories from Quick Reads and East Asia
The statement urged Thammasat University and other higher education institutions to uphold academic freedom and free speech:
To think differently is not a crime. If one cannot do so within the walls of the university, spaces of learning and the pursuit of truth, then the space to do so outside those walls will dwindle as well.
Papuan Voices is a video advocacy initiative that highlights the struggles of the people of West Papua, a province of Indonesia. West Papua has been struggling to be an independent state although this conflict from Indonesia is not widely reported in the media.
The team of Coconuts TV went to south Sumatra in Indonesia to document the impact of the burning of peatlands and forests to make way for the expanding palm oil plantations. The burning of forests in Sumatra is causing the displacement of endangered species in the island; and it also creates a deadly haze that affects Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Korean Air Lines vice president has made numerous headlines, both locally and internationally, for her arrogant behavior on a recent flight out. She randomly accused a crew member of serving macadamia nuts ‘incorrectly’ and even she ordered a plane back to the gate to remove the crew member out of the plane. No wonder this sensational story has become one of the trending topics in social media. Among numerous internet jokes, parody photos and even a cartoon by Japanese users, one stood out most would be a game mocking the Airplane nuts fiasco. A Korean web developer, Tai-hwan Hah (@duecorda) made a simple game entitlted ‘Crew Members’ Tycoon’ [ko]. However you play, you get the same result of the crew member being yelled at and hearing the sentence ‘You! Get out of the plane!’ — the very word the vice president allegedly said to the crew.
The winners of a popular contest to find Japan's most “adorably ugly” cats (busukawa neko) have taken over select trains on Tokyo's Yamanote Line.
— 鉄道新聞 公式アカウント (@tetsudoshimbun) November 13, 2014
The Yamanote Line is full of “adorably ugly” (busukawa) cats!
Many train lines in Japan are already plastered with print advertising. Now, for two weeks in November and early December, the Yamonote Line, the loop line that travels around central Tokyo, is decked out in photos of the winning cats. A YouTube video titled “Canon's Adorably Ugly Cat Campaign Hijacks Tokyo Trains to Promote New PIXUS Printer” offers a glimpse:
The campaign is sponsored by PIXUS, a line of Canon desktop printers, and offers a grand prize of 100,000 yen (US$10,000). Out of nearly 6,000 submissions, 288 finalists and prizewinners ended up displayed on the train.
One lucky cat won the top prize:
— ブサかわ猫ちゃん レオンくん (@busakawaleon) November 12, 2014
And here is the grand prize winner! The photo's title: “Ultimate Relaxation.”
There were a variety of runners-up. This cat won second place in the contest:
— ブサかわ猫ちゃん レオンくん (@busakawaleon) November 12, 2014
And here is the second-place prize. The title: “No f-ing way, man.” The golden color of this cat's coat perfectly balances the fine silver fur of our grand prize winner.
As the purpose of the contest was to promote Canon's new printer, many of the cats were awarded prizes according to how well their ugly mugs might accessorize a variety of personal belongings.
— ブサかわ猫ちゃん レオンくん (@busakawaleon) November 12, 2014
And the winner for “would look best printed on a handbag” is “May I eat a sticky bun?”
— ブサかわ猫ちゃん レオンくん (@busakawaleon) November 12, 2014
Here is the winner of “would look best printed on a T-shirt”!!! This cat has tickled the fancy of T-shirt designers everywhere!
The cacophony of ugly cat images has become quite popular with Japanese commuters, who have posted photos of the decked-out trains on social media.
— ブサかわ猫ちゃん レオンくん (@busakawaleon) November 18, 2014
山手線がやばーい。PIXUSの宣伝電車になってる！ わたしが乗った車両ははブサかわ猫ちゃんグランプリって書いてあって、ブサ猫ちゃんの写真で埋め尽くされてる！ カレンダーにしたくなるで賞だって＼(^o^)／ pic.twitter.com/s2AeVUfahj
— エイミー@19戦13勝6敗 (@kiyota1ban) November 21, 2014
The Yamonote Line is CRAZY! It's turned into a total advertisement for PIXUS. The carriage is absolutely plastered with adorably ugly cat pictures. Now I totally want to make a calendar! ＼(^o^)／
Young Burmese activists displayed banners during a forum attended by United States President Barack Obama in Myanmar. The activists reminded Obama that the so-called democratic reforms implemented by the military-backed government are either fake or illusory.
— Sonny Lê (@sonnylebythebay) November 15, 2014
Foxconn, a Taiwanese company and Apple company's subcontractor in China, has been criticized for its labour management policy, which has resulted in high number of workplace suicides. Nao, a pro-grassroots group, translated poems of Xu Lizhi, a Foxconn worker who committed suicide on 30 September 2014, at the age of 24, in Shenzhen, China. Below is one of the poems:
“A Kind of Prophecy”
Village elders say
I resemble my grandfather in his youth
I didn’t recognize it
But listening to them time and again
Won me over
My grandfather and I share
Almost as if we came from the same womb
They nicknamed him “bamboo pole”
And me, “clothes hanger”
He often swallowed his feelings
I'm often obsequious
He liked guessing riddles
I like premonitions
In the autumn of 1943, the Japanese devils invaded
and burned my grandfather alive
at the age of 23.
This year I turn 23.
– 18 June 2013
The Public Liberties and Human Rights department at Aljazeera, in co-operation with several international organizations have produced a video about the campaign to end impunity for crimes against journalists:
The video supports the UN resolution on the “Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity”:
The United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/68/163 at its 68th session in 2013 which proclaimed 2 November as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’. The Resolution urged Member States to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity. The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013.
The LGBT Muslims blog identified 5 Muslim nations where the legal system does not outlaw homosexuality. The 5 countries are : Mali, Jordan, Indonesia, Turkey and Albania. While the law in these countries does not criminalize gay lifestyles, the LGBT Muslims blog points out that LGBT communities still suffer from discrimination and non-negligible pressure to remain discreet regarding their lifestyles. Still, the main take away lesson is that gay rights may be more advanced than most would believe in the aforementioned countries.
Below is an edited version of “The Translation Detail Everyone Missed in the China Internet's Incredibly Surreal Anthem“ by Jason Li, originally published on the blog 88 Bar and republished here as part of a content-sharing agreement.
In case you missed it, the New York Times, ProPublica, the Guardian and the Atlantic all wrote about this incredibly surreal but voted best of event anthem celebrating China’s glorious Internet. Thanks to ProPublica, we have a subtitled YouTube video above.
As James Fallows at the Atlantic pointed out, one of the most stirring phrases in the song that is repeated eight times during the chorus is 网络强国. The New York Times and ProPublica both translated this as “Internet power,” while Fallows points out that:
English speakers might think of “Internet power” as comparable to “soft power” or “girl power” or “people power.” But to my amateur eye there is a more explicit connotation of China’s becoming a national power in cyberspace. I’m sure Chinese speakers will tell me if I’m wrong to read 强国 as meaning a powerful country, as in “rise and fall of the great powers” etc. Thus the refrain would emphasize “a powerful Internet country.” The impression I got from this was of a strongly nationalistic message about a supposedly borderless medium.
I wanted to add to the translation and confirm Fallows’ viewpoint by examining one of the lines from the chorus:
Both the New York Times (Paul Mozur) and ProPublica (Sisi Wei and Yue Qiu) translate this to some variant of: “An Internet power: Tell the world that the Chinese Dream is uplifting China.” (Emphasis mine.)
Actually, the line in Chinese does not end with the phrase “China” (中国) but “the greater Chinese” (大中华). Not only does “the greater Chinese” sometimes mean Greater China, but it also hints at overseas Chinese people (华人 or 华侨) and, as Fallows put it, the “borderless” greater Chinese culture/civilization.
Malaysia is the new chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for the year 2015. This year is crucial for ASEAN as the region takes steps to achieve full integration as a united community. The new logo represents “harmony, close partnership and aspiration of the people from the ten ASEAN countries aimed at achieving the shared vision” of the community.
Although the focus was translation and interpretation of classic Chinese books, the necessity of learning a new language when studying a culture or being able to use the language in politics were also addressed. Two lecturers caught the interest of Ruiz, Alicia Relinque and Eduardo Daniel Oviedo. About their talks, Ruiz notes:
Relinque, nos explicó muy brevemente su experiencia personal como traductora y cómo a lo largo del tiempo ha ido cambiando su metodología en función de la obra a traducir e incluso a veces por los requisitos impuestos desde la editorial. Seguidamente expuso varios ejemplos de traducciones de otros autores
(Oviedo) trataba del papel que juega actualmente el chino como elemento integrador de la sociedad china, así como la lucha que tiene con otros idiomas para ser la lengua hegemónica a medida que crece el poder político y económico de la República Popular China, mientras expande su influencia a otras regiones del mundo de cara a la formación de una lengua global.
Relinque briefly explained us her personal experience as translator and how as time went by she has been changing her methodology according to the text to be translated and sometimes even according to the requirements by the publisher. She then talked about several translations by other authors
(Oviedo) addressed the role currently played by Chinese language as unifying element in Chinese society, as well as the struggle it has with other languages to be the hegemonic language as Popular Republic of China's political and economic power grows, as it expands its influence to other regions of the world in regards to the formation of a global language.
Now it's time to wait for the second edition on 2016 and the possibility for the Autonomous University of Barcelona to organize it. That hasn't been decided yet.
— Kendra Desrosiers (@KD) December 6, 2014
Two recent court decisions in the US exonerating police officers who killed two black men — 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and 43-year-old Eric Garner in New York — has sparked demonstrations across the country. The African American Youth Travel Program (AAYTP) organised a protest against police brutality, racism and injustice on December 6 in solidarity with the protests in the US and around the world.
One protest occurred in Tokyo.
If you're looking for a breathtaking view and aren't afraid of heights, the “Sky Cycle” in Okayama Prefecture's Brazilian Washuzan Highland park is definitely worth a ride.
Photos of the Sky Cycle have been appearing on Twitter recently, thanks likely to the striking image found below of a tandem bicycle overlooking the park from an elevated railway.
— Mulboyne (@Mulboyne) November 17, 2014
Washuzan is located at the northern end of the Great Seto Bridge, a massive structure that spans Japan's Inland Sea to connect the island of Honshu to the north with the island of Shikoku to the south. The bridge is a true marvel of engineering, stretching more than 13 kilometers (8 miles) over the ocean.
The bridge is also a beautiful site, which of course is why an amusement park was built at its base.
The soaring, slightly scary Sky Cycle ride, with its magnificent view, is perfect fodder for Japanese prime time television:
Caption: The fearsome Sky Cycle of Washuzan
While Brazil's connection to the area (and hence the name) remains unclear, it is worth nothing that many Brazilians of Japanese ancestry were recruited to work in nearby industrial areas.
Japan's countryside is dotted with large amusement parks, many bearing ethnic themes, that date back to the affluent years of the Bubble era. International travel was still a novelty for many Japanese people then, and ethnically named theme parks provided a glimpse of foreign cultures without the expense of traveling abroad.
The remote area of Niigata, for example, was once home to the Kashiwazaki Turkish Culture Village. Meanwhile, visitors to Nagasaki in Japan's far west could visit a theme park filled with life-size replicas of Dutch heritage buildings.
It's also customary in Japan to include an amusement part at prominent national landmarks like the Great Seto Bridge. Even Mount Fuji has its own park, Fuji-Q Highland. There, thrill-seekers can gaze upon Mount Fuji's slopes as they endure punishing g-forces aboard the park's famed roller coasters.
— たみ (@tamiho_29) November 16, 2014
We made it to Fuji-Q!
Okayama Prefecture's Brazilian Washuzan Highland seems to take the cake, however. Japanese Internet users are dubbing it the world's weirdest theme park.
It's said that the Internet runs on cats. Japan is no different, although cute dogs can quickly become the subject of massively popular memes too.
One of the most popular omoshiro neta (cool internet memes) in Japan at the moment is a dog with an unusual coat:
変わった毛色のハスキーだとずっと思っていたこのわんこ、ヤクーチアン・ライカ（yakutian laika）と言う犬種らしい。惚れた pic.twitter.com/MT8htG0shV
— ルゥ (@LoupGarou12) November 11, 2014
While I thought for the longest time this was a Husky with an unusual markings, it turns out this doggy is actually a breed called a Yakutian Laika. I think I'm in love!
In just two days, @LoupGarou12's post about the Yakutian Laika has been re-tweeted 8,500 times and has been marked as a favorite 12,000 times on Twitter.
Another popular Twitter meme is this cat:
— ( ‿i‿) お尻 (@OshiriT) November 10, 2014
Cat being sucked face-first into car.
So far the image has been re-tweeted 26,000 times since the beginning of the week and has 36,000 favorites.
Meanwhile, this cat has also become Internet-famous in Japan:
— 松永 (@mntk129) November 5, 2014
Looks more similar than I had ever imagined.
Dogs that behave like cats are also popular on the Japanese internet.
2年間ネコと暮らし猫みたいな仕草をするハスキー(｀･ω･´)可愛いにゃりわんにゃんにゃり(p`･ω･´) q pic.twitter.com/uUSgdERgKN
— ネコ社(nekosha) (@caracalnyanko) November 5, 2014
For two years our Husky has acted just like a cat. (｀･ω･´) Too cute! (p`･ω･´) q
EarthRights International has uploaded a video about the threat posed by a mega dam construction in Laos to communities situated along the Mekong River in Cambodia. Laos and Cambodia are neighbors in the Southeast Asian region.
Jason Li has translated a letter written by a web user named Cherish to her parents, which was published on citizen media website inmediahk.net, and turned it into a comic. The letter addresses the generational conflict triggered by the Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong.
Most of the pro-democracy protesters are under the age of 45 and grew up in a politicized Hong Kong society following the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. On the other hand, those older than 45 are mainly migrants from mainland China who settled in Hong Kong with a hope of improving their family's living conditions.
Take a look at what Cherish said to her parents:
A satoyama school in rural Toyama Prefecture Japan's Hokuriku “north lands” that was closed down earlier this spring has been given new life.
Satoyama is a term rich with meaning in Japan, and broadly refers to an intensively cultivated land that blends in with the surrounding environment. Much of rural Japan was once such satoyama, where wet rice cultivation not only depended on clean water flowing from the surrounding hills, but the rice fields played a keystone role in supporting a rich, vibrant ecosystem.
A satoyama school, then, resided at the heart of a community, serving as a method for transferring important lessons about land stewardship to future generations who would continue to live in and help sustain the satoyama. As Japan's rural population declines, over the past two decades these schools have continued to shut down.
In the case of the Toyama school, a group of local parents, caregivers and other volunteers have resurrected the school and have called it Hirotan No Mori, or Hirotan Forest. The repurposed school, now a community NGO, posts photos and information about classes and events on their Facebook page.
The purpose of Hirotan Forest is to provide local children of all ages the opportunity to experience nature. The school is located about 30 minutes by car from the small rural city of Takaoka in Toyama, quite close to the Japan Sea coast.
Hirotan Forest gives kids a chance to experience the traditional pursuits of rural kids: digging up bamboo shoots, gathering to watch fireflies in June, and making traditional crafts out of bamboo. In November there are plans to give children the opportunity to build a treehouse in the forest.
The idea is to teach children about rural traditions while allowing them to experience a deeper connection with the natural world. The hope is to pass on methods of living within and protect their satoyama and at the same time learn how to enjoy both working and passing time in the surrounding forest.
Ultimately, the satoyama school and Hirotan Forest are also all about preserving a way of life that is vanishing in the rest of Japan as the population ages.
The six-day Mercedes Fashion Week kicked off in Tokyo on October 13 and culminated on October 19. Fashion Week is all about launching hot new 2015 fashions from the planet's biggest brands, with daily runway events and fashion exhibitions.
For nearly 20 years Mercedes Benz has sponsored “fashion weeks” all over the world in fashion centers such as New York, Paris and Milan. The Tokyo show marks the start of a series of events all over the world this fall taking place in 20 cities all over the world.
As one of the “top 5 cities,” Tokyo was for one week the center of attention in the global fashion scene.
— StyleFT (@StyleFTDaily) 2014, 10月 14
— ミーシャ mishajanette (@FashionTubuyaki) 2014, 10月 13
It's a party atmosphere filled with celebrities, events, and plenty of high fashion.
Kicking off the festival on October 13th was “MORI HANAE designed by Yu Amatsu”, an exhibit showcasing a new collection by Hanae Mori, a young designer with a bright future, while introducing a new brand by Mori Hanae.
— n↨oriyuki (@ex1227) 2014, 10月 13
Fashion journalist, stylist, and blogger Misha Janette writes in Japanese and English about her impressions as a newcomer to Tokyo Fashion week:
* BE. ON. TIME. I cannot iterate this enough. I know that the rule of thumb for overseas shows is “Leave your hotel the same time the show is scheduled to start and still be on time.” But this is Tokyo, where train conductors will get on hands and knees to apologize for being a minute late. Get to the show a few minutes early, or at least *right* on time, or you WILL miss it.
* ….take the train. It’s true that traffic in Tokyo is not nearly as terrible as it is in every other fashion city (um, an HOUR to get from SOHO to midtown?? And in Paris I had to run from the taxi to the metro or I would have missed the Chanel show). And yes, it’s easier to get a cab than any other city, too. But most shows are conveniently held at the Hikarie shopping complex connected to Shibuya station and taking the train is not seen as so bourgeois as it is in other world cities. Taxis in Tokyo are some of the most expensive in the world (starting 710yen=USD$7 for 2km) so honestly, if you’re taking cabs every where you’re just being stupid and unadventurous.
* Seats don’t have name reservations. Seats come on a first come first serve-ish basis, and the heirarchy is a bit different than overseas. TOP: Business partners, long-time friends. NEXT: Media, in age from oldest people to youngest, despite who they write for. LAST: Media, who are new to the brand, despite who they write for. NOSEBLEED: Buyers.
To keep on top of events at Tokyo Fashion Week, follow the Facebook page.