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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘globalization

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • Anthropology.net notes the embarrassing discovery that one of the vertebrae believed to have been part of the skeleton of early hominid Lucy actually belonged to a baboon.
  • Antipope Charlie Stross comes up with another worrisome explanation for the Great Filter.
  • BlogTO visits the Toronto offices of photo community site 500px.
  • Centauri Dreams features a guest essay from Ashley Baldwin about near- and medium-term search strategies and technologies for exoplanets.
  • Crooked Timber examines problems with non-copyright strategies.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper noting oddities in the protoplanetary disk of AA Tauri.
  • The Dragon’s Tales considers how how to make enduring software.
  • Mathew Ingram notes that Rolling Stone encountered ruin with the story of Jackie by wanting it to be true.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a New York City artist who took pictures of people in adjacent condos won the privacy suit put against him.
  • Language Hat looks at foreign influence in the French language.
  • Language Log links to a study of Ronald Reagan’s speeches that finds evidence of his progression to Alzheimer’s during the presidency.
  • Languages of the World considers the geopolitics of a military strike against the Iranian nuclear program.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues that Jonah Lehrer was not treated unfairly.
  • Marginal Revolution approves of Larry Kramer’s new GLBT-themed history of the United States.
  • Justin Petrone at North contrasts Easter as celebrated in Estonian and Russian churches.
  • Savage Minds features an essay in support of the BDS movement aimed against Israel.
  • Spacing engages David Miller on the need of urbanites to have access to nature.
  • Torontoist notes the popularity of a bill against GLBT conversion therapy at Queen’s Park.
  • Towleroad observes the beginning of an opera about Grindr.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy takes issue with Gerry Trudeau’s criticism of cartoons which satirize Islam.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at a Tatar woman who kept Islam alive in Soviet Moscow, argues that the sheer size of Donbas means that Russia cannot support it, looks at the centrality of the Second World War in modern Russia, and suggests the weak Ukrainian state but strong civil society is the inverse of the Russian situation.

[LINK] “An Official Language from a Foreign Land”

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Starting from an examination of the French language in Mali, Crooked Timber’s Juliet Sorenson starts an interesting debate on the utility of having a foreign language be a local official language. Neutrality in local cultural clashes is one benefit; links with the wider world and with the past are another.

French is the language of instruction from elementary through graduate school, the language of court proceedings and official documents. But according to linguists, Mali has no less than 66 languages spoken across its vast plain.

[. . .]

Many Malians have assured me that there is an upside to their official language: it is predictable and uniform, without favoring one native language or local group over another. To be sure, French is the language of Mali’s colonial past: France governed Mali as a colony from 1892 to 1960, when Mali and France agreed peacefully to Mali’s independence. While one might assume that this translates into present-day resentment, in Mali, yesterday’s colonizer is today’s ally: in January 2013, the French led a military campaign called Operation Serval to stop Islamist rebels aiming to take over the country. According to a poll conducted by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in February 2013, 97 percent of Malians approved of the French intervention.

So perhaps an official non-native language is a useful thing. Nonetheless, the problem of illiteracy and inaccessibility remains. For these reasons, the role of local news organizations broadcasting in local languages is vital. In Douentza, where we work, the local public radio station broadcasts the day’s news in Fulani- the most widely spoken language in the area- daily at 6 p.m. Founded in 1993, Rural Radio Daande Douentza was originally founded to provide local residents with information about politics, democracy, and rights. In addition, the station offers programming on health, agricultural work, the environment, social issues, local and international news, local announcements and plenty of local and national music.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 10, 2015 at 9:46 pm

[LINK] “The suspension of intervention”

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Lysiane Gagnon at The Globe and Mail writes about how international jurist Louise Arbour now rejects the Responsibility to Protect doctrine that she helped form, as unworkable and dangerous.

Former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour was one of the main architects of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine that has shaped Western policies in recent years. She was chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

[. . .]

One could go further and conclude that initiatives like the International Criminal Court and the R2P theory have actually been tragically counterproductive. The international court almost exclusively pits a tribunal based on Western legal values against Third World war criminals. But “the initiation and unfolding of criminal prosecution,” Ms. Arbour now concedes, “can complicate if not impede peace processes.” One wonders whether the slower, reconciliatory approach used in countries such as Rwanda and South Africa isn’t preferable.

What is certain is that the West has failed in its efforts to force its notion of human rights on countries that have yet to develop them internally, Ms. Arbour told Mr. Saunders. As for the R2P doctrine, a theory that Ms. Arbour once promoted and that was later adopted by the UN Security Council, she concludes that it is a failure.

The 2011 North Atlantic Treaty Organization military intervention in Libya is the most obvious case in point. The bombing – a response to a verbal threat uttered by dictator Moammar Gadhafi against rebels based in Benghazi – resulted in the collapse of the country, which has become a failed state and a launching ground for terrorist organizations.

R2P was based on ideas espoused by the likes of Samantha Power, an academic who became U.S. ambassador to the UN, who was among those outraged by how the free world looked the other way during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Thus was born the idea that the duty to prevent crimes against humanity should take precedence over state sovereignty. The humanitarian left embraced it, conveniently overlooking that George W. Bush’s infamous invasion of Iraq in 2003 was based on exactly the same idea.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 9, 2015 at 10:39 pm

Posted in Politics

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[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO shows the scope of the construction at College and Spadina, as streetcar track work continues.
  • Centauri Dreams examines the evidence for a subsurface ocean on Ganymede.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining a very early Sun-like star and its debris belt, noting evidence that massive collisions are quite common.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper examining the thickness of the ice covering Europa’s ocean, suggesting it might be 28 kilometres.
  • Mathew Ingram notes how he and other GigaOM writers are now writing for Fortune.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money places the Germanwings mass murder in the context of the precarious nature of airplane pilots’ careers.
  • The Planetary Society Blog examines the very thin atmospheres of Io and Callisto.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog celebrates 100 thousand page views.
  • Towleroad notes how pro-gay ads help normalize depictions of queer lives.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy is concerned about the impact of ignorant voters.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Russian interest in making participation in censuses mandatory, observes fragile leadership in post-Soviet countries, and notes virtual republics declared by pro-Russians in southern Ukraine.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • blogTO shares vintage photos of Weston Road.
  • Centauri Dreams features a guest post on the fast radio bursts that had all astir.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper about the circumstellar disk of AB Aurigae.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes problems with Russia’s development of a stealth fighter.
  • Language Hat links to an examination of the way the words “chikungunya” and “dengue” are used to describe the same disease.
  • Languages of the World takes a look at one dying Russian dialect of Alaska.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money is surprised anyone is surprised Britain is spying on Argentina.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that demand in China and India is already driving research and development.
  • Peter Rukavina looks at the mechanics of the Internet presences of Island political parties.
  • Savage Minds announces the return of the intermittant online anthropological journal Anthropologies.
  • Transit Toronto links to a collection of Greater Toronto Area transit news.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy reacts at length to the finding of the report on Rolling Stone‘s mistaken rape story, noting that the fraternity in question has a good case for libel.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Crimean Tatar news outlet closures and notes that Ukrainian government ministers widely speak English.

[LINK] “Korean-language classes are growing in popularity at U.S. colleges”

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Via NPR’s Codeswitch I found Larry Gordon’s Los Angeles Times article looking at the growing popularity of Korean language lessons in the American higher education system. The Korean wave is breaking on American shores, it turns out.

According to a recent national study, enrollment in Korean language courses at U.S. colleges and universities showed the largest percentage growth of any foreign language. The Modern Language Assn. reported that Korean language enrollment rose 45% from 2009 to 2013. Overall, language studies declined by 6.7% during that same period, and interest dropped in many popular ones, including Spanish, French and German.

The number of students in Korean classes nationwide — 12,230 — is well below the most studied languages, including Japanese, Chinese and Arabic. Currently, just 154 colleges offer Korean, but that is 70% more than a decade ago.

“There’s no doubt that Korean popular culture in film and music has captivated the minds of young people,” said Rosemary Feal, executive director of the Modern Language Assn.

She attributed the dip in overall foreign language studies to campus budget cutbacks and the pressure students feel to focus on career-oriented classes, such as science and business, at the expense of humanities. That decline has occurred, Feal said, even though “knowledge of a second language often is helpful in many positions and translates into increased salary.”

According to university officials and professors, some of the interest in Korean is coming from the children and grandchildren of Korean immigrants. But non-Koreans fascinated with contemporary culture are leading the trend.

Some were drawn by the K-pop dance moves of Psy in his 2012 international video hit “Gangnam Style” or by the English-subtitled TV series “Queen of Housewives.” And some by the prospect of jobs at Korean corporations.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 7, 2015 at 7:45 pm

[LINK] “Bakhtin’s Europe and the Greek Novel”

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The New APPS Blog’s Barry Stocker comes up with a definition of European identity after Bakhtin.

The ‘average’ reading of Bakhtin most in circulation, as far as I can see, is that we can tale the novel as a literary form particularly devoted to plurality of voices, and inclusion of the colloquial, going back to the genre of Menippean Satire, particularly the Satyricon of Petronius written in Rome in the first century CE. That all fits in with a Roman oriented history of Rome, not excluding Greece, but leaving Homer as the representative of a Europe which is hierarchical in social structure and ornate-rhetorical in aesthetic style.

My recent reading in Bakhtin does not exactly contradict this, but has drawn my attention to what it seems to me is an under-represented aspect of at least the most familiar kinds of assumptions about Bakhtin. He gives considerable importance to an Ancient and Medieval Greek heritage for the development of the novel. The Greek novel, also referred to as a Sophist novel, is placed in Roman history from the second to the sixth centuries, so the time in which the Roman Empire passed from its peak, or what has traditionally been regarded as the golden age of the Five Good Emperors to the collapse of the Roman Empire in the west, though of course not in the east, where is carried on centred on the New Rome of Constantinople.

The collapse of the Empire in the west is conventionally linked with the deposition of the last Emperor in Italy, for which anyway there are two date, 476 (the most familiar) and 480, depending on who is accepted as the last reigning Emperor in Italy, though in terms of the reality of power the Rome-Italy centred western Empire disappeared in the 450s when the ‘Emperor’ became the puppet of the chief German ‘barbarian’ leader in Italy. Significantly for the purposes of this post, there is an argument for saying that the Empire in the west fell in 550, so the sixth century, when Justinian’s reconquest of the city was reversed so that the city was never under a ‘Roman Emperor’ again or not in the sense of the direct line of Roman Emperors, leaving aside titles given to German kings later in the Middle Ages.

So Bakthin’s choice of the sixth century as the end of the Greek Novel, signifies the end of western Rome and the emergence of a distinct empire, in which Greek language and culture were dominant, in the sixth century. Bakhtin thinks of the ‘Byzantine’ novel as the successor to the Greek novel. Byzantine was a name given to eastern Rome sometime after it was swallowed up the Ottomans, so its usage is rather questionable, but it has stuck. Anyway, the context here is that Bakhtin thinks of the novel as having a Greek version, which refers to places outside Italy and the western Empire, or indeed the whole Empire.

Bakhtin’s emphasis on Rabelais as well as Petronius, may give the impression of literary thinking that works within a western canon. However, despite what some people seem to assume it is no accident that Bakhtin focuses on Rabelais rather than another Great Work of Renaissance to Early Modern western Europe, like Don Quixote. Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel appeals to Bakhtin, because it is Greek and ‘Byzantine’, by his standards, because it is more open to the life oriented forces of the folk, the peasantry, in its craziness, structural strangeness, and obscenity. Bakhtin is Russian folk centred enough for him to take up a west European work he finds close to what he values without being chauvinistic enough to reject French literature.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 7, 2015 at 7:38 pm

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