A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘southeast asia

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • blogTO notes that the cash-strapped CBC may be forced to sell its iconic downtown Toronto headquarters.
  • James Bow reflects on winter in Kitchener-Waterloo.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper studying the relationship between exoplanets and circumstellar dust discs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a simulation of the polar atmosphere of Venus and notes concerns that India’s Hindustan Aeronautics might not be able to manufacture French Rafale fighters under contract.
  • Far Outliers notes Madeleine Albright’s incomprehension of Cambodia’s late 1990s struggles and looks at the way the country lags its neighbours.
  • The Frailest Thing notes how human traffic errors reveal we’re not quite up to some of the tasks we’d like.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Finland’s president has signed a marriage bill into existence.
  • Languages of the World notes the problem of where the homeland of the Indo-Europeans was located.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the often-ignored pattern of lynching Mexicans in the United States.
  • Marginal Revolution notes (1, 2) the problems of human beings with algorithmic, computer-driven planning.
  • Otto Pohl notes how Germans in Kyrgyzstan were forced into labour battalions.
  • pollotenchegg looks at demographic indicators in Ukraine over the past year, noting a collapse in the east.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at deep history, looking at the involvement of war in state-building in Africa and noting the historically recent rise of inequality in Latin America.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at one Russian’s proposal to give a Ukrainian church self-government, notes Russia’s inability to serve as a mentor to China, and looks at rural depopulation in the North Caucasus and South Russia.

[LINK] “Rogue ‘Electro-Fishing’ Puts River Dolphins at Risk in Myanmar”

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National Geographic‘s Hereward Holland describes how an age-old history of cooperation between dolphins and Burmese fishers is being undermined by new destructive fishing techniques.

On a pale blue dawn on the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar (Burma), Maung Lay crouched at the front of his canoe, rapping the gunwale with a short stick. He then made a throaty, high-pitched purr, like the ringtone of an old telephone: his call for assistance.

On cue, the shiny gray flipper of a dolphin broke the surface and waved—dolphinese for: “We’re ready to cooperate.”

Standing up, Maung Lay pulled a pleated net over his right elbow and shook the lead weights woven into its hem against the hull. At the other end of the 15-foot (5-meter) boat, an assistant splashed the water with an oar.

More dolphins arrived, exhaling heavily as they breached the surface, their mission to corral schools of fish around the canoe. After about a minute, a dolphin flicked its tailfin out of the water, a sort of aquatic thumbs up. Maung Lay responded by casting his net in a wide arc into the tea-brown water.

But when he hauled the net back in, it was empty—not a single fish.

Such scenes are increasingly common on the Irrawaddy River. That’s because of “electro-fishing”—a new, and illegal, technique in which rogue fishermen send an electric current through the water to stun fish, making them easier to scoop up in bunches.

The tactic is depleting the fish stocks that feed the already endangered Irrawaddy dolphins and is thought to have inadvertently killed two dolphins. It also seems to have made some dolphins wary of helping legitimate fishermen round up fish, a longtime tradition on the river.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 20, 2015 at 11:08 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • io9 notes that kale, cauliflower, and collards all are product of the same species.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze speculates on the detection of Earth analogues late in their lifespan and notes the failure to discover a predicted circumbinary brown dwarf at V471 Tauri.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares Lockheed’s suggestion that it is on the verge of developing a 300-kilowatt laser weapon.
  • Far Outliers considers the question of who is to blame for the Khmer Rouge.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that One Million Moms is hostile to the free WiFi of McDonald’s.
  • Spacing Toronto notes an 1855 circus riot sparked by a visit of clowns to the wrong brothel.
  • Torontoist notes how demographic changes in different Toronto neighbourhoods means some schools are closing while others are straining.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes a California court ruling not recognizing the competence of the Iranian judicial system in a civil case on the grounds of its discrimination against religious minorities and women.
  • Window on Eurasia considers the implications of peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine, notes the steady integration of Abkhazia and South Ossetia into Russia, and notes Russian fascism.

[LINK] “Being Chinese in Singapore”

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Tash Aw’s opinion piece in The New York Times about how Chinese Singaporeans don’t actually feel Chinese is a fascinating meditation on identity and diasporas.

Festooned with red lanterns and banners bearing auspicious messages, the ornate façade of the 19th-century Thian Hock Keng temple in downtown Singapore seems even more flamboyant than usual. The temple is readying itself for its busiest time of the year: Over the next few weeks thousands of worshipers will make offerings and pray for a favorable Chinese New Year. It’s a time when even the least conscientious of temple-goers, like me, make an effort to maintain the customs that link them to their heritage.

[. . .] In 2013, the government published a white paper that laid down plans for sustaining economic growth and increasing the population from about 5.3 million to 6.5 to 6.9 million by 2030. In an already densely populated island with limited space for new construction, the plan sparked widespread debate and unprecedented public protests: Given Singapore’s low birth rate, this increase in numbers would have to be fueled by immigrants — largely, it was presumed by many, from China.

On the face of it, few cultural mergers could be more seamless. Singapore’s multilingual educational system treats Mandarin as a de facto second language after English. Almost half a century ago, the country adopted the simplified system of writing Chinese that is used in mainland China, rather than the complex forms from Hong Kong and Taiwan. In the late 1970s, the government launched a Speak Mandarin campaign to limit the use of various Chinese dialects. Familiarity with Chinese culture is presumed from similarities in food and shared customs rooted in Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism.

Yet a chasm remains between the Chinese of Singapore and their mainland counterparts, divided by contemporary social values and the very language that is supposed to bind them all.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 17, 2015 at 11:18 pm

[LINK] On the Francophone Indonesians of New Caledonia

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Someone linked to Pam Allen’s fascinating Inside Indonesia article takes a look at the remarkable story of the Indonesian minority in the French Melanesian island of New Caledonia.

Aged 65 and still working as an engineer in Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia, Djintar Tambunan is a member of an unusual minority. He is one of very few Indonesians in New Caledonia who speak fluent Indonesian. His Javanese wife Soetina does not. Nor do his two adult children. Like most of their Indonesian friends, their preferred language is French.

Born in Belige, on the shores of Lake Toba, North Sumatra, in 1945, Tambunan (as he prefers to be called) moved to the Pacific Island of New Caledonia during the mining boom in 1970. He came to work for the big construction company Citra, and has remained there ever since. He describes himself as part of the ‘third wave’ of Indonesian emigrants.

Who, then, comprised the first and second ‘wave’ of emigrants, and what were they doing in New Caledonia? Djintar Tambunan’s story, and that of the 7000 or so other Indonesians currently living there, forms part of a relatively little-known chapter in the history of Indonesia. Like the history of the Javanese in Suriname in South America, and that of the Cape Malays in South Africa, it is an intriguing story of the tension that results when populations move, or are moved, to new surroundings.

That first wave of Javanese emigrants comprised 170 contract labourers, who arrived in Noumea in 1896. Forty-two years earlier, Napoleon III had established a penal colony in the French possession of New Caledonia. Most of the convicts transported there were political prisoners from the Paris Commune. In 1894, the French Governor of New Caledonia, Paul Feillet, abolished penal immigration and replaced prison labour with Asian immigrants, mainly from Japan, Java and Vietnam, who came to work in the mines and on the plantations.

Initially sent to work in agriculture, from 1899 the Javanese began working in the mining industry, which offered better pay but more difficult conditions. They were expected to work long hours with pick and shovel and to put up with demanding French employers. Once their contract term had ended, some returned to Java. But many remained in New Caledonia, a choice that robbed them of their right to repatriation. It was a choice that also brought with it the burden of paying the costs of finding new employment.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 10, 2015 at 11:46 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • blogTO notes a Toronto vigil for the Jordanian pilot murdered by ISIS.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about friends and age gaps.
  • Centauri Dreams draws from Poul Anderson</a. to consider the far future.
  • Crooked Timber considers trolling.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper wondering why circumbinary exoplanets are so detectable.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at robots: robots which put out fires on American navy ships, robots in China which do deliveries for Alibaba, robots which smuggle drugs.
  • Far Outliers notes Singapore’s pragmatism and its strong military.
  • Language Log notes the language of language diversity.
  • Marginal Revolution wonders about the prospects of the Euro-tied Danish crown.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes the approach of Ceres.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer considers scenarios for a profitable Nicaragua Canal and notes the oddities of Argentina.
  • Registan looks at Mongolian investment in Tuva, and other adjacent Mongolian-influence Russian regions.
  • Savage Minds looks at Iroquois linguistic J.N.B. Hewitt.
  • Seriously Science notes how immigrant chimpanzees adapt tothe vocalizations of native chimps.
  • Spacing Toronto talks about the need for an activist mayor in Toronto.
  • Torontoist examines the history of important black bookstore Third World Books and Crafts.
  • Towleroad notes many young gay/bi students are looking for sugar daddies, and notes the failure of Slovakia’s anti-gay referendum.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes a new Bosnian Serb law strictly regulating offensive speech online.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the collapse of the Russian world, suggests Russia should not be allowed a role in Donbas, argues that a Ukrainian scenario is unlikely in the Latvian region of Latgale and in the Baltics more broadly, and looks at the growth of fascism in Russia.

[DM] “Three links from The Diplomat on demographic issues in Asia”

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I’be a post up at Demography Matters looking at population-related issues: Paul R. Burgman Jr.’s “China: Embracing Africa, But Not Africans”, Philip Iglauer’s “South Korea’s Foreign Bride Problem”, and Mark Fenn’s “The Harsh Life of Thailand’s Migrant Workers”.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 4, 2015 at 5:03 am

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