Friday, 15 May 2015
Wednesday, 13 May 2015
読 differs from its traditional Chinese counterpart (讀) in having 壳 on the right-hand side. Graphically speaking, the Chinese symbol for "reading" is "language" combined with "sell" (言+賣=讀, cf. 读), whereas Japanese has ended up with the same meaning ("reading") instead being symbolically associated with the "husk" (壳/殻) of language. I presume, however, that the 壳 was borrowed from 殻 at a time when the symbol still suggested a bell, drum, or some other musical instrument: 殻 shows a hand with a tool striking something presumed to make a sound, although the modern meaning is "husk" (or outer shell, etc.).
Tuesday, 12 May 2015
Any article relating statistics that originate from the government of the People's Republic of China has to include some kind of caveat stating how dubious these statistics are. A Bloomberg article reporting the Gini coefficient for China closes with a quotation from an economist calling the most recent figure "even wilder than a fantasy". (Click)
Sunday, 10 May 2015
Saturday, 9 May 2015
This is news in 2015: Montana is providing support for indigenous language education, for the first time. It's a change that comes very late, and the only question is of whether or not it will be too little, too late.
"The only other state that provides funding for native language immersion in public schools is Hawaii, which has one native language. In Montana, there are nine." (Source)The turning point in American policy on these issues was, incongruously, Richard Nixon, who is rarely praised or remembered for it (except at his own memorial foundation); however, one might surmise that it wasn't a coincidence that Nixon had witnessed the nadir of "terminationism" as vice-president to Eisenhower (HCR-108 was passed in Eisenhower's first year in office).
Tuesday, 5 May 2015
Princess Sirindorn appears on the (ubiquitous) 100-Baht bill in 2015. Although this isn't her first appearance in Thai numismatics, I think it is fair to say that it is unusually prominent. The officially-stated reason for this is, of course, to celebrate her 60th birthday. It could be interpreted by some as an indication that we may see more of her image on bills and coins in the future; it could be seen as a signal that she might be expected to inherit the throne in future.
Monday, 4 May 2015
How important is the example of Dharaṇi? In North-Eastern Thailand, Hayashi Yukio observed the cult of Dharaṇi (here transliterated as Thornani) closely bound into the most intimate and ultimate of rituals, the treatment of the remains of the dead:
Sunday, 3 May 2015
I have thought for some time that particular aspects of Mao Zedong thought derived from Thomas More's Utopia --possibly via Japanese theoreticians who were (uncontroversially) influenced by More, and possibly via the Chinese translation of Utopia itself.
I was able to track down the (known) Chinese translations simply through library catalogs, but the only secondary sources (in English) are in the somewhat obscure journal Moreana. This is a journal that has not (yet) been digitally archived, nor indexed in a way that can be found through library-record searches. I found these articles in the "old fashioned" way of the 1990s: by sending an e-mail to the editor of the journal, asking for advice.
Saturday, 2 May 2015
"Oh, so you was a Britannica [老黑],* I was a World Book [老黑]."
* [老黑 was the polite translation of "the n-word" used in the Chinese subtitles to The Wire on Cambodian television. If I hadn't been living in Cambodia at that time, I would've never seen an episode of The Wire at all.]
Link to the interview: https://soundcloud.com/thecombatjackshow/the-ras-kass-episode
Wednesday, 29 April 2015
The C.B.C. had a rather hilarious headline in 2014: Canada's dismal wage growth still better than most of G20 (Source). Wage stagnation (despite rising productivity) in the western world has been politicized in various ways. A very short note from The Economist (in 2011) points out that Canada provides an instructive contrast to the U.S. precisely because the degree of labor-unionization is so different between the two: link here.
As my (rather boring) essay on Japanese immigration policy pointed out, maintaining low wages has been one of the broadest and most consistent policies of the Neoconservative and Neoliberal era, i.e., in contrast to the era immediately before it:
The period of the Nixon shocks (1971–1973) was not the end of Japan's restrictive immigration policies… However, it was the end of the income doubling plan; from this point forward, the Japanese government believed it was in its interest, instead, to keep wages as low as possible, in order to be internationally competitive. (Source)