Daily Archives: October 8, 2008

Curiosities and ephemera 2

More bits from my box!

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An early lesson in cross-cultural communication: Koreans (right) when feeling friendly tend to grab one’s leg. Chinese (left) do not and find this rather disconcerting. Taken on one of our language college outings in 1990.

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A couple more 1990 language college pics, but a bit low in quality — the pics, not the students. It was quite a life-changing experience that year. The people around that table, myself excluded, are from Japan, China, Korea and Indonesia.

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Posted by on October 8, 2008 in nostalgia, personal, reminiscences, reminiscing


Back in the world…

I just highlighted via my Google Reader a recent entry by Jon Taplin on The Media and the Market Place. He cites a US columnist, Eugene Robinson:

Rarely have there been bigger or more urgent issues to talk about in a presidential campaign. But John McCain wants us to talk about Barack Obama’s acquaintances. He and Sarah Palin are going to try their best to make us talk about anything but the big issues facing our country, because most Americans think Obama’s solutions are better than McCain’s.

Knowing that, are we in the media going to aid and abet the McCain campaign’s obvious ploy?

We journalists like to think we’re too smart to be used by one side or the other in a political campaign. In a sense, we’re followers of Adam Smith: We believe in an omniscient free marketplace of news in which myriad individual decisions by reporters, editors, photographers, columnists, commentators and media barons — decisions about what to cover and how to cover it — somehow miraculously end up maximizing the truth. We claim not to be ideological, but this is our ideology…

We also know that no matter how skeptical we are when we write about bogus allegations, writing about them at all gives them wider circulation. So when Palin questions Obama’s love of country because Obama knows somebody who did something unpatriotic when Obama was 8, our free-market ethos makes us rush to cover her every ridiculous word. We also find ways to convey that this is pure mudslinging and nothing but a cynical campaign tactic, but that doesn’t matter to the McCain campaign. What matters is that we’re writing and talking about this extraneous stuff — and not about the issues that polls say voters really care about.

Jon Taplin recommends reading the whole article; so do I.

Another story to catch my attention is one not designed to comfort, but worth checking: Security fears as Pakistan veers towards bankruptcy. That is far more worrying and far more relevant than what someone Obama may know did when Obama was eight years old…

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Posted by on October 8, 2008 in America, current affairs, media watch, other blogs, South Asian, USA


Curiosities and ephemera 1

I thought first of this set as something for the Specials, but no, I decided some breathing space here was quite OK…

Speaking of ephemera, or indeed curiosities, here I am with my mother in 1965, and I think you can tell why the pic was taken on the old box Brownie.

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Of course I haven’t changed a bit…

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This was in 1990 with Bill, one of my students from the language college I was working in at the time. He was a bit older than the others. I can remember asking the students one lesson to describe their earliest memory. Bill’s was “starving”. He was referring to the disastrous and largely man-made famine that afflicted China in the early 60s.

try 011c

No, that isn’t M. It would be around 1991-2, however, and is at a party organised by one of M’s friends. The man I am talking to, a Shanghainese, was once in the Chinese Air Force. He was also quite a student of literature…

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Posted by on October 8, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, Chinese and China, friends, memory, nostalgia, personal, reminiscences, reminiscing