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Old 2010-01-30, 21:46   Link #5861
Haruka_Kitten
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So basically they're voting to defend something that is blatantly worse.

What I think is that most people are afraid of change. Most people who get around the loopholes in the current system will no longer be able to, and I believe it's those people who vote against change, because they've worked their lives around a system with holes in it. So the government decides to pave over the holes at a slightly bigger cost and the majority of people who complain about these holes are saying "no"? It'd be like the new state transport minister promising to rebuild public transport in Victoria by setting aside funding for Metro, KDR, and 50 other operators in the state with maintenance and reliability improvements, and for us (who have been blaming the entire system's failure on the state) to say "No, we don't want it to change."
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Old 2010-01-30, 21:51   Link #5862
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mg1942 View Post
Is this what sets USA apart from the rest of the developed world?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8474611.stm
(should the term American Exceptionalism apply here?)
I find the BBC's choice of "expository photograph" positively hilarious. So subversive. XD

1) They're all white, and not just any white but with a vague white-trashy look.
2) The woman looks very ugly in her rage. Some pictures of anger inspire sympathy and desire for justice, others terror or even hateful recoil. This one only makes you feel mock pity and alienation, a sort of "wtf is this stupid woman riled up about" kind of picture.
3) The old man has the "I'm Bill O'Reilly's target audience" look all over him.
4) Although they clearly don't look like upper class people (though looks as measures of class distinctions in America just don't work period), they don't give the sympathetic air of the suffering proletariat either. This ain't no noble les miserables to be honored and lionized.

In conclusion: lol BBC, lol.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iLney
In a sense, yes (if you mean that Americans are the only people who are capable of voting against their "interests"). And I'm pretty proud of it
No wonder the BBC (i.e. Britishers) can laugh so openly at us then.
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Old 2010-01-31, 00:22   Link #5863
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Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post
I find the BBC's choice of "expository photograph" positively hilarious. So subversive. XD

1) They're all white, and not just any white but with a vague white-trashy look.
2) The woman looks very ugly in her rage. Some pictures of anger inspire sympathy and desire for justice, others terror or even hateful recoil. This one only makes you feel mock pity and alienation, a sort of "wtf is this stupid woman riled up about" kind of picture.
3) The old man has the "I'm Bill O'Reilly's target audience" look all over him.
4) Although they clearly don't look like upper class people (though looks as measures of class distinctions in America just don't work period), they don't give the sympathetic air of the suffering proletariat either. This ain't no noble les miserables to be honored and lionized.

In conclusion: lol BBC, lol.


No wonder the BBC (i.e. Britishers) can laugh so openly at us then.
It's sad how the BBC's best programming/news comes from a comedy show, Titled Newswipe with Charlie Brooker.
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Old 2010-01-31, 00:50   Link #5864
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post
I find the BBC's choice of "expository photograph" positively hilarious. So subversive. XD

Quote:
Originally Posted by mg1942 View Post
Is this what sets USA apart from the rest of the developed world?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8474611.stm
1) They're all white, and not just any white but with a vague white-trashy look.
2) The woman looks very ugly in her rage. Some pictures of anger inspire sympathy and desire for justice, others terror or even hateful recoil. This one only makes you feel mock pity and alienation, a sort of "wtf is this stupid woman riled up about" kind of picture.
3) The old man has the "I'm Bill O'Reilly's target audience" look all over him.
4) Although they clearly don't look like upper class people (though looks as measures of class distinctions in America just don't work period), they don't give the sympathetic air of the suffering proletariat either. This ain't no noble les miserables to be honored and lionized.

In conclusion: lol BBC, lol.
Actually, I was about to cite the above article as part of my ongoing rebuttal of Yoko_Takeo's allegations of crooked media.

The notion that all media organisations are biased, in one way or another, is a universally accepted opinion. And this applies even to the venerated BBC, much vaunted for its impartiality.

The above story is one of those rare examples of very poor reporting and extremely questionable editorial judgment on the BBC's part. First of all, there is the unspoken assumption that Mr Obama's health-care reforms are universally accepted by Democrat-voting Americans while unanimously opposed by those who vote Republican. As the lengthy discussions in AnimeSuki alone would suggest, the consensus is not quite so clear cut. The choice of photo, as Irenicus pointed out, is deliberately misleading, as it aims — unambigiously — to portray typical Republican-voting Americans as dumb rednecks.

To be sure, the BBC is doing what it often does: It loves demonising the United States in general, playing to the usual stereotype that the British have of Americans as being shallow, stupid people too in love with corporatist capitalism to look after the social welfare of their own countrymen.

It is fine to pillory the self-serving politicians who oppose Mr Obama for the sake of opposition. But, then, do you notice how the article happily puts Republicans on the dock, quoting the views of two "exasperated" Democrats, while not giving similar space for Republican views?

Where is the fairness and balance in the story then, as expected from a news organisation that prides itself for its impartiality? Is it OK to run a polarising story such as this without giving the accused party the right of reply?

So, the point I was trying to make to Yoko_Takeo is this: He is half right in claiming some kind of bias within media. Examples such as the one provided by BBC above show that even some of the best in the industry fall prey to internalised prejudices.

Where he is wrong, however, is in suggesting that all the distortions are caused by the profit motive. The BBC runs, in effect, on a tax on every British citizen in the form of radio and TV licensing fees. It has a guaranteed income of around 3 billion pounds (US$4.8 billion) a year, if not more. It doesn't have to chase a profit, not when it has an assured source of annual revenue.

And yet, even then, the BBC is vulnerable — like any other organisation, media-related or otherwise — to fall victim to group-think. This is one of the most persistent problems likely to occur in any group, big or small, for the simple reason that crows of a feather tend to flock together.

You see this even in a forum such as AnimeSuki, made up of individuals who are presumably free of organisational coercion and therefore free to speak their minds. Yet, it doesn't take much for an impartial observer to see that AnimeSuki's members generally favour left-wing, progressive politics. We are generally suspicious of authority, and especially allergic to religion. In general, we are anti-racisim, pro-minority rights, especially those of women and homosexuals, and are generally pro-internationalism (if not necessarily pro-globalisation).

These internal biases show up in the more controversial topics that have cropped up from time to time in the General forum, from the threads on religion to gay rights. People who attempt, however reasonably, to put forth an opposing view tend to get pilloried as reactionary conservatives too lazy to think.

==========

Now, rambling thoughts aside, I'd take you back to your regular news service. Here's a small story that cropped up last week from China, most likely missed by the rest of the world.

China bans further employment of substitute teachers
Quote:
Beijing (Jan 24): China's education authorities have banned employment of new substitute teachers, but denied a deadline for dismissing those still at work.

"Governments at all levels must ensure the inflow of qualified teachers and prohibit any school from taking on more substitute teachers," said Mr Lu Yu Gang, deputy director of the personnel department of the Ministry of Education.

Long-time employment of substitute teachers would not only impair the interests of students but also be unfair for the teachers as they are usually lowly paid, Mr Lu said.

Discussions about the future of substitute teachers have been featured prominently in newspapers and on websites in recent days, as it was reported that all the substitute teachers would be dismissed this year.

Substitute teachers are more often seen in poor places, mostly rural villages, as local governments could not afford to employ enough licensed teachers.

By the end of 2008, China had about 311,000 substitute teachers, according to the ministry.

- XINHUA
The above is another one of those tiny, seemingly insignificant stories that nonetheless strike a chord with me, because it throws a spotlight onto the much larger tectonic shifts occurring in a rapidly modernising China. A sociologist, and a journalist, would see possibilities for many further stories on this topic, if he or she would like to dig further.

More poignantly though, the story reminds me of a little-known 1999 movie by Zhang Yimou, Not One Less.

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Old 2010-01-31, 02:13   Link #5865
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Now, rambling thoughts aside, I'd take you back to your regular news service. Here's a small story that cropped up last week from China, most likely missed by the rest of the world.

China bans further employment of substitute teachers

The above is another one of those tiny, seemingly insignificant stories that nonetheless strike a chord with me, because it throws a spotlight onto the much larger tectonic shifts occurring in a rapidly modernising China. A sociologist, and a journalist, would see possibilities for many further stories on this topic, if he or she would like to dig further.
This is interesting. Thanks for finding it!

Reading into the story, I'm guessing that one possible reason to do this is to stop possible agitation by the substitute teachers who want to be treated/paid as a regular teacher? At the same time, if the villages are too poor to afford the required salary of a regular teacher, that would mean the central government, via the provincial ones, would need to subsidize the cost. That is one way to stimulate the economy - but really just by a bit - without dumping more money through bank loans, which was supposed to be under tighter control now as (1) letters of credit are harder to get and (2) reviews are done daily supposedly.

Having "regular" teachers - even if their quality is the same as the substitutes - can also be a good PR move as well.
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Old 2010-01-31, 02:30   Link #5866
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Old 2010-01-31, 02:56   Link #5867
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This is somehow hilarious in a twisted way, because if this sort of thing happened in Italy, permission to play wouldn't have been denied
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Old 2010-01-31, 04:05   Link #5868
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Well, if you are serving life in prison, maybe being able to enjoy an innocent game wouldn't hurt.
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Old 2010-01-31, 04:15   Link #5869
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I don't really like this...it's like the penitentiary is telling the prisoners that they are forbidden to use their imaginations...

Then again, maybe this inmate is the second coming of Chris Pritchard....
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Old 2010-01-31, 04:18   Link #5870
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harufox View Post
Well, if you are serving life in prison, maybe being able to enjoy an innocent game wouldn't hurt.
It's a good point that it might be a risk to security among inmates if such a game was allowed. They might give him permission to play, but what about everyone else? They would feel as if they're treated unfairly. The guy's a murderer after all and he deserves the punishment he's given. Allowing him to play the game is like giving a child candy after a spanking. He doesn't deserve rights and special permissions because he's serving life when he's taken a human life. He could at least try to get out for good conduct (fat chance, and I wouldn't let him out even for that if it was up to me) and then play.
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Old 2010-01-31, 04:55   Link #5871
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoko Takeo View Post
It's a good point that it might be a risk to security among inmates if such a game was allowed. They might give him permission to play, but what about everyone else? They would feel as if they're treated unfairly. The guy's a murderer after all and he deserves the punishment he's given. Allowing him to play the game is like giving a child candy after a spanking. He doesn't deserve rights and special permissions because he's serving life when he's taken a human life. He could at least try to get out for good conduct (fat chance, and I wouldn't let him out even for that if it was up to me) and then play.
I did actually mean system-wide, but you do have a point. If you can't take an iPod or mobile phone into prison for entertainment, then I assume their entertainment is what the warden sets up, such as TV hour and recess.
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Old 2010-01-31, 11:41   Link #5872
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We have so many members from East and Southeast Asia, that I'm curious how the US weapons deal with Taiwan is being viewed in the region. On the one hand, I realize that we made this commitment years ago so that backing out now might be seen as abandoning our promises. Nevertheless the whole notion of selling advanced armaments to Taiwan seems quite destabilizing to me. How threatened is Taiwan really in 2010? Certainly we're far from the days of the Quemoy/Matsu crisis. Do people in Taiwan and its neighbors really believe the Mainland Chinese will attack the island in the years to come? If we believe that the maintenance of a separate government on Taiwan is an important foreign-policy objective (personally I don't), wouldn't some form of multi-lateral treaty obligations among the US and other Asian states to defend Taiwan be more effective, and more stabilizing, in the long run?
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Old 2010-01-31, 13:10   Link #5873
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^ Speaking strictly in a personal capacity, I welcome the arms sale to Taiwan. The people of South-east Asia may welcome China's growth as a market, but I do believe the unspoken feeling is that we all equally hate and fear the increasingly arrogant giant.

The reasons are myriad and complex, but there have been hints that national leaders and foreign-policy wonks in this part of the world favour a balance of power to keep China in check, not least because few of us genuinely trust Beijing's intentions. That is not to say we expect a hot war any time soon — such violence would be unthinkable, not to mention economically intolerable.

But while Asean may carry China's balls in public, secretly, I think everyone's happy to see China's hubris pricked every now and then.

It's not the best source I can find at short notice, but you may recall the furore that former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew kicked up during his visit to the United States last year: Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew angers Chinese netizens

Quote:
In his various meetings rubbing shoulders with very important minds, the sage-like Lee was often counted on to interpret Asia to the West, and he did not hesitate to tell the Americans what he saw in his crystal ball.

"The 21st century will be a contest for supremacy in the Pacific because that's where the growth will be," said Mr Lee. "If you do not hold your ground in the Pacific you cannot be a world leader."

Mr Lee urged the US to remain engaged in Asia, saying "that the size of China makes it impossible for the rest of Asia, including Japan and India, to match it in weight and capacity in about 20 to 30 years. So we need America to strike a balance".
========

Carrying on, I have another story for which I hope Germans could provide some background:

'Insolvents Anonymous': German therapy for bankrupts
Quote:
Cologne (Jan 31): "Hello everyone. My name is Louise. I am 68 years old and I have been bankrupt since 2007."

Welcome to a session of Insolvents Anonymous, a German support group for failed business people based on Alcoholics Anonymous, the support group for drinkers, that has boomed as the economy has bust.

Like Alcoholics Anonymous, participants are known only by their first names. And like Alcoholics Anonymous, those attending run the meetings, sharing their bankruptcy pain in the hope of helping others come to terms with theirs.

"There's something particularly German in the fact that people here have so much difficulty bouncing back from bankruptcy," said Mr Attila von Unruh, the network's founder.

"There is this feeling of failure, of blame, that is very difficult to talk about, even with your nearest and dearest," he added, noting that the word "schuld" in German can mean both "guilt" and "debt".

- AFP
To explain the interest, it never occurred to me that other cultures in the world share a similar attitude to bankruptcy that Singaporeans do: A palpable shame and a real fear of business failure.

Last edited by TinyRedLeaf; 2010-01-31 at 13:34.
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Old 2010-01-31, 14:31   Link #5874
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More poignantly though, the story reminds me of a little-known 1999 movie by Zhang Yimou, Not One Less.
We watched that movie in Chinese class (I'm the teacher's aide), and everyone hated it. They couldn't understand the stuff that poor people have to put up with, and just rambled on about how the substitute was a bitch.
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Old 2010-01-31, 16:57   Link #5875
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
To explain the interest, it never occurred to me that other cultures in the world share a similar attitude to bankruptcy that Singaporeans do: A palpable shame and a real fear of business failure.
My experience with people close to me indicate that this feeling is not entirely culturally based, although it certainly does to some extent (although I've never really considered it before, it does feel like Singapore with its Confucian influences would be deeply abject to such shameful horrors). In the USA here, for example, despite being the shameless capitalist consumerist society that we are, a lot of people actually talk about how palpable they felt when they did not pay their bills the first time, from even considering bankruptcy as a choice, the shame and the pain of not wanting to admit it...and then came the eventual apathy when they realize, "screw this, everybody's suffering, there is no shame. If the banks are unreasonable [and they often are], then they can go screw themselves." I'd imagine those who start businesses for the first time take their failures similarly, and that the few who picked up and tried again were the ones you see as successful today.

One could argue that this is an irresponsible position; others could counter that they are placed in this position with little blame of their own (it's not like common Americans even knew about the dirty ponzi schemes their financiers were doing). But on a larger point it shows how a society that suffers as a whole will eventually come to consider what was once denounced as shameful as acceptable. The German example seem to indicate that Germany is relatively unfamiliar with bankruptcy as a "legitimate" financial measure and that the term still carries there a deep meaning of failure or even fraudulence, something which Americans around the Californian maelstrom have long since discarded in the practical conditions of their surroundings. Misery needs company et al.

In a slightly related anecdote, the issue of what bankruptcy really means is actually much older than the 20th century and all the fancy financial institutions that have been established since. I refer to Louis-Sebastien Mercier of 18th century France, who complained that bankruptcies "[h]ave become so frequent as to be no disgrace" although he blamed the "present" condition to the decadence of his day and considered the procedure "fraudulent." Of course, he, like many Frenchmen of his day, carried deep-seated hatred for financiers thanks to one of them causing a devastating collapse in France earlier in the century. Sounds awfully familiar.
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Old 2010-01-31, 17:13   Link #5876
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Originally Posted by LeoXiao View Post
We watched that movie in Chinese class (I'm the teacher's aide), and everyone hated it. They couldn't understand the stuff that poor people have to put up with, and just rambled on about how the substitute was a bitch.
Wow... talk about an "F" in empathy for them.
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Old 2010-01-31, 18:13   Link #5877
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Originally Posted by LeoXiao View Post
We watched that movie in Chinese class (I'm the teacher's aide), and everyone hated it. They couldn't understand the stuff that poor people have to put up with, and just rambled on about how the substitute was a bitch.
I usually don't say this, but your class are a bunch of idiots. I think I cried watching that movie.
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Old 2010-01-31, 19:21   Link #5878
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I usually don't say this, but your class are a bunch of idiots. I think I cried watching that movie.
It's probably my favorite movie by Zhang Yimou, after Hero.
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Old 2010-01-31, 19:51   Link #5879
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Originally Posted by Xion Valkyrie View Post
It's probably my favorite movie by Zhang Yimou, after Hero.

I don't know what to say but a Big Thank You for bringing this director to my attention, you have my gratitude . I been searching the name of this one movie for a good 4 years . Heck I even made a thread right here on AS regarding this movie. When the name came up I goggled up and out of curiosity . Then Started checking out his other movies and found the one I was looking for .

The movie I am speaking about is Happy Times ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbn08yxNb0Y )
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Old 2010-01-31, 20:00   Link #5880
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World Leaders Remain Mum on Chinese Attacks on Google

Quote:
Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Google Inc.’s opposition to censorship in China was the one topic left off the table in Davos -- at China’s request.

“China didn’t want to discuss Google,” Josef Ackermann, chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank AG and a co-chairman of this year’s World Economic Forum, said in an interview. China’s Vice Premier Li Keqiang made that clear, he said. “Google has backed off a little bit.”

Even Google CEO Eric Schmidt didn’t bring up China, a market that will account for $600 million of Google’s sales this year, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Google said this month that it had faced a “highly sophisticated” attack on its systems and that human-rights activists were targeted.

At Davos, participants such as financier George Soros, economist Joseph Stiglitz and French President Nicolas Sarkozy debated technology topics such as social networking and 3-D features used in the motion picture “Avatar.” The discussion didn’t include the conflict between China and Google, even in panels such as “The Rise of Asia” or “Redesigning the Global Dimensions of China’s Growth.”
I only wish I could have been there for the panel where Soros and Sarkozy discussed 3-D movie technologies!

What makes this silence more profound are these other two stories that appeared just today:

China bugs and burgles Britain

Quote:
The security service MI5 has accused China of bugging and burgling UK business executives and setting up “honeytraps” in a bid to blackmail them into betraying sensitive commercial secrets.

A leaked MI5 document says that undercover intelligence officers from the People’s Liberation Army and the Ministry of Public Security have also approached UK businessmen at trade fairs and exhibitions with the offer of “gifts” and “lavish hospitality”.

The gifts — cameras and memory sticks — have been found to contain electronic Trojan bugs which provide the Chinese with remote access to users’ computers.
More traditional methods like seduction were also employed. An aide to Gordon Brown had his Blackberry stolen after being picked up by a woman in Shanghai.

International Federation of Journalists Report on Increased Censorship in China

From the IFJ report:
Quote:
It has been a tough year for press freedom in China, as the fading international spotlight on the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing emboldened central and provincial authorities to revert to clamping down on journalists and media that seek to present a diversity of news reports and points of view about events in China and beyond. The loosening of controls on both local and foreign media in the period leading up to the Olympics, and then the much welcome announcement that the less restrictive regulations for foreign media would remain in force past October 2008, generated some hope for positive change on the press freedom front. But this optimism was quickly challenged very early in 2009, as authorities sought to re-exert control on the media and information – focusing in particular on the rising power of the internet as a means for social expression and organising.
Complete report [PDF]

What especially bothers me about the Google/China story is the lack of reporting about the other thirty or more companies that Google believes also have been compromised. Nor should any of this have been a big surprise to anyone paying attention. A report [PDF] from defense contractor Northrup Grumman detailed Chinese cyber-espionage efforts last October.
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