The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'asia'
Not content with its own massive internal high-speed rail programme, China is planning to build high-speed railway lines spanning Asia. The lines will drive westwards through Bhutan, India, the central Asian republics and into Turkey, ultimately connecting with Europe's networks; there will also be another trans-Siberian high-speed line (though weren't the Russians looking into using Japanese shinkansen technology for that?) and an eastward line heading down to Singapore, via Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. The plan is to have trains running at between 200 and 350kmh, bringing a journey between London and Beijing down to two days. Mind you, that involves transit through Iran and Burma (both closed societies whose authorities like to keep a tight grip on anything coming or going) and crossing the somewhat fraught Indian-Pakistani border.
China will fund the programme, in return for mineral rights from the countries, and won't harp on about human rights; already, the Burmese junta has signed on.
Did you ever wonder where that musical riff used in popular songs to signify the Far East (typically China or sometimes Japan; think Kung Fu Fighting/Hong Kong Phooey/International Karate) came from? this guy did, and did a fair amount of research:
Anyway, the author of the site, Martin Nilsson, has compiled evidence of the Oriental Riff and its earlier predecessors going as far back as 1847.
The little ditty above is what I call "the musical cliché figure signifying the Far East."
I would venture that a majority of music-culturally aware people would agree that there is such thing as "the stereotypical Chinese (or more generally Asian) riff." Most of them would also agree that the "canonical" form of it is the one notated above, typically instrumented with some kind of squeaky wind instruments playing in a pitch at least higher than middle C, and with some ticking-sounding rhythm instrument underlining the rhythm.
A study in Japan has shown that Japanese and Americans interpret facial expressions differently. In Japan, people pay attention to the eyes for emotional cues, whereas in America (and, presumably, elsewhere in the West), they look to the mouth.
The exact reasons for this are not known, though one theory is that it is because the Japanese attempt to suppress their emotions in the presence of others more than the loud, demonstrative gaijin do, and in such cases, the eyes provide more of a clue to someone's emotional state. One consequence of this, of course, is the difference between the way Westerners and Japanese draw happy-face symbols in ASCII characters, with the Japanese smiley looking like ^_^ (note the emphasis on the eyes), and the Western one being the familiar :-):
So when Yuki entered graduate school and began communicating with American scholars over e-mail, he was often confused by their use of emoticons such as smiley faces :) and sad faces, or :(.
"It took some time before I finally understood that they were faces," he wrote in an e-mail. In Japan, emoticons tend to emphasize the eyes, such as the happy face (^_^) and the sad face (;_;). "After seeing the difference between American and Japanese emoticons, it dawned on me that the faces looked exactly like typical American and Japanese smiles," he said.
(via Boing Boing)
The editor of the Indonesian edition of Playboy has been acquitted of indecency. While pornography is widely available in the populous Islamic country, the local edition of Playboy has avoided taking risks, and it is probably safe to say that most of its readers really do get it just for the articles:
The Indonesian version of the magazine went on sale for the first time last April, featuring several scantily-clad models but no nudity.
Arnada would have faced two years in prison, if convicted and his magazine welcomed the ruling. "Playboy Indonesia never has and will never publish nude photos or other forbidden materials," it said in a statement.This ruling has not been enough for hardline Islamist groups, who have threatened to "declare war" on the magazine, and conservatives who are pushing for strict new decency laws. Though given the wide availability of locally-produced pornography, chances are the conservatives' objection is not to Playboy's mildly racy content but to the American/Western cultural values it and its name symbolise.
Meanwhile, Thailand has blocked access to YouTube, after the site refused to remove a video insulting the king (by showing graffiti over his face). Thailand takes insulding the king very seriously; just recently, a Swiss man was jailed for ten years for defacing posters of the monarch.
One thing I'm wondering: would Thailand have blocked YouTube had this happened before last year's military coup?