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What is Sinology?

Sinology is still unknown to many people, as Isma Ruiz writes after attending the I International Congress of Sinology in Spanish, last June at the University of Tamkang – Tamsui, Taiwan.

Although the focus was translation and interpretation of classic Chinese books, the necessity of learning a new language when studying a culture or being able to use the language in politics were also addressed. Two lecturers caught the interest of Ruiz, Alicia Relinque and Eduardo Daniel Oviedo. About their talks, Ruiz notes:

Relinque, nos explicó muy brevemente su experiencia personal como traductora y cómo a lo largo del tiempo ha ido cambiando su metodología en función de la obra a traducir e incluso a veces por los requisitos impuestos desde la editorial. Seguidamente expuso varios ejemplos de traducciones de otros autores

[...]

(Oviedo) trataba del papel que juega actualmente el chino como elemento integrador de la sociedad china, así como la lucha que tiene con otros idiomas para ser la lengua hegemónica a medida que crece el poder político y económico de la República Popular China, mientras expande su influencia a otras regiones del mundo de cara a la formación de una lengua global.

Relinque briefly explained us her personal experience as translator and how as time went by she has been changing her methodology according to the text to be translated and sometimes even according to the requirements by the publisher. She then talked about several translations by other authors

[...]

(Oviedo) addressed the role currently played by Chinese language as unifying element in Chinese society, as well as the struggle it has with other languages to be the hegemonic language as Popular Republic of China's political and economic power grows, as it expands its influence to other regions of the world in regards to the formation of a global language.

Now it's time to wait for the second edition on 2016 and the possibility for the Autonomous University of Barcelona to organize it. That hasn't been decided yet.

You can follow Isma Ruiz on Twitter and Facebook.

This post was part of the twenty-eighth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 10, 2014.

South Korea: Game Mocking the Airplane Nuts Fiasco

Korean Air Lines vice president has made numerous headlines, both locally and internationally, for her arrogant behavior on a recent flight out. She randomly accused a crew member of serving macadamia nuts ‘incorrectly’ and even she ordered a plane back to the gate to remove the crew member out of the plane. No wonder this sensational story has become one of the trending topics in social media. Among numerous internet jokes, parody photos and even a cartoon by Japanese users, one stood out most would be a game mocking the Airplane nuts fiasco. A Korean web developer, Tai-hwan Hah (@duecorda) made a simple game entitlted ‘Crew Members’ Tycoon’ [ko]. However you play, you get the same result of the crew member being yelled at and hearing the sentence ‘You! Get out of the plane!’ — the very word the vice president allegedly said to the crew.

Image the 'Crew Members' Tycoon', Image tweeted by the maker of the game

Image the ‘Crew Members’ Tycoon', Image tweeted by the maker of the game

‘Interstellar': Another World Will Be Possible Only If We Overcome Ignorance

Raúl Morales, blogging on El Blog de Don Ush, brings us a review of recently launched science fiction movie “Interstellar,” where director Christopher Nolan creates a non-encouraging future for the planet that can only be overcame if human beings defeat the prevailing ignorance. Although Morales is critic of box-office earnings and the action plot of the movie, he highlights that this is how the world will be if we go on just as we are:

Me gustan los mundos distópicos, en particular los que tratan de mostrar cómo sería el nuestro si seguimos como vamos. No lo dicen con claridad en la película, pero es obvio que hubo algún tipo de cataclismo que jodió a la Tierra, sin duda el calentamiento global. En segundo lugar, la película da un ejemplo claro de uno de los elementos más graves que nos orillan a ese nivel de autodestrucción: la ignorancia científica.

I like dystopian worlds, particularly those who try to show how would ours be if we go on as we are going. The movie isn't clear about it, but it's obvious there was some kind of natural catastrophe that screwed the Earth, undoubtedly the global warming. In second place, the film is a clear example of one of the most serious that pushes us to that level of self-destruction: scientific ignorance.

He added:

Ahí algunas de las razones por las que me gustó Interstellar. Un día los viajes espaciales a otros planetas podrían ser tan cotidianos como viajar en avión a otros continentes. Ese futuro solo será posible si no nos matamos entre nosotros y, por tanto, si superamos la ignorancia que conduce tantas de nuestras acciones.

There are some of the reasons why I liked Interstellar. Some day, travelling to other planets could be so frequent as taking a plane to other continents. That future will be possible only if we don't kill each other and, therefore, if we overcome the ignorance that leads so many of our actions.

According to Morales, Nolan uses science fiction as a lens to view different possible worlds.

You can follow Raúl Morales on Twitter.

This post was part of the 28th #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 10, 2014 and was shared on Twitter by TRC.

Poetry Project Bridges Language and Cultural Barriers between Arabic and Hebrew Speakers in Israel

The Two Project promotes Arabic and Hebrew arts and culture through the language of poetry.

The Two Project promotes Arabic and Hebrew arts and culture through the language of poetry.

The Two Project has just launched, a collaboration between Israeli Jews and Arabs to connect their cultures through the language of poetry. Hebrew and Arabic are both official languages of Israel. Six years in the making, the project is an offshoot of a recently published book, Two: A Bilingual Anthology (link is in Hebrew).

On their website, the Two Project's creators Almog Behar, Tamer Massalha, and Tamar Weiss write [Heb/Ar]:

This site is a part of the Two Project: a bilingual cultural project focusing on the literature and poetry of youth. Its aim is to create a convergence of dialogue between the two vibrant cultures of Israel, in Arabic and Hebrew. [The project presents] a new generation of writers and readers, who because of language barriers, culture, politics, and physical boundaries are not familiar with what goes on in the modern literary scene of their neighbors.

Anat Niv, editor-in-chief of Keter Publishing, who is responsible for the anthology, remarks:

The very fact that you are holding a book and reading it in Hebrew, with a text in Arabic script on the facing page, or vice versa, is a very powerful experience. Even if you don’t read Arabic, when reading this book you can no longer remain oblivious to the fact that this is a place where people live and create in two languages.

Follow the project on their website or on Facebook in Hebrew and Arabic. Two new authors, an Israeli Arab and an Israeli Jew, will be featured monthly.

5 Muslim Countries Where Gays Are Not Prosecuted by the Law

The LGBT Muslims blog identified 5 Muslim nations where the legal system does not outlaw homosexuality. The 5 countries are : Mali, Jordan, Indonesia, Turkey and Albania. While the law in these countries does not criminalize gay lifestyles, the LGBT Muslims blog points out that LGBT communities still suffer from discrimination and non-negligible pressure to remain discreet regarding their lifestyles. Still, the main take away lesson is that gay rights may be more advanced than most would believe in the aforementioned countries. 

Architects in Finland Battle Over the Helsinki Guggenheim and the “Next Helsinki”

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Photo by Miguel A. Blanco on Flickr.

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Photo by Miguel A. Blanco on Flickr.

In early December 2014, the shortlist for a competition of the desing of the new Guggenheim museum in Helsinki was announced. The bulk of the building of the new Finnish venue of the famed museum of modern and contemporary art will be financed by the government of Finland and the project is already causing controversy and disagreements in public opinion.

The main sponsor of this promising project will be Finnish taxpayers, with the government willing to spend as much as 130 million Euro on the museum, which will carry the world-renowned Guggenheim name. In fact, the Finnish government will spend 30 million euros of this budget specifically on paying for the use of the Guggenheim brand. These expenses are already the cause of open outrage among local residents. For many locals, it seems particularly unfair to invest taxpayers’ money in a non-Finnish museum and brand. Many see it as sponsoring “someone else's trademark”.

Local and national media have been critical of the entire contest for the design of the museum and have called the entire project “a vanity project”.

The number of participants in the contest for the design of the new Helsinki Guggenheim was incredibly high, with more then 1700 proposals received from professional architects from more then 77 countries.

Authorities in the city have taken this and other elements as good signs and have explained that they expect the new museum to become the main tourist attraction in Helsinki, boosting tourism and the city's economy in general. Some representatives of the municipality have referenced the so-called “Bilbao effect”, describing the effect that the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain had on bringing in almost 4 million tourists to Bilbao in the first 3 years and boosting the local economy. Locals in Helsinki, however, fail to see the parallel between the two cities, as the Bilbao Guggenheim was part of a larger economic and cultural revitalization in the Spanish city.

In Finland, in response to the government's decision to collaborate with Guggenheim, an alternative competition was created for another project dubbed “The Next Helsinki”, where Finnish architects will be offering their own urban design solution for the city. On the project's official website the organizers of this effort call participants to:

“Help us seize this opportunity to highlight the city's singularity, and its residents’ appetite for social, environmental and cultural justice.”

Submissions for the “New Helsinki” contest will be open until March 2, 2015.

Peru: A Tour Around Casa de Aliaga

casa-de-aliaga-centro-historico

Image by Wenceslao Bottaro, used with permission.

On his blog Blucasendel, Argentinian journalist Wenceslao Bottaro explores new ways of linking with tourism and other ways for communication and promotion of touristic attractions. This time, he graphically shows what you can find in front of the Main Square of the colonial Ciudad de los Reyes (City of Kings), as Peruvian capital city Lima was originally known.

At the Casa de Aliaga, you will be able to appreciate history and architectural trends from XVI century:

Apenas entrar, la primera impresión es deslumbrante. Hay mucho para ver y asombrarse: los muebles, las colecciones de objetos, las escaleras, las lámparas, el patio. Todo lo que es madera está trabajado obsesivamente en los detalles.

De las paredes cuelgan pinturas, en las vitrinas se exhiben piezas de vajilla, documentos genealógicos y de la época de la Independencia. Lámparas de todo tipo se combinan con la luz del sol generando una extraña atmósfera en las habitaciones.

The minute you get in, the first impression is dazzling. There is a lot to see and to be astonished: the furniture, the collections, the stairways, the lamps, the courtyard. Every wooden article is obsessively carved in every single detail.

Paintings hang from the walls, glass cabinets showcase dishes, genealogic documents and from Independence period. All kinds of lamps are combined with sunlight, generating a rare atmospohere in the rooms.

Bottaro has also written about other place that's worth to visit in Lima's historic downtown. For instance, “the guard change at Presidential Palace; the Inquisition Museum; the historic Bar Cordano, and, especially if you are with children, to have fun with the Magic Circuit of Water“.

More about travels with Wenceslao Bottaro on social networks: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

This post is part of the thirtieth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 24, 2014.

Adorably Ugly Cats Take Over Tokyo Train

"Ultimate Relaxation," the winner of

“Ultimate Relaxation,” the grand prize winner of Japan's recent busukawa neko “adorably ugly cat” contest. Image source: Canon Japan

The winners of a popular contest to find Japan's most “adorably ugly” cats (busukawa neko) have taken over select trains on Tokyo's Yamanote Line. 

The Yamanote Line is full of “adorably ugly” (busukawa) cats!

Many train lines in Japan are already plastered with print advertising. Now, for two weeks in November and early December, the Yamonote Line, the loop line that travels around central Tokyo, is decked out in photos of the winning cats. A YouTube video titled “Canon's Adorably Ugly Cat Campaign Hijacks Tokyo Trains to Promote New PIXUS Printer” offers a glimpse:

The campaign is sponsored by PIXUS, a line of Canon desktop printers, and offers a grand prize of 100,000 yen (US$10,000). Out of nearly 6,000 submissions, 288 finalists and prizewinners ended up displayed on the train.

One lucky cat won the top prize:

And here is the grand prize winner! The photo's title: “Ultimate Relaxation.”

 There were a variety of runners-up. This cat won second place in the contest:

And here is the second-place prize. The title: “No f-ing way, man.” The golden color of this cat's coat perfectly balances the fine silver fur of our grand prize winner.

As the purpose of the contest was to promote Canon's new printer, many of the cats were awarded prizes according to how well their ugly mugs might accessorize a variety of personal belongings.

And the winner for “would look best printed on a handbag” is “May I eat a sticky bun?”

Here is the winner of “would look best printed on a T-shirt”!!! This cat has tickled the fancy of T-shirt designers everywhere!

The cacophony of ugly cat images has become quite popular with Japanese commuters, who have posted photos of the decked-out trains on social media.

This is so cute!  #スマフォトレイン (smartphone photo train) #山手線 (Yamanote Line) #ブサかわ猫ちゃんグランプリ (Adorably Ugly Grand Prix)

The Yamonote Line is CRAZY! It's turned into a total advertisement for PIXUS. The carriage is absolutely plastered with adorably ugly cat pictures. Now I totally want to make a calendar! \(^o^)/

The full list of adorably ugly cat contest finalists can be seen here. To keep on top of Japan's adorably ugly cats, follow @busakawaleon

Blogger Argues Corporate Sponsorship Cheapening Bangaldeshi Folk Culture

Devotees of Fakir Lalon Shah, also known as Lalon Shah (c.1774–1890), a Bengali philosopher poet, come to pay their respects on the anniversary of his death. Kustia, Bangladesh, 18/10/2009. Image by Suvra Kanti Das. Copyright Demotix

Devotees of Fakir Lalon Shah, a Bengali philosopher poet, come to pay their respects on the anniversary of his death. Cheuria, Kustia, Bangladesh, 18/10/2009. Image by Suvra Kanti Das. Copyright Demotix

If we look back the history of Bangladesh, we see examples of ancient kings and land lords who sponsored cultural activities, making literature, music and art flourish in the region. In the present era, we see affluent corporations, mostly telecom companies in Bangladesh, taking their place.

They have been going the extra mile to sponsor a wide variety of cultural pursuits, including a rural festival celebrating Fakir Lalon Shah (c. 1774–1890), a popular Bengali baul saint, mystic, songwriter, social reformer and thinker, but not always with positive reception.

Zahid Islam at the blog Alal O Dulal explains how corporations are selling the Lalon culture:

In 2007 for the first time in history, Lalon Phokir’s Dol Uthshob (Lalon's Dol Festival) was held under sponsorship, with promotion campaigns so aggressive and ill designed it disgusts me to even remember it. Since then Grameenphone and Banglalink (telecom brands) took turns in sponsoring the festivals.

He also mentions that Lalon festival is getting a modern shape under corporate banner:

The first time around, those of us who had been visiting Cheuria for many years, were shocked to find the sponsorship junks.

And the need to protect their sanctity:

There are many people and organisations, home and abroad, that feel we need to “protect” the baul way of life. I do not necessarily agree with this notion. Rather I feel our intervention is what creates most of the “problems.”

Fashion Week Turns World's Gaze on Tokyo

The six-day Mercedes Fashion Week kicked off in Tokyo on October 13 and culminated on October 19. Fashion Week is all about launching hot new 2015 fashions from the planet's biggest brands, with daily runway events and fashion exhibitions.

For nearly 20 years Mercedes Benz has sponsored “fashion weeks” all over the world in fashion centers such as New York, Paris and Milan. The Tokyo show marks the start of a series of events all over the world this fall taking place in 20 cities all over the world.

As one of the “top 5 cities,” Tokyo was for one week the center of attention in the global fashion scene.

It's a party atmosphere filled with celebrities, events, and plenty of high fashion.

Kicking off the festival on October 13th was “MORI HANAE designed by Yu Amatsu”, an exhibit showcasing a new collection by Hanae Mori, a young designer with a bright future, while introducing a new brand by Mori Hanae.

Fashion journalist, stylist, and blogger Misha Janette writes in Japanese and English about her impressions as a newcomer to Tokyo Fashion week:

*時間厳守。海外では”ショーのスタート時間にホテルを出ても余裕で間に合う”よね?でもここは東京。数分の遅れでも車掌さんが丁寧に謝罪してくるような街。ちょっと早めに到着するべし。せめてスタート時間には着いてないと見逃すよ!

*…電車を活用すべし!東京の交通網は他のファッションシティとは比べ物にならないくらい優秀。[…] それに、タクシーに乗るのも他の国より簡単。でも[…]電車がおすすめ。だって、東京のタクシーは高い!!!初乗り2キロで710円って。。[…]電車に乗るのってちょっとした冒険みたいでいいじゃない?

*指定席ではないよ!基本的には早い者勝ち。優先順位はちょっと海外より難しいかも。第一優先:ビジネスパートナーと古くからの友人。第二:ブランドを取り上げてくれるメディア(年功序列)。第三:ニューフェイスのメディア。…バイヤーはあまり大切に扱われないハプニングが多いという噂だが…汗。

* BE. ON. TIME. I cannot iterate this enough. I know that the rule of thumb for overseas shows is “Leave your hotel the same time the show is scheduled to start and still be on time.” But this is Tokyo, where train conductors will get on hands and knees to apologize for being a minute late. Get to the show a few minutes early, or at least *right* on time, or you WILL miss it.

* ….take the train. It’s true that traffic in Tokyo is not nearly as terrible as it is in every other fashion city (um, an HOUR to get from SOHO to midtown?? And in Paris I had to run from the taxi to the metro or I would have missed the Chanel show). And yes, it’s easier to get a cab than any other city, too. But most shows are conveniently held at the Hikarie shopping complex connected to Shibuya station and taking the train is not seen as so bourgeois as it is in other world cities. Taxis in Tokyo are some of the most expensive in the world (starting 710yen=USD$7 for 2km) so honestly, if you’re taking cabs every where you’re just being stupid and unadventurous.

* Seats don’t have name reservations. Seats come on a first come first serve-ish basis, and the heirarchy is a bit different than overseas. TOP: Business partners, long-time friends. NEXT: Media, in age from oldest people to youngest, despite who they write for. LAST: Media, who are new to the brand, despite who they write for. NOSEBLEED: Buyers.

To keep on top of events at Tokyo Fashion Week, follow the Facebook page.

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