Monday, February 25, 2013

From around the interwebs...

Links and tings.

Why do Russians film their car accidents?
Because they’re scared of scams and police corruption. Russia is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And the glaring gap between rich and poor leads the latter to mount increasingly elaborate scams. For their own protection, drivers, the preferred targets of frauds, install cameras in their vehicles.

Quebec language laws spawn "Pastagate"
The offensive word? Pasta. Yep, as innocuous as the durum semolina-based product might seem, Quebec’s language police, the Office Quebecois de la langue française determined that “pasta is not a French word, and it’s appearance on a menu without an adequate translation violated Quebec’s Language Charter,” according to the report. Sticky wicket that one, because if you really want to nitty gritty the situation, how do you translate sandwich, pizza, taco, hamburger, pad thai or paella? Yeah, good luck with that.

A guide to driving in India without dying
At least six separate things happened on that first short drive to my hotel that, if they happened in the US, would have been the only thing I'd talk about for a week. In India, no one seemed to notice. In America if I, say, was driving with my family and drove into lanes of oncoming traffic and lane-split like a motorcyclist just to pass a 3-wheeler going 2 mph slower than the surrounding traffic, my wife would have finalized our divorce before I even got into third gear. By fourth gear she'd be signing the papers to have me committed, and I suspect I'd be in handcuffs by the first stop light. In India, nobody even bothers to dialate their pupils at these sorts of things.

Educating Indonesia
Indonesian educators and commentators have slammed the country's school system for placing more emphasis on rote learning than creative thinking. A culture of teaching anchored in obedience as well as a rigid approach to religious studies and assigned reading have been described as major problems. Education experts say less than half of the country's teachers possess even the minimum qualifications to teach properly and teacher absenteeism hovers at around 20 percent. Many teachers in the public school system work outside of the classroom to improve their incomes.

The more names change, the more they sound the same 
...names that start out as being restricted to boys sometimes later drift over into unisex usage—think of names like Dana, Jamie, or Drew. But Cassidy and her colleagues found that not all boys’ names were equally likely to drift. Names with very high male scores stayed firmly anchored in the masculine domain while those that scored as less male-sounding were more often appropriated as names for girls.

Why do British singers sound American?
Linguist Peter Trudgill tracked rhoticity in British rock music over the years and found that the Beatles’ pronunciation of Rs decreased over the course of the 1960s, settling into a trans-Atlantic sound that incorporated aspects of both British and American dialects. The trend also went in the opposite direction as new genres developed: American pop-punk vocalists like Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day took on a British-tinged accent to sound more like seminal artists such as Joe Strummer of the Clash. Contemporary singers continue to adopt various accents according to their genre; Keith Urban, who is Australian, sings country music with a marked American Southern accent.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Why we love some Asian cuisines and not others (@ Peril Magazine)

My latest blog post for Peril (Asian-Australian Arts & Culture Magazine) is about why some ethnic cuisines become so much more popular than others.

Yet it is also testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of certain ethnic groups who spread themselves around the globe and discovered they could carve out a successful niche in the restaurant business. Worldwide, few groups have done this as successfully as the Chinese, Italians, Indians and Lebanese. So it’s hard to talk about the success of the food itself without looking at the culture that produces it. The most successful culinary exports come from cultures that not only celebrate their own food (Italians being the best example of this), but also have a strong drive towards small business ownership. 

 Check it here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My friendly neighbourhood

This is in Twin Waters in Queensland, right near where I just moved to. No doubt it will cause great consternation to the zero Muslims who actually live there. Unless of course it is out of concern that the Muslims will hurt themselves by jumping and diving.