Welcome to social-issues.org online community!

This site is welcoming individuals as well as a community from different horizons with various backgrounds, defending diverse points of view, but all having the same desire to share information and knowledge and to start or consolidate collaborations and synergies in the domain of social sciences, philosophy, and policies. The social-issues community is organized around a set of tools to promote:
  • information sharing (blog, news, etc.)
  • communication and public debate (forum, chat, etc.)
  • collaboration (Computer-Assisted Personal Interviews - CAPI, laboratories, "coffee break" place).

他国の知恵

他国の知恵

ルクセンブルグの名家でパーティがあった。「プチ・スイス」といわれる森の中のお城のような邸宅に、リサーチなどを生業とする人たちが25人ほど集まった。主にルクセンブルグ人とベルギー人の集まりで(いつものごとく私はマイノリティ)、外国人らしきカップルが皆よりやや離れぎみだったので、話の席に加わった。実は女性は邸の令嬢で、11年の英国生活から引き上げてきたばかりだという。男性は彼女のボーイフレンドでルーマニア人である。

また政治の話になり、私は「今の日本はドキュメンタリー映画で見た、チャウシェスク政権の末期のようです」と話した(広場に集まった市民が政府機関を占拠したとき、あらかじめチャウシェスクの名前が書かれた大量の投票用紙を窓から撒き散らして、皆の目にさらした映像をいつも思い出す)。ルーマニアは今も腐敗やスキャンダルは絶えないが、海外に暮らす愛国者たちが(正確な人数を失念したが、約500万人だったと思う)独立した調査報道の経済支援を続けているという。「自分の両親はまだルーマニアに住んでいるし。愚政がために、彼らがいかに苦しい人生をおくってきたかを知っている。だからリベンジのつもりで支援している」という。日本にはネットジャーナルや海外の「九条の会」などもあるけれど、似たたぐいの要請が、わが国でも高まっているのではないだろうか。

。。。下につづく

護身術とディフェンス

護身術とディフェンス

6月の週末。日本から武術の先生がベルギーのバストーニュにいらっしゃった。先生にとっては、3泊5日!?という強行日程セミナー。会場に着くまでは5〜6人の集まりかと思いきや。スイス、フランス、ルクセンブルグ、ベルギーそして日本(日本人は先生と私のみ)の5カ国から50人強の武道家が集い、さらにその家族がとり巻き見守るという盛会ぶりだった。

(海外に誇れる良きものが日本にはあるのですね。こういう指導力こそ、クール・ジャパン戦略にすればよろしいのでは)

予定は半年前に知らされていた。先生は「英語」を話されるので、技の説明は大丈夫だけれども、会食時などになかつぎが要るようだった。つまりは「要通訳」という無言のプレッシャーを感じた。とりあえず、ほうじ茶だけ淹れて早朝ベルギーへ向かった。

普段は「畳の上ででんぐり返りして、何が面白い」などと思っているが、いざ目撃してみると……。かなり興味深い。廻転にも洗練を感じる。

師範の友人(写真下・地方テレビ局にインタビューを受ける彼)は、畳の上にあがると水を得た魚のようだった。技を教える横顔にも、満面におさえきれない笑みがひろがる。畳をかかえて、広々とした体育館の中をひょいひょいと弾んで歩く後ろ姿は、まさに少年のようである。いつもは、やや神経質な人だと思ってたのですがね。しかも子どもたちに慕われる先生でもあるようだ。「彼の説明は本当にわかりやすい。痛くもなくってね」「へえ〜。そうなの。私、あの人の友だちなの」と自慢したくなった。

。。。下につづく

Foosball - fooball's/soccer's cousin

Rolade and a big foosball team

Table football (EU/UK) / table soccer (Australia/USA), which is also known as foosball, is a game for everyone (i.e. irrespective of age, gender and physical attributes). Playing foosball is a fun way to reunite with family, friends and colleagues. It brings out the competitive spirit in the players while making them mentally alert thinking of wise tactics to win the game. Therefore, if you want to be physically and mentally challenged, try foosball.

"Since this game involves the art and skill of coordinating your hands and eyes as well as keeping the body active, it is perfect to be done by all especially by people suffering from arthritis and brain injuries. In addition, foosball is a great rehabilitating sport for people with joint and bone problems. Aside from helping people in recovering from brain injuries as well as in joint and bone problems, foosball is not as tedious as other games and sports, thus, it does not cause too much pain on their part." (see ''Benefits and Reasons to Start Playing Foosball'', visited on 1/07/18).

Foosball is based on football/soccer, where 2 or 4 players try to hit a small ball into their opponent’s goal by turning rods with wooden figures then kick the ball downfield. Unlike football/soccer, there are no unified rules in foosball, i.e. there are different explicit regulations, styles of playing and table used in different countries. The Europeans generally use the Bonzini table (e.g. the Fédération Française de Football de Table in Rouen organised the World Series Bonzini in May 2018 -- photo above) and emphasise quickness and skill "finesse". The Americans have been using the Tornado brand for more than 30 years and focus on power and speed (I saw them play this way at Rouen last May).

(Continue to read...)

Football (EU/UK)/Soccer (Australia/US) Fever

What a pity the Philippines doesn't have a national football team. Every municipality and barrio in this country of more than 7,000 islands has a basketball court, but a football/soccer field is a rare sight. Its national sport is basketball, which requires a formidable height, i.e. average 6ft 7in (200 cm) for international players - that the majority of its citizens don't have). Whereas, Filipinos are resourceful, creative, hard-working, goal oriented and have a strong family/community/team spirit - qualities that make a football/soccer champion.

This coming Saturday (the 16th), 3rd day of the World Cup, it will be Australia - France; and there's going to be a party at home irrespective of the outcome of the match as we are both Australian and French citizens living in France. One of my family members, however, seems to favour France as he believes it'll fare better at the final stages. On the contrary, I will definitely cheer for the Socceroos because the Aussies occupy a special place in my heart.

I haven't met someone in France and Luxembourg (where I work) who thinks that the green and gold team will be the "vainqueur". Well, I always applaud and rally for the so called “underdog” and believe in the “David and Goliath" story. (With incredible support and financial rewards, France is definitely the latter. According to ''Soccer Laduma'', Paul Pogba is said to be earning £290,000 (328,892.95 EUR) a week at United, Paris Saint-Germain wonderkid Kylian Mbappe on £262,000, and Ousmane Dembele on £220,000 a week. About 17,000 tickets have already been sold to the French fans on their way to Russia).

Civility, respect and responsibility

It was a beautiful sunny morning; unlike the previous three months, it was neither raining nor snowing. At 7:30 in the morning, there were already more than 20 cross-border commuters lining up for the public transport. On the same street “Place de la liberté”, there was a local bus waiting for the traffic light to turn green. We watched in disgust as four teenage girls opened its window and threw empty cartons of orange juice that landed in front of the queueing passengers. I got out of the queue and picked these up then gave them a disappointing look wondering whether they realised that they had just exposed publicly their uncivility. When I returned from the nearest bin, their bus had left and mine had arrived, and no one uttered a word.

I didn’t think twice; picking up that litter was an instinctive reaction. I didn’t expect or want recognition from anyone; however, if I see you removing a piece of rubbish left lying in a public place, I’ll definitely give you some words of encouragement. Littering is hazardous for our health and environment.

During my first two years in France, while in parks and playgrounds with my toddler, I used to pick up wrappers of snacks and boxes of juice and put these in the bin while asking myself whether it was the kids or their parents who littered.

Whose responsibility is it when children litter: parents or society?

We, as parents, have an immense responsibility and opportunity in educating our children to be respectful of people, properties and our environment. Our words and actions help shape our children’s values and behaviours. If they deliberately litter, we must tell them why this is unacceptable. (When my son was 3 years old, he said, “Mummy’s bag is a fridge and a bin” because I had water, snacks and fruits every time we went out and kept all wrappers till we found a garbage bin). If the parents litter, their children are likely to do the same, and this is a societal problem.

Freedoms, Internet Access, and Mysterious Algorithms!?

Horse in Hespérange

Two days ago, Microsoft remotely updated and installed things in my computer, but has deinstalled my Japanese font – my mother tongue! Apparently, the problem has been well known, but they have updated anyway. At the same time I cannot deinstall the things I do not want, which is very frustrating. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Our friend Vincent says: “There are less and less free things on the Internet. If you think something is free, then you are becoming ‘the product’ itself. You see, where is your data?”

Another thing. Could you do me a favor? Could you google something and compare with the results of other lesser-known search engines on the Internet? Do you see any differences?

(Continue to read...)

How we live and what we leave behind matter

Today is International Labour Day; and in the 80s, Barbara and I used to have a stand of leaflets and Trading Partners’ products on May 1 to advertise and raise money for development education in Queensland. Three weeks ago, I received a very sad news about Barbara, and I will surely miss her.

I go Down Under whenever I can to be with family and friends and celebrate special occasions. Amid Barbara's hectic schedule caring for her sick son and other commitments, she came to my 50th birthday party in my sister’s house in Brisbane, and we had a memorable time.

Even if I had known, I would not been able to attend her funeral because of my work and family situation in France. I’m writing this not only to appease my deep sorrow of losing someone who did a lot for many socially and economically disadvantaged individuals and families, but because she was an exceptional person – a role model and an inspiration, especially to those involved in local and international charities and aid agencies.

The Sydney Morning Herald has published an article about Barbara’s many humanitarian endeavours, particularly as the first national president of the Save the Children Fund and past chairperson of the Refugee Council of Australia.

Inequality in Germany by Michael Hartmann

(a blog post written by my German friend Guido)

Professor Hartmann

Michael Hartmann is an emeritus professor of Technical University Darmstadt

Summary

Social and economic inequality is increasing in Germany faster than in all other developed countries (EU. US, JP, AU, CA, etc.)

Real income (not gross income) has not increased for the average German since the end of the 1990s, and today it has even fallen back to the level of beginning of the 1990s. Most alarming is the increase of income disparity caused by extreme concentration of wealth:

  • +17% for the top 10%,
  • -14 % for the bottom 10%
  • Total: +30% difference in 20 years.

(Continue to read...)

Clear, concise and unpretentious writing

Happy Easter to all of you!

I thought today's the 31st of March. I have just come back from a 4-hour chess tournament and am waiting for dinner. It's nearly 9 in the evening, and I have little mental energy left to do my first day-of-the month's blog. Thus, I decided to tell you about my soon-to-be-published book instead.

Foreword

The first article I wrote was published in my university newsletter 40 years ago. It was about my 24-hour travel by boat and bus from home to my alma mater. I felt disappointed seeing some words changed and several sentences reconstructed by the newsletter editor. I soon realised that at 16 years old I was just starting to learn how to write.

Ten years later, when my first journal article took a dozen drafts and tough comments from academic reviewers, I just grinned. I even considered it a victory because, at least, it was not an outright rejection and it eventually got published in the Australian Journal of Criminology. Writing is an art and a skill. Some people are gifted by nature and need no or little help to become good writers. Most of us, however, must spend time and energy to harness our writing skills.

Though the evolution of culture and society impacts how we use language, the essentials in writing have remained fairly constant, particularly in formal communication: grammar, verb tenses, punctuation, paragraphing, sentence structure, capitalisation, and tone.

Nowadays, English is spoken widely in countries that have national languages (e.g. India, Singapore, and The Philippines) and not only in Australia, Canada, the UK, and the USA. Nevertheless, standard American and British English varieties remain the main global business and academic references (lingua francas).

残念なアベノミクスの成果

残念なアベノミクスの成果

アイム・ソーリ、髭ソーリとおちゃらけたのは、たしか忌野清志郎でした。それにならって、アイム・ソーリ、アベ・ソーリ。ソーリ・アベノミクス。

そうです。インタビューで甘利さんたちが「トリクル・ダウン、トリクル・ダウン」(*)とあまりにも繰りかえすので、トリクル・ダウンという言葉のトリックに皆さんはひっかかったのでしょうか。経済成長の恩恵がそのうち庶民にもまわってくるだろう、そのためには、まず大企業と富裕層を儲けさせなくちゃ、トリクル・ダウン効果は起こらないとでも、思ったのでしょうか。ですが実はトリクル・ダウンの逆で「アベノミクスの効果が、大企業や富裕層のみに及び、それ以外の国民には及んでいない」(**)のが事実です。

「できるだけ多くの角度から論点を明らかに」(**) せよということですので、そのように検証しました。そうですね。悪魔/神は細部に宿るといいますものね。ぜひ私たちの記事に目を通していただきたい。

スティグリッツやケイパビリティの理論家たちがまとめた、国連のストックホルム声明書があります。アマルティア・センの理論の影響が、色濃く見られる声明書です。そこには「経済成長は目的ではなく、健康・教育・雇用・安全保障・消費の改善など社会目標を達成するために必要な資源を創出する手段にすぎない」と書かれています。本末転倒のアベノミクスは目的達成をできず、手段の段階で終わっています。

。。。下につづく

ピケティの「世界不平等報告書」の概要 一部・邦訳掲載

昨年のお正月。トニー・アトキンソンが亡くなったニュースを耳にした。

「世界不平等報告書」の概要

ある学会会場への帰り道、バスの座席に1人ですわる彼を見かけ声をかけたことがあった。それからホテルの会場まで Luxembourg Income Study や OECDの調査について話しながら、歩いて帰ったのを思いだす。翌朝も、席につくと目の前に彼がいた。なんとも謙虚で気さくな紳士が病気を患っていたことを知り、とても悲しかった。

今年になって「世界不平等報告書」を読んだ。彼の残した仕事を、同僚・友人であるピケティと世界の仲間である100人以上の専門家たちが受けつぎ、強化を図っていた。アトキンソン(アマルティア・センもアダム・スミスも)は、経済学の根幹をささえるのは倫理だと、くり返していた。

300頁にわたる報告書を訳すのはムリなので(経済の専門家たちがもっと上手に訳されるでしょうが)。特に興味をもった2ページを訳(意訳)してみた。グラフを見ると、われわれの共通財産である「公」の富が「私」へと移動していることがわかる。現在、公の富が私物化された、国有地の格安払いさげたという問題が取りざたされている。その諸問題の背後で、種子法は廃止され(みんなの種が、誰かさんの種になり)、TPP 協定はすすみ、アベノミクスと株価バブルで大企業と富裕層はさらにうるおう一方、公的債務は蓄積し、公ひとりひとりの教育や福祉への投資は減り、公的年金も減り、政府は人々の負託にこたえられず、国力が衰えていくという日本のすがたを映す鏡のようである。

。。。下につづく

Movies, news and society

February 2018 was a cinema month for me. I watched thought-provoking and inspiring films based on true stories: “The Post, ” The Darkest Hour,” and “15.17 to Paris.”

“The Post” stars Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, and it is about the Washington Post’s decision to publish government secrets found in the Pentagon Papers. My favourite line in this movie is “The Way They Lied, Those Days Have to Be Over.”

“People need to be led and not misled. Those who never change their minds, never change anything” – these are just two of the many words of wisdom in “The Darkest Hour.” It is in the 1940’s and Adolf Hitler has risen to power. The European nations, including Belgium and France, are in turmoil; and Dunkirk is in danger including the lives of 300,000 British soldiers.

“15.17 to Paris” is about three Americans (Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler) on their European backpacking tour in 2015. While on the Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris on August 21, they tackled a heavily armed jihadist terrorist saving many lives. (There were 554 passengers. The gunman had AKM assault rifle, nine magazines and 270 rounds of ammunition, a pistol, a knife and a bottle of petrol. Imagine what could have happened if these brave men didn’t intervene).

The reasons I went to see “15.17 to Paris” were: its director, Clint Eastwood, is an icon in the movie industry; it’s based on a true story; and the three actual guys played themselves (and not Bradley cooper, Chris Pine, Anthony Mackie, or other members of Hollywood’s A list). Hat’s off to these three guys not only to their courage but to their acting as well.

Unlike me, critics are not over the moon with this film. The Guardian (seen 11-02-18) even stated “the real meat of the film is that mind-bendingly boring holiday: endless beers, endless coffees, endless selfies. No tension between the guys. No real connection either.”

Predicting and Forecasting

January has always been an intellectually exciting month for me. My students are eager and thrilled with whatever subject I present for discussion. Perhaps being the first month of the year, which is associated with resolution and starting afresh, they are motivated with most things, including learning or improving their English.

In January 2018, one of the topics that interested them most was predicting and forecasting — two words which are often confused by many native and non-native English speakers.

For me, predicting is a subjective telling of the future based on intuition and personal judgement, which can be biased (sometimes it is entertaining or disconcerting). Whereas, forecasting is done by analysing the past. I predicted that my Aussie nephew would have a wedding in a tropical island where the weather forecast is favourable for outdoor ceremony, reception and party.

The Cambridge English dictionary defines ‘to predict’ (verb – /prɪˈdɪkt/) as “to say that an event or action will happen in the future, especially as a result of knowledge or experience: It’s still not possible to predict accurately the occurrence of earthquakes. [ + that ] Who could have predicted that within ten years he’d be in charge of the whole company? [ + to infinitive ] The hurricane is predicted to reach the coast tomorrow morning. [ + question word ] No one can predict when the disease will strike again” (see ''predict'' in the Cambridge Online Dictionary).

Mediums Craig and Jane Hamilton-Parker have made the following predictions for this year (read ''Predictions: Psychic and Astrology World Predictions for 2018''): “A trade embargo with North Korea will fail, the US will strike at railway line and bridge to disrupt imports. Massive Bitcoin fraud uncovered and thwarted that funds terrorism and war. Terrorists make an airborne chemical weapon gas attack by multiple drones on a European capital city.”

Would you like to try your predicting skill? Who will win the football/soccer World Cup in Russia in June? Who among the world’s celebrities will fall from grace?

Inhalt abgleichen