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).

The words in our language

“How was your staycation?” my student asked her colleague.

“It was relaxing,” he answered.

Another young woman sitting next to him raised her hand. “What did you say? What was it?” “stey-key-shun?” He replied, “Ah.. you were not with us last year. Staycation means vacation spent at home doing something you enjoy. In the beginning, I also thought it sounded funny.”

Then he added, “holiday in UK and vacation in US English.”

I couldn’t help smiling and was glad that my student remembered something from our previous course. Languages evolve, appear and disappear to adapt and cater to the changing needs and developments (e.g. technology) in our society. Often, new words are created by: 1) putting together letters from 2 different words (e.g. ‘Brexit’ – British/Britain’s exit from the European Union. There’s a referendum on this issue in June 2016); 2) shortening words (e.g. company representative = company rep); 3) borrowing from other languages (e.g. French ‘chef’ – cook); and 4) even from mistakes or words of celebrities (e.g. Gwyneth Paltrow’s conscious uncoupling which describes divorcing or separating couple who find the source of unhappiness in themselves and refrain from blaming each other).

日本礼賛 と 星の王子様のうぬぼれ男(2)

先週のブログで、大事な点がもうひとつぬけてました(他にもありますが)。うっぷす。

日本礼賛は、日本の美点を誇りほめたたえる政治宣伝です。

日本礼賛を見聞きしているうちに、われわれはこんなにも優れた民族なんだという気になるのでしょうね。でも、その有能感の深層にあるのは、優劣重視や差別意識に基づいた世界観ではないでしょうか。

愛国心や戦意高揚をねらった称賛扇動と軍国主義は、密接なつながりがあることは述べました。(英文エッセイには、もちろん「星の王子様」は登場しません)過去にはアジアの「指導民族」であるという優越心が、自国の来し方や侵略戦争を善なるものとして正当化したわけです。
mizohata.org - Superb Japan!? ― 日本礼賛の幻想

敗戦により、日本人のおごりや陶酔感はものの見事に叩きつぶされます。

ですが戦後すぐに、日本のうぬぼれや虚栄心を目ざとく見てとったのが、ジョン・フォスター・ダレスでした。そう、「望むだけの軍隊を、望むだけの場所に、望む期間駐留させる」と発言したことでも知られるアメリカの政治家です。

。。。下につづく

日本礼賛 と 星の王子様のうぬぼれ男(1)

「日本すごい!」本が、ブームなんだそうですが。 まず芥川賞作家のツッコミを、読んでみてください。


このごろ私が、「気色わるゥ」

と思ったこと、二つ三つ。       (中略)

しかし「日本人上等論」を読んで(それみい、やっぱりや)などとにんまりしてるとえらい目にあう。日本人をほめられてワルイ気はしないところが、要注意のこわさ、気色わるさである。戦争おっぱじめる、軍隊を組織して軍備を強化する、ということをもくろむ手合いはまず、国民の士気と民族意識をたかめ、(それみい・・・・・)という優越感を植えつけようとする。気色わるゥ。

田辺聖子「気色わるゥ」

女の口髭 文春文庫 1987年 116~118頁

。。。下につづく

Not always whiter and greener

My friend’s daughter always complains about the heat in Brisbane and has said to me how she would love to live in cold Europe. She doesn’t like her air-conditioned car and looks forward to skiing. My Belgian acquaintances find winter miserable and think it is a paradise to use the outdoor swimming pool and visit the nearby beach any time you feel like it.

A former neighbour recently confided to me about unmet expectations in her new job. She described in detail her uneasiness working with native-English speakers (she’s French) which, ironically, was one of the main reasons why she left the Francophone working environment (i.e. she wanted to improve her English by speaking it every day).

When I visit Singapore or Philippines, I observe smilingly women snuggling under their umbrellas not necessarily to prevent from having skin cancer but to avoid getting browner/darker. In western countries, however, men and women spend a lot of time and money trying to get tanned as it is considered good and healthy looking.

Consumption of dietary and vitamin supplements is cultural

Getting into a chemist (Oceania and the UK)/pharmacy (US) in Australia, you notice immediately the wide range of dietary and vitamin supplements occupying almost a third of the store. There are a variety of choices from A to Z of brands locally and internationally. But, in France and Luxembourg this is not the case. Often, you have to ask the staff for common vitamin supplements, such as Omega 3 and grape seed tablets, which are stocked between beauty products and medicines. In developing countries of Asia, Africa and Central & South America, these are highly unaffordable for most people. Surprisingly, however, the Nielsen study showed that Asians (and North Americans) lead the world in the usage of dietary and vitamin supplements with the highest levels found in the Philippines and Thailand (66% compared to 56% in the USA). Europe (30%) and Latin America (28%) had the lowest intake (France and Spain at the bottom: 17% and 13% respectively). The respondents' main reason for not taking vitamins was that "their diets were already balanced while those in Poland, Russia and the Baltic states felt that "it is too difficult to understand which product to use." (''North-America, Asia lead vitamin and supplement usage'').

It is known that, generally, Europeans have poor vitamin D. A comparative study of eating habits and calcium & vitamin D intakes in Central-Eastern European countries conducted by the Faculty of Health Sciences in Semmelweis University, Hungary headed by Dr. Katalin Tátrai-Nèmeth concluded that the highest calcium intake was in the Hungarian population while the lowest in Slovenia, and vitamin D intake was critically low in both of these countries. (''A comparative study of eating habits calcium and vitamin D intakes in the population'').

「敗北を抱きしめて」(Embracing Defeat)雑感

ジョン・ダワー先生のベストセラーは、後半をすこしひろい読みしただけで長らく書架においたままだった。浅草の女性ストリーッパーの写真や雑誌の図説を見て、俗っぽい内容の本なのかと勘違いして本を開かずにいた。

昨年成立した戦争法について考えていたとき、この本にあてどなく手がのびて13章から終章までじっくり読みおえた。あまりにおもしろくて序章にもどった。どうして読まずにいたのだろう・・・。

言葉(英単語)ひとつにしても、惜しげもないゆたかな語彙も表現も、話の展開も、限りなくおもしろい。おかしみは尽きず、つい読み急ぐのだけども、一気に読むのはもったいないような、底ふかい愉悦感。「おもしろォーい」と何度もうなりながら読んだ。

ダワーを読まずして、なんとしよう。

全体にただよう文学的な風合いには、星屑を散らしたように、ラテン語が(フランス語も)使われていた。なるほど目でも愉しめるように、四字熟語のように効果的に視覚に訴えてくるのがわかる。英文にも「眼福」ってあるのだなと知らさせた。

。。。下につづく

Leap year, Valentine's day and more

I hope that 2016 has started very well for you. Definitely, it has for me: I am spoilt being in Queensland (the third largest state in Australia) with its weather suited to outside entertainment and activities (e.g. only a sliding door and a compulsory gate separate our living area from the swimming pool).

January 26 was Australia Day and there were fantastic celebrations with fireworks and musical shows all over the country. While working for Multicultural Affairs Queensland (formerly Bureau of Ethnic Affairs), we had fun coming up with definitions of an Australian; and my updated version is something like this:

Being Australian is driving a Japanese car (most likely a Toyota or Mazda) to an Irish pub to drink a Belgian beer; then on the way home grab an Indian takeaway or have Yum Cha at a Chinese restaurant; at home sits on a Swedish furniture watching an American TV program or film on a German TV while texting or Facebooking in a gadget with components from Malaysia or Philippines.

The year 2016 should be better

I'm writing this from sunny Brisbane in Australia. I'm so delighted to be with family and friends, especially that I didn't see them for five years. Being a family addict and social connoisseur, every day is spent dining together, playing board games and sports, visiting places or simply lazing around talking to each other. Giving and receiving are also a habit. Fortunately, I received only useful presents last Christmas. However, even if I had unwanted gifts, I would have turned these into needed and appreciated possessions. In fact, even when I don't like my gift, I never return it. Of course you can do this if there's a receipt (but never ask for it) and exchange it for something that you really like.

In the past, I did regift expensive wine and champagne bottles (I don't drink alcohol). Sometimes, I had presents that stayed in my wardrobe for a year or so waiting for the right person and occasion. Since I have a fairly good memory when it comes to people and their kindness, I always remember who has given me what. However, one day when my memory starts to dwindle, I will record my unwanted presents so that I won't offer these embarrassingly to the original givers.

As well, I am good at reusing presents, e.g. my current make up porcelain holder was actually given to me as a jewellery box.

Barbara Young, one of my role models and former work supervisors, donates unwanted gifts to charities (e.g. Save the Children Fund) and those less fortunate. About 8 years ago, I helped her get rid of unused belongings in a garage sale.

Perhaps one day I will organise a swapping party for unused/unwanted Christmas (or birthday) presents.

The year 2015 was enlightening and productive for me, however, global events (several of which I had mentioned in my previous articles) saddened me. Currently, what worries me more is that our world continues to be riddled with mutual distrust and division, conflicts and terrorism. What can we do about these – antidotes and answers?

うちの息子はロボット

私の留守中に、侵入者がうちに住みこんでいた。

掃除ロボットのルンバで、その名をトビー (Tobi) という。夫は彼のパパだと認知している。私としちゃ、ロボットを子にしたおぼえはない。

トビーの日本語名は鳶(鳶職のトビ)と書く。しかしトビー君、高い所は苦手らしい。が、高度や段差がわかるらしく、テーブルの上で操作しても用心深く、落ちたりしない。

「こんなモノ」とくくっていたら。トビーに、かなり助けられている。

トビー君。今日はここからはじめようとか、それなりの予定があるらしい。ある日、突然、動きだしたのでびっくりしてたら、実は時間設定されていた。出動のたびにアチコチに体当たりし、グォーゥンと頭をぶつける。不思議に近眼。だが私の足元には、触れるか触れないかのぎりぎりの優しさの気配で近づいてくる。部屋の入り口で障害物にぶつかると、ツッーとそのまま逆もどりする。狭いところに入りこむと、いつまでも堂々めぐりするのかと思いきや、こけつまろびつ自力で突破口を見つけてくる。

。。。下につづく

Solidarity amid insecurity

At 5am on 14 November 2015, I was awaken by a phone call from Australia. My sister was so relieved that none of my family and friends was in Paris. My brother-in-law continued the conversation with information on deaths and damages unfolding on their television screen the whole day.

We were in Luxembourg that Friday evening watching Spectre, and as soon as we got home at 11pm we went to bed oblivious to the terrorist attacks in the city of lights, where my first son was born and I resided for 2 years. Though we don’t live in Paris any more, I’m affected by this insecure state and threats of terrorism, which I had never seen in my life before. Last week, one of my students was at the funeral of his cousin’s son who was one of the Bataclan victims. For 2 weeks now, I’ve been coming home late, missing dinner with my family as it takes 2 hours to get home due to traffic jams and security checks. These days, I spend more time commuting than teaching.

Terrorism threatens our existence and that of the civilised world. This has ramifications on every aspect of our society: psychological (limit our activities & choices/create fear), political (e.g. State resources are redirected from social development to security measures), social (relationships are redefined, suspicions arise, and stereotypes prevails) and economic (increased expenditures on health and security; loss of income – e.g. shops in Brussels were deserted last November 21-22).

As the saying goes “If it doesn’t kill us, if will only make us stronger,” and this is exactly what our democratic world has become. There has been an outpouring of support and solidarity. This write-up is my contribution to ensuring that such support and solidarity continue even after families and friends have buried their loved ones and the injured have left their hospital beds.

Citizenship, loyalty and belongingness

Thousands of Filipino-born Americans cheered vehemently for Manny Pakyaw for “The Fight of the Century” boxing title against American Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in May this year. From time to time, we hear about some South Asians in the UK feeling gloomy when the English cricket team wins against Pakistan or India (their ancestral homes). My first work supervisor in Australia was a New Zealander, and I believe he celebrated in the comfort of his Brisbane home (Australia) the win of the All Blacks against the Wallabies/Aussies in yesterday's Rugby World Cup 2015.

Sport is one of the primary means through which citizenship and belongingness are contested and resisted. The teams we cheer for, flags we fly, anthem we sing and colour of clothes we wear are a part of our interpretation, as individuals or groups, of the cultural, linguistic and national connections that unite or divide us. These days, such connections are quite complex as the very concept of a national identity is challenged and redefined (sometimes as multiple identities) and dual citizenship have become more common than ever.

Globalisation, migration and family relationships have (and will continue to) changed individual and collective identities within a nation. At the same time, international connectedness has been confirmed by membership to organisations, e.g. European Union, creating a new kind of identity that is different from what is traditionally associated with a single country. Likewise, constant economic, political, social and cultural developments contribute to the transformation of our identity and sense of belonging, which aid or complicate our rights and responsibilities as citizens of one or more countries.

Sports and Pubs

Last fortnight, I watched the Australia-Fiji game as part of the Rugby World Cup 2015 in England. It wasn’t the first time I sat in front of the television screen looking more at men’s gluteus maximus (backside/behind/bums/buttocks) than the ball. It wasn’t also the first time I was in the pub; and like the others, it has a lively decoration and variety of beverage on offer (the pineapple, mango and coconut delight attracted my attention).

The Rugby World cup is the third most watched sporting event in the world after the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup and the Summer Olympics. (football in Europe while soccer in Australia & USA)

There are two kinds of rugby: Rugby Union and Rugby League. The League has 13 players on the field while the Union 15. The former has a six tackle rule which is not the case with the latter. In League a try is worth 4 points, goal is 2 points and field goal or drop goal 1 point. In Union a try is 5 points, conversion kick 2 points, and penalty kick or drop goal is 3 points each.

The Rugby Union World Cup was first held in New Zealand and Australia in 1987 and is since held once every four years involving the top 20 teams (those that have qualified) from around the world. The 2011 champion was New Zealand, the Blacks. At the end of October, we’ll know who are the best rugby men in 2015.

危機に面してリーダーは生まれる

戦争法案が、強行に採決されようとしている前夜である。日本から離れ、ルクセンブルグ/パリにいても、私は気がかりで落ち着いていれない。でも。絶望して眠りにつくと、翌朝はよりたくましい気持ちになっている自分がいて、驚いたりもする。

「危機になれば、必ずリーダーになる人が現れる。リーダーは生まれる」

アラブ人の弟が、日本の危機を憂いた私をそう言ってなぐさめてくれた。確か、一昨年のことだ。山本太郎さんや奥田愛基さんの発現で、彼の口にした事が現実になったと思った。すぐれた学者も生まれ出てくることだろう。

「私たちは一人一人、個人として声をあげています。不断の努力なくして、この国の憲法や民主主義、それらが機能しないことを自覚しているからです」SEALDsの愛基さんの言葉だ。

。。。下につづく

Syndicate content