Society / Evolution

purchasing power, inflation,...

Communication patterns and behaviours of French and English speakers

Last Saturday, I was finishing an article on French politics when I realized that we didn’t have enough food for the weekend, and because shops are closed on Sunday, I rushed to our local supermarket. I was thrilled because I filled the trolley in less than an hour, but at the checkout my excitement turned into an unpleasant experience. My first bankcard didn’t work and the second one flashed with “code faux”. After trying twice, the cashier informed me in a high-pitched voice that I keyed in the wrong numbers and I couldn’t use it anymore. Slightly embarrassed, I scraped all the cash I had including the Euros hidden in the secret compartment of my wallet intended for emergency use only. She remarked twice that I made a mistake and when I was exiting the premises she uttered in a loud voice, “Regardez, la carte de Monsieur fonctionne”. There was no need for her to let everyone know that unlike mine, the bankcard of the man behind me worked.

I went straight to my bank, which is just across the street, and tried the same code. It worked and there’s no explanation why it failed before. I went back to the shop and told the cashier that I was disappointed with her behaviour. She raised her voice even louder, which caught the attention of the security guard who came and inquired what was happening. As I was explaining, she insisted I entered the wrong code. I told her to calm down as it’s normal for people to press wrong buttons but it’s not acceptable to be rude at customers. She didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, so I repeated “It’s uncivilised to talk in that manner.” The security guard interrupted and said “Je ne crie pas” (I’m not screaming). It was obvious my statement wasn’t for him… The French…!

Cinema is a French invention while OSCAR is an American show

Four years ago, I visited the Lumière (‘light’ in English) Museum in Lyon, France, which is dedicated to the Lumière brothers == Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas (1862- 1954) and Louis Jean (1864 - 1948). While working for their father (Charles Antoine Lumière, 1840-1911) in his photographic business, they made some improvements to still-photography (especially the dry-plate process) that was a major step towards moving images. ‘The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat’ in 1895 was their earliest film and it’s because of them that today we enjoy movies, TV programs, documentaries and entertainment.

I remember standing vividly in front of the Lumières’ extraordinary inventions, including their first cameras, finding explanations as to why the French, though pioneering in the film industry, haven’t received international accolade (i.e. annual Academy Awards) and came out with two: language (English is more widely spoken and understood) and culture (generally, the Americans are more commercially-daring).

Therefore, in 2008 when Marion Cotillard won the Academy (popularly known as the OSCAR) Best Actress Award for her performance as Edith Piaf in ‘La Vie en Rose’ (Life in Rose) and recently Jean Dujardin for Best Actor and Michel Hazanavicius for Best Director Awards in ‘The Artist,’ I was certainly thrilled.

Crime within the EU countries

Crime and deviance have been analysed using sociological theories and concepts, such a labelling (societal reaction creates a deviant), social control (easier to commit a crime when there’s no social control or restraint) , anomie (confusion in norms — with changes in the society, rules become less binding), culture conflict (members of one group violate the mores and values of another group) and social class (there are unsatisfied needs due to low educational attainment and income whilst satisfied needs are carelessly displayed).

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has disclosed that the rate of homicide (intentional killing of an individual – murder, manslaughter, infanticide and euthanasia) per 100,000 inhabitants was 1.2 in West and Central Europe, 1.5 in Southern Europe, and 7 in East Europe in 2010. Overall, Europe’s rate was 3.5 –which was lower than that of North America (4.7) and Africa (17.4), but slightly higher than that of Asia (3.1).

The latest Eurostat publication has revealed an estimated 29 million crimes recorded by the police within the EU in 2008. The EU prison population rose by 1.2% per year from 1998 to 2008 – about 124 prisoners per 100,000 members of the total population. The Baltic member nations (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and Poland had the highest population of over 200 prisoners/100,000 inhabitants whereas the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland and Sweden), Slovenia and Ireland had less than 75 prisoners/100,000 inhabitants.

[2011-08-26 Cambria Press] Japan's Shrinking Regions in the 21st Century: Contemporary Responses to Depopulation and Socioeconomic Decline (Peter Matanle and Anthony Rausch with the Shrinking Regions Research Group)

Japan's Shrinking Regions in the 21st Century - book cover

  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Maps
  • List of Photos
  • List of Tables
  • List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
  • Note on Romanised Japanese
  • Acknowledgments

Amartya Sen's Capability Approach, Democratic Governance and Japan's Fukushima Disaster

Yutakana kurashi

I have just published an article entitled "Amartya Sen's Capability Approach, Democratic Governance and Japan's Fukushima Disaster - アマルティア・センのケイパビリティ・アプローチ、民主政と福島の大惨事" in The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 9, Issue 46 No 2, November 14, 2011.

For those who are interested in reading the article, please go to:

To print the article:

Rei Shiva's photo shows the deserted town of Futaba, inside the 20-kilometer evacuation zone in Fukushima prefecture. The irony is that the crossroad sign saying “With correct understanding of nuclear, (we have) a yutakana (rich or affluent) living.” Another photographer, Ota Yasusuke shows in his blog the photos of the companion animals unintentionally abandoned after 3.11:





L'homme qui a refusé l'offre d'Areva pour préserver les terres de son clan!

Jeffrey Lee (né en 1971) est le seul membre du clan Djok et le principal dépositaire du gisement d'uranium de Koongarra en Australie. Les terres appartenant au clan sont entourées par le parc national de Kakadu. Jeffrey est devenu célèbre car il a refusé de vendre ses champs de grande valeur à la société française Areva, un géant du marché de l'énergie, qui voulait en extraire environ 14 000 tonnes d'uranium pour une valeur de plus de 5 milliards de dollars (selon wikipedia).

Voici un résumé de ce qu'il dit sur la question:
Si cela avait été mon père ou grand-père, ils auraient pu vendre ces terres car, sans être informés au sujet de la toxicité de l'uranium, ils n'y auraient probablement vu qu'une offre alléchante et l'opportunité d'accéder à plus de confort financier. Je ne suis pas intéressé par l'argent. J'ai un travail pour acheter des vivres. Je peux aller à la pêche et la chasse. Cela est suffisant. Nous ne possédons pas nos champs, mais nous avons une responsabilité envers nos enfants de les préserver et de leur transmettre.

Après ses trois décennies de longues luttes, Jeffrey s'est vu récompensé car le Koongarra a été inscrit au titre de zone classée au patrimoine mondial de Kakadu, le 27 Juin 2011. Cet homme a fait preuve d'une grande sagesse en ne confondant jamais le moyen (l'argent au travers de l'uranium) et la fin (le bien-être)!

Dommage pour vous, Areva!

Kakadu National Park site:

The guy who declined Areva's offers to preserve the fields of his clan!

Jeffrey Lee (born 1971) is the sole member of the Djok clan and the senior custodian of the Koongarra uranium deposit in Australia. The land owned by the clan is surrounded by Kakadu National Park. He has become famous since he did not want to sell the high-valued fields to the French energy giant Areva who wanted to extract 14,000 tonnes of uranium worth more than $5 billion (wikipedia).

Here a summary of what he said about the issue:
If it had been my father or grandfather, they may have sold the land since they had been offered many goods and nobody told them about the toxicity of uranium. I am not interested in money. I have a job to buy food. I can go fishing and hunting. That is sufficient. We do not own our fields, but we have a responsibility to our offspring to preserve and pass them on.

After his three-decade-long struggle, Koongarra was inscribed into the Kakadu World Heritage area on 27 June 2011. This wise guy never gets confused a means (money and uranium) with an end (wellbeing)!

Sayonara, Areva!

Kakadu National Park site:


My older friend told me an episode of her daughter (probably, it often happened in the late 1970s - early 80s in the USA). When her daughter was called "Chinese" in town, she yelled back each time saying "No, I am Japanese." As a child, she defended her identity. Now she works as an international lawyer supervisor in The Hague.

I still have similar experiences in Europe now (far more frequently than in the 20th century USA). Sometimes we need to fight to defend ourselves, and often it is not even worth dealing with these "péquenauds"(*) people! They even do not know that the odor of something (e.g., Japanese incense, French cheese) can be a very pleasant smell in one culture, and a horrible smell in another.

In my view, powerless people try to depreciate and lower others – believing in their own superiority without any doubt whatsoever – by misunderstanding/mixing up things, criticizing without serious scrutiny, making fun of them, speaking ill of them, making loud noises, being arrogant and rude, allying with other péquenauds, not acknowledging their wrongdoings, etc. These may come from their immaturity, inexperience, and parochialism. Indeed, these people can be very malicious and belligerent, but not so harmful, and they can be extremely gentle for those who are deemed superior. Self-confident people do not need to resort to such empty gestures.

Though, it seems to be difficult to open the blind eyes of these péquenauds who believe that they have seen the world!

Happy Halloween!


(*) a person considered to be provincial, with old-fashioned unfair ideas, beliefs, and attitudes.

A lot of wisdom, friendship and kindness out there

If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because you believe in the power of wisdom, that friendship ceases when sharing ends or the greatest joy comes from helping others.

For quite a while I debated on whether or not to have a website; finally, I did it last weekend. Being a web debutante and not so gifted electronically, my new site is simple and basic. Nevertheless, my friends – who are already battling with their home and professional duties, promptly visited and offered me words of wisdom to make it a success.

Sachie and Raynald, amid their hectic schedule managing projects and finishing a book, perused my website with diligence and emailed me information on how to protect my folder and improve the homepage.

Friends from Down Under were so generous with their words of congratulations. One of them suggested I should limit the use of gifted because it is a confusing word. A friend, who’s a caring and devoted father and husband, dedicated teacher and talented artist, has posted a page of comment. Another friend, who has successfully made his way in the global finance operating from Singapore, emailed me his pragmatic views on intelligence, career, parenting, sports and happiness. Whereas, a French acquaintance managed to review it during her rare brief breaks from a demanding job and busy husband and 2 active daughters. She writes, “I have just read your website and I find it very interesting (I have read it in English first, then the translation, then both together, pieces to pieces)."

I’m so touched by my friends’ and acquaintances’ generosity - an act that shows we can have a more caring society and ‘global village mentality’ rather than individualism and materialism.

Building a global one world classroom

This guy is cool! He shows how new technologies can effectively help teachers with teaching, and the children with learning... by doing things differently. He calls it "flipping the classroom." Students are free to take their lessons/lectures via video posted on the Internet from anywhere they want and the time spent with the teacher in the classroom is dedicated to do their homework. The videos are well conceived and it seems that they are appealing even to the kids who have learning difficulties (e.g., children with autism).

Even without major learning difficulties and disorders, some kids may not like schools. I recall the first day of an elementary school... A sense of agony, torture. I found it eternally hard to sit still on a hard chair all day long...

Old days are gone. It is amusing to imagine that a kid in Calcutta may tutor math for a Belgian kid via the Internet, and play WoW together after the tutoring session, etc...


昨夜、田辺聖子さんの小説「花衣ぬぐやまつわる・・・わが愛の杉田久女」(下)を読みました。150ページ(集英社文庫。1990年)に、次のような箇所があります。 「・・・久女は、これまた空襲の恐怖からも逃れられず、句稿を抱いて防空壕でうずくまっていたのである。


Constant in Societal Evolution

Our society has evolved and many things have changed: tribes have become nation states; our world has developed into a highly technological global village; pure capitalism has gone out of vogue while social entrepreneurship and green market have become buzz words; a more democratic system of government has replaced oligarchy and dictatorship in several countries, etc. There is no doubt that our society is more sophisticated and advanced than ever before.

Innovative developments are evident in business, economics, communications, sports, health services, welfare system, transportation, housing and education. There are hundreds of issues that can be written about on each of these subjects; however, since we’re nearing the end of the school year, I would like to share with you my views on education. Amid progress in pedagogies and policies, the mandatory high school final examinations have remained unchanged in many countries. As in the beginning of the1800s, today’s examinations are used as filters. Good results are required for entrance to tertiary education, access other professional qualifications, obtain a certified training and get a paid job. These examinations are so common and part of our society that their short-, medium- and long-term effects are often neglected in public debate.







3)私は日本、アメリカ、フランスと原発三大国(そんなこととは知らず)に住んできました。昨日のYOMIURI ONLINEには、今月26、27日にフランス、ドービルで開かれる主要8か国(G8)首脳会議で菅首相は原発、安全性高め継続を表明するとありました。「G8の中で原発推進の立場の米、仏両国と連携し、過度な“脱原発”の流れとは一線を画す立場を鮮明に打ち出す考えだ」そうです。


巨大地震・現時点で思うこと ─ 在外日本人からの提案







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