narcasse: Sebastian Flyte.  Brideshead Revisited (2008) (dictatorial)
[personal profile] narcasse
Thailand defies UN over migrants BBC News

"Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has assured them illegal migrants will be treated humanely, but he appears to have little control over how the military deals with them."

I’m not sure if this is a Thai problem specifically or whether he’s just bullshitting for the cameras so to speak. But put bluntly, until there’s some actual honest to goodness UN intervention in the area this sort of thing is par for the course. The only reason this obscure minority (that I’d never even heard of) are being put back into boats even is because it would be a waste of military resources to shoot them on land. Burma would do exactly the same thing and probably has done, UN negotiator visits and all.

Of course what might really help would be a UN Secretary General who actually did something for a change. I’m sure Ban Ki-Moon’s policies work with countries who respect basic human rights and such but with countries that don’t the UN seems to flounder. They sent a negotiator to Burma. Please. How is sitting down to have tea with the generals and talk about democracy really going to change anything? If they’re happy to murder monks they’re sure as hell not going to listen to some polite suggestions from the UN.


US city rejects English-only law BBC News

Good.

"They said the move could stop people who cannot read or write English from seeking vital help from social welfare agencies run by the city authorities."

Which is exactly what I thought it was meant to do when I first saw the article title. Besides this bunkum of English only ‘encouraging’ people to learn English hardly seems to work wherever I’ve seen it applied. All it does is push separate language communities to withdraw further into themselves.

I understand the principle behind it but if I were to go to Egypt and my only option was to learn Arabic by immersion I know I’d spend a good portion of my time floundering if there weren’t any helpful English language signposts along the way. Of course it can go the other way, which is what the argument always seems to be, that if services are provided in another language then it might also cause speaks of that language to simply opt for their own language use and not learn English/Russian/Arabic/etc at all. But honestly, if you live in a region where the predominant language is not your own then you’re going to end up learning some by osmosis anyway and from that you can build up enough competency to get by. That way of doing things is also less likely to induce panic over the fact that you’re learning a new language because if you flounder you know that your own language use isn’t too far away, so you can take a breather and then go back to your foreign language immersion.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-23 01:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blasphemiliar.livejournal.com
With the loosening of Australian immigration laws and the resulting back-lash, I feel I could add a little on the apparent doom my country faces from a handful of people (though how relevant it is to language, I don't know).

A lot of furore has been generated by Kevin Rudd's loosening of Australia's laws regarding unauthorized arrivals/illegal immigrants. People seem to fear another incident akin to the Tampa, and think that everyone will be flocking here because we roll out the red carpet et al. They couldn't be more wrong; according to the Refugee Council of Australia, the number of unauthorised arrivals by boat in 2000-2001 was 4137. In 2007-2008, this was 25. Only 25 people, and the Australian public can't even handle that. Apparently this small number of boat people spells imminent doom for the Australian way of life (though whether such a thing exists is still under debate). Among other complaints, you hear people saying that 'they won't learn English', as if this is a bad thing. It's true what you said; language can be picked up by osmosis, and most immigrants from a non-English speaking background learn enough to get by through their environment. And besides, these 'unauthorized arrivals', if they choose to stay, will be given English support so that they can be more involved in the community instead of isolated by their language and circumstances (with the advantage that they will understand more of the language, and faster).

But then again I guess that the average Australian tax payer would rather see the cash in their hand rather than benefiting someone else...Faith in humanity= nil.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-25 07:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] reichsfreiherr.livejournal.com
The most important way of reinforcing group identity is by focusing on the boundaries and particularly the boundaries created by the inability to communication so the case here is another one of those fear induced responses. People worry that the integrity of the group will be diluted by outsiders who’ll change the leading regime of truth by their mere presence, which is complete nonsense because if they want to be accepted by the group they’ll need to adopt the group’s traditions more ardently than members born into it. Of course the group regime of truth will change over time anyway but from within the group because if somebody else tries to impose a change upon them it’ll never stick and the group will simply find more cohesion in the shared experience of resisting that external imposition at the end of the day. Not that I’m in any state to cite sources right now but there are some wonderful articles that do nothing but go on about that fact when it comes to discourse theory.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-26 01:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blasphemiliar.livejournal.com
Oh yes, that all makes sense. After a while of watching the mud-slinging you figure out those sorts of things yourself. But I'm just sick of Australians thinking they have it the worst when it comes to asylum seekers, when most of them don't even bother to come here. Add to the fact that you've got Asians/Orientals/coconuts like me who have turned out just fine when it comes to dealing with more than one lifestyle...But it's Australia Day, so I won't go on for fear of swearing like I've got a crab in my shoe. Oh, and being a political scientist is nothing to apologize about, partly because I'm considering it for next year.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-27 12:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] reichsfreiherr.livejournal.com
South East Asian or South Asian? It always pays to check because the same terms seem to mean different things depending on regional usage.

Are you considering Politics for postgrad or undergrad there? I did both and it was a tremendous amount of fun all round, even when I was practically nocturnal, subsisting on cigarettes and tea, had lost the ability to talk about anything other than my specialisation and was close to literally pulling out my own hair out while I wrote up my MA dissertation. Though that said, if you have any faith in humanity left you may want to rid yourself of that inconvenience before you begin.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-27 12:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blasphemiliar.livejournal.com
South East Asian. I've never heard anyone use the term 'South Asian' in Australia, and if anyone did use it we wouldn't know what specific area they're talking about. The only offense I take with being called Oriental is the mental connection I have made with the word and a certain brand of instant noodles with their horrendously bad Oriental flavour. Other than that, it's just a word (though I'd much prefer to be called a coconut for symbolic reasons).

Considering politics for undergrad. I have a feeling that I won't get into medicine for some sort of psychosis, so the next best thing is politics. Pushing one's self to utter madness is a hobby, and as for faith in humanity, apparently mine has reached negative figures, so in that regard everything should be just fine.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-29 06:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] reichsfreiherr.livejournal.com
South Asian would generally cover places like India and similar where as South East Asian would cover China, Japan and so on. I’m going to presume that the term ‘coconut’ isn’t horrifically insulting in Australia because here it would be applied to someone who strangely held their own heritage in complete distaste and seemed to mistakenly believe that by becoming a caricature of the dominant Anglo-Saxon culture they’d be accepted as ‘white’. Thankfully I’ve only run into this twice but I that’s two times more than I’d like to encounter.

I’d advise you against choosing Politics as a default just in case you don’t get into medicine unless you are genuinely interested in the subject. I’ve seen far too many unfortunate individuals pick things like Political Science believing it to be a easy ride and I’ve had glorious fun watching them flounder horribly because they can’t keep up with the debate. On the other hand if you are genuinely interested in political theory then you’ll find it wonderfully entertaining and a perfect excuse to buy all manner of classic texts.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-01-30 08:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blasphemiliar.livejournal.com
Actually, I have no idea how insulting it is to call someone a 'coconut' here; the main thing I get is 'another bloody Chinese', which is rather stupid for a number of reasons. The reason I prefer to describe myself as a coconut pertains to the fact that I am half-Caucasian, half-Filipino. People just choose to focus on the latter because it's immediately recognisable, but they get a rude shock when hit with a thick Australian accent.

As for Medicine versus Politics, I actually have more doubts about whether I want to do the former. I'd love to do Medicine, but only because there is so much to learn. Not to mention I'm one of very few girls who will laugh at blood and guts; that's where motivation stops. But when it comes to Politics and debating, I've been told I have skill in forming a solid argument and spotting holes in those of others. And there has always been that interest in parliamentary systems for a variety of reasons (too many 'unhealthy' ones possibly). But now that you mention books it has become all the more tempting.

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narcasse: Sebastian Flyte.  Brideshead Revisited (2008) (Default)
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