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Javier E

China: A Modern Babel - WSJ - 0 views

  • The oft-repeated claim that we must all learn Mandarin Chinese, the better to trade with our future masters, is one that readers of David Moser’s “A Billion Voices” will rapidly end up re-evaluating.
  • In fact, many Chinese don’t speak it: Even Chinese authorities quietly admit that only about 70% of the population speaks Mandarin, and merely one in 10 of those speak it fluently.
  • Mr. Moser presents a history of what is more properly called Putonghua, or “common speech,” along with a clear, concise and often amusing introduction to the limits of its spoken and written forms.
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  • what Chinese schoolchildren are encouraged to think of as the longstanding natural speech of the common people is in fact an artificial hybrid, only a few decades old, although it shares a name—Mandarin—with the language of administration from imperial times. It’s a designed-by-committee camel of a language that has largely lost track of its past.
  • The idea of a national Chinese language began with the realization by the accidentally successful revolutionaries of 1911 that retaining control over a country speaking multiple languages and myriad dialects would necessitate reform. Long-term unification and the introduction of mass education would require a common language.
  • Whatever the province they originated from, the administrators of the now-toppled Great Qing Empire had all learned to communicate with one another in a second common language—Guanhua, China’s equivalent, in practical terms, of medieval Latin
  • To understand this highly compressed idiom required a considerable knowledge of the Chinese classics. Early Jesuit missionaries had labeled it Mandarin,
  • The committee decided that the four-tone dialect of the capital would be the base for a new national language but added a fifth tone whose use had lapsed in the north but not in southern dialects. The result was a language that no one actually spoke.
  • After the Communist victory of 1949, the process began all over again with fresh conferences, leading finally to the decision to use Beijing sounds, northern dialects and modern literature in the vernacular (of which there was very little) as a source of grammar.
  • This new spoken form is what is now loosely labeled Mandarin, still as alien to most Chinese as all the other Chinese languages.
  • A Latin alphabet system called Pinyin was introduced to help children learn to pronounce Chinese characters, but today it is usually abandoned after the first few years of elementary school.
  • The view that Mandarin is too difficult for mere foreigners to learn is essential to Chinese amour propre. But it is belied by the number of foreign high-school students who now learn the language by using Pinyin as a key to pronunciation —and who bask in the admiration they receive as a result.
  • Since 1949, the Chinese government, obsessed with promoting the image of a nation completely united in its love of the Communist Party, has decided that the Chinese people speak not several different languages but the same one in a variety of dialects. To say otherwise is to suggest, dangerously, that China is not one nation
  • Yet on Oct. 1, 1949, Mao Zedong announced the founding of the People’s Republic in a Hunan accent so thick that members of his audience subsequently differed about what he had said. He never mastered the Beijing sounds on which Putonghua is based, nor did Sichuanese-speaking Deng Xiaoping or most of his successors.
  • When Xi Jinping took power in 2012, many online commentators rejoiced. “At last! A Chinese leader who can speak Putonghua!” One leader down, only 400 million more common people to go.

Trash dove: how a purple bird took over Facebook | Technology | The Guardian - 0 views

  • As noted by meme database Know Your Meme, Trash Dove exploded in popularity after it was featured alongside a dancing cat on a Thai Facebook page with millions of followers
  • Pigeons are such strange birds, they have very beautiful mottled, shimmery feathers, but they waddle around and bob their heads and beg for crumbs. They’re like beautiful doves, except they eat trash.
  • The fan art and nice comments have been the highlight for me, but I’m amazed at how mean people can be to someone they’ve never met, because of something silly online.
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  • It’s better to spend time building a dedicated viewer base that will support you for you.
    The popularity of a meme can sometimes reflect on the culture online and how people feel about the current events. I think the popularity of the Trash Dove might be suggesting that people feel negative about this world because the meaning behind the Trash Dove is that "They're like beautiful doves, except they eat trash". I feel like this meaning is ironic. Internet is such transparent space that every big hit somehow reflect people's value and opinion. --Sissi (2/16/2017)

Is the New York Times a Serious News Source? | Power Line - 1 views

  • The New York Times tells us we should subscribe because truth propaganda is expensive
  • They can’t keep their partisanship under control.
  • What a dopey comedian says is “news,” according to this once-respected newspaper.
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  • This is just one more indication that the Times can’t tell the difference between real news and fake news. Earlier today, the paper had to recant because it reported an obviously fake tweet as news.
  • The New York Times, overwhelmed by ignorance and bias, may have arrived at that juncture.
    I found it very interesting that there is actually people accusing the New York Times. I remember on the biased news graph we saw in the TOK, the New York Times, it is in the rank-two group of media. Although it is obviously not the best source of news, it is not that bad that is "overwhelmed by ignorance and bias". The first quote in this article is very interesting as the author modified the advertisement from "truth" to "propaganda", suggesting that the mass media now value profit more than providing fair news sources. --Sissi (February. 15, 2017)

Brains of those with ADHD show smaller structures related to emotion - 3 views

    ADHD, a neurodevelopmental disorder, can cause inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. More than one in 20 people younger than 18 is affected by the disorder. Two-thirds of those affected have symptoms into adulthood. For the study, the researchers re-examined data collected by a variety of ADHD studies at 23 research sites around the world.

Sound waves could take a tsunami down a few notches - 0 views

    Acoustic-gravity waves would exchange energy with destructive water wave A tsunami's immense wall of water may not be stoppable. But there may be a way to take the ferocious force of nature down a few notches, using a pair of counterwaves.

Birth may not be a major microbe delivery event for babies - 0 views

    Babies are born germy, and that's a good thing. Our microbiomes - the microbes that live on and in us - are gaining cred as tiny but powerful keepers of our health. As microbes gain scientific stature, some scientists are trying to answer questions about how and when those germs first show up on babies.

Science in the Age of Alternative Facts | Big Think - 0 views

  • discovered a peculiar aspect of human psychology and physiology: the placebo effect. As biographer Richard Holmes writes regarding their increased health, “It was simply because the patients believed they would be cured.”
  • Most importantly he did not finagle results to fit his preconceived notion of what this and other gases accomplish.
  • For science to work we need to move out of the way of ourselves and observe the data. Right now too many emotionally stunted and corporate-backed obstacles stand in the way of that.
    Alternative facts are spooky things that confuse us between what we think is happening and what's really taking place. In this article, the author uses the example of Davy to suggest that treating the data objectively is what science should be doing. Data is tricky in science because we can draw different conclusions from the same set of data. Just like the line drawing game we played in TOK, there are infinite numbers of lines we can draw to connect all the data point, but there is only one that would be true. As the author shown in this article, the best way to avoid creating alternative facts is to leave out our emotion and personal opinion and let the data speak. Although intuition and imagination is good for science, but for most of the times, we need to remind ourselves not to force the data.
Javier E

Conflict Over Trump Forces Out an Opinion Editor at The Wall Street Journal - The Atlantic - 0 views

  • According to a source close to Lasswell, the relationship between Lasswell and Gigot broke down in June when Gigot blocked Lasswell from publishing op-eds critical of Trump’s business practices and which raised questions about his alleged ties to Mafia figures. Lasswell asked Gigot for a book leave for the remainder of the election. Gigot, who had been critical of Trump, took a “sudden turn” on the candidate, the source said.
  • When Lasswell reached out to Gigot after the election about coming back to the paper in the new year, the source said, there was a period of weeks of silence before Gigot fired him over the phone.
  • “People really, really liked and respected Mark … Some were quite disappointed to see how he was treated,” the source said. “It’s clear that there’s a divide at the Journal [over Trump], and I think that this is indicative of a larger sort of tension that’s going on there right now.”

How "Arrival"'s Alien Language Might Actually Make You See the Future | Big Think - 0 views

  • The language we speak can help us see the future.
  • First, learning a language makes you smarter.
  • children learn languages more easily because the plasticity of their developing brains lets them use both hemispheres in language acquisition, while in most adults language is lateralized to one hemisphere - usually the left
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  • Second, Time isn’t really linear
  • time is really just “your assessment of how long something took.”
  • Time can also feel faster or slower depending on how we experience it.
  • “Language doesn’t determine how you think, but it can determine how you think about things.”
  • Defining snow with such specific language grants it multiple meanings, and those multiple meanings increase its significance within the culture of the people using the language.
  • sees beyond the linear bounds of time
    In TOK, we discussed about the what language can affect us. Language doesn't shape who we are, but it oblige us to think in certain ways. By speaking in different languages, we can switch among different mindsets. In this article, the author also uses the example of the descriptive snow words in Eskimos cliche to show that language can enable us to see through different lenses since different languages focus on different stresses and significances. The "time traveler" in the title doesn't give the literal meaning, we get to travel from time to time because we can see beyond linear bounds of time. We are switching perspective from one observer of time to another observer of time. --Sissi (2/13/2017)

What is Natural Selection? - YouTube - 0 views

  • What is Natural Selection?
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