I’m not in the habit of posting YouTube videos but this one warrants some discussion. Let me address potential criticisms first: I know celebrities are not reliable sources on politics. I know celebrities say stupid things—in fact, some even seem in the business of saying stupid things. And yes, if you’ll allow me an ad hominem attack, it is ridiculous for a woman whose initial claim to fame was flashing her vagina on film to pontificate on issues like Tibet.
The video has several parts. It begins with an introduction by an anchor then goes into Stone’s rambling, followed by reactions from carefully-selected bystanders. Only the first reaction is in Chinese; the rest are in English. Watch the video, then we’ll talk.
Many are surprised by the Chinese government’s open response to the quake disaster. They laud the government for having what seems to be an almost miraculous reversal of policy compared to other natural disasters—in 1976, the Chinese tried to suppress news of the Tangshan earthquake that killed 240,000 people. It covered up the Yellow River floods of the last decade, the SARS epidemic of several years ago, and the railway crash of this year. With nonstop news broadcasts, unlimited access (so far) for journalists both foreign and domestic, this seems like the herald of a new age of news freedom and the first step in greater openness and accountability. You couldn’t be more wrong.
Translation is a lose-lose situation. If a translation is well-received, praises are lauded upon its author and the translator is all but forgotten. However, if the book is not well-received, many times reviewers, absolving the author of culpability, will blame the translator, claiming that many things were, as trite as it sounds, “lost in translation.” Ironically, most reviewers and readers never read the translated book in its original language which makes comments like “a faithful translation” or “the author’s voice shines through the translation” specious and presumptive. Translation is thankless, tiring, and ultimately a series of losses. Umberto Eco called it “the art of failure.”
A new article in The Economist reveals a startling discovery: when China’s GDP was recalculated using Purchasing Power Parity, China’s GDP fell by 40%. Is there cause for concern, or is this just more statistic slinging by economists?
As someone living in Beijing, I am constantly bombarded with propaganda—from red-letter posters telling me that “we are building a harmonious bus station and society,” to ones that proclaim “it is everyone’s job to prevent fires,” and the other innumerable mottos about the Olympics and the importance of social harmony, I’ve seen it all. Because I live in a country in which propaganda is the norm, I’ve become acutely aware of its presence in the United States. While this piece is not meant to be all encompassing, I’d like to make a few points about framing and then discuss two words that have come into vogue in America in recent months: “surge” and “insurgent.”