Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nepal's Third Gender, Fraudulent Fish, and the Pakistan-China Port Drama (Link Round-Up 5/31/11)

You Forgot About Poland
The growth of Polish power and decline of pro-American sentiment
Under Tusk and Sikorski, Poland has concertedly mended ties with Brussels and Berlin. The majority of Polish emigrants now go elsewhere in Europe, not across the Atlantic. And Germany is now Poland's key foreign policy and economic partner. Polish factories have become integral parts of the German supply chain, and they are profiting from Germany's export-led boom.
Can You Hear Me Now?
Cambodia: the world's most competitive cellphone market?
Only neighbouring Laos, with four operators and a population of six million, and Hong Kong with its six operators competing for nearly nine million people, come close to Cambodia in terms of mobile phone markets in the region, analysts say.
South of the Border
"Eighty percent of the residents in the vast Peten province live off subsistence agriculture," he says, adding that there is little or no help from the government. "The consequence is this: people live poorly, or migrate to the United States, or align themselves with criminal groups in order to get by."
Gender (Norm) Bending
Nepal recognizes third gender
In Nepal, transgender people are legally recognized as a “third gender,” but are often resigned to a life ostracized from their family and community. Typically transgender people from the region are limited to one of three career opportunities: giving blessings at weddings, begging or prostitution.
Nation Rebuilding
Arab democracy won't happen without the non-existent Arab civil society
A stronger civil society alone will not bring about democracy. After all, private organizations can promote illiberal and despotic agendas, as Islamist organizations that denounce political pluralism and personal freedoms demonstrate. But without a strong civil society, dictators will never yield power, except in the face of foreign intervention.
Book Learnin'
Argument: US Literature is too insular and isolated
A writer like Naipaul or Nooteboom or Mulisch or Pamuk or Coetzee speaks to the whole world. Empires fall, refugees stream to their destruction, coherent worldviews melt before the eyes. A reader in Delhi or Caracas picks up these writers, and goes,Aha! I see it. This writer gets my metaphysical loneliness, he sees why I feel lost and confounded in the modern world, why I can find no way around tradition or rebellion to soothe my restless spirit. If he picks up Updike? Nice detail, of suburbia--and certainly a lot of detail about cunt and breast--but you probably have to have lived in American suburbia to have an emotional response to Updike (and Updike is a force among the domestic realists, his derivatives pale in comparison)
Asian Geopolitical Intrigue
India not too happy about China's new port in Pakistan
Gwadar is an ultra-strategic deepwater port in the Arabian Sea, in Pakistani Balochistan, not far from the Iranian border and only 520 km away from the hyper-strategic Strait of Hormuz. Beijing financed close to 80 per cent of the construction of the port via the China Harbor Engineering Company Group. The port is currently managed by Singapore. The lease will end soon - and it will go to China.
Islamabad now wants the Chinese to build a naval base at Gwadar. That will be a monster geopolitical earthquake in a crucial node of "Pipelineistan" as well as the New Great Game in Eurasia.
Packaged seafood fraud: fish mislabeled and sold en masse
The report states that there are around 1700 species of seafood caught around the world for sale in the U.S. with only 2% of the catch being inspected. Some of the more common substitutions include Yellowtail for Mahi Mahi, Tilapia for Tuna, Nile Perch for Shark, and a whole host of fish including Atlantic Cod and Mullet Snapper are often labelled Red Snapper. 
While most fish is mislabelled to get a higher price or to avoid species-specific tariffs there are other cases where the seller is greenwashing their catch.
Brain Drain
70% of Science Award winners from immigrant families
Only 12 percent of Americans are foreign-born, the NFAP report says. Even so, children of immigrants took 70 percent of the finalist slots in the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search Competition, an original-research competition for high school seniors.
Of the 40 finalists, 28 had parents born in other countries: 16 from China, 10 from India, one from South Korea and one from Iran.
Climate Swticheroo
Britain to "run out" of wind if jet streams shift
Meteorologists have found that the position of the jet stream has been influenced by the lower levels of activity on the Sun. This decline in sun-spot activity is expected to continue for the next 40 years, with potentially serious consequences for the viability of wind farms. 
Professor Mike Lockwood, from Reading University, said: “Changes in the jet stream will change the pattern of winds that we get in the UK. That, of course, is a problem for wind power.

Rewriting History With Temple Chambers, Fortresses and 8,000-Year-Old Ruins

Every once in a while, new discoveries either rewrite historical orthodoxy, or confirm stories previously thought to be made-up.

Here are three recent examples.

In what could turn out to be a major discovery, researchers have found a wall-like structure, which is 24km long, 2.7m in height, and around 2.5m in width. The structure shows uniformity in construction. “The structure is not continuous from Shrivardhan to Raigad, but it is uniform. It has been found 3m below the present sea level. Considering the uniformity of the structure, it is obvious that the structure is man-made,” said Dr Ashok Marathe, department of archaeology, Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute, Pune.
2. A sealed tunnel underneath a temple in Teotihuacan (in modern-day Mexico).
"At the end, there are several chambers which could hold the remains of the rulers of that Mesoamerican civilization. If confirmed, it will be one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 21st century on a global scale," Gomez Chavez said late Thursday. 
Teotihuacan, with its huge pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, its palaces, temples, homes, workshops, markets and avenues, is the largest pre-Hispanic city in Mesoamerica. It reached its zenith in the years 300-600 AD.
3. The fortresses of people who may have fought the Incas (right before their conquest by the Spanish).
The discoveries suggest that there is a ring of truth to stories that Spanish chroniclers told when they penetrated into South America during the 16th and 17th centuries. 
According to these stories, Incan ruler Huayna Capac sought to conquer the Cayambe. Using a "very powerful army," he was hoping for a quick victory but ended up getting entangled in a 17-year struggle. 
"Finding that their forces were not sufficient to face the Inca on an open battlefield, the Cayambes withdrew and made strongholds in a very large fortress that they had," wrote Spanish missionary Bernabe Cobo in the 17th century in his book "History of the Inca Empire" (University of Texas Press, 1983). A translation, by Roland Hamilton, was published in 1983 by the University of Texas Press. "The Inca ordered his men to lay siege to it and bombard it continuously; but the men inside resisted so bravely that they forced the Inca to raise the siege because he had lost so many men."
Who knows what we'll find next?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Selling Weapons With Bollywood, Crazy Australian Storms, and European Economic Crisis Explained

Less links, longer videos - a reader commented that they wanted to hear me talk more about the links in-depth, so I obliged, along with discussing Memorial Day towards the end.

Also, this one is longer due to deciding to do a straight take with no "YouTube jump-cut" style editing like the previous videos had.

I plan on vlogging more than once a week from now on, so I'm sure I'll refine the nuances of the format after a while.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Brazilian Street Art, Mysterious Egyptian Markings, and Swiss Watches in Chinese Tombs (Link Round-Up 5/29/11)

[via BBC News]

Three quick notes:

1. Going off yesterday's post, I've included several recent Egypt/Nile River Valley archaeology stories...nothing silly along the lines of "UFO's built the Pyramids with the Freemasons", but definitely some new discoveries in what we call "Ancient Egypt" and what came before it.

2. After reading through old Culture Bore posts, I've decided to pull quotes from articles in the link round-ups. I encourage reading through all the links I post, but I might as well give you the juicy article tidbits, too.

3. Got any feedback about the blog format? Leave a comment or shoot me an email at jason[at]culturebore.com.

Without further adieu...

Invisible Handshake Deals
Peru, Colombia, and Chile to merge stock markets
If Mexico's $473 billion bourse were to join, MILA would exceed the Brazilian bourse's $1.6 trillion market capitalization. Yet another future, say analysts, could be Brazil purchasing MILA and wrapping it into the Bolsa de Valores de São Paulo (Bovespa).
The Lima exchange hopes trading volume to grow 20 to 25 percent as a result of the merger. “There is a lot of interest from Chilean and Colombian investors to acquire mining and junior mining stocks listed on the Lima exchange. This will allow an increase in liquidity,” the press office wrote in an email to the Monitor.
Geopolitical Solidarity
India pledges support for Palestinian State
Tracing New Delhi's “deep association” with the Palestinian cause, dating back to a timeline before India gained Independence, Mr. Ahamed described the commitment to Palestine as “a central feature of India's foreign policy.” Down the memory avenue, one could not miss India's recognition of the State of Palestine in 1988, acknowledgment of Palestine Liberation Organisation as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and New Delhi's initial vote against the partition of Palestine, he pointed out.
This Month in Egyptology
Several Egyptian tombs now open to public
Some of these tombs were first discovered in 1843 by Richard Lepsius, but were not fully excavated until an Anglo-Dutch mission began in 1975. Between 1975 and 1998 the dig was directed by Geoffrey Martin who discovered many of the tombs.  Now a Dutch team from Leiden University, led by Dr.Maarten Raven, excavates at the site, rediscovering and restoring the tombs.
Robot finds mysterious markings in Great Pyramid base
According to Peter Der Manuelian, Philip J. King Professor of Egyptology at Harvard University, similar lines have been found elsewhere in Giza. "Sometimes they identify the work gang (who built the room), sometimes they give a date and sometimes they give guidelines to mark cuttings or directional symbols about the beginning or end of a block," he said.
More mysterious "spiral markings" and "rock gongs" found near Nile River
The "oldest rock art we found are the spiral motifs," said Karberg, which, as their name suggests, twist up in a way that is hard to interpret. Similar drawings have been found in the Sahara Desert. 
They were created at a time when Africa was a wetter place, with grasslands and savannah dominating Sudan; people were moving to a lifestyle based on animal husbandry and, in some instances, farming.
Time Travelers Playing Tricks on Us?
Watches were not around at the time of the Ming Dynasty and Switzerland did not even exist as a country, an expert pointed out. 
The archaeologists were filming a documentary with two journalists when they made the puzzling discovery.
Cloak and Dagger: Tabloid-Style
Putin: Strauss-Kahn rape charges may be a set-up
Mr Putin's public support for Mr Strauss-Kahn comes days after a French politician alleged that the former IMF chief had said before his arrest that he thought Mr Putin was actively plotting his downfall. 
The politician, Claude Bartolone, said: "He said the Russians and notably Putin had allied themselves with France to try to have him fired from the IMF to stop him running for (French) president."
Protest vs. Counter-Protest
Gay Rights parade stopped in Moscow for sixth time, 30 arrested
Alexeyev said as soon as activists took out their banners and flags, dozens of members of an ultra-Orthodox group attacked the activists.
Gay rights flags and banners that read 'Russia is not Iran' were displayed in the crowd.
Brain Candy
How to sneak anti-Alzheimer's drugs into your brain
Antibodies that are attracted to the receptor get into the brain using a transport system that works like a ski lift – except these ‘high affinity’ antibodies hop on the lift and never get off, Watts says. Those molecules become trapped in blood vessels and never reach the brain. 
So, the team engineered antibodies with ‘low affinity’ for binding to transferrin. These jump off the lift, slip past the blood-brain barrier, and according to Watts, they’re widely distributed.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Finding Lost Egyptian Pyramids with Infrared Archaeology

[via BBC News]

A team of archaeologists recently discovered several Pyramids, tomb locations, and the layout of the ancient city of Tanis in Egypt using infrared satellite imagery. 
The team analysed images from satellites orbiting 700km above the earth, equipped with cameras so powerful they can pin-point objects less than 1m in diameter on the earth's surface. 
Infra-red imaging was used to highlight different materials under the surface....Ancient Egyptians built their houses and structures out of mud brick, which is much denser than the soil that surrounds it, so the shapes of houses, temples and tombs can be seen.
This is not the first time that "remote sensing techniques" like infrared thermal scanning have been used by archaeologists – dense, hard to excavate places like Cambodia's Angkor Wat (amid a sea of landmines) and Mayan ruins in Central America have also been recently discovered and mapped out using satellite imagery.

While I bet nobody expected to find as many unknown Egyptian ruins as this archaeological team did, I'm interested to see what sorts of history-rewriting, "out-of-nowhere" finds archaeologists make as these techniques become more widespread.

If more sites like these pop up in the future, it'll definitely be an exciting, debate-and-controversy-filled time to be an archaeologist or an ancient historian.

...oh, wait, it already is.

Chinese Prisoner World of Warcraft, Pointless Pipelines, and Making Cells Into Neurons (Link Round-Up 5/27/11)

*posting delay due to technical difficulties

[via The Tyee]

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Chinese prisoners forced to farm for gold on World of Warcraft in addition to doing manual labor

History On Repeat
George W. Bush - the James K. Polk of our time?
Roger Ailes - continuing in the grand tradition of William Randolph Hearst

What a Coincidence
Brazilian deforestation activists killed same day lower house of congress passes reform bill

If at first you don't succeed...
Last astronaut to walk the moon says start another space agency...for liberty and national security?

There Goes the Neighborhood
Five ways to be a good gentrifier [via racialicious]

Flex Your Head
Scientists transform skin cells into neurons

Why the proposed US-Canada Keystone Pipeline will bring tar sludge to China

The Environmentalist's Paradox
How to be an environmentalist in a developing country

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DNA-Based Computers, David Foster Wallace's Stealth Calvinism, and Canada's New Popsicle Stick Factory (Link Round-Up 5/25/11)

Three Ways To Make a North Korea Documentary

As a UN organization demands better monitoring for food distribution in North Korea, and articles about the country continue to play up the "shrouded in secrecy" angle, I think its a good idea to remind people that for all of North Korea's totalitarianism, several more documentaries about the country have been shot than, say, Turkmenistan.

Here are three approaches you can take for your very own North Korean tell-all:

1.The "naturalistic with no narration" approach:

2.The "heavily-narrated and dramatized" approach:

3. Or the "we got in by accident" approach:

Choose your own adventure.

Also, I guess I was wrong about Turkmenistan.

*Special thanks to AJ and Austin for starting a thread about North Korea documentary footage on my Facebook wall a week ago.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book Review: How Wars End

Book: How Wars End: Why We Always Fight The Last Battle

Who: Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs magazine

What: How Wars End is a summary of all the major wars the United States has fought since World War I up until our current engagement in Afghanistan. Using examples from each war, Rose makes two key points:
1. Since World War 1, Americans have gone to war without taking the political aftermath of war into account – ie: thinking through what they actually want to accomplish after all the bloodshed. Thus, the United States usually has problems ending its own wars. 
2. American presidents and policymakers always learn the wrong lessons from the previous wars.
Rose’s arguments are both concise and convincing. The book is thorough in demonstrating the points its trying to make, without straying from the narrative revolving around American military decisionmaker’s perspectives, or leaving out key details of the events. The book fittingly starts with a quote from famed military strategist Carl von Clausewitz and by the end of the book shows how numerous presidents and American decision-makers have ignored his advice.

I would have liked to see Gideon Rose’s take on the Spanish-American war, and the theater in the Philippines, as well as the war in Grenada. The latter may be negligible, but the former may have offered parallels to wars Rose covers.

Things you’ll learn:
1.  How much ego plays into military decision-making    
2. How decision-makers try to neatly wrap up all the complicated variables and end up overlooking important one
3. How much decision-makers get choked up in rhetoric and fears of “looking weak”
Who should read:
  •  History buffs looking for a lean, concise read
  • Anyone in the military, or knows someone in the military – especially if they are a commanding officer
  • You, even if you’re just mildly curious
Read it? Yes

Monday, May 23, 2011

Girl Talk Tesla Coil, Chinese Semen Collector, and Ukrainian Parliament Choke-Out (5/23/11)

Hey, the links actually embedded in the video this time...

Still playing with the format/video editing/content/all that jazz (yes, I know the end of the video got cut off), so as always, feedback is welcome.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Will India Get an Uncensored Lady Gaga or a Bollywood-Friendly Kumaari Gaga?

A quote from this Guardian interview with Lady Gaga caught my attention:
Gaga has now set her sights on breaking into India – a vast, untapped market.
After poking around to see if this fact picked up anywhere, it turns out she released a "desi" remix to her single "Born This Way" to fit the Indian pop market.

Turns out this is only one of two remixed singles.
Today's desi remixes are aimed at audiences in India and abroad. There are actually two new India-inspired Lady Gaga tracks: the Merchant brothers' Bollywood-style remix - also popular in the US - and an "urban desi" version, which was produced with the large British-Asian community in mind.
And following the trend in "desi remixes" will be future tours throughout the Indian subcontinent.
"India is the second largest mobile [phone] market in the world, so embracing digital strategies is going to be the key thing," she says. "But one of the big opportunities for western acts is very much touring. You're seeing more and more artists go out to India and tour." 
It pays to put in a little extra. Future Indian concerts by the likes of Spears and Gaga may well be vastly different from their shows back home, as desi versions of their tracks dominate. And as Akon proved, getting up close and personal with your fans also helps.
Lady Gaga has said in past interviews that she's excited about her own Indian tour plans and that she's fascinated with Indian song, dance and fashion.

So this sounds like a perfect match, right? Not so fast:

While India does essentially have a cross-dressing, gender-bending caste known as the hijras, the country is still very sexually-restrained and culturally-conservative, between the widespread Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, and other religious communities who don't take well to explicit shock value.

For example, when director Deepa Mehta featured a lesbian relationship in her1996 film, "Fire", it provoked outraged attacks on movie theaters playing the film by Hindu fundamentalists.

And when members of the rock band The Black Lips mooned the audience and kissed each other on stage (per their usual antics) at a show during their 2009 tour, they were forced to immediately end their tour and go home out of fear of arrest.

Given Lady Gaga's outspoken advocacy of gay rights, sexually- and religiously-charged stage show imagery and theatrics, and overall message of non-conformity, I sincerely doubt she's going to bring that full persona to an Indian tour...especially looking back at a post I wrote almost a year ago about her aesthetic.

...Instead, we'll probably see a desi-fied pop persona custom-made for an Indian tour/record release marketing blitz, along with her custom-remixed, sitar and tabla-sampling singles in order to push Lady Desi Gaga (or rather, Kumaari Gaga) into the Bollywood spotlight.

But at the end of the day, people just want a performance - no matter what instruments the melodies are played on.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Insane Arabic Protest Footage, What Common Actually Sounds Like, and American Tornadoes (5/15/11)

Culture Bore YouTube Round-Up #2 is up and ready for your enjoyment.

I'm shooting for at least once a week with types of video posts - stay tuned!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Culture Bore Is Now a .com

...Two months and 26 years after the first .com was registered.
While we know that the first .com was assigned to symbolics.com on March 15, 1985, the genesis of .com is less clear. According to Craig Partridge, chief scientist at Raytheon BBN Technologies, the name for domains evolved as the system was created. At first, .cor was proposed as the domain for corporations, but when the final version came out it was switched to .com. Likewise, .org was originally .pub and .mil was originally .ddn. Other domains that came into being at the same time as .com were .edu, .gov, .net and .arpa.
I, for one, am glad to finally be a part of the 20th century's most exciting technological development.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Culture Bore's "What To Watch On YouTube" Vlog for 5/11/11

So I've thought about doing a Culture Bore video blog for almost a year now...and I finally did it. After getting past the "I'm not that interesting to watch" and "It has to look perfect or I shouldn't bother" rationales I used to put off trying this out, I'm happy to finally give this a shot.

So please, watch the video, and let me know any feedback you have.

Yes, the editing is a bit rough, but it's a start.

Also, while I'm on the subject, there are some more changes afoot for Culture Bore - I'll be writing longer posts about particular topics again, along with the link round-ups I've been doing lately and some more surprises to make this into the vital source of world news, geopolitics, and global trends I've always imagined this blog could be.

...but for all of you who do read this blog, please reach out and let me know what you want to see from Culture Bore.

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