Hint: Google ‘Liu Bolin’.
Last year, I once made a ‘predilection’ that Supreme Commander Obama had conspired with the world’s top 1% to construct gigantic starships, crucifixing the already deteriorating debt-to-GDP ratio worth hundred trillion dollars, and triggering a global cataclysm in economic sector. Meanwhile, Roland Emmerich predicted that Los Angeles would end up ‘pieces of cake’, that the Earth’s core would devour Las Vegas (more like a parable of morality), that Indonesia will ‘remain sweet memories’, and Africa ‘will be our new cape of hope’. Then, more lousily, Supreme Master Ching Hai, the identity-crisis-laden zoomorphic activist (she once wrote, and even pictured by her own, an illustration book containing species of animals with her face in these bodies) who colors her hair blonde to look more like a Nordic alien than a motherly goddess, forewarns the melting ice poles by the year of 2012. Then there were a plethora (but still an iota compared to global blogging community) bloggers, of anonymous existence, who had preconceived the notion of ‘Dajjal’, which would rebuild the glory of Solomon’s dream, and rule the whole world. Then these Christian extremists who dreamt of a Jesus-ruled China (as many as 1000 of them had been captured).
This is, for sure, a good start to write pulp-fiction scripts! They, just like Emmerich, had successfully ‘provoked’ the entire world into an abyss of fear. Or maybe we need a special talent show to filter those Emmerichs.
Believe it or not, ‘doomsday’, rather than a neologism of ultimate destruction of the mankind, has now turned out to be, paradoxically speaking, a very profitable industry. Even in times of recession, doomsday industry (somehow this should be classified a new economic field in our GDP composition) reaches its climax. How many writers, having inked over dozens of 2012-apocalypse books (mostly based on what-I-hear-not-what-I-experience observation), strike it rich? How many readers have they succeeded to motivate to dread? I can bet, there is, and always is, an abundance of such Baedeker in my hometown’s bookstores (they even top the ‘best-selling’ list). Local authors – pardon me, many of them are Muslim extremists – frequently compile information that they ‘read and know’, not ‘experience and feel’, into books, those of which you could find striking verisimilitude when you open the page of others. Then there are ‘professors’, mainly from United States, who predict the age of Satanism will come and ‘make the whole world a stygian pig den’. They opinionate, as in my viewpoint, more like right-wing Christian fundamentalists than as ‘pure analysts’.
Then the religious groups make this point to provoke new followers. Several fundamentalist Christian organizations, as far as I heard, were planning to convert Xi Jinping into a devout, Vatican-abiding Catholic (what??). No, that’s not the supposed news. They are planning to ‘instill revolutionary spirits’, to forewarn that 2012 has come, and that the messiah will return to the world in the judgment day to ‘eliminate sinful people’, to ask followers for full repentance, to end the rule of what they call ‘atheistic government’, and install Christianity as the sole constitution, and Holy Spirit as the ‘true leader’ of the new China those Jesuit predecessors had envisioned a few centuries prior (unless I’m mistaken, there were plans to proselytize 200 million mandarins during the Qing dynasty rule).
My analysis was like this: is this another substitute for multi-level marketing (MLM)? You create a ‘product’, convince subordinates that this ‘product’ will change your life for the better, and ask the subordinates to attract more others, until the lowest levels. Well, sometimes, it’s not about the ‘belief’ they are sharing about; some people are born, instead, to make everything ‘pure business’. Even in the context of religion itself. Perhaps the media did not cover their ‘business’ activities, and focused more on their irregularities, but what made me scratch my head until this second was this: how many millions of dollars have they garnered in disseminating the ‘2012 apocalypse’ by selling books, brochures and DVDs, organizing underground ‘seminars’, preaching in front of the innocent Christians, and organizing protests? Leave these arduous tasks to the tax authorities.
Then there is this, the grandiose, personality-crisis-laden self-claiming Supreme Master Ching Hai. In the past, in my hometown, Medan, you could easily find monstrous banners and Brobdingnagian advertising boards, ‘proudly’ illustrating her Nordic-alien-like posture, filled with messages warning that the end of the world would have come in 2012, unless ‘everybody converts to veganism’. That by 2012, unless everybody stops consuming meaty creatures, the ice poles might have entirely melted, creating a series of unprecendented destruction on the fate of mankind. Well, you see, by the end of this year as well, more than 100 million tons of meat had been entangled in the world’s all-connected economic activities. I found myself so hilarious, instead of hardly believable, that continuous consumption of meat, according to this woman with an iota of scientific knowledge comparable to the size of an ant’s brain, might have generated 75-meter tsunamis and 12-Richter-scale earthquakes. That’s worth making a fantasy novel. So, as I was so dead curious of what on earth and for whose God’s sake Supreme Master Ching Hai had been doing so far, I decided to search more information in Google. The outcome was, well, surprisingly ‘normal’, like many other new-religion founders had done: she’s an ‘entrepreneur’! She set up numerous companies in United States which were engaged in vegetarian food products, and see, paradoxically speaking, expensive clothing lines and jewelry. Whereas, she ‘poises’ herself as so environmentally committed that she even illustrates herself as dozens of animals in two self-published books. Few here realize she has been primarily targeted by US authorities in suspicion of the environmental damage she had inflicted in Florida (she built a large mansion above a national park south of Miami). She was even, well, not trying to exonerate, a ‘frenetic’, avid fan of Bill Clinton (she once ‘forced’ her followers to provide political donation during Clinton’s presidential campaigns in 1997). As it turns out, ‘doomsday’ marks an epitome in her core businesses.
NB: She once prompted officials in several countries to declare a ‘Supreme Master Ching Hai Day’ in their homelands. Way so useful, only if the doomsday had really taken place.
Rather than motivate people to ultimate fear, some consider celebrating the doomsday in tones of exhilaration. Mexican government takes this momentous opportunity by actively offering tour packages to Mayan holy sites. Here, foreigners are given chances to live up to the moments of apocalypse, right in the hipocentrum of it. All the pyramid-shaped temples were in a sudden bathed in oceans of men, mostly ‘eager-to-die’ tourists. As a consequence, tourism industry grew significantly, in which an additional number of 2 million foreigners visited this country as per 2012 (surpassing the 22-million goal this year). Simply put, the Mexican government had to thank the Mayans for having invented the calendar, but most importantly, the mass media which had erroneously misinterpreted the mathematical fallacies in the Mayan calendar system as ‘the day where Earth’s crusts crack open’.
Lastly, one chic eatery in Hong Kong, Aqua, offered ‘2000-HK-dollar dinner meal packages’. As per 21 December 2012, the place had been nearly fully booked, particularly by the opulent young and the expatriates. It might be a good idea that you consume, pieces by pieces, gold-flake ice cream (if you have enough wonga) while watching the skyscrapers in Hong Kong ruin to pieces.
In addition, before 2012 totally eclipses (though 21-12-2012 has passed), let me suggest several additional ideas to ‘celebrate’ the apocalypse, either as your birthday bash, or matrimonial ceremony, or even your ‘death-defying’ festivities (only if you dare to do so)!
In conclusion, unless the ‘real doomsday’ occurs, such ‘mock doomsdays’ are vital for your material well-being, or if anything, your ultimately promising money-guaranteed investment to time immemorial.
Last Thursday, my English tuition teacher, Miss Erica, took on her Blackberry, showing me a commiserating picture of a little Chinese girl, with Cyclopian, larger-than-herself abdomen. Initially, I felt sympathetic to this girl, so heart-wrenching until I found a message, as delicately typed below and beside the four pictures: Facebook will give $1 for each share. To this girl’s family…so plz share this picture and help this girl.
One question aroused my mind: hey, Facebook has just recently had the largest social-networking, most scam-and-hoax-contaminated website in the world, with capitalization amounting to inordinately 10 billion US$ or so, listed in NYSE. Does Facebook so kindly offer some of the funds they have raised in the stock exchange (a more official cognomen for casino, truthfully speaking) in full trust of the tithing advantages that may believably increase your affluence and opulence tenfold, to outcompete Google?
Back to the case of that big-bellied Chinese girl. In few minutes, I had discovered some loopholes over the information explained by that picture. It did not inform about the girl’s identity. It did not notify us about her whereabouts. And, lastly, it did not report the time occurring while these pictures were being taken. What on earth is this? We didn’t know where this girl came from. She might simply be a Mongoloid girl, with leeways of her origin varying from either Mongolia to North or South Korea, or Japan, indeed (though the last country has the lowest probability rate). You might also do not know whether the girl has actually recovered or not. The date is never let on, and even the slightest bit of her identity was not revealed in the picture. We only recognized her as ‘the one with big bellies’, or ‘the pitiful Chinese girl with stomach seemingly ready to explode’ and we didn’t know her real name, and that’s the main problem!
After 5 minutes, I immediately summed up my conclusion: this is, has been, and will always be a scam that manipulates your commiseration. I attempted to identify who on earth this girl is, who has been continually making me curious. I used the ‘facebook charity scam’ as the main keyword on Google to track down the information, but it turned out null and void, as most of the search results were instead about ‘baby-with-cancer scams’, or ‘charity scams by masquerading, by incognito, as notable charity organizations asking Facebook users to help donating and promoting programs’. Only after I re-wrote ‘facebook will donate 1 dollar for every share’ – and exactly one week after – I managed to get further info about this girl at the hoax-leaking website named Hoax-Slayer.
After further examination, the first thing I was able to obtain was the girl’s real name: Hu Yunxing. Another thing disclosed might have to be her hometown: Shanxi Province, China. And, lastly, the moment the photos were all taken: November 2010, and she has, as told in a news report by state-owned and Communist-monitored China Daily, fully recovered from what the physicians perceived to be Budd-Chiari syndrome, a Hepatic vein disorder that shuns blood from circulating beyond the liver which causes an abnormal swelling over her stomach, largely thanks to the donation by myriad Chinese citizens who shared the sympathy for this little girl. She was fully discharged of any intensive medical care commencing effectively on February 2011, after having her belly circumference diminished drastically from originally 108 to 40 cm (see the picture above).
Facebook users, perhaps the money promised to be ‘donated’ has gone somewhere to any unknown start-up business by these Machiavellians. Who knows?
For further news reference about this girl, do please visit: http://www.hoax-slayer.com/huge-stomach-child-hoax.shtml
For further scam and hoax crackdowns, please refer yourself to: http://www.hoax-slayer.com/
Maps of the emerging markets (colored in green), as of 2005.
Believe it or not, the world is currently turning upside-down right now. This has been obviously apperceived, to say the least, in terms of geopolitical and economic equilibrium. It is interpretable in many senses; some say that the world’s vehemence has again moved to the East, which many centuries prior, used to dominate global economy, before European colonialism became sporadically widespread and tense by the onset of 16th century. All of a sudden, these major powers were all of a sudden seduced in the arms of Morpheus, having themselves weakened by the rapid civilizational and technological progresses attained by Western societies. After hostile rivalries between European superpowers, it was British empire who in the end became the largest colonists in human history, but their omnipotence only extended until the end of 19th century, when United States unexpectedly toppled down its position after decades of rapid industrialization as a by-product of the Civil War. Even in both World Wars, no matter how destructive they had been to humankind, it was the ‘big brother’ who in the long run managed to gain triumph, despite the fact they had to compensate it with hundred thousands of lives.
Cold War was also a spine-chilling period, where there was intense competition between United States and Soviet Union, not only in terms of nuclear weapons, ideologies they both exported to the whole world, and political intrigues, but it also triggered massive economic competition between these two superpowers, to gain sympathy among their allies. Near the omega point of the decades-long war, we had barely seen these countries did really emerge in the global stage, but the economists had far long projected that this might be a self-fulfilling prophecy: that, it is instead those countries, which had been severely affected by the aftermath of the Cold War, but will slowly-and-surely adopt democracy, that will dominate the global economy in the upcoming century.
Yes, it is. As of today, the reality is invisibly reverberating stronger than ever. United States might still play a pivotal role in global policing, perhaps until the next century, but the world has become increasingly polarized. The epicentrum is no longer in America; history, all in a sudden, again repeats itself. It is instead being divided, and is distancing itself in Asia, Africa, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Pacific, and Latin America. What’s more, globalization, which itself is a Western ideal, has unified all these regions economically.
No doubt, someday in the 21st century, we will perceive not only 1 superpower; there will be a plethora of superpowers emerging anywhere in the world, those which also used to be the similar major powers many centuries far before the Europeans came and set the thames on fire.
Welcome to the century of the emergers.
BRICS, AND ITS OWN OBSTACLES
Let the ‘emerging market’ term be explained, firstly beforehand.
In the past, in terms of economic prosperity, the globe used to be divided mainly into three categories: First World (advanced, highly industrialized nations), Second World (newly industrialized countries or NICs, which haven’t fully achieved all the prerequisites of a standard, developed nation), and Third World (developing, less-, and least-developed countries). But this form of measurement began to experience minor changes after the introduction of newly-minted ‘emerging market’, which was originally named under the epithet of ‘less economically developed countries (LEDCs) in the beginning of 1980s. This term refers to developing countries which are undergoing transitionary phase into the next stage of NICs. Because of their striking differences with other developing countries, particularly in terms of macro-economic growth, some economists are currently suggesting that this term be given its own separate degree, independent of the three stages previously mentioned above.
The ‘emerging market’ trend itself actually kickstarted after the coinage of ‘BRIC’ term by Goldman Sachs economist, Jim O’Neill, in 2001, to identify 4 potential superpowers, largely Brazil, Russia, India, and China. There were multiple reasons why he chose to opt for these countries: all of these countries are experiencing rapid economic growth, and currently relish a demographic boom as a result of their tremendous population. Prove it: China’s population currently accounts for almost one-fifth of the world’s, with figures amounting to 1.35 billion, while India is placed in the second rank, with close to 1.15 billion residents. Brazil, as a result of population boom in which it was virtually commonplace to perceive a family consisted of 6 to 7 children, now accommodates 200 million people. And Russia has 150 million citizens, almost four-fifth of whom are situated in the European side. And add one more country which has recently conjoined the parvenu club: South Africa, which houses almost 50 million inhabitants. This might sound like a piece of good news, but it is not entirely a sort. Many obstacles are actually facing these countries away, which they have to tidy up in order to sustain the status, otherwise they may lose the chance to save their own faces.
Shanghai is currently China’s largest city, inhabited by more than 25 million people, and has the highest GDP per capita compared to that of all the other cities in the country, which surpasses 10,000 US$ this year.
China may enjoy its vibrant prosperity today, but it won’t be too long, and even might sound improbable, to catch up with the United States, unless they begin to make some en masse changes, ranging from reforming one-child policy (experts have forewarned that unless the government ends this repressive rule, at least as many as one-fifth of Chinese people might have aged beyond 60 by the time of 2050, which may increase social burden), decreasing a widening social gap (the urban elites are getting richer, while many of the rural peasants remain impoverished, as seen from increasing number of social protests and riots, which have increased to a staggeringly high 70,000 as of this year), liberalizing more of its economic sectors (many of the vital and strategic sectors are still controlled largely by state-owned corporations, which may hundred billion dollars in assets), improving its environmental quality (China should invest more in clean, green technologies than in building coal power plants), emphasizing more on domestic consumption and trading with other emerging markets (the country so far exports more products to United States and Europe than to their own co-equal counterparts), and most importantly, but also the most challenging one, introducing a more democratic, and more transparent, political system. This is just a matter of time how long Communist Party would last in China. People’s voices are actually getting louder, no matter how harsh they are suppressed.
Mumbai has been, since British colonialism, the economic epicentrum of India.
India’s case is different from the former’s. It boasts the largest democracy in the world, but its bureaucracy is even much more obnoxious than that in China. In terms of foreign direct investment, India had only so far succeeded to persuade foreign businesses to invest 40 billion US$ in the country in 2011, at the same time more than 100 billion US$ of FDI had flowed in the rest of BRIC members (except South Africa), respectively. The red tape is painstakingly sluggish, as it needs the approval of not only by local authorities, but also those in charge of the state, the nation, and most importantly, majority of the people. Corruption rate prevails exceedingly astronomical, which inspired a series of nation-wide hunger-strike protests by anti-corruption apparatchik, Anna Hazare. Furthermore, India is also posed to another serious challenge: caste-based societies. Indians, especially of those lower castes, are often subject to discrimination and depredation by those of upper castes. Sectarian violence, especially Hindu-Muslim conflicts, are overwhelmingly high. Many of the territories, particularly in rural areas, end up as battlefields which witness bloody insurgencies between Naxalite rebels (Marxism-inspired combatants who are fighting against inequalities and injustices) and security forces. The vulnerability to national disintegration is quite high here, as some provinces accommodate certain movements which aspire to establish independent states throughout the country.
Sao Paolo is Brazil’s largest city, with its metropolitan areas inhabited by more than 20 million people.
Brazil has been licking its own lips from fluorishing economic growth in the last decade. It is endowed with abundant natural resources, the bulk of which is based from Amazonian rainforests, and recent exploration efforts have uncovered more than 10 billion barrels of oil off the eastern coasts of the country. It also relishes a very stable population growth, with an average family nowadays, either rich, middle-class, or poor, having in average 1 to 3 children. Nevertheless, there is a very huge, behemoth cost they have to compensate in expense of its own rapid, cash-rich growth: environmental destruction that is currently taking place in the country. It is estimated that as many as 60 million hectares of tropical forests had been cut off to pave way for brobdingnagian corn, soybean, and sugarcane plantations which supply billions of litres of ethanol oil – another alternative in case of fuel shortage – every year. At the same time this article is being written, as many as 70 hydroelectric dams are being planned for construction throughout the entire rivers in Amazon, a numismatic figure beyond measure which can flood up large swaths of the remainding jungles. Excluding large infrastructure and mining projects proposed by the country’s largest conglomerates, the possible side effects of these works must be vividly examined by the government, and remains a major responsibility for Brazil’s current president, Dilma Rousseff. Moreover, there is a high social disparity between the less developed Northern territories, and the largely-urbanized Southern territories, in which more than half of Brazil’s GDP is based (particularly in the metropolitan areas of Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, which are almost entirely covered up in concrete forests).
As a result of oil boom, Moscow once underwent through massive property boom (before it doomed because of GDP’s downfall in 2009), as well, with numbers of skyscrapers drastically on the rise.
Of all the BRICS countries surveyed, Russia remains the most serious focus, and also the one largely questionable by many economists whether this country is actually appropriately titled as ‘emerging market’ , or everything else is just coincidences. After the downfall of Soviet Union in 1991, Russia faced a period of economic malaise and stagnation which would last almost a decade long, until Vladimir Putin was sworn in as president of Russia. Despite his cold-blooded, steel-hearted methods in handling the nation many Western observers regarded as ‘undemocratic’ and ‘unjust’, Russia in the long run managed to sustain very high economic growth, witnessed a massive surge in numbers of middle-class, cash-rich societies, and gained more prestige in international affairs. But the country does also have its own time-ticking bombs which may lead itself to self-organized criticality, a point of no return: severe corruption, acute oligarchy in which most of the economic sectors are controlled by a mere handful of politically and economically powerful, pro-Kremlin families, dirty collaboration between police, bureaucrats, politicians, and organized-crime syndicates, and heart-breaking bureaucracy, all of which cause mass ‘brain drain’, or an outflow of intellectuals and educated scholars, to other more advanced countries. Russia’s economy has also not been fully diversified, as oil & gas sector remains the utmost priority in terms of revenues (as a matter of fact, Russia has outpaced Saudi Arabia in oil production, which hit a record-high 10 million barrels a day). This was the main reason behind the steep contraction of Russia’s economy when crude oil prices freefell from 147 to less than 50 US$ a hogshead. In order to sustain its ‘emerging country’ status, there is nothing more urgent than reforming its police and bureaucracy, minimizing corruption rates, reducing the leverage held by the oligarchists, diversifying its energy-based economy, and most importantly, introducing a more democratic, transparent environment. The government also promises that an additional 1 trillion US$ will be invested in infrastructure until 2020, but what makes the public concerned is its vulnerability to corruption and misappropriation. This might be a rigorous task, but if the similar cycle is sustained, in the long term, it is Russia itself which must bear a painful shame in global stage, because of its failures to handle its own heels of Achilles.
Gauteng metropolitan area, inhabited by 10 million South Africans, 4 million of which are situated in Johannesburg, currently produces as much as thirty percent of South Africa’s, and 10% of the continent’s total GDP.
South Africa also needs to be taken in full consideration. It is true that situation has been overall much better, especially in post-Apartheid era. Government has so far built 3 million homes to provide housing for black South Africans, while the number of middle-class black families is on the rise. But, still, there are myriad obstacles which remain unsolved in so far, ranging from high unemployment (the actual figure may be 25% for blacks), a prevalently high social inequality with little progress even after Apartheid has ended (it is estimated that white South Africans, although they only account for 10% of the population, do still have 80% control in the country’s overall GDP), and high ratio of people living with HIV/AIDS, which claims one in nine individuals in average. Although AIDS-related deaths have gradually decreased by slightly 10% after the massive antiretroviral (ARV) campaigns, this disease continues to be the dominant force behind the large economic losses suffered by the country after en masse brain drain (this is very ecumenical among white South Africans, in which between 1 and 1.6 million well-educated South Africans are known to have emigrated overseas since 1994), which is forecast to be close to 50 billion US$ every year, and the similar trend will go on for decades to come. It also faces a mass exodus of economic refugees from many neighboring countries, especially Zimbabwe, whose population is expected to surpass 5 million. This helped sparkling a series of anti-immigrant riots in major cities in 2008, which led to massive internal displacement of more than 60,000 immigrants. Security prevails vulnerable to murders, robberies, and rape. For the third case, more than 500,000 South African women are subject to rape every year. The country also suffers more than 100,000 homicides every year, among the highest per capita in the world.
In a nutshell, despite all the hindrances being faced by these countries, they still have tremendous potential to dominate global economy in the 21st century, alongside with other emerging-market countries. These problems might not be solved overnight, because of the long-term adaptability they have been to societies for many decades, but governments, in order to make all the economists’ streamline projections pass with flying colors, must co-operate together with societies to explore and exploit as many possible ideas as they can afford. More transparency, and open democracy, might be a better alternative.
On the next section, more sexy acronyms other than BRICS, and more about BRICS itself, will be fully discussed.
A few months ago, my mom told me after she came across a poster by a local legislative nominee attached on the window over a car’s back part that there was something ‘peculiar enough’. Not that of his facial expression, nor of the design altogether (despite the fact that many of Indonesia’s legislative nominees tended to be very eccentric, say, put the baby’s face instead of his father’s throughout the banners over the dwellings, or behave as if one were a superhero in easily differentiable Photoshopped sketch), but simply speaking, it’s the name itself that bears the sense of being ‘weird’. Rather than beat around the bush, I’ll just simply mention his name: Tahi Malau.
As a matter of fact, ‘tahi’ in informal Indonesian means (expletive, perhaps?) – to make it sounds polite in formal English – human excrement’. But just, there was not much surprise on me upon discovering this fact. In general, there’s a habitude among some communities in Batak ethnic group (Malau, for example, is one of their family names) that they would name their children in accordance to what stuff they are ‘actually’ looking at or experiencing while the women are engendering them. If, for example, they are seeing table by the time the baby has been born, the possibility is overwhelmingly high that they would name their children ‘table’, or ‘meja’ as spoken in our national language, later on followed by the family’s surname from paternal side.
One of the most hilarious examples was shown by my math tuition teacher when he showed that there was a bus driver named ‘Terlambat Bangun’ – ‘overslept’ as translated in English. Perhaps, in my assumption, his father came up late at the same time his mother had already breast-feeded him. (Bangun is a surname from Batak Karo community)
If we try to spot deeper around the world, and think deeper about any out-of-the-ordinary stuff we commonly perceive as ‘absurdism’, we only begin to realize that sometimes people are by and large – or just simply saying – really crackpot enough when it comes to giving something and someone else names. For example, there is a railway station in Wales named Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Seriously, it may take 1000 hours of your life only to know how to spell this place correctly; excluding the actual ‘meaning’ behind it (translation: “St Mary’s church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio of the red cave”).
What’s more, there is a country where you might face absolute difficulty given that you utter ‘merry christmas and a happy new year’ in their own national language. Estonia has authenticated that, marking this sentence with their Finnish-like argot, ‘Maalilist jõuluööeelootusaega ja illuminaarses aoõhetuses uusaastaöövastuvõtuhommikuidülli’.
Seems like chemistry has got its own cloistered hoop-la when it comes to naming chemical compounds. See titin, the largest known protein ever detected in human genes. When you take a look at this word, there is nothing special. Even when you take a very magnifying, close look at it, it still remains ‘titin’ as usual. But if you look at it backwards in time, the leeway is that you are going to end up in temporary comatose. I don’t know how they precisely did it, but here is its so-called ancestor: Methionylthreonylthreonylglutaminylarginyl…isoleucine (in total: 189,819 letters.) It is more or less similar to a 100-page novel written very neatly in a very condensed font.
Absurdity goes on without name changes at all. There is a hill in South Australia whose aboriginal name is still well-preserved; Mamungkukumpurangkuntjunya, that’s how most of the Australians are used to calling until now. But, what’s farcical behind it is when it comes to translating the name. This hill’s name, if you ask any local Aborigine, will be defined in Pitjantjatjara language as “where the devil urinates”. Let us hope the devil won’t loosen its bowels as well.
But, sometimes, people can’t stand emotionally with how long they should spend only to pronounce a place name. Government of Thailand, whichever subterfuge it is, perhaps grew up exhausted while they had to patiently wait for foreigners only to spell their capital’s name in correct structure and pronounciation. Thus, in 1860s, King Mongkut decided to convert Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit to Bangkok. Just simply, Bangkok.
Let us venture briefly to Norway, land of the pristine fjords. But don’t be surprised if you spot a village that is just simply named ‘A’. A that is just a big A, and that’s it. What’s more, there are even 7 dorps – scattered across different municipalities throughout the polity – named simply A. Here they are, as listed in Wikipedia:
There’s even more to it. Many of the localities in are simply named O, Ål, Ås, By, Bø, Hå, He, Hø, Io, Ka, La, Lå, Li, Lo, Lø, Mo, Nå, Oa, Øn, Os, Ra, Rå, Re, and Ve. Guess like Norway should be retitled ‘land of the shortest-named places’.
In Turkey, there is even a mid-sized city named Batman. What makes this Batman even more popular worldwide is not the sudden emergence of an extremely affluent superhero out there; instead, this is because of a lawsuit. A lawsuit-to-be, to be more perhaps. Huseyin Kalkan, then-Mayor of Batman, was planning to file a lawsuit against Christopher Nolan in 2007, the finesse filmmaker behind the critically and commercially successful mind-boggling films like Batman trilogy and Inception, as he claimed that Nolan had misused ‘Batman’ name without prior approval by the city’s inhabitants and public administrations, and what he claimed as ‘unsolved murders and suicides of girls resulted by psychological impact following the forbidding, box-office success of Batman Begins. In the long run – perhaps after further examination in Oxford dictionary – the mayor decided to revoke his plan back.
In Austria, there is even a village named Fucking (rather than F***king with 3 little stars, and is spelt in German as [ˈfukɪŋ]). Unusually, ever since established in 6th century AD, this sparsely-populated village had undergone through several name changes, ranging from Focko in the beginning (Focko was the name of the founder), to Vucchingen in 1070, Fukching in 1303, Fugkhing in 1532, and lastly, Fucking in the 18th century. Locals there are known for their demonym – unwillingly – as ‘Fuckingers’ (thanks God it’s not ‘fuckers’ or politely, ‘f***ers’) by British and American soldiers who came to liberate Europe from Nazi control by the end of World War II. Today, Fucking is widely known as one of Austria’s main tourist spots, particularly after an annual festivity known as ‘Festival of the Fuck Bands’, which included local bands like Fucked Up, Holy Fuck, Fuck and Fuck Buttons.
As of today, local police in Fucking are now messed around with frequent reports that foreign tourists frequently use ‘Fucking’ notice signs to have sexual intercourse.
Lastly, in Alaska, there is a small town named Eek, which if translated and read into informal Indonesian (spelled as [e-ek]), will be defined as ‘defecating’.
However weird they are named, however irrelevant they are perceived, and however puzzling they are understood, there is always one main lesson behind it: these names have made the world a more colorful place to see and to live.
Click for more unbelievable names here.
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I did really regret that I put off my plan to attend the Shaolin African Kids conference held at my school on 4th August 2011. I meant it, really. The whole class was going to have History Exam at the same time these African kids came and gave a talk about their experiences. That’s why I and two of my friends canceled it away. I was really curious on these kids. I heard people say these African kids can speak Chinese as streamlined as the mainland Chinese do, something that most of the Chinese people in Medan could not afford.
Honestly speaking, I am also not the one who can afford to speak Chinese that facile. That’s true if I speak it at home with my family, but it’s not the kind of Chinese you would like to hear. It’s partially Chinese, with several Indonesian – and to a lesser extent, English – vocabulary, tucked inside. And not even half of the Chinese people in Medan speak broken Chinese; they occassionally use Hokkien dialect as either household or business language. To be more exact, broken Hokkien, as some Indonesian and English colloquial terms are used in our daily conversations as well.
Our class’ Math teacher, Mr.Sismanto, did attend the conference, and he shared his experience with us. All he did was just listening, at the same time he could not fathom what these children were talking about. And so did our school’s principal, Mr.Khoe Tjok Tjin – that name already sounds Chinese, doesn’t it? “He could only afford smiling while listening to these children sharing their stories. They speak Chinese like those in China do,” Mr.Sismanto told us. “I myself was so ashamed that I came out of the conference at the sly.”
It never took centuries like English to conquer the world as a must-have language in virtually every school in every country in this planet. Mandarin’s renown is heading towards its climax, as China’s economy has miraculously changed the world in the last decade. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 non-Chinese American families in United States begin to utilize Mandarin as their household language. Many state-owned schools throughout Indonesia had commenced utilizing Mandarin as one of the must-have foreign-language subjects, and so are some vocational high schools. My grandmother – from my paternal side, as both grandparents from my maternal side and my paternal grandfather had long passed away – always used to tell me that she was so impressed by the foreigners who could speak Chinese – more concisely, like that of Beijing accent, the most mellifluous among all the other accents used in Mainland China. Once she told me she saw a debating contest between South Korean and British university students held in Mandarin, and as a result, it was instead the British side who won it. “These South Koreans did speak coarse Chinese,” she said. “But the British replied in their melodious Beijing accent.”
Chinese language even gains more influence as more and more Chinese people migrate worldwide. According to PRC government statistics, there are at least 2 million citizens from the country moving out into the whole world every year. That’s just the data based on statistical figures, as it might be tip of an iceberg. Most of these migrants, in fact, only ascertain their own mother tongue, and possess very limited – or naught – knowledge on English. And that’s not the only thing that makes many foreigners need to master Mandarin in order to communicate well with these migrants (despite the fact that Chinese people are commonly willing to master the languages of the new countries they’ve moved in); affluence is another factor that plays a pivotal role. China currently possesses the largest amount of foreign exchange reserves in the world, worth approximately 3 trillion US$, that is 3 times that of Japan, the second largest. To a large degree, tens of thousands of Chinese companies are currently expanding their markets throughout the whole world, extending their economic influence through massive projects. They are building football stadiums, roads, dams and mines in resources-rich countries in Africa and Asia, providing more loans than World Bank to countries in need, and securing more deals to extract their natural resources. Unlike Western companies which are technology-oriented, Chinese companies are contrariwise more on manpower-oriented, implying that they would have to recruit many of their citizens to accomplish these projects. That’s why nowadays Mandarin tuition teachers prosper.
Actually, in terms of population, Chinese language is placed in the first rank – and has been for many decades. There are 2 persons speaking Chinese for every person speaking English in this planet as of the first decade of this century (that is, 1.5 billion versus 750 million). Nevertheless, more people use English than Mandarin when it comes to international use. While that’s true this happens in 21st century, I am myself not really sure on the upcoming century. Things might change beyond our expectation, and always be.
Back to the ‘African’ story. After I analyzed further on the Internet, these children originated from Malawi. They did not move to China in order to sharpen their shaolin skills or hamshackle the Chinese language; Amithofo Care Center had set up a branch office there to train these kids. Honestly, I’d forgotten the name of the shaolin master who trained these children.
Things are instantly changing nowadays, especially in the age of massive globalization, which has rendered more mobility for people around the world to migrate somewhere else. More Chinese are migrating to Africa, and vice versa. African diaspora in China is perhaps something that is unheard of, but in China itself, their presence has begun to be widely known. I have no idea about the future demography in China. But everybody must realize that more Africans will find their dream state other than United States. It’s been waning, and China has gradually replaced its position, bit by bit. The whole world is experiencing ‘Chinese effect’, right here right now.
And now you can listen them speak Chinese.
Let us begin with this: activate your Internet modem, take a surf in any browsers, and type the keywords ‘Mauritanian women’. Nearly all the recommendations may have resulted in one correlation: they are fat. Imagine what if someone marries a potbellied, chubby-faced, and buxom lady. That used to be popular during the Middle Ages, where men – particularly the peasants – were commonly perceived as being thin, bony, and well-muscled. And there were their wives; big, fat, perhaps xanthippe-alike, doing the daily chores in the kitchen or mopping or cleaning the floors. And that is still pretty much popular in Mauritania.
It sounds hard to admit here, but to be honest, I am much more attracted to chubby-faced – and short – women. Sometimes, I myself find this notion incomprehensible. I thought of the factors that triggered me for a while. My mom is not that type; she’s instead the one who is used to giving the coldest shoulder on being fat. She frequently exercises on the treadmill, at the same time watching TV, every afternoon. But my mom is shorter than me. Then I saw my younger brother. He’s chubby-faced. He’s quite fat, and some of the clothes I am still wearing today in fact suit his first-grade-junior-high-school body. Perhaps both these combinations subconsciously influenced my mind.
One thing I like from the evaluation of beauty is there is no precise unit on how beautiful a woman should be. Beauty according to me is not assuredly beauty according to you, or beauty according to your friend. That implies societies are free to adjust their own standards of beauty. But sometimes – starting from this point – beauty has its own ugliness, if seen from the wider perspectives. Some societies take extreme measures to define by their own subconscious of what beauty is, and how it should be made.
One example has been shown by societies of Mauritania. In order to obtain recognition, husbands are responsible to feed their wives as much as they can afford, despite the fact that more than half its population still earn less than even one dollar a day, until they turn obese. It’s unusual to conceive a poverty-and-coup-ridden nation where wives are instead obese, but for Mauritanians, it turns out to be ‘no problem’ at all.
Standards of beauty were even more terrible in ancient China. As seen from the former, the women would still be able to have diet. Yet, in the latter, it’s permanently incurable. Women there must have suffered a lot, if I can say. To have feet bound is an uneasy thing to do. Their feet would have to be bound until there came up ‘lotus feet’, one of the men’s must-haves during that period. As I read in Wikipedia, one research showed that ‘at least 10% of all the women in China who had their feet bound died of infection’. Most of the men perceived women with bound feet to be ‘erotic’, as seen from their swaying walk. But the term only applied as long as the women had their feet covered with ‘lotus shoes’, otherwise the rotten odor would be unleashed from the folded parts of their feet which had ended up rotten by the gangrenes. It’s out of the senses, but as the society accepted that norm – for thousands of years, it’s even perilous to mention it ‘insane’.
The neck-ring culture was particularly popular among the women in Kayan tribe, Myanmar. They begin to wear the neck coils as early as they have reached two years of age in order to elongate their necks, and as time passes, the number of the neck coils increases. By doing so, the women are trying to have an impression of what beauty is defined in their own minds. Like the woman pictured above, she must have had more than 10 neck coils. For further medical implications, I quoted these sentences from Wikipedia:
“The weight of the coils will eventually place sufficient pressure on the shoulder blade to cause it to deform and create an impression of a longer neck.
The custom of wearing neck rings is related to an ideal of beauty: an elongated neck. Neck rings push the collarbone and ribs down. The neck stretching is mostly illusory: the weight of the rings twists the collar bone and eventually the upper ribs at an angle 45 degrees lower than what is natural, causing the illusion of an elongated neck. The vertebrae do not elongate, though the space between them may increase as the intervertebral discs absorb liquid.
When the coils are removed, there is no health danger. The only concern is that the neck muscles are atrophied, and are understandably weaker than the rest of the body. However, there is no proven medical concern for the removal of the coils.”
All in a sudden (well, actually I’m not trying to be racist, but deep apologies whenever you feel inconvenient with my statement), this elderly woman reminded me of an ostrich. We all learn that the surrounding nature always plays a crucial role in shaping mankind’s mind patterns wherever they live, and my first hypothesis was that either ostriches or giraffes must have lived somewhere in Shan and Kayah State, the homeland of this ethnicity, that gave inspiration to the neck-lengthening idea. But my hypothesis in the end turned out to be null-and-void. Ostriches inhabit the barren, arid lands exactly south of Sahara, stretching from Mauritania to Somaliland, and several territories in Angola, Namibia, and Zambia. Giraffes themselves are scattered from Chad to South Africa. What a coincidence.
Note: it would have been so courteous of you not to call them ‘giraffe women’. It’s known to be derogatory.
When people know how to beautify, they must have also known how to uglify as well. Well, you maybe won’t find this word in any dictionaries, but at least you get the vivid point. Uglifying truly helps, indeed. There was a hypothesis by historians, mentioning that the climax where many women in Africa had their upper or lower lips pierced so that very large clay-made discs would fit in through the holes, was when slave trading was at its height. Thus, the very-ugly impression was made, and the slave traders must have considered their decisions more than twice whether they wanted to purchase these women or not. But slavery itself was not the only single factor that triggered many women to have their lips pierced; a matter of culture and habitude also played a vital role to sustain this tradition, even until now.
Take a visit to Ethiopia if you want. Pick up your world map, and find out where Omo River is situated. Most of the women with lip plates make a living here. It is widely believed among the tribes there that the larger the lip plates are, the more economically and socially climacteric they are. And more beautiful. What an obscurity.
Well, it might seem pornographic, but this picture was once published in National Geographic. Click the link here for more pictures: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/tattoos/photo9.html
In Cameroon, there’s another extreme habit known as breast ironing. It’s the process of making the breasts cease growing by the time the girls have begun to enter puberty. Elders used to, and are still used to, believing that the growth of breasts imply that women are ready for sex. They hold a strong, and strict, belief that women should attend education, avoid sex and early marriage. And they believe flattening the breasts is the solution, in order to preserve ‘the unspoilt beauty of their souls’.
Here is how it works. Tools, be they bananas, coconut shells, grinding stones, or spatulas are heated over coals until they end up as ferociously scalding as an iron used to flatten the shirts and clothes, and afterwards, they are placed over the breasts. The elders would compress these as-hot-as-melting-iron tools over the breasts until the body tissue inside is permanently damaged.
We often consociate beauty with elegance and splendor, but in some parts of the world, beauty speaks an entirely different language. And sometimes, metaphorically speaking, defining beauty itself is like building an imaginary human zoo of your own, where you classify and differentiate beauty and ugliness by your own. But it is what your mind does. Indeed, we never know, there is someone out there, someone out there we know that we have never known before, have their very own ways to interpret it. Human civilization must have been marked with so many human zoos of their own.
Previously, I have posted a note in Facebook about names and what they ‘actually’ are. Here are some more I actually have been intending to write for a long time, but unfortunately, situations and conditions at that time didn’t grant me to write about them as soon as possible (I was facing final exam at my school, so the number of my notes remained stationary for entirely a month). Knowledge is power, but wisdom is omnipower.
In this planet, there is actually not only one ethnic group named Batak, but two! For the other one (other than those in Indonesia, my homeland), you can find them in Philippines, exactly in northeastern side of Palawan Island (or Islands, anybody knows?) But there is a very huge difference between Batak in Indonesia and Batak in Philippines. In Indonesia, there are more or less 6.5 million people who can trace their ancestry to Batak roots, while in Philippines, the number is approximately merely 500. There is also a place in Bulgaria named Batak, notably notorious for the massacre happening in that place which claimed as many as 5000 lives, during Ottoman occupation of the country in 1876.
A kind of popular dish in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in which horseflesh is eaten. It is usually eaten together with noodle and dumplings. Traditionally, certain parts are only eaten by certain people. While the elders eat the heads, the youngest get the ears’ parts and the bones of the legs and shoulders.
In Indonesia, this word means ‘aunty’, or to a lesser extent, ‘washerwoman’. In Israel, this is the nickname of the current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. So, I expect nobody would re-write bibi as ‘Aunty Netanyahu’.
This is the name of an ethnic group who have been inhabiting Cape Town, South Africa, for almost 4 centuries. But it seems that there is an error in naming the ethnic group, mainly because most of the ancestors did not originate from Malaysia, but more precisely, from areas surrounding Makassar, South Sulawesi. Besides, the majority of them were more of Buginese (the adjective form of Bugis), rather than Malay, ancestry. However, they do no longer speak Indonesian or Malay.
CONTEST TO KILL 100 PEOPLE USING A SWORD
Subsequently after The Fall of Nanking in December 1937, Japanese troops began en masse massacre against Chinese civilians and troops. Chinese historians even believed that as many as 350,000 Chinese civilians might have died within a month or two after the conquest of the city. One of the most shocking, and inhuman, cases was a ‘beheading competition’ between two Japanese officers, Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda. As told by several journalists, Mukai decapitated 106 Chinese, and Noda, 105. In 1946, both of them were executed by Chinese court, in front of crowds of men and women who suffered during Japanese colonial rule.
No country has been as screwy as North Korea. The government restricts the people from getting access to Internet. There are no transmission towers. People there are even not allowed to communicate to each other with telephones, except by writing letters! Most of the people there even consider Kim Il-sung as God, and Kim Jong-il as son of God. The country receives less than 1000 foreign tourists every year, and the tourists visiting there are not allowed to take pictures as they like, unless under the observation of government agents who have been hired to guide the tourists. Magazines are not allowed as well. But, one thing for sure is, the nuclear weapon program is truly impressive, amidst the fact that 2.5 million people died in the country during the massive famine in 1990s!
It is one of many, many, many, and many languages which are going to be, and sadly, already extinct. Based in Alaska, it has only one, and simply, the only one, user, Marie Smith Jones, and worse, she has passed away in 2008. She was also known as the last full-blooded Eyak. Now, it is used as symbol of language extinction which is taking place worldwide, with some estimate the number of languages may decrease one digit from 7000 in 2000 to merely 700 in 2100.
Latin name for ‘sacred fig’, the tree in which Siddharta Gautama attained enlightenment and became Buddha since then. One unique aspect of the tree is it perpetually releases oxygen, day in and day out, year in and year out. Besides, the tree can be used as a traditional medicine which can heal up to 50 diseases, including asthma, diabetes, diarrhea, sexual disorders, etc.
Other than Zimbabwe, it seems ‘too’ easy to purchase hamburgers. You just need to take a few notes, wait a few minutes, take back hamburgers, come back home safely, and devour them as many as you want. Nonetheless, whenever you visit the inflation-ridden country, you need to be mentally prepared. In 2008, one hamburger was valued at 15 million Zimbabwe dollars, due to the inflation rate that has soared up to 250.000% at that time!
Global media needs to re-define what ‘jihad’ actually means. It is, genuinely, not defined as an ‘effort to annihilate America and Israel’, but rather as ‘effort to conquer oneself, stupidity, and evil desire’, as written in Hadits Jihad Al-Nafs. Blame Osama for all the slip-ups he had made.
Approximately two and a half millennia before the scientists introduced the ‘Big Bang’ theory, Hindu and Buddhist cosmology have introduced the concept about the birth and death of the universe, but they instead used ‘kalpa’ as a form of time measurement to estimate how long our universe would last. There are many different kinds of kalpa, and one of them is known to be equivalent to 139,600,000 years. The longest? 311,040,000,000,000 years.
Everybody (if not, 99% is tolerable) loves Mickey Mouse, especially the kids and the toddlers. Everybody must have been familiar with all the Disney characters you all may see in Disneylands worldwide. However, it is much better to mention Mickey Mouse as ‘notorious’, notably in Palestine. The al-Aqsa television, which is owned by Hamas, makes use of Mickey Mouse in a children’s show in order to teach the children to resist against United States and Israel.
Salim is actually an Arabian surname meaning ‘safe’. It is also an Indonesian surname for families whose Mandarin surname is ‘Lin’ (for those who haven’t known why most of the Chinese need to adopt Indonesian names, here is the reason. It is the result of our ex-president Soeharto’s assimilation – and most of the time, discriminatory – policies in order to hinder any influences from Communist China at that time).
According to reports from Credit Suisse, Indonesia experienced the highest growth of financial assets compared to all the other countries worldwide. It was estimated that the total wealth of Indonesians increased drastically from 360 billion US$ in 2000 to 1.8 trillion US$ as of 2010, and is expected to soar until 3.3 trillion US$ as of 2015, exactly one year after our current President, SBY, steps down from his presidency.
Throughout 2010, in Jakarta, the number of vehicles grow by 8%. At the same time, the length of roads only grow by 0.01%. Which is why it is of no surprise for most of the Jakartans to wake up as early as 4 or 5 am in order to prepare themselves before going out for work or to schools.
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