Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Technology Meets Culture


The article is titled, "Executive Director's Message: Our Languages on the Air: A Sense of Home, Place, and Belonging." The article revolves around the issue of languages, and therefore culture, going extinct. To get a grasp of the situation, 6,912 languages exist in the world, but as of 2009, 2,500 languages are endangered and 200 are completely lost. They state that one of the main issues that is causing so many languages to disappear is none other than technology. But technology is also how they are solving this problem of preserving languages and cultures. Other issues for the loss of language include language repression, assimilation, and the younger generation's replacement lingo. I too am a part of this movement. I am a Korean-American. In American society, I can see the digital language merging into daily conversations, such as LOL, BRB, photobomb. Words that have been popularized by media are being added to the dictionary as a permanent place in our language history, such as deets (detail), tweet (Twitter status), and crowdfunding (a new phenomenon in raising capital through the public). I feel like language is an ever-changing subject. I can name numerous words (or lingo) that have specific origins and signify specific time periods. The digital age is just what's happening now. But I also agree that technology can as easily be the best method of preserving languages. Language carries culture and there’s no better example than Chinese characters that span across most, if not, all of the Asian languages. Chinese characters are interesting because with just one character you can tell a cultural story of how that symbol came to be. They are a deeper version of prefixes and suffixes, since they not only have a meaning, but also a story. So I completely understand the need to preserve language, because its more than just communication, but a record of our history and culture.

Deported for their good looks [Extra Credit]

Lately, I’ve been hearing some vague stories about a man in the Middle East who was “so hot, he had to be deported.”  Usually this claim was accompanied with a close-up of a Calvin Klein model-like individual wearing a turban.  At first, like most sensible people would, I dismissed the ridiculous claim.  Violating dress codes was one thing, but punishment for physical appearance just didn’t seem possible.  Most likely, someone had photo shopped the turbans and desert backgrounds onto the first Google results for “male models”. 

And yet…why were news sites beginning to take notice of this?  It turns out that actor Omar Borkan Al Gala of Dubai was one of three men ejected from Saudi Arabia for capturing too much attention.  The incident occurred during a Saudi culture festival when religious police kicked out these men for being “too handsome” and in fear of “female visitors falling for them.”  The men were then taken to nearby Abu Dubai.

As ridiculously humorous most people (including myself) have found this event, I can’t help but dwell on the fact that women are treated like the most fragile beings; easily broken or ruined by the touch of men.  It sickens me that possible “temptations” for women had to be physically removed from the area as if females bore no sense of restraint whatsoever, much less that women are considered sullied for merely admiring the opposite gender!  When it comes to looks, it seems that Saudi Arabian government takes the term “lady killer” to literal fears.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bosnian Rape

Link to Article

The New Zealand Herald earlier this year released an article detailing the heroic effort of a woman who suffered and experienced terrible rape in prison camps during the Bosnian wars between Serbian and Croatia. This woman, Nusreta Sivac, was held in a prison camp for several months where she was raped and even forced to clean up the blood from her tortured countrymen. Today, she has pleaded with women around Bosnia to give their stories of these horrible experiences of rape to the United Nations. Due to her courage and conviction, she has been able to convict numerous of the guards who raped women in the early 1990’s.
Nusreta Sivac

It is important to remember that rape had not been considered a war crime until the Fourth Geneva Convention in 1949. Rape was merely considered a byproduct of war.  We cannot fathom the mental and emotional effects that occur when someone is raped. People hold on to these stories for decades and even lifetimes before surrendering them to someone. Often, people who have experienced traumatizing events do not have the courage or opportunity to voice their tragedies. The voice of those who have suffered is the only real account of the human rights violations and cannot be substituted by any means. Rape has been prevalent in many wars in this century including the Rwandan genocide where close to 50,000 women were raped. Only by these courageous acts, as Sivac has done, can we hear the voices of those who have suffered and bring justice to those who have blatantly ignored the rights of a human.

Bangladesh: Tragedy Shows Urgency of Worker Protections


The situation in Bangladesh is surprising, considering that it’s a nation very similar to India that is an emerging super-power.

On April 24th, 2013, hundreds of factory workers died when the factory building collapsed, crushing all of them at once. The worse part is that this tragedy was highly predictable. Huge cracks had appeared all over the infrastructure the day prior to the tragedy and even though the building had been evacuated a few hundreds workers were forced to still go in and work.

Factory owners pay Bangladeshi workers some of the least amount of wages when compared to all over the world. But even then “they did not have the decency to ensure safety of people who put clothes on the backs of people all over the world.”

Moreover, this is not a sole incident. Several such incidents have occurred in the past killing hundreds of more workers.

Were all these deaths accidental?

Maybe Not! The reason is corruption.

Inspectors, upholding the Labours Act in Bangladesh, take bribes from the factory owners instead of imprisoning them when they find violations of safety provisions. The average bribe is considered to be $13.

The value of the lives of hundred workers is $13 in Bangladesh!

Once again the problem moves back to the government of the nation. Its time there is a reform in the way system works so that normal people get basic rights and living conditions.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

UAE: Cameron Should Press Rulers on Torture


A human rights agency has urged the British Prime Minister David Cameroon to put pressure on the rulers of UAE, prior to his visit to the nation next week. This agency has especially targeted the British prime minister because there have been many new cases in which the strict regime has not even spared British immigrants, who have been tortured in the same fashion.

This urge is one more desperate plead from the human rights activists to the authorities to gain basic rights, which should be provided to every living person on this planet by default. This situation is not new. People have been supressed in Islamic regimes unfairly over several decades. And this seems to be another one of those hopeless pleads on the part of the human rights activists that comes to no avail.

I could explain how people have been tortured. But, I see no point in that since people are generally well aware of them and now the world has reached on such a stage that spreading awareness is not enough. We need to take action!!

Therefore, it is imminent that the human rights activists put up huge demonstrations in UK  (where they would not be arrested for voicing there opinion) in addition to make sure that everything possible is being done to improve the situation of citizens in Islamic regimes. 

Furthermore, for the long term, Saudi Arabia needs a ‘revolution from below’, which will slowly change the hierarchy of the political system. Even though this is extremely  difficult we must not give our hopes for a better future and continue to strive.