Dreams of De-Westernization
BEIJING AND SHANGHAI - Every single Western writer in China will face a tough decision in 2014: “Do I translate Chinese terms or not? If negated, this could lead to a small cultural revolution. Why, because forgoing translation, after all a tool of cultural imperialism, would change EVERYTHING.
“Have You Heard About The Dama Dames? They Are Buying Gold Like There Was No Tomorrow.”
The year 2013 saw thousands of Chinese words enriching the English language. Luckily, you know before it is official because you are reading my blog:
Dama – Big Mamas Are Buying the Gold
Raymond Zhou of the China Daily wrote a detailed manifesto on the dama or “big mamas.” Those are the Chinese wives – not “big” in a physical sense - who are “sweeping jewelry stores across the nation” and shopping real estate because it’s so exciting.
In fact, your author read an article about the big mamas in the in-flight magazine during his recent trip from Beijing to Tokyo. The headline "Chinese Dama" was featured against the backdrop of London's Westminster and Big Ben. By now every Wall Street banker has heard about ‘dama’, Mr. Zhou argues, because it is often Chinese women (wives or mistresses, by the way) who make the big financial decisions [for their men].
Nvhanzi and Xueba - Manly Woman and Academic Tyrants
Shanghai Daily featured a brilliant piece by Yao Minji about the latest Chinese word creations. Nvhanzi are bossy and seemingly superhuman females, students mostly, who rise earlier than Immanuel Kant and sleep less than Honoré de Balzac in order to achieve their high-achiever's aims. Another tune for them is xueba, Academic tyrants, which also applies to male wonkers, nerds, and grade grabbers.
Taizidang - The Party of Princelings
Zhang Lifan, a political observer, recently published an interview in The Hindu in which he elaborated on the concepts of taizidang or :The Party of Princelings," and the hongerdai or "The Second Red Generation." Their Red background, Mr. Zhang says, "will inform their decision-making, and likely emerge as both an asset and a liability." Political theorist from Berlin to Paris, from London to Washington are now learning Chinese, if they want it or not.
"Chinese (or other foreign) loanwords are common in entertainment and spiritualism, like kungfu, qi, or dao; in politics and the sciences however we shun them so as to not yield an inch of Western intellectual territory to the Asians."
Xi Jinping wants to rejuvenate Chinese culture
The timing for introducing Chinese archetypes, categories, and taxonomies on a global scale could not be better: Xi Jinping, the President of China, is personally promoting the Zhongguo meng or "Chinese Dream" and promised to rejuvenate the Chinese culture.
"They will have to stem Westernization a bit because it will set them free."
Mr. Xi didn't explicitly mention the protection of Chinese words, and neither did the Ministry of Education or Hanban, The Office of Chinese Language (which propagates and finances Chinese culture overseas through its well-known 'Confucius Institutes'). Teaching Chinese Language and promoting certain Chinese key terminologies are, after all, two different things.
Still, while Xi Jinping keeps his ideas about 'Cultural China' deliberately vague (e. g. take any Western concept and add "with Chinese characteristics", as in 'Socialism with Chinese characteristics'), Chinese artists, writers, and entrepreneur meanwhile have taken their chances at writing history, literally: They sponsor those key terminologies that are the front and center of the Chinese tradition whenever they can.
Chinese scholarship divided over translations
Chinese academia is genuinely divided over the future path of China. Western money understandably went (and still goes) to those Chinese scholars who are Western-educated and/or promote(ed) total Westernization. Sometimes greedy and submissive, many Chinese professors have adopted Western biblical and philosophical interpretations for all East-Asian thought.
Thus, Chinese shengren became ‘saints’ or ‘philosophers’, and Chinese wenming became ‘civilization’; and ren became ‘concrete humanity’ and what not. Overseas Chinese who submit to the Eurocentric worldview are often paid better than their local Chinese peers, especially at the two great educational flagships of the Chinese civilization - Peking University and Tsinghua University.
Green light for others to follow China’s example
This won’t be the end of the (his)story. Some observers say that we are witnessing the dismantling of Western-written 'World history', literally, by letting other cultures’ originality stepping in and between the lines. People call this healthy but slow process "De-Westernization." To be sure, tens of thousands of Asian concepts are yet completely unknown to the Americans and Europeans.
West didn't see that coming
"China isn't alone. India, Japan, and Iran, too, may also be wondering why their socio-cultural originality is purposely kept out of world history."
Scholars of China Studies who (despite knowing English) have insisted on continuing the Chinese tradition are marginalized. But they are greater in numbers. From Gu Zhengkun of Peking University, to Chen Lai of Tsinghua University, to Roger T. Ames of the University of Hawaii – most refuse to use misleading English translations for Confucian key terms such as rujia, or ren.
China is not alone. Everywhere in the world we see foreign scholars who demand the liberation of their nation’s vocabularies and, following from that, the creation of a new global language. In Japan we have Haneda Masashi of Tokyo University; in the US we have the Indian Rajiv Malhotra, in South Korea we have Yersu Kim of Kyung Hee University, and in Iran we have S. A. Mirhosseini, to name but a few.
As to politics, out of the seven members of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, only one studied abroad (and that was in North Korea). Understandably, China leadership has a great interest in protecting Chinese culture against Western language imperialism.
Academia faces a small revolution
"Who are those national governments and academic stakeholders who want to keep knowledge limited and utterly reduced to what the West knows?"
For young scholars, artist, journalist, and writers all over the world, this could be a most interesting development. Don’t we all come from cultures with a great originality and inventiveness, but were silenced by Western education, editors, publishers, and institutions who forced us to employ pure and clean English, or else perish? For men and women who live for letters, racism seems but a trifle compared to the ongoing prejudices against foreign words.
We cannot act as if China didn't matter, as if the East-Asians for the last 3000 years invented nothing worth of naming and branding. The liberation of Chinese culture - its words and concepts - has only just begun.
Image credit: Kaliva/Shutterstock.com
Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling has an important favor to ask of the American people.
- Michael Dowling is president and CEO of Northwell Health, the largest health care system in New York state. In this PSA, speaking as someone whose company has seen more COVID-19 patients than any other in the country, Dowling implores Americans to wear masks—not only for their own health, but for the health of those around them.
- The CDC reports that there have been close to 7.9 million cases of coronavirus reported in the United States since January. Around 216,000 people have died from the virus so far with hundreds more added to the tally every day. Several labs around the world are working on solutions, but there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.
- The most basic thing that everyone can do to help slow the spread is to practice social distancing, wash your hands, and to wear a mask. The CDC recommends that everyone ages two and up wear a mask that is two or more layers of material and that covers the nose, mouth, and chin. Gaiters and face shields have been shown to be less effective at blocking droplets. Homemade face coverings are acceptable, but wearers should make sure they are constructed out of the proper materials and that they are washed between uses. Wearing a mask is the most important thing you can do to save lives in your community.
Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.
- Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
- These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
- The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
What are they?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDA0NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTM1ODc0Mn0.NH33LuauIo__sUBi4tvhwxDcsvhflDFD-Nhx9FjlSNk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=148%2C0%2C149%2C0&height=700" id="cec96" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="acb78abe2ab46a17e419ad30906751d6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Artist's impression of the Kordylewski cloud in the night sky (with its brightness greatly enhanced) at the time of the observations.
G. Horváth<p>The<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kordylewski_cloud" target="_blank"> Kordylewski clouds</a> are two dust clouds first observed by Polish astronomer Kazimierz Kordylewski in 1961. They are situated at two of the <a href="https://www.space.com/30302-lagrange-points.html" target="_blank">Lagrange points</a> in Earth's orbit. These points are locations where the gravity of two objects, such as the Earth and the Moon or a planet and the Sun, equals the centripetal required to orbit the objects while staying in the same relative position. There are five of these spots between the Earth and Moon. The clouds rest at what are called points four and five, forming a triangle with the clouds and the Earth at the three corners.</p><p>The clouds are enormous, taking up the same space in the night sky as twenty lunar discs; covering an area of 45,000 miles. They are roughly 250,000 miles away, about the same distance from us as the Moon. They are entirely comprised of specks of dust which reflect the light of the sun so faintly most astronomers that looked for them were unable to see them at all. </p><p>The clouds themselves are probably ancient, but the model that the scientists created to learn about them suggests that the individual dust particles that comprise them can be blown away by solar wind and replaced by the dust from other cosmic sources like comet tails. This means that the clouds hardly move but are <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2018/11/news-earth-moon-dust-clouds-satellites-planets-space/" target="_blank">eternally changing</a>. </p>
How did they discover this?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDAzNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1Nzc4MjQ4MX0.7uU9OqmQcWw5Ll1UXAav0PCu4nTg-GdJdAWADHanC7c/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C180%2C0%2C181&height=700" id="952fb" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a778280a20f1c54cd2c14c8313224be2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"In this picture the central region of the Kordylewski dust cloud is visible (bright red pixels). The straight tilted lines are traces of satellites."
J. Slíz-Balogh<p>In their study published in the <a href="https://academic.oup.com/mnras" target="_blank">Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society</a>, Hungarian astronomers Judit Slíz-Balogh, András Barta, and Gábor Horváth described how they were able to find the dust clouds using polarized lenses.</p><p>Since the clouds were expected to polarize the light that bounces off of them, by configuring the telescopes to look for this kind of light the clouds were much easier to spot. What the scientists observed, polarized light in patterns that extended outside the view of the telescope lens, was in line with the predictions of their mathematical model and ruled out other possible sources. </p>
Why are we just learning this now?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDAzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjUyNDMyMH0.Zl8GmQ_rJHiL4b7hN0r_YBmgb6_ZqIRvqOVuko2ubpw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C141%2C0%2C185&height=700" id="87afe" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dd4c0b5088e601d7279cc5eb226f8b7b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"Mosaic pattern of the angle of polarization around the L5 point (white dot) of the Earth-Moon system. The five rectangular windows correspond to the imaging telescope with which the patterns of the Kordylewski cloud were measured."
J. Slíz-Balogh<p>The objects, being dust clouds, are very faint and hard to see. While Kordylewski observed them in 1961, other astronomers have looked there and given mixed reports over the following decades. This discouraged many astronomers from joining the search, as study co-author Judit Slíz-Balogh <a href="https://ras.ac.uk/news-and-press/research-highlights/earths-dust-cloud-satellites-confirmed" target="_blank">explained</a>, <em>"The Kordylewski clouds are two of the toughest objects to find, and though they are as close to Earth as the Moon are largely overlooked by researchers in astronomy. It is intriguing to confirm that our planet has dusty pseudo-satellites in orbit alongside our lunar neighbor."</em></p>
Will this have any impact on space travel?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c3d797fff5430c64afcb5a49bddc3616"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ou8N3v9SFPE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Lagrange points have been put forward as excellent locations for a space station or satellites like the <a href="https://jwst.nasa.gov/about.html" target="_blank">James Webb Telescope</a> to be put into orbit, as they would require little fuel to stay in place. Knowing about a massive dust cloud that could damage sensitive equipment already being there could save money and lives in the future. While we only know about the clouds at Lagrange points four and five right now, the study's authors suggest there could be more at the other points.</p><p>While the discovery of a couple of dust clouds might not seem all that impressive, it is the result of a half-century of astronomical and mathematical work and reminds us that wonders are still hidden in our cosmic backyard. While you might never need to worry about these clouds again, there is nothing wrong with looking at the sky with wonder at the strange and fantastic things we can discover. </p>
New cancer-scanning technology reveals a previously unknown detail of human anatomy.
- Scientists using new scanning technology and hunting for prostate tumors get a surprise.
- Behind the nasopharynx is a set of salivary glands that no one knew about.
- Finding the glands may allow for more complication-free radiation therapies.
PSMA PET/CT technology<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="676e611b970c9b516cace0870447b325"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RHAyoQF09X4?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>PSMA PET/CT is a new combination of <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/pet-scan/about/pac-20385078" target="_blank">PET scans</a> and <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ct-scan/about/pac-20393675" target="_blank">CT scans</a> that is believed to offer a more reliable means of locating prostate cancer metastasis. A <a href="https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2020/prostate-cancer-psma-pet-ct-metastasis" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> published last spring suggests it may be the most accurate way to diagnose prostate cancer metastasis than any method previously available.</p><p>Prior to PSMA PET/CT, the primary way to look for metastatic prostate cancer was to image the body using x-ray-based CT scans and to perform bone scans, since bone is where prostate cancer often spreads. CT scans, however, often miss small tumors, and bone scans can generate false positives as a result of other damage or abnormalities that have nothing to do with prostate cancer.</p><p>PSMA PET/CT scans track the travels of an intravenously administered radioactive glucose tracer throughout the body. For hunting down prostate cancer, this tracer contains a molecule that binds to the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472940/" target="_blank">PSMA</a> protein that's present in large amounts in prostate tumors. The molecule is linked to a radioisotope, <a href="https://netrf.org/2018/11/13/gallium-68-scan-for-neuroendocrine-tumors/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">gallium-68</a> (Ga-68).</p><p>In last spring's research, PSAM PET/CT was shown to be 27 percent more accurate than previous methods at finding metastases (92 percent accuracy as opposed to 65 percent). In addition, it was found to be much less likely to produce false positives, and it was particularly good at detecting tumors far removed from the prostate.</p>
A good kind of avoidance behavior<p>"Radiation therapy can damage the salivary glands," says Vogel, "which may lead to complications. Patients may have trouble eating, swallowing, or speaking, which can be a real burden."</p><p>The researchers looked back through the cases of 723 patients who had undergone radiation treatment, interested in seeing if inadvertent radiation of the tubarial glands was associated with the complications experienced by the patients. It turned out that this <em>was</em> the case: In cases where more radiation had been delivered to this area, patients did indeed report more in the way of complications of the type one would expect when salivary glands are radiated.</p><p>Now that we know the tubarial salivary glands exist, therapists can stay out of their way. Vogel says, "For most patients, it should technically be possible to avoid delivering radiation to this newly discovered location of the salivary gland system in the same way we try to spare known glands."</p><p>He's hopeful that that things may be about to get at least a bit better for cancer patients: "Our next step is to find out how we can best spare these new glands and in which patients. If we can do this, patients may experience less side effects which will benefit their overall quality of life after treatment."</p>
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