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The video above shows The Holograms performing the song at an LA bar in 2008. For better sound quality, listen to the studio version at ReverbNation. The Holograms are an Asian American girl band from Los Angeles.

Thanks to Solitaire for suggesting this band.

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(Ben Stansall / AFP / Getty Images)

This past week (May 21st to 27th 2017) the big news in the US, apart from Russiagate, was the Manchester bombing in Britain in which 22 were killed at an Ariana Grande concert. It was not big news because it was the worst case of civilian slaughter this week, but because most of the people killed were White.

Here is an incomplete list of cases of civilian slaughter that took place this past week. I list those that I knew about as of Saturday the 27th at 21:00 GMT.

Note: “civilian slaughter” is here defined as cases where five or more people were killed at the same time, not counting soldiers, police officers or other armed groups, and not counting accidents, natural disasters or executions:

Sunday May 21st 2017:

  • 15 killed: Deir Ezzor, Syria: by mortar fire from ISIS. Many of the dead were women and children. More.

Monday May 22nd 2017:

  • 22 killed: Manchester, Britain: by Salman Abedi, a suicide bomber, at an Ariana Grande concert. ISIS claimed credit. More.

Tuesday May 23rd 2017:

  • 5 killed: Jouba, Yemen: by US Navy SEALs during a raid on Al Qaeda. Eyewitnesses say that a partly-blind, 70-year-old man was killed by US Navy SEALs when he tried to greet them, not understanding who they were. That led to an argument and four more dead bodies. The US says all five were Al Qaeda fighters. In addition, two actual Al Qaeda fighters were killed. More.
  • 5 killed: Bosasso, Somalia: bombing by an ISIS-allied group. More.

Wednesday May 24th 2017:

  • 23 killed: Mosul, Iraq: An ISIS booby-trap kills a family of 23 taking shelter.
  • 5 killed: Mogadishu, Somalia: in a suicide car bombing by al-Shabab.  More.

Thursday May 25th 2017:

Friday May 26th 2017:

  • 28 killed: Minya, Egypt: gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians on their way to a monastery. Ten were children. No one has claimed credit. More.
  • 106 killed: Al Mayadeen, Syria: by US-led airstrikes, 42 were children. More.

Saturday May 27th 2017:

  • 10+ killed: Khost Province, Afghanistan: car bomb by the Taliban aimed at security forces. More.
  • 6+ killed: Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan: during a government attack on ISIS. More.
  • ?? killed: Marawi, Philippines: government airstrikes on an ISIS-allied group. Although 90% of the city has fled, some 20,000 civilians are still there! More.

Also this week: the US said it will sell Saudi Arabia $110 billion in weapons. Saudi Arabia is fighting in Yemen – and backs ISIS!

This week’s standings:

  • 52% by US and its allies
  • 29% by ISIS and its allies
  • 19% by others

Plane over Syria.

ISIS-controlled Syria and Iraq, December 2016.

What drives most of the slaughter listed above is a fight between the US and ISIS for control of ISIS’s two main cities: Raqqa, Syria and Mosul, Iraq. US-led airstrikes now kill more people than those by Syria.

The December Directive: The number of civilians killed by the US has been going up since December 2016, when President Obama gave commanders on the ground a freer hand. Trump is giving them an even freer hand.

(FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein:

“Unfortunately, scant attention is being paid by the outside world to the appalling predicament of the civilians trapped in these areas.”

– Abagond, 2017.

Sources: Democracy Now! (they keep up on stuff like this), Religion of Peace (pro-Christian), Wikipedia (Eurocentric), Al Jazeera, Middle East Eye.

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567

Bengali

The Lord’s Prayer in Bengali:

হে আমাদের স্বর্গস্থ পিতা,
তোমার নাম পূজিত হউক,
তোমার রাজ্য আসুক,
তোমার ইচ্ছা যেমন স্বর্গে,
তেমনি পৃথিবীতেও পূর্ণ হউক,
আমাদের দৈনিক অন্ন আজ আমাদিগকে দাও,
আর আমরা যেমন অপরাধীকে ক্ষমা করি তেমনি তুমিও আমাদের অপরাধ ক্ষমা কর,
আর আমাদিগকে প্রলোভনে পড়তে দিও না,
কিন্ত মন্দের হাত থেকে উদ্ধার করো।
[রাজ্য, পরাক্রম ও মহিমা যুগে যুগে তোমার।]
আমেন।

Bengali (950- ) is the main language of Bangladesh and the neighbouring Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura.

  • Speakers: 245 million (226m or 92% native), the seventh largest language worldwide.
  • Countries: Most speakers live in Bangladesh and India, many in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, US and Britain.
  • Script: Bengali alphabet, written left to right, like English. Each letter stands for a syllable. No capital letters. Most punctuation comes from English.
  • Language family: Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European family.

Similar languages: It is almost the same language as Oriya and Assamese. It is a close cousin of Hindi and other languages of northern India. Hindi and Bengali come from Sanskrit, just as French and Spanish come from Latin, and at about the same time too, about a thousand years ago. As an Indo-European language, it is a distant cousin of English: Bengali and English used to be the same language some 7,000 years ago.

Compare: 

   English:  mother, new,   night, three.

   Latin:    mater,  novus, nox,   tres.
   Spanish:  madre,  nuevo, noche, tres.

   Sanskrit: mater,  nava,  nakt,  trayas.
   Bengali:  mata,   nobo,  ratri, tin.

Even though most Bengali speakers today are Muslim or Hindu by religion, its earliest writers were mostly Buddhist.

At school you learn to write in Standard Colloquial Bengali, which is based on the everyday speech of educated people in Kolkata (Calcutta). There is an older, more flowery literary dialect, Shadhubhasha, where almost half the words are straight Sanskrit. It was common in the 1800s but is rarely used now, thanks in part to Tagore and other writers:

Rabindranath Tagore, a poet, is by far the best known Bengali writer in the West: he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, the first winner who was not born in Europe. He won:

“because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West.”

In other words, he won as an English writer, not a Bengali one! If he is that good in English, think what he must be like in Bengali. He had translated and reworked his book of poems “Gitanjali” (1910) into English, which became a hit in Britain. UNESCO considers it a masterpiece.

With an introduction by Yeats himself, how can you go wrong?

English words that come from Bengali: only one that I know of: jute, in 1746, from jhuto, which in turn comes from the Sanskrit word for twisted or matted hair, jutas. Jute is still a big export from Bangladesh. Most Indian words in English come from Hindi or Sanskrit.

Grammar: Like Yoda, Bengali puts the verb at the end of a sentence. But unlike him, it puts the subject of the verb, not the object, first. Where Yoda would say, “The lightsabre Yoda grasped,” Bengali would say, “Yoda the lightsabre grasped.”

Learning Bengali, for an English speaker, is about as hard as learning, say, Russian or Hebrew. Not as easy as French or Spanish, but not as hard as Chinese or Arabic.

– Abagond, 2017.

Sources: especially ministrants.com (Lord’s Prayer), nobelprize.org (glowing words), aboutworldlanguages.com (learning difficulty), The Atlantic (Yoda grammar), CIA Factbook (jute exports), Online Etymology Dictionary (Bengali words in English), Britannica (overview).

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622

 

The Transcontinental Railroad (1869) is the name given to the first railway built between Omaha, Nebraska and Sacramento, California, making coast-to-coast train travel across the US possible. What used to take four to six months now took just six days.

Crooked companies making crooked lines: The US government had wanted a transcontinental railroad since at least 1845. In 1862 the contract went to two companies: the Central Pacific, which built the line eastward from Sacramento, and the Union Pacific, which built westward from Omaha. Both companies were hugely corrupt (the Credit Mobilier scandal, for example) – and did not take the shortest route so that they could make more money.

The Union Pacific went across flatter land but had to fight off more Native Americans, whose land they were taking. They employed 20,000 men, about 300 were Black, 3,000 were Irish.

The Central Pacific went across mountain and desert almost the whole way, meaning they had to build more bridges and tunnels. They employed about 12,000 men, some were Black (pictured below), 11,000 were Chinese.

Labour:

  • Irish Americans: paid $35 a month with board, 8 hours a day, Sundays off.
  • Chinese Americans: paid $27 a month without board, 12 hours a day, whippings, Sundays off.
  • Black Americans: ??

Little is known about the Black workers. It seems that some settled in Oakland, California shortly afterwards.

Chinese Americans: The Central Pacific made the Chinese work through the winter of 1866, one of the worst ever, and in the mountains! That spring the Chinese went on strike, demanding the same pay and conditions as Whites. The company, which controlled the food supply, got them to give in – but it did give them $2 more a month. In time they would get $30 a month. It was dangerous work: at least a thousand died, in landslides, snowslides, explosions, etc.

Chinese know-how: Some said the Central Pacific leg was impossible. And it might have been without Chinese know-how, not just in working with explosives, but in how to build things into the side of mountains. Many mountains do not come with a natural rail bed.

Glass ceiling: Despite all that, the management, from the foremen on up, was all White.

The Last Spike was driven by Leland Stanford on May 10th 1869 at Promontory, Utah, at a Whites-only ceremony. Look at the pictures!

Leland Stanford – well, he needs a post of his own. After the “dregs” of Asia, as he called them, built his railroad, he made a fortune and founded Stanford University.

Land: The government gave the companies miles of Native land on both sides of the rail lines. Before then, railroads followed behind White settlers. Now they led the way, placing ads in the eastern US and in Europe to draw in settlers.

The railroad also helped to spread the Ghost Dance, in the opposite direction, which in turn led to the showdown at Wounded Knee.

Central Pacific line in red, Union Pacific in blue.

US transcontinental rail lines in use as of 2011.

Today most of the Nevada and California line is still in use by Amtrak’s California Zephyr. Much of the rest is abandoned or was torn up for its steel for the Second World War.

The California Zephyr near Truckee, California, circa 2013. Via Yahoo.

An abandoned part of the Transcontinental Railroad near Brigham City, Utah, circa 2009. Via abandonedrails.com.

– Abagond, 2017.

Sources: mainly “The Chinese in America” (2003) by Iris Chang; “A Different Mirror” (2008) by Ronald Takaki; “A People’s History of the United States” (2003) by Howard Zinn.

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630

Gold Mountain

Chinese American miner, 1853.

Gold Mountain or Gum Shan (金山) is a Chinese name given to California after gold was discovered there. The Chinese first came to the US in large numbers as part of the California Gold Rush (1848–1855).

In January 1848 gold was discovered in the mountains east of San Francisco. It turned the Spanish mission town into a big city – and the Chinese were there almost from the start. By April three Chinese people were living in San Francisco. By 1850 Chinatown was taking shape.

Nearly all the Chinese came came from just one province: Guangdong, in the south of China. It was being squeezed by British banks and torn apart by war.

At first the Chinese were welcomed in California. But after just a few years, by 1853, stuff like this started to appear in newspapers:

“[The Chinese are] morally a far worse class to have among us than the negro. They are idolatrous in their religion – in their disposition cunning and deceited, and in their habits libidinous and offensive. They have certain redeeming features of craft, industry and economy, and like other men in the fallen estate, ‘they have wrought out many inventions.’ But they are not of that kin that Americans can ever associate or sympathize with. They are not of our people and never will be, though they remain here forever …”

That same year the state supreme court, in People v Hall, ruled that the Chinese could not give testimony in court against a White man. That left them with little protection under the law. Whites could pretty much do whatever they wanted and get away with it.

That made it hard, for instance, to hold onto gold claims that Whites wanted. The Chinese found themselves picking over claims Whites had lost interest in.

Some did become amazingly rich all the same, returning to China to become powerful landlords. But most, knowing that the odds were against them, gave up mining one by one and returned to San Francisco to make their life there.

By 1849 there was a Chinese restaurant. By 1851 a laundry. By 1852 a Chinese theatre, with epic Chinese operas. By 1854 a newspaper, the Gold Hills News.

Restaurants and laundries were particularly successful, serving both Chinese and Whites. This was when “Chinese food” became a thing among White people. There were few women in San Francisco and White men considered cooking and washing clothes beneath them – leaving an opening for Chinese men to make a living without seeming to be a threat.

Chop suey was invented then. The story goes that some drunk White miners came into a restaurant just before closing wanting to be served, so the cook stir-fried some table scraps. It proved a hit.

Before the first Chinese laundry opened, many men, both White and Chinese, sent their shirts to Hong Kong! Then Honolulu. In terms of travel time, California was closer to China than it was to most of the US. That changed in 1869 with the opening of the Transcontinental Railroad.

– Abagond, 2017.

Source: mainly “The Chinese in America” (2003) by Iris Chang.

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562

Remarks: 

Yoon Mi-Rae (윤미래), also known as Tasha Reid, was born in the US to a South Korean mother and a Black American father. She sings Korean music, everything from pop love ballads to R&B to rap. This song came out in 2016 and uses a mix of Korean and English.

Here is the cover art for this song:

See also:

Lyrics (see the subtitles in the video for the complete English translation):

(잠깐만 Baby 잠깐만 Baby
잠깐만 Baby 잠깐만 Baby)

사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네

오늘도 지나가지
흘러가겠지 눈물처럼
Just livin’ for every moment
I get to have you by my side

나 아무리 원해도
갖지 못했던
마주 봐도 oh boy
닿지 못 했던 너
A love like ours is
in the stars the stars
사랑인 것 같아

Baby come and visit
I just wanna vibrAte
Maybe we can move away
and go and migrate
Baby come and visit
I just wanna vibrAte
Maybe we can move away
and go and migrate

사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네

매일 같은 시간쯤에 깨어나
게으른 아침 기지개를 피워봐
이달에 남은 날짜들을 새어보며
커피향에 지친 날 지친 날 깨워봐
매일 같은 매일같이 뜨는 해
같은 하루 지나가면 반복돼 어제
오늘도 어제 같은 오늘 밤쯤에
갑자기 달라 보여 너 왠지 몰라도
아마 사랑인 것 같아 뭔지 몰라도
갑자기 달라 보여 너 왠지 몰라도
Day dreaming and
I’m thinking of you
Day dreaming and
I’m thinking of you

Baby can I see you right now
Really really really
wanna see ya right now
Just come over baby
just wanna hold you baby
Baby can I see you right now
Really really really
wanna see ya right now
Just come over baby
just wanna hold you baby

사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네
사랑하나 봐 나 혼자 속삭이네

(잠깐만 Baby 잠깐만 Baby
잠깐만 Baby 잠깐만 Baby
잠깐만 Baby 잠깐만 Baby
잠깐만 Baby 잠깐만 Baby)

Source: iLyricsBuzz.

Afong Moy

Afong Moy (c. 1815-??) was the first Chinese American woman. She was so first that she was known in the US in the 1830s as simply “the Chinese lady”. From 1834 to 1848 she was a museum exhibit and later a P.T. Barnum sideshow along with Tom Thumb. In 1850 Barnum got rid of her in favour of a new Chinese lady, Pwan Yee Koo. After that there is no record of her.

She arrived on Friday October 17th 1834 in New York. The New York Daily Advertiser reported:

“The ship Washington, Capt. Obear, has brought out a beautiful Chinese Lady, called Juila Foochee ching-chang king, daughter of Hong wang-tzang tzee king. As she will see all who are disposed to pay twenty five cents. She will no doubt have many admirers.”

Captain Obear reportedly paid her father to take her to the US for two years.

By the time she was put on exhibit a month later, the ticket price had been doubled and her name changed to the catchier “Afong Moy”.

New Yorkers had already seen Chinese men: there was no Chinatown yet, but there were Chinese sailors. And Chang and Eng Bunker, the famous Siamese twins, had been there in 1829 on their world tour.

Product placement: Moy was exhibited by Frederick and Nathanial Carne, brothers who imported goods from China. They showed Moy living in a room decked out with the very Chinese goods they sold: hanging lamps, illustrated screens, paintings, porcelain vases, cushioned chairs, mirrors, ornamental boxes, curiosities, etc.

For 50 cents you could see Afong Moy eat rice with chopsticks, sing, count in Chinese, wear Chinese clothes, answer questions through her interpreter, Atung, and, the highlight of the show, walk. She could not walk well: her feet had been bound since she was a little girl. Doctors in Philadelphia measured her feet: they were only four inches (10cm) long. At first she would only show her naked feet to doctors, but later, when the ticket price had been doubled to a dollar (a day’s pay in those days), she showed them to all ticket holders. In later shows she also spoke English, which some found strange.

Part of the 1836 New Orleans ad.

The New-York Mirror refused to have any part of it:

“We have not been to see Miss Afong Moy, the Chinese lady with the little feet; nor do we intend to perform that universal ceremony … The lovely creatures were made for anything but to be stared at, for half a dollar a head.”

Human zoos in the West were yet to reach their height.

She went to the main cities along the coast, from Boston to New Orleans, and probably up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers all the way to Pittsburgh.

In Washington, DC she met Congressmen and President Andrew Jackson, who:

“wished her … the power to persuade her countrywomen to abandon the custom of cramping their feet, so totally in opposition to Nature’s wiser regulations.”

We do not know if she ever made it back home, to Canton (Guangzhou) in the south of China.

– Abagond, 2017.

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