One occasionally reads an article about “who discovered America”. The hero might be Italian, Spanish, Norwegian, or Portuguese. These folks—writers of articles, not heroes—seem to have missed the science class on fossil evidence of the first humans discovered in North America. Ancestors of Native Americans appear to have wandered across an ancient land bridge from Asia and to be distant ancestors of adventurous (or hungry) people that walked out of Africa long ago. The Europeans that “discovered” America were merely starting a trend of stealing the land and plundering from the rightful owners of North America.
I might have missed the article, claiming that Marco Polo was the first to set foot in North American in Alaska, after traveling through China, if I had not recently seen a program on the man. There is, allegedly, a parchment map that has come to light. I will await investigation of its authenticity, before adding to my admiration of past Chinese “firsts”. After all, old Marco would not have made the trip without help from a race more-advanced than his.
I doubt that the folks at Fox News and their followers will be happy to learn the the United States was “discovered” from that direction. Admitting Chinese superiority is not something they could swallow.
The world has changed. I knew this, but an excellent program on Al Jazeera about Marco Polo brought this to mind. This happened on a day that I ordered some new clothes from my Italian tailor.
The man travels to meet my son-in-law, who is Italian and needs many suits for his job. We both like Italian fabrics and appreciate workmanship that is better than one can buy off the rack. Today, the tailor mentioned that he will travel to China to service new customers. There is a lot of money is China, and demand for good Western products and services is high. Italian fabric and tailoring are popular, as are German cars and French wine.
The change I mentioned above has to do with fabric. At the time of Marco Polo, people in the west sought silk from China. Now, the flow of expensive fabric is in the other direction.
Being close to Africa, in a country many would include in discussions about that continent, one is more aware of the politics of the region. News headlines, which normally go ignored, are considered. For example, I noted that the United States has announced (and is being criticised for) sending military aid to many African countries, some of which are dictatorships. Many foresee the inciting of crosses like those currently befalling countries on a band from Afghanistan to Libya. The last thing this part of the world needs is more weapons, but these are fertile grounds for the production of profits for weapons manufacturers.
Contrasting the American approach is the way the Chinese are “attacking” Africa. For years, they have been offering economic aid and trade credits to many countries. They are building infrastructure on fertile ground for non-lethal Chinese industries. Of course, they are benefiting Chinese companies, but the natives are gaining jobs, roads, airports, schools, etc.
Guess which nation has the better image….except with dictators…
I noticed an article about Nixon “opening” China with a photo of him sitting uncomfortable beside Chou En Lai. I doubt he could have imagined the damage he would do to American industry. Not the owners, but the workers.
With the opening of China and subsequent relaxing of Communist rule, US companies could take advantage of low wages to produce cheap goods for the home market. That meant that jobs were reduced in the United States and consumers became addicted to fast moving goods.
I doubt he foresaw that China would end up “owning” the United States, as largest holder of US bonds.
I wonder what he imagined. I doubt that neither he, not his buddy Henry, thought of peace on Earth and goodwill towards men. These were the guys that dropped more bombs on Southeast Asia than were dropped during World War II.
As we know, guys that win get to write their own hagiography…
Articles appeared in English newspapers and news programs reported that a recent survey showed that most parents chose a girl in procedures that can be manipulated. The reason given was that girls are “easier” than boys. None of these people must have had experience with a teenaged female.
The desire is in stark contrast to china. Reports suggest that most abortions are targeted at girls. The Chinese tend to refer male descendants.
If these trends continues, the future might hold a lot of eurasian marriages, with an imbalance of sexes in different parts of the world.
Of course, there is no news on this subject from the United States, where everyone is crazy…
Some might have noticed a minor news item: a military coup d’etat in Thailand. I was pleased to hear this, because such an even lends credence to my last novel: Flying’s Easy. I strive to ensure that everything in my novels is plausible. Anyone foolish enough to read my books without a grasp of geography, history, or basic current events might question some aspects. Some might have found the bits in Bangkok in my novel to be far-fetched, but recent happenings prove me justified in writing what I did.
I was amused to note that the US Government is “reviewing” its ties with the Thai military. They don’t care about the government of Thailand, a country that has been a stanch ally and partner in war crimes. And, no one wants one less friend in the neighborhood of China, the future “Evil Empire” of military planners.
As I expected, who finds the Black Box of MH370 is more important that simply finding the thing. This is obvious from the posturing and tone of reports from various countries involved in the search.
Mere sighting of debris by Australian, French, US, or British personnel is greeted with wonder and hope. Last week, the Australian prime minister was confident. Now that the Chinese have discovered a tone on the frequency of a black box, all reporters are treating the report with skepticism. No one trusts the Chinese or wants them to be successful. The Australian government is now urging caution and even complaining that the Chinese have told the world. British reporters seem upset that they were not permitted to be the first to discover something significant, simply because they have deigned to help the search. They give the impression that this is their right.
If the black box is indeed found, the battle to determine who gets to evaluate the contents should be entertaining....
This is an interesting article, and not just for those interested in languages. What the guy writes makes sense, something rarely finds in opinion pieces.
Everyone should learn languages, but it helps if the one chosen is useful. When I was in school, the only language offered--language study was required--was French or Latin. I was smart enough to know that learning language was difficult...and worthless, so I chose the lesser of two challenges. I did not have any use for French, but I could imagine traveling to France at some point in my life. And, a version of the language was spoken just up the road in Quebec. Usefulness has been limited, although a few words do come back during vacations in France...only to be immediately forgotten upon crossing the border.
Now, I would urge anyone willing to listen to learn Chinese, because these folks will rule the world long after I am gone. The combination of English and Mandarin should be useful on the international stage. Anyone staying home, can get by with the local language, although knowledge of English will be useful for understanding entertainment products. I cannot imagine Chinese music or films conquering the world.
Today, I noticed a sure sign of changing times. New guests arrived on the island: a large Chinese family, a wealthy Chinese family. One can tell by the clothes, accessories, and demeanor. This is not unusual in this day and age. What was surprising for me was to see that there was an American girl in the entourage, who appears to be the nanny of the three children. She speaks Chinese, but is obviously employed to teach the children English.
In the past, white families employed an Asian amah or a girl from some poorer country to care for the children. None were hired to teach the children a foreign language, because English was the lingua franca.
Times have changed. Who would have imagined an American girl working for a Chinese family as an au pair?
The following headline could appear only in the media of an ethnocentric nation:
In China, Chairman Mao still bigger than Jesus
Anyone with half a brain would know that a nation of one billion people, in which Christianity plays almost no role (except in the imagination of Christians) would not be interested in a foreign fictional character. This has nothing to do with belief of non-belief, this is statistics.
I have read a good deal of history and Pearl Buck, and I have known children of former missionaries, who felt that China had be “lost” (even though they Christian missionaries had never “had” China.
I am certain that more people on this earth do not know or care about Jesus than do know or care about being told by others how to lead their lives, because of words attributed to him by men living all the centuries since his death.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.