Burning them all!

Every year big pieces of our world are on fire This year in Indonesia we had one the greatest environmental disaster. And the media?
Ah, the Media! Sausages (are they really so bad?), James Bond (this was really bad!), Star Wars, how pirla (Milanese dialect for: dick head) is Donald Trump and so on.
Indonesia inferno, with all the consequences are just in some small report. Carbon dioxide it is not so glamorous. It does not matter the roasting of rare animal species or destruction of ancient archeological sites, the destruction of trees and land. So, all good for illegal deforestation and the plantations companies: anything better that set fire to a forest to clear it out? They call it development. Palm oil development.
Who are the customers, driving the demand? Look to the West and to the East, and discover them by yourself. Nobody is so innocent in this utterly crazy destruction, akin to Brasil deforestation. Crimes against Nature of this scale MUST be considered crimes against humanity: we do not have any other choice to stop them. “Humanity” as local people, and humanity at large, mankind. Who will take the lead, the responsibility? In Paris they were talking about abstract interventions, while Earth is burning like never before. Under our very eyes. So boring, let’s go to see Star Wars.

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Racial stereotypes: they are always Them depicting US in a bad way!

The nonsense of it: racial stereotypes in movies. We all agree about that, is it? It is wrong.

So why, while I am discussing the topic with some Chinese friends looks like that everybody is, oh, so concentrated on the history of Asians and Asian-Americans on-screen in the US, and a very eloquent friend remind us how Mickey Rooney, was made up to look Japanese in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, quoting an article read somewhere recently.
And all those screenwriters turning Asians into cliché villains. And how Chinese are always dealing with cultures trying to “label” them. And nobody understand us, and… and…
Oh dear! Stereotypes looks like that are like monsters and sickness: they are all come from “abroad”, if not beyond space!
I am advancing some observations… did anybody watch, by any chance, any Bruce Lee’s movies? How much stereotyped westerners looked on-screen, clichéd enough? And the uncountable Chinese kung-fu movies, thrillers, spy stories where the Chinese hero is just taking in almost anything from this brainless and violent westerners (usually Americans) just to explode, in the end, with a just vendetta that fix’em right and put everything n Confucian order under the (today) Chinese Communist sky. Where are the Chinese movies or TV programmes in China that are showing Westerner cultures in a “no cliché” way? Please let me know, I am so eager to see them.
By the way: what about American clichés about Russians? Or Iranians? Chinese really think they are the only one to have the privilege to be stereotyped? Fools.

Actually, we should open a huge chapter here, called: A-part-US-UK-mass-culture-what-else -Chinese-mass-media-present-to-the-average-Chinese-about-Westeners-cultures (let’s say ALL cultures outside China: Islam, African, European, South America, rest of Asia)? I tell you: almost NONE.
Just open China Daily or any other Chinese magazine and newspapers, English or Chinese version it does not matter, and tell me what you read about: French, Italians, Germans, Spanish, Brazilians, Russian, just to name some few examples, a part clichés. Let’s go deeper on some topic. Foreign sport news? Main source: US, UK and Australia. Movie industry? Mostly US (and please note, of the less than 40 foreign movies “allowed” in China every year to be showed to 1.4 billion people, did you ever see any other movie, from any other country, apart so-called Hollywood mass-pop-corn ‘blockbusters’?).
I found almost hilarious that US mass and pop culture are, de facto, representing ALL westerner cultures, but this is what is happening in China. This alone should deserve a rich chapter about what kind of “cultural prejudice” coming from this fact is helping Chinese to judge, let’s say Spanish or Italians, as “minor Americans”, with some peculiar habits, that’s it. Chinese are watching and learning about other cultures through a distorted mirror: the opinion that US mass-pop culture has about them!
So what about Italians? Here the most commons references: The Godfather, Goodfellas and the Sopranos, Malena, Life is beautiful. Spaghetti, Pizza, O Sole mio, Pavarotti, Ferrari, Mafia, Milan – Inter Milan, Fashion, Rome, Florence, Venice. Probably they stole pasta and spaghetti from China, maybe Marco Polo (does not matter that there are evidences that pasta, pizza and so on were already consumed at least during pre-Roman times). Any cliché here?
But let’s go back to the topic.
At least in the West, if you want, you can get access to all the CCTV channels broadcasting from China: a little help, maybe, in trying to see, at last through State channels, Chinese life. You can get access to online to all the newspapers and magazines from China. You can receive at home any book published in China, any language version you want or was published in. You can go in any Confucius Institute, State-sponsored righteous cultural learning, and try to learn the language, yet better avoid “cultural sensitive topics” in the classroom, which is almost anything outside: Chinese food, Chinese Opera, Calligraphy, some sports, landscapes and wildlife.
What about in China? You know the answer. Did you try to count how many times BBC and CNN are censored when broadcasting about “sensitive” topics (sensitive topics can be anything: Tianjin explosion, the disappearance of a lawyer, the disappearance of editors and publishers in Hong Kong, the “temporary” disappearance of a famous tycoon – we know, a lot of people disappearing, but sometime they re-appear; reports about what is going on in Xinjiang province, investigation about the top leaders of the ruling party, unless is in the wrong faction, so it is ok, actually any kind of “investigation” if it is not conducted by somebody closely related to the right current of the Party)?
The funny side is that you actually pay the Central government of China to have that digital censored dis-service.
How many times in the West Chinese televisions or websites are censored? Never. Are Chinese journalist forbidden to go anywhere, or censored in any way about whatever they want to write? No, they are not. What about foreign journalists in China? Oh, well.. you know!

Do we think that clichés about Westerners are less than before, thanks to, what? Internet??
Well, this is a cliche.

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Again on creativity in China, as for January 2015

Plenum of the Ruling Party

Plenum of the Ruling Party

I am keeping on reading articles on “why Chinese are not creative, or not enough creative”.
Let’s state one fact: in April 2015 the City University of Hong Kong shut down its MFA programme in creative writing.
Why? Well, looks like that during Occupy Central a number of students had published essays in support of the demonstrations. You know: you learn how to use language, and you use it. Problem is, sometime people want to write what they think.
It is very clear that the next 2 years will see the application of the new policies on education in Hong Kong from Beijing, where Mr Xi declared that “China has a national interest in education policy and must ‘correctly guide’ schools.
Somebody in Hong Kong took those words too seriously, they really think that they mean “ obedience and loyalty, rather than freedom and critical thinking”? They should not: don’t they see how hundreds of schools and different point of views are blossoming in China, and contending each other? No, they don’t see this. Actually neither do I.

So, who is at the top of the City University, who is the illustrious professor at the highest governing body? Oh, is a businessman and mainland adviser (considered a political appointee… really?). Mr Herman Hu Shao-ming, also a Standing Committee member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference of Shanghai, that was appointed by Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing chief executive, CY Leung. OH, a real man of culture from Hong Kong, is he?

So, instead of half mumbling on “why-oh-why-Chinese are not creative” why journalist are not starting to write seriously on which conditions you must have in a society to be free to be creative? I can help with some suggestions: less censorship, more freedom of speech and opinions, and intellectual freedom. Oops, we are not supposed to say this! This is a “sensitive topic”! Everybody knows that in China everybody is free to “think and write the right things, and not to touch sensitive topics and not disturb public peace.’ The drivers are driving, please do not disturb. And forget about all this ‘creativity” humbug. In China, and next in Hong Kong.

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Molecular View- Great Wave (markers on light canvas)

I wanted to close 2015 with a tribute to Hokusai, so here my particular Great Wave, not a copy but inspired by the great “madman for drawing”.
A molecular view, which means, my wish to penetrate things, and not be content with a superficial view.

So, to me and to everybody: that the new 2016 may bring clarity and deepness.

"Molecular view - Great Wave. December 2015, markers on canvas.

“Molecular View- Great Wave. December 2015, markers on canvas.

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USA: 994 mass shootings in 1,004 days= killed 1,260 and 3,606 Injured. Who to blame for it?

Marilyn Manson 2015

Marilyn Manson 2015

preferred guns for mass shootings

preferred guns for mass shootings

Here we go again, another “school massacre”, apparently a third millennium U.S. specialty; accordingly to Everytown for Gun Safety, reported on international media, since December 2012 (massacre in Newtown, Connecticut) there have been at least 142 school shootings. Obama said that these facts make the U.S. “the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months,” and politics are, again, calling out the American conservatives that champions “law and order” but allows itself to be dominated by gun extremists who deride and block every gun measure that might make U.S. a bit safer — no matter how many mass killings they will have. In the name of what? Oh yes, “self defense rights”. And big bucks for the guns industry, of course. The well of blood in which U.S. citizens are drowning in is endless. It is really sad; looking from outside it seems that a culture of brutal force and death is coming out from the subterfuges and reflections of 60ies pop’s works of art (notably Andy Warhol) and have a final outburst from the sickest children of the shaky American Dream, apparently an unstoppable by-product of it.
I recall the wave of justifications after the massacre at Columbine High School, the search of the culprit, the easy scapegoat: Marilyn Manson (another, self conscious, by-product of U.S. pop culture).

I quote Wikipedia: “After the massacre at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, one dominant view was that the violent actions perpetrated by the shooters, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, was due to violent influences in entertainment, specifically that in the music of Marilyn Manson…Two years after Columbine, Manson was expected to perform in Denver, Colorado at the Ozzfest at Mile High Stadium. As a result, protesters gathered to prevent Manson from performing. One speaker said that Marilyn Manson’s music promoted what he called Columbine-like behavior, such as hate, violence, death, suicide, and drug use. The protesters were largely made up of the Citizens for Peace and Respect, an organization that consisted of locals, churches, and Columbine families. The blame that was placed on Marilyn Manson quickly circulated.”

I would like to suggest to U.S.’s Conservatives the opening lines of “Killing Strangers” from latest Marilyn Manson opus, “Pale Emperor” (least they missed them!!):
This world doesn’t need no opera
We’re here for the operation
We don’t need a bigger knife (a bigger knife)
Cause we got guns, we got guns, we got guns (we got guns)
We got guns, you better run
(you better run, you better run, you better run)

After a good meditation, they may choose to consider the above lines as:
1) self-confessed death-wish from a struggling/deranged industrial-gothic-bluesy rock star
2) a bitter reflection on the death wish wrapping up third millennium U.S. society at large
3) again a tentative to influence and direct the U.S. youngsters to violence, hate etc.!
4) a cold-blooded and well-organized attempt to ride the tiger of youngsters violence and hate with the ambivalence of who is exposing the problem and, at the same time, making money out of it.
5) a possible soundtrack for the next national gun media campaign? hum hum…we got guns…

The rest of the world is watching the drama unfolding, and maybe deciding that a college in Europe or Oceania could be a better, oops: safer, choice for their children.

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Ben Bernanke says Wall Street executives should have gone to jail (!)

(From The Guardian, 5th of October 2015)
Oh well, this is the title:
Ben Bernanke says Wall Street executives should have gone to jail (!)

Ben Bernanke, promoting his latest book about the "crisis"

Ben Bernanke, promoting his latest book about the “crisis”

Former Federal Reserve chairman says individuals, in addition to firms, should have been held accountable for the financial crash.


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Hong Kong: since when to speak two languages is considered a shame?

Sign fresh porn,from South China Morning Post

Sign fresh porn,from South China Morning Post

Lately, using my VPN (because in Beijing they decided that a Chinese newspaper like the South China Morning Post cannot be freely read in China), I am following the debate about the decadence of English teaching and usage in Hong Kong.

Reading comments like “HK has for too long tried to imitate the Western culture; probably due to its colonial past” or “yeah… poor English in HK, well, how about poor Chinese in English/UK/Europe? Why must we speak perfect English?” gives an idea of the level of the debate among the most “politicised” readers.

My question is: why to be able to speak more than a language it is now almost considered a shame in Hong Kong?
To be able to master more than a language it is usually a sign of higher education and cultural level around the world, it is opening more doors when seeking a job and allows to easily communicate when meeting people from other nations and cultural backgrounds, but in Hong Kong, where the proficiency in English is becoming a political issue, thanks to the powerful push of Beijing to the “Mandarinization” of Hong Kong culture and life.
Is the ability to speak a perfect English in Hong Kong becoming “bad” and signalling that the speaker has a “colonised” mindset?

How funny it is! In China to be able to speak fluently English is a sign of distinction, it is required, it is sought after, private institutes and schools teaching English are flourishing… In Hong Kong it is debased and rejected.
There are many a nations in the world where most part of the people, for many reasons, are able to speak more than a language, think about the Dutch, and there this is an asset, not a shame.
Is the “re-education” of Hong Kong requiring the loss of the ability to speak English for the masses? It looks like this is the final goal of Beijing. Meanwhile the sons and the daughters of the Party most influential members go to USA and UK to get their Master degrees…
Good luck, Hong Kong. (In the pic: most probably the shop wanted to advertise “fresh pork”)

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Bridge on Water, April 2015

Bridge on Water, acrylic on canvas, April 2015 120x80

Bridge on Water, acrylic on canvas, April 2015 120×80

I am following last month trail, still attracted by elements, water, shadows, lights.
I don’t remember where I saw this bridge, just pop in my mind, one of the thousands images of bridges on water that I probably saw in my life, and that won over the rest of the memories, like a love among the others, that linger on in my hearth.
I am still undecided if to consider this splash of colors finished. Will see.

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Peacocks, April 2015

Peacocks, mix media on canvas, April 2015, 80x60

Peacocks, mix media on canvas, April 2015, 80×60

I call “Peacocks” supposedly leading or would-be leading Nations in this world that looks like they are much busier in promoting their economical and political agenda than take charge of the complex problems facing all mankind in this historical moment.
Nations that are led by a narrow numbers of oligarchs, in the East and in the West, and where the interests of these few are blindingly overriding the rights of the most.
Global warming, greenhouse effects and melting of the Poles? Antibiotics crises? Rising of new infecting agents, some of them possibly escaped by military labs? Water scarcity?…
Let’s have a meal and a round of talks, this is so far the answer, and of course the production of the next “white book”.

Triumph of Vanity.

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“illegal” immigration and reciprocity

Boat with illegal immigrants, South Italy. (source Internet)

Boat with illegal immigrants, South Italy. (source Internet)

There is a word that I feel we should rediscover. This word is Reciprocity.
Do to me what you want me to do to you. Treat me as you want to be treated. And Reciprocity should also apply between Nations.
Why am I thinking about this?
Over the latest 10 years I kept going back and forth from Italy, at least once a year. I saw the influx of immigrants to rise, and rise together with the uneasiness of Italians that are torn between a culture of welcoming and helping (strong Catholic roots at work, here) and the concern about fair distribution of resources a.k.a welfare, concerns just heightened by the seemingly unstoppable economical crisis, by the threat of terrorists camouflaging as immigrants, by a fast aging population that because of this it is weary and feeling powerless, by a large part of the youngest being out of work… by many a factor.
Let’s check some numbers and see things in some perspective: in 1981 there were 321000 foreign residents and immigrants in Italy (source wikipedia), in 1991 almost doubled to 625000, in 2001 more than doubled again to 1,334.889, and in 2013 a whooping jump to 4,370.317, which means 7.4% of the total population. Please note: these are the counted ones.
Most part of the new residents are staying in the main cities (Rome, Milan, Turin, Genoa, Bologna) in the Centre-North of the country, and in these cities the ratio on the total population reach in same areas over 25%.
U.K and other North European countries had an immigrants boom in earlier decades, local population and new arrivals had much time to adjust to each other; not always in a smooth way, also in U.K., even if immigrants were mostly coming from countries where English was widely spoken or with obvious ties with U.K. (see the history of immigrants in U.K between 1950-1970). Being Italy, historically, an emigrant country, for most part of Italians this is a new phenomenon, and people entering Italy are coming from countries where Italian it is not widely spoken and (exeption for Ethiopia and Somalia) with no historical ties, and as various as China and Senegal, Romania and Ethiopia, Philippines and Mali… Over the latest 18 months arrivals from Africa of “illegal immigrants” (can I contest this definition? They are labelled illegal, but police and humanitarian helpers are working no stop in Lampedusa, Sicily, to recover them, feed them and comfort them, and everybody is perfectly aware about where they are coming from and in which way, so I would say that are not exactly “illegal”) were so many that international press started to run articles about it, alas, especially if boats were capsizing and people dying. The more the deaths, the bigger the space in the news. Italians are coping with what they feel is becoming a tide that never turns, and considering the very low number of immigrants that decide to naturalize, feel also that their own country it is treated just as a convenient hub to be temporarily exploited, and then to leave behind.
So, Reciprocity, I was saying.
A word that many Italians feel that is ignored by many: immigrants and their governments, the European Government (?) in Bruxelles, and the plethora of world aid organizations. Italians are becoming increasingly wary and unhappy about a mounting mass that, month after month start to look unmanageable, people in complete need that ask and claim help and rights that do not have in their countries, without even considering what they may do or give in the new country they choose to come in.
I think it is highly time to discuss this openly, and try to change the situation.

Before talking and spreading nonsense about Italy and “mean” Italians ( I have heard and listening to such comments, and surprisingly also from people coming from Nations where boats filled with immigrants are left drifting in the Ocean, bouncing from here to there…) I feel that immigrants too, especially coming from dictatorial nations, who works here, builds, and enjoy what this imperfect system (oh dear, we do know how imperfect is!) allows him-her, should take some time to stop and think, for a moment, before “sputare nel piatto in cui si mangia” (literally ”spitting in the plate where you are feeding from”) day in and day out.
It would be also nice to read fairer comments on foreign press, from journalists sometime to easily liquidating what is a very complex and branched problem with conclusions like : “Oh well, Italians are racists, aren’t they?”
What to say after hearing on a bus, a small group of Asian immigrants despising and complaining about the fact that so many Italians do not speak a proper English, while, I guess, they maybe also be bothered to learn at least some basic Italian: after all they are not in USA or UK.
Reciprocity, a simple word, to be rediscovered, and to apply, a good way that may lead to a deeper mutual understanding. While, for this epochal movement of people, Italians are also hoping that Bruxelles will do something more than patting shoulders or asking to be more “patient and welcoming”, and nations like U.K, Germany, France and others European countries stop paying lips service to the problem and start to act upon it.

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