Thursday, March 29, 2012

China offers programmes in world's languages

Many universities and institutes of higher learning in China also offer courses of foreign language studies to its students. For example, the Beijing Foreign Studies University ( BFSU ) operates a Bahasa Melayu programme. Some others offer Mandarin courses to foreign students. China Radio International ('CRI') is broadcast in 50 tongues, including Bahasa Melayu and Central China TV '( 'CCTV' ) is also aired everyday in Mandarin as well as 'English, 'Spanish, 'Arabic, 'French and Russian. If coordinated and'/'or networked, 'these language programmes could serve as concrete platforms to promote cross'-'cultural understanding. As Laozi in ancient China philopsophised very thoughtfully, 'a journey of a thousand ''miles'' naturally begins with a first and single footstep.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Translated books of West's literature in China

Translated books of Western literature have been available in China''s bookstores for a pretty long time. The list of authors includes, among many other, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, Miguel de Carvantes, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Alexander Pushkin and Leo Tolstoy. 'Victor Hugo is still very widely remembered in China because he condemned the looting and also eventual destruction of the old Summer Palace or Yuanmingyuan by Anglo'-'French troops in an armed incursion in 1860. Ostrovsky''s' How The Steel Was Tempered is still fairly widely known. Also, 'there are many books and other materials for working adults to learn languages, 'like English, 'French, 'German, 'Russian and Spanish. Visiting bookstores in China and observing the wide range of titles of books could yield some out'-of'-box insights into the changing society. Golf courses and 5-star hotels are almost the same all over the world.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

China's social changes & cultural continuities

Although the contemporary development of science and technology in China has led to many epoch-making and also progressive changes in its society, several essential and positive elements of the culture are retained or preserved. The Spring Festival (a.k.a. Chinese New Year) is still celeberated every year. 'Most of the people still pay respect to their familial ancestors on Qing Ming Day and consult TCM doctors in clinics or hospitals whenever they feel there is simply too much 'heat' or'/'and ''wind' inside their bodies. Xiangqi and Weiqi are still popular. Classic works of literature as well as science and technology, such as ancient methods of daily healthcare, are still available in bookstores. Many sites of cultural heritage, including pretty old mosques built by Arab travellers to China many centuries ago, are carefully preserved. Now, there are traffic jams in major cities but stampede is still rare.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Enthusiasm for science & technology in China

The resurgence of interests in science and technology in contemprary China is not confined within the 'ivory towers'. Many affordable books and publications are readily available in bookstores to working adults, men and women, at different levels of science or technical education. The mass media also reserves considerable space for news and views on scientific trends and technological development all' over the world. Scientists as well as technical experts often appear on television and radio programmes 'to share their knowledge with the ordinary people and educate them, 'in simple language, on difficult topics and issues. Studies of the history of rise, 'decline and rise (again) of interests in science and technology 'in China can be pretty educative 'for all of us.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

China selects 2 women for space exploration

China has reportedly selected two women to be its astronauts. But, it was the USSR or Soviet Union that first send a woman into the space. Progressive ideas, movements or societies, whether in the Americas, Europe, 'Russia or China, strive to liberate and empower womenfolks.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mathematics student in China made professor

According to reports, Liu Lu, a 22-year old student of mathematics in China, has been appointed the youngest professor in the country that is also believed to have developed the world''s fastest supercomputer. The best known mathematician and mathematics educator in modern China is Hua Luogeng ('1910'-'1985') who wrote more than 200 theses.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany rule

Although the peoples of the USSR and their Red Army fought the Nazi aggression heroically on the Eastern Front, the fall of the Third Reich could have been delayed had the USA-led forces not counter-attacked from Nazi Germany's western flank. The Battle of Normandy was thus crucial. Of course, there were also thousands of brave men as well as women who stayed inside Occupied Europe to resist the rule of Hitler. Europe''s history has become clearer without the blinkers of Cold War. Now, knowledge of WW'II in the English-using world is more balanced. Also, 'Germany has changed - for the better - in the past six decades. By the way, William Shirer's masterwork is available in paperbacks in major bookstores in Malaysian cities, like KL's Kinokuniya and Border.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Documentary records of Soviet Union in WWII

Russia now reclaims its self-worth in the WWII not by mere assertion but with documentary records. In the anti-Nazi war now remembered as the Great Patriotic War, the USSR sacrificed some 20 million lives. Joseph Stalin, also affectionately known as Uncle Joe in the American and British media at that time, was Red Army''s supreme commander.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Questions on rise of Nazism in interwar years

One still very popular theory that purports to explain the rapid rise of Nazism in Germany in the interwar years is that there were a number of 'mentally deranged' and demagogic individuals who misled and also stirred up the population. But, why was the larger segment of people, including highly educated scientists, during the period so susceptible to the Nazi views on the past, present and also future of their 'race' ? Were there not some legitimate grievances, fear and anxiety among the Germans in the period ? Were Britain, France and other Western allies not too harsh in the treatment of Germany which was defeated militarily in the First World War ('1914-1918') ? What were the social impacts of the Great Depression in the 1930s on the German society and the new elites' political ties with their counterparts in the West ? Asking and answering these questions could help younger students of world history to be more balanced in the understanding of the theme, and able see more clearly the limit of some over'-simplified accounts.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

2011 edition of Shirer's Nazi Germany history

There is now a new edition ('50th anniversary') of American journalist William 'L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich : A History of Nazi Germany ('New York, Simon & Schuster, 2011'). It is now evident that the peoples of the USSR (1917-1991) and its Red Army sacrificed the most in the military campaigns against Adolf Hitler''s Third Reich. The rapid emergence of Nazi ideas and forces in Germany in Europe's interwar period ('1919'-'1939') was a chapter in world history that still offers critical themes for the study of modern international relations. In 1939, Britain's ex-diplomat, historian and theorist of international relations Edward Hallett Carr (1892-1982) published a still instructive book The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939 which summed up what he thought to be the major lessons from that episod in Europe''s history.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

End of Encyclopedia Britannica's print edition

Encyclopedia Britannica, 'the most well-known as well as authoritative general knowledge reference book in the English-using world for many generations is soon going to be published in digital form only. But, its substance or' contents will certainly be as useful as before to all those who need outlines of subjects and topics in many fields of knowledge. However, to deepen understanding of a subject or topic, one still has to read or study many other books and/'or consult more learned folks.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Progress & reactions in West's forward march

The revolutionary transition in the West''s heartland did not proceed smoothly in a straightly linear fashion. There were conservative and also 'reactionary forces of resistance to the ''progressive changes. In 1814, for example, soldiers from Britain set fire in Washington 'D.C. damaging, among other properties, the White House. 'Between 1861 and 1865, the new republic in North America was troubled by a fairly violently fought civil war between the Union and Confederate troops. Racial segregation in the United States was not abolished until 1964. Dispassionate studies of world history should include efforts to know the set of ideas which animates conservative and reactionary forces as such ideas could survive for a long period of time after the socio'-economic conditions which gave rise to them had ceased to function. Also, history of the West now suggests that factually or scientifically wrong ideas, such as geocentrism, could be accepted without critical thinking as truth and defended with passions for one thousand years.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ideational dimension in West's transformation

Numerous material as well as ideational forces were, in an almost full-spectrum process of interactivities, responsible for the revolutionary movements and transformation of Americas and Europe. Tom Paine''s biography and writings can assist younger students of world history to comprehend the 'ideational source of the emergence of modern West. Tom Paine was certainly a republican, but he was not an atheist even though he critiqued religion openly in a deeply religious society. Why? Tom Paine, of course, was a critic of Britain's MP, orator and political philosopher Edmund Burke who, in a publication titled 'Reflections On The Revolution In France, 'assailed the mass revolts in France earlier. Like it or hate it, the modernist and liberal revolutions in Europe and Americas in the late 18th and early 19th century initiated the historic process of liberation of the West from feudal and superstitious reign.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

America & Europe in revolutionary upheavals

Actually, the French Revolution in 1789 happened after the 13 English colonies in North America declared themselves, 'in an armed struggle, independent and free from the English monarch in 1776. The historic declaration of independence of 'the United States of America through revolutionary struggle and French Revolution in 1789 then gave hope, inspiration and ideas to the people in South America to also fight for independence and freedom 'from the Spanish and Portugese empires. The emergence of modern West was complex and it certainly did not come into being as philosophical agreement reached over cafe chats. Knowledge in world history, 'West and East, 'serves to broaden minds and ensure that people are less gullible and susceptible to half-truths. Lessons from world history can be more fully absorbed by minds that can very quickly recognise the numerical difference between 100 and 10,000,000,000 and its impacts or consequences in real life on earth. The critical question for younger students of world history to ask and answer is: why did the revolutions as well as armed struggles occur in Europe and Americas when there was no Soviet Union (1917-1991)' or People's Republic of China yet '? Of equal importance is the question : how did the epoch-making revolts happen when there was no twitter, blog, facebook, webpage, mobile telephone, digital camera and TV '?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Earliest Charles Dickens film uncovered in UK

The oldest surviving (black-and-white) movie featuring a character in one of Charles Dickens' well-known writings has been found in the UK. Like Victor Hugo in France, Charles Dickens in the UK was empathetic with the less well'-off and less privileged folks who were marginalised in their societies dominated by the wealthy and powerful ruling elites. The two writers passed away before COMINTERN was formed in 1919. Some 67 years after COMINTERN was disbanded by Uncle Joe in 1943, many forms of social discontents still break out in Britain and France.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

'Inspector Javert' in Victor Hugo's great story

In Hugo's Les Miserables, a convicted thief ''Jean Valjean' @ '24601 is a good person but the cop 'Inspector Javert', a bad guy. 'Why ? ''What was the message of Hugo in his very well'-'remembered masterwork ? Les Miserables was first published in French in Brussel 150 years ago. Now, 'Les Miserables is available or accessible not only in English and Chinese but also many other major languages on earth, 'east or west. One of the most memorable musical performances of 'Les 'Miserables in the Englisah-language sphere is presented by Cameron Mackintosh.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Victor Hugo in Europe's best & worst of times

As it is well known, Victor Hugo (1802-1885) authored Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Hugo's childhood was spent in the historic period set in motion by the storming of the Bastille. As Hugo matured, his view changed from being a conservative to progressive. In Les Miserables, the character named Fantine, a loving but pitiable woman who became a prostitute, appeared in Heaven after she died. Les Miserables reflects the French writer's' nuanced understanding of the times and environment in which he grew up, thought and worked. Like Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo had never made any 'prediction' on the exact date and precise time of the end of the world in a 'Rapture'.