Tag Archives: cartoons

The pleasures of an unsolved mystery

In this World in Words podcast, we pry open (but not too wide) a mystery or two. Strange to listen to it now: we recorded it a month before David Bowie’s death.

PODCAST CONTENTS

0:10 Nina Porzucki and Pien Huang tell their mysterious day stories. Both involve monks living in the mountains.

3:02 Me on the pleasures of incomprehension. It’s all down to DH Lawrence and David Bowie.

5:49 Cartoon Queen Carol Hills on how her Twitter followers help her curate foreign-language cartoons. If you like cartoons and satire, you absolutely must follow Carol on Twitter.

7:10 At the of Carol’s obsession list right now is Japanese manga artist Shigeru Mizuki, who died on November 30.

9:05 Mizuki’s English translator Zack Davisson on how Mizuki saved Japan’s supernatural culture.

10:37 Mizuki’s influence in Japan is akin to Disney’s in the US. “If you removed him from the equation, you would actually have a different Japan.”

12:27 The many mysteries of the “Codex Seraphinianus” by Luigi Serafini, a encylopedia of a fantasy world, written in an imagined script. (Nina is working on an entire podcast episode on this!).

17:53 “China Online” by Veronique Michel demystifies (though not completely) Chinese wordplay and netspeak.

20:01 “Lingo: a Language Spotter’s Guide to Europe” by Gaston Dorren is a funny and opinionated whistle-stop around Europe’s languages, large and small.

21:55 “Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness” by Jennifer Tseng, a novel about a librarian living on an island who harbors an infatuation for a high school student. I’m not letting on what happens, except to say there’s plenty of exploration of the mysteries of love and friendship. By the book’s end, though, mysteries they remain. Quite right too.

MUSIC HEARD IN THIS EPISODE

“Dramamine” by Podington Bear

“Blackstar” by David Bowie

“The Resolution of Mr Clouds” by Alexander Boyes

“Life on Mars?” David Bowie

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Nasty speech in the Netherlands, bitter truths in South Africa, and goofy government speech in Denmark

After Joe Wilson’s “you lie!”, after Kanye West at the MTV awards, after Serena Williams’ outburst at the US Open, you may think:  enough already with nasty speech! Well, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet. This week, a report on a series of Dutch cartoon that are offensive – really offensive. Deliberately so, according to the Dutch-based Arab group behind them. The group claims that Dutch law exercises a double standard when it comes to speech and religion: while it often censors anti-semitic speech – like the cartoons in question – it tolerates anti-Muslim speech.

Then, gadfly-journalist Max du Preez.

vrye weekblad

Du Preez has been upsetting his fellow South Africans for decades – first, he upset his father by becoming a communist, then he upset the apartheid regime with his muckracking journalism. He edited Vrye Weekblad the only Afrikaans-language paper that exposed the murders, beatings and corruption of the racist government.  That upset almost an entire people: du Preez’s people,  South Africa’s Afrikaners. Only after the end of apartheid, when morality ceased to be a moveable feast, did du Preez’s father speak to him again.

These days, du Preez has new enemies: the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which fired him; former president Thabo Mbeki who du Preez called a womanizer; and agricultural giant Monsanto, which du Preez says is ruining rural  South Africa by spreading genetically modified crops.

Finally, government free speech. This doesn’t come up much. Governments oversee free speech laws; they rarely get caught up in their own free speech shenanigans. Not the Danish government. Not Denmark’s  tourist bureau. For its latest edgy advertizing campaign the bureau staged a faux one night stand between a young blonde Danish woman and a foreign man with apparently no name, and no nationality. Johnny Foreigner, as it were.  Here’s the ad:

This was supposed to be a come-on to foreign visitors; instead it had Danish politicians trying to curb the speech of their own government.

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