March 19th, 2004

eLouai

Secretary of the Interior

weather: sunny/cloudy/rainy
outside: 6°C
mood: stupid
I heard this earlier in the week, but I feel so badly for the US Secretary of the Interior because of Jessica Simpson's moron comment: quote "You've done a nice job decorating the White House."

I feel like asking Gale Norton a better question just to make up for it, but then I realized that I'm an idiot on environment issues too. So, I'm thinking that my mouth needs to stay way shut as well.

The thing is, I am faced with having to choose stock for my retirement portfolio. The advice I'm getting is to have some natural resources in the mix, which makes sense. But I'm afraid of supporting a company that is environmentally unfriendly. I don't know the right questions to ask to make sure these guys are not messing up salmon spawning grounds or the migration paths of cariboo and other big smelly animals.

Right now, I'm just e-mailing the Investor Relations address at the company's website asking about it but obviously they're just going to tell me good things. Well, yes, of course they have to adhere to the by-laws and policies that the government environment agency has for that region. I also know they are partnered with an engineering firm that specializes in environmental issues consulting for natural resource companies.

But is that enough? Do I feel better about it? Bleh, I dunno...

eLouai

"Chinese People Ask Stupid Questions"

weather: clear
outside: 5°C
mood: ...
Re: Chinese people ask stupid questions

In Western culture, if a friend tells us bad news, we respond with something like "I'm sorry to hear that" or "*hugs*" or something like that.

In Chinese culture, we ask questions about the situation. We're actively thinking about what you've just said and asking questions shows we care. It's not to be nosy or to pry, nor do we always honestly really care what the answer is. We just don't express care, concern, support and sympathy the same way.

Sometimes, we do this in English as well. Usually, closer friends will ask questions. And moreover, North Americans don't always care what the answer is either. We'll ask people "how are you doing?" but it's just a canned PING-ACK protocol to which the response should be "Fine, thanks" and nothing more. The perception is that we don't want to know how you're really doing. I've seen and heard countless people complain about that.

But in some of the simpler cases in Chinese, it doesn't translate well and it sounds downright stupid in the context of Western culture.

For example, you're living with family and you come home from school. In a Chinese home, you'd be greeted with "are you home?". You may think, "DUH, yes I'm home, I'm RIGHT HERE AT HOME aren't I?" But we don't say "hello" in that situation in the same way that we do in English.

It's a cultural protocol. It's a natural response. It doesn't mean we're redundant, senile or stupid.