Thursday, October 30, 2014

Singapore's anti-gay attitude / law - (Hey Singapore, gay penguins are cool!)

{{{image taken from}}}

Singapore is a dictatorship which has been controlled by one family for decades.

('anti' means 'against' something, 'pro' means 'for' something...a dictatorship is a form of government in which one person or a small group of people control everything that happens in the government and economy)

Here's an interesting blog from a native Singaporean who says that Singapore tries to seem like a modern and open-minded society, but, in reality, it is a conservative and highly controlled city-state. (to be conservative generally means that you are not open to new ideas and you do not like to see things change in your society)

I would tend to believe this based on the latest news from this country.  Basically, being gay or lesbian in Singapore is illegal. As a New Yorker, I'm definitely gay friendly and shocked by the recent actions in Singapore. Singapore even tried to ban a children's book about gay penguins. OMG! They don't even like gay penguins!  Even Republicans in the USA like gay penguins! :P

Here's an interesting article from the BBC:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

an activist - someone who takes action to change something he/she thinks is wrong
to condemn - to say that something is wrong

a ruling - a decision by a court.  A court is where legal issues are resolved.

to mount a challenge - to bring forward a challenge, to attempt to try to change something - in this case a law that takes away rights from gay folks 

to ban something - to prohibit something or stop something from happening

to be constitutional - a constitution is a set of laws a government is supposed to follow; usually a constitution gives the people of a society various 'rights' - behavior/actions which are protected by the folks are saying their right to be themselves should be protected by the connstitution of Singapore

a Court of Appeals - if a lower court makes a decision and one of the people or groups affected by the decision doesn't like it, they can 'appeal' the decision...they can ask a higher court to change the decision

to infringe on someone's right or rights - to interfere with or harm a person's right

gross indecency - terrible behavior which people would find inappropriate or wrong or disgusting; so gay behavior is considered to be grossly indecent in Singapore

intense debate - strong, emotional arguments

a setback - instead of moving forward, things have moved backwards

to trample - to step on to harm

non-discrimination - if you discriminate against someone, you stop that person from doing something just because you dislike something about the person that he/she can't control (color, sex, sexual orientation)

inclusive - everyone is equal and welcome to participate in something

carte blanche - total freedom to do whatever a person wants to do

to reinforce prejudice - to make prejudices stronger (a prejudice is when a person hates another because of the other's difference in identity)

effectively made gay folks second class citizens - gay folks are not equal to straight folks, they are second class, not as important

pledged - promised

mores - pronounced MORE ays... a more (MORE ay) is a part of a moral belief system; if a society thinks something is right or wrong, that is part of the society's mores.  For example, American mores are often considered very open-minded around the world. 

guaranteeing - promising that something will definitely happen

widespread tolerance - tolerance means that something is allowed, if something is widespread it means it happens all over the place

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

30% of Americans do not drink alcohol, 10% drink 50% + of all alcohol consumed

{{{image taken from Discover magazine}}}

Last week some interesting statistics were released about the drinking of alcoholic beverages in the USA.

About 30% of Americans do not drink alcoholic drinks at all.  However, 10% of Americans drink more than 50% of all the alcoholic drinks that are purchased.  This means there are some Americans who drink over 10 cans of beer a day or at least 2 bottles of wine each day.

So, basically, this means that the 10% of Americans who have a severe problem with alcohol are funding the alcohol industry.  If the alcohol industry lost these 10%, many companies would go bankrupt. 

Here is an interesting article about this:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

a demon - a devil, an evil spirit, something like Satan. By calling alcohol a demon drink, this article is saying alcoholic beverages can be evil.

to thrive - to be successful, to prosper

off the backs of addicts - the alcoholism industry makes most of its money from people who are addicted to alcoholic drinks

the take-away - the results, the conclusions

a segment - a part of a TV show

consumption - buying and using something

paying the tab - paying the bill (the title implies that there are consequences to alcohol consumption in the USA)

belatedly - after a long time

to make the rounds - to become known to more and more people

to be dependent on - to really need someone or something

disproportionate - not in an appropriate proportion; bigger numbers than one might expect

to be induced - to be caused

to curb their consumption - to limit their consumption

grave - serious

outstripping - outpacing, being more aggressive than something else, doing better than somoen or something else

a mainstay - a regular feature or aspect

Prohibition - a period of time in America when it was illegal to buy alcoholic beverages

fiscally - economically

to put a dent into - to make an impact on, to cause a real change the author is saying that if there were higher taxes on alcoholic drinks, more people would stop drinking as much (a dent - if someone hits your car with his car, you will have a dent in your car)

pivoting off - coming from

advocated - called for, encouraged

ameliorate - to make something better. If we want to eliminate poverty, we try to ameliorate the problem.

to partake of - to use something

enhancer - to make something better or bigger

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Anti-Muslim (?) blogger from Malaysia seeks political asylum in the USA

Lots of people want to come to the USA.  This is where they think they will have maximum freedom and where they think they can make lots of money.

Many people are able to get into the USA by appealing for political asylum.  What does this mean?  It means that if a person is going to be harmed by his/her government for political or religious reasons, the person will be given safety in the USA.  So if a person has been fighting for human rights in a country where the government kills such people, the USA will let this type of person in.

I was a bit shocked to see that a person from Malaysia who has apparently posted anti-Muslim postings, and who was going to be prosecuted (put on trial) for this in Malaysia, is seeking asylum in the USA.

The person seems to be arguing that he has the right to post anything he wants on the internet and that the government of Malaysia is violating his human rights.  Yet, hate-speech should not be tolerated anywhere.  Frankly, I am a bit shocked that the US government is considering the possibility of allowing this person asylum.     

You can read the following article, however, and judge for yourself:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

asylum - safety, Ed Snowden was given asylum in Russia because the US government wanted to arrest him and throw him in jail for revealing various governmental abuses in the USA

apply for - please remember that when you use 'apply' you also have to use 'to' or 'for'
I applied to this school.  I applied for my visa.

jumped bail - that means he was arrested by Malaysian police and a judge indicated he would have to go to trial for his actions.  He was allowed to pay a certain amount of money to stay out of jail until his trial.  He, however, has illegally left Malaysia.  Bail - the money a person pays to stay out of jail until a trial. To jump bail - to illegally leave the country after you pay the money.

resurfaced - reappeared, presented himself again

a hearing - it's like a trial; at a hearing a person is asked various questions

tyranny - a tyrant is a dictator, one leader who controls the entire country

three charges - three accusations of doing something wrong

Ramadan - a very important Islamic holiday.  Apparently they deliberately intended to offend and upset Islamic people by posting something about Islam with naked photos.

pornographic - something is pornographic if it shows something sexual that is not meant to be artistic

confident - pretty sure

repression - a holding down or a stopping of something

seditious - meant to harm a government or people

to taunt - to provoke, to try to cause someone to do something you want them to do

to bolster - to strengthen

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Are most bicyclists in Manhattan stupid? (A bicyclist accidentally killed a woman in Central Park.)

{{{image taken from the NY Post}}}

The last mayor of NY City (a mayor is the leader of a city) encouraged people to buy and use bicycles.  Now you see people bicycling all over the place.

Unfortunately, it seems that most bicycle riders in Manhattan are, basically, STUPID. They do not pay attention to traffic signs or lights, they ride on the sidewalks, they ride in the wrong direction, they ride dangerously fast etc. In fact, bicyclists often hurt people in Manhattan (Manhattan is the central 'borough' of New York City - the other boroughs are Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island).

Here is a story about a guy who literally killed a woman with his bicycle (he was riding too fast and ran into her).  What's really shocking is that after he killed her, the police let him go home. They, apparently, didn't find anything to be wrong with a bicycle rider killing a woman. This is typical New York City police behavior.  If you are drinking a can of beer outside of your house, they will arrest you, but if you kill a woman with your bicycle, they don't do anything.

Here's a good article:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

to veer into - to turn into

tragic - something horrible involving the loss of human life

to plow - to drive forcefully into something

brain-dead - her body is alive but her brain is no longer functioning

a speed-demon - someone who drives too fast (a demon is a devil, like Satan)

to zoom down - to move in a downward direction very fast 

pedestrian - people who walk are pedestrians

a vehicle - a car

law enforcement - police

barreling - moving incredibly fast with a lot of force. A barrel is a round, large container. If you push it on its side it will roll when you push it.

A barrel ---> 
restricted for - saved for children and people who were walking

to swerve - to turn quickly in a curving manner

the mid-60s - the streets in NYC go up so this was between 60 and 69th streets

diagonal - not a straight line, an angled line

the curb - the raised area between the sidewalk and the street

a ventilator - something that helps you breathe

1010 WINS exec - she had a high level job at the NY radio station called: 1010 WINS

saxophone -

to pedal - to move your feet to make the bicycle go forward

to slam into - to hit something with great force

frustrated - an emotional feeling when you can't solve a problem

conceded - admitted, stated

to boast - if you boast about something, you are proud of it and want people to know it (i.e. Bob often boasts that he went to Columbia University.)

blazing speeds - fast speeds

precise - very close

All systems go - this means, "I'm ready!"

the speed limit - this is as fast as you are allowed to go

sprints - quick runs

to brake - to stop your bike or car

he had not been charged -  the police had not arrested him or taken him into custody - the police let him go home

precarious - uncertain, risky

a summons...reckless homicide - he could get a ticket and have to pay an amount of money or he could be charged with 'reckless homicide' which means he killed someone while acting stupidly

confiscated - taken away

evidence - proof that something happened, something which shows that an event happened

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Beijing is attempting to control future Hong Kong elections. Is this a good or bad thing?

One thing I like about writing this blog is that I often find good examples of how American values differ from other values of other societies around the world.

The Chinese government, for example, certainly does not value "American style" democracy. Indeed, there are many problems with the electoral and political system in the USA that the Chinese government would like to avoid. So the values in China would seem to reflect a desire to avoid the conflicts that a two party political system can cause - as is evident in the USA.  Of course there are problems with a one-party system as well, but this is the system that is in place in China currently and the government wants to make changes within this system instead of abandoning it and replacing it with 'democracy'.

Hong Kong used to be an English colony.  The city was literally stolen from China by England at the end of the Opium War in the middle 1800s.  So the people of Hong Kong are still used to the democratic practices they learned of while being an English colony.  Many people in Hong Kong oppose any attempts by the Chinese government to control the way things work in Hong Kong.  Indeed, when Hong Kong was absorbed into China, the Chinese government seemed very tolerant and did not seem to interfer much in the life of the people there.

Now, however, Beijing is trying to integrate Hong Kong more into the overall Chinese system (Beijing is trying to make the way life in Hong Kong more similar to the way life in China is in general).

Here's an article on this topic:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

Occupy Central - this is a group of people who believe in democracy in Hong Kong. They believe Hong Kong should be separate from the government in Beijing.

a ruling - a decision by thos ein authority in the government

vowed - promised

legislature - the group that makes the laws

to nominate - to offer names for an election; a nominating committee is a group that will offer names for an election

an activist - someone who works to fight against or for something

to protest - when a group publicly expresses anger over some type of issue

unanimously - everyone agreed

the worst-case scenario - the worst thing that could have happened

pan-democratic - this is a political group that supports total democracy in Hong Kong

chaotic - wild, unorganized

meddling - interfering, disturbing

rallies - protests, public gatherings to express disapproval in regard to an issue

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Is Kim Jong Un a closeted gay man? Does it matter?

If you are gay and 'closeted' or 'in the closet' it means that you do not want others to know that you are gay.

Two people have come forward now to state that Kim Jong Un is gay.

The latest person was a university student with KJU and served in the North Korean military. This person has escaped from North Korea and is seeking asylum in South Korea. (Asylum is given to a person who escapes a country because he is afraid of being harmed - the USA grants asylum to lots of people who escape countries where they might be harmed by their own governments.) 

Here is an article:

Vocabulary from the article:

to be puzzled - to be confused, to be unable to clearly understand something

a refugee - someone who runs away from his country because he is afraid of being harmed

controversial - if someone is controversial this means that people have strong emotions or feelings about the person

heterosexual - when a man loves a woman and vice versa

intimate - close

dictator - when one person controls an entire society

virtually - in this case if he was virtually KJU's sex slave he was nearly or almost completely KJU's sex slave

a praetorian guard - a group of body guards that used to guard the Roman emperor

the demilitarized zone - the area between North and South Korea where meetings are held.

miraculously - a miracle is an event which is difficult or impossible to do

manifested - shown

degenerated - if something degenerates, it gets worse

a fantasy - a type of imagined situation, a sort of dream or secret desire

degrading - if something is degrading it makes a person feel ashamed or humiliated

to loathe - to hate 

a playmate - someone who plays with another person - the implication here is that this Japanese man was a 'sexual' playmate

presents proofs - should be presents proof (proof is non-counntable)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The 'president' of Ukraine takes anti-democratic action

{image taken from}

'anti' means against.  Anti-democratic action is action meant to harm or destroy a democracy.

The president of Ukraine has eliminated the Ukrainian parliament (the group of people who make the laws in Ukraine). Indeed, he even stated that he has 'dissolved' (removed, eliminated) the Ukrainian parliament because there are members of the parliament who support those in eastern Ukraine who do not want to be a country that is controlled by the government in Kiev, Ukraine.

These are clearly the actions of a dictator - a single person who controls all aspects of a government. Because there are people in the parliament who disagree with him, he has thrown them out and they will be replaced by people who agree with the new dictator of Ukraine - Petro Poroshenko.

The current government of Ukraine was established by violent protests that overthrew an elected president and now Poroshenko is openly taking the actions of a dictator.  It is a disgrace that the US government supports this kind of nonsense.

Here is an article about the latest illegal and anti-democratic actions in Ukraine:

Vocabulary from the article:

to dissolve s/t - if you dissolve something you usually drop it into water and it slowly disappears.  In this case, to dissolve a parliament means to eliminate it, get rid of it, remove it.

an insurgency - this is a group of people who reject the government of their area and fight for their freedom from it

snap elections - I am assuming 'snap' elections mean 'quick' elections.  In this case they probably also mean 'dishonest' elections

to prefigure - if something prefigures something else, it comes before something else

coalition - group

militants-separatists - these are the people who do not want to live under the Ukrainian government in Kiev 

rebels - those who fight against what they feel is wrong

a convoy - a group of trucks or other vehicles

stalling tactics - a strategy to delay something from happening

shelling - when an army shoots large explosive devices into a city to destroy buildings and kill people