Saturday, August 15, 2015

Artist Anish Kapoor wants to sue China over the 'fake Bean'.

Here's the 'Bean' (or Cloud Gate) by Anish Kapoor, which has become Chicago's most popular landmark:

(image from

In a Chinese city this work has recently been displayed, which seems quite similar to Kapoor's:

Kapoor is not happy about this at all. In fact he asked the Mayor (leader) of the city of Chicago to complain about this, but the Mayor of Chicago stated that it was no big deal to him and that Kapoor should drop matters and stop complaining.

Yet Kapoor claims that he is going to sue China because of this. With whom do you agree - the Mayor of Chicago or Kapoor?

(to sue - this is when a person feels that something wrong has occurred and hires a lawyer and they go to court to try to stop something from happening or to receive money from the person who did the wrong thing in order to punish that person.)

Here is the article:

Vocabulary from the article:

a knock-off - usually a cheaper version of an original thing, or an imitation of something original

to accuse someone of something - to claim or assert that someone did something wrong

blatant plagiarism - blatant means really obvious, plagiarism is when someone copies your work or steals from your work

affectionately - lovingly, warmly

a skyline - the view of skyscrapers from far away

reportedly - apparently, supposedly

something uncanny - something that is not natural, so an uncanny resemblance would mean that the Chinese sculpture does not look the same as the Bean for natural reasons

permissible - allowable, possible

infringement - violation; you infringe on a person's rights when you violate those rights

enforcement - to enforce something means to make sure that certain laws are followed and that people who violate the laws are punished

divulged - revealed (to divulge = to reveal)

he went on the record - he officially stated

Monday, August 3, 2015

1/3 of US children live in poverty

Poverty is the condition of not having enough money to live up to decent or acceptable standards. It's hard to define exactly how much money a person needs in order not to be in poverty, but UNICEF has created a standard by which to judge whether people in a country are living in poverty or not.

According to the UNICEF standard, 1/3 of US children live in poverty. The US is 36th out of 41 'developed' countries that were tested.

I think this is because the US government is good at providing free services, free food, free housing, free medical care etc., but it is not good at helping people to help themselves. The Democrats get people to vote for them by giving out free things and the Republicans just want to take free things away from people. There is no middle ground of useful answers in the USA - it's all politics.

This article is from last year, but it is worth reading:

Vocabulary from the article:

the developed world - I am not sure how they determine 'developed' versus 'undeveloped' countries, but developed countries would be countries with a strong business sector, I am guessing.

The US ranks near the bottom - to rank a series of things is to place them from first to last

the pack - the group, in this case

Let that sink in - basically the writer is saying this is so shocking you should think about it and absorb this or understand this deeply

pegs - establishes

more alarmingly - an alarm goes off when something is wrong, so more alarmingly means the writer is pointing out something even worse than he pointed out before

benchmarking - establishing; so the writer points out its really difficult to establish an amount of money under which a person can be considered to live in poverty.

former, latter - the latter is the last thing mentioned, the former is the thing mentioned before the latter thing

vulnerable - those who can be hurt easily

Sunday, August 2, 2015

An art project in India against sex-slavery, sex-trafficking

Among its other huge social problems (hunger, inequality, rape) India leads the world in slavery. In fact, India seems to have about 45% of all the world's slaves - about 15 million people are forced to live as slaves in India. Many of these people are women who are forced to live as sex slaves - they have to work as prostitutes (selling their bodies for sex). 

An artist (Leena Kejriwa) in Calcutta (Kolkata) is trying to make people aware of this issue so that sex-slavery can be stopped.

The article:


a red light district - this is an area in some cities where there are many prostitutes and men can find women to have sex with for money very easily. There are often many bars, nightclubs etc.

commercial sex trafficking - this means kidnapping girls and forcing them to work as prostitutes for money for others

a stencil - this is when you cut an image out from paper so that you can paint an outline of the image somewhere. (please look at the photos in the article)

a safe home - a place where children can live without fear of being harmed; it is free and run by a charity (maybe a religious charity)

rural areas - the countryside, not the city

to groom them into something - to develop them into something, to make them begin to behave in the way you want them to behave

puberty - the time when a child begins to change into an adult

silhouette - a black image of a person based on the person's outline

installation work - a work of art meant to be seen but not purchased

it has morphed - it has changed, it has developed, it has evolved

the magnitude of the problem - just how bad the problem is

to caption the silhouette - to add words next to it

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A robotic Abe bows in apology for Japanese war crimes (at a Shanghai robotics show)

So why did Germany apologize after World War II and work so hard to show that it was truly contrite (sorry, regretful) for all of the horrible things it had done during the 1930s and 1940s?

My guess is that during the domination (extreme control) of the Nazi government in Germany (from 1933 to 1945) there were many Germans who still opposed (were against) Hitler and even secretly fought against him and his government.  When World War II ended, some of these Germans took control of the German government. Since they had never been 'real' Nazis themselves, it was easy for them to say that Germany had done horrible things and to openly apologize and admit to all the war crimes and crimes against humanity of those years.

I am not sure there was much of a resistance in Japan during World War II (resistance would mean an organized movement of people against the government). Also, the Emperor was allowed to remain in office after the war. I am assuming that the Japanese who took control of the Japanese government after WWII had supported the war and the policies that occurred under Hirohito's reign. The worst Japanese war criminals were executed by the US military (killed by the military) but the people who took office in Japan had probably supported the war and the war-time government. 

I think this helps to explain why Germany went out of its way to admit the truth about WWII and apologize for starting it. China and Korea are still upset with Japan to this day for, as they see it, not following suit (not doing the same thing as Germany). 

This lingering (lasting) anger toward Japan can be seen at a robotics show in Shanghai, where someone has created a robot of Japanese Prime Minister Abe bowing to apologize for what Japan did during WWII. 

The article:

Vocabulary from the article:

to bow - this means to bend one's body forward from the waist as a sign of respect or sorrow or regret

atrocities - war crimes, horrible things done by soldiers in a war

a stiff smile - an unmoving smile, a tense smile, a smile that doesn't change

presumed - guessed, assumed

to ridicule someone - to make fun of someone, to make it seem as if someone is foolish

China is set to - China is ready to

to mark - to remember

However, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said a press conference on Monday Abe has not received such an invitation. correction: However, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a press conference on Monday that Abe has not received such an invitation.