31 July 2004

Naipaul on Inadvertent Journalistic Heresy

Nusrat had lived through hard times before. I had first met him in 1979, at the time of the Islamizing terror of General Zia. Nusrat, a devout man, had tried to meet the fanatics halfway, but had had little stumbles. And one careless day he got into serious trouble. He was working for the Morning News. It was Mohurram, the Shia mouming month. He thought it was a good idea to run a feature piece from Arab News about the granddaughter of Ali, the Shia hero. The piece was flattering about the woman's looks and artistic attainments. But the Shias were outraged; to them it was insulting and heretical even to say that Ali's granddaughter was good-looking. There was talk of taking out a procession of forty thousand and burning down the Morning News. For three days the paper was closed down. Nusrat himself was in danger; he could have been set upon at any time. Some months after this incident I passed through Karachi again. Nusrat had turned gray

When we said good-bye he said, "Can you arrange for me to go to a place where I can read and write and study for five years? Because in five years, if you see me again, I may have become a cement-dealer or an exporter of ready-made garments."

That, spoken at a bad time, showed his style. And, in fact, he had become a public relations man for an oil company, and done well. The oil-drilling business was not affected by the troubles. But life in the city had been a day-to-day anxiety and Nusrat had developed a heart condition. His gray hair had gone white and short and thin; he was still under fifty.

SOURCE: Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples, by V.S. Naipaul (Vintage, 1998), p. 350

Changing Chin Identity in Burma

The July 2004 IIAS Newsletter includes a review of the book In Search of Chin Identity: A Study in Religion, Politics and Ethnic Identity in Burma by Lian H. Sakhong (NIAS Press, 2003).
Traditional tribal society was exclusivist and tightly knit, with a hierarchy of nobles, commoners and slaves. At its apex, chiefs (ram-uk) were not only owners and distributors of land, heads of their communities and commanders in war, but also high priests, responsible for offering sacrifices to the Khuahrum, locally rooted guardian deities whose good will was believed necessary for prosperity. When Baptist missionaries challenged the power of the Khuahrum and Khua-chia (evil spirits, causing accidents and disease), conversion to the new faith was eased by the old belief in Khua-zing, a Supreme God to whom the chiefs did not sacrifice, because He, viewed as the source of all life (zing), is 'good, never cruel and never harms people' (p. 46).

The British 'pacification' of Chinram between the first invasion of the country in 1871 and the Anglo-Chin War of 1917-19 cleared the way for 'detribalisation', the breakdown of the old 'chief-land-god' nexus. Sakhong, however, argues that detribalisation did not result in dehumanisation, as the Christianity preached by American Baptist missionaries provided the Chin with the basis for a new way of life. The latter overcame the traditional isolationism of the tribes, creating a new Chin identity based on a community of worshippers in a wider world where they could relate as equals to 'civilized' lowlanders....

The author does not carry his narrative through to the Ne Win (1962-88) and State Law and Order Restoration Council/State Peace and Development Council (1988-) periods. This is unfortunate, since there is limited information in Western languages on how the Chins maintain their identity in the face of military-enforced 'Burmanisation', including the post-1988 junta's aggressive promotion of the Buddhist religion. While the SPDC builds new pagodas nationwide, it discourages the construction of new churches and mosques and the renovation of old ones.
This same pattern broadly describes so many parts of the boondocks of Southeast Asia, where the hill people only began to "join civilization" and adopt one of the major evangelical religions during the 19th and 20th centuries, often converting to some variety of Protestant Christianity, no matter whether the long-converted lowlanders were Buddhist, as in Burma, Thailand, or Cambodia; Muslim, as in the Malay Peninsula and Indonesian archipelago; or Catholic, as in the Philippines.

Naipaul on Malay Chinese Muslims

On a hill overlooking the Perak River, and almost at the entrance to the royal enclave, was the house of Raja Shahriman, a sculptor and a prince, distantly related to the royal family. It was an airy house of the late 1940s, and it was furnished in the Malay style, with rattan chairs, brightly colored fabrics, and cloth flowers.

The sculptor was small, five feet six inches, and very thin, in the pared-down Malay way. There was little expression on his face; the nature of his work didn't show there. He worked with found metal; there was a forge in the yard at the back of the house. He created martial figures of great ferocity, two to three feet high, in clean flowing lines; and the effect of the black-metal figures in that house, with the pacific, restful views, was unsettling.

The sculptor, in fact, lived in a world of spirits. He also made krises, Malay daggers; it was part of his fascination with metal. Krises found out their true possessors, the sculptor said; they rejected people who didn't truly own them. He had a spiritual adviser, and would have liked me to meet him; but there wasn't time. The world of Indonesian animism felt close again. In more ways than one we were close here to the beginning of things, before the crossover to the revealed religions.

The sculptor had a middle-aged Chinese housekeeper. She would have been given away by her family as a child, because at that time Chinese families got rid of girls whom they didn't want. Malays usually adopted those girls. The sculptor's housekeeper was the second Malay-adopted Chinese woman I had seen that day. It gave a new slant to the relationship between the two communities; and it made me think of the Chinese in a new way.

In 1979 I had been looking mainly for Islam, and I had seen the Chinese in Malaysia only from the outside, as the energetic immigrant people the Malays were reacting to. Now, considering these two gracious women, and their fairy-tale adoption into another culture, I began to have some idea how little the Chinese were protected in the last century and the early part of this, with a crumbling empire and civil wars at home and rejection outside: spilling out, trying to find a footing wherever they could, always foreign, insulated by language and culture, surviving only through blind energy. Once self-awareness had begun to come, once blindness had begun to go, they would have needed philosophical or religious certainties just as much as the Malays.
SOURCE: Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples, by V.S. Naipaul (Vintage, 1998), pp. 369

30 July 2004

Naipaul on Ahmed Rashid

I had got to know Ahmed Rashid [author of Taliban]. He was a journalist. He also owned, with a partner, a coal mine in the Punjab hinterland. The news, from him, was that three of the mine's jeeps had been stolen, and six of the men kidnapped. The stealing and the kidnapping had occurred in stages. First a jeep and the two men in it had been taken, in the big town of Sargodha. After ten days there had come a ransom demand for two lakhs, two hundred thousand rupees, five thousand dollars. Ahmed had sent two men in a jeep to negotiate with the kidnappers. He hadn't sent any money by these two men. This had enraged the kidnappers. They had seized the two men and the second jeep. Ahmed, taking the hint, had then sent two clerks in a third jeep with the ransom money. But the kidnappers were apparently still very angry. They held on to the two clerks and the ransom money, and made a fresh demand for twenty lakhs, fifty thousand dollars.

Ahmed, ever the journalist, was excited by the whole thing, this nice little story breaking on his own doorstep, as it were; and in his detached journalist's way he found the sequence of events funny, the men from the mine going in two by two into some kidnappers' pit somewhere in the frontier. He had got in touch with the army and the intelligence people; only they could help him. And he thought now--and this wasn't going to be so funny for the kidnapped men--that negotiations could go on for many months. It was important to keep the negotiations going, and in this way to prevent the kidnapped men from being taken across the border. If that happened, it was all over; the jeeps and the men could be forgotten.

Where there was no law, no institutions that men could trust, the code and the idea of honor protected men. But it also worked the other way. Where the code was strong there could be no rule of law. In the frontier, as Saleem Ranjha's Pathan guest had said at Mansura, the modern state was withering away; it was superfluous. People were beginning to live again with the idea of clan and fiefdom; and it was good for business.
SOURCE: Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples, by V.S. Naipaul (Vintage, 1998), pp. 328-329

Reports from the Land of Oz

Language Hat has another post on Aussie slang, which I think should be officially declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of at least the anglosphere. Fortunately, this particular cultural asset doesn't seem to be in any danger of dying out.

Meanwhile, the Head Heeb has a long and interesting post, Terra Nullius Revisited, on settler-aboriginal relations in Australia, as a follow-up to his earlier post, Terra Australis Cognita, after returning from a trip Down Under.
Australia seemed less foreign than any other country I've visited. There are certain things about Australia that can mislead an American tourist, however, and the aborigines are one of them.

29 July 2004

Naipaul on the Barber-Factotum of the Northwest Frontier

A small dark mustached man came in and, without saying anything, sat down in one of the armchairs. He was wearing the flat pie-shaped felt cap of the frontier and the mountains. He was the nai, the barber, Rahimullah said, and he had come to find out whether anyone in the house wanted a trim or a shave. His name was Qaim Khan. He came every Friday, and sometimes on other days as well; there were certain households that he served. This explained the ease with which he had come in and sat down, while others appeared to wait. He was in a pale blue shalwar-kameez with a raw-cotton gilet. Rahimullah and his brother and his son were in pale peach; the color spoke of cleanliness and sabbath rest. For the barber, though, the sabbath was a busy working day, and the blue he wore could more easily disguise dirt and wear.

And, indeed, as Rahimullah began to tell me, the barber didn't only cut hair. He had other duties, and he was available all the time. He could act as a cook when there was a wedding or a death; he would bring his big pots and tubs and cooking implements to the house, create a cooking place in the yard, and cook rice and other simple things in quantity. He was also a messenger; he took round wedding invitations; he broke the news of deaths. He could do circumcisions. Qaim Khan had an extra, inherited skill. He could sing and play on the flute, and people sometimes asked him to perform. His wife also sang. She and Qaim Khan's mother and sister were also always on call, to serve the women of the households in certain ways, taking messages for them, or accompanying them when they went out.

In the transplanted Indian community in Trinidad, on the other side of the world, the village barber (where Indian villages existed) had ritual duties like this (though not all of them). This went on up to fifty years ago, when I was growing up. So what Rahimullah was saying was half familiar to me; and I thought it remarkable that in a shaken-up and much-fractured colonial community this ancient kind of messenger and go-between and matchmaker should have reappeared; and that in that other world people of this caste calling, not a high one, should have declared themselves.

The nai Rahimullah was describing was also, I thought, in some ways like the village coum of converted Java: the handler of dead bodies, and also the cook, a man of low Hindu caste absorbed into Islam. Though the coum had been given the dignity of leading the Muslim congregation in prayer--as if in this new incarnation he destroyed older caste ideas--his other functions were still, after five hundred years, recognizably part of the old Hindu order.

In some such way, here in the frontier, the nai, as Rahimullah was describing him, seemed to be part of the Hindu past, a thousand years after conversion. (Though here, too, there were fantasies and a general neurosis about racial origins and the history.) Sitting in Rahimullah's guest house, considering Rahimullah and the blue-suited nai, the one man big and scholarly-looking and gracious, the other small and dark and with respectful eyes, I felt I could see how, when the older religion lost its footing, the antique social order had been lifted with small adjustments into the new religion. It was as though in the subcontinent the idea of caste was ineradicable.

Qaim Khan had no land and no house. Many nais had become well off now, but few of them had their own house. Qaim Khan would have loved to buy some land and build a house, but he had no money. To earn money he would have to go away. He wouldn't mind going to local towns like Mardan and Peshawar. But--he was speaking through Rahimullah--he didn't want to go too far. What he really wanted was to live and work here in the village.

When I asked--Rahimullah translating for me--whether he wouldn't like to go outside the village and open his own barbershop, he fixed Rahimullah with his eyes, familiar yet respectful, as though the question was Rahimullah's own, and he began to look very small. He said that if he went to Peshawar or Karachi and found a job in a shop he would make thirty-five rupees a day at the most, less than two dollars. With that kind of wage he wouldn't be able to save. A number of his friends and relations had gone to Karachi. He himself had once gone to Karachi. He worked for somebody who had a barbershop, a richer relation from the village. He was the servant of this family, and he got twelve hundred rupees a month, sixty dollars. It wasn't enough for him, so he came back.

He had gone to school until he was eight or nine. He had reached the third class. He had had one daughter, and she had died. That was his story. He had nothing else to say, and he was content after that to sit in the armchair and say and do nothing.
SOURCE: Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples, by V.S. Naipaul (Vintage, 1998), pp. 317-319

28 July 2004

Micronesian Diary: Yam Feast in Kitti, Pohnpei

I've only just discovered archaeologist Felicia Beardsley's Micronesian Diary, an illustrated diary of her visits to various parts of Micronesia in 1998-99. Here are excerpts from what she has to say about a yam feast in Kitti Municipality on Pohnpei.
We are supposed to attend and document a traditional feast --- the ritual presentation of the yam (and opening of yam season) to the Nahnmwarki [high chief] by one of the villages in Kitti Municipality. That should be interesting....

We arrived to find huge yams hanging from the rafters of the nas [ceremonial house], as well as lined up outside on large racks made especially for such things. In one location outside the nas, there are piles of kava plants (for sakau [= Samoan te kava]) and sugar cane. These were collected by the four sections of the village --- sort of a competition. And just outside the nas, an um (earth oven) was well underway --- the wood was burning, stones had been piled high and were beginning to be heated. Those stones in the middle of the pile looked as if they were already starting to glow red with heat....

Then, just in front of the um and nas, a line of pigs stretched out on banana leaves. The pigs are killed on-site. Apparently, each village section was also responsible for supplying a pig or pigs (their choice). Someone also laid out a carabao. I am told that in the ranking of animal offerings, dog is the highest ranked, then pigs. Carabao are extras, with no rank. This was the first carabao I had actually seen here, and it was dead. It was almost immediately cut up into little pieces, with a leg offering given to the Nahnmwarki. The pigs are thrown onto the top of the um to burn off the hair, then they are opened up, cleaned and thrown back onto the banana leaves splayed. They and the pieces of carabao are covered up to keep the flies and dogs off of them. There are plenty of dogs wandering around, trying to lick up the blood from these animals....

The food is distributed to everyone; then comes a presentation of fabric and sugar cane. Yams are called (by title) for the um and pigs are placed on the um. These are then presented to the Nahnmwarki. The pigs are cut up, with the pieces distributed to various title holders. Next, the carabao. (We were given a piece of carabao; I gave it to Rosenda. She has a bigger family; besides, I know Teresa [her daughter] would not eat any of it because she saw the animal killed.) ...

Finally, the last event of the day: Sakau pounding. All the stones in the nas (there are supposed to be six) are prepared. They are set up on tires and/or coconut husks. The kava is prepared, and the pounding begins. It is quite rhythmic, and in sync. One wonders if there is someone directing the pace of pounding. The whole sound echoes throughout the nas. One stone is pounded by all women; and their companions are dancing and singing, whooping and hollering to the rhythm of the stones. Sakau is traditionally pounded by men, who work with their shirts off. So, when these women were in the process of preparing their stone, one of the men involved in the event told them they had to take their shirts off just like the men because that is the way it is done. They didn't, and gave him such a scolding that he walked off and left them alone.

27 July 2004

Nicholas Nagy-Talavera, requiescat in pace

Perhaps the most interesting raconteur I met in Romania in 1984 was Nicholas Nagy-Talavera, who arrived after we did on an IREX grant, but was assigned to the same apartment bloc on the south edge of town as the Bucharest Fulbrighters. His obituary announcement at Cal State Chico barely hints at what a rara avis he was, especially in academia.
Nicholas Nagy-Talavera, professor emeritus of history, died Jan. 23 [2000]. He was 70. He was born in Budapest and attended one year at the University of Vienna. Starting in 1949, he spent seven years in Soviet labor camps. He completed his education at UC Berkeley. Nagy-Talavera taught Russian and Eastern European history in the CSU, Chico history department from 1967 until he retired in 1991. He is author of Nicolae Iorga: A Biography and The Green Shirts and the Others: A History of Fascism in Hungary and Rumania.
It's interesting that the official biography neglects to mention that he was of Sephardic Jewish heritage, hence the Talavera, and raised in Oradea, on the Hungarian-Romanian border, to a family of timber merchants and furniture makers. (Nagy [pron. Nodge] is Magyar for German Gross, Romanian Mare; just as Kis [pron. Kish] is Magyar for German Klein, Romanian Micu. Every person and place had at least three names back then--like Peaches in Cluj.)

But Nick's life was no bowl of peaches. He survived his Bar Mitzvah in Auschwitz, and later survived the Soviet gulag. He survived the latter by sticking with the Ukrainian criminal gangs that controlled the prisons rather than with the political prisoners. As a result he learned Ukrainian and Russian well enough to pass for a native. In fact, he always insisted that the best place to learn a foreign language is in prison.

Perhaps the story that sticks best in my mind involved a starving prisoner one spring. Stealing food in the gulag was considered a betrayal of one's comrades worthy of capital punishment. Nick described how one desperately hungry prisoner grabbed a loaf of bread and took off running. Nick was among the crowd that ran after him, and he remembered deliberately choosing a piece of wood with a nasty nail protruding from it, the better to kill the thief with. But the thief ran waist-deep into the prison sewage pond, which had thawed in the spring melt, then proceeded to eat the bread, standing chest deep in raw sewage. At that point, the angry posse that followed him had time to stop and think about the level of his desperation, eventually deciding to have mercy and let him live.

Nick also described the hush that came over the camp when the death of Stalin was announced in the spring of 1953--and the genuine sorrow many people felt to have lost the father of their motherland, who had ruled for 30 years, no matter how brutal and capricious he may have been.

26 July 2004

The Great Imperial Hangover

Many books written during the 1980s and 1990s have proven somewhat less than prescient about the directions the world has taken since the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the dissolution of the Soviet empire after 1989. Andrei Codrescu's The Hole in the Flag (1991), for instance, seems to capture well the moment of the Romanian Revolution in 1989, but doesn't see very far into the future. V.S. Naipaul's Among the Believers (1981) and his follow-up Beyond Belief (1998), on the other hand, seem equally incisive and far more prescient, even though both Codrescu and Naipaul have the advantage of being pessimists.

Academics are rarely able to capture the moment, but are often better at capturing long-term trends, especially if they involve looking back into the past rather than forward into the future. One academic work that offers a fairly clear long view back is The New Geopolitics of Central Asia and Its Borderlands, edited by Ali Banuazizi and Myron Weiner (Indiana U. Press, 1994), whose introduction begins thus.
No major empires have dissolved in this [20th] century without their successor states undergoing civil wars or regional conflicts. The breakup of the Ottoman empire was accompanied by the Balkan wars and by internecine conflicts among the successor Arab states. The dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg empire triggered conflicts within both the Balkans and Central Europe. After the Second World War, the withdrawal of the British, French, Dutch, Americans and Portuguese from their overseas colonies left unstable states and regional conflicts. The departure of the British from South Asia left two successor states, India and Pakistan, in conflict, and Sri Lanka a deeply divided society. The withdrawal of the British, French and Portuguese from Africa left dozens of countries torn by civil conflicts, guerrilla warfare, refugee flows and declining economies in the midst of rapid population growth. The French and Dutch withdrawal from Indochina and Indonesia was, in both cases, followed by civil conflicts. What is it about the breakup of empires that leads to civil wars and regional conflicts among successor states?

It is first necessary to recognize that ethnic conflict within and between successor states is not merely the result of the reemergence of historic enmities that had been suppressed by the imperial centre. It is tempting to argue that the conflicts between Hindus and Muslims, Serbs and Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Serbs, Armenians and Azeris, Russians and Estonians are ancient battles that reflect fundamental clashes between peoples of different cultures, even different civilizations. While historic memories do play a role in ethnic conflict, imperial states typically create conditions which generate conflict among and within their successor states. Under imperial rule, nonindigenous peoples migrate into the region under colonial authority, where they often assume positions of political, social and economic superiority. The migrants often belong to the ethnic community of the imperial states, but they can also come from elsewhere. Under British and French rule, for example, Chinese or Indian migrants settled in various parts of the empire; under Ottoman rule Turks, but also Albanian and Bosnian Muslims, settled throughout the Balkans. These migrations were sometimes simply the result of the emergence of new opportunities; at other times they represented a systematic effort by the imperial power to relocate peoples for political reasons.

The governments of newly established states, and their supporters, often regard migrants and their descendants as an alien people whose very presence is illegitimate. Successor states may take away citizenship from the migrant communities, expel them, or impose restrictions on language use, education and employment which induce them to leave. Thus, Uganda and Burma expelled Indians; Indonesia massacred Chinese; Algeria forced out the French pieds noirs; Bulgaria expelled the Turks; and Romania pushed out the Hungarians.

Massacres and expulsion are by no means inevitable, because there are constraints upon nationalist elites. Although the nationalists' capacity for economic self-destruction should not be underestimated, nationalist leaders may be aware of the economic importance of the migrant community and the losses incurred if entrepreneurs, professionals, financiers and skilled workers are forced to leave. Nationalists may also be constrained by fears of intervention by the country from which the migrants originate, or by a concern that discriminatory policies may result in civil conflict. How nationalist elites deal with the demographic legacy of imperial rule is a complex matter, often shaped by historic memories of overlordship, by deep cultural notions of jealousy, or by egalitarian levelling sentiments, rather than by concerns over economic growth or even of avoiding violent conflict.

A second feature of empires that generates conflict in successor states is that the internal borders of empires rarely coincide with linguistic, religious or racial boundaries. Empires are built by accretion, so that their administrative boundaries often reflect the manner of absorption of new territories. Moreover, imperial authorities often govern by pitting one community against another; they prefer, and therefore may create, administrative divisions that divide ethnic and religious communities so as to impede their mobilization. Each of the administrative units within an empire often contains minorities who form majorities in a neighbouring state. Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh, Romania's Transylvania, Serbia's Kosovo and Burma's Arakan are not unusual examples. When empires dissolve, it is common for the successor states to be based upon existing administrative divisions. Rarely is self-determination accompanied by redrawing of boundaries so as to be inclusive of an ethnic community, with minority-dominated regions transferred to another state. The presence of minorities from a neighbouring state combined with irredentist disputes over boundaries is a dangerous mix.

While successor states ever proclaim the general principle that state boundaries are inviolable, the fact is that irredentist wars have been commonplace -- between Ethiopia and Somalia, between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, between Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Greece over Macedonia, between Italy and Austria over Trieste, etc. The breakup of empires also often leaves some peoples without states of their own -- Kurds, Baluch, Macedonians, for example.

In any event, multi-ethnicity in the successor states may be unrelated to migration under colonial rule or to the way in which administrative boundaries were established. Tamils and Sinhalese occupied Sri Lanka long before the Europeans arrived; in Africa tribes lived side by side, and sometimes fought one another, long before imperial rule. Under imperial rule some groups coalesce, and new alliances are formed, but also new cleavages are created. Some groups do relatively well under imperial rule, as they become disproportionately more educated and move into the professions and into the civil or military bureaucracy while others are left behind. At the end of imperial rule, some groups are in a stronger position than others to exercise political power or to control the major economic institutions. If a demographically hegemonic community assumes power, minorities are sure to be uneasy, especially when majorities assume political power, but minorities have a strong hold upon the economy. The removal of foreign domination creates a new political arena within which groups once subordinate to the imperial rulers now contend for power.

A third feature of successor states is that they are often weak. Under imperial rule the major institutions -- the civil administration, the police, the military, the financial institutions, the universities, the corporations -- were dominated by the imperial power. The successor states often lack the experienced manpower to manage these institutions; in some instances, the institutions themselves have become discredited and their legitimacy eroded by their nationalist opponents; and in still other instances these institutions continue to be dominated by the same individuals who controlled them during the era of imperial domination. It is also sadly not uncommon for emerging elites to regard these institutions as a source of personal gain for themselves and their families, and as a way in which they can now exercise autocratic authority over others. The result is a further erosion of these institutions and of public regard for them.

The successor governments may also find that their economies were in some fundamental ways warped by imperial domination, as they became suppliers of raw materials for the imperial centre, and their transport systems structured to meet the needs of a distant metropole.

A fourth and final feature of successor states is that violent conflicts within and quarrels among them readily become internationalized as each party to a dispute seeks external allies. Minorities within states often turn for support to a neighbouring country with whom there are ethnic bonds. As states dispute their borders, make claims upon each other's territory, or support secessionist or irredentist movements within a neighbouring state, they often turn to outsider powers for support. Weaker states need military and political support from others and, in turn, stronger states often respond by creating alliances with those who are enemies of their neighbour's allies. And so, in time, countries that have little intrinsic interest in the internecine quarrels of smaller states soon find themselves embroiled in large balance-of-power conflicts. Examples abound: during the interwar period, for example, Albania, in dispute with Yugoslavia, allied with Italy; Hungary joined with Germany; Bulgaria with Russia, then subsequently with Germany; the Serbs with the allies and the Croatians with the Germans; the Greeks with Britain, while Turkey flirted with the Germans. Similarly, in the postwar period, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola, India and Pakistan each turned to one or another of the great powers to help them in their regional disputes.

25 July 2004

Pasternak in Georgia, 1930s

During the decades since the publication of Safe Conduct, I often thought that if I were to republish it I would add a chapter on the Caucasus and two Georgian poets. Time passed and the need for other additions did not arise. The only gap that remained was this missing chapter. I am going to write it now.

About 1930, in winter, Paolo Yashvili and his wife paid me a visit in Moscow. Yashvili was a brilliant man of the world, a cultured and entertaining conversationalist, a "European," a tall and handsome man.

Soon after their visit all sorts of upheavals, complications, and changes took place in two families, that of a friend of mine and my own. They were very painful to those implicated in them. For some time my companion, who was afterwards to become my second wife, and I had no roof over our heads. Yashvili offered us a place of refuge at his house in Tiflis.

At that time the Caucasus, Georgia, the life of the Georgian people and some of its individual representatives were a complete revelation to me. Everything was new, everything was surprising. Dark bulks of overhanging mountains towered at the end of all the street vistas of Tiflis. The life of the city's poorest inhabitants, brought out from the yards into the streets, was bolder and less concealed than in the North. It was brighter and more candid. It was full of mysticism and the messianic symbolism of folk legends which are so favorable to the life of the imagination and which, as in Catholic Poland, turn every man into a poet. The more advanced section of the population showed a high level of cultural and intellectual life that was seldom to be met with in those days. The fine buildings of certain parts of Tiflis reminded me of Petersburg; some had railings outside the first-floor windows which were bent in the shape of baskets or lyres. The city also abounded in picturesque back lanes. Big tambourines beating to the rhythm of the lezginka followed you about everywhere and always seemed to catch up with you. In addition, there were the goatlike bleatings of the bagpipes and some other musical instruments. Nightfall in a Southern town was full of stars and the scent of flowers from the gardens mingled with the smells from coffeehouses and confectioners' shops....

If Yashvili was turned outwards, all in a centrifugal direction, Titian Tabidze was turned inwards and every line he wrote and every step he took called you into the depths of his rich soul, so full of intuitions and forebodings....

His house in Kodzhary stands at the bend of the road. The road rises along the front and then, bending round the house, goes past its back wall. From that house one can see those who walk and those who drive past it twice.

It was at the height of the period when, according to Bely's witty definition, the triumph of materialism had abolished matter. There was nothing to eat; there was nothing to wear. There was nothing tangible around, only ideas. If we kept alive, it was thanks to our Tiflis friends, miracle workers who all the time managed to get something and bring something and provide us with advances from publishing houses for something we had no idea of.

We met, exchanged news, dined, read something to each other. The light, cool breezes played, as though with fingers, with the poplar's silvery foliage, velvety and white on the underside. The air, as with rumors, was full of the heavy scents of the South. Like the front of a cart on its coupling-pole, the night on high slowly turned the whole body of its starry chariot. And on the road bullock-carts and automobiles drove and moved along and every one of them could be seen from the house twice.

Or we were on the Georgian military road, or in Borzhom, or in Abastuman. Or after trips into the countryside, to beauty spots, adventures, and libations, we, each one of us with something or other, and I with a black eye from a fall, stopped in Bakuriany at the house of Leonidze, a most original poet, more than anyone else closely bound up with the mysteries of the language in which he wrote, and for that reason least of all amenable to translation.

A midnight feast on the grass in a wood, a beautiful hostess, two charming little daughters. Next day the unexpected arrival of a mestvir, a wandering minstrel with a bagpipe, and an impromptu glorification of everyone at the table in turn, with an appropriate text and an ability to seize on any excuse, like my black eye, for instance, for a toast.

Or we went to the seaside in Kabuleti. Rains and storms. In the same hotel Simon Chikovani, the future master of bright, picturesque verse, at the time still a member of the Communist Youth League. And above the line of all the mountains and horizons, the head of the smiling poet walking beside me, and the bright, luminous signs of his prodigious talent, and the shadow of sadness and destiny in his smile. And once more I bid farewell to him now on these pages. Let me, in his person, bid a farewell to all my other memories.
SOURCE: I Remember: Sketch for an Autobiography, by Boris Pasternak (Harvard U. Press, 1983, now out of print), pp. 111-118

UPDATE: Reader Vernaculo in the comments provides instructions on how to access the Library of Congress photos from the 1910s of the region Pasternak visited during the 1930s. Access the search engine for the Prokudin-Gorskii Collection at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/prokquery.html, then type in "Borzhom" and hit Search, then Preview Images.

Naipaul on the Japanese in Malaysia, 1942-45

The Japanese were in Malaysia for three years and eight months. Until they came, Syed Alwi had not seen violent death. Now, near the market in Taiping, where his old English-language school was, he would see staked heads. He was told that they were the heads of Chinese people.

Syed Alwi said, "After the first year things became bad. Food became very short--the basic necessities, rice, sugar. The life in the kampung began to go very bad when disease became rampant. We didn't have much nourishment. So you got ulcers, skin diseases. We had lost our knowledge of local herbs. We had grown used to hospitals and Western medicine. We couldn't cope with the breakdown of society.

"Besides, the Japanese had promised that everything was going to be all right, and that there would be abundance of everything. They specifically mentioned that a lot of rice would be coming, because in Japan they grew a lot of rice. Whenever they took anything from us they would say it would be repaid many times over. They would say, 'I take your bicycle now. I will repay it with five bicycles or more.' And they would add, 'Not only bicycles, but other things as well. 'They mentioned silk. And for months and months the community waited. The Japanese kept that promise alive by circulating rumors that shipments of rice had arrived and people in certain kampungs had already received theirs.

"At the beginning of newsreels, in the mobile cinemas and the theaters, they would say in Japanese, Malay, and English: 'Thank God Asia has been given back to Asians.' What followed were images of the greatness of Japan: bundles and bundles of silk and other luxury goods. This had an effect. The first Hari Raya--the festival after the fasting month--we were talking about how everybody would be dressed in Japanese silk."

But things just went from bad to worse....

Syed Alwi said, "A new way of life, a decayed way of life, began to develop. Right and wrong began to be decided not by any moral or religious or spiritual standard, but by what was good for the self and survival. If moral values were applied you couldn't survive. What was normal life then? Pain and suffering and starvation and deprivation and disease. If those were things of normal life, why should morality be the deciding factor? What was of value would be what could alleviate your pain. Or what you could find to keep yourself some self-esteem. What was normal was that you saw Japanese soldiers beating up people. You saw people being snatched in all kinds of ways. You saw people being destroyed by torture, or escaping torture or worse by jumping in the river."
SOURCE: Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples, by V.S. Naipaul (Vintage, 1998), pp. 404-405

24 July 2004

Finlay's Wry Review of Menzies

It's easy enough to poke fun at academics, but every once in a while an academic will strike back in a style that is both academically appropriate and wonderfully entertaining for educated lay audiences to read. A mighty fine specimen of this genre is the review article by Carter Finlay entitled "How Not to (Re)Write World History: Gavin Menzies and the Chinese Discovery of America" (Journal of World History 15:229-242).
In 1421: The Year China Discovered America (2002), Gavin Menzies aspires to rewrite world history on a grand scale. He maintains that four Chinese fleets, comprising twenty-five to thirty ships and at least 7,000 persons each, visited every part of the world except Europe between 1421 and 1423. Trained by Zheng He, the famous eunuch-admiral, Chinese captains carried out the orders of Zhu Di (r. 1402-1424), the third Ming emperor, to map coastlines, settle new territories, and establish a global maritime empire. According to Menzies, proof of the passage of the Ming fleets to the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, and Polynesia is overwhelming and indisputable. His "index of supporting evidence" (pp. 429-462) includes thousands of items from the fields of archaeology, cartography, astronomy, and anthropology; his footnotes and bibliography include publications in Chinese, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, German, Arabic, and Hebrew.

Menzies claims that Chinese mariners explored the islands of Cape Verde, the Azores, the Bahamas, and the Falklands; they established colonies in Australia, New Zealand, British Columbia, California, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island; they introduced horses to the Americas, rice to California, chickens to South America, coffee to Puerto Rico, South American sloths to Australia, sea otters to New Zealand, and maize to the Philippines. In addition, Chinese seamen toured the temples and palaces of the Maya center of Palenque in Mexico, hunted walruses and smelted copper in Greenland, mined for lead and saltpeter in northern Australia, and established trading posts or diamonds along the Amazon and its tributaries....

The good news conveyed by 1421 is that there are big bucks in world history: Menzies received an advance of £500,000 ($825,000) from his British publisher, whose initial printing runs to 100,000 copies. The bad news is that reaping such largesse evidently requires producing a book as outrageous as 1421. Menzies flouts the basic rules of both historical study and elementary logic. He misrepresents the scholarship of others, and he frequently fails to cite those from whom he borrows. He misconstrues Chinese imperial policy, especially as seen in the expeditions of Zheng He, and his extensive discussion of Western cartography reads like a parody of scholarship. His allegations regarding Nicolò di Conti (c. 1385-1469), the only figure in 1421 who links the Ming voyages with European events, are the stuff of historical fiction, the product of an obstinate misrepresentation of sources. The author's misunderstanding of the technology of Zheng He's ships impels him to depict voyages no captain would attempt and no mariner could survive, including a 4,000-mile excursion along the Arctic circle and circumnavigation of the Pacific after having already sailed more than 42,000 miles from China to West Africa, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines (pp. 199-209, 311).

Portraying himself as an innocent abroad, forthrightly seeking truths the academic establishment has disregarded or suppressed, Menzies in fact is less an "unlettered Ishmael" than a Captain Ahab, gripped by a mania to bend everything to his purposes. His White Whale is Eurocentric historiography, which celebrates Columbus (a thief and fraud, pp. 382-383) and Vasco da Gama (a terrorist, p. 406) without realizing they merely aped the epic deeds of the Chinese. More generally, Menzies, in an unacknowledged echo of Joseph Needham, laments that China did not become "mistress of the world," with Confucian harmony and Buddhist benevolence uniting humankind. Instead, the cruel, barbaric West, secretly and fraudulently capitalizing on Chinese achievements, imposed its dominion around the globe (pp. 405-406).

The wounded leviathan of Eurocentricism no doubt deserves another harpoon, but 1421 is too leaky a vessel to deliver it. Examination of the book's central claims reveals they are uniformly without substance: first, that the 1421-1423 voyages Menzies describes could not have taken place; second, that Conti played no role in transmitting knowledge of Chinese exploration to European cartographers; and third, that all Menzies's evidence for the presence of the Chinese fleets abroad is baseless.
Read the whole thing, if you have access to a print or electronic version of the journal. It'll be well worth your trouble.

23 July 2004

Global Migration, 1846-1940

The latest issue of the Journal of World History (vol. 15, no. 2, June 2004) has an interesting article on "Global Migration, 1846-1940" by Adam McKeown. The abstract follows. (Full-text requires subscription.)
European migrations to the Americas and Australia have often been noted as an important part of world history, but movements to the frontiers, factories, and cities of Asia and Africa have largely been overlooked. This paper will show that migrations to northern and southeastern Asia were comparable in size and demographic impact to the transatlantic flows and followed similar cycles of growth and contraction. These migrations were all part of an expanding world economy, and a global perspective suggests ways in which that economy extended beyond direct European intervention. A global perspective also compels us to extend the traditional ending point for the era of mass migration from 1914 to 1930, and to be more aware of how political intervention has shaped the world into different migration systems and led scholars to wrongly assume that these systems reflect categorically different kinds of migration.
Table 1 in this article shows 55-58 million people migrating from Europe to the Americas during this period; 48-52 million from India (c. 30m) and southern China (c. 20m) into Southeast Asia and to European colonies in the Pacific and Indian Oceans; and 46-51 million from Northeast Asia and Russia into Manchuria, Siberia, central Asia, and Japan.

Indians migrated to Malaysia (4m), Ceylon (8m), Burma (15m), and Africa (1m, incl. Mohandas Gandhi), as well as to Mauritius, the Seychelles, and Fiji. Some of the Indians were indentured, but most arrived under labor contracts sponsored by their employer or the colonial authorities. Fewer than 1 million Chinese migrated under labor contracts to Europeans, while many more worked for Chinese employers under various contracts. Most of the Southeast Asian Chinese came from Fujian and Guangdong in South China.
Up to 11 million Chinese traveled from China to the Straits Settlements, although more than a third of these transshipped to the Dutch Indies, Borneo, Burma, and places farther west....

Migration into the broad expanse of North Asia is the least well studied of these systems. Small trickles of migrants had moved into central Asia, Siberia, and Manchuria for hundreds of years, but the Qing government's gradual relaxation of restrictions against movement into Manchuria after 1860 and the emancipation of serfs in Russia in 1861 set the stage for more massive migration. Both governments actively encouraged settlement with homesteading policies in the 1880s, each partly inspired by the desire to forestall territorial encroachment by the other. Railroad construction in the 1890s further strengthened the migrant flows. Between 28 and 33 million Chinese migrated into Manchuria and Siberia (most of whom embarked on a short sea voyage from Shandong to the Liaodong peninsula), along with nearly 2 million Koreans and over 500,000 Japanese. Another 2.5 million Koreans migrated to Japan, especially in the 1930s. At least 13 million Russians moved into central Asia and Siberia over this period.
Average annual population growth in Southeast Asia, North Asia, and the Americas ranged from 1.45% to 1.72% between 1850 and 1950, while it averaged 0.74% in the rest of the world. If we look at the sources of emigration, annual rates averaged 7-10 per 1000 from Ireland, Norway, and Italy during 1900-1910; and 9-10 per 1000 in South China (Guangdong) and North China (Hebei and Shandong) during the 1920s. (Peak rates reached 22/1000 from Ireland during the famine of 1845-55 and 18/1000 from Iceland during the 1880s.)

Of course, there were also massive internal migrations into coastal cities in China, to tea plantations and textile mills in India, and into industrial areas of northern Europe.
The end of the transatlantic slave trade led to the increased movement of slaves into western Sudan [Darfur?], the Middle East, and areas bordering the Indian Ocean in the late nineteenth century.... Projects such as the Suez Canal and development of an infrastructure for cotton cultivation in Egypt attracted large amounts of local migration, while Lebanon and Syria experienced some of the highest overseas emigration rates in the world [during 1870-1920]. Over 3 million people also took part in the hajj to Mecca from 1879 to 1938....

In addition to the migration of settlers and workers, some of the traditional merchant diasporas continued to flourish. For centuries before the 1800s, these ethnic networks had been some of the most prominent exemplars of long-distance migration....

Of particular interest are the Sindworkies from the town of Hyderabad in what is now Pakistan. After the 1860s they spread from [Bukhara and] Japan to the Panama Canal and Tierra del Fuego, establishing upscale tourist shops that sold "curios" from around the world and becoming prominent carriers of Japanese trade in the Dutch Indies.
See also Muninn's recent post on Japanese migration into north China in the early parts of both the 20th and 21st centuries and, more tangentially, Randy McDonald's recent post at The Head Heeb on Diasporas: Shifting Meaning, Real Intentions. Scott Sommers' Taiwan Weblog also has an interesting post on foreign teachers as economic migrants in Taiwan.

21 July 2004

The Chronicle of Evan S. Dobelle

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a comprehensive and fairly balanced report by Julianne Basinger on the firing of University of Hawai‘i President Evan S. Dobelle entitled Wipeout in Hawaii: A president is toppled amid claims of arrogance, cronyism, and misspending. If the link should become unavailable, the compilation at The Firing of Evan Dobelle covers much of the story. The following are a few tidbits from the Chronicle story that weren't covered earlier.
"While it looks like it's just been a one-year situation of difficulty, it's been a three-year situation," says Patricia Y. Lee, a regent who has been on the board for three years and chairwoman for the past year. "At his [Dobelle's] first-year review, he stalked out of the room and said, 'You can't fire me.' So you can see it's not a comfortable relationship." ...

Lilikala Kame‘eleihiwa, a professor of Hawaiian studies on the Manoa campus, believes Mr. Dobelle's endorsement of Ms. Hirono [the Democratic Party's candidate for state governor in 2002] led regents appointed by [Republican] Governor Lingle to seek his ouster. Mr. Dobelle won the professor's support after he gave $1.5-million from a discretionary fund for a new Hawaiian-studies center. "Evan Dobelle to me represented our champion," she says. "I was extremely saddened that he should be fired." But other faculty members, regents, lawmakers, and even Mr. Dobelle himself say that tensions with the board and questions about his spending existed before his endorsement.
The Chronicle also includes the following timeline entitled Steps Toward an Exit
  • JULY 2001 - Evan S. Dobelle becomes president of the University of Hawaii System.

  • FEBRUARY 2002 - Mr. Dobelle takes 25 donors and staff members to a Janet Jackson concert, paying for the tickets through a presidential discretionary fund of the University of Hawaii Foundation, the system's private fund-raising arm. His action prompts public outcry, and by April a state legislator calls for a state audit of whether foundation money is being used appropriately.

  • SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2002 - The president judges the Miss America pageant in September, despite criticism from some faculty members who say doing so is sexist and inappropriate for a college leader. In November Mr. Dobelle endorses the Democratic candidate for governor in a television commercial, and a member of the university's Board of Regents resigns in protest.

  • MARCH 2003 - A state audit of the university's foundation finds "a number of questionable foundation expenditures made under the guise of fund raising."

  • OCTOBER 2003 - Amid increasing criticism from lawmakers and some faculty and staff members over his spending, particularly on travel, Mr. Dobelle receives a negative performance review from the regents, which he hotly disputes, both for its content and for the board's procedure in evaluating him. The review accuses him of a lack of accountability to the board, including murky reporting on finances.

  • APRIL-MAY 2004 - A second state audit of the foundation again finds "questionable, even abusive, expenditures from donated funds." The state legislature passes a bill requiring the foundation to disclose more financial records to lawmakers.

  • JUNE 2004 - After an evaluation that includes an outside consultant and a financial review of the president's spending of foundation money, the regents unanimously vote to fire Mr. Dobelle "for cause," but they decline to disclose what the "cause" is. He threatens to sue, and the two sides and their lawyers begin mediation. The university's accreditors criticize the board and the university for their poor relationship.
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported on 15 July 2004 that Dobelle allocated $90,000 out of his annual protocol fund of $200,000 on a political poll.
Documents in the draft audit of the protocol fund also show that even though the poll was commissioned in November 2002, Opinion Dynamics was not paid its $45,000 fee for the January poll until last October. The protocol fund began to run out of money toward the end of its fiscal year in June 2003, according to the draft audit. However, it was not clear if that was a factor in the late payment.

The contract with Opinion Dynamics was for $90,000 plus expenses for two polls -- with a second poll to be conducted in June 2003. In a handwritten note on the contract, Dobelle wrote, "no more than $99,999 for both surveys."

Under university procurement policies, all consultant contracts in excess of $100,000 require prior Board of Regents approval.

The June 2003 survey was never conducted, Dobelle said.
A special to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on 25 July 2004 by University of Hawai‘i journalism professor Beverly Ann Deepe Keever headlined The Dobelle Debacle notes "The secrecy surrounding Evan Dobelle's interrupted tenure as UH president has done great harm to Hawaii's public university."
The spiral of secrecy that augured the Dobelle debacle began in early 2001 [before the current Republican governor was elected] when the UH Board of Regents met in a series of unannounced, closed-door meetings and agreed to a lucrative contract with Dobelle.

On March 9, 2001, Lily Yao, then-chairwoman of the Board of Regents, signed Dobelle to a contract paying him at least $3 million over seven years and giving him residency in the state-owned mansion near the Manoa campus, use of a state car and a number of other perks.

His first-year salary of $442,000 was more than double that of outgoing President Kenneth Mortimer and four times that of the governor. This multimillion-dollar commitment was agreed to just as the board was raising student tuition and Gov. Ben Cayetano was arguing that the state was too impoverished to increase faculty pay enough to forestall a strike that eventually did occur.

Contesting the secret negotiations that led to such an expenditure of taxpayer monies were graduate student Mamo Kim and the Hawaii chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), who filed a lawsuit in Hawaii's First Circuit Court. They argued that this secrecy violated Hawaii's "Sunshine Law" requiring open meetings of public agencies, except in specific cases permitting closure. This "Sunshine Law" was passed by the Legislature in 1975 in the wake of the Watergate scandal so that opening up closed doors of government would allow in sunshine that acts as a disinfectant to reduce mismanagement and even illegal or unethical decisions.

Unfortunately, graduate student Kim and SPJ lost the case. Circuit Court Judge Virginia Crandall OK'd the board's practice of recessing one closed-door meeting in order to hold another unannounced closed-door meeting without the public and the news media even being aware that the board was meeting or what it was meeting about.

Also unfortunate, the board's secret decision-making on Dobelle's high-priced and lengthy contract sent the wrong signal to the incoming president that money was no object at UH. Dobelle assumed the presidency on July 1, 2001, just 72 days before the spectacular attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon sent Hawaii's struggling tourist-based economy into an even steeper nose dive.

The rest is history -- and a lot of news stories. Dobelle brought in his own management team from the East Coast, paying members up to twice the salaries of the veterans they replaced. He recommended -- and the board agreed -- to pay double his own salary to UH's head football coach June Jones. And Dobelle racked up a tremendous cost overrun in refurbishing his state-owned residence.

Dobelle's public aura of extravagance was magnified by his driving around campus in his pricey Porsche, rather than the state car, and buying a million-dollar-plus home while he was living rent-free in the president's mansion, College Hill. The governor is the only other state official granted the privilege of a state residence -- and hers is now considerably less impressive than the university president's.
UPDATE, 30 July: Dobelle and the Regents reached a settlement while Dobelle was away (yet again) at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
In the settlement announced yesterday, the regents will pay ousted UH President Evan Dobelle and his attorneys $1.6 million, plus payments to an insurance policy. He agreed to give up about $496,000 from a UH Foundation incentive fund. Dobelle's deal includes:
  • $1.05 million payment.

  • A nontenured researcher position at UH-Manoa for two years at $125,000 a year plus collective bargaining raises.

  • $290,000 for his attorneys.

  • $40,000-a-year payments on a $2 million whole life insurance policy for the next six years. UH will be reimbursed for its payments to the insurance company when Dobelle's heirs cash in the policy.
Nonmonetary highlights of the UH-Evan Dobelle settlement include:
  • Regents rescind firing for cause.

  • Dobelle resigns on Aug. 14.

  • Both sides resolve the dispute without finding wrongdoing by Dobelle or the board and agree not to pursue further legal claims.

Censoring Both Enemies and Enemy Dissidents

Another article by Matt Welch in the June 2004 issue of The Walrus, under the headline Editing the Enemy: Censorship: The Next Generation, spells out some of the stupid side-effects of a new U.S. policy designed to embargo trade in information as well as goods.
Since September, 2003, it has been official U.S. policy that any American editor publishing a piece of writing that originated from a country under a full trade embargo -- meaning Iran, Cuba, Libya or Sudan -- is expressly prohibited from engaging in "activities such as the reordering of paragraphs or sentences, correction of syntax, grammar, and replacement of inappropriate words."

In other words, use a blue pencil, go to jail -- for up to ten years (and be subject to a maximum fine of $500,000).

Until recently, it was a restriction that most publishers either didn't know about, or quietly accepted. On September 30, 2003, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which is the arm of the Treasury Department charged with enforcing the 1917 Trading With the Enemy Act, informed the world's largest engineering association, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), that articles from Iran (and, therefore, from other fully embargoed countries) could be published in the U.S. only if they could be printed with no additional editing or even illustration....

The Institute complied, and stopped editing all published material originating in Iran. Word travelled over the technical-publishing grapevine, and several small journals stopped accepting Iranian manuscripts altogether.

Then on January 23, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) issued a detailed legal analysis arguing that OFAC's new rules violated not only the First Amendment of the Constitution, but Congress's 1988 Berman Amendment, and the 1994 Free Trade in Ideas Amendment, which specifically allow for the exchange of informational materials with countries under embargo....

The Iranian exile community, which numbers in the hundreds of thousands here in "Tehrangeles," were only in late March beginning to grasp that these restrictions, if fully enforced, could prevent dissident writers from having their work published in the U.S., and inflict chilling damage on the burgeoning academic field of Iranian Studies. "It's just a blanket-type thing covering all written pieces in all domains? Wow, I mean it doesn't make any sense to me," said Hossein Ziai, director of UCLA's Iranian Studies program, which he describes as "one of the largest in North America, if not the largest."

"How can you translate without copy editing?" Ziai asked, posing one of the vexing questions OFAC has yet to clarify.

20 July 2004

Survival in the Frontier Zone

The latest issue of the Journal of World History (vol. 15, no. 2, June 2004) has an article on "Survival in the Frontier Zone: Comparative Perspectives on Identity and Political Allegiance in China's Inner Asian Borderlands during the Sui-Tang Dynastic Transition (617-630)" by Jonathan Karam Skaff. The intriguing abstract follows. (Full-text requires subscription.)
This paper investigates the relationship between identities and political allegiances on premodern frontiers. The first half of the paper is a case study of interactions between Turks and Chinese elites and commoners during the Sui-Tang dynastic transition. The second half compares Roman, mid-imperial Chinese, and early Islamic frontiers. The paper concludes that people in frontier zones tended to forge political ties based on self-interest and personal connections. Solidarities based on ethnic or religious allegiance were rare because premodern state power, transportation, and communications could not spread these ideals effectively.
One example is the Iberian frontier (al-Andalus) during the middle ages.
The Iberian frontier zone from the eighth to eleventh centuries presents a familiar picture of mixed ethnicities, identities, and political affiliations. Although the Islamic sources paint an image of a clear division between Muslim holy warriors and "infidel" Christian kingdoms, the reality was far different. The Iberian Umayyad dynasty (756-1031), which ruled the southern half of the peninsula, had only a loose reign over the Arab, Berber, and indigenous convert aristocratic families who controlled the borderlands. The loyalties of the frontier aristocrats were constantly shifting as they engaged in relations with the Umayyads, Christian kingdoms, and each other. Sharing only an aversion to central control, self-interest was more important than ethnic or religious affiliation in determining political alliances .... The situation on this frontier should give pause to those who assume that an ideology of jihad, in its guise as holy war, has always been an essential part of Muslim political life. Clearly, the limited power of the Iberian Umayyad state played a role in its inability to regulate the frontier and enforce political loyalties more effectively.

MTV Generation vs. Corruption in Romania, 2004

Matt Welch has an update on Romania in the 17 July 2004 edition of Canada's National Post, under the headline "Rapping the Commies Away: A New MTV Generation in Romania Tries to Drive out Corruption":
This scuffling country of 23 million, long the redheaded stepchild of New Europe, received an unexpected and welcome jolt to its system this June, when a wave of youthful revulsion at government corruption rocked the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) in local elections, possibly paving the way for what could be Romania's most important political development since pro-government miners literally clubbed the anti-Communist revolution into near-submission 14 long years ago.

Septuagenarian President Ion Iliescu may finally be driven from politics in this November's national elections. Iliescu, an old Communist hack who once doled out punishment against sympathizers with the crushed Hungarian rebellion of 1956 and eventually rose to the Romanian Party's Central Committee, manoeuvred his way into the presidency in December, 1989, won elections in 1990 and 1992, called in the miners to assault his political opponents in 1990 and 1991, stayed in opposition from 1996 to 2000, and regained the presidency four years ago.

Under his watch, the country has staggered down the path of economic and political reforms, flirted with noxious nationalism and successfully bargained itself into a post-Sept. 11 NATO while managing to become regionally synonymous with the word "corruption."

Now, blue Romania is in open revolt against Iliescu's mafia-style "Local Barons," driving the fat-cat ex-Reds from the city halls of large municipalities like Cluj and the capital, Bucharest, while openly mocking the ruling technocrats' ham-handed attempts at manipulating the media....

In the absence of quality media, news in the Romanian sticks travels by word of mouth, and retail politics takes on a surrealistic hue -- when I was in the south-central Romanian village of Visina Noua during the second round of the elections, word travelled that the increasingly desperate incumbent PSD mayor was offering anyone who would vote for him a useful gift -- a free coffin. (He's a coffin-maker ... and he won.)

In the big cities, by comparison, competitive newspapers describe the mechanics of corruption in pretty impressive detail, which the kids can then routinely cite. People generally know that the government attempts to influence newspapers and television by being one of the country's largest advertisers (spending millions on hyping such crucial monopolist services as the Romanian international airport's control tower); they know that Local Barons (such as the odious and recently defeated Bacua mayor Dumitru Sechelariu) threaten to "execute" journalists who uncover their dirty laundry; and they know specific cases of state assets being pilfered and/or stripped.

It's no wonder they're fed up with the generations that were raised under Communism.
Meanwhile, former Romanian intelligence official Ion Mihai Pacepa, writing in National Review Online on 20 July 2004, says Iliescu has now swung around to become an important U.S. ally.
Soon after the 1989 revolutionary wave changed the face of Europe, Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa headed for Washington to express their gratitude for the long and painful efforts made by the U.S. to bring Communism to its knees. Romania's new leader, Ion Iliescu, went to Moscow, where on April 5, 1991, he signed a treaty with Mikhail Gorbachev stating that in the future Romania would not belong to any military alliance that could be "detrimental to the Soviet Union."
But all that had changed by 23 November 2002 when President Bush announced in Bucharest Romania's invitation to join NATO.

18 July 2004

Ceausescu's Mother of All Palaces

Andrei Codrescu, in The Hole in the Flag (Avon Books, 1991) cites the belief in Bucharest that architects were among the greatest criminals of Ceausescu's rule.
Early the next day, on January 3 [1990], we went to interview the chief architect of Bucharest. He was one of the men responsible for implementing Ceausescu's policy of sistematizare, including the destruction of Damieni [and other rural villages and relocation of villagers into urban blocks of apartments]. That this man was still in place was amazing in itself, but that he was still in charge was even more amazing. A guard in front of the building asked us where we were going. We told him. "The devil," he said, "is going to fry that man in a piss pot. He's under arrest up there."

As it turned out, he wasn't really under arrest but was really in charge. Or partly under arrest and partly in charge. No one knew for sure. The ministry building--the chief architect has ministerial rank--was a pretty turn-of-the century Victorian house. The two soldiers guarding the inner entrance barely glanced at our passports. There was little sense here of the emergency gripping the media or the front buildings. And yet it was here, more than anywhere else, that the evil of Ceausescu's dream was made manifest. Dozens of historical monuments, churches, and architectural treasures had been demolished to make room for Ceausescu's self-glorifying monuments. Gone was the beautiful Vacaresti Monastery, where I had once looked at icons, with its twin Byzantine towers, shady porticoes, and long galleries. Gone also were many old mysteries of my student years where I'd hidden to write poetry and dream. An old city is a sort of wilderness. Destroying it is the same as destroying a forest, an ecological crime. Ceausescu's forest of apartment blocks, which stands over the ghosts of my youth, is regarded by many as the most ambitious construction project in Europe. But the presidential palace, built over the three layers of secret tunnels, is the regime's most grimly symbolic building. Its floor space is more than 400,000 square feet and thirteen stories. There are great chandeliers over the immense marble staircase. The central area for receptions is as big as a football field, 240 feet long and 90 feet wide, with tower ceilings covered in gold leaf or pink gypsum. The five-ton chandelier over the main staircase consumes more electricity than two Romanian villages. At the time when average people's apartments were required to use sixty-watt bulbs, the palace devoured eighty-five thousand watts. The marble columns are hand-carved. It is three times the size of Versailles and bigger than the Pentagon. Fifty thousand people lost their homes, so that the site for it could be cleared when construction began in 1984. Its cost has run to more than a billion dollars, and whole industries were set up to feed the palace's demands for marble and lumber. Construction accidents claimed twenty lives. And yet ... the palace is only two thirds finished! The reason is that the Ceausescus inspected the building every week and ordered rooms, staircases, and decorations already built to be destroyed and started again. Like insane minotaurs at the center of an ever-growing maze, the couple tried to put traps and walls between them and their fate. The roof had to be built and rebuilt several times and was never finished.

Their story is reminiscent of the legend of Master Manole, the builder of Neagoe Basarab's Castle on the Arges in the 16th century. That edifice, the ruins of which can still be seen in forbidding starkness over the Arges River, could not be made to stand no matter how hard its builders worked. Every time their work seemed finished, the building collapsed. One night Master Builder Manole had a dream that the only way to finish the building was to build someone alive into the wall. The three builders decided that the first of their wives to come with lunch next day would be sacrificed to the castle. The two older men told their wives to stay home, but young Manole didn't. His beautiful young wife came and was immured in the castle wall. To this day, say local legends, you can hear her crying and lamenting on certain nights, not understanding how her husband could have been so cruel to her. One can say that symbolically the Romanian nation was likewise nearly sacrificed on Master Builder Ceausescu's orders.
After we arrived in Bucharest in 1983, and before the weather got too cold, we used to take long walks along the major boulevards exploring the fascinating architecture of the older parts of the city and the depressing architecture of the newer parts. I remember one day wandering into Rahova Street and seeing block after block of complete rubble. When we asked about it, people blamed it on the 1977 earthquake. We had no idea it was destined to become this.

The U.S. ambassador to Romania at the time was a North Carolinian Baptist named David Funderburk, who had studied Romanian at UCLA and the University of Washington and had spent a Fulbright year in Romania in 1971-72. He was a Jesse Helms protegé, anathema to me ideologically. But after six months in Romania, I decided that a mollycoddled thug like Ceausescu really deserved a U.S. ambassador like Funderburk, who didn't take him seriously. I heard a story from someone at the U.S. embassy that Funderburk had once had his driver fly the Confederate battle flag on his diplomatic limo during a drive out of Bucharest, just to confuse the Securitate outposts who monitored all diplomatic excursions into the countryside. The U.S. embassy also seems to have had some ties to Bible smugglers, one family of whom was expelled in 1984.

When we crossed the Hungarian border into Romania in 1983, the customs officials specifically asked us if we had any weapons, typewriters, or Bibles. The only contraband we had was a small electronic typewriter, which didn't have to be registered with the police (maybe because they didn't recognize it as a typewriter), and a copy of Orwell's 1984 ("banned in Romania"!) which was passed around the foreigner community during our year there. It proved a better guide to the local political culture than anything else we had read at the time.

An Assembly Line at the Rumor Mill

Andrei Codrescu, in The Hole in the Flag (Avon Books, 1991) describes his trip out of Bucharest shortly after the fall of Ceausescu.
As we reached the outskirts ot the city, we saw immense lines tor milk, bread, and newspapers. People stood in the numbing cold, talking, moving their hands, pounding the ground to keep warm. They were dressed in long gray coats with lambskin hats pulled over their ears. Some wore several sweaters, and the women looked like onions with a half dozen skirts wrapped around them, as well as elaborate layers of kerchiefs around their heads. I remembered being a child in those lines, endlessly fascinated by the ceaseless chatter of the adults, gathering news tidbits for my mother, little bits of salacious gossip for my friends, even rare words I didn't understand, which I put in a little notebook I had, called "Strange Words I Heard in Line." These were the working people of Bucharest, of Romania. They had stood in line for forty-five years patiently waiting for the barest necessities. A revolution was going on, but the lines were still long--the same as the week before, the year before, the previous decade.... Are there, I wonder, people on this earth, whole countries, whole continents perhaps, doomed forever to the lines of misery, anticipation, and scarcity? As the world I know in America grows more satiated, more colorful, more overstimulated, these lines get longer, more desperate, the people in them more drab ... and there is less at the counter when, after aeons of standing, they arrive, hands outstretched, the sweaty money they hold worthless after all that time.... Still, there is a difference between these lines and those of my childhood. No one is listening, waiting to report people's discontents.... At least I hope so. Every word people speak now would have been considered treason only moments ago. And what of those people whose jobs had been to listen and to report? Do they feel shame, or embarrassment, or fear? They certainly haven't disappeared; they are doubtlessly still in the line, listening. (After all, they, too, have families they have to feed.) Full of unusable information, would they eventually disintegrate? Publicly confess? Get religion? I had the fleeting vision of a revolution that works on the honor system: Bad people arrest themselves.

Throughout my childhood I believed that one had to lower one's voice whenever speaking seriously. A normal tone of voice, possible to overhear, was reserved exclusively for trivia. One would use several tones in the course of a conversation, even within a single sentence. For instance, my mother would send me to stand in line for bread. As she handed me the ration book, she would say in a normal voice, "Get two loaves and five rolls," and then, lowering her voice, "if there are enough coupons," and then, lowering her voice even more, "and find out what people are saying." This last phrase was well understood. We stood in breadlines not iust for bread but also for the news. The breadline was our newspaper since the actual newspapers printed nothing but lies. Rumors, innuendos, and mishearing made the rounds faster than print anyway.
Romania in 1984 was definitely an information-deprived society, where everything officially confirmed was considered a lie and everything officially denied was considered the truth. One restaurant near Piata Unirii that we passed every day--I believe it was the Budapesta--was reputed to have served human liver to its patrons for lack of any other meat. I found out later that the same rumor had persisted for a decade or more. There would have been no use officially denying it. That would only confirm the rumor.

Here's an old joke about the ubiquitous food queues.
Ceausescu had heard there were food shortages and wanted to fly around in his helicopter to see for himself if the stories were true. He didn't have to travel far to see a long line of people standing in the cold.

"What are these people waiting for?" he asked.

"For eggs, Comrade Ceausescu."

"Then have a truckload of eggs delivered there immediately! My people shouldn't have to stand in line for eggs!"

"And what are those people waiting for?" he asked, pointing in another direction.

"For milk, Comrade Ceausescu."

"Then have a truckload of milk delivered there immediately! My people shouldn't have to stand in line for milk!"

"And what are those poor people waiting for?" he asked, noticing another very long queue.

"For meat, Comrade Ceausescu."

"Well, in that case, have a truckload of chairs delivered there immediately! My people shouldn't have to stand in line for meat!"
That is one of the few jokes I heard in Romania that isn't in the wonderful collection entitled You Call This Living? A Collection of East European Political Jokes, by C. Banc [= 'joke' in Romanian] and Alan Dundes (U. Georgia Press, 1990).

16 July 2004

A Romanian Exile Returns to Bucharest, 1989

Andrei Codrescu, in The Hole in the Flag (Avon Books, 1991) describes his return to Bucharest days after the fall of Ceausescu.
The Inter-Continental Hotel in Bucharest is the modern-day equivalent of Dracula's castle on the Arges River, a fortress built to resist cannon. It can be seen from almost anywhere, just like Ceausescu's palace. Its facade was scarred by fresh bullet holes from top to bottom. It looked like a giant with measles. The older buildings on University Square all around it were also pockmarked every few inches as if someone had been firing precision rounds in a kind of mad game. Hundreds of windows were broken; parts of roofs were seared. University Square was a solid sheet of uneven, thick ice, blackened here and there by the grime of cars trying desperately to cross. There was an overpowering smell of wax in the air from the hundreds of candles burning at makeshift shrines under small Christmas trees.

The entrance to the lobby of the Inter-Con was a madhouse of reporters, cameramen, doormen, men in suits, and swarms of Gypsy children with paper flowers on sticks who all but put their quick little hands in your pockets. Their lively faces, caroling and begging, gave a festive air to the whole place.... I felt as if I were at a crossroads. I was tempted to leave my suitcases and walk away. I imagined renting a room somewhere in Bucharest with a view of Cismigiu Lake. I had enough American dollars to live modestly for the rest of my life. I could change my name once more and tell nosy neighbors that I was a provincial literature teacher from a remote Transylvania burg who had come to the capital for "culture." I would establish a new life, consisting of regular visits to a small cafe and long evening walks by the lake. I would dress in an old-fashioned coat and tails from the last century and die a few years hence, a figure of mystery. I'd had this fantasy in many forms before--becoming a gas station attendant in a small town in Utah, for instance--but here it nearly became real. I wasn't sure, though, whether such a change of identity was yet possible in Romania. But the revolution would prove itself only if it succeeded in reestablishing the possibility of anonymity for its citizens, a great gift in a country where sticking one's nose in others' business had been the order of day and night. In spite of the cold, there was an indefinite familiar smell to the street, not the diesel smell of Budapest, but something older: crushed linden flowers and smoke. Under the ice and snow were the idle footsteps of my old walks, the fallen leaves of adolescent autumns, the shadows of complicated Byzantine porticoes.... I had the momentary illusion that all I had to do was to start walking, that my footsteps would find the shadow of my old footsteps, and that if I followed my old path, I would somehow cancel time and be nineteen years old again. Suppose that there is a moment in the midst of a revolution when it is possible to transcend time. There is something in the Romanian psyche that keeps searching for that moment. There is a man in a story by Mircea Eliade, the great Romanian religious scholar and novelist, who leaves an enchanted garden only to discover that thirty years have passed. Conversely, leaving the garden of my exile, I might discover that thirty years had not passed. Exiles--and Eliade was most consciously an exile--do not believe in chronological time. We hold the places of our youth unchanged in our minds and stay secretly young that way. On the other hand, what if age catches up with us when we return? What if death, a patient creature that never strays far from one's birthplace, waits for us just behind the old pantry door? I felt my hair beginning to turn white, my back begin to bend under the question mark of old age ... and in Bucharest today the possibility of death was not at all remote.

Alas, I was also a foreigner and soon had proof of it. Porters, doormen, and bellboys, unmindful of my reveries, swarmed all over me.
I well remember the landmark Inter-Con during our 1983-84 year in Ceausescu's Romania--it was very near both the university and the U.S. embassy--but I don't remember going in there very often. The last time I entered the premises, it was to meet another foreigner in the coffee shop and change money under the table, buying about 4500 lei for US$100 that my wife had earned teaching at the American School. (The official rate was less than 10 lei to US$1.) My own stipend of 4500 lei per month (plus free rent) was quite adequate for our needs and allowed us enough to take a train trip to another city about one weekend a month. The only reason we had to buy more lei was for a longer springtime trip to Maramures.

I would collect my stipend at the foreign liaison office at the law school. Foreign dormitory students in front of me in line might collect 2000 lei, then have to repay various charges amounting to several hundred lei. The largest denomination was 100 lei (to make smuggling less efficient), and we were enjoined to count our money on the spot to keep the clerks honest. I always felt a bit guilty holding up the line while counting my 45 bills, then stuffing them into my least-pickable front pockets for the long walk back to our apartment bloc on Bulevardul Pionerilor ('of the [Young] Pioneers', now Tineretului 'of the Youth')--between the crematorium and the abattoir, across from the Park of Youth.

14 July 2004

The Dilemma of the Overseas Filipino Worker

Dean Jorge Bocobo of Philippine Commentary captures the dilemma of the OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker):
The Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reports that about 2500 Filipinos leave the country every day for jobs abroad. Many like hostage Angelo de la Cruz actually seek out the most dangerous jobs, such as truck driver in Fallujah for a Saudi oil company, precisely because these are the highest paying jobs and therefore also the ones that will require the shortest stints away from their families. In fact, last Saturday when the government "banned" Filipino workers for leaving for jobs in Iraq, some 100 of them stranded at the airport expressed a willingness to still continue with their plans to work there, saying they had already done everything necessary to go, sometimes even selling the family's last remaining possessions to do so....

Here then, exposed for all to see, is the viscera of Filipino despair and heroism packed neatly into a kind of pact with the Devil: The Overseas Filipino Worker goes willingly even to perilous places like Iraq, with its daily toll of death, because they figure like this: If I stay in the Philippines, my family and I will probably starve to death or be forced into lives of crime and prostitution. If I go to work in a place like Iraq, we shall all have a chance at salvation and happiness in which there can only be two outcomes: If I live, then we shall all be saved and happy. If I die, only I shall die, but my family will surely be saved by the insurance policy granted by POEA. Either way, my family will be saved by my sojourn abroad. I therefore go willingly, please do not stop me at the airport.

That is the essential heroism of the modern OFW.

Muninn on Deciphering Korean and Konglish

Muninn, who's back to blogging, has some interesting posts on deciphering Korean by filtering words through screens of Japanese, Chinese, and/or English.

Konglish (like Let's Dutch pay 'let's go Dutch', overeat 'vomit', and walker 'combat boots')

Guessing Korean 안내 [annae] and 은행 [eunhaeng] (respectively, 案内 'information', Jp. annai, not used in Ch.; and 銀行 'bank', Jp. ginkô, Ch. yinhang).

BTW, the ginkgo tree in Korean is also eunhaeng. This is much easier for an English speaker who knows Japanese to remember than for a monolingual speaker of either Japanese or Chinese.
Its name means "silvery apricot" (銀杏 yin2 xin4) in Chinese. The same name is used in Japan, where ginkgo later transplanted, but the Japanese pronunciation [was] ginkyō, and this is what the Westerners heard in the eighteenth century. However, the modern Japanese reading is ichō or ginnan (although the Kanji are the same).
But Muninn warns of false cognates, like 手紙 'hand paper', Jp. '(postal) letter', Ch. 'toilet paper'.

13 July 2004

Japaniizu Beesubooru, Pitchingu

More creative Japanese baseball terms of English origin: Pitching Terms

auto koosu 'a pitch over the outside part of the plate'
in koosu 'a pitch over the inside part the plate'
insura (< "inside slider") 'a slider over the inside part of the plate'
uinningu shotto 'a pitcher's best ("winning") pitch'
eesu 'ace' (the team's best pitcher)
oobaa suroo 'overarm throw'
kaabu 'curve ball'
kuikku mooshyon 'quick throw to first base'
kontorooru '(pitcher's) ball control'
shuuto 'a pitch that shoots toward the inside corner of the plate'
suraidaa 'slider'
supeedo booru 'fastball'
cheenji 'change up'
noo kon 'lack of control'
nakkuru 'knuckle ball'
pasu booru 'passed ball'
battengu pitchaa 'batting practice pitcher'
fuoa booru 'a walk'
fuoku 'fork ball'
furu kaunto 'full count' (= tsuu endo suree)
booru 'pitch outside the strike zone; also, the pitch itself'
ririifu 'relief pitcher, bullpen'
waindoappu 'windup'

SOURCE: A Slightly Askew Glossary of Japanese Baseball Terms by professional translator Steven P. Venti

Da Hawaii Pidgin Bible

Who Make Da Pidgin Bible?
From 1987, get 26 local peopo dat help fo make da Pidgin Bible. Dey da Pidgin Bible Translation Group. Dey all volunteer peopo dat stay talk Pidgin from small kid time. Dey give couple hour every week fo translate. Dey Christian peopo dat go diffren churches, but dey all working togedda.... An dey awready write 40% a Da Befo Jesus Book, but gotta check um plenny so gotta wait.

Some a dem live odda place now, some a dem get job dat no let um get time fo translate, an Auntie Rachel Silva, she wen mahke awready 1994. March 2000, dey pau make Da Jesus Book. June 2001, get um back from da printa guys. Five translata guys stay working awready fo make Da Befo Jesus Book.
Wat Da Bible Say Bout Important Stuffs?
Jesus say, "God wen get so plenny love an aloha fo da peopo inside da world, dat he wen send me, his one an ony Boy, so dat everybody dat trus me no get cut off from God, but get da kine life dat stay to da max foeva." (John 3:16)

Tink hard bout wat I telling you. Cuz da Boss, he goin make shua you undastan everyting I say. So tink plenny bout Jesus, da Spesho Guy God Wen Send. He da One dat wen come from King David ohana. God wen make him come back alive, afta he wen mahke. An dass da Good Kine Stuff From God dat I stay telling everybody. (Letta Numba 2 Fo Timoty 2:7-8)

12 July 2004

Lutherans Celebrate 118 Years in PNG

The Papua New Guinea Post-Courier reports Lutherans Mark 118 years in Papua New Guinea.
ELCPNG Head Bishop Dr Wesley Kigasung said prior to the Lae celebrations, the Church has been through a lot in those 118 years.

"This year, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea celebrates 118 years of its Ministry of Proclamation of the Gospel. It is a celebration of a success story of God’s miraculous work and wonder in the life of this Church," he said.

"The small beginning on the shores of Simbang in Finschhafen on July 12, 1886, when God led and guided his inspired and motivated servant Reverend Johannes Flierl of the Neuendettelsau Mission Society to set foot on a virgin soil to plant the first seed of the Gospel.

"The early beginning was tough and difficult and filled with doubts, but the persistence, patience, endurance and faith added with God’s guidance produced an amazing story. It is the story of the Lutheran adherents of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea.

"It is the amazing story of how the Church had grown from the early missionary beginnings in 1886 to the founding of the constituted Church body — Evangelical Lutheran Church of New Guinea — in 1956 to the declaration of the autonomous church – Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG — in 1975.

Dr Kigasung said the church has developed from a small beginning in 1886 to over nearly one million members today with 16 Church districts.
Yikes. I was in PNG for their 90th anniversary.