Kids Away

I am listening to an episode from radio program Q, discussing a Pennsylvania restaurant bans children under 6 years old from entering. Since it’s not outlawed so far, of course the rule is a moral debate. Obviously it has crossed the red line for some people, especially parents with infants and toddlers.

It’s a freedom of choice in the market, some argue. If the owner doesn’t care to lose family diners, he is free to do so. By the same token, parents can choose to boycott “family-unfriendly” restaurants.

Some people, on the other hand, are angry that kids are pinpointed. Have you experienced annoying adolescents, young adults, the middle-aged, or senior citizens yelling non-stop in restaurants? If yes, why targets children?

I actually don’t know why this debate is suddenly (re)ignited, unless there has never been a single restaurant in the US banning kids before. “Kids Unwelcome” rule has happened in several occasions before in my experiences, although in Taiwan, the rule is mostly based on heights. On the Taipei International Travel Fair website, for example, kids under 120cm are not allowed in for “safety” reason. I took this photo last time in front of a cafe in Tokyo. The rule is even stricter than US version.

If this “No Kids” rule is justified and, in the end, welcomed in the market, I can imagine airlines banning kids in some long-haul flights in the future. After all, people are already complaining a lot when crying babies are around for , at most 3-hour, dinners. Hey, we are talking about 12-hour flights. :P

Electricity Saved

After nuclear crisis happens in Japan, lots of tourists choose not to visit, including Tokyo, though it’s actually 240km from Fukushima power plant. My friend working at Narita airport said I would be surprised by how few people are in the terminal. I look forward to it.

Some people are worried about living in Japan, and some have decided to leave. I am quite confident about this country, however. Not just because I have friends here, or because I have visited numerous times. There are other reasons.

First of all, there are really no safe places around the world. In Iceland, you’ve got volcanoes. If you are living around the Pacific Rim, earthquake and tsunami are always possible. In Florida, you’ve got hurricanes. Tornadoes are also regular features in Mid West, US recently. These are just a few samples.

Japan really has high earthquake-proof standards to buildings. If there were not tsunamis this time, I am quite sure the world would be amazed by how few buildings collapsed in Japan. Compared with many other countries and places worldwide, I actually have more trust to constructions on this island country.

Of course, Japan has their own problems, not least including heavy reliance on nuclear power. After Fukushima and a few other nuclear plants are closed, Japan is destined to have serious power supply issues this summer.

This time in Tokyo, I did notice the city has been dimmer. Many shops and billboards have turned down their lights. Some vending machines are not in operation at all. Many stores have posted a “Energy Saving” flyer on their window.

It’s definitely one of the few positive developments happens after nuclear crisis. When things go to extreme, it normally turns to the opposite direction. Tokyo used to be too shiny. Now my friends and I just hope the current situation will last longer, and people will realize the city really doesn’t have to be that bright at night.

Missionary Needed?

In the past, I believed as long as we work on contents, lots of people will be attracted to the website, sooner or later. However, this principle doesn’t seem to hold true anymore.

Or I should say, contents alone won’t translate into traffic.

I read an post the other day (Sorry, source forgotten). It mentions we no longer live in the era that solely good quality of contents can make a website famous or popular. Presentation matters. User interface has influences. Even promotion has to do it deliberately.

Global Voices is doing the same as well. To increase readership in the Chinese site, everyday we repost links on Facebook page. Editors try to add a line or two as attention grabber or as a tagline, so it won’t look like being done by robots.

It’s not a traffic-oriented website. We simply hope more people will read and spread the information, and maybe benefit from it, since we already spend time writing and translating. Then a friend of mine mentions, “actually, what you need is recruiting missionary”.

By “missionary”, it means some people who religiously enjoy reading contents on Global Voices, and share the information repeatedly on whatever channels or platforms they can find.

Those missionaries definitely have some unique characteristics, so they can do promotions so comfortably and blatantly. I, for one, don’t have that talent.

Besides, I always find religious missionaries a bit scary and intimidating, with their proactive and aggressive attitude. In my imagination, they will literally drag you into their spaces, if laws allow. And I don’t like crusade stories either.

Less Expectations

It almost becomes a norm nowadays. When it’s close to the end of semester in high school, traffic in Global Voices Chinese site will somewhat increase, especially searches for old posts. It seems to be students looking for presentation materials for their history classes.

There is another emerging trend going on as well. As new semester begins, college students sign up for translation courses seem to “discover” GV from their professors, and enthusiastically send us letters to volunteer for Lingua, our online translation project. They may quickly register a post or few posts they would like to translate into Chinese, and hope to contribute to this “great project”, as they often mention. How many of them, however, will be able to finish their initial post, or even continue, remains a big question.

GV Chinese editor Portnoy and myself used to have some expectations when we are invited to talk to college students and share GV experiences. We are well received, and they seem to be interested.

Will it turn into higher traffic or more contributions? I don’t know. It depends on how much you believe in humanity.

My answer is on post title, but of course, I’m still grateful to people who do read and/or contribute.

“Are You Happy?”

“Are you happy?”, a friend asks.

“It’s a cruel question to ask,” I answer.

I have works to do, posts to translate, bills to pay, trips to go, books to read, meals to eat, movies to watch, websites to plan, meetings to attend, emails to reply, postcards to write, groceries to buy, shows to follow, games to play, memories to recall, problems to solve, and pills to take.

My plants are alive on the balcony, my savings are available in the bank, my jobs are secure at the moment, and my life has been nice to me so far.

I already have so much in life.

“Are you happy?”, she asks again.

“I should be.”

I should.

Travel Updates

Not all of my friends follow my Dopplr, and would be upset if I don’t tell them where I am going. To avoid that, here is the notice, boys.

I plan to fly to New York from September 20th until October 4th. If I don’t answer to your phone calls, it’s probably because I am in another time zone.

My flights would touch the ground in the evening on October 5th.

A couple of days later, I’ll fly to Tokyo on October 8th, and stay there until October 22nd. I won’t answer your calls either, as I don’t even have a 3G SIM card, so it simply won’t work in Japan.

Where to go next? You’ll never know.

I hope everyone is satisfied with the info now. :)

Arts Online: Tim Yip

Every name on movie posters appears for a reason. It represents a person, and also a belief from movie companies. They believe it sells, and even attracts people to pay for the experience in the next two hours in a closed dark room. Movie companies assume as long as they show these names, be it director, actor, actress, or award, audience will spend money on a film, at times, they don’t even know at all.

Before Tim Yip (葉錦添), people in the Chinese-speaking rarely see an arts director’s name on movie posters.

Before he won an Academy Award in art direction with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, most Chinese audience might now know that role exists in movies. Not that we know much more about it now, but at least we are aware there is a character called “art director” in film-making.

Now that he is famous, he is an icon, and his name appears on movie posters. Movie companies believe he sells.

But Tim Yip is more than that, as he wants to show in his own website.

On a weekend afternoon, I visited MoCA Taipei for his solo exhibition Summer Holiday. He wanted to present his diversity, so we got photographs, installations, videos, words, and costumes, almost all focus on a figure named “Lili”. Sometimes it’s a real girl wandering around Taipei. Sometimes it’s a still mannequin. Sometimes it’s an atmosphere recreated in a room.

How will people recognize him? Photographer, writer, curator, or art director? We’ll see.