Culture

Chinese in America

CHINESE IN AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOLS: Families pay $40,000 to an education consultancy to get their children enrolled in a public high school in Michigan. The ultimate goal is for them to attend a top American university. (NYTIMES)

  • Roughly 370,000 students from the mainland are enrolled in American high schools and universities, 6x more than a decade ago. Their financial impact — $11.4 billion was contributed to the American economy in 2015. It has turned education into one of America’s top “exports” to China.
  • 83% of China’s millionaires are planning to send their children to school abroad. The average age, according to the poll, has dropped to 16 today from 18 in 2014 — the first time it has reached the high-school level.
  • In 2005, only 641 Chinese students were enrolled in American high schools. By 2014, that student population approached 40,000 — a 60-fold increase in a single decade — and it now accounts for nearly half of all international high-school students in the United States.

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CHINESE IN VEGAS: The first direct flight from Beijing to Las Vegas, launched Dec. 2 by Hainan Airlines, is viewed as a major step toward the goal the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority has set to push international visitation to 30% over the next decade. International visitors currently account for 16% of traffic. (NYTIMES)

Curated by CLAI

Beauty in Age & Street Signs

2017 Pirelli Calendar: The calendar, a collector’s item that is produced annually and delivered free to a select group of high-powered clients and members of the fashion elite, is the second in the company’s history to subvert its decades-long tradition of displaying scantily clad models in campily suggestive poses.

  • For 2017, the calendar stepped up the game by concentrating more pointedly on age, and in the process flouting fashion’s last taboo. Evidently the bias against age, long endemic to Hollywood and the fashion runways, no longer applies to style marketing campaigns.
  • Helen Mirren peers imperiously from inside a high collar that lends her an aura of majesty. Nicole Kidman confronts the camera, her features slightly furrowed, her muscular arms hugging the back of a chair. Charlotte Rampling does each of those A-list stars one better, her pale skin and famously hooded eyes devoid of discernible makeup.

Julianne Moore. Credit: Peter Lindbergh

I LOVE NEW YORK: The bright placards were dreamed up and placed there by the state to promote tourism, each brandishing New York’s cheerful and familiar credo: “I Love N.Y.” But there is one problem: The federal government says the signs are illegal. The signs are out of compliance with signage rules because they are so big and crammed with words and information that they are dangerous distractions to drivers.

New York State Thruway sign. Credit: Mike Groll, AP

Curated by CLAI

Salvation in General Tso & Beer

WORLD’S HEALTHIEST CUISINE: It turns out that countries with big immigrant populations tend to have the greatest diversity—places like the U.S. and Australia, for example. These countries have the greatest number of ingredients and the biggest variation between dishes, too.

  • For example, about half the dishes from the Southeast Asian country of Laos have more than 15 ingredients, whereas half the dishes from Russia have fewer than seven. So the cuisine in Laos is significantly more complex than Russian cuisine.
  • Countries with large numbers of ingredients on offer tend to have the most complex dishes. Exceptions: Chinese and Indian cuisine both have relatively few ingredients to choose from, but these are used in relatively complex dishes. Perhaps, these countries had or have good chefs that could cook more complex foods with the available ingredients or the cuisine from older cultures in these countries is more complex because it has had longer to evolve.

Peng Chuang-kuei, creator of General Tso’s Chicken (WAPO)

GENERAL TSO: Peng Chang-kuei, a vaunted Hunanese chef was widely credited as the creator of General Tso’s chicken, a dish that evolved into the deep-fried, sticky and unabashedly inauthentic staple of the American Chinese take-out joint.

  • Mr. Peng said that he devised the recipe for a banquet in the 1950s. He named it in honor of Zuo Zongtang, a celebrated Hunanese general of the 19th century who helped crush the Taiping Rebellion, an uprising that cost tens of millions of lives.
  • In America, General Tso, like Colonel Sanders, is known for chicken, not war. In China, he is known for war, not chicken.
  • Mr. Peng’s original recipe called for chicken with bones and skin. The chicken was not fried, and it was served sans the piquantly sweet sauce, relying instead on garlic and soy sauce for flavor. It did have chilies, but no broccoli.

NORCIA BEER: After the Oct. 30 quake, one of the few things left standing at the monastery was a small brewery, where for the past four years the monks have been making Nursia, a beer named for Norcia’s ancient Latin appellation. Their brew may now be the salvation — symbolically, at least — not only of the monks’ sanctuary, but also of Norcia itself.

Curated by CLAI

Maps of USA: Heartland, Mega Cities, & Corporal Punishment

AMERICA’S HEARTLANDDo big cities belong in the heartland? (If not, choose a map with “holes” in it.) Does the heartland rigidly follow state lines? Does it venture south into Texas, or east into Pennsylvania? (NYTIMES)

MEGA REGIONSMesmerizing commute maps reveal we all live in mega regions and not cities. (Wired)

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT STATES 22 states still allow corporal punishment in school: 15 expressly permit it while another 7 do not prohibit it. Corporal punishment is “the intentional infliction of pain or discomfort and/or the use of physical force upon a student with the intention of causing the student to experience bodily pain so as to correct or punish the student’s behavior.” In the 2013-2014 school year, more than 110,000 students were physically punished. (NPR)

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Curated by CLAI

Catering to American Tastes and Travel

8 FLAVORS OF AMERICAN CUISINE: Based on a list of common flavors from historical cookbooks mentioned in American books from 1796 to 2000, eight popular and enduring flavors emerged: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG and Sriracha.

  • Vanilla is here thanks to a 12-year-old slave who figured out a botanical secret no one else knew.
  • Chili powder spread across the country because of entrepreneurial Texan-Mexican women who fed soldiers and tourists — and a clever German immigrant who was looking for a culinary shortcut.
  • Sriracha has seen a meteoric rise in popularity since its debut in 1980. Sales of bottled Sriracha exceeded $60 million in 2014. A Vietnamese refugee combined elements of French and Thai cuisine, using peppers grown on a farm north of Los Angeles to make a hot sauce produced entirely in Southern California.

Japanese Chemist Dr. Kikunae Ikeda is credited with discovering MSG. Peter Van Hyning

AMERICAN TOURISTS: Don’t compliment an American’s girth. Answer their children’s questions. Fill your museum tour with fun facts. Because American tourists tend to want a personal connection to the guide, and expect the tour to be interactive and entertaining, foreign guides need special training.

  • GUYANA: some rural guides would give overweight Americans a thumbs-up and say things like, “Ah, packing it on — good deal!” as a compliment, equating an ample waistline with abundant wealth. Americans seem to say “thank you” for everything guides do, a custom that make the local people feel indebted to them.
  • UGANDA: Americans often want to become friends with their guides, and so they will ask questions about the guides’ families, education and homes to get to know them better. In Uganda, trainees sometimes ask, “Why is this person I don’t even know asking me so many personal questions?”
  • ITALY: The guide might need to approach the American tourist not so much as a valued family member but as a less cultured second cousin. It’s easy for a guide in Italy to reference a painter like Bellini or an architect like Borromini. Not so if the clients are Americans, whose knowledge of the Italian masters might stop at Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. While Italians prefer an “academic” tour, Americans want a tour that is “not only informative but also entertaining, filled with stories and fun facts.”

Curated by CLAI