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On Arab immigrants in Italy

A Poor Fit for an Immigrant: After 20 Years of Hard Work in Italy, Still Not Italian
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL

SASSUOLO, Italy - By almost all measures, members of the Qasim family are model citizens, the kind of people you would want as neighbors.

Zahi Qasim, a serious man in a V-neck sweater and slacks, is a machine factory foreman and a hard-working community leader. His wife, Khalwa Ghannam, is a teacher, fluent in three languages. Osama, 12, is popular, the top student in his class. Ebullient Ali, 1, likes to crawl on the scrubbed tile floor of the living room, which is decorated with quotations from the Koran, as he pursues soccer balls under tables.

But in Italy the Qasims, Palestinians who were born in the West Bank, are not citizens, even though they have spent half a hard-working lifetime here, raising a family.

Italy's restrictive citizenship law allows immigrants to apply only after 10 years of residency, and it is filled with hard-to-meet requirements. Their children, both born here, will be eligible only at age 18.

"We would love to be Italians," said Ms. Ghannam, 37, six months pregnant and wearing a maroon hijab, or head scarf.

Their lives in this northern industrial city, though financially comfortable, are filled with little nasty reminders that they are not fully accepted in a country they have called home for 20 years.

After the London bombings in July, Mr. Qasim, 42, was interrogated by the police, who also searched his home. He said he believed his cellphone was tapped. When friends from Turin came in November to break the Ramadan fast, the police called to ask who they were and chastised the Qasims for not reporting their arrival.

Mr. Qasim's efforts to buy a building for a Muslim Sunday school were blocked for two years by local leaders who objected that the site lacked parking. But Sassuolo's churches do not have parking lots, Mr. Qasim noted.

"Sure it bothers me, because this is because I am a Muslim and they wouldn't do it to a European," he said. "We tell our children you have to work harder, to be the best in Italy, that hate gets us nowhere.

"This isn't our city, and they have a right to control us if they want."

It was a particular mix of alienation, unemployment and anger among second- and third-generation Muslim immigrants that set the suburbs of Paris ablaze in October and November.

But government policies and social attitudes in many European countries conspire to isolate, rather than integrate, immigrants in general - and Muslim immigrants in particular - even if they have lived in Europe for years.

"If we do not intervene seriously with social programs and with housing construction, we could soon have many Parises here," said Romano Prodi, a former president of the European Union and now an Italian opposition leader.

Many Muslims say they have felt particularly vulnerable since the London bombings, as European governments intensify scrutiny of their communities. One suspect in the London attacks was discovered in Italy weeks later.

In Sassuolo, a city of 40,000 known for its ceramics factories, there have been no fires or violence. But there have certainly been a few figurative sparks and a good dose of tension since Muslims started pouring in a decade ago.

This summer there were angry protests by immigrants and leftist labor groups after officials evicted the residents of a hulking green apartment building, Casa San Pietro, who were almost all Muslim immigrants from Morocco.

"There were drug dealers, the lights and drains didn't work anymore, it was falling apart," said Graziano Pattuzzi, the mayor of Sassuolo, explaining the evictions. "Citizens said there were weapons in the building, and the police refused to answer calls there, for fear of being pelted with rocks and bottles. The situation was untenable."

Another motivation, the mayor said, was to end the ghettoization of new immigrants. He said that many experts contended that districts should contain at most 4 percent immigrants. Higher concentrations only isolate immigrants from Italians and vice versa, he said.

About 9 percent of Sassuolo's population is non-Italian, and 68 percent of those foreigners are Muslims. A few apartment buildings have become inhabited almost entirely by people of Moroccan background, Mr. Pattuzzi said.

While protest leaders acknowledged that the neighborhood around Casa San Pietro was beset by petty crime, they said it had nothing to do with the residents, most of whom worked and had saved money to buy their apartments.

They said Sassuolo's government had helped to foster a climate of racism, or at least had done little to counteract it.

"We're at the point now that if a call center or a Pakistani restaurant opens, you've got a residents' association put together to protest against it," said Paolo Brini, a union leader who has helped organize the immigrants.

Unlike Muslim immigrants in France and Britain, who started arriving from former colonies many decades ago, those in Italy are relatively new. In Sassuolo, single men began to arrive 15 years ago, followed by their families in the past decade. Today about half the schoolchildren in some neighborhoods are from immigrant families, Mayor Pattuzzi said.

It has been something of an uncomfortable adjustment. Ms. Ghannam said her son had endured teasing about his name, Osama, especially after Sept. 11, 2001.

On the other hand, teachers have been understanding when the boy missed school on Muslim holy days, and one even called for advice on how to figure the direction of Mecca, so Osama could pray during a school trip.

When the Qasims first moved into their apartment, on the third floor above a fruit store, their Italian neighbors were cold and hostile. But that has improved with time, they said.

Mr. Qasim said he did not take part in the protests over Casa San Pietro, believing that Muslims should mix more with the locals, no matter how difficult that is.

Many Italian families complain about the influx, linking Muslims with petty crime, Mayor Pattuzzi acknowledged. One of the reasons Casa San Pietro had turned into a ghetto, he said, was that many Italian landlords were unwilling to rent to Muslims.

"We've got a way to go to arrive at inclusion or integration when it comes to work, culture, education and civic life," he said.

Still, many experts say that Sassuolo is not a potential tinderbox on the lines of the Paris suburbs, because jobs are still relatively plentiful and "foreign" laborers are needed in these industrial towns.

"I don't want to be a cockeyed optimist, but one important difference is that there is a lot of unemployment" in Paris, said Antonio Oriente, a principal of one of Sassuolo's high schools. "That isn't a problem here."

Mr. Qasim said he had always been treated with respect at work, even given a place to pray five times a day. At work, he said, he feels "like an Italian."

But Mr. Brini, the union leader, said Sassuolo's factories were expected to lay off 500 workers before long, which could prove a flash point.

Italian society has not been welcoming, offering platitudes about brotherhood and little else.

"We never thought of immigrants as people who would stay and live here for the future," said Renzo Guolo, a sociologist and an expert on Islam at the University of Padua. "We just don't know how to build a society of different ethnic groups."

One important first step, he and others say, would be to allow easier access to citizenship. "How can we expect them to follow the law, unless we give them something to make them feel part of the nation?" Mr. Guolo asked.

Italy is one of the few countries in Europe where birth does not confer citizenship. Although immigrants may apply after they have been legal residents for 10 years, the state has no obligation to respond in a timely manner and the process often drags on.

But if Mr. Qasim is not Italian, then it is hard to know what he is, since he has no other place that he considers home.

The family keeps a house in Ramallah, on the West Bank, and returns there for summer vacations, but Osama no longer fits in with the boys his age, who he said are mostly working part time. Mr. Qasim, who lived in Italy through the two intifadas, does not feel safe in Palestinian-controlled territories. When Osama speaks Arabic with his parents, it is peppered with Italian.

"I will never lose my roots, but we have to live as Italians because it is our country now," said Mr. Qasim, who has given up some of the trappings of Islam, though only ones that he considers cultural, not essential to his religious practice.

For example, men and women mix and work side by side in the Islamic association that Mr. Qasim runs, even though they would be separated in the Middle East. "There are aspects of Islam that work in Palestine that don't work here," he said.

Sassuolo's two Muslim prayer halls, home to thousands of worshipers, are makeshift plywood structures in old industrial spaces, forever fighting for their survival.

After two years of delays, Mr. Qasim was able to open his Islamic center - which includes a prayer hall and a weekend school - though he warns members to park far away, so as not to provoke the authorities.

When he talks to his son, Mr. Qasim still repeats the immigrants' mantra: ignore the slights, work harder than your classmates.

"Anyway, I tell him, Palestinians are used to being controlled: just think what it is like in Ramallah."

On privacy and government in the US

What Are You Lookin' At?
By JOHN SCHWARTZ

WHAT does it take to get Americans riled about invasions of privacy?

Every week seems to bring reports of a new breach of the computer networks that contain our most intimate personal information. Scores of companies - including Bank of America, MasterCard, ChoicePoint and Marriott International - have admitted to security lapses that exposed millions of people's financial information to potential abuse by identity thieves. For the most part, however, Americans have reacted with a collective shrug, many privacy experts said.

"They feel they can't do anything about it, anyway," said Lawrence Ponemon, the founder of a privacy consulting company, the Ponemon Institute. "They move on with their lives."

Has something fundamental changed in Americans' attitude toward privacy? Conditioned by the convenience of the Internet and the fear of terrorism, has the public incrementally redefined what belongs exclusively to the individual, and now feels less urgency about privacy?

Mr. Ponemon says this may be the case with young people, who post the most personal information about their lives and loves on blogs that can be read by millions.

New light may be shed on how Americans think about privacy - and the differences they see between commercial and government realms - in the reaction to news that President Bush signed a presidential order in 2002 allowing the National Security Agency to conduct domestic surveillance on individuals without the warrants required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Does the public reaction suggest that complacency has its limits?

Orin S. Kerr, an associate professor of law at George Washington University and a former trial lawyer for computer crime cases in the Justice Department, said it was too soon to tell about the impact of the N.S.A. disclosures.

"There's a mixed set of reactions," Mr. Kerr said. "Some people think it's bad because there was a privacy violation. Some people think it's a good thing, even though it may be illegal. They're all over the map."

But a poll conducted for Mr. Ponemon last month may show that people hold different views on commercial and government privacy issues. Conducted after The New York Times revealed the N.S.A. surveillance, it suggested great concern. Of those polled, 88 percent expressed concern, and 54 percent said they were "very concerned," he said.

"It was, 'Wow,' " Mr. Ponemon said. The 88 percent figure was more than twice the level of concern of past studies he had seen of public attitudes toward commercial privacy breaches.

The reaction to the president's program could be cumulative, said Bob Barr, a former Republican congressman from Georgia who speaks out on civil liberties issues in alliance with conservative libertarian groups and the American Civil Liberties Union. When the privacy violations on the business side and those on the government side are taken into account, he said, "you get a truly frightening picture."

The issue of government abuse of privacy in the name of security has been growing since the 9/11 attacks, said Alan F. Westin, a privacy expert and consultant who is a professor emeritus of public law and government at Columbia University. He has been tracking consumer attitudes about domestic security issues with telephone surveys since 2001, and has found a growing concern that the checks on government surveillance might be weakening.

Support for expanded government monitoring of cellphones and e-mail messages dropped from 54 percent in September 2001 to 37 percent in June 2005. Those who said they were "very confident" that expanded surveillance powers would be used in a "proper way" dropped from 34 percent in 2001 to 23 percent in 2004, the last year that that specific question was asked. Those who were "somewhat" confident in the government's conduct of surveillance stood at 53 percent in 2004, unchanged from 2001.

"The essence really is a majority of the public does not believe the administration should be given a blank check," Mr. Westin said.

Most people, he argued, accept that liberties might be curtailed under special circumstances like war - an idea expressed by the Latin epigram "Inter armes, silent leges," meaning, "In war, the law is silent."

But historically, he said, the restrictions of wartime have been understood to be temporary. "Now we're in a permanent war" against terrorism, Mr. Westin said. "The administration says again and again that this is a permanent problem."

The idea that the pendulum of liberties and restrictions might not swing back could be disquieting to many people, Mr. Westin said, adding "the new surveillance revelations about what the Bush administration has been doing puts those questions to the front."

Historians tend to say that modern concept of rights against government snooping are a relatively recent phenomenon, and trace its legal roots to a famous 1890 law review article by Louis D. Brandeis and his law partner, Samuel D. Warren.

But Mr. Westin disagrees and argues that respect for personal privacy has been a consistent thread in societies that emphasized liberty.

"On the other hand," he said, autocratic governments have always "had active programs to suppress or deny privacy."

Democratic Athens provided far more protection for privacy than authoritarian Sparta. "Pericles, in his famous funeral oration, said Athens does not attempt to control people in their private lives," Mr. Westin said.

America's founders saw Athens as their model, and individual rights in the United States are prized more highly than those of the community. This is in contrast to Continental Europe, where private property is less than sacrosanct, and where the American zeal for individual rights has often been regarded with suspicion. So it is striking that the Europeans, as opposed to Americans, have sought protections to keep personal data from being shared online, a battle that Americans supposedly gave up without much of a fight.

But some experts say Americans are deeply concerned about an erosion of their privacy. Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that public complacency is overstated, and could reflect a tendency among business consultants to issue findings that play down public concerns about corporate excesses.

"Do consumers care about privacy? The answer is that they clearly do," Mr. Rotenberg said, whether the threat is from business or the government.

Even tell-all bloggers have privacy concerns, he said. They may describe their dates online, but if they lose cellphones full of contact information or if someone gains access to their instant message "buddy lists," then "they care just as much about privacy as their parents and grandparents," Mr. Rotenberg said.

"We like to control who knows what about us," he added.

On NY1 and the strike

The Little Channel That Could
By ALEX MINDLIN

WHEN New York's transit union voted to strike in the wee hours of Dec. 20, an anxious city learned the news from a boyish-looking 28-year-old reporter named Bobby Cuza, who was working out of the Grand Hyatt, in a cramped conference room strewn with cameras, battery chargers, half-empty boxes of cookies, and dozing technicians.

The other reporters in the media encampment were generally better equipped; most of them had laptops, and Channel 4 even had a little snack buffet. But at 1:28 that groggy Tuesday morning, it was Mr. Cuza, a reporter for NY1 News, the city's round-the-clock local cable channel, who broke the strike story, thanks to tips he had gotten from sources inside the union.

His scoop came as a decided surprise to his colleagues.

"Did you just report that there was a strike?" one reporter from another channel demanded.

Another asked plaintively, "Why didn't you tell us?"

Since taking to the air on Sept, 8, 1992, New York's smallest and youngest major TV station has been the subject of considerable mockery. But NY1 has quietly turned into a force to be reckoned with, one whose strengths were powerfully apparent during the strike that ended 10 days ago.

By the time the strike was over, 60 hours after it had begun, NY1 had scored a number of firsts. It was the first station to conduct a sit-down interview with Larry Reuter, president of New York City Transit, and the first to report that both sides were resuming negotiations. At times, it was the most-viewed station in New York.

Even the local Web log Gothamist weighed in, describing the station's performance during the strike as "awesome."

"NY1's goal was not just to be a little brother or sister to what the other stations were doing," said David Diaz, a longtime reporter at Channels 4 and 2 who now teaches courses on media and politics at City College. "They wanted to be players in the same game. For a long time they didn't have the resources to do that. But now you go to places that have TV's on all the time, and you'll see NY1."

The Land of 'One-Man Bands'

A joke about NY1 circulates in local television circles. They call it New York One, people say, because it's just one guy.

The station is famous, some would say infamous, for sending reporters out as "one-man bands" - in other words, holding their own cameras and microphones. At news scenes, NY1 reporters are often the ones standing in front of unmanned tripods, asking other reporters to nudge the camera into place, or jostling for a shot alongside other stations' burly, unionized cameramen. In the channel's early days, Mr. Diaz recalled, NY1 reporters "were often mistaken for people doing their college TV show."

With an annual budget of about $25 million, about half the figure for some other local stations, NY1 still keeps its belt tight. The station has no helicopter; when it needs a "chopper shot," it borrows video from other stations. A starting reporter earns about $40,000 a year, roughly half what a New York network affiliate would pay. On occasion, the broadcast still has the feel of an operation held together with Scotch tape; the audio sometimes drop out, and voiceovers step on the ends of sound bites. Segments like "In the Papers," in which Pat Kiernan summarizes articles from the local dailies, are decidedly low-tech.

Even the anchors lack support staff. Before going on the air the other day, John Schiumo, the 34-year-old host of NY1's call-in show, "The Call," dashed into the control room and viciously dabbed his face with foundation. "We all do our own makeup," he admitted. "And we hate it."

NY1 was founded by Time Warner Cable, which still owns the channel, distributing it exclusively to its own subscribers in New York and some suburbs. (In eastern Brooklyn and the Bronx, where Time Warner is not available, the channel is shown through Cablevision.)

Despite limited distribution, NY1 has grown over the years. It has gone from a 100-person operation to a newsroom of 220. It reaches 2.2 million homes, of which 52,000 tuned in during three hours of an average morning in November. This is fewer than the networks got, but more New Yorkers than were watching either MSNBC or the Fox News Channel.

NY1 is housed in a giant, high-ceiling 25,000-square-foot space (formerly the set of the gritty HBO prison series "Oz") above the Chelsea Market on Ninth Avenue at 16th Street. With its low cubicles and glass-walled offices, it resembles a traditional newsroom, but with surrealistic touches: Steve Paulus, the general manager, works out of a smoked-glass box that hangs alarmingly over the newsroom.

Reporters sit near the entrance of the newsroom, and visitors can often hear them muttering to themselves as they test out lines for a voiceover.

On the first day of the strike, Josh Robin, the Albany reporter, perched on his desk and intoned, as if recounting the Kennedy assassination: "Everybody's going to have memories of where they were during the strike. Mine's going to be when Tom Kelly, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman, somberly came to the podium and said that the union had walked out."

This day, NY1 was on a war footing. Reporters were live at six locations, a special crawl at the bottom of the screen carried nonstop transit news, and reporters from every conceivable beat had been assigned to strike duty.

In many respects, the strike was the perfect news event for NY1. It was late-breaking, unpredictable and completely local; and best of all, it involved transit.

Even without the threat of a strike, transit is NY1's favorite beat, as illustrated by events on a recent Friday. A beeper went off at NY1's assignment desk, a narrow room papered with maps and memos, where two police scanners hiss nonstop. Amy Sahba, an assignment editor, consulted the beeper, which carries breaking-news reports from a private service. "There's a woman under a train," she told her boss, Shira Reiss. Ms. Reiss thought for a moment, then asked, "How is it affecting service?"

The station's viewers are similarly transit-obsessed. Viewers of "The Call" can use the station's Web site to rank the day's news stories in order of importance; on Nov. 28, the top-ranked story concerned the possibility of a transit strike, a hypothetical event that was then two weeks away. The fatal shooting of Police Officer Dillon Stewart, which had happened that day and had been heavily covered, came in second.

NY1 has also made a specialty of what its managers call hyper-local reporting, focusing on small stories, often set outside Manhattan, that most stations would scorn. NY1 covers rodent problems in East Tremont, in the Bronx, and high school brawls in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. It reports on art shows in Riverdale and City Council races in Jamaica, Queens. A visual joke atop the assignment desk riffs on this theme: There are six clocks, one marked "G.M.T." (Greenwich Mean Time) and the other five labeled "Bronx," "Queens," "Brooklyn," "Manhattan" and "Staten Island."

When NY1 ventures outside the city, its coverage can resemble a broadcast version of Saul Steinberg's New Yorker drawing "A View of the World From Ninth Avenue," in which the Pacific Ocean appears roughly as wide as the Hudson River. A month ago, when the station sent reporters to Tokyo, they produced a story about the city's smoking ban and a week's worth of reports about the Tokyo subways. "Who knew they had women-only trains?" Mr. Paulus said. "They have a groping problem."

Wonks and Scoops

The night the subway strike started, as Mr. Cuza made frantic phone calls from the Hyatt, and other reporters crouched in satellite trucks throughout the city, news of a different sort was unfolding at a blond-wood interview table in NY1's studio. There, in chin-stroking discussion, an official from the Straphangers Campaign; a former city transportation commissioner; and a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board were earnestly debating the strike's political ramifications.

Few, if any, of these people were in the habit of staying on live television until past midnight to comment on breaking news. But NY1 has made a name for itself precisely by bringing on guests who would never appear on the network affiliates. Not surprisingly, politicians adore the station because of it. "All the electeds talk about it among themselves," said former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, who has appeared on NY1 more times than she can remember. " 'I saw you on NY1' or 'I saw so-and-so, and can you believe they said "X"?' " (In association with The New York Times, NY1 produces the interview show "New York Close-Up," which is on hiatus.)

For nonpoliticians, NY1's nightly hour of political coverage, "Inside City Hall," can sometimes provide an overdose of wonkishness, as during a discussion last month on the legacy of former Mayor Edward I. Koch.

Then there was the night several weeks ago when Dominic Carter, the show's co-host, interviewed Assemblyman John Faso, a possible Republican candidate for governor, who had been described by the party's state chairman as living "in la-la land." When Mr. Carter showed a clip of these remarks to Mr. Faso, the candidate tried to play them down. "People aren't interested in this inside political positioning and posturing," he said.

"Yes, we are!" cried Bob Hardt, the station's political director, from inside the control room.

Just as often, however, NY1 is a place to watch political news being made.

In March, the station had one of only two cameras in the room when Fernando Ferrer, the Democratic mayoral candidate, told members of the Sergeants Benevolent Association that he did not believe that the killing of Amadou Diallo by police officers was a crime. That night, NY1 alone broadcast the story; the next day, Mr. Ferrer's remarks appeared in all four city dailies and, in some eyes, helped cost him the election.

And it was NY1 that co-sponsored, with WNYC and Newsday, what proved to be the most newsworthy mayoral debate, on Oct. 6 at the Apollo Theater. When Mayor Bloomberg announced that he would not attend, his critics and even some allies sharply criticized the decision. "When you say no to the Apollo, you're saying no to all of black New York," the Rev. Al Sharpton declared. The decision got so much coverage that the campaign had to run a radio ad the day before the debate, denying that the mayor was ignoring Harlem.

Big Stories Near and Far

By chasing small stories, NY1 has found some juicy larger ones.

Two weeks ago, the assignment desk learned from the Fire Department that a woman named Tracinda Foxe had been rescued from a burning apartment in Gouverneur Morris Houses, in Claremont Village. Dean Meminger, NY1's Bronx reporter, was dispatched. Mr. Meminger has been reporting in the Bronx for 10 years - a reporter is assigned to each borough - and his father was a New York Knick, a combination giving him powerful street recognition.

As often happens to NY1 reporters, he was the only journalist at the firehouse, where he interviewed the two firefighters who had rescued Ms. Foxe. Mr. Meminger then learned an intriguing detail: "They're like, 'The woman had to throw her baby.' I'm like, 'What?' "

It turned out that Ms. Foxe had squeezed her 5-month-old son between the bars of a window guard and dropped him to the street three stories below, praying that someone in the crowd would catch him. Felix Vasquez, a Housing Authority maintenance worker who had made the catch, was in the back of the firehouse, and Mr. Meminger hastened to interview him. An amateur baseball player, Mr. Vasquez was modest and slightly camera-shy. "I didn't think," he told Mr. Meminger. "I just reacted." The piece hit NY1's air that afternoon.

Later that day, the Housing Authority unearthed surveillance video of Mr. Vasquez's catch. The images are heart-stopping; clothes flapping, the baby plummeting into the frame like a rock, straight into the outstretched arms of Mr. Vasquez, who then cradles it to his chest.

As often happens when a local story produces strong video, the incident caught the eye of both CNN and the "Today" show, which produced segments the next day on Mr. Vasquez's catch; naturally, both national shows asked NY1 for footage of Mr. Meminger's interview. "We kicked butt," Mr. Meminger said happily.

Sometimes, NY1's local scoops cross national boundaries. In 1993, Mayor David N. Dinkins was in Osaka, Japan, on a trade mission when he received word of a large fire at the World Trade Center. The situation had the makings of a political nightmare - the mayor out of town when disaster strikes - and Mr. Dinkins immediately prepared to head back to New York.

With him at the time, and staying in the same hotel, were reporters from several newspapers and a single TV station - the fledgling NY1, then just a year old, which had sent Mr. Carter and Mr. Paulus, then the station's news director, to Japan. Mr. Paulus padded down to the mayor's floor and found Mr. Dinkins's press secretary on the phone in his boxer shorts. "We had an idea," Mr. Paulus recalled. "Could we set up a live interview with Dominic from Japan?"

The mayor agreed. Racing desperately around Osaka, Mr. Paulus found a television studio, where Mr. Carter sat down with Mr. Dinkins. The signal had to be fed from Osaka to Tokyo to Toronto to New York, a process that ended up costing $17,000 for the half-hour interview, but for NY1 it was worth it; for the next 12 hours, as Mr. Dinkins flew home, every station in New York rebroadcast video of the interview with the mayor, with the then-unfamiliar NY1 logo burned into the corner of the screen.

On Korean influence in China

China's Youth Look to Seoul for Inspiration
By NORIMITSU ONISHI

BEIJING - At Korea City, on the top floor of the Xidan Shopping Center, a warren of tiny shops sell hip-hop clothes, movies, music, cosmetics and other offerings in the South Korean style.

To young Chinese shoppers, it seemed not to matter that some of the products, like New York Yankees caps or Japan's Astro Boy dolls, clearly have little to do with South Korea. Or that most items originated, in fact, in Chinese factories.

"We know that the products at Korea City are made in China," said Wang Ying, 28, who works for the local branch of an American company. "But to many young people, 'Korea' stands for fashionable or stylish. So they copy the Korean style."

From clothes to hairstyle, music to television dramas, South Korea has been defining the tastes of many Chinese and other Asians for the past half decade. As part of what the Chinese call the Korean Wave of pop culture, a television drama about a royal cook, "The Jewel in the Palace," is garnering record ratings throughout Asia, and Rain, a 23-year-old singer from Seoul, drew more than 40,000 fans to a sold-out concert at a sports stadium here in October.

But South Korea's "soft power" also extends to the material and spiritual spheres. Samsung's cellphones and televisions are symbols of a coveted consumerism for many Chinese. Christianity, in the evangelical form championed by Korean missionaries deployed throughout China, is finding Chinese converts despite Beijing's efforts to rein in the spread of the religion. South Korea acts as a filter for Western values, experts say, making them more palatable to Chinese and other Asians.

For a country that has been influenced by other cultures, especially China but also Japan and America, South Korea finds itself at a turning point in its new role as exporter.

The transformation began with South Korea's democratization in the late 1980's, which unleashed sweeping domestic changes. As its democracy and economy have matured, its influence on the rest of Asia, negligible until a decade ago, has grown accordingly. Its cultural exports have even caused complaints about cultural invasion in China and Vietnam.

Historically, Christianity made little headway in East Asia, except in South Korea, whose population is now about 30 percent Christian and whose overseas missionary movement is the world's second largest after the United States.

Today, in China, South Korean missionaries are bringing Christianity with an Asian face. South Korean movies and dramas about urban professionals in Seoul, though not overtly political, present images of modern lives centering on individual happiness and sophisticated consumerism.

They also show enduring Confucian-rooted values in their emphasis on family relations, offering to Chinese both a reminder of what was lost during the Cultural Revolution and an example of an Asian country that has modernized and retained its traditions.

"Three Guys and Three Girls" and "Three Friends" are South Korea's homegrown version of the American TV show "Friends." As for "Sex and the City," its South Korean twin, "The Marrying Type," a sitcom about three single professional women in their 30's looking for love in Seoul, was so popular in China that episodes were illegally downloaded or sold on pirated DVD's.

"We feel that we can see a modern lifestyle in those shows," said Qu Yuan, 23, a student at Tsinghua University here. "American dramas also show the same kind of lifestyle. We know that South Korea and America have similar political systems and economies. But it's easier to accept that lifestyle from South Koreans because they are culturally closer to us. We feel we can live like them in a few years."

"They seem to have similar lifestyles," Ms. Qu said. "They have friends and go to bars. They have good mobile phones and good cars and lead comfortable lives."

Her classmate, Huo Kan, 23, said, "American dramas are too modern."

Ms. Qu said, "They're postmodern."

Ms. Huo added, "Something like 'Sex and the City' is too alien to us."

Jin Yaxi, 25, a graduate student at Beijing University, said, "We like American culture, but we can't accept it directly."

"And there is no obstacle to our accepting South Korean culture, unlike Japanese culture," said Ms. Jin, who has studied both Korean and Japanese. "Because of the history between China and Japan, if a young person here likes Japanese culture, the parents will get angry."

Politics also seems to underlie the Chinese preference for South Korean-filtered American hip-hop culture. Messages about rebelliousness, teenage angst and freedom appear more palatable to Chinese in their Koreanized versions.

Kwon Ki Joon, 22, a South Korean who attends Beijing University and graduated from a Chinese high school here, said his male Chinese friends were fans of South Korea hip-hop bands, like H.O.T., and its song "We Are the Future." A sample of the song's lyrics translate roughly as: "We are still under the shadows of adults/Still not Free/To go through the day with all sorts of interferences is tiring."

To Mr. Kwon, there is no mystery about the band's appeal. "It's about wanting a more open world, about rebelliousness," he said. "Korean hip-hop is basically trying to adapt American hip-hop."

Like many South Koreans, Oh Dong Suk, 40, an investor in online games here, said he believed that South Korea's pop culture was a fruit of the country's democratization. "If you watch South Korean movies from the 1970's or 1980's, you could feel that it was a controlled society," Mr. Oh said.

Hwang In Choul, 35, a South Korean missionary here, also sees a direct link between South Korea's democratization and its influence in China. After restrictions on travel outside South Korea were lifted in the late 1980's, South Korea's missionary movement grew from several hundred to its current size of 14,000 missionaries.

Mr. Hwang, who since 2000 has trained 50 Chinese pastors to proselytize, is among the 1,500 South Korean missionaries evangelizing in China, usually secretly.

"Under military rule, it was simply not possible to come out of South Korea, and even our activities inside the country were monitored," Mr. Hwang said. "We had the potential to be missionaries out in the world, but we were constrained. We had the passion, but we couldn't express our passion."

Until South Korea and China, enemies during the Korean War, normalized relations in 1992, North Korea had a stronger presence here, with its embassy, restaurants and shops. Back then, South Korea remained unknown to most Chinese, or suffered from a poor image.

"If a Japanese television set stopped working, the Chinese would say something's wrong with the power lines," said Ohn Dae Sung, the manager of a Korean restaurant, Suboksung, who has been here since 1993. "If a South Korean television set stopped working, they'd say it was the fault of the set."

The Korean Wave has been gathering for some time, with its roots traceable to several developments, including the Seoul Olympics in 1988. The first civilian president was elected in 1992, ending nearly 32 years of military rule and ushering in tumultuous change.

A newly confident South Korea has pursued an increasingly independent foreign policy, often to Washington's displeasure, warming up to China and to North Korea. Social changes that took decades elsewhere were compressed into a few years, as new freedoms yielded a rich civil society, but also caused strains between generations and the sexes, leading to one of the world's highest divorce rates and lowest birth rates.

As South Korea quickly became the world's most wired nation, new online news sites challenged the conservative mainstream media's monopoly; press clubs, a Japanese colonial legacy that controlled the flow of news, were weakened or eliminated. Unlike other Asian nations, South Korea has tackled head-on taboo subjects in its society, including the legacy of military rule and collaboration during Japanese colonial rule.

Here, at a computer center on a recent evening, young Chinese could be seen playing South Korean online games. Cyworld, the largest online community service in South Korea, is announcing its arrival in China by plastering ads on city buses.

Thanks to the Korean Wave and South Korea's new image, being Korean helps business.

"I'm sure there is a connection, though we don't have exact figures," Jim Sohn, the chief executive of LG Electronics China, said in an interview inside the company's brand new $400 million headquarters here.

Another company that has benefited from the Korean Wave's "positive effect" is Hyundai, said Um Kwang Heum, president of its Chinese division. Though a latecomer to China, Hyundai signed a joint venture agreement with Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings in 2002 and has already become No. 2 in sales among automakers in China.

Thanks to its local partner, Hyundai's cars have been chosen by the Beijing government to replace the city's aging taxis before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Hyundai Elantras will make up most of the city's taxi fleet in time for the Olympics, which are expected to be a turning point for China, just as they signaled South Korea's entry onto the world stage in 1988 and postwar Japan's in 1964.

For all of South Korea's influence in China, though, few Chinese expect the Olympics and democratization to dovetail as they did in Seoul.

A local television production company, Beijing Modern English Film and TV Culture, proposed a Korean-language program for adults in 2004 but was rejected 10 times by the Chinese authorities for unexplained reasons. Eventually, it successfully pitched a cartoon, "Happy Imitation of Korean Sentences."

"As long as it was a kids' show, it was O.K.," said Sun Hogan, a producer at the company.

"The government," he added, "is definitely a little nervous about the popularity of the Korean Wave."

On Wikipedia

The Nitpicking of the Masses vs. the Authority of the Experts
By GEORGE JOHNSON

Uneasily sharing space on the top ledge of my computer browser are two buttons I click almost daily for an information fix: Encyclopaedia Britannica, as old and steadfast as the ligature in its name, and a mercurial upstart called Wikipedia, in which almost anyone anywhere can fiddle with the prose.

It may seem foolish to trust Wikipedia knowing I could jump right in and change the order of the planets or give the electron a positive charge. But with a worldwide web of readers looking over my shoulder, the error would quickly be corrected. Like the swarms of proofreading enzymes that monitor DNA for mutations, some tens of thousands of regular Wikipedians constantly revise and polish the growing repository of information.

Sometimes there are abuses. An uproar last month over a prank article implicating a distinguished journalist in the Kennedy assassinations caused Wikipedia to tighten up the rules a bit. But for the most part, the utopian experiment has been a surprising success.

Wikipedia's rough-edged entries on science are often more detailed and current than the ones in Britannica, which still credits Hwang Woo Suk, the South Korean stem cell researcher accused of fraud, with successfully cloning human embryos. But can I really be sure, as Wikipedia tells me, that Dr. Hwang was born Dec. 15, 1952, when Britannica insists on Dec. 15, 1953? The question is whether to trust an encyclopedia that evolves like an organism or one that was designed like a machine.

A study last month in Nature showed that the decision is far from clear-cut. Calling on experts to compare 42 competing entries, the journal counted an average of four errors per article in Wikipedia - and three in Britannica. That is not much of a difference, and a look at the details only adds to the anxiety. A fact is surely a fact, but what constitutes an error can be as hard to pin down as a bead of mercury.

A high school student looking for information on Dmitri Mendeleyev (also spelled Mendeleev), the Russian chemist renowned for the periodic table of the elements, would have learned from Wikipedia that he was the 14th child in his family instead of the 13th surviving child of 17 - what Nature's reviewer, Michael Gordin, a Princeton University science historian, said was one of 19 mistakes in the article.

But it wouldn't have helped to defer to the competition: Dr. Gordin gave Britannica a demerit for describing the chemist simply as the 17th child. It is an imprecision one might easily commit. Dr. Gordin was surprised when I told him, in an e-mail message, that his own book, "A Well-Ordered Thing: Dmitrii Mendeleev and the Shadow of the Periodic Table," uses the same number. "That's curious," he said. "I believe that is a typographical error in my book. Mendeleyev was the final child, that is certain, and the number the reliable sources have is 13."

These, he said, are in Russian, and they apparently were not consulted by "The Norton History of Chemistry," by William H. Brock, which like Wikipedia says there were 14 children, or "The Development of Modern Chemistry," in which Aaron J. Ihde goes with 17. In his book "Galileo's Finger: The 10 Great Ideas of Science," Peter Atkins, an Oxford University chemist, says that the number, "according to one's source," is 11, 14 or 17.

Wikipedia seems determined to try them all. Scrolling through the various versions of its article - more than 300 at last count extending back to July 5, 2002 - one can watch as the number oscillates between 14 and 17, stopping briefly at 15 (with the explanation from an anonymous editor that "a child was recentely [sic] discovered to exist") then to 16 before returning to 14 again.

For several minutes on Nov. 10, before the vandalism was quietly corrected, Mendeleyev was "the oldest of five hundred million children," and in October some numbskull scrawled at the top of the page, "IM COOL: IM DOING A REPORT ON DMITRI MENDELEEV AND YEA IM COOL AND HES COOL." Three days later the graffiti was swabbed away.

After the Nature report, Wiki's entry, like the others deemed to have flaws, was flagged at the top with a warning label ("This article has been identified as possibly containing errors") and retreated temporarily into the safety of imprecision - Mendeleyev is "one of many children of Ivan Pavlovich Mendeleyev and Maria Dmitrievna Mendeleyeva (nee Kornilieva)" - before adopting, in an act of faith, Dr. Gordin's number, 13.

Britannica clings to 17, as it has apparently done since the online article was reproduced from the 15th Edition, first printed in 1974.

Misstating the size of a 19th-century scientist's family is not exactly a howler, but what about the other mistakes Nature enumerated? Some were unambiguous - Britannica's writing that the theory of the strong nuclear force, called quantum chromodynamics, was formulated in 1977 instead of 1973, or Wikipedia's noting that the deadline for receiving proposals for the Nobel Prize is Feb. 1 instead of Jan. 31. (Again, the Wiki error was quickly fixed.)

But many of the purported blunders seem open to debate. Wikipedia was wrong, one reviewer decided, when it said the embittering agent used to denature ethanol is denatonium, instead of identifying it more precisely as denatonium benzoate. But all a reader had to do was click on the word to call up an entire article on the substance, which noted that it also comes in the form of denatonium saccharide.

Britannica, on the other hand, was taken to task for writing that "Croton (now Crotone, Italy)" was the home of the ancient Greek mathematician Pythagoras and his number-worshiping cult. "The Italian town is Crotona, not Crotone," a reviewer objected. But not so fast.

The name has appeared in history as Crotona and, for that matter, Kroton (when it was part of Greece), but Crotene is the modern name. In an ideal world the Britannica editors might have included these etymological details. But at worst, this is an imperfection, and when you start looking for those there is no end.

Just as forgivable are some of the sins of omission. Should an error really have been scored against Britannica because its entry on Agent Orange does not mention that there were also Agents Purple, Pink and Green? There is always more you can put in an article, and part of the editorial art is deciding what to leave out.

Whatever their shortcomings, neither encyclopedia appears to be as error-prone as one might have inferred from Nature, and if Britannica has an edge in accuracy, Wikipedia seems bound to catch up.

The idea that perfection can be achieved solely through deliberate effort and centralized control has been given the lie in biology with the success of Darwin and in economics with the failure of Marx.

It seems natural that over time, thousands, then millions of inexpert Wikipedians - even with an occasional saboteur in their midst - can produce a better product than a far smaller number of isolated experts ever could.

Meanwhile the competition has some catching up to do. While Wikipedia includes a good, balanced article on the history of Britannica, Britannica has not a word to say about Wikipedia, as it rapidly becomes one of the most significant phenomena on the Net.

On romance and arrests in India

Is Public Romance a Right? The Kama Sutra Doesn't Say
By SOMINI SENGUPTA

MEERUT, India - On a crisp winter's afternoon in this small, unremarkable north Indian town, several couples - some married, some not - sat together on the benches of a well-groomed little park named after the country's most famous champion of nonviolence: Mohandas K. Gandhi.

Soon came a band of stick-wielding police officers with television news cameras in tow. They yanked the couples by their necks, as though they were so many pesky cats, and slapped them around with their bare hands. The young women shielded their faces with their shawls. The men cowered from the cameras.

Apparently intended to clamp down on what the police consider indecent public displays of affection among unmarried couples, the nationally televised tableau in Gandhi Park backfired terribly. It set off a firestorm of criticism against police brutality, prompted at least one young unmarried pair to run away from home for a couple of days, and revealed a yawning divide on notions of social mores and individual rights in a tradition-bound swath of India where the younger generation is nudging for change.

"This is a basic infringement of our right to freedom," cried Vikas Garg, 21, a master's student in mass communications at the local Chaudhry Charan Singh University, a couple of days after the raid. "We are free to sit where we want."

Meerut police officials conceded that some officers overreacted. But they also defended their actions. Couples sat in "objectionable poses," said a defiant Mamta Gautam, a police officer accused in the beatings, including some with their heads in their partners' laps. Yes, Ms. Gautam went on, she had slapped those who tried to run away when the police asked for names and addresses. "If they were not doing anything illegal, why they wanted to run away?" the policewoman demanded in an interview. "I do not consider that what we did was wrong."

By the end of the week, as public outrage piled on, Ms. Gautam and three other police officers, including the city police superintendent, were suspended pending an internal investigation.

In a society where dating is frowned upon, public parks remain among the only places where couples can avail themselves of intimacy, from talking to necking and petting with abandon under the arms of a shady tree. Even if it is in broad daylight in a public park, romance before marriage remains taboo in small-town India, which is why the spectacle in Gandhi Park turned out to be such a big deal: to be outed in this way, on national television, is to bring terrible shame and recrimination on yourself and your family.

So alarming, in fact, was it for Amit Sharma and his girlfriend of two years that the pair ran away from home hours after the incident, only to return more than a day later after their parents went to fetch them from a nearby town where they were hiding and agreed, in principle, to let them marry.

A couple of days later, Mr. Sharma, 22 years old and unemployed, described the jarring episode. The police swooped down on the couples in the park "as though we were terrorists," grabbed them by their collars, hurled abuses and separated the men and women. He could hear his girlfriend, Anshu, crying and could hear the police yelling at her: "Your parents send you to college to study! What are you doing here?"

"I pleaded with the police, 'Please let us go,' " he recalled. Eventually, they were all let go. No one was charged with a crime.

That afternoon in Gandhi Park, even a young woman sitting alone was not spared. The woman, who gave her name only as Priyanka, said she was waiting on a park bench when the shouting of the police and their targets interrupted her thoughts. Getting up from her bench, Priyanka said she walked in the direction of the commotion when a police officer, Ms. Gautam, as it turned out, pounced on her and accused her of being a prostitute.

What is more, Priyanka said, the policewoman slapped her and called her a "chamari," a slur based on her caste. (Ms. Gautam denied making the remark.)

Priyanka filed a complaint with the police and called it "a black spot" on her reputation. "They did not ask any questions," she recounted. "They just started beating. Now people in my village are reading that newspaper in front of my father."

The episode sparked a national outcry. The National Human Rights Commission ordered a police inquiry and its chief, Justice A. S. Anand, went on television and declared, "No civilized state can permit this type of humiliation to be heaped on its young children."

From the political right and left came condemnation of the police action. Brinda Karat, the most prominent woman representing a coalition of leftist parties in government, denounced the police for pouncing on courting couples while violent rapes remain unsolved. Sushma Swaraj, a legislator from the Hindu nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, took the podium in Parliament and called it a product of "a sick mind."

Even so, the reprimands did not stop Hindu radical activists here from storming Gandhi Park three days after the episode and, taking the law into their own hands, beating up the small handful of couples who had dared to return. The following day, Gandhi Park was empty, save the birds chattering in the trees.

Among young people in Meerut, the police raid prompted a seasoned outrage. In interviews on the local college campus a few days after the police raid, students said they frequently bore the brunt of police harassment if they were seen with members of the opposite sex. They are pulled aside, threatened with a stick, ordered to give their names and addresses and released usually only after paying a bribe.

"Crime is increasing in Meerut day by day and the police are harassing innocent girls and boys," said Mr. Sharma's outraged father, Jagdish Kumar Sharma. "How many Romeos they can catch? Romeos are on every lane and every street."

On baby/child boasting. All right, I get the point, I'll knock it off.

Honk if You Adore My Child Too
By STEPHANIE ROSENBLOOM

OF the many boastful parents Adrienne Zimmet has encountered, the one who really got her goat was a mother who bragged that her adolescent daughter was so smart her teacher said she had a "gift from God." Ms. Zimmet, 53, of West Lake Hills, Tex., said the woman would not stop. " 'Oh, gifted children. I've got 'em. What am I going to do with my gifted children?' She would literally say that." Extreme boasting is something Ms. Zimmet, who has an 18-year-old son, has noticed parents doing more and more in the last decade.

"You want them to just zip it," she said. "It's gauche."

A certain amount of bragging has long been considered a right of parenthood. It mixes delight in a child's success with a dash of pride that one cannot help but feel as a parent. But when bragging becomes competitive, making parents feel as if they are being drawn into a game of one-upmanship, it takes on a sinister air. The mother who bragged about her child's gift is but one example of what some parents call an annoying trend: parents who brag about their children's accomplishments with an aggression befitting a contestant on "The Apprentice."

Through word of mouth and blog entries, parents and nonparents alike complain that bragging about the children has never seemed so prevalent. Add to this the proliferation of ways of bragging to complete strangers: honor student bumper stickers, Yale Dad sweatshirts and, more recently, blogs. The Indianapolis Star reported last March on parents who were hanging banners over their garage doors and sticking signs in their front lawns announcing that their children had earned a spot on a school team, band or club.

Diminutive gold stars are passé, as are wallet-size photographs of children. Nowadays parents have images of their offspring silk-screened onto tote bags and pixilated into computer desktop wallpaper. There are now proud parent T-shirts to celebrate nearly any accomplishment, even one that reads, "Proud Parent of a Vegetarian." A commercial for an Internet service reflects the spirit of the times with two sets of grandparents pinging e-mail messages with photos of their grandchildren back and forth in a cuteness competition.

For a generation of successful upper-middle-class parents deeply involved in their children's development, filial pride can easily go overboard. Competitive bragging has become a new social sport, with a vast field of play that includes practically any public place, from the office coffee cart to the supermarket checkout line. The puffery is so inescapable, it has inspired a backlash: anti-brag bumper stickers, shirts and pins with slogans like "My kid sells term papers to your honor student."

Amaechi Uzoigwe, the father of two daughters, 5 and 7, is upset with the whole situation. "Let children be children," he said. "Let them enjoy whatever they're doing. Stop living through them. It's part of the competitive professional environment that has been transferred to their children."

Mr. Uzoigwe, 38, an owner and founder of World's Fair, a music management company and record label in Manhattan, said his 7-year-old daughter, who attends a private school, is already attuned to which of her peers went on a better vacation and whose father flies on a private plane.

"The only thing you can do is not engage with it," Mr. Uzoigwe said.

Competitive bragging may stem in part from parents projecting onto kids some of their own anxiety about living in a roller coaster economy, said Arlie Hochschild, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. "There are economic trends which have made the rich richer and the poor poorer," she said, creating an anxious middle class that ponders whether it will sink or rise. "I think there's an anxiety that maybe wasn't there in the 60's ," she said.

Ms. Zimmet grew up in the 1960's in what she described as a blue-collar town. There was an honor roll, but no one would brag about children being on it, let alone slap a bumper sticker on the family car, she said. In her current upscale neighborhood, she said, parents are so determined that their progeny be successful they do whatever it takes to help them thrive, including doing their homework for them.

The aggressive braggers are usually in the upper middle class, Dr. Hochschild said. Citing Annette Lareau's "Unequal Childhoods," an ethnographic study published in 2003, Dr. Hochschild said that the working-class parent's idea of a good childhood means giving children "the freedom to grow up naturally and form bonds with kin and friends." The upper middle class, on the other hand, believes in "intensive cultivation," with parents running children to soccer practices, play rehearsals and music lessons.

Parents are anxious about passing along to their children their own station in life, Dr. Hochschild said. "And they can't do it through land or money in a meritocracy," she said. "You do it through your kid's skills. And that may lend itself to bragging."

She also pointed out that there is a "culture of blame" involving working mothers that might lead them to brag. "The workplace doesn't adapt to the fact that women are juggling matters at work and home," she said. Mothers who spend long hours at the office may become anxious about how their children are doing. When the children do succeed, Dr. Hochschild said, "despite themselves they may brag because their child is an emblem that, against all odds, the kid is thriving."

Bonnie Conklin, 48, a nursing administrator in Boston and the mother of two sons, 20 and 23, agreed. "It's almost a way of saying, 'Hey look at how well they've done it,' " she said, adding that when it comes to bragging, "I think every parent is on autopilot."

For ages, the rule of thumb regarding bragging has been to refrain from it whenever possible, and if you cannot help yourself, do not go on too long or too often. Cindy Post Senning, a great-grandchild of the etiquette arbiter Emily Post, shared a bit of advice originally given to her father when he became a grandparent: "Don't talk about your grandchildren to others. Either they have their own, or they don't."

Many parents say they cannot help bragging. "It's really good for your kids to know you're proud of them," said Ms. Senning, a director of the Emily Post Institute in Burlington, Vt. What parents should avoid, she said, is one-upmanship. Bragging for status damages relationships among parents and may also set up children for failure.

Telling people that your child is the best performer in the whole dance class, for example, can be embarrassing. "Kids have these huge expectations to live up to," Ms. Senning said, especially "if the brag grows beyond the reality."

Additionally, parents who brag tend to raise children who brag, she said. The main rule of child rearing, she said, is "always behave the way you want your kids to behave."

Bragging can also skew parents' expectations. "The times that it's harmful are when parents don't really have a handle on what typical child development is," said Amy DeWerd, a kindergarten teacher and the mother of an 8-year-old girl in East Greenbush, N.Y. If a teacher has to explain to the parents that their children have actually fallen behind their peers, "they have a difficult time hearing it," she said.

But sometimes even the most well-intentioned tongue biters cannot help themselves. "I was never the type to want to hear it," said Gregg DeMammos, 32, of Manhattan, but he admits that he now boasts about his 7½-month-old son to family, friends and strangers. "I'm constantly thinking 'When is it too much?' " he said. He rationalizes that his bragging is the old-fashioned euphoric kind, a product of first-time fatherhood.

"I don't think people will want to hear about how your 7-year-old did in an exam or how good their penmanship is," he said. "You get more slack from having a baby."

Oh, and various conservative idiots have said and done various terrible and stupid things. You know what? I can't even bring myself to get angry anymore. It's just completely overwhelming.

Date: 2006-01-06 04:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moggymania.livejournal.com
"Additionally, parents who brag tend to raise children who brag..."

I don't know if that's true, but if it is, it's certainly a good way to avoid doing it. I've known quite a few people that patted themselves on the back *way* too much... What's really weird is that it's often bragging about something that isn't impressive in the first place, and the people do it seemingly without a clue that it's causing others to lose respect for them.

IMHO bragging should be reserved for cases when a lot of other people haven't succeeded in doing the same thing in the past, and when it can be pretty close to guaranteed that they didn't do it better. Otherwise it tends to come across to me as insecure narcissism -- doesnt make me think the person is cool, but rather that they obviously have some serious self-esteem issues. (Which is basically what I was taught as a kid... That the kids that showed off and/or had braggarts for parents were the ones that just felt like such crap about themselves that they had to boast to make up for it.)

"You get more slack from having a baby."

He obviously hasn't met the many adults that roll their eyes just as much at people that go on about babies as ones that do it about their school-age kids. I actually tend to give less slack to people talking about babies, since they can't do anything that requires any real prowess or talent, and are just fulfilling basic developmental/biological function.

(I look forward to the day, if my brother has a child -- though I hope he doesn't, it'd turn out seriously screwed-up -- responding to tales of how the kid did somethign totally unimpressive by saying "yeah, and you won't believe this -- yesterday my cat did *gasp* the same thing! Isn't that amazing!?" I'm evil like that. Then again, he knows me, so he probably will be smart enough to not brag about any offspring unless it cures cancer or something.)

Date: 2006-01-06 05:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joeymew.livejournal.com
I love Wikipedia for it's geekiness. I was doing some quick research into foreign currency for a homework assignment, and one of the ones I looked up was the Rupee from India. The actual article is a paragraph or two with a list of links, just the basics.

What I found funny was that the article for Rupees as the currency in the Legends of Zelda video games was much longer and in depth.

India is not an exception

Date: 2006-01-08 07:42 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Two Kiss in Church, Are Ejected (http://allafrica.com/stories/200512190290.html)

People were angry at this outright desecration of the church.

Mexico hotel ejects two men for kissing
(http://news.yahoo.com/s/po/20060107/co_po/mexicohotelejectstwomenforkissing)

A gay couple was tossed out of a Los Cabos resort hotel for sharing a kiss in the pool.

Gay man stopped for kissing in public in Britain (http://uk.gay.com/headlines/9303)

A gay man has complained after he was approached by a security guard who told him to stop kissing another man.

Moscow considers kissing ban (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3252315.stm)
"Our children are getting love lessons all day long from what they see around them," Ms Maksimova said.

Indonesia to ban kissing in public (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/main.jhtml?xml=/travel/2004/03/13/etnewskiss13.xml&sSheet=/travel/2004/03/13/ixtrvhome.html)

Travellers caught kissing in public in Indonesia could face five years in jail. A new anti-pornography bill proposes a ban on "kissing on the mouth in public" and on "public nudity, erotic dances and sex parties".

http://www.seiyaku.com/customs/kiss.html (http://www.seiyaku.com/customs/kiss.html)

# First, public kissing is frowned upon by Japanese (and Chinese and many other cultures). It is seen as bad etiquette to do certain private activities in public. Conversely, loudly slurping food is not considered impolite in those countries, although it sends westerners insane. The world would be much poorer if we didn't have these cultural differences. What all the different human cultures do agree on though, is that homo-sapiens are one cut above other animals, and having 'rules of etiquette' is one way of showing this. To break one of these 'rules', for example kissing in public, is considered bad form.

# Secondly, although kissing is a very natural activity (as explained above), many people in the East believe it was an import from the West. To use a kiss in a wedding ceremony in Japan is to show that the couple chooses to use a style that is thought to be non-Japanese, giving perhaps a more exotic image to the ceremony. (See western-style wedding in Japan for suggestions about why people choose this style of wedding.)

Date: 2006-01-06 04:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moggymania.livejournal.com
"Additionally, parents who brag tend to raise children who brag..."

I don't know if that's true, but if it is, it's certainly a good way to avoid doing it. I've known quite a few people that patted themselves on the back *way* too much... What's really weird is that it's often bragging about something that isn't impressive in the first place, and the people do it seemingly without a clue that it's causing others to lose respect for them.

IMHO bragging should be reserved for cases when a lot of other people haven't succeeded in doing the same thing in the past, and when it can be pretty close to guaranteed that they didn't do it better. Otherwise it tends to come across to me as insecure narcissism -- doesnt make me think the person is cool, but rather that they obviously have some serious self-esteem issues. (Which is basically what I was taught as a kid... That the kids that showed off and/or had braggarts for parents were the ones that just felt like such crap about themselves that they had to boast to make up for it.)

"You get more slack from having a baby."

He obviously hasn't met the many adults that roll their eyes just as much at people that go on about babies as ones that do it about their school-age kids. I actually tend to give less slack to people talking about babies, since they can't do anything that requires any real prowess or talent, and are just fulfilling basic developmental/biological function.

(I look forward to the day, if my brother has a child -- though I hope he doesn't, it'd turn out seriously screwed-up -- responding to tales of how the kid did somethign totally unimpressive by saying "yeah, and you won't believe this -- yesterday my cat did *gasp* the same thing! Isn't that amazing!?" I'm evil like that. Then again, he knows me, so he probably will be smart enough to not brag about any offspring unless it cures cancer or something.)

Date: 2006-01-06 05:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joeymew.livejournal.com
I love Wikipedia for it's geekiness. I was doing some quick research into foreign currency for a homework assignment, and one of the ones I looked up was the Rupee from India. The actual article is a paragraph or two with a list of links, just the basics.

What I found funny was that the article for Rupees as the currency in the Legends of Zelda video games was much longer and in depth.

India is not an exception

Date: 2006-01-08 07:42 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Two Kiss in Church, Are Ejected (http://allafrica.com/stories/200512190290.html)

People were angry at this outright desecration of the church.

Mexico hotel ejects two men for kissing
(http://news.yahoo.com/s/po/20060107/co_po/mexicohotelejectstwomenforkissing)

A gay couple was tossed out of a Los Cabos resort hotel for sharing a kiss in the pool.

Gay man stopped for kissing in public in Britain (http://uk.gay.com/headlines/9303)

A gay man has complained after he was approached by a security guard who told him to stop kissing another man.

Moscow considers kissing ban (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3252315.stm)
"Our children are getting love lessons all day long from what they see around them," Ms Maksimova said.

Indonesia to ban kissing in public (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/main.jhtml?xml=/travel/2004/03/13/etnewskiss13.xml&sSheet=/travel/2004/03/13/ixtrvhome.html)

Travellers caught kissing in public in Indonesia could face five years in jail. A new anti-pornography bill proposes a ban on "kissing on the mouth in public" and on "public nudity, erotic dances and sex parties".

http://www.seiyaku.com/customs/kiss.html (http://www.seiyaku.com/customs/kiss.html)

# First, public kissing is frowned upon by Japanese (and Chinese and many other cultures). It is seen as bad etiquette to do certain private activities in public. Conversely, loudly slurping food is not considered impolite in those countries, although it sends westerners insane. The world would be much poorer if we didn't have these cultural differences. What all the different human cultures do agree on though, is that homo-sapiens are one cut above other animals, and having 'rules of etiquette' is one way of showing this. To break one of these 'rules', for example kissing in public, is considered bad form.

# Secondly, although kissing is a very natural activity (as explained above), many people in the East believe it was an import from the West. To use a kiss in a wedding ceremony in Japan is to show that the couple chooses to use a style that is thought to be non-Japanese, giving perhaps a more exotic image to the ceremony. (See western-style wedding in Japan for suggestions about why people choose this style of wedding.)

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