"Under the shiny surface of our electronic gadgets ... hides the product of a troubling supply chain that stretches across the globe," reads Phone Story's description.
Phone Story is a game that aims to remind readers about the controversies surrounding the electronic toys we use every day—"coltan extraction in Congo, outsourced labor in China, e-waste in Pakistan and gadget consumerism in the West." In other words, think before you consume and know that the things you buy come from somewhere, a physical location, and that somewhere isn't always sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows.
Apple, however, has banned this game, removing it from the App Store only four days after it was released on September 9, 2011. Apparently the content was too taboo for the company. That said, it's not like Phone Story is glorifying child labour or worker's abuse. Rather, the game opens our eyes to what is happening in real life.
Look at Foxconn, the manufacturer that produces iPhones and iPads, for example. Foxconn is notorious for their below-satisfactory working conditions in its factories, and the many suicides associated with these working conditions.
The fact that Apple is one of Foxconn's largest partners just makes it appear that the electronic company has banned Phone Story solely because it doesn't want the negative attention associated with worker's abuse. Bad move, Apple.
Censoring this game isn't going to change anything. Phone Story is reality. If the company really wants to show the public that it knows worker's abuse is wrong, it would stop relying on Foxconn and let Phone Story be. Apple is turning a blind eye to Foxconn's labour malpractices and that only make this issue worse.
Check out this video to learn more about Phone Story:
Brandon Woo is a happy high school student in Vancouver, BC. By working with Schema, he hopes to educate others about current events and learn more about the world around him too.Posted by Brandon Woo | September 27, 2011 | Comments (0)
Schema is sponsoring an awesome film at the Vancouver International Film Festival this year. It's called Somewhere Between and it's screening on the 6th of October at 6.30 pm. Here's a bit about it:
Simply by refusing to sum up the orphaned adoptee experience as a homogenous one, Somewhere Between gleans poignancy, seeing each life as unique and inimitable. Filmed over three years, Linda Goldstein Knowlton's deeply felt documentary provides a privileged, intimate look at the lives of four Chinese-born teenage adoptees living in the US, who, like thousands of others, were abandoned as children, with China's one-child policy largely to blame. Its resonances, though, are far more reaching—and likely why it took the top audience award at Hot Docs—with its deep emotional inquiry into the complexities of the adolescent search for identity.
Sound good? There's more...check it out at filmguide.viff.org.
You can see this film for free!! Watch the trailer at vimeo.com and simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of one of the girls featured in the film. We have 10 tickets to give away and the deadline is October 4, so hurry!
We'll see you there!Posted by Gayatri Bajpai | September 25, 2011 | Comments (0)
The Vancouver International Film Festival is turning 30 this year—looking better than ever—and throwing us all a party. 2011 promises a plethora of movies guaranteed to blow you away. Check out the guide for what's in store: VIFF Events. It runs from the 29th of September to the 14th of October.
"Same planet. Different worlds." That's the tagline for this year's festival. Well said, VIFF, well said. At the handful of venues downtown you will find windows to different worlds alright. Whether it's that WTF moment after a really avant-garde experiment or that two-hour feature that leaves you a different person, its selections are bound to give you something to talk about.
We at Schema are always excited for a bunch of brilliant films from different pockets of the world to be offered up at our doorstep. But this year is special. Why, you ask? Because Schema Magazine is sponsoring one of the coolest films VIFF has slated. It's called Somewhere Between, and YOU should come see it. The screening is on the 6th of October at 6.30 PM, and we're giving away 10 tickets! Check out our contest post for details, as well as information on giveaways to other movies.
Get your regular tickets now at viff.org. Happy viewing and we'll see you at the festival!Posted by Gayatri Bajpai | September 26, 2011 | Comments (0)
Over the years we've been accustomed to seeing various "inventions" arise from the land of intriguing innovation that is Japan. Most of these products have never really reached American soil, but every once in awhile a new fad catches on here and gets some major press coverage. It seems that the latest Japanese product to arouse interest—a type of "fat burning underwear"—is probably destined to stay in Japan.
Still, one has to applaud the inventors for trying to approach the ancient ambition of weight loss in an entirely novel way. Instead of trying to market a new sensational diet, or an exercise machine, the so-called MXP Calorie Shaper Pants supposedly burns calories simply by being worn. The Goldwin Company claims that the special material of the underwear makes the muscles work extra hard when walking or climbing stairs.
According to a statement released by a Goldwin Company representative, "The concept behind this product is a pair of pants for every day life, generally for business men and women aged between 35 and 45." The spokesman describes their "technology" as focusing on "the hipline which is the area used by people when walking and climbing stairs. The material here is non-expandable which means they must use their muscles more."
To be honest, it seems quite ridiculous that anyone could believe that wearing a pair of special underwear could possibly burn more calories than simply putting in a few good hours at the gym. Of course, laziness is the cousin of invention, so it doesn't seem surprising that there would be a market of products which basically promises a shortcut to weight loss. If there's anything that can be learned from the history of similar inventions in the past, however, it's that these shortcuts are just that—shortcuts which don't lead to anywhere. You've got to put your time and work into maintaining your body, the old fashioned way.Posted by Justin Ko | September 28, 2011 | Comments (0)
It all began in a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, much like the one I write in now. I take a glance around my apartment to see how much I could physically fit in here, if I tried.
At the same time, I feel like I could fill it with so much more. Let me explain.
In the documentary Herb & Dorothy, directed by Japanese filmmaker Megumi Sasaki, we meet Herb and Dorothy Vogel, two of the most unassuming (but influential) art collectors in the art world. Herb worked as a postal worker, and Dorothy a librarian when they met and fell in love in 1960's New York City. Since then, they have been inseparable, spending nearly their entire lives (and modest salaries) buying art from unknown (at the time) artists based on two rules alone:
1. That they could afford it.
2. That it would fit into their apartment
They collected art with a focused passion we all dream of, visiting galleries, meeting artists, and picking up artwork they could take home with them in a cab. They kept collecting until, as Dorothy says, they could not fit a single toothpick in their apartment. Walls, floors, tabletops and shelves, covered in Minimal and Conceptual Art.
But the story is about more than that. It's about more than the noble and now-worth-millions-but-they-haven't-sold-a-single-piece Vogel Collection (which they have transferred over to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.) that the humble couple has amassed, or even that the collection itself has now outgrown the National Gallery, and is being "gifted" to one museum in every state in America.
The story is filled to the brim, just like that one-bedroom apartment, with love.
As I look around my one-bedroom before I hop on the subway to meet with the director of the film in Brooklyn, I think about what life could be, if I just let it happen. If I were to actively allow my life to unfold in just the way my heart yearns for it to, what would happen to me?
Well this is what happened when I didn't hold myself back —I'm now working with Megumi Sasaki, the director/producer of the award-winning documentary, on a campaign to fund the follow-up film, Herb & Dorothy 50X50—an intimate portrayal of the tremendous project that is Vogel 50X50 , and life of Herb and Dorothy after the first film.
Megumi, a Japanese woman who created an "American" indie film to international acclaim, is of course a hero(ine) in her home country, and the movie has been hailed as a miracle by the film industry in Japan, especially post 3/11.
This follow-up film needs to be completed, and we can only do it with your help! If this moves you in any way, please jump on over to our Kickstarter campaign. Of course, a simple 'Like' on Facebook, following us on Twitter, reading our blog for updates is a wonderful way to start.
Leave it to France, the country responsible for revolutionizing fashion, art, architecture and overall creative style, to come up with the most artistic use for office supplies.
Post-it note art has literally taken over office windows around the country, with office buildings competing to create the most complicated and artful interpretations of anything from Hello Kitty to Where's Waldo. These displays are truly works of art—not only do they depict different characters absolutely accurately with the use of colour and shape, they also range in size, with some covering part of a window and others taking over the windows of most of the office building to create a display.
What's really inspiring about this new art form, is the fact that it allows people to use readily available, every day materials for creating something new. And because most post-it art depicts pop-culture characters it is art for the people and by the people in its truest form.
Looking from the outside, the art also humanizes many corporations that are housed in these multi-level office buildings. These are companies filled with people whose interests and passions are as diverse as the post-it art they can create.
Now it inspires me to raid my office supply closet and see what I can come up with...on my lunch break of course!Posted by Vinnie Yuen | September 27, 2011 | Comments (0)
It's hard to get Vancouverites out to anything as we are perpetually flaky, but on a sunny Tuesday evening, the Vancouver Public Library on Robson was full of people bucking that trend. The room was buzzing excitedly for the coming evening's event: Me In Media.
A joint venture between Schema, the United Nations Association of Canada, and numerous community partners (Coop Culture, YouthMade/Access to Media, Pacific Cinémathèque, and W2 Media Arts), Me in Media featured a star panel consisting of Stuart Poyntz (SFU professor), Shima Ghailan (MMUNAC intern), Riaz Meghji (CityTV) and Sid Chow Tan (producer, activist) joining together to answer one question:
How does ethnicity shape the stories that we tell about our city and ourselves? Do you think media plays a role in creating a more inclusive Vancouver?
I had the privilege to be live-tweeting the event and let me tell you, there was not a dull moment! Each speaker was full of great quotes and advice and the audience Q&A after was the liveliest I'd ever seen. Here are some great highlights as captured on Twitter:
"Social media aids Citizen Journalism. Voice is vital BUT words need to be followed by actions." - @ArtOfWords
"Transparency is the new objectivity" - @riazmeghji
"Once false representations are accepted, it quickly normalizes discrimination" - @schema_magazine
"Progressive media means reaching a point when coloured faces are not considered meeting a quota anymore" - @riazmeghji
Despite saying that social media is just the beginning, it proved to be a huge presence at the event. Tweets for #meinmedia reached over 17,000 people and both #meinmedia and @schema_magazine were trending in Vancouver that night! For those that missed out, the entire inspiring transcript from the night can be seen on Coop Culture's live blog and all photos care of Jeremy Lim here.
To keep the momentum going, Schema and the UNAC are hosting several media workshops for selected groups of youth this month. These workshops will teach youth how to express their unique stories and viewpoints through media, in the hopes that they will become more engaged change-makers in their communities.
The first workshop was held last Saturday to much success (check out the photos here) with two more to follow this weekend! Once the workshops are completed, Schema will be hosting an ongoing series of the published works, so be sure to stay tuned for those!
If you'd like to see more programs like this in your community, please take the time to fill out this short 10 minute survey!Posted by Jordana Mah | September 21, 2011 | Comments (0)
It's that time of the year, folks! The Vancouver International Film Festival is back in town for the 30th year running and Schema Magazine is recruiting volunteers to write reviews!
A bit about us in case you're new to what we do: Schema Magazine is a Vancouver-based online magazine that aims to reflect, explore, showcase and give voice to the most interculturally-minded generation in Canadian history. Established in 2003 as the definitive platform for "ethnic cool", Schema Magazine provides a blend of local and international pop-culture, identity and current affairs from the perspective of immigrant, Canadian-born, mixed-race, transnational and culturally-blended Canadians who self-describe as "Cultural Navigators." Schema reaches readers across Canada, the U.S. and around the world, connecting those who embrace the rich complexity of cultural identity and see themselves as being "more than ethnic". And that's why we're all over VIFF.
Schema offers positions and provides opportunities to develop transferable skills in various aspects of magazine and online publishing - from business development, advertising sales, and research to publicity, writing, and editing.
You would be responsible for at least five film reviews per week consisting of no fewer than 400 words per review. It is very important that the applicant be able to be honest and forthright with their criticisms, while also being able to present counter-arguments as to how a filmmaker could have made their movie better.
This position will run from Sep 29th to Oct 14th.
Please send your cover letter and resumes, along with a writing sample, to email@example.com. Sign up ASAP: we look forward to hearing from you!Posted by Gayatri Bajpai | September 20, 2011 | Comments (0)
Canada may not have the coolest rock stars (has chirping on Bieber become passé yet?), or the hippest movies (outside of Quebec, that is), but when it comes to the written word in all its fantastical forms, we are a force to be reckoned with. It's hard to argue with the likes of Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje, Robert Kroetsch, Mavis Gallant, Tomson Highway, Rohinton Mistry, Joy Kogawa, Lucy Maud Montgomery...I could keep going like this but I know you haven't got all day. This week in Vancouver we are treated to several story-centric spectacles, as well some dancing and a film fest just to keep things interesting.
Image credit: The Guardian
Wednesday, September 21st, 7:30 pm
St. Andrew's Wesley United Church
One of the reigning kings of Canada's literary royalty (too much?) is popping in to Vancouver this evening as part the Vancouver Writers and Readers Festival (which doesn't actually start until October). He will read from and discuss his latest novel, The Cat's Table, the tale of a young boy's journey from Sri Lanka to England by boat. Part rollicking adventure on the high seas, part tender reflection on growing up - Ondaatje himself made the same voyage as a youngster - The Cat's Table is well worth a read, and an evening with the author will make it that much more magical.
Image credit: Christianne's Lyceum of Literature and Art
Thursday September 22nd, 7:00 pm
Christianne's Lyceum of Literature and Art
You've seen the review, you've read the book (or at least you should have!), now meet the author! As part of the Meet the Author series at Christianne's Lyceum of Literature and Art, Jen Sookfong Lee will give a reading and chat about her latest novel, The Better Mother. Sip some wine, discuss some great literature, and, if you don't have it already, buy a copy of The Better Mother at 10% off!
Image credit: UBC Alumni Affairs
Thursday, September 22nd, 7:00 pm
Museum of Vancouver
The Museum of Vancouver knows that bhangra holds a special place in Vancouver's heart, and that over the years we've put our own unique spin on this traditional dance form. Case in point: the UBC Girlz Bhangra troupe are the world's first all-female competitive bhangra troupe, which is quite something considering bhangra is traditionally a male domain. Not only that, the Girlz have competed and placed in bhangra competitions world-wide. As part of the MOV's continuously awesome Bhangra.me exhibit, the Girlz will perform and discuss their craft with the Vancouver International Bhangra Society's Mo Dhaliwal.
Image credit: The Word On The Street
Friday, September 23rd to Sunday, September 25th
Vancouver, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Kitchener, Toronto, Halifax
If you have to miss Jen at Meet the Author on Thursday, fear not! She, and many other local literary talents, will be involved in the Vancouver version of the Canada-wide Word on The Street National Book and Magazine Festival. Also featured is another Lee of whom Schema is particularly fond - fashion columnist and newly-minted author JJ Lee (watch Schema's InDepth for a book review and interview with JJ coming soon)! The main event goes down in the CBC Plaza on Sunday with readings, discussions, workshops, kids activities, and visual displays.
Image credit: Vancouver Egyptian Film Festival
Saturday, September 24th to Sunday, September 25th
The Egyptian film industry, a.k.a. "The Hollywood of the East," is the largest film industry in the Middle Eastern region, and finally Vancouver is getting a slice of their cinematic action. Spurred on by the revolution of this past Spring, the organizers of VANEFF aim to put the culture, society, political and religious structures of Egypt on display, and to bring Vancouverites a deeper understanding of Egypt's past, present, and future.
Genie is an editorial assistant for Schema Magazine and self-appointed seeker-out of Schema-worthy events in Vancouver. She is a certified bookworm with a special fondness for Shakespeare and CanLit. You can follow her on Twitter @geniemakPosted by Genie MacLeod | September 21, 2011 | Comments (0)
I became a vegetarian at the age of 12, due to what I feel is the unethical practice of eating a living animal. Since then, I have been interested in the concept behind the raw food diet. The idea of eating only raw fruits, vegetables and grains sounded great—but unrealistic, seeing that I am not a celebrity with a personal chef. However, that was the early 2000s. Now, the raw food diet is more mainstream with both doctors and patients proclaiming its health benefits. There is even an Asian/American fusion raw food cookbook, created by Chef Ani Phyo (pronounced Pyo), blending Korean and Pan-Asian traditional recipes with this health conscious diet.
KoreAm recently spoke to Chef Phyo about her fourth cookbook called Ani's Raw Food Asia: Easy East-West Fusion Recipes. Phyo's inspiration for the project stemmed from her Korean heritage and travels around Asia. The dishes aren't only popular ones such as kimchi—Phyo also incorporated into this collection some of the vegetarian food she ate as a child. Some of the recipes look really good such as the Summer Rolls with Ginger Peanut Sauce
Her father was diagnosed with a terminal illness and became a vegetarian and raw food enthusiast. Thus, her mother had a thriving organic garden from where much of the family's vegetables came from. Her mother even swapped ingredients in traditional Korean dishes for healthier alternatives such as using cucumbers and radishes for her own kimchi.
Phyo has created a new and fun way to further explore both raw food and Pan-Asian cuisine. I think it would be worth a try for vegetarians and anyone who just has an interest in trying different kinds of food.Posted by Kait Bolongaro | September 22, 2011 | Comments (0)
How many times have we heard that renewable energy is the way of the future? Sure, we understand that we cannot rely on non-renewable resources for much longer. However, while we have made incredible advances in technology, this renewable energy comes at a higher cost, meaning the disadvantaged communities of the world who need it the most can't afford it.
The MyShelter Foundation, established by Illac Diaz, is paving the way for sustainable, socially responsible design projects. In Manila and its surrounding slums, Diaz has found a way to capitalize on a plentiful resource (sunshine!) and use it to improve the lives of citizens.
A Litre of Light is a campaign that aims to bring the solar bottle light, developed by students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to the dark shantytowns of Manila. The solar bottle light is a simple creation: a plastic bottle filled with water and bleach, which is inserted into a tight-fitting hole in the roof. While the bleach works to keep algae from building up, the water works to refract the sunshine 360 degrees, lighting a room with up to 55 watts. Not only does this technology bring light to these impoverished communities, it also re-uses plastic water bottles (the recycling woe of the earth) at the same time! Ingenious.
If you're interested in donating and volunteering to the project, or simply interested in finding out more, check out their website at isanglitrongliwanag.org.
Now, what I'm waiting for next is another ingenious creation to light those disadvantaged communities who DON'T have sunshine 10 months out of the year. Thoughts?Posted by Kayo Homma-Komori | September 21, 2011 | Comments (0)
I'm not going to lie—pregnancy scares the bejesus out of me. I think I will become a giant whale but not as cute. But seeing these pretty women in Hainan battle it out in a talent contest convinced me that pregnancy can be quite beautiful.
The Sixth Body Painting Contest for Pregnant Women took place at a hospital in Haikou, Hainan. The competition included dancing and singing, with colourful pictures painted on the women's bellies. Mothers of some contestants even showed up to support and help do their make-up.
According to contestant Sun Zhouhui, belly dancing can exercise the pelvis and abdomen and many pregnant women who learn the dance consider it good for antenatal training.
I think it's a great celebration of pregnant women and soon-to-be-mothers and it would be pretty awesome if this happened in North America!Posted by Vinnie Yuen | September 22, 2011 | Comments (0)
The Tokyo Yakuza are perhaps the most feared and well-known of all Asian gangs, yet paradoxically, many of their rites and customs are typically hidden from the Western world. They are known to be brutal and violent at times, as all gangs are—one of the few customs commonly known is Yubitsume, or the removal of fingers after a transgression.
But there is undoubtedly a degree of fascination with the way the Yakuza perpetuates an idealization of the gangster as a noble, honorable outlaw.
Belgian photographer Anton Kusters has recently released a collection of images which are nearly entirely focused on Yakuza members, who gave permission to Kusters to follow them around Tokyo. This unprecedented collection will be released in book form this October.
Judging by some of the photographs available online, Kusters has done a magnificent job of capturing moments in the lives of Yakuza members which the vast majority of normal citizens will never be able to witness. Very few, if any, depict violence though gangsters with severed fingers and trademark Yakuza tattoos are ubiquitous. Many display poignant poses or moments of reflection.
Look for Anton Kuster's Odo Yakuza Tokyo hitting bookstores this October.Posted by Justin Ko | September 20, 2011 | Comments (0)
Martial arts film fans rejoice! Do I ever have exciting news for you. A period martial arts thriller is currently being shot in China. Directed by the legendary RZA, co-founder of the hip-hop group The Wu-Tang Clan, The Man With The Iron Fists stars Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, Pam Grier, Darren Scott, Byron Mann, Jamie Chung, Daniel Wu and RZA himself, as the title character. Rounding out the names associated with the film is Quentin Tarantino, who will be presenting the film.
Written by RZA and Eli Roth (Hostel), the film is centered around a blacksmith that forges weapons for a small village in feudal China and is forced to defend himself and his villagers. Corey Yuen of Transporter fame is directing the action sequences.
No doubt this film is lead by a talented cast that excels in this genre of film. I'm excited to see Lucy Liu kick some ass (Kill Bill anyone?) and even more pleased to see her back on the silver screen. I love strong, confident, Asian women being portrayed in films, and I am sure Lucy Liu will kill her role.
Adding to my growing anticipation for this film is Pam Grier's name to the cast line-up. One of the first women of colour to kick some major ass on the big screen, it excites my Jackie Brown fangirl self.
The film is slated to open worldwide next year.Posted by Jocelyn Gan | September 15, 2011 | Comments (0)
Earlier this summer, Pharrell Williams traveled to Tokyo, Japan to visit the city in the aftermath of the nuclear explosions on March 11. His trip was subsequently turned into a 25 minute long documentary called Tokyo Rising and released on September 1st. Pharrell speaks with Japanese artists, singers, to magazine editors and designers about the impact March 11 had on Tokyo and on Japanese society at large and the future of the city. The Japanese now refer to this day as 3/11, styled after 9/11.
This film is an interesting take on the events of 3/11; it has a youth centered approach that provides a fresh perspective on the catastrophic disasters that hit Japan. The use of art as a form of political expression and dissent is also an important sub theme of Tokyo Rising. The film shows how art is at the forefront of mass social movements, especially those propelled by youth.
I like how the audience is left feeling positive after watching the documentary. There seems to be a new found sense of pride in Japanese culture and its resurgence in the youth movement is inspiring. It is a people reclaiming their own culture, one which was viewed as inferior to foreign, especially American, cultures.
However, Tokyo Rising is unable to capture the whole youth story of Tokyo after 3/11. The only youth who are interviewed are local celebrities and friends of Pharrell Williams: clearly a privileged group, who despite causing some social change, don't necessarily represent the average Tokyo youth. It would have been a more comprehensive film if Pharrell had actually sought out young people in the streets of Tokyo and asked them what they thought about the city; its past, present and future. It's like a Japanese pop star coming to Vancouver and only asking celebrities what they thought and felt after the Stanley Cup Final riots. Obviously, the answers would be different.
Despite these shortcomings, Tokyo Rising is still worth the watch. It can be watched in its entirety at palladiumboots.com .Posted by Kait Bolongaro | September 13, 2011 | Comments (0)
Take a look around you, and try to guess which of your electronic belongings were "MADE IN CHINA." If you guessed your laptop, your cell phone, or your iPad, you're probably right.
Labour's cheap in China, and Foxconn Technology Group, the world's largest technology manufacturer, takes advantage of this fact. (Its workers earn a maximum of $1.18 per hour!)
Foxconn makes electronics and sells them to companies we purchase things from every day: Sony, Motorola, Apple, Nokia, Dell, Hewlet Packard. Foxconn employees are committing suicide and attracting bad publicity for the technology manufacturer because of their low wages, and so, Foxconn's decided to replace its workers with robots. (Go figure.)
"The root causes [of the problem] are low prices from multinational companies and tight delivery schedules," said Li Qiang, executive director of China Labor Watch. "Workers are only seen as fitting production needs rather than as ... human beings."
"Foxconn does everything it can to avoid and minimize social interaction," said Ellen Friedman, lecturer in labor studies at Sun Yat-Sen University.
Employees may not understand each other, speak different dialects, but the technology manufacturer prefers it this way. In fact, it admittedly forbids discussion in the assembly line. The less people are able to talk to each other, the more work they'll do.
People can't stretch or go to the washroom for too long (there's a convenient electronic card that monitors this), and breaking rules can lead to discipline: losing up to half of your earnings for a certain day!
Employees just go through the same routine over and over. "When we're standing, if something drops, [my superiors allow us to] bend down to pick it up," employee Li Xiang Zhu told Southern Weekly. "You wish so badly that things would keep dropping just so you never have to stand back up."
And yet, workers who aren't qualified in other fields are essentially trapped in their positions. Foxconn isn't the only technology manufacturer; there are others, but these other companies also abuse their workers. It's like the poverty cycle: so easy to fall into and so difficult to escape. Now that Foxconn intends to replace its employees with robots, who knows what might happen?
But companies like Apple are turning a blind eye to this issue. Foxconn's partners are entirely capable of helping Foxconn's workers, but they say that worker abuse is Foxconn's problem—not theirs. Apple, for example, spends just nine dollars on labour for every iPad that we spend half a grand on! If Foxconn's partners split profits more evenly, worker abuse could become an issue of the past.
By continuing to buy Sony laptops or Nokia cell phones, we're no better than Foxconn or its partners. We're saying that workers are just production and not human beings. We're encouraging worker abuse.
Next time you need a new computer, take the time to think about where it's coming from before you buy the model you're looking at. Although buying a Foxconn-manufactured computer would ensure that its workers would earn some money, worker abuse is still an issue in our world.
If you want to do something about worker abuse, have a look at what makeITfair, a project focused on changing Apple's behaviour, is doing.Posted by Brandon Woo | September 14, 2011 | Comments (0)
To create almond-shaped eyes, stylist Anna Dello Russo taped Crystal Renn's eyes at the temples at a photoshoot for a Dolce & Gabbana story in Vogue Japan. The technique is sometimes referred to as "yellowface" makeup, used in old Hollywood films to make white actors look Asian.
Jezebel.com reported on the issue, suggesting that a better option may simply be hiring an Asian model to appeal to Asian audiences. Many Asian writers are also offended by the technique Vogue used.
What I never understood was why slanty, single-lid eyes are considered to be an Asian characteristic that applies to all Asians, when in fact, our eyes are all different shapes and sizes.
Growing up in Hong Kong, I always knew that big eyes and double eyelids are revered as the standard for beauty in that culture. Asian models in magazines and billboards almost always have that crease in their large gorgeous eyes. I never associated the trait with Westerners in particular.
Born with double eyelids and pretty big eyes, relatives and friends of my parents used to call me "marble eyes" as a nickname. Unfortunately, as I grew older, the rest of my face grew to catch up with my big eyes and now they're just medium-sized.
When I immigrated to Vancouver, I learned about the "slant eyed" stereotype associated with Chinese and Asian people. I was confused because I've always had double eyelids.
I also saw an episode of the Tyra show a few years ago about Asian women and eyelid surgery. Tyra Banks jumped to the conclusion that those women were denying their Asian-ness and trying to look more Westernized by getting the surgery.
What does that make me? Both my parents have large eyes with double eyelids and have passed them down to my sister and I. Does that mean I'm less Asian by definition?
The problem with Vogue Japan's photoshoot is that it makes simplistic assumptions about Asian standards of beauty. Making a model's eyes more almond-shaped does not necessarily make her look more Asian or more appealing to Asian audiences—it merely makes you look like a fool for trying so hard to.Posted by Vinnie Yuen | September 14, 2011 | Comments (0)
Photo credit: Vogue.it
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but some words are so loaded with meaning, feeling and history that no picture can influence their interpretation.
This is the case of a recent Vogue Italia article titled "Slave Earrings." The fashion bible published an article about large hoop earrings, dating their origins back to the slave trade. It is the use of the word 'slave' that caused an uproar, resulting in a written apology from Vogue Italia. The editor-in-chief called the incident a case of bad translation, where the word translated into 'slave' was actually supposed to be 'ethnic'.
The online version of the article has since been pulled from the Vogue Italia website. Interestingly, the comments remain, which is a great way to get a sense of the public opinion on the article. Many of the commenters are not offended by the choice of words— although personally, I'm still on the fence whether that's a good sign.
If you read the commentary, it is evident that Vogue Italia was trying to conjure up a positive image, moving away from constraints into freedom through fashion. Of course their choice of words was less than ideal, bringing up all the negative and painful connotations of this period in history.Posted by Vinnie Yuen | September 8, 2011 | Comments (0)
Undoubtedly the most famous chef in the world, TV personality Gordon Ramsay of Hell's Kitchen and other cooking-themed reality TV shows, has spent the last little while sampling some new cuisines. As an episode of his new special "Shark Bait" details, Ramsay traveled to Taiwan to sample the famous Chinese dish, Sharks Fin Soup.
This soup is one of the premier delicacies of South Chinese cuisine, and is often served in elaborate banquets and wedding feasts. Its popularity is fairly regional, however it hasn't really expanded to other cultures the same way that other Chinese dishes have. So the fact that Ramsay was trying the soup for the first time, despite being a world-famous chef, isn't actually that surprising.
As you can see by the video and its YouTube comments, Sharks Fin Soup itself is a somewhat controversial dish, as sharks are often cruelly captured and thrown back into the sea, fin-less, where they are essentially left to die. There have been numerous campaigns against the prolific hunting of sharks in this way, which many fear will lead to the endangerment and ultimate extinction of many shark species. In a sense, Ramsay has helped bring the issue of the ethics behind sharks fin soup more to the spotlight.
Check out the video on YouTube below!Posted by Justin Ko | September 15, 2011 | Comments (0)
Ah September, the air is filled with the smell of fresh textbooks and the ear-piercing whines of schoolchildren. But nobody, not even the weather gods of Vancouver, like to admit that it is no longer summer, which is why September is always bursting with exciting escapist activities. In this week's Back to Cool Edition (ya, you heard me), whether you are heading back to the classroom, or just punching the clock like any other day, we got what you need to take your mind off the fact that you have to wake up early tomorrow.
Image credit: Hapa-palooza Festival
Wednesday, September 7 to Saturday, September 10
The Hapa-palooza Festival got off to a great start last night with Mixed Voices Raised - an inspiring panel discussion between Fred Wah, Joanne Arnott, and Tanya Evanson, three Canadian poets of mixed roots. Tonight Schema fav Jeff Chiba Stearns hosts Mixed Flicks, a screening of shorts and actor panel discussion. Then spend your weekend being entertained by even more amazing mixed race artists at the Sir James Douglas Mix-A-Lot Cabaret on Friday, and Hapa-palooza in the Square, Robson Square that is, on Saturday. Not to be missed. Oh, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for interviews with some of Hapa-palooza's featured artists coming to a Schema near you very soon!
Image Credit: Vancouver International Fringe Festival
Thursday, September 8 - Sunday, September 18
The Vancouver International Fringe Festival can always be relied upon to serve up everything that is wacky and wonderful in the world of theatre. This year you can look forward to a musical about an 80s teen beauty pageant filled with glamour, hi-jinks and puppets (yes, puppets), a solo comedy act about cancer, and a site-specific post-apolcalyptic tale of underwater boat thievery, and plenty more. Be prepared to be amused.
Image Credit: Urban Noise Festival
Saturday, September 10
Albion Library Parking Lot, Toronto
urbanNOISE is now in its 6th year of using arts to unite the Rexdale/Jamestown community of Toronto against violence. The one-day music and dance festival features a diverse array of youth and professional artists from the community and from around the world. The Rexdale/Jamestown area is often seen as a breeding ground for gang culture, so it's wonderful to see a festival that puts at-risk youth at the helm and allows them to showcase their talent and leadership skills to an entire community.
Image Credit: Lululemon Athletica
Saturday, September 10
Venues across North America
If you're a fan of yoga, you might notice how your earnest attempts to replicate the wise teaching of your yogi at home don't always work out as well, or as often, as you would like. There's nothing like being part of a focused, sweaty, yoga-minded group of people to help you hold that eagle pose just a little bit longer. So imagine the rush...errr...deeply contemplative spirituality...of a sun salutation done in the company of yogis all across North America. This Saturday, join Lululemon Athletica at one of their Salutation Nation stations for an hour of international yoga unity. Now that's something I can get omm board with! (I'm sorry, that was terrible, who let's me write this column?)
Image Credit: Ron Sombilon Gallery
Sunday, September 25
A preview/shout-out to the Enspiring Race: this event, much like its inspiration, The Amazing Race, will have teams of 4 using their brains and brawn to complete challenges all over downtown Vancouver. The catch? The challenges are all random acts of kindness! The registration date has passed, but you can still donate at the Enspire Foundation's website, and you won't want to miss out on the action come race day. Hey, maybe you will even be the recipient of an R.A.K. yourself!Posted by Genie MacLeod | September 8, 2011 | Comments (0)
When Forbes magazine released its 100 Most Influential Women list earlier this week, the usual suspects—such as Oprah Winfrey and Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany—were ranked in the top spots. However, making her first appearance on the list at number 39 was Jin-sook Chang, the co-founder of fashion giant Forever 21. This may not come as a surprise to fashionistas given the chain's huge popularity and explosive growth.
Forever 21 is a definite success story. Chang and her husband, Do Won Chang, founded the fashion house in 1984 in the United States after immigrating from Korea. Forever 21 is based on a concept of fast fashion: convenient, inexpensive and trendy, making it popular among consumers. In its first year, sales skyrocketed from $35,000 to $700,000. Now, this Korean-American dynamo is only one of 6 self-made female billionaires in the United States and was the only Korean woman to make Forbes' list. She was named the 4th richest woman in the world by Forbes last year, being worth $2.2 billion. She is also one of only 19 women billionaires who didn't inherit their money from their fathers or brothers, making Chang a bonafide super woman.
Forever 21 has more than 480 stores worldwide and is planning an aggressive expansion in Europe in the coming years. They have 35,000 employees and a projected sales of $3.5 billion in 2011. Interestingly, Chang has woven two of her most important values into her business plan: family and religion. Do Won officially runs the company, with Jin-sook in charge of merchandising and their two daughters managing marketing and visuals. The family is also quite religious and attends church every morning. Every Forever 21 bag has John 3:16 emblazoned on it, showing how these Christian values have influenced their retail chain.
I find it inspiring that Chang and her family have held onto their values even in the cut throat business world. It is hard to find retailers these days who actually weave their beliefs into their business plans and stay true to themselves. They have also managed to build an extremely fashionable retail giant; while it's not my favourite store, a customer can always find something at Forever 21.Posted by Kait Bolongaro | September 7, 2011 | Comments (0)
"Do you see why it's amazing when someone comes out of such a dire situation and learns the English language just to share his observation?" asks Somali Canadian rapper K'Naan in his song Somalia.
Having grown up in Somalia in the time of the Somali Civil War, K'Naan returned to his native country on August 21, 2011. There, the singer paid a special visit to child victims of famine at Mogadishu's Banadir Hospital.
The famine, striking the Horn of Africa, is perhaps the worst of our generation. Tens of thousands are dead, many are in hospitals, and the United Nations estimates that over 3.2 million Somalis are in need of food aid.
"I will do all I can to help my people in Somalia," K'Naan told the American Press in Somali.
With a strong love for his home country, K'Naan provides a voice for his fellow Somalis. Having achieved worldwide recognition with "Wavin Flag," K'Naan and his actions in Somali will not be dismissed.
As global citizens, it's our duty to help Somalia. Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world; the nation lacks a government and the effects of the civil war are still present. People are struggling just to help each another stay alive. Is that not enough for us to recognize that this is a problem?
If you're interested, the Canadian government has promised to match every dollar that individuals donate until September 16, 2011.Posted by Brandon Woo | September 12, 2011 | Comments (0)
Did your conservative parents forbid dating in high school? Mine did. Now teenagers can have a good reason to date in high school. Apparently it helps them stay out of serious trouble!
According to a study done at the University of Texas, teenagers who are sexually active in relationships show less antisocial behaviour compared to teenagers who are not having sex at all.
The reason? Paige Harden, assistant professor of psychology, speculates it's because these teens spend more one-on-one time with their boyfriends and girlfriends and less time with their friends, and therefore, have less time to get into trouble.
On the other hand, teens who have sex with non-dating partners (i.e. casual sex or "hooking up") were more likely to be involved in delinquent behaviour.
The study analyzed data on 519 same-sex twins in the United States between 13 to 18 years old.
Jezebel.com says this really calls into the question of whether adolescent sex is always bad. In the context of a relationship, perhaps sex can actually be good for teenagers. After all, sex keeps you busy. Really busy. And naked snuggling trumps drugs, any day.
I guess this gives you a perfect excuse if you're in a steady relationship and your mother discovers your condoms or birth control pills: "It helps me stay away from drugs, shoplifting, vandalism and gangs."Posted by Vinnie Yuen | September 6, 2011 | Comments (0)
Who hasn't heard of Russell Peters by now? The incisive, uproarious comedian has definitely done a lot to put Canada on the map with his fearless and unique approach to ethnic humor. But while he's obviously a household name here, he's less well known south of the border. Renowned documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who made the infamous documentary Supersize Me, features Peters in the latest episode of his "Day in the Life" series as he crisscrosses America on his "New Majority" tour.
Peters had a lot to say about being followed by Spurlock's team. In fact, he went so far to say that "when your agent calls and tells you that Morgan Spurlock wants to include you in his new documentary project for Hulu, you don't stop to think about it— you just say, "Yes!" Peters went on to say that he is a big "documentary nerd" and that he is a big fan of Spurlock's work.
Ever the observant comedian, Peters had a humorous anecdote to recall while they were shooting the documentary.
On the night before the shoot, I met up with the film crew for drinks on the patio bar of my hotel in DC and things got interesting right away. We were waiting for the waiter to prep our table when some guy barged through with his lady-friend and ex-military buddy and sat down in our spot.
"When my brother (who's also my manager) asked them to give up the seating area we had been waiting for on the patio, the situation got heated and expletives were exchanged. Fortunately, it didn't escalate into a full bar fight, and these characters eventually walked away, still cursing at us. It was a pretty surreal introduction to the great group of people that I'd be spending the next day with. Too bad we didn't get that part on film!
Check out Russell Peters' episode of "A Day in the Life" on Hulu.com!Posted by Justin Ko | September 9, 2011 | Comments (0)
The statistics don't lie. Or do they? Studies show that obesity rates are often related to lower levels of income, with both rates being higher in Black and Latino communities. The health food craze is often more accessible to those who have money. You may share my experience in choosing a salad over a burger at your favourite restaurant, only to be dinged a few more dollars on your bill.
Well, you may no longer pay more to eat healthy, because our saviours are here. And they are prepared to take us to food heaven.
Wendy & Jess are the sassy, Brooklyn-based ladies behind Food Heaven Made Easy, a monthly cooking & nutrition series and blog that is available through Brooklyn Community Access Television. With Wendy hailing from the Boogie-down Bronx, and Jess repping the West Coast, each girl brings their own unique flavour to the series, which is what makes the show so enjoyable to watch.
Underneath the sass and silliness though, these ladies are "keeping it real", creating this show with a mission in mind. As both Wendy & Jess are nutrition educators, as well as Black and Latina, they have a special concern with the rising obesity rates in their communities. Therefore, they have created the show as a "creative outlet to help undeserved communities in New York City improve their diets and overall health."
Wendy & Jess prove that eating healthy does not have to mean eating expensively. They walk viewers through the entire process of making a healthy, three-course meal for an entire family for under $10. They even take us through each step along the way, from the grocery store to the kitchen table, with DIY kale head pieces to keep us entertained along the way.
Check it out for yourself.
Many are probably familiar with Matryoshka Dolls—the Russian dolls that start with a big doll, which opens to reveal a smaller one, which in turn opens to reveal a smaller one and so on until the tiniest doll identical to the first one, except for its size, is reached.
The dolls are an example of skilful artistry; imagine how difficult it would be to carve and paint all the dolls and make sure each fits into the other perfectly. They are also representations of people's complexities. I sometimes imagine getting to know a person in terms of opening up another layer of the dolls and revealing another version.
Recently I came across the latest incarnation of the dolls—Russian Dolls a reality TV series on the Lifetime Network following Russian women and their families in the Russian community of Brighton Beach, NY. The show is nowhere near the complexity of the Matryoshka Dolls. The 'dolls', the women featured on the show, are superficial, petty and huge gossipers. The values of family and community that are so important in Russian society are twisted into values of money and image, where what you seem to be is most important.
It's disappointing to see that the typical Cold War images of Russians in film have been updated to the power-hungry and vulgar images of Russians on TV.Posted by Vinnie Yuen | September 12, 2011 | Comments (0)
Monogamy is often assumed to be central to a normal and successful relationship; seeking sexual pleasure outside the confines of marriage or a serious relationship has been frowned upon. However, what if monogamy wasn't natural and humans are naturally polyamorous creatures? Are we truly biologically wired to stay with one person or is a social norm constructed by conservative religions in the past few thousand years? In her directorial debut, actress Amy Rider, from The Secret Life of the American Teenager, tackles these questions and more in her new webseries 'The Monogamy Experiment.'
This series stars Rider and Nigel Behari as a young couple who are thinking of getting hitched. Both are skeptical of the idea of marriage since they are so young. Th couple decides to make a documentary satire about open relationships after a family therapist, Dr. Jouda, recommends they try an open relationship for a month to work through their issues. Interesting and sometimes hilarious incidents ensue, revealing more about our human nature in relationships.
This 'documentary' was made with the help of a group of Rider's friends (mostly all fellow actors) from different TV shows such as Heroes and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. There are several Asian American actors scheduled to make an appearance on the show: James Kyson-Lee (Heroes), Tohoru Masamune (Inception), and Allen Evangelista (Secret Life). Rider definitely incorporates some elements of Asian American culture into this experiment; both of the main characters are also of different Asian backgrounds.
So is monogamy a farce? I wouldn't judge the age-old institution so quickly. In this webseries, Rider seems to be questioning the modern relationship experience and make light of the idea that an open relationship actually helps solve any issues a couple are facing. I personally would never try an open relationship —perhaps I am too much of a jealous person, but I can't imagine sharing my partner with anyone. I would rather be single.
The first episode is called "Your Sex Is On Fire", Amy and Nigel try to get an appointment with Dr. Jouda for couple's therapy.
Posted by Kait Bolongaro | September 2, 2011
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As you may have noticed, This Week in Vancouver has been on a bit of a hiatus these past two weeks. I'm sure it's been devastating without us, wracking your brains to think of fun and diverse ways to spend your free time, but never fear, we've got some great Schematic Suggestions for you this week.
Image credit: Tomorrow Collective
Wednesday, August 31st to Friday, September 2nd
Performance Works, Granville Island
Apologies for the late notice on this one, but if you didn't make it out last night, be sure to get tickets for tonight or Friday, because this mash-up of music, dance, poetry, puppets and...landscape architecture (???) is not to be missed! Tomorrow Collective paired up 12 artists at random and gave them two weeks to come up with one-of-a-kind interdisciplinary collaborations. I myself am excited by the prospect of fantasy stylist (again, ???) Myles Laphen pairing with flamenco dancer Rosario Ancer.
Image credit: Vancouver Latin American Film Festival
Thursday, September 1st to Sunday, September 11th
An opening night part at the Biltmore, Youth Choice Award and Al Jazeera Documentary Award competitions, and a stellar line-up of films including Tambien la Lluvia (Even the Rain) starring (be still my beating heart) Gael Garcia Bernal: this film festival is putting the best of Vancouver and Latin America on display. Check out 10 days of feature films, shorts, and docs from Mexico right on down to Argentina, and did I mention Gael Garcia Bernal?
Image credit: Vancouver Tap Dance Society
Friday, September 2nd to Sunday, September 4th
If you've ever watched old footage of the twinkling toes of Sammy Davis Jr. and Fred Astaire and thought, "I could do that!" well...you're probably wrong. BUT, for three days and three days only, the Vancouver Tap Society is inviting tap experts from all over the world to both teach and perform for the dance-enthused masses of Vancouver.
Image credit: Telus TaiwanFest
Saturday, September 3rd to Monday, September 5th
Toronto already had their fun at their Telus Taiwanfest last weekend, and now the superstars of Taiwanese music, dance, film, cuisine and art are trekking across the country to share their talents with us. Head downtown for a weekend packed with (FREE) events, including Vancouver's first ever street banquet featuring the award-winning beef noodle of Chef Hung. Plus, there will be a display of Taiwanese-style game shows to entertain you while you chow down!
Image credit: Bubmbershoot Festival
Saturday, September 3rd to Monday, September 5th
Well, that's it folks, summer is over. But are you going to let this wimpy summer we've had slink away from you without a fight? No! You are going to pack your car with food and drink and good friends and head down to Seattle for Bumbershoot, the annual music and arts extravaganza. That is your assignment, troops, the fate of summer rests in your hands.Posted by Genie MacLeod | September 1, 2011 | Comments (0)
Nivea's recently come under fire in the African American community for a potentially racist ad. The ad depicts a black man in semi-formal clothing who looks like he's about to chuck away the head of a more rugged man (his pre-Nivea self) with an afro, all the while telling readers to "Look Like You Give a Damn" and "Re-Civilize Yourself."
Insulting? Racist? Some think so. Critics say the ad's telling African Americans that they have to ditch the afro if they want to 'blend in' with society. The ad's gone viral (in a way Nivea probably never intended it to), spreading to social media sites and blogs.
Conversely, B.J. Williams, a man who claims to be the black man in the controversial ad, said he doesn't believe Nivea means any harm, nor is he offended by the ad. He offers a different perspective to the issue: "[H]ad the man been white throwing a white mask would the ... response be the same?"
In the past Nivea has had a similar ad, telling a white man to 'look like he gives a damn.' However, this ad with a white model includes nothing about the man having to re-civilize himself; the company wouldn't use the same words for a white man.
Personally, I think this issue's just gotten way out of hand. This ad may not be racist —at most it's insensitive. It's really just telling people to take care of their body. What I find has sparked the wildfire we see present, however, is the risky territory that Nivea's treading on.
Whereas white men have almost always been able to run for office, vote, and have a job in North America, the same isn't true for black men. You can probably make lists of stereotypes involving African American men, but can you do the same for Caucasian men? Hard to come up with one? You just have to be especially careful when dealing with sensitive topics like this.
Recognizing its ad's faults, Nivea's made a public apology:
Thank you for caring enough to give us your feedback about the recent 'Re-civilized' NIVEA FOR MEN ad. This ad was inappropriate and offensive. It was never our intention to offend anyone, and for this we are deeply sorry. This ad will never be used again. Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of our company.
That said, I want to know your view on this controversial topic. Is Nivea's ad racist or is it misunderstood?Posted by Brandon Woo | September 2, 2011 | Comments (0)
Walking around a multicultural neighborhood like Flushing, Queens, you can see a grand Hindu temple, Japanese cosmetic boutiques, and Taiwanese herbal remedy shops—and you might think to yourself "Am I still in New York?"
And yet, to your surprise, you are. Flushing, you see, is perhaps the closest you can get to Asia in the Big Apple with one of the most ethnically diverse communities in all of America.
However Flushing may be about to experience a great change. New York City Councilor Peter Koo is introducing a measure that will require Flushing's signs to be mostly English.
"If I go to a Polish neighborhood and only see Polish signs, I would not be comfortable," said Councilor Koo, a Chinese-American immigrant himself. "New York is a city of immigrants, and English is a way for different ethnic groups to communicate."
Koo's opponents in Flushing, on the other hand, don't see a need for more English in the community. "Why should ... English be bigger when this is an Asian town?" asked Timothy Chuang, chairman of the Downtown Flushing Business Improvement District and a local business owner himself. "If that happens, Queens will stop being Queens."
"This is America," declared Hyung Chong, manager of a Korean restaurant in Flushing. "We should have the right to put up whatever sign we want."
But perhaps the best solution for this situation would be a compromise between the two sides. Just having simple translations to let native English speakers understand what signs mean would create the sense of inclusiveness that Koo wishes to establish and please local business owners who want to maintain a feeling of 'home' in their neighborhood.
Flushing is a vital part of life in New York City. Having English translations merely ensures that everyone can participate in the diverse culture of the neighborhood.
Brandon Woo is a happy high school student in Vancouver, BC. By working with Schema, he hopes to educate others about current events and learn more about the world around him too.Posted by Brandon Woo | September 19, 2011 | Comments (0)