“Mean Professor” and the context of rudeness

Mean Professor Tells Student to “get your sh*t together”

This story appeared a couple of years ago and soon after NPR did a musical version (http://tinyurl.com/cgwww3o). The blogger received hundreds of comments and likes. More recently it appeared on my facebook page, posted by another academic. The story, and the sentiment, still have currency. Indeed, the rudeness of students is often something discussed by university teachers (and I suspect other teachers as well). We talk strategy for getting students to be on time (and be quiet and turn off their cell phones). We lament a situation where we do not feel as empowered to say what we feel as this particular professor did. We wish we could be Professor Snape or Lord Sugar and cut the-one-who-must-be-silenced down to size. Continue reading

Fortune Cookies, Char Siu Pork and Time Travel

You won’t find fortune cookies in Hong Kong, or in other parts of China for that matter. Apparently they are a very old Japanese invention. They became Chinese in the United States. I presume this probably occurred to some degree in the same way that Pakistani and Bangladeshi food in the UK became Indian–through a lack of understanding by the dominant culture of ethnic-national differences in groups.  Pakistani and Bangladeshi migrants found that, in general, the British could locate the Indian subcontinent, but not individual regions and groups, so these groups generalised their geography when identifying their foodways commercially.  Thus, to my mind, it is likely that in the gold-rush era, which saw large influxes of Asians into the western US, the (not so) subtleties that distinguish Japanese from Chinese were lost on the miners who were eating this food. After all the miners referred to these restaurants as Chow Chows and Chinkies. Hardly sensitive or subtle. Continue reading

Fresh Food Markets and Public Health

I was recently doing some research for a project on HK wet markets. For those not from Asia, these are like farmers markets, except the food is purchased mostly from the wholesale market rather than trucked into the market by the farmers themselves. In Hong Kong, this is largely because most of what was once farm land is now new towns and high rise housing.  Food in the markets is fresh. Sellers buy the food each morning from one of the wholesale markets such as the one at Ya Ma Tae. The sellers can either be hawkers, selling on the street, or market sellers, who are located in a purpose built space, which have been run, until recently by the HK Food and Environmental Hygiene department. Despite their importance in the nutritional landscape of Hong Kong, they are not so prominently placed in the economic landscape.  Continue reading