Thursday, July 11, 2019

Is the Idea of Doing a Second Job just Another Way to Expand the "Gig Economy"?

One of what many social scientists consider to be a growing problem of modern economies is the spread of precarious work through the "gig economy." An increasing number of people are working as full-time freelancers, such as drivers for Uber and project-based consultants, through contracts that do not guarantee them fixed monthly salaries and employee benefits like insurance available to full-time staff. With incomes seasonally volatile and subject to changes at any time, such freelancers are rightly protesting their fates as expendable laborers with little leverage over their employers.

Monday, July 8, 2019

What Allows French Culinary Imperialism to be Globally Accepted?

When a restaurant receives one or more stars from the Michelin guide (or even just an honorary mention), it is justifiably proud. The restaurant has just earned worldwide recognition from one of the most famous guides for gourmets, giving it the ability to attract a large number of customers from around the world. The status of being listed in the Michelin is not only a sign that the food made in the restaurant is delicious at a world-beating level, but that the uniquely culturally bound service and atmosphere the restaurant provides can be considered universally positive.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The International and not So International of a Japanese Wedding

The venue of the wedding ceremony probably typifies what constitutes a successful case of urban gentrification. The concrete, greyish former factory building hosted a modern ceremony hall, full of flower-filled waiting rooms and dining halls awaiting the entrance of tuxedoed guests and the happy newlyweds. At first sight, it would be difficult to believe that the vegetation-inundated venue is located smack in the middle of Shibuya, one of metropolitan Tokyo's most heavily trafficked, densely built urban jungles. The contrast between the inside and the outside is just too surreal.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Irksome Over-commercialization of a Chinese Funeral

The Nanjing Funeral Homes feels more like a bustling event space than a solemn location to say the last goodbyes to one's loved ones. Located in the confines of a tree-filled park in the southern fringes of the city, the city's government-run institution for funerals combine last rites, cremation, and burial services under one roof in several grandiose monumental buildings. But despite the massive size of the institution, demand far outstrips demand. At 7am on a Thursday, grieving family members and friends are lining up just to get their few minutes of seeing the washed bodies of the deceased for one last time.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

How Cynicism Weakens the Rule of the Law

As protestors on the streets of Hong Kong continued their street battles with the police to demand the withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill, there have been some extraordinarily cynical comments about the ongoing events and their limited impact on the forcefulness of the Chinese government. The gist of the cynics' argument is that the protests are only likely to halt the inevitable passing of the bill by a few years, as the Chinese government and its puppet-like representatives in Hong Kong back off temporarily, only to move forward again more discreetly and in another form, under new leadership.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The End of Trust between the Youths of Hong Kong and the Chinese Government

Hong Kong is burning, once again. After hundreds of thousands of yellow umbrellas accompanied protesters seeking greater rights inundated the city in 2014, the city is once again on lockdown, as some say more than one million people came out to protest the proposed bills allowing criminals to be extradited to the Chinese mainland. As businesses close down in support of the protests and 1 in 7 of the city's residents taking to the streets to demand the resignation of the Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the city seems to be at its political crossroads.