Reading Between the Lines: UK #University #Students ‘Can No Longer Finish Entire Books’!

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Looking Good: Mediolana’s Spring 2016 Makeover ‘Making Waves’!

An increasingly surreal London is finally cranking into spring – multiple hailstorms notwithstanding – and to mark this moment, we at Mediolana are revising our aesthetics once again. Our social media presence (on Twitter and Facebook as well as WordPress, with multiple other networks to follow) has never felt this fresh. Enjoy, and – to use a technical term – stay tuned!

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Kanadajin3: The First President of Japan?

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Regular readers of this blog will know that (at least periodically) we try to take the pulse of YouTube, a portal which has the potential to supplant television given the apparent ossification of the latter medium; an excellent example of a channel which could hasten TV’s demise is that of Kanadajin3. Kanadajin3 (aka Mira, an amiable Canada-born resident of Tokyo) publishes videos about interesting facets of Japanese culture, from vending machine products to culinary tips; the formula is obviously a successful one, having garnered over 200,000 subscribers.

Until recently, we at Mediolana looked upon Kanadajin3 as merely a cute entertainment channel headed up by an unusually-talented twenty-something YouTuber. However, a brilliant video on the subject of the 2020 Summer Olympics – which is slated to be held in Tokyo – has got us thinking about this slice of the Internet in a whole new way. ANTI Tokyo olympics 2020 – 東京五輪 反対します (16th February 2016) sees Mira riffing on the reasons why she – like many who live and work in Japan’s largest city – believes that the Olympics is a net negative for her metropolis. Having watched this critique, we think that Kanadajin3 could be (with more than a nod to Tsugihara Ryuji and Hidaka Yoshiki) the First President of Japan, or at least someone with a very bright future in East Asian politics:

  1. Nationalist Edge. Mira makes an excellent observation about how large events run by distant, secretive and largely unaccountable organisations can end up flattening the local in the name of soulless homogeneity: she despairs of the proposal that Japan should ban the display of a traditional Buddhist symbol purely because of its superficial resemblance to the Nazi Hakenkreuz. Her views will resonate strongly with a Japanese public that is sensitive to cultural imperialism.
  2. Internationalist Vision. As a Canadian citizen with realistic aspirations to become a Japanese one, Mira has the potential to become an icon for a new, internationally-minded and increasingly open generation. She can also function as a bridge between two of the world’s largest economies: both Canada and Japan are members of the G7.
  3. Easy Charm. Most impressively of all, we were struck by how well Kanadajin3 communicated complex points. She exudes the easy charm of someone who can garner the support of a political machine purely by being herself – something her burgeoning YouTube subscriber base testifies to.

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Emerging Markets Latest: BRICS Establish #Education Collaboration Forum!

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Barcelona’s Development Dilemma: Las Vegas or Incheon?

Those readers familiar with all things Catalan will doubtless be aware of BCN World, a controversial megaproject that is currently being planned for Barcelona, the city that is synonymous with Spain’s most economically productive autonomous community. The present plans for BCN World essentially consist of a vast complex centred on three key revenue-generating elements: hotels, business amenities and casinos. The latter strand has been the subject of particularly heavy criticism from the Popular Unity Candidacy party, a burgeoning left-wing grouping that has considerable power in Catalonia’s regional parliament.

The logic behind BCN World appears to be impeccable, prima facie: attract large-scale foreign direct investment (‘FDI’), build lots of hospitality infrastructure and make the fair assumption that this will be utilised by an international crowd already wildly in evidence – with the aim of alleviating the economic pain in an unemployment blackspot. And there is little doubt that – at least on some level – lots of jobs, both temporary and permanent, will be created along the way. In fact, by the measurement of pure job creation, this ‘Las Vegas’ model may outstrip other forms of economic infrastructure investment, as brilliantly highlighted by Jonas Ridderstråle and Kjell Nordström in their 2004 classic Karaoke Capitalism: Management for Mankind.

To adduce Ridderstråle and Kjell Nordström, however, there is just one small problem: the Las Vegas paradigm has acute limitations. Firstly, it produces a seriously unequal society; hordes of low-wage tertiary sector workers servicing an increasingly distant elite is scarcely a recipe for societal equilibrium. But there is a second problem which to us at Mediolana is even more troubling: the development model is at best static as far as the value chain is concerned. Putting it bluntly (and with the greatest of respect), busboys and waitresses are not going to take your economy to the next level. Plonking office blocks next to a theme park – BCN World’s proposed location is adjacent to Port Aventura – risks in this sense being a complete capitulation to the forces of mediocrity.

There are alternative visions out there, and Catalonia would be well-advised to at least consider the example of Incheon, a port city in South Korea which is building a world-class education hub in its Free Economic Zone (‘FEZ’): at one-sixth of the estimated cost of BCN World, Incheon Global Campus is aiming to play host to ten of the world’s most prestigious universities by 2025. It should attract thousands of fee-paying students who will elevate the metropolis’ knowledge base and create the future. Barcelona should aim for nothing less.

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Asian Century Latest: South Australia #Schools Introducing Mandarin #Curriculum!

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Mind the Chasm: Canada’s International Students ‘Trapped in Remuneration Underworld’!

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