Press “2” for English

Thursday, 18 April 2013 02:00 PM Written by

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Thousands of miles away from home, nothing screams “America” like the golden arches of McDonalds. Brazil’s McDonalds offered the wonderful Ovaltine Shake and a delicious late night ice-cream fix. India tested our patience as we emerged from the Hyderabad airport, tired and hungry, and came face to face with the McChickens and McFlurries. Someone spoke up, “I don’t even care if they only have chicken!” And we realized that we wouldn’t be getting any juicy Big Macs while in India—they don’t eat cows.

China, though, has taken McDonalds to a whole new, should I say, dangerous, level. For better or worse, McDonalds delivers in Beijing—right to our dorm. Our PittMAP cohort was amazed by this phenomenon. We asked one of our Chinese Buddies, “Isn’t it weird that your McDonalds delivers?” She replied, “Isn’t it weird that yours doesn’t?”

One night, tired, hungry, and freezing cold, I didn’t feel like leaving my room to go find food. What better time to order some McDonalds? I grabbed my handy Survival Guide, generously provided by the CET study abroad staff, and looked for the number for McDonalds. Uh oh. No number. Perfect.

I found Abby, remembering that she had ordered McDonalds the day before, to ask her how she had managed. She warned me that she had had a terrible time trying to place her order. “They didn’t understand what I was saying. Eventually we had to go downstairs to get someone who spoke Mandarin to help us.”

Hannah and I set to work Googling McDonalds in the Beijing area. I was trying to find one within walking distance. Hannah was in her room trying to find a number for us to call. I think I might have figured something out!

Hannah came over with a phone number, dorm address, and McDonald’s menu at the ready. Well here goes nothing. First try, a Chinese woman tried to give me a different number. Second try, a different Chinese woman hung up on me after I asked for English. Third time’s the charm! Finally my call made it through.

I made sure that they would actually deliver—I still couldn’t comprehend this idea. “What is your name?” the woman asked. “Lizz…?” “No, your street name.” I was caught off guard, expecting that I would place my order first. I scrambled for Hannah’s room card and attempted to read out the address. “83 Cee-san-huan North Road”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.” “83 Shee-san-who-an… Cee-shan-han… I’m just going to spell it. 83 X-i-s-a-n-h-u-a-n North Road.”

After a long pause, the woman read back the address with perfect pronunciation. More questions: “What building?” “What room number?” I was starting to think that it would have been easier just to go downstairs and buy a noodle cup from the convenience store.

I was so caught up in relaying the address, I forgot what it was that I was supposed to be ordering. One McDouble, one McChicken and two fries later, the lady thanked me. The delivery man would arrive in 45 minutes. “You did great!” Hannah went back to her room to continue working on her homework.

Twenty minutes later, I jumped at the sound of my room phone ringing. I answered it and was greeted by an onslaught of Mandarin. “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Chinese.” The line went dead. A second later my cell phone starts ringing. Same man, more Chinese. “Umm… McDonalds?” I’ll never know what he said, but it sounded like an affirmation.

Stepping out of the elevator, I found an Asian version of Ronald McDonald—a bright red McDonald’s coat, black army pants, black knee pads and a red helmet. He was standing in front of the door with a mini refrigerator strapped to his back. I responded with “Ni hao” (Hello)—the only Chinese that I felt confident saying. He chuckled, took my money, and handed me the food. The French fries were cold and my McChicken was more like mystery meat, but I was too busy laughing as I tried to tell Hannah about my encounter with the McDonald man to worry about it.

A week later, once again too cold to go outside, Allie, Hannah and I decided to order McDonalds. I already had the number in my phone. I knew the secret—skip the broken Chinese, just spell out the words. Address in hand, I told the man on the phone that I wanted to place an order for delivery.

“Of course and you are Elizabeth Schellin at 83 Xisanhuan North Road, correct?”

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20130415 KeatingAlysia150Alysia Keating: is the first-ever Director of Diversity and Gender Equality at the Allegheny County Bar Association. Ipso Facto spoke with the Penn graduate about the state of diversity and equality in the Pittsburgh legal community and what it was like for her to ditch a successful career at Big Law to raise a family. Here are the highlights of that conversation:

Ipso Facto: You went to Penn, then Georgetown for law school, then you worked in New York and Florida. How’d you get to Pittsburgh?

Alysia Keating: I got to Pittsburgh by way of my husband and my family. He’s from Mount Lebanon, we were looking for a place to move to that had a good quality of life and good opportunities, it just seemed to make sense. We came here in 2007.

Q: How did you wind up working with the ACBA?

20130415 intellectualproperty150Starting your week with the Post-Gazette Business/law package today begins with a report by the PG's Deborah M. Todd on changes in U.S. patent law that have attorneys scrambling to adapt, including a reversal of laws regarding who holds the right to an idea once a patent is filed.

The Legal Intelligencer's Ben Present highlights questions about a challenge to lawyer-expert witness confidentiality raised by Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices presiding over arguments before the high court in Pittsburgh last week.

20130414mh consolandarena60And from the weekend, the Panic Street Lawyer's Jay Hornack has notes on what NCAA hockey championship visitors in Pittsburgh may have gleaned from the local legal scene in between Frozen Four events.

On the Docket: April 15, 2013

Monday, 15 April 2013 05:00 AM Written by

Which Pittsburgh law firm recently opened its first office in Cleveland? Who was the partner at McCarthy McDonald Schulberg & Joy recently named as the "Woman of Distinction" in the field of law by the Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania?

Discover the details and more in our notes on career moves and news in Western Pennsylvania's legal community in this week's On the Docket.

And here's how to share career news from your practice:

Fuxiang Hutong

Monday, 15 April 2013 01:31 AM Written by

bj matt 1

A quick dive out of the crowd allows us time to look around.

Hair is dyed in the most unnatural hues: pink, orange, and blue, often adorned with faux animal ears.   A girl in platform, patent leather boots with gold plates screwed into the sides chews on a foot-long skewer of sizzled starfish.   A boy sporting a hairy, oversized, glittering black sweater and zebra-striped too-tight pants leans against an aluminum wall.

bj matt 3Street vendors loudly call to the crowd in Chinese from inside funky narrow-walled stores. A man selling stickers uses the up and down tones of the guys selling Cracker Jacks at a baseball game. His body looks to be no older than 40, but the cigarette smoke curling through his deep, tan cheek wrinkles age him another ten years.   Every sticker elicits an excited response from his customers, eager to slap them on the back of their MacBooks. There is an Andy Warhol-esque depiction of Barack Obama smiling candidly in a Chairman Mao cap; there is a sticky copy of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album cover, a good present for someone's dad; there's a Velvet Underground banana, and it is hanging next to an image of superman and batman in an aggressive lip lock.

And there is a rack of designer breathing masks (this is Beijing after all).   Kitten whiskers, skulls, panda snouts, pop art versions of Obama, Mao, Marilyn Monroe, Kobe Bryant.   Some have English captions in red:   Everyone should love animals! Because they're delicious!   "Chairman Meow: Dog my cats if I want." "Grow so big I suddenly discover that kindergarten is most suitable for me."

The hutong road keeps stretching, a long strip of chic cocktail lounges and souvenir shops--every other one similar to the ones before.   Two Chinese girls in their young twenties sport straw cowboy hats, red and blue bandanas around their necks, and flannel button down shirts. Holding scarily dingy green, wheatgrass health-booster drinks in one hand and cheap cigarettes in the other, they are in search of all things kitsch, vintage, ironic, and quirkily bizarre.

For six kuai, one dollar, we each buy five churros, sticks of fried dough drizzled in hot fudge with a side of vanilla soft-serve.   At the end of the night, and with regret, we look back on the still-crowded hutong street, a scene of colorful, original pandemonium that embodies everything young, cool, and Chinese. The hutong is successful because it knows exactly who it's catering to.

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India marks PittMAP’s second stop and Hindi represents our second foreign language. Hindi is the main language spoken in northern India. More than 180 million people regard Hindi as their mother tongue, and another 300 million use it as their second language. Hindi has been influenced and enriched over the years by Dravidian, Turkish, Farsi, Arabic, Portuguese, and English. Hindi is in a three-way tie with Bengali and Portuguese for the fifth most spoken language in the world.

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Suchita Gotimukul, our Hindi professor during our stay in Hyderabad, has been teaching Hindi for 15 years, the last 7 years at the University of Hyderabad with its Study in India Program.  Although Gotimukul is a native of Hyderabad (located in the central southern part of India), she excels at the Hindi language.   She says, “I have always loved Hindi since my childhood. It is the language of my heart.”

In an attempt to teach us as much Hindi as possible in a four week time period, Gotimukul set up small lessons in nouns and verbs that might come up in basic conversation. To complement the language, an Indian song (Honge Kamiyab) and film (English Vinglish) allowed us to learn a little bit of the Indian culture as well. The song Honge Kamiyab (होंगेकामयाब) is the Hindi version of the American song “We Shall Overcome”.

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There are several hundred “mother tongues” in India—the 1961 census recognized 1,652.  According to the 2001 Census, 30 languages were spoken by more than one million native speakers, and 122 languages by more than 10,000 speakers. Beside Hindi, other languages are spoken in specific regions of India, for example: Kashmiri (found on the Pakistani border), Punjabi, Nepali (found on the border of Nepal), Assamese, Bengali, and Telugu (found in southern India, including where we are—in the city of Hyderabad).



In addition to the large number of languages in India, there are also many different dialects. Choosing any single language as an official language presents serious problems for those whose “mother tongue” is different from the “chosen” language. This problem is realized by the boards of education across India. They recognize the need for training people in one common language.

In Andhra Pradesh, the state in which Hyderabad is located, students have to learn English and the chosen regional language—either Telugu of Urdu. In addition to this, they must learn another language, like Hindi, as a special language subject.

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In British India, English was the sole language used for administrative purposes as well as for higher education. When India became independent in 1947, the Indian legislators had the challenge of choosing a language for official communication. They could make Hindi the official language, since there was a large percentage of Hindi speakers in India, about 43%. They could make English the official language; this was preferred by non-Hindi speakers. Or, finally, they could declare both Hindi and English as official languages and give each state the freedom to choose.

In 1950, the Indian constitution declared Hindi (in Devanagari script) to be the official language of the union. However, English was also used for the communication of the Central Government. Most state government documentation is prepared in three languages: English, Hindi, and the official language of the local state.

The first major linguistic conflict, known as the Anti-Hindi Agitations of Tamil Nadu, took place in Tamil Nadu against the implementations of Hindi as the sole official language of India. The use of English by the government was supposed to fade out by 1965, but the idea of this changeover created a lot of alarm amongst the non-Hindi speaking areas of India. This unrest promoted Parliament to enact the Official Languages Act in 1930, which provided for the continued use of English for official purposes along with Hindi, even after 1965.

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According to Gotimukul, “People are crazy about English. English gives a population international status.”   But, she said, if the Indian government did away with English, it would “give importance to Hindi, and therefore, India.”



Panic Street Lawyer: Visit Pittsburgh law review

Sunday, 14 April 2013 05:51 AM Written by

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Based on the increased amount of motor vehicle traffic in and around Pittsburgh this weekend, I am guessing that there has also been increased traffic on the Visit Pittsburgh website. In addition to the out-of-towners who are here for the 2013 Frozen Four, i.e. the Men’s Division I College Hockey Championship at Consol Energy Center, there are scholars and event producers from across the country on the University of Pittsburgh campus for Focus-Brasil U-Circuit.

This newspaper included in its Wednesday’s Frozen Four preview section a two-page “visitor’s guide” to Pittsburgh, mentioning things to do when not at Thursday or Saturday’s games. When the city hosts events which draw national or international visitors who have never been here before, I wonder what type of impression they will get of our attractions, the restaurants, and the people. I also wonder how conscious Pittsburghers are of the spotlight being pointed on us during these events.

20130412 luxprisons photocom87701225 150A number of states across the country have tinkered with the idea of making inmates pay to stay in state prisons or county jails. Critics say the idea of expecting prisoners to pay is absurd. Some have suggested that extending prison stays because an inmate can’t pay is not only bizarre but creates essentially a “debtors prison.” Others have suggested that pay-to-stay is “a poor person’s tax.”

California has taken it a step further. An inmate in California, in any number of jails, can pay for an upgrade.

Some inmates at the Glendale City Jail, for $85 a day, sleep in separate quarters from other inmates, have access to phones, showers and day-room areas. It is not all fun and games, inmates must perform laundry and janitorial tasks inside the jail to get their two cold meals and one hot meal each day.

"I don't feel that burden should be placed on the taxpayers," Jail Administrator Juan Lopez said, adding that inmates "should pay their own way." And get better treatment if they have the money.