I can hear my brother and his employees chit chatting in their lab through their webcams. I don't always listen but sometimes I do and the other day I heard my brother refer to a family of Japanese descent as Orientals. (And, what brother this back to mind today was that machupicchu mentioned his aunt using the same term.) To my ears, the adjective refers to rugs - never people and really, unless I'm talking about the book Murder on the Orient Express - which I never talk about - I do not use the word in any of its derivations. But using the term to describe ancestry is just offensive to me. I was shocked to hear my brother use it. Paula Dean and now my own brother???
I wrestled with if I should say something and what I should say so as with everything else in life, I Googled it. And I found a Wikipedia entry that I thought was fascinating - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orient. It lists the connotation of Oriental by country/geography. And it turns out - in general - only some of the United States considers the term pejorative and the rest of the English speaking world not so much. I'm not going to use it but I'm also probably not going to say anything to my brother. If/when he moves to Seattle, I'll tell him but as long as he lives in Texas, I'm leaving him alone on the topic.