Wednesday, January 9, 2019

AKIC Does the Proust Questionaire

A writer I regularly follow was asked to complete the Prouse questionaire, a parlor game having some connection with Marcel Proust. Answering the questionaire, it is said, reveals one's true nature. The writer I followed was up to doing the questionaire, and so am I am, whether or not anyone demands it.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

To be in a state of no worries, where there is no place I have to go, of not being slave to the clock, where my wife and son are content, and my faith in God is strong.

What is your greatest fear?

Harm coming to my wife and son.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Lawrence of Arabia. If the aphorist Nicolás Gómez Dávila could be classified as an historical figure, he would be my answer to this question instead.

Which living person do you most admire?

David Warren, blogger at Essays in Idleness.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Inability to control my temper and inability to assert myself.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?


What is your greatest extravagance?

Currently, it is a trip to an expensive Wuxi Expat pub.

What is your favorite journey?

This question throws me. I take it in two ways and so I will provide two anwers. Firstly, the best journey of my life for me was to go to Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. I was a JFK assassination buff and to be in a place I had so much imagined was wonderful. Secondly, as for a journey I would do all the time, I would have to say a walk through the back streets of Wuxi.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

I find this a hard question to answer. Looking at a list of them, I choose temperance. I think it is okay to act out a wide range of emotions. In other words, I don't like people who act cool.

On what occasion do you lie?

That is another tough question for me. I do withhold information which is not the same as deliberately telling an untruth. But it would be a lie to never say I lie. So, I would have to say I lie to my wife and my son when to not do so would cause me inconvience.

What do you dislike the most about your appearance?

My thinness.

Which living person do you most despise?

Leonardo Decaprio.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

"I guess" and many words ending in "ing." 

What is your greatest regret?

Not having made the effort to become a parliamentary page after graduating from high school.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My wife.

When and where were you happiest?

When I was able to present my father with a grandson.

Which talent would you most like to have?

To be multilingual.

What is your current state of mind?

I am feeling ineffectual and useless.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would stop thinking about being Catholic and become one.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

I would like there to be more children.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Coming to China and meeting my wife.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

A man of leisure who reads a lot, writes a lot, and becomes famous after death.

What is your most treasured possession?

My father's wedding ring. My mother gave it to me when he died.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

To feel you are irredeemablyguilty.

Where would you like to live?

In the mountains.

What is your favorite occupation?

Taking care of my son.

What is your most marked characteristic?

My aloofness.

What is the quality you most like in a man?


What is the quality you most like in a woman?


What do you most value in your friends?


Who are your favorite writers?

Geroge Orwell, Evelyn Waugh, Elmore Leonard, William Shakespeare, Flannery O'Connor, David Warren, Anthony Ensolen, Peter Hitchens, GK Chesterton, Nicholas Gomez Davillia, TS Eliot, PD Wodehouse, Malcom Muggeridge, WB Yeats, Michael Crichton, John Derbyshire, VS Naipal, Theodore Dalrymple, Michel Houellebecq, Joseph Ratzinger, Anne Coulter, Florence King, Michael Connelly, Simon Leys, Coventry Patmore, Conrad Black, Stephen Leacock and Mordecai Richler. To name a few!!

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

My heroes of fiction are Bertram Wooster and his butler Jeeves. They represent the two halves of my personality that are always in contention. Wooster represents my frivilous side; Jeeves, my serious side.

Who are your heroes in real life?

Reactionaries, Traditional Catholics and Dissidents.

What are your favorite names?

Anthony, Clint

What is it that you most dislike?

Chinese drivers, Chinese teenagers glued to their smartphones, and Chinese children screaming "foreigner!" when they encounter me. I also hate people labelling themselves as middle-of-the-road.

How would you like to die?

In my sleep.

What is your favorite motto?

Don't believe the bullshit.

Comments? Questions? Email me at

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Video and Movies that AKIC Watched in 2018

Here is a list of video including movies, documentaries and series that I watched in 2018.  I have rated what I have seen on a five star scale.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (In the Cinema)


Suburra (Season 1)


Get Out (2017)


Wind River (2017)


Jumangi (In the Cinema)


National Lampoon Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead


Icarus (2017)


The Ritual (2017)


John Wick (2014)


Babylon Berlin (Season 1)


The Descent (2005)


The Passion of the Christ (2004)


Babylon Berlin (Season 2)


The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)


Ready Player One (In the Cinema)


Dark (Season 1)


Wild Wild West (Netflix Documentary)


Akira (1988)


The Art of Japanese Life


Papierove hlavy aka Paper Heads (1995)


Giant (1956)


Solo (in the cinema)


Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)


Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)


Death Wish (2018)


3 Percent (Season 2)


Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (2017)


The Band Wagon (1953)


Odd Man Out (1947)


Airplane! (1980)


The Best of Enemies (2014)


Enter the Dragon (1973)


Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind (2018)


The Big Boss (1971)


The Delta Force (1986)


The Death of Stalin (2017)


Ant-man and the Wasp 2 (In the Cinema)


Mission Impossible 6 (In the Cinema)


The Longest Yard (1974)


Norm Macdonald has a Show (Season 1)


Bosch (Season 4)


The Terror (Season 1)


Letterkenny (Season 4)


The Man in the High Castle (Season 3)


Narcos Mexico (Season 1)


Ball of Fire (1941)


Chappaquiddick (2018)


Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget (2018)


The Ballad of Buster Scruggs


Sharp Objects (Season 1)


Questions?  Comments?  Email me at

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Books AKIC Read in 2018

Happy New Year!

I didn't do much blogging in 2018 but I did do a lot of reading.

Here are the books I read in 2018:

The Jokeby Milan Kundura

Four Quartetsby TS Eliot

The English and Their Historyby Robert Tombs

Righteous Indignationby Andrew Breitbart

Mother Angelica's Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday SpiritualityEdited by Raymond Arroyo

Watermelons: The Green Movement's True Colorsby James Delingpole 

American Pravdaby James O'Keefe

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaosby Jordan Peterson 

Bad Thoughtsby Jamie Whyte

With the World's Great Travelers, Volume 2by Various. Edited by Charles Morris & Oliver H.G. Leigh

Poemsby Christina Rossetti

A Shropshire Ladby A.E. Houseman

What's Wrong with China by Rodney Gilbert

Philip Larkin Poems selected by Martin Amis

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky 

Village Life in China: A Study in Sociologyby Arthur H. Smith

On a Chinese Screen by W. Somerset Maugham

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Bigby Scott Adams

Hombre by Elmore Leonard

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

The Liturgical Year Volume 3: Christmas by Abbot Prosper Gueranger

The Balkan Wars: 1912-1913 by Jacob Gould Schurman

Gems of Chinese Verseby W.J.B. Fletcher

Angel's Flightby Michael Connelly

Selected Poems of Lord Byron edited by Matthew Arnold

The Liturgical Year Volume 6: Passiontide and Holy Weekby Abbot Prosper Gueranger

Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man by Marshall McLuhan

The Rape of Lucreceby William Shakespeare 

The Radetzky Marchby Joseph Roth 

Poorly Made in China by Paul Midler

As You Like Itby William Shakespeare 

Kenneth Clark: Life, Art, and Civilisation by James Stourton

A Treasury of English Proseedited by Logan Pearsall Smith 

Trivia by Logan Pearsall Smith 

Collected Poetry by John Donne

Scale by Geoffrey West 

The Infernal Library by Nick Kalder

The Children's Garland from the Best Poetsedited by Coventry Patmore

Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other by Conrad Black

My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

Elementary Chinese Reader 2 (Revised Edition) published by Sinolingua

Youth by Joseph Conrad

Travels in Arabia Deserta (Volume 1)by Charles M Doughty

Baltimore Cathechism No. 4by Thomas L. Kinkead

1215 and All That by Ed West

The Servile State by Hillaire Belloc

The High Window by Raymond Chandler

Travels in Arabia Deserta (Volume 2)by Charles M Doughty

The Study of Poetry by Bliss Perry

Metaphysical Poetry edited by Colin Burrow

The Prayers and Personal Devotions of Mother Angelica edited by Raymond Arroyo

Select Poems of Shelly by P.B. Shelley

Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie Leduff

Wild Wales: Its People, Language and Scenery by George Borrow

The Golden Treasury Of the best Songs and Lyrical Pieces in the English Language selected by Francis Turner Palgrave

Bruce Lee: A Life by Matthew Polly 

With Lawrence in Arabia by Lowel Thomas

The Zincali: An Account of the Gypsies of Spain by George Borrow

The Bounty Hunters by Elmore Leonard

Selected Poems of Francis Thompson 

Trump: The Art of the Dealby Donald Trump

The Life of Francis Thompson by Everard Meynell

Among the Believers by V.S. Naipaul

Aunts Aren't Gentlemen by P.G. Wodehouse

The Boy's Book of Rulers by Lydia Hoyt Farmer

The Holy Bible New TestamentDouay-Rheims

The Gulag Archipelago (Volume 1) by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor

The Lord by Romano Guardini

The Cannibalby John Hawkes

The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark

The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor

Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov

Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoplesby V.S. Naipaul

The Book of Disquietby Fernando Pessoa

Ship of Foolsby Tucker Carlson

Homo Ludensby Johan Huizinga

Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan by Kazuaki Tanahashi

Poems 1876-1889 by Gerard Manley Hopkins

An Introduction to Zen Buddhismby D.T. Suzuki

Arrival and Departure by Arthur Koestler

The Cartel by Don Winslow

Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study of Total Powerby Karl A. Wittfogel

The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

The Moral Universe by Fulton J. Sheen

Conservatismby Roger Scruton

Gravity and Graceby Simone Weil

Bulchevy's Book of English Verse

The Warden by Anthony Trollope

A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

Life of Jesus by Francois Mauriac

A Time To Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor

The Living Thoughts of Pascalpresented by Francois Mauriac

The Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1918

The Souls of Yellow Folk: Essays by Wesley Wang

A Time for Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor

Submission by Michel Houellebecq

Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminsim by Camille Paglia

Against the Grain by Joris-Karl Huysmans

The Liturgical Year Volume 1: Advent by Abbot Prosper Gueranger

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

A Year with the Saints by Paul Thigpen

Prayers of the Early Churchedited by J. Manning Potts

Don Colacho's Aphorisms by Nicolás Gómez Dávila

I have been keeping track of the books I've read since 2014. Here are the links to those lists:





Any comments on my reading? Send an email to

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Parent Teacher Meeting at Tony's Primary School

Every parent teacher meeting at any of my son Tony's schools has been attended solely by my wife Jenny till this November 2018.  I have usually been working when they have these things and would try to find a way of weaseling out of these things if I was somehow available. 

This time, I was able to attend a meeting because of a confluence of circumstances.  One, Jenny was sick.  Two, I didn't have any classes to teach at my school.  Three, we decided it would save Jenny the hassle of having to drive to school because I could go to school via the subway, attend the meeting and then take Tony with me.

The meeting wasn't quite what I imagined a Parent Teacher meeting to be.  I had expected to have individual meetings with the teachers about Tony.  Instead, I had to sit in a classroom for three hours watching a class demonstration and then enduring two hours of speeches from the teachers.

The class demo featured the teacher giving the students some fairly complicated arithmetic problems to solve like 1.25 X 4.8 and then soliciting answers.  I amused myself by trying to do the problems in my head and listening to see if I could understand the answers which were in Chinese.  As this was happening Tony sat near me.

When the math demo ended, the pupils left and their parents had to stay.  A teacher talked for a hour.  I could only make out little snatches here and there of what she was saying.  I instead tried to read what few Chinese characters I could recognize on what was on the accompanying PPT.  From that and using some Chinese apps on my Iphone, I read of good study methods and I guessed that the teacher was telling the parents how to get their children to study better.

Jenny told me that this meeting was to end at 15:00.  When the teacher finished at ten minutes past, I thought the thing was done with.  Instead, another teacher entered the class to speak.  Annoyed, I messaged Jenny and she told me to "stop bitching" because she had to sit through many of these things.

There was then another speaker and the meeting ended at 16:00.  As the third speaker spoke, I abandoned all pretense of paying attention and I looked at some books I had loaded on my Iphone including a volume of the poems of Francis Thompson.  

To make the experience more annoying was my being stared at by all these kids because I was a laowai/foreigner.  Walking into the classroom I tried to focus on Tony and ignore them.  Later about 15:40 because I was sitting by a window, I had to try to ignore all these kids standing right up against the window so they could stare at me.  Finally, it dawned on me to close the curtains.

What was  interesting to me about the experience was the passivity of all the other parents attending this meeting.  They were all silent.  No one said a word to question what the teacher was saying or to ask for clarifications.  One teacher spoke at a low volume and no one told her to raise her voice.  Some of the parents had the look in their eyes of boredom.  Some parents were tapping on their phones engaged in WeChat conversations.  There was no muttering from anyone of what complete b.s. this meeting was.  The parents endured like they were sheep.

[Later, asking my students at my school about this, I was told that the parents were told that they could ask questions afterwards.  And that the good students and the bad students in the class were mentioned during the speeches.]