Tuesday, February 25, 2020

How to Play the Yes-No Game; Example Yes-No Game with Myself; Playing the Game with Bernie Sanders (aka BS); How Politicians Would Probably Corrupt the Game; Homebody Chronicles Continued; Sympathy for Wuhan;

  • I learned of the Yes-No game from the James Delingpole podcast. I enjoy the game because it is simple to play, and very fun and revealing of the game's participants. I have been playing the game in speaker corner classes. Two or more people can play the game. One of players posits things. The other(s) respond with a Yes or No answer. Yes indicates approval of the thing; No indicates disapproval. The tone in which the answers are made can also indicate the degree to which the person approves or disapproves of the thing. 

  • So let me play the game with myself. Trump? Yes!; Chinese Schools? No!;  Canadian Schools? No!; Mayor Pete? NO!; Stalin? NOO!; The Rolling Stones? Yes!; Rap Music? No!; Chairman Mao? NOO!; Justin Trudeau? NOO!; Never-Trumpers? No!; Antifa? No!; SJWs? No!; Catholicism? YESSS!; Jesus Christ? YESSSS!; Free Markets? Yes!; Tattoos? No!; Pizza? Yes!; Beer? Yes!; German Punctuality? Yes!; German Immigration Policies? No!; Eggplant? No!; Tofu? No!; Chinese Driving? No!; Frank Sinatra? Yes!; Pink Floyd? No!; Pope Francis? No!; Pope Benedict XVI? Yes!; 

  • Currently, a person I would like to play the Yes-No game with is Bernie Sanders (BS). Here are some things for which I would like to see BS's reactions: Communism; Fascism; Karl Marx; The Soviet Union; An independent Taiwan; The People's Republic of China; Tariffs; Open Borders; Leon Trotsky; Vladimir Lenin; Joseph Stalin; Fidel Castro; Chairman Mao; China's one-child policy; Ikea; McDonalds; Walmart; Mom and Pop Shops; Catholicism; Islam; Jesus Christ; Woody Allen Movies; Woody Allen; Government Housing; Government Summer Cottages; Jewelry; Judging a person by the content of their character and not the color of their skin; Meritocracy; Plastic Straw Bans; Junk Food Taxes; Limiting the Size of Soda Drink Cups; Cancel Culture; Unlimited Free Speech; Small Business; Hot Dogs; Cadillacs; 

  • In theory, I think the Yes-No game would be a good one to play with politicians. But as with trying to bring democracy to the Middle East and other low-grade cultures, to hold candidates debates, and to try Socialism, the actual practice may blow up in one's face. I can see politicians not sticking to just giving one-word Yes or No answers. They would come up with up one word weasel answers, or they would insist that their thoughts on the topic are long, complex and nuanced, and that it was totally unfair to make them give categorical answers. Still, it would be a worthwhile experiment to try on politicians. It would surely confirm the hypothesis that they are all weasels.

  • Anyway, enough of my thoughts on things for which I don't have a say. What's happening with my homebody chronicles? Not much really. I am having a grand time. I love staying at home and not working, even with the threat of my wife Jenny going off about something. The last three days, I have been going outside the apartment and playing catch with my son. We go to the basketball court where there aren't that many players and one of the baskets is broken so that we have lots of room to throw the ball back and forth. Tony is getting better at catching the ball, but he can't throw the ball worth a darn yet. 

  • Two more things: 1) I am finishing this blog entry on Ash Wednesday. I think that it is a good thing at this moment in history that Lent is starting. To do penance is good practice for actual suffering. The question for me is how do I do penance for the next forty days? I don't know what to do. 2) I get my news about the virus crisis from western sources; Jenny gets her from Chinese. The stories I have been reading are all over the board about what is going on, who is to blame, and how bad the crisis is and will be. From what I have seen from Jenny's is that there is more "Rah-rah; Let's be strong China!" theme to it. My wife has been watching videos of foreigners sending this message to China. One message though, had my head scratching. I saw a video of a foreigner praising the behavior of Wuhan locals during the crisis. Fine sentiments as far as that goes, but then the foreigner said that world, when the crisis ends, will have to thank the people of Wuhan for their behavior. I don't know how this message would fly outside of China. My first thought upon hearing the foreigner say that was that the virus originated in Wuhan. And anyway, 99 percent of Wuhanren do deserve sympathy and concern; but not thanks.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

I Have Taken Some Photos!; Had a Gun Pointed at My Head; Annoying QR Code Requirement; Las Vegas Democratic Debate; Why Political Debates Are Annoying; How I Propose to Make Debates Useful;

  • I have taken some photos of what is happening (or isn't happening) during this Virus Crisis. You can see them here in my photo blog.

  • I walked into a convenience store and immediately had a gun pointed at my head – a temperature gun from one of the clerks. Perhaps there is a sign on the doors telling entering customer to expect this, but I never noticed it and wouldn't have been able to read it.

  • The grocery stores now have this requirement that I find very annoying.  Here is a photo of it. At first, I had to fill out an online form, but then I had to scan a QR code and fill out some online forms asking for all sorts of information.

  • And speaking of draconian, I am watching video of the Las Vegas Democratic Debate. I don't want any of these people to be the President of the the USA. Four of six candidates at the debate were freaks. Two, Bloomberg and Klobuchar, seemed normal but said stupid things or, in the case of Bloomberg, had opportunities to point out the insanity but didn't. (There is an intelligent defense of NDAs but Bloomberg didn't make it.)

  • Watching these debates one has to wonder how an intelligent person could make a voting decision based on what is said and debated about by the candidates. The candidates never answer questions satisfactorily. (Sanders' answer to the question about how he could put together a coalition to defeat Trump was mere sloganeering.) The candidates engage in the stupid game of "gotcha!" (Mayor Pete attacking Klobuchar because she didn't remember the name of the Mexican President was a head-scratcher of a thing for a normal person to get in arms about. But Mayor Pete is a freak.) And then there is what is not said or is not asked. Now, I suppose, this debate is really aimed at Democrat Party primary voters, and so the assumptions of it, which I find objectionable, cannot be questioned; but it means that these debates are not the place for great issues of first principles to be discussed. Instead, what we are watching is a "beauty" contest. That is, the candidates are trying to defeat the others on some superficial level, and the substance of the question being dealt with is not explored at any depth.

  • So what can be done to make the debate process better? Maybe, don't have them at all is the first way. The presidential process had gone many years without the need for debates until this idea got into people's heads that debates would improve the process. But no one can say that debates have made the process better. Most intelligent political observers don't see the need to watch the debates. But if debates can't be done away with, I would propose this to make it better. Firstly, we have to recognize that two things have to be determined by the debate process: one, the candidate's competence to actually do the job he is being elected to; two, the candidate's beliefs on political issues and policy. For the first thing, I would have the candidates asked job interview type questions. Once the answers are in, the candidates can then debate each other about their answers. For the second thing, I would do something along the lines of the yes-no game with the candidates. (In the yes-no game, the participants show how they feel about a thing by answering yes or no when asked about it. Example: Andis, Pizza? Yes! Fish Pizza? No! Catholicism? YES! Second Amendment? Yes! Plastic Straw bans? No! White boots? NOO!) Having asked these yes-no questions and gotten the candidates' answers, the candidates can then debate each other as to why they answered as they did. Secondly, the debates should be one-on-one. With either as many as possible being held on a continuous basis or none. Three or more candidates and you have a pointless screaming match.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Teaching Tony Poker; Curb Your Enthusiasm; A Drive in Wuxi; Back to Work? Who Knows!; Baseball and Football; Apartment Complex Restrictions

  • On a suggestion from my wife Jenny, who wanted him to not spend so much time on smart phones and computers, I taught Tony poker. He quickly got into it but as of the time of this blog posting, he hadn't yet caught on to theintricacies of the game. He was doing a lot of "tells" like discarding five cards at once and moaning at the cards he had just been dealt. And he became despondent when on I got a lucky streak and had four full houses in a row.

  • In other Tony news, I can report that he now likes the TV series Curb Your Enthusiasm. He loves the character Leon.

  • On the February 17th, I first drove the Kaulins family car to Wuxi Downtown to start the process of renewing my visa, and then drove to Metro (a sort of Costco) to buy a few groceries. There was more traffic than I was expecting on the roads, and the Metro parking lot was full of cars. I bought ten bottles of Corona, of which there seems to be a lot, but I have had a hard time finding potato chips. To renew my visa, I had been signing my full name "Andis Edmunds Kaulins." Somewhere along the line of dealing with PRC officialdom, I was forced into the habit. 

  • As of now, we are scheduled to go back to work in March, but word on the street is that the start date will be pushed back further into the future.

  • To pass the time, Tony & I have also been tossing a baseball (we have gloves) and an American football back and forth. We have to be careful that we don't break things.

  • We are only allowed to leave the apartment complex every second day, and when we do, only one of us can go.

Monday, February 10, 2020

No School for All of February; My Biggest Worry; Looking Out My Apartment Window; Memes That Come to Mind; Got a Baseball and Glove; Silence;

  • When my wife Jenny got news that my son Tony didn't have to go to school till March at the soonest, I expected to hear about my school doing the same. And I did. I won't be working till March, unless I can find some online work. Jenny doesn't like this news, not because of the financial hit, but because she says my useless body will be around the house for a month.

  • On social media, I hear news of malls closing and their grocery stories along with them. That is the big worry for me. The virus is not my biggest concern because I figure that even in the worst case scenario – millions dying – that this is China where a billion and more would still be living.

  • I look out the window of my apartment and I don't see much traffic but I have seen some delivery trucks, people walking with food purchases and some street cleaners.

  • I have whiled away some time looking for topical memes to post on social media. I have found lots of gas mask images, a gif of Homer Simpson entranced by a Bobbing Bird; and Steve McQueen playing catch in solitary confinement.

  • Speaking of Steve McQueen being in solitary, I do have a couple baseball gloves in the apartment. I imagine locals can while away the time with badminton or ping pong equipment.

  • Jenny wasn't feeling well for a day so there were long moments of silence in the apartment. At 7:00 PM, with Jenny asleep, I was struck by how eerily silent it was. Normally, at 7:00 PM, there would lots of noise from cars and pedestrians passing below our apartment. These days at 7:00 PM, I am accustomed to hearing Jenny tiger-mother tutor Tony.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Idleness is Getting to Me; Shopping Trip; A Movie a Day; Tony and WWE; Canadian Consulate Email; Trump & Rush

  • My wife Jenny complains that I have not been doing anything during this forced confinement in our apartment. This is not exactly true, for I have been doing a few things that could count as useful like some household chores and cleaning some hithereto neglected parts of the apartment. Truer for her to say that I haven't been doing much. The idleness is getting to me. As I compose this blog entry, I am experiencing an overwhelming feeling of shame. Something is telling me I am a big zero.

  • It may well be that the depression I am experiencing now is a converse result of the strange exhiliration I felt yesterday when I walked to a nearby grocery store and did some grocery shopping. It was good to get out of the house, to move about, and to see things for which I could make a report in this blog: The entrance gate to our apartment complex was manned with security guards performing duties related to the virus outbreak. Traffic, whether pedestrian or vehicular, was certainly less than normal but not enough for me to take a photo which I could post in my photo blog showing desertion. The entrance to the Wanda Shopping Mall was manned by security guards with body temperature guns that one could stick in someone's ear. A green light on the gun showed my temperature was fine. In the mall, I went to the basement grocery store. Again, my temperature was checked at the entrance. The shelves were stocked better than I was expecting. There was lots of vegtables and fruits and snacks and drinks, and the stock people were busy re-stocking. I used my smart phone to communicate with Jenny (who was at home tutoring our son Tony) to determine which foodstuffs to buy. I did hear another shopper exclaim "laowai" at my presence. Everyone wore masks. I bought so much that I had a very heavy load to take home. Besides buying vegtables, Jenny had also tasked me with picking up a delivery that had been placed in a courier locker in the basement of the building where she has an office. I decided to walk through the basement parking garage of the mall to get to the lobby where the locker was. It turned out to be a mistake. An entrance that I normally would have taken to get to the lobby was locked which meant I had to backtrack, which wouldn't have been so bad had I not been lugging so much. I took an elevator to get to the main floor of the Mall. I saw that most stores were closed except for Uniqlo and Starbucks. I also found out the hard way that other entrances to the Mall were locked, and that there was then only one open entrance to the Mall which I would have to further backtrack to get through! I was starting to sweat at this point. Eventually, I was able to get to the lobby to pick up the delivery and then go to Jenny's office to pick up a few other things. It was then a long toturous walk back to the apartment complex. A complex security guard, seeing me with a big bag of stuff, thought I was a delivery driver and wanted me to fill out some forms and get a card, before entering. I had to bring out my phone and get Jenny to tell them what I was doing, after which it was "mei shi" from them, and I could go on my way. The trip had me feeling good despite the sweat because I had been able to escape that feeling of being idle and usless.

  • I have been watching a movie a day. I have decided to choose my movies based on years. As I compose this entry, I am watching a movie from 1945: The Lost Weekend. The next movie will be from 1946, the next from '47 and so on....

  • I downloaded a WWE Royal Rumble for Tony to watch. He is quite taken with it. Even, the women's wrestling (which I find off-putting). I tell him that it is all fake; he seems to find it very funny.

  • Got an email from the Canadian Consulate advising Canadians, who are not essential, to leave China by commericial means. The same email then said that most flights to and from China have been cancelled. So, I am stuck here.

  • To while away the time, I have been following the saga that is the Trump presidency. I would say that recently, he has had a good few weeks. His brushup with Iran was a win for him. Impeachment seemed to make him more popular and to make the impeachers look ridiculous and petty. His SOTU speech showed him to be defiantly optimistic while it showed his opponents to be juvenille. His awarding of the Medal of Freedom, during the speech, to Rush Limbaugh brought tears to my eyes. Rush changed the way I looked at the world. If it wasn't for him I would probably still be of the progressive mindset. From Rush, I was able to encounter so much in the intellecutal sphere like Hayek, Thomas Sowell, CS Lewis, TS Eliot, David Warren, the Z-man, Roger Scruton, to name but a few. Trump did a good thing, a very good thing, in awarding him that medal.

    AKIC email:  andiskaulins@hotmail.com

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

For the Future; Choose Eternity; Tony Listens to the Smiths; Driving to Metro; Watching Super Bowl LIV; Stuck on Campus;

  • When I complain of the study regimen that Chinese parents, including and especially my wife, put their children through, I am told by the locals that it is for "their future." My retort has been to say that doesn't mean we should destroy the present, which for children means to destroy their childhoods. I further add that I want a future where children are allowed to have childhoods, so why not make that future happen now? Now, I have just come across this quote from Simone Weil: When we are disappointed by a pleasure which we have been expecting and which comes, the disappointment is because we were expecting the future, and as soon as it is there it is present. We want the future to be there without ceasing to be future. This is an absurdity of which eternity alone is the cure. Chinese parents don't seem to be aware that their children have souls in eternity and are not just future members of some society. 

  • Now, I hope that what I have just blogged, by way of denouncing Chinese parents' attitudes to schooling (which they mistake for education), does not make anyone think I am being a libertine. Having self-discipline, a work ethic, and the ability to control one's urges in the present for a future goal, are all fine and necessary attributes which to instill in one's children. But there are ways of accomplishing these goals without being absurb about time (no present, all future) and treating children as merely economic or societal units. Again, I say children have souls and there is something higher than the rat race for which the parents think they are preparing their children. So I say, become detached and cease to make the future our objective. Choose eternity.

  • My son Tony listens to music, via a smartphone, when he takes a shower. Recently, he was listening to the Smiths.  Burn down the disco! Hang the blessed DJ!  That's my boy!

  • On a tip saying the shopping was good, we drove to Metro (which is what passes for a Costco here). Metro is a twenty minute drive from Casa Kaulins. On the drive, to and fro, traffic was light (but not light enough for me not to see people driving like idiots.), and we passed the spot where there was an infamous infrastructure malfunction late last year. (A overloaded truck caused a section of an overpass to collapse) The scene of the mishap was closer to Casa Kaulins than I thought. I had avoided taking the route on which the accident happened because I imagined there being a big detour. In fact, it was not so bad, but there was congestion to be dealt with, as well as a place where one had to make a left-turn from the right lane. (Not bad, the second time to get through it.) The Metro was not over-run and there was plenty to buy, like six packs of Corona, but some things were out of stock. We had to buy cans of Spam Lite. Entering the store, our temperatures were checked by a security guard. Everybody in the store was wearing masks. When we returned to the apartment complex, security guards were making the entering cars fill out forms. They wanted to know where the cars were coming from. My wife told them that she wasn't coming from out of town and that we had merely gone shopping.

  • On a Monday morning, I watched the Super Bowl in bed on my smartphone using a tencent app where you could watch the game and also post on-screen comments. I made a lot of comments in English, and a few using the Chinese characters I was familiar with to cheer for the Chiefs and denounce the 49ers as football players and moral agents. One thing that I using Chinese characters was that the Chiefs had heaven's mandate (酋长人有天命) and someone responded by thanking me for invoking Chinese gods. My son Tony watched some of the game with me but we went back to sleep for the second half. I snoozed through the half-time show and from the reports I read about it later, I was glad that I did so. 

  • I am communicating with a ex-colleague who is quarantined, with his wife and son, on the campus where he teaches. They haven't left it for two weeks. They get food via delivery. The wife has an app she can use. 

  • Jenny has just been told that Tony's school is now closed for all of February.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Close to Home; Jenny's Tiger Mother Transformation; What Tony Learns and Doesn't; Impeachment; Lexit?; How I Bear It or Don't

  • My wife Jenny informs me that a case of the virus has been found in the Hui Shan District of Wuxi. That's the district in which Casa Kaulins is located.

  • So, Jenny is doubly insistent that none of us leave of the apartment. It wouldn't be so bad except that she is tiger-mother tutoring my son Tony for about five hours a day. More than often, Jenny can be pleasant; but when it comes to Tony's schooling, she is very unpleasant to behold. She will have a permanent ugly scowl and actually hisses when she is annoyed with Tony. (They say that Chinese mothers are very hard on their sons.)

  • Tony can recite word-for-word lines from the basic training scenes from the film Full Metal Jacket. He is also able to perform elaborate gestures from Three Stooges shorts. And yet Jenny complains that nothing she tries to teach Tony seems to stick. From what I have seen of Tony, I would say that Jenny and other tiger mothers waste their energy forcing their children to learn things. If they could think of a way to make their children want to learn things, it would be much better for all involved. Tony will teach himself (the best way to be taught I think) if properly motivated and not under undue pressure. It is really hard to learn math if you stuck next to a viper.

  • Impeachment. I don't recall if I have blogged my thoughts about The Impeachment. It all seems very silly is all I really have to say. Now the name John Bolton came up about the Impeachment, and John Derbyshire said that while he mostly disagreed with John Bolton and saw him as a chickenhawk, he did agree with Bolton's assertion that the UN building in New York should best to be turned into a parking garage. I would agree with having that done and make a further suggestion of my own: move the UN headquarters to Beijing. What would all the useless UN functionaries and delegates think of that? I giggle to myself thinking of it.

  • Now that Brexit has happened, how about Latvia leaving the EU? Riga, it's capital, could be like the Singapore of the Baltic. Or so I dream, but Latvia is a small country with a history of between stuck between a rock and a hard place. During World War 2, Latvians had to choose between the Nazis and Soviets. It was eventually annexed by the Soviets. In 1989, it achieved independence and joined the EU as a way of escaping the Russian / Soviet orbit. It seemed a logical thing to do at the time. But now, it seems that the Lativan ethnicity is being destroyed in a way, by being in the EU, that the Soviets could only dream of. I read of Latvians working in other parts ot the EU and ceasing to be Latvian; and of foreigners from all over are moving into Latvia and buying it up. But if Latvia leaves the EU, it would be by itself against the Russians....

  • It is hard for me to be near Jenny and Tony during the tiger-mothering tutoring sessions. For one thing, it is nerve-wracking to hear. Jenny can berate Tony in a loud and sustained way that makes contemplation, reading, watching something or listening to something darn near impossible. I find I have to try to occupy myself in a way that occupies me physically. One time, this crisis, I spent the afternoon, cleaning our bedroom. This involved me moving furniture and the bed to get at the dust that had accumulated in the hidden-from-plain-view spots of the room. Now, I am doing this blog entry. (I say blogging is physical because I am creating this entry.) For another thing, Jenny can get violent with Tony. There have been more than a few times when she has hit Tony with books and rods because of her frustration with Tony not being able to learn something. I try to tell her, then, to calm herself, but I have realized I can't expect her to do what I do in situations where I have lost my temper and been violent, which is be instantly remorseful. I can only expect that my admontions to sink in over time. And for a final thing, my trying to get involved in these sessions by offering my assistance is met with disdain and contempt. Jenny expects me to be on completely on board with her approach to educating Tony. When I protest that her ways are completely alien to me, she tells that I am in China.