Thursday, April 2, 2015

AKIC's March 2015 Notes, Observations and Thoughts.

  • Leonard Nimoy, the folk singer and host of the documentary series "In Search of", who made a name for himself by playing Mr Spock, died at the age of 83. He is just a little bit older then my father who would be 81 now if he was still alive.

  • My seven year old son Tony is into Star Wars. Having shown him some Star Wars Lego cartoons which he liked, I decided to download the first three Star Wars movies – that is the first three made – and show them to him. He likes Star Wars (a New Hope) and The Empire Strikes Back, and has re-watched them both. He hasn't seen the Revenge of the Jedi yet.

  • Watching the Star Wars movies with Tony, I have to say that they now seem very insipid to me. The technology imagined is thoroughly silly. Who would built four legged lumbering machines that can be easily tripped by cables? I have to agree with this recent article I read in the archives of the New English Review which said that the Star Wars series movies were mediocre, and that the Tarzan movies and the old Flash Gordon serials were better.

  • I was walking down the street, Zhongshan Road, when I saw an old man riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. On his left and to the front of him was a female pedestrian. He decided to make a left turn just as he was about to overtake the pedestrian. His resulting maneuver startled the woman because he came within inches of touching her. Thinking about it afterward, I had to wonder why he hadn't slowed down and made his turn behind her. For he could have because there was that much space. After then witnessing this, I tried to cross Zhongshan Road at a supposed pedestrian crossing and had to yield to an Audi, with engine gunning, going through the intersection at 80 km/h. Yes. Traffic in China always gives me something to blog about.

  • On a Tuesday night, Tony vomited in bed. He hadn't been drinking: alcoholic beverages that is. He was sleeping in the master bed and so no one in the Kaulins Family China could go to bed till the sheets were changed. Jenny cleaned the old ones and I had to make an after-midnight run to the outside trash bin to get rid of the nanseous smelling refuse. I then supervised Tony as he took a shower and was impressed when he had the presence of mind to say that he wasn't going to have to go to school the next day.

  • TAON #7: There is more goodness in the kind act of a imbecile on the margins than in the good intentions of some politician.

  • PARRHESIA It is a Greek term signifying a willingness to speak openly, boldly, fearlessly, especially in contexts where it might be apprehended that some powerful person could turn nasty. I admire people who have this for I most certainly don't. But at least I can say I am honest. The people who imagine they have this, but really don't, usually are the people who talk of speaking truth to power and proclaim themselves to be in sympathy with Barack Obama. These days, the people who really have Parrhesia are reactionaries.

  • I visited someone's apartment. Next to the complex, where the apartment was, was a huge pit which was the start of another building construction. "What are they building there?" I asked the host. "A Shopping Mall, twenty floors high." she told me. "What!" I exclaimed, "They are building another shopping mall! They must surely be out of their minds!" My host agreed and shrugged her shoulders.

  • For a salon class, topic: dreams, I read my class roster list and saw that I have a roster list of nightmare students. In teaching, there will be students who you can't help but hate. You have to hope you can tell them something that may sink in years down the line. You can't expect to change their attitudes quickly. You have to war with them in a war you can't expect to win.

  • "Goddamn the USA!" I gave credit to Obama's former favorite religious preacher for the quote. Why am I saying this? This evil idea of net neutrality is coming into being. Eventually, the Internet will become more expensive and you will only be able to access sites you would never have visited in the days when the Internet was not regulated. The Internet was too good a thing to last, alas. Surely, the Chicoms are looking at what the American FCC is doing and applauding.

  • Soso Jughashvili: Stalin's name when he was younger. Soso is what many students will say I ask them how they are doing.

  • Teacher: How are you? Student: Oh just a Soso. Teacher: Just a Soso Jughashvili?

  • You better not fret. You better not cry. You better not pout. I am telling you why! Soso Jughashvili is coming to town! He knows when you've been disloyal. He's got agents everywhere. So you better be good or else there will be a late night knocky knock knock.

  • From my cousin, who I mentioned has nine children, I got an email announcing that Little Evelyn Rose has arrived. So, that's number ten for her.

  • Good on her for having so many children. But I do have a couple of jokes I want to make. First, my cousin produces children the way Wuxi builds shopping malls. Second, she has almost as many children as Soso Jughashvili had produced bastards.

  • Contemplating a Wuxi sky dulled with smog I have to ask why any foreigner would want to live in Wuxi. I'd say for the isolation.

  • I will come out and admit it. If I see people I know as I make my way around Wuxi, my instinct to avoid them.

  • If I was a betting man, I would say that Hilary Clinton will be the next President of the United States. Too many voters in America are stupid these days (They re-elected Obama is proof of this contention) and the Republicans, the stupid party, will not take advantage of the fact that Hilary is so obviously unaccomplished and devious.

  • Words I would use to describe Bill Clinton: pervert, pedaphile, rapist, liar, politician.

  • Words I would use to describe Hilary: liar, cuckoldess, unaccomplished.

  • Briefly visiting the Toys R Us in the Hui Ju Mall, I got a copy of the 1/15 to 6/15 Chinese Lego catalogue and immediately brought it to Tony. As I expected, he was enthralled with it. He was, in fact, so enthralled that Jenny complained, the next morning, that he wouldn't eat his breakfast because he was so intently studying the catalgue

  • I am have been binge-reading Stalin, Volume 1 by Stephen Kotkin. A good book though it sometimes talks too much of the history of the time while not focusing so much on what Stalin was doing at the time. The author has pointed out that Stalin's rise to power was as remarkable as Hitler's. Hitler at one point in his life was living in penury, making money as a street painter in Vienna. Stalin, for his part, never possessed a real job for an appreciable length of time. After he left the seminary where he was a student, Stalin was basically a revolutionary and a thug. With no qualifications or any practical experience of everyday life, he became more powerful than the Tsars who had reigned Russia for three hundred years.

  • That the Bolsheviks ever got so much power was a result of their ruthlessness and a lot of luck. Some of their opponents lost their nerve at crucial moments when they could have easily rid themselves of the Bolsheviks. Thinking of the ruthlessness, I can understand why Pinochet did what he did in toppling the Marxist Allende who had been courting the likes of Fidel Castro. Pinochet pre-empted a civil war that would have resulted in a greater loss of life than the few thousands leftists he did kill.

  • In this blog, I mentioned my surprise at reading about the Russian exiles belief that the Russian revolution was the result of "Jewish brains, Russian stupidity and Latvian Rifles." With my previously very superficial knowledge of the Russian Revolution, which this Stalin biography is helping to rid me of, I would have understood the role that the first two parts, of the triplet mentioned, had played in that event, and been mystified by the third. But I understand the third reference now. The Latvian Rifles were a military unit, comprised of Latvians, who guarded the Bolshevik leadership during the early part of the Russian Revolution where anarchy truly reigned. Without the protection of these Latvians, the Bolsheviks could easily have been destroyed by the other factions.

  • I hate teaching Business English. Can anything be as boring as trying to teach and make interesting business management concepts like Maslow's hierarchy of needs or performance management or business lunch? Business English is often English used when trying to bullshit people.

  • One Thursday, I took the train from school to Ikea where I had hot dogs for supper. The trip took ninety minutes all told.

  • On a few other occasions, I took the train to the Maoye Burger King.

  • I have been following the Winnipeg Jets pursuit of a playoff spot in the 2015 NHL playoffs. As I type this, they are one point out of a playoff spot with the team in front of them having a game in hand. It looks very touch and go as to whether they can get that spot.

  • One morning, I got off the train at the Nanchang Station. As I was about to exit by the automatic turnstiles, I was amused to see a woman in front of me, pulling luggage and also exiting, do a dumb thing. She used her ticket to open the exit turnstile and then proceeded to try to go through the wrong turnstile, the one beside the one she should have gone through. (Probably something I have done myself, I will say now, to make the noting of it in my blog seem not so cruel on my part.) After getting through the turnstiles myself – I had to verve away from her and find an unblocked turnstile – I proceeded to the escalators but not before turning around to see that the woman was still stuck at the turnstile. At the escalators, a man and a girl stopped right in front of the escalators annoying me because I had to come to halt from a nice galloping pace I had built up. After five seconds of hesitating, the pair decided to not take the escalator. Idiots all, I thought to myself.

  • Wuxi Metro passengers ignore the injunction, of the Metro designers and the Metro PA voice, for them to wait for other passengers to have exited the train, before they board it. I tempted to kick them in the shins as I get off or put my shoulders down like an American Football player and knock them all to the ground or at least send them reeling.

  • They seem to issue driver's licenses to apes in China. Either that or Chinese humans turn into apes when they drive their cars.

  • People who drive cars become less civilized. Their actual horizons become smaller even though they can travel faster and greater distances on the Earth's surface. A driver in the City doesn't seen the stars. One, because the glare and the smog caused by the government built infrastructure to support cars obscures the sky. Second, because the driver is focused on himself. Even if his car doesn't have roof, he looks only the road ahead or his GPS.

  • The previous thoughts are a result of having read, on the same day, anti-car entries by both Peter Hitchens and David Warren. Hitchens makes the point that the infrastructure set up for cars is not something that libertarians should be supporting. Car companies are in cahoots with governments in a crony-capitalist way, says Hitchens, and he contents that car manufacturing would not be profitable save the subsidies given to auto companies by governments. It is an interesting point and I wonder if research done by economists would bear this out. Warren's piece was actually more about trains – which he adores – but he did find opportunity to reiterate his opposition to car. The aspect of automobile infrastructure that he found to be anti-libertarian, and thus crony capitalist, was the government regulating of urban parking spots.

  • Local: "Is that your lunch?" Me: "No it's so-and-so's lunch. I stole it from him or her!"

  • Everybody, I have been told, likes the taste of their own urine.

  • Local: "Did you have lunch?" Me: "No. Lunch had me."

  • One morning, as I was walking out of my apartment complex, making my way to the shuttle bus stop which would take me to the subway station and to the train that would take me downtown to work, I was sideswiped by an e-bike that had come from behind. I felt the hard metal of the e-bike as it swiped me. The e-bike was ridden by a mother who was taking her son to school. I was not hurt in the least but I was briefly annoyed, standing for an instant in exasperation before continuing on my way and making a mental note to myself to mention it in this blog.

  • It was not the first time that I had been hit by an e-bike that was cutting it a little too close to me as I was minding my own business.

  • I did a demo class for a company located in the Taihu New City area of Wuxi where there is another huge shopping mall (called Coastal City) and lots of colossal and tall office buildings that surely can't be more than twenty percent occupied. The company I went to was located on the 18th floor of one of these buildings. There, the corridors were wide enough for two lanes of traffic and the lobby by the elevator was an empty space that was probably bigger than Jenny's apartment.

  • Some quotes from David Warren's blog: 1)"Real men" are usually unknown, as I have seen in many other situations. They do not make spectacles of themselves. 2) ...real men are not rapists. They are in control of themselves, and they do not do what they must not do. This pertains of course to everything, not just "sex," which is the first thing everyone thinks of in our disgracefully sexualized culture.

  • In 1926, four doctors did a thorough medical examination of Stalin and they found so many things wrong with him. Soso had diarrhea, dormant TB in his lungs, and a withered arm that was becoming more atrophied. By today's standards, you would say he wasn't a well man. And yet he became so powerful.

  • My Hui Shan local contact is a businessman who deals internationally. He told me that starting after the spring festival, the Chinese central government decreed that all banks closely monitor all transactions, no matter how small, involving changing rmb to US dollars. He said it was making his business very difficult because of the amount of paperwork it involved. I said these capital controls weren't a good sign. And thinking about it, I recalled I had had another businessman tell me that he was thinking of exchanging his Chinese savings for other currencies.

  • There is a foreigner in my neighborhood. Jenny first told me she had seen him and then I saw him. I noted his scruffy appearance, and mentioning this to Jenny, she agreed and said the fella looked like a "junkie." I couldn't have described it better.

  • I went to the Hui Shan Tesco to buy some groceries. I was in the checkout aisle and it was just about my turn to be served when this old woman queued up behind me, getting a little bit too close to me for my liking. Just as I finished putting my groceries on the counter for the clerk to scan, the woman annoyed me by placing her purchases not behind mine, but basically all around my purchases. My ire raised, I thought "the old hag" was trying to have the clerk scan some of her things onto my bill. I didn't bag my things until I was sure the clerk had finished scanning them and hadn't scanned the hag's. Was I being paranoid? Yes. Why? I haven't shed my Canadian habit of being discomfited by people standing close to me in line.

  • Tony had gotten into the habit saying "s***" when things displease him. One Sunday afternoon, Tony & I were at the Hui Ju Mall. Tony was in a hurry to go home and didn't like it when I told him that I had to take some time to take a pee. "S***," he said when I told him this. "I want to go home."

  • A student told me she had gotten a one thousand rmb speeding ticket. An expensive fine but comparable to the fines you get in Canada where the rates are surely set for maximum extraction. The student was doing 91 in a 60 kmh zone and was caught by a camera. She told me that a taxi driver told her that cameras in traffic lights generate over a million and a half rmb in fines per month.

  • The fine rates for speeding in Canada are surely the result of a continual process of upping the fines 25 to 50 dollars a time, many times, over many years.

  • At the bus stop near Casa Kaulins, I saw an older man sitting on the bench, his feet out of his shoes so that his white socks could be seen by all who passeb by him.

  • The death of the former leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, generated interesting blog entries by Theodore Dalrymple and David Warren. The Singapore leader created a Singapore that was certainly well run and hygenic, the writers admitted, but they both had qualms about the leader's methods and thus ultimately his final results.

  • David Warren compared Singapore to Hong Kong, and said that the Deng Xiao Ping was inspired by a the Singapore model of development because it showed how the Communists could keep their hold on power without the anarchy of the HK colony which had been benignly neglected by the British.

  • Interesting, I asked one of my better informed students, Tom, about whether Singapore was an inspiration for Deng, and he more or less agreed. But he discounted Deng being primarily inspired by Singapore's authoritarianism. Tom said Deng was inspired by the fact that the Singapore of Lee Kuan Yew was a Chinese creation while Hong Kong was British.

  • Tom told me he preferred Singapore to Hong Kong. And so I asked him how it was that Wuxi's level of orderliness and cleanliness was so low. Things happen on Wuxi roads and sidewalks that would not be tolerated in Singapore, I told him. To this, Tom told me of a survey if cities in China that ranked Wuxi at a low level of civilization. A high level of civilization presumably being a place like Singapore. It was Tom's contention that Wuxi scored low on the civilization ranking of Chinese cities because it was filled with people from the countryside. Wuxi local people, he said, knew to stop at red lights. He told me he was baffled by the ignorance of traffic rules in Wuxi and took the time once, near his factory, to see who were ignoring traffic rules and lights. He saw that it was the machine operators from his factory, all of whom were from the countryside. He theorized that these people were often in a hurry to get to another place where they were also working or that they were under so much pressure to make money for their families back home.

  • What did you do last night? I asked Tony. He told me he did his homework and then watched TV.

  • Here's what it's like with the computers at school. I cannot install or save anything on the C drive or the desktop because the next day, it will all be gone. Software I like, which is not supplied by the system we are on, has to be installed on a Z drive. I found this all out the hard way after discovering that everything I had installed on my computer the day before was gone.

  • Forgot to give Tony his lunch one morning and so I had to go to school to give it to him. I was quite the sight for all the kids who saw me. A foreigner walking their halls could just as well be a panda. Tony attends a local school, not an international school because I can't afford it and the snobbishness in those places would make Tony's life hell.

  • I was reading this article entitled 33 Ways to Boost Your Career When You're Bored at Work. Many of the 33 things mentioned, like learn to code, read a book, learn a language, and write a blog, I had thought to do already. Where is my career boost? Ha!

  • Is a racist someone who has ill opinions of other races or someone who wants there to be genocide of the races of people he doesn't like? If a real racist is strictly the latter then I would posit that the number of racists in the world is very small. This is very inconvenient for Leftists who need the supply of that kind of racists to be bigger in order to justify their world views and political stances.

  • Sunday, March 29, the temperature was warm enough that I could take off my jacket. Unfortunately, the sky was dingy on account of smog and everywhere seemed covered in a thin film of dust. Best to stay home and read a book, I thought, but Jenny didn't want Tony to stay indoors because all he was going to do was play with Ipad, and so I had to take him somewhere, out of the apartment and away from the Ipad, like a park. Tony very much didn't want to go outside but he had a good idea. He said he wanted to play Ipad on the subway. I was amenable to this idea because I thought of a scheme of my own to pull on him. So, Tony & I went by e-bike to the Yanqiao Metro Station. I let Tony play with the Ipad on the train, but after just four stops we got off at a station that had a nearby park. The park was, considering the niceness of the day, very underutilized. It had a look of being built with a build-and-they-will-come hope that had yet to pan out. It boosted of a shopping area with all empty store fronts and fixtures that were still in good condition because of limited use. I enjoyed myself there but Tony was wanting to return to the station and get back on the train and play Ipad. I delayed doing this by telling Tony that as soon as we got to another sight in the park we would turn around. And then Tony had another bright idea. He suggested that we walk on to the next subway station (Tianyi) instead of turning around and returning to the station where we had disembarked (Xizhang). The Tianyi and Xizhang stations seemed close together and I suppose it was but a ten minute walk between them. So to Tianyi we went. There, we got on the train. Tony then played Ipad and we returned to Yanqiao. I had managed to satisfy both Tony and Jenny, thanks to some thinking on my and even Tony's part.

  • On the train with Tony, I had this shy young man approach me to talk. He told me he was attending #6 High School and that he lived in Jiazhouyangfang (my apartment complex). He said he wanted to talk me so he could practice his English. When I told him I was impressed with his efforts, he thanked me and said I had given him confidence to continue to learn to speak English. I was touched by what he said, especially because the day before I had to spend two hours with a pair of students who I very much would have liked to have pummeled and who, to even think of afterwards, filled me with rage. (As it was, I had to spend the classes thinking of ways to insult them) It was so wonderful to know that there were some students who very much want to learn English. They do help me deal with the fact that I have to be stuck with spoiled brats (how is this possible in a country that is Marxist? Hmmm?).

  • On the way back to Casa Kaulins from the Yanqiao Metro Station, Tony & I passed through the Hui Shan Central Park. Tony was disappointed to see that the slides and climbing fixtures had been taken away. I thought the fifty foot tall climbing fixture was remarkable because it certainly could not have been erected in the safety-facist West.

  • With no fixtures, I was able to get Tony to walk up a hill and look at the scenery. While there, I thought it remarkable to see this woman wearing a short dress, black pantyhose and high heel platform dress shoes picking flowers from a bush. She had put the flowers in her hair, and her daughter's as well.

  • I rode the 25 bus on the second last day of March. It was wonderful to see poor people. The rich people in Wuxi are boring in the way that people with newly acquired wealth always are. The better off in Wuxi look like Westerners and are not in the least exotic. The poorer ones on the other hand seem closer to being what I imagine authentic Chinese to look like.

  • On the second last evening of March I booked my flight tickets for my trip in Canada. (Jenny had booked the tickets to Canada last month). We will spend about three nights in Vancouver: enough time for me to get my driver's license renewed and for us to get Tony's Visa so he can get back to China.

  • The high temperature on the last day of March in Wuxi? 27 degrees Celsius. Too hot already!


Monday, March 2, 2015

February 2015 Notes, Observations and Thoughts

So here are my February 2015 Notes, Observations and Thoughts:


  • I watched Super Bowl XLIX at Casa Kaulins on a Monday morning local time. I was so disappointed to see the Seahawks lose that I stayed from the news for 24 hours because I was upset at the Seahawks manner of losing and I didn't want to see the headlines with photos of celebrating New England Patriots.

  • What was the Seahawks QB thinking when he made that pass at the one yard line? Or what was the coach thinking when he made that play call? Surely, the Seahawks with their great fullback Lynch could have easily have pounded the ball into the end zone. When watching the play, I was wondering as the quarterback stepped back to pass, why he wasn't just giving the ball to Lynch.

  • Is American professional football fixed? When the score was 24-14, I knew that the Patriots were destined to come back and take the lead. At that point in the game, it seemed so inconceivable that the game was going to be clinched with seven minutes to go. And my premonitions turned out to be right.

  • Doing the January 2015 edition of AKIC Notes, Observations and Thoughts was agony. I edited the entry, reading it over and over again and was never satisfied with the writing. I marvel at the likes of Theodore Dalrymple and David Warren who write so well and write so much. I marvel at the minds they have and at how wonderful it would be to live in their heads.

  • A girl at the office is pregnant. Her pregnancy, judging from the amount of pouting and sighing she is doing, is remarkable. And so I have given her the nickname Octomom.

  • What is an adjective you would use to describe 22 to 39 year old woman? A young male student said "tall." Not the sort of sex-specific, aka gender-specific, word I was hoping to hear.

  • The lesson plan for that particular salon class suggested teaching the students about gender-stereotyping. I didn't bother with that left-wing tripe and decided to stick to trying to teach English.

  • I have done something historical. That is, if you can say my doing something out of character and/or against my reputation is historical. For the first time ever, I have actually purchased apps from the iTunes store. I bought a table hockey game (so I could play against my brother Ron on our iPads across the globe), a Python 3 compiler, and Mine Craft Pocket Edition (for Tony).

  • After I loaded the Mine Craft app on my iPad, I tried to play it and found that I couldn't figure it out. Tony then tried the app and was easily doing all sorts of things with it and finding all sorts of options on it that I didn't know were possible. I assume he learned how to do those things by watching Mine Craft game play videos on Youku and Youtube. It was, after all, because of watching Youku that he saw the game and then asked me to find it for him.

  • I would like to spend all of 2015 watching nothing but Hollywood Musicals. So far, I have watched two. The Bandwagon and Funny Face both starring Fred Astaire.

  • Jenny tells me that when she got off the train at Sanyang plaza, she saw an old man steal a brush that the subway station cleaners had put down. Jenny was staring right at the man when he put the brush in his jacket. She said he smiled when he noticed that she was staring at him. I assume that he smiled in the weaselly way that the Chinese do when they are caught red-handed or when they have been shamed or embarrassed. [The Western way of weaseling out of things involves either bold rationalizations or becoming red faced.]

  • A week after buying the Stitcher Table Hockey League App, my record was nine wins, eleven losses, four OT wins and five OT losses: 13-16 overall. [At the end of February, my record is Fifty Eight wins, Twenty Two losses, Eleven OT wins and Nine OT losses: 69-31 overall.]

  • On a Friday evening, I had a student who came 54 minutes late for a 55 minute salon class. That is, he came in at 8:54 for a class that was to end at 8:55. There were other four students in the class who had showed up on time for the class; and like me, they were surprised when he came in and sat down like he was only five minutes late. The tardy student's strange perception about time was on account of the fact that he was drunk. I learned from him that he was so late because the teacher, he had for a previous class he had scheduled at 7:00, decided to have the class away from school and buy him beers.

  • Are most of the people who teach English in China alcoholics, ******s or mountebanks?

  • Jenny & Tony went to a Thailand for a week in early February. Tony was on his winter holiday from school and so there was a group of parents and children from our apartment complex that they could go with while I had to stay in Wuxi and work.

  • So while the wife & son were away: I did the following:

    • Had all three of my laptops in use for various purposes.

    • Went to the Lavit Mall (on the Wuxi #2 Metro Line) where I went to Ikea to eat hot dogs (as well as to bring some frozen dogs home), and had flame-broiled goodness at Burger King. [This Lavit Mall is called Juhui by the locals.]

    • Walked to the Hui Shan Wanda Mall from the Yanqiao Subway station, by going through a courtyard of a plaza which seemed very forlorn because it contained many empty stores and had fading signs that had been built before the Wanda Mall.

    • Went to a toy store to get another copy of a Lego catalogue for the Tony boy.

    • Read in bed.

    • Used the family e-bike to go to the subway station on some of my work days.

    • Felt very lonely.

    • Felt happy to hear that Tony was having a good time.

  • When I went to the Lavit Mall (again, known to the locals as the Juhui Plaza), I decided to take the Wuxi Metro Line #2 as far as I could westward and noticed the following things:

    • The line went past a lot of empty fields: maybe more that the Line #1.

    • Three of the stations on the line weren't open yet. So I had the sensation of the train going on past two dark stations.

    • One station, by an apartment community under construction, felt very forlorn. I was the only person to board the train there. And I had only gotten off the train at that station out of interest.

  • I read in David Warren's blog that Canada now has legalized physician-assisted suicide. Warren, a traditional orthodox Catholic, says Canada is now a much less humane country. I agree with him. As someone who left Canada eleven years ago and may some day have to go back, I expect a lonely and depressing time when I do. Canada is a land of high taxes, hard-to-get government service, large fines, preening Leftists, reflexive anti-Americanism, easy divorce, easy to get drugs, irreligion and intense cold, as well now as being a place where it is hard to get any sympathy. You're just unnecessary, please kindly permit us to snuff you off. First legalized abortion, now this.

  • I was happy to see Jenny & Tony return from Thailand. A picture in which Jenny was wearing a bathing suit made me particularly excited to see her. Tony I suspect was happy to see me because he could again play Mine Craft on my iPad Mini.

  • Tony told me he loved seeing elephants and playing on the beach when he was in Thailand.

  • Jenny had a few observations: 1)Thailand was poor and had squalor that was worse than her hometown. 2)Shopping in Thailand was inexpensive. 3)There were Chinese tourists everywhere.

  • I have never had a hankering to go to Thailand. If I had a chance to go, I would look forward to it. But as it is, I think of it as place for the kind of tourists who get shepherded around. I believe that there are also two other sub-categories of modern tourists who go to Thailand that I don't want anything to do with: the partier and the sex tourist, aka pervert.

  • I had a chance to go off-site for the school. I was taken to a company in the new district to judge in a speaking competition. While the taxi was taking us – that be me and the handlers – there, I was appalled by the smog. It was dull gray with tinges of brown, and was slightly obscuring buildings that really weren't that far away.

  • Obama, I heard, got on his high horse to warn others to not get on their high horses to complain about a barbarity or barbarities recently done in the name the Prophet. When a progressivist of Obama's ilk says this sort of thing, what he is really saying is that only he and his ilk are allowed to get on high horses and that others, not of his ilk, dare not.

  • Why is it that sometimes when I try to edit text, the cursor won't advance but instead seems to go backwards deleting what I am trying to write?

  • Three kinds of people teach English in China: alcoholics, ******s and dipsticks. How I wish this wasn't so, but there it is. If there are places in China where this is not so, I want to know about them. I wanted to be proved wrong. And by people who are honestly not alcoholics, *******s, dipsticks or at least possess a smidgen of honesty. [There isn't any fourth category for which you may think I have placed myself. I put myself with the dipsticks.]

  • The following is the journalizing that I did on my iPod Touch Note App from a few days before my week long CNY holiday to the sixth day of my CNY Holiday. (It has been edited.)

  • Fish sucking feet. Near Casa Kaulins, in the Ramada Plaza, there is a spa, of sorts, which the K family went to on the last Monday before the Chinese New Year. The place has an indoor hot pool and outdoor hot spas. Two of the spas have these small fish that will suck on your feet if you stand still. I stood for a long time in both those pools to let the fish suck my toes which are disfigured because of funguses that I have plagued me since my days in the Militia.

  • Jenny tells me we will be spending six days in countryside. Why so long I? I asked. Jenny said that was the earliest her mother could buy us a return bus ticket.

  • Demise of the Sun News Network. From David Warren's blog, I learned of the demise of an attempt at a Canadian right wing news TV channel. That and PAS, gives me another reason to despise Canada. [Television it seems is a Left Wing medium. This is because television emphasizes surface appearances and rapid presentations of topics. It has no time for long drawn out meditations or thinking on any issues. Radio it seems is a Reactionary or Right Wing medium because spoken dialogue does involve thinking and use of the imagination that television does not.]

  • VPN clampdown in China. So I have heard but so far, my VPNs are still functioning fine.

  • Grandfather Mao. I was talking about Chairman Mao to a young student of middle school age, and he asked me who Chairman Mao was. I was baffled as to how to explain who Mao was to him because it seemed so dumbfounding that he wouldn't know who I was talking about. So, I thought to tell the student that Chairman Mao was the man whose face was on all Chinese paper money. When it finally did sink in to the boy who it was I was talking about, he told me that everyone in his class referred to the Chairman as Grandfather Mao.

  • A student pointed out that it was ironic that Google OS would be on many Chinese android phones, given how the Chinese government was doing everything it could to block Google in China.


  • Now beginneth my CNY entries:


Pre CNY night

  • I try to speak some Chinese to Jenny's brother who had come to pick us up and take us to the in-laws compound in Beixing, a small village outside of Taixing and just north of the Yangtze (Changjiang) river.

  • Jenny's brother was relying on GPS to get him through streets of Jiangying city.

  • We arrive at compound at night.


Day 1

  • Morning. Noise all around the compound: shouting, talking, dogs, chickens, horns, vehicles racing by and fireworks.

  • Read some Evelyn Waugh to pass the time.

  • Go for a walk to a nearby street.

  • See a fellow with a ponytail. Too cool for the countryside I thought.

  • See lots of wares for sale on street.

  • See Aihao pens in a shop which was good. The shop just didn't have the Aihao model I wanted.

  • See trash everywhere.

  • See old an squat peasant woman and so I say to myself, as a reminder, that I am in an exotic locale.

  • Buy Tony a set of three toy plastic fire trucks for 20 rmb.

  • Andis! Chi! [Andis! Eat!]

  • Old man, frail and hunched, feebly shovels trash into his bicycle wagon.

  • Drivers instead of slowing down press on their horns.

  • Get stares being a foreigner and all.

  • The garbage everywhere in the countryside depresses me.

  • Have this vague plan to make a film for this week but my heart isn't in it.

  • Mother-in law has bike. I think I should go for a ride. [It turns out I don't.]

  • Public shower. We can't take showers in the in-laws home. All they have is a bath with no hot water tap. So we usually bathe with basins and hot water that they have boiled and put in thermoses. But this time, we can go to a public shower place. The place however is icky. It is near a polluted canal. As well, the area around the place is full of rubbish. The showers have no drains. Water goes out via troughs that surround the shower floors.

  • Early to bed for me. I have a headache.


Day 2

  • Xin nian kuai le! Xin nian hao! Happy New Year!

  • Late to rise.

  • Forced out of bed by mob coming to visit.

  • J's Brother then drives us to some relatives houses.

  • The man of each house hands me a smoke.

  • I remember the houses from previous CNYs.

  • I xinnianhao everyone.

  • No video. I won't make one. I will instead just record my thoughts in the iPod Touch Note App.

  • I didn't wear new clothes and so Baba chastises Jenny. I dress like I am going camping whenever I am in the countryside.

  • (I have gotten new clothes but I don't want to wear them in the countryside)

  • Thought I had while sleeping: There are Catholics who vote Democrat because of this moral calculus they employ where they figure that by doing so, they can reduce abortions. They reason that by compromising with pro-abortionists, that there would less abortions than if they opposed abortion outright. If that is their logic, I think that they should as well advocate terror tactics – that is killing abortion doctors – in seeking to reduce abortions. If it can further reduce the number of abortions then why not? The terror tactics employed by Muslims to achieve their goals have worked: for they have frightened the West. Look at airport security. A few murders of abortionists would be similarly effective wouldn't they? Look at Western Leftists. They, who are big abortion advocates, are scared to say tickety-boo against Muslims. And really, there isn't that much terrorism and the number of terrorists is few anyway. So, what's wrong with advocating that only a few abortion doctors get shot? Do the math as Catholics for Obama say. Sure, there is killing, but overall there is less killing. [BTW, I don't advocate killing abortionists. I think they should be shamed in stopping what they do.]

  • Everybody seems to have an iPhone 6 in Jenny's family.

  • It's afternoon: everyone hanging out. Visitors come in. Kids have been dragged along: one specimen, a young boy wearing a green and white sweat suit bearing Apple logos seems particularly put out. He sits and slopes down the chair so that the bottom edge of it supports his back.

  • Tony won't share his potato chips with me.

  • I am at near the end of Decline and Fall, a novel by Evelyn Waugh.

  • I want to buy some shaving cream. Two days of growth having me feeling like a bum.

  • Tony has kids to play with. I suppose I should be glad. But I only see Tony getting in trouble.

  • There are two adult dogs in the compound. One is a puddle: very active, jumping all over everyone in the compound. It always has to be hushed out of the living quarters. The other dog has three puppies which are not old enough to scamper about yet.

  • I finish D & F.

  • Tony is hard to reason with. I wanted to make a deal with him where all he had to was walk with me for ten minutes and he could have played with the iPad Mini to his heart's content. But he was absolutely insistent on not going on the walk and playing the IPM. He is not yet mature enough to reason.

  • I am in bed at 6:00PM.


Day 3

  • I am up at 8:00 AM sort of.

  • Someone is letting off fireworks at 8:00 AM. Why?

  • Last evening, I watched 80 percent of the Godfather on my MBP.

  • Tomorrow, we will go to Jenny's real mother's place.

  • Today, no plans except to watch the end of the Godfather, watch a musical and start a book: possibly GKC.

  • I'd like to get Tony outside but he's not interested.

  • I'm not interested in going outside today either. It's grey, windy and cold.

  • Change of plan: we will go to Jenny's natural parents this afternoon.

  • It has started to rain. I wish we didn't have to go out.

  • J's sister drives us out to Jenny's natural parents. Interesting ride. The roads were paved but became narrow. Cars approaching each other have to slow down.

  • J's sister's driving is not great. She stalls her manual transmission car about three times. Still, she navigates her car successfully through the narrow roads and tight turns to get to the house.

  • The house where we pay a visit is big, but basically a concrete shell with stone tile floors. There is lots of space but the place is chilly. It has a courtyard and a second floor. Kitchen is on one side of courtyard. They tell me it was built in 1994.

  • I see these twin brats for the second time. When I saw them during the last Golden Week holiday, I nicknamed them Lenny & Squiggy. If only they could be as interesting. As it is, they are chubby, wear glasses and have the pallor of sedentary types. No apparent awareness of my presence when I xinnianhaoed them.

  • The twins, another boy and Tony watch TV.

  • The TV is in a bed room. The boys sit on a bed to watch it.

  • Tony wants the iPad Mini which I had brought along.

  • No Internet. No a/c. But they have cable TV.

  • I nibbled at supper there which is my habit when in the countryside.

  • We didn't stay for long thankfully. The rain didn't allow me to have a wander so I felt very bored.

  • I have read one Father Brown Story.

  • Went to the public shower by myself: I see that it costs10 RMB.

  • I watch the musical film Anchors Aweigh, starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, on the MBP. Kelly has a great screen presence, an aristocratic manner.


Day 4

  • Tony wanted to go home on the second day. And he is saying again that he wants to go home.

  • I've read a lot. A bit of GKC, Shakespeare, Wallace Stevens, Robert browning, Confucius, Romano Guardini, and Sigrid Undset

  • One minute, I am under the covers; the next, there are people in our room.

  • I have been lazy this holiday. Ashamedly so.

  • The weather: cloudy and cool.

  • On TV, some kids dressed in bunny suits dance to Gangnam Style. There seems to be a whole channel dedicated to this and other sappy kids programs. Does the one child policy cause this?

  • I am desperate for thoughts.

  • After lunch, we walk to a nearby grocery store. Its selection is passable. I get Jenny to buy me five cans, all different brands, of beer.

  • Tony wants to buy a toy. There is nothing to buy at the grocery store, so I take him to nearby shops where we had bought that set of toy fire trucks. At one of them, I am accosted by a worker speaking pidgin English to me. I then go to a shop with an interesting selection of pens, including Ai Haos, and continue my quest for a particular model of Ai Hao that I have been craving to get more of. Tony, however, wants me to rush out of the store. He says the toys at that shop are stupid. After much squabbling, we leave the pen shop and we settle on a set of airport rescue toys for me to buy him.

  • I can't get Wifi and the WeChat social app on my phone but Jenny can on hers. Her IP6 has 4G.

  • I learn that the 2013 and the 2014 Shanghai Expat of the Year, Paul Rudkin, has a bad case of pneumonia. This stuff happens to other people. Not to me. In my over ten years in China, nothing has sidelined me.

  • Hot pot at 330 PM! Too early if you ask me!

  • Countryside is not for the squeamish. And yet I admit I squeamish. And yet, I am in the countryside. Why? It is what the love of a good woman requires. So, I am forced to become less squeamish.

  • Thought Apropos Of Nothing. A TAON!

  • TAON #1: A teacher has got a middle school student to teach and doesn't know what to teach the boy. I tell him to take the student to a brothel. Why? He had taken another student to a pub in lieu of having a class. If you want to be a legend, you gots to do legendary things.

  • TAON #2: This ****** says he never would go to ******land for a holiday. I think to myself that his girlfriends would want to..:

  • TAON #3. Does anyone read this? (I will publish it in the blog) Not being Catholic but wanting to be, I have no other means of confessing.

  • TAON #4: If I knew how to write with style, I would write a D&F type novel about my life written from the perspective of Pendergrast. (He was a teacher who wore a wig, I have seen teachers who dye their hair. I have a constant battle to keep down the excessive facial hair.)

  • Not a TAON: I drink a can of Suntory beer. A beer that shouldn't be drunk by Lefties. Perhaps, they should drink Suncommie.

  • Go for public shower tonight and the proprietor gives me a cigarette.

  • I watch the old film Annie Get Your Gun on my MBP. A great film but politically incorrect by today's standards because it portrays the Indians as passive.

  • Tony & I sing a show tune together from that movie. Anything you can do, I can do better...

  • 950 PM: I play on my MBP and Tony plays on my IPM.


Day 5

  • One more day here. The bus takes us back tomorrow.

  • We're the only ones in J's circle of relatives who don't have a car. I don't want a car, for the most part, but I can see why others do. And so I do sometimes wish I had a car. But in 24 hours, it won't matter because I will be able to ride the bus and train.

  • Last night J talked of going to Taixing today. If it was sunny, she said, we would go. I wasn't enthusiastic about it. This holiday couldn't be salvaged, I figured.

  • Tony had another "I wanna go home" fit last night. The third if I am counting right.

  • I caught a bit of British PM Cameron's CNY address to China. It seemed craven.

  • Jenny tells me that a skunk snuck into the compound one night ago and ate one of the chickens kept in the coop.

  • In the afternoon, I lie on bed and read GKC.

  • It wasn't sunny today.

  • TAON #5: I would like the monks life. I wish I had thought of theology as a field of study. No money in it, I suppose, but what the Hell?

  • Another poor performance in the countryside by yours truly. I did nothing to help anyone.

  • What is the difference between this holiday and a beach holiday? Not much. Either here or there, I would suffer the same feeling of impotent restlessness.

  • I read the following in the evening: Shakespeare. Nicholas Gomez Davilla, and the Salisbury Review (entire autumn issue)


Day 6

  • Last night, midnight fireworks kept us from falling asleep and scared Tony so much that he was crying and plugging his ears. The puppies could be heard to whimper once the fireworks had subsided.

  • On the fifth (or is it the fourth night?) day, the tradition is to go crazy with fireworks to welcome some god of wealth.

  • If I had kidnapped someone from Canada and brought him here blindfolded last night, he would have thought that he had been absconded to a war zone.

  • Last night, we talked about what we would do once we were back at Casa Kaulins. Pizza for supper?

  • TAON #6: Is practical good for the soul? The practical, that is, of this world?

  • 9:00 AM and the whole crew is up. First time this holiday.

  • I look at the tickets and see that the bus is leaving at 11:50 AM, not 11:30, as I had thought. That's another twenty minutes that I have to be here.

  • Can we be back at Casa K by 3:00 PM?

  • Bus leaves at 11:50. Tony asks for the IPM. A little later, Jenny returns it. I thought she was taking it from him because he had had played too much, but she said he was going to sleep.

  • J&T sit together. I sit across the aisle, a young gentleman sits beside me occupying the window seat.

  • I read more Father Brown detective stories. I will have read two folio books – not e-books – this holiday. I brought them along because I hadn't expected Tony to let me read books on the IPM.

  • Before I know it, we're on the freeway. Traffic is stop and go.

  • We arrive home at 2:30 PM.


  • The first thing we eat when we get back to Wuxi is pizza.

  • Tony ate a lot of pizza on his return to Wuxi and Casa Kaulins. In the evening of his first day back, he ate four pieces. The next day, he ate a whole medium pizza by himself. Before CNY, he would eat two pieces.

  • My first day back to work was dismal. It was rainy and cold and thus so depressing.

  • A student told me that during her CNY holiday, she spent six terrible days in the countryside without Wifi.

  • On my first day back from work, I took the subway home in the evening. I got off the train as has been my habit and went to catch the 9:40 PM shuttle bus from Yanqiao station to Casa Kaulins. But to my disappointment, but not my surprise, I looked at video screen indicating shuttle bus departure times and noticed that the next bus was leaving at 10:00 PM. Not wanting to wait twenty five minutes, I walked home. Unless I can use the e-bike or get a pedal bike, it looks like I will have to, on my work evenings, be walking home from the station to our apartment.

  • This 637 shuttle bus has not been very successful. I often have been the only passenger riding the bus for a whole run of its route. I don't doubt that the bus has driven the route many times and not picked up any passengers. Many times as well, people who get off the subway and want to take the shuttle bus, find that they have to wait a long time for the next bus to leave. A few times, I have seen the shuttle bus just leave its station as the train has arrived at its nearby station: stupid timing on the part of the bus route planners because the bus should wait for the passengers who are getting off the train. One time, I tried to run from the subway station and flag down the shuttle bus as it was beginning its route, but the driver ignored me as well as some other potential passengers. It is the sort of thing that will make people decide to not use the service ever again. And the maddening aspects of the route don't stop there. I have complained before about how the route will take the bus right by the stairs leading to the subway station but not stop; instead the bus has to drive around for another kilometer before letting off the passengers.

  • So it doesn't surprise me that the 637 bus is curtailing service in the evening. Clearly, it is wasting money.

  • The shuttle bus seemed like a good idea when it was started. If there was a bus at the Yanqiao station, you would think that many people would take it to get to the subway station. But it hasn't panned out. It seems that many people who are not very close to the subway station thought to use their e-bikes or bikes to get to it.

  • In a blog entry, David Warren wrote the following about English Butlers: ...the ancient English butler (who survives only in old movies), [is] a man of dignity; and of a wide knowledge, at the disposal of those who politely ask. He knows what is possible and what is not. He gives respect to the respectable; and he demands respect in turn. It makes me ask: who do I know that is worthy of respect? My answer: I don't know. It also makes me ask myself: Am I worthy of respect? My answer: probably not. Conclusion: I got to get myself out of the morass.

  • I will allow myself only one swipe at Obama this month. [I had just thought to make another one but desisted.]

  • On the last Friday Morning in February, I went to the McDonalds, that is nearby the place that employs me, for breakfast. I was queueing up and had this young gentleman cut in front of me and yell at the clerks. I was annoyed and noticed that the not-so-gentleman had a tattoo on the back on his hand below the gap between his thumb and forefinger. [Thinking about it, I can say that I was surprised to see that this not-so-man had opposable digits.] I assumed with the tattoo and his leather jacket that he was a gang member of sorts. I was then disappointed to see that my standing my ground at a spot in front of the clerk did not prevent the clerk from serving this person before me. It all goes to show that China 2015 is not a civilized place with laws and etiquette, but a place where brute force determines what happens.

  • Walking from the McDonalds, near our school, to the new location of my school, I had to check myself from turning towards the old location of the school. It's hard to shed a ten year old habit.

  • I failed a student last night. The topic of the class was going to the doctor, and it just so happened that the student's father was a doctor and that she planned to be a doctor herself. Having had this student in many classes, I had become resigned to her lackadaisical and bored manner. The younger students have our English classes piled on top of everything else Chinese students have to do, so I try to cut a little bit of slack. But I lost any semblance of sympathy for the girl when I realized that she just blithely assumed that she was going to be a doctor and that she could comport herself in her study in the manner she had been. [I failed the girl not because she morally disgusted me. I had to fail the girl because she didn't know any of the lesson's vocabulary. And it had just so happened that the vocabulary was from a profession that she tells me, rather smugly, that she is going to a be member of.]

  • The next evening – the evening of the day I wrote about there being no 9:40 PM shuttle bus – there was a 9:40 shuttle bus. I suppose it is not easy to modify a dumb government idea or a mediocre government implementation of a seemingly good idea.

  • I won't delete my rant about the shuttle bus.

  • One day, I had classes with students whose English names were Caesar and Kaiser. Caesar, a middle school student, wore pink basketball shoes. I assumed it was the fashion, though I had fun demonstrating the word "absent-minded" by saying he had mistakenly put on his mother's basketball shoes.

  • Kaiser, who was in fact a student at this school, was in fact not present. I mixed him up with the student who did show up and whose name did prompt me to make this entry: General. General is a good kid. His English is not great but he tries hard.

  • Students should only apologize when they haven't made an effort, not when they have made a mistake.

  • From David Warren's Blog: People who tell you lies are not your friends.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

January 2015 AKIC Notes, Thoughts and Observations


  • Having a wife who doesn't care one fig for western New Year's, I stayed home on New Year's Eve.

  • Mature people stay home on New Year's Eve. And I must say that I am fortunate to have a wife who is mature beyond her years.

  • I started 2015 with Jenny & Tony at the Lavit Mall which we can easily get to now that the Wuxi Metro Line #2 is in operation.

  • My first day of work in 2015 was spent organizing my work area at my school's new location. I taught my last class at the old location on December 30th. On December 31st, the move to the new location took place.

  • I didn't feel all that sentimental about leaving the old location even though I had spent ten years of my work life there. When I started there, I hadn't meet Jenny and Tony wasn't even a twinkle in my eye. Those events didn't happen at the school and in fact happened in spite of it. My years at the place really only served to further reduce my faith in the human race.

  • Our school's new location is not that far from the old location. In fact, I will be able to see the old location when I teach classes. We are located one floor down and across a lane from the old location.

  • The new school location affords all a great view of Zhongshan Road. We lost, however, nice views of the church, of a nearby park as well as of the Ba Bai Ban department store.

  • It will be my honor to be able to sit next to the redoubtable Edith, star of the school's commercials which appear on the Wuxi subway train video screens. [As it turned out, those commercials are coming to an end. They didn't do anything to increase enrollment at our school. Also, getting what I wished for has turned out to be a curse.]

  • I have a new computer at the new school location. My eleven year old Compaq Presario will sit on a shelf at Casa Kaulins. [I have three laptops now. The old Compaq, a three year old Dell, and a new MBP (my birthday present)]

  • One of the hosts of a podcast, I was listening to, said he celebrated his fiftieth birthday on Christmas Eve. So, I wasn't the only one.

  • I awarded myself the Wuxi Expat of the Year Award in 2014. Previous winners of the award included Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, Gorzo the Mighty, my son Tony, and a blogger named Andrew Cowlinch.

  • Meanwhile, Paul Rudkin won the Shanghai Expat of the Year award for the second year in a row.

  • At the new school location, the foreign trainers and the Chinese teaching assistants are now in the same office, and so there will be a battle about whether to keep the windows open or not. Foreigners want the office to be warm, or not so cold, and so would like the windows to be closed. The Chinese want the windows to be open because they want fresh air. So, there has been an opening, followed by a closing of, followed by an opening of windows all the day long at the office. I have no strong opinion on the matter either way. If I am dressed for the cold, I want it to be cold.

  • Tony has been been saying s*** when he has an accident or mishap. He also has been saying WTF to express surprise at situations. Who has he picked up these bad habits from? From his parents and his video watching habits, I would suspect.

  • I did a commercial, for our school, in which I got to introduce baseball. I was filmed pitching a ball to an actual catcher and I didn't do so bad, managing to lob the ball over the plate with my unpracticed pitching motion. The players I was with were locals: one of whom told me his favorite player was Ichiro (who I have seen play in Seattle.) [The video is on my Youku Channel and will soon be on my Youtube Channel.]

  • In a Speaker's corner I did – topic Germany – one of the students said that the Germans shouldn't be ashamed of WW II. I immediately asked him why and he said they had apologized.

  • I boarded the 637 shuttle bus the same time as this old man, whose appearance made me think to write this blog entry. As he sat down on the bus, he looked at me and gave me a thumb's up sign. And so I studied his appearance. He was dressed in tightly fitting clothes. On his knees, he had strapped on these pads which e-bikers wear to keep their legs warm; on his feet, he had cheap thinly-soled cotton slippers that were ready for the trash heap. I reflected how he was a more interesting specimen of humanity than all the fashionable working and business types that I see on a constant daily basis.

  • I first heard about the Charlie Hebedo attacks when reading an email newsletter from the National Review. The reaction to the attacks has been intriguing and I have to admit that I can't give you a specific opinion on what I think about the attacks. But that won't stop me from trying. Here is a collection of thoughts that I do have about them:

    • I should say, right off the bat, that the murders were wrong.

    • I say that because, be that as it may, I don't join in with the "I am Charlie" crowd. This Charlie Hebedo magazine did things that bordered on bad taste. This doesn't mean I would want to suppress what they did, but I would heartily denounce them all the same. And from what I have heard, this magazine was France's version of South Park , a TV show which I mostly hate.

    • I also think the "I am Charlie" crowd are all hypocrites. They don't support unbridled free speech. They would gladly silence white right wingers. And they would probably not have the courage to put their lives on the line for freedom of speech. These hashtag gesturing folks are probably all pacifists.

    • Some of those Charlie Hebedo staffers who were murdered did have some courage. I have heard that they prophesied their murders.

    • Were The CH staffers martyrs? I would say not. They did immoral things.

    • One commentator, who I read regularly, said that the rally at Paris, where the leaders walked arm in arm, was another case of Princess Diana dying hysteria. I would have to agree. The mobs were responding to a media driven event. They may as well have been celebrating the victory of a Football team for the connection that it had to their life.

    • There is a clash here between Western Progressive Secularism and Islamic Fascism. But the Western Progressive Secularists don't seem to realize this. Or don't want to. Some of their first thoughts after hearing of the shootings were that they didn't want Westerners to hate Muslims and how they feared that nefarious right wing elements would even carry out reprisals. They were wrong of course. It was the Jews who had to worry about being attacked by these same Fascists who had attacked that magazine. The secularists are blind, probably willfully, to the nature of these Islamists.

    • Moderate Muslims have to worry more about being killed by extremist Muslims than by right wing westerners.

    • In fact, right wing westerners are the least of a moderate Muslim worries. Left wing secularists who are cowed by Muslim extremists are their biggest problem.

    • In another article I read, it was pointed out that the vast majority of Muslims argument used against voicing concern about Muslims in general would be akin to arguing that the vast majority of Germans weren't Nazis as a reason for not feeling concern about Germany in 1938.

    • The Bolsheviks were a minority of a minority in 1917 but look at the damage they did to the world in the 20th century.

    • For what cause were people going to the huge rally in Paris? Free speech? Secularism? Anti-terrorism? Pacifism? It's unclear to me.

  • Someone read my list of books read in 2014 and asked me where I got the time to read all sixty of those books, especially since I have a family to support. Well, I can say that I have a lot of down time at work thanks to preparation for classes that I have done over ten years. Also, I have a long commute at work which I take advantage of to read; and, as I said in my ten years in Wuxi article, I have abandoned the dissolute ways of the English teacher who goes to the pub every night or sits at home and plays computer games. [I read 60 books in 2014 and watched 61 movies. Late in January, I published the second list.]

  • I looked at my 2014 and lamented that I hadn't travelled much. The last time I got out of the Wuxi – Beixing corridor was in February.

  • Student working in a hotel was telling me how hotels will give discounts to people who don't want tax receipts.

  • To make some extra money, I have been transcribing videos of lectures. This month, I have been transcribing these journalism lectures from an Australian University, Latrobe. The lecturer is a fellow named Chris Scanlon. His Australian speaking patterns and his habit of saying "you know," "kind of" and "sort of" drive me crazy. This is the way that a modern university professor speaks?

  • A student tells me that she borrowed money from her mother to attend classes at our school. Another tells me that a teacher taught her the words "hung over," and "vomit."

  • From a classroom, I was able to look down and see a woman push an e-bike which had a pair of crutches propped on one of the handle bars. She pushed the e-bike to a parking spot, locked the bike up, and then took the crutches which she proceeded to use. One of her legs was bent at an angle. It was possibly broken.

  • I very rarely entered the squatter stalls at our old school location. Now that I have to use a squatter, I have seen some disgusting things. I hope I don't see anything more disgusting than what I saw one Saturday when someone had left a nine inch long, 1.5 inch thick piece of excrement behind the hole in the ground of the squatter stall. I couldn't close the door to the stall quick as I was quickly overtaken with nausea by the sight.

  • I mean like, who misses? I can say with full confidence that I don't, and I am a rank amateur.

  • I told a colleague[sic] about that sight. He went to take a look, said "wooo!" and quickly closed the door. He then went back to take a photo of it. We also got a Chinese staff member to look and he was disgusted as well.

  • So the mystery. Who is Long Dung?

  • Moderate Muslim is a patronizing term. The people who say such things would call any religious person who prayed constantly and gave off an aura of sanctity, an extremist or a religious nut job. [I get this thought from David Warren's blog.] These moderate religious types are in fact extremely religious. You have to be extremely religious to achieve any sort of sanctity.

  • I happened to see an old man at the 85 Bakery, grab a thick was of napkins, put them in his pocket, take a cursory glance at the cake display case, and then walk out of the store.

  • Seven police motorcycles, driven by a uniformed cop and a uniformed passenger, ride around the government building in the area near my apartment.

  • Tony & I got a ride home one day from a motorcycle cab (peddycab) driver who had MS. At the end of the ride, the driver asked me, in Chinese, where I was from. After answering his question, I told him that Tony was my son and that his mother was Chinese. The driver said this was good, and he seemed elated at meeting a foreigner. Dumb sentimentalist that I am, I decided to shake his hand.

  • After getting off the train one night at the Yanqiao station, I was walking to the shuttle bus stop and listening to music (Plastic Bertrand) on my Iphone 4, when I noticed a man beside me trying to get my attention. I wasn't sure what he wanted. I at first thought that he was someone wanting to practice his English on me. But the man said to me, as I took off my earbuds, that he was a foreigner too. He was from the Philippines, he told me, and was teaching math and English at the Xi Shan High School.

  • Jenny was moody this month. She has been alternately kind and angry with me. It has me on edge.

  • Much was made of Obama or any high-ranking American official not having attended that rally in Paris. The rally being so full of hypocrisy, self-congratulatory moral preening, and self-exultation, I won't hold it against any politician who did not attend. So I would give Obama a pass on this. Though from what I heard about Obama's motivations or lack of motivation for not going, it was a case of a broken clock being correct two times a day.

  • Obama is great at self-congratulatory moral preening.

  • I came home one evening from work (I work late four nights a week) to find Tony in bed studying a Lego catalogue. Seeing me, he asked me something about glasses. Not knowing what he meant, I asked him to repeat what he said. He asked if I had my glasses and I realized he wanted me to put on my eye glasses so he could show me something in the Lego catalogue that he liked and thus that he wanted me to buy him. He remembered another instance when I had told him I needed my glasses because I couldn't see what it was that he was trying to show me he liked then in the Lego catalogue. I told Jenny about this the next morning and she was amused.

  • A student told me that her company was holding a Chinese New Year Company Dinner for its senior level staff only. This company was too cheap to hold one(s) for their entire staff. The owner of her company, said the student, was Chinese and cheap. I was surprised to hear this because I had always assumed that companies in China hold Spring Festival dinners for all their employees as a matter of course.

  • Someone has broken into my blog sites and posted entries. The entries are spam like and not meant to be read but to make the site looked like crap. So, after having deleted the entries, I have changed passwords and whatnot to stop 'em.

  • A student tells me that the Chinese are the second most taxed people on earth after the Swedes. I don't believe that the Chinese are now, but I believe they will be when the government discovers that its stimulus won't be paid for by market forces.

  • The student also told me that businesses in our area are being broken into because the thieves need money to get back to their hometowns for the Spring Festival.

  • An aphorism attempt: Only two kinds of people are talkative: women and imbeciles.

  • I talked to a student who had more bathrooms than bedrooms in his apartment. There were three bathrooms and two bedrooms in the apartment he rented, he told me. Each bedroom was equipped with a bathroom and these was an outside bathroom.

  • As far as I can recall, he is the first student to ever have told me he was in such a situation. I remarked on his uniqueness to me and then told him I envied him. (In my apartment, there are two bedrooms and one bathroom)

  • Instead of taking the subway home, I took the 25 bus on the last Saturday evening of January. I did so for a number of reasons. Firstly, I wanted to see how the area along the 25 bus route had changed since I last ridden through it. Secondly, I wanted to save some money and see if I could possibly save some time. For less than a yuan, I realized I could take the 25 bus and get to the Hui Shan Wanda Plaza, where the wife and my son were having dinner. Taking the subway to meet up with them would cost me at least 3 yuan and not get me directly to the Wanda Plaza. Once I got to the Yanqiao station, I would have to decide on one of three way to get to the Hui Shan Wanda Plaza. Firstly, I could wait fifteen minutes for a shuttle bus and spend another one yuan. Or I could grab a peddycab and spend another five yuan. Or I could walk to Plaza which would take about twenty minutes.

  • The area that the 25 bus went through didn't seem to have changed much other then that were more empty apartment buildings and more vacant areas being prepared for the construction of more apartment buildings.

  • I did a get a seat on the 25 bus and happily read a book on the Ipad while taking occasional glances up to do my survey of the area. I had planned to take the subway and incur the extra expense to get to dinner with the wife and son, if there were no seats to be had on the first 25 bus that pulled into the stop near my school. But there were. And my being on the bus did result in a few of the passengers saying laowei. And as luck would have it, the 25 bus was, as it took me home, for a brief instance, right next to– less than 10 feet from in fact – the subway train I could have taken.

  • On the #1 Wuxi Metro line, the point where the track rises above ground is just alongside Xicheng Road: a road I had been taking often to Casa Kaulins for many years before the Subway was operating and even being constructed.

  • Less than a month and I have already gotten used to the new school location. I like it because it is a change and it has heating that works. I can't complain much about being able to sit next to the redoubtable Edith. My only complaint is the lack of western toilets. Worse than not having become anywhere near fluent in Chinese, I have not acquired a passable squatting technique.

  • Two English teachers walk into a bar in China. One says to the other: How was work? The other was mystified and asked what was work. The other teacher then went on to say that he had been drunk in his classes.

  • You know, I actually got a good thing going with this teaching in China gig. But I can't say that I take any pride in it.

  • The gig has made me cynical. I have become like Benjamin the Donkey, in the novel Animal Farm, who having seen it all, laid his head low and maintained a cynical attitude, not buying the bosch put forth by the pigs while at the same time not doing anything to rebel against it.

  • It snowed briefly in late January and the snow stayed on the ground in the Hui Shan district for a few hours. It just so happened that one evening I had to ride the e-bike home and thus had my first experience of riding a bicycle in snowfall. I didn't care for the sensation of having snow strike my eyes like cold pins.

  • After all these Chinese classes, I despair at the prospect of my ever being able to have a proper conversation in Chinese. I find that if I think about the tones of the words, I am not thinking of their meaning; and conversely when I think about the meaning of the words, I forget about their proper tones. My habit of speaking, in any language, I have discovered is to talk in flat but rising tones. The fourth tone in Mandarin, which falls quickly, requires my speaking very fast in a nattering manner to say it properly. I would find this hard to do in a conversation for even a minute without getting tired and annoyed.

  • The bus, I was riding, was three quarters of the way through the intersection when a car made a left turn in front of it. Incredible.

  • I then saw an e-bike do this to another bus I happened to be riding. Even more incredible.

  • Democracy went off the rails when they gave votes to women and the uneducated. There is no way of salvaging civilization as a result.

  • Thank God, I am married. If it wasn't for Tony and Jenny, I would do things that I would quickly regret.

  • At the Chinese New Year Dinner, it was the best that I could do, to keep silent. I didn't have an excuse to not attend it this year. [Last year, I was in Hong Kong.]

  • From now on, if anyone wants to make a comment about my blog they can email it to me. It is cowardly to insult me and not put your name behind it. That is something I have never done to other people on the Internet. Never.

  • If I must suffer in this life, I hope I deserve it. If I must suffer in this life, I hope it is for a good cause... To be honest, the first sentence is true of my life now. The second isn't. My right attitudes haven't translated into right actions. I am still too much of a secularist. My convictions haven't turned into actions and so my suffering is merely deserved without even the tiniest bit of righteousness.

  • I thought it would be amusing to put on my balaclava (which I had bought for riding my e-bike in winter) and pose for a photo holding one of Tony's toy guns. The idea was to use the photo for mock stickups on social networks. I am not completely at ease which having gone through with the idea.

  • I got an newsletter email that mentioned that Chairman Mao's Little Red Book was turning fifty years old. Rather auspicious for me I thought, having celebrated a similar milestone recently. So, I am older than or practically just as old as Mao's Little Red Book. No one I know of takes that book seriously now. It is considered a joke in the manner that North Korea is a joke. And yet during my lifetime, millions upon millions of people, in the land that I am in now, had to know this book or die.

  • On the last day of January, someone tried to steal our e-bike which Jenny had parked at the Wanda Plaza. The bike which we have had since 2008 is a piece of crap now. The thief while not being successful in stealing it, did succeed in breaking the only part of the e-bike that hadn't been broken: the back wheel lock. The e-bike is held basically together with tape. But the tape does have a second purpose. It serves as a sure means for us to able to spot the e-bike when it is parked in among hundreds of other e-bikes. Our e-bike is so distinctively ugly looking that I have to wonder why anyone would want to steal it. But someone did. Thieves, needing money for the Spring Festival could get 200 rmb for our bike, said Jenny.

  • What do I believe? The Nicene Creed.