Tony saw a double-decker bus and he insisted that we ride it. I saw it an as opportunity to take another WTU.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
The first is that Obama runs his administration out of the Blackberry in his vest pocket. The second is that everything that he has done in foreign policy has failed. The result is a poignant feeling of univeral failure, with no telephone number to call (except Obama's) to learn what to do next.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
This is the second video taken on the great Xihui Park chairlift trip.
Friday, November 27, 2009
I spent a good part of the morning reading news stories, and I simply didn't find anything blogworthy. I don't know whether there's something wrong with me or the news. I have an odd feeling that this moment in history resembles an indrawn breath. Nothing seems to be happening, except for wrangles over ludicrous legislation, ludicrous treaties. It feels empty and meaningless. Nothing seems to be happening, but something is about to happen, something momentous, something that will put all these trivia out, as city lights extinguish the stars.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
An Incident by Lu Xun
Six years have slipped by since I came from the country to the capital. During that time I have seen and heard quite enough of so-called affairs of state; but none of them made much impression on me. If asked to define their influence, I can only say they aggravated my ill temper and made me, frankly speaking, more and more misanthropic.
One incident, however, struck me as significant, and aroused me from my ill temper, so that even now I cannot forget it.
It happened during the winter of 1917. A bitter north wind was blowing, but, to make a living, I had to be up and out early. I met scarcely a soul on the road, and had great difficulty in hiring a rickshaw to take me to S-Gate. Presently the wind dropped a little. By now the loose dust had all been blown away, leaving the roadway clean, and the rickshaw man quickened his pace. We were just approaching S-Gate when someone crossing the road was entangled in our rickshaw and slowly fell.
It was a woman, with streaks of white in her hair, wearing ragged clothes. She had left the pavement without warning to cut across in front of us, and although the rickshaw man had made way, her tattered jacket, unbuttoned and fluttering in the wind, had caught on the shaft. Luckily the rickshaw man pulled up quickly, otherwise she would certainly have had a bad fall and been seriously injured.
She lay there on the ground, and the rickshaw man stopped. I did not think the old woman was hurt, and there had been no witnesses to what had happened, so I resented this officiousness which might land him in trouble and hold me up.
'It's all right,' I said. 'Go on.'
He paid no attention, however -- perhaps he had not heard -- for he set down the shafts, and gently helped the old woman to get up. Supporting her by one arm, he asked:
'Are you all right?'
I had seen how slowly she fell. and was sure she could not be hurt. She must be pretending, which was disgusted. The rickshaw man had asked for trouble, and now he had it. He would have to find his own way out.
But the rickshaw man did not hesitate for a minute after the old woman said she was injured. Still holding her arm, he helped her slowly forward. I was surprised. When I looked ahead, I saw a police station. Because of the high wind, there was no one outside, so the rickshaw man helped the old woman towards the gate.
Suddenly I had a strange feeling. His dusty, retreating figure seemed larger at that instant. Indeed, the further he walked the larger he loomed, until I had to look up to him. At the same time he seemed gradually to be exerting a pressure on me, which threatened to overpower the small self under my fur-lined gown.
My vitality seemed sapped as I sat there motionless, my mind a blank, until a policeman came out. Then I got down from the rickshaw.
The policeman came up to me, and said, 'Get another rickshaw. He can't pull you any more.'
Without thinking, I pulled a handful of coppers from my coat pocket and handed them to the policeman. 'Please give him these, I said.
'Even now, this remains fresh in my memory. It often causes me distress, and makes me try to think about myself. The military and political affairs of those years I have forgotten as completely as the classics I read in my childhood. Yet this incident keeps coming back to me, often more vivid than in actual life, teaching me shame, urging me to reform, and giving me fresh courage and hope.
(*Recently, I reported an incident where a man fled on motorcycle after he had hit a man on a bicycle.*)
And we can hardly sneer at the Americans, after we accepted 16 years of Pierre Trudeau. There will always be demagogues, as there will always be people eager to follow them, into new "promised lands."
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Must-see video as Tony shows determination and a little toughness
- He wants to be a help. After using the toilet, he flushed it. At Carrefour, he was pushing the shopping cart and was angered when I tried to help him. He also threw a fit when I told in which direction he could push the cart.
- He is tough. He did a face plant on one of those flat-surfaced escalators. He had a red spot on his face because of it, but apparently didn't cry at all.
- He was very affectionate towards me. Usually he would want to sit by his mom as well as fall asleep in her arms. Tuesday night, he was doing this to me. I was stunned.
- He can say Pee Wee.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
- A father carries his child through a busy intersection by going diagonally across it, ignoring traffic signals. It seems suicidal to me, but then I see the father is taking his child to the hospital. In those circumstances, you don't worry so much about traffic and traffic signals.
- A couple, with a motorcycle-wagon combination used for carrying garbage and old cardboard look, like they haven't washed in weeks.
- A woman besides me waiting to make the same left turn as me, decides to not wait for the left-turn signal, and proceeds to sneak through the intersection forcing a car have to veer around her -- the car honks it horn and a few seconds later the left-turn signal is green. Was it worth it to do that?
Saturday, November 21, 2009
- Clark Gable was cool. No doubt about it. I could imagine the presence he had at the time the film was first released in the theatres. I was prone to think that you can't trust guys with mustaches and that they also had no style, but Gable changed my mind about that. I now regret that the colour of my facial hair doesn't allow me to grow a thin mustache.
- Everyone riding on a inter-city bus was wearing a suit and tie. You wouldn't see that on a inter-city bus in China or Canada. In fact, the passengers on the bus, in the film I watched last night, were dressed better than many suit-types you would see today. I wonder if that was the way that people always dressed in those days. Of course, I think of how people were dressed in the footage I saw of the Kennedy Assassination -- Ruby was wearing a suit and tie when he shot Oswald -- and I can say that people these days dress much more casually, and perhaps they dressed that well on the bus in the 1930s.
- Passengers on the bus engaged in a sing-a-long. Did they actually do that? Would anyone dare try that today on a bus? He flies through the air with the greatest of ease! The daring young man on the flying trapeze!
- Claudette Corbet had nice legs. She didn't initially strike me as beautiful, and she seemed average by my modern tastes, but she grew on me as the film progressed. I think of how someone said that Evolution means that people are having more attractive babies, and realize what a stupid thought it was -- standards change.
- There was spanking in this movie! Clark Gable spanked Claudette Corbet because she said something particularly stupid. Nowadays, the woman has to be slapping or spanking the man because he talks oafish. Alas! How standards change, and often for the worse!
- Alan Hale, who played the Skipper on Gilligan's Island, made a brief experience. He picked up the two hitchhiking stars of the movie, and proceeded to sing as bad as I do in WTUs. A young couple in love is never hungry! It was my favorite scene in the movie, nonetheless.
- I liked the movie because of the high standard of dress and behavior. The Gable character earned the love of the Corbet character because he behaved on principles. The Corbet character's father actually encouraged her to not marry a rich man because he was a skunk. And everyone wore suit and tie -- even in the woods.
Friday, November 20, 2009
- Is the lint of the West different from the lint of the Orient? I suppose the lint here has more polyester in it. Does anyone who travels frequently between China and the West have any opinions?
- Why don't the Chinese know how to chop meat?
- Why does the KoW have such horrible taste in movies?
- What is with people who come 1 minute before an appointment, or just two minutes after? Are they just fucking stupid?
- If a fat guy tells one lie and a thin guy, at the same time, tells one lie, who is being more truthful? Does a lower lie to weight ratio make the fat guy more honest?
- Who watches Tennis? What is wrong with them?
- Obama is such a obvious phony. How can so many people not see this?
- Women. Many. What do they want? What do they think?
- Why are there only 28 or 29 days in February?
- Why did they give Nobel prizes to Al Gore and Yasser Arafat and Obama?
- Was Bill Clinton a rapist?
- Why do people from Denmark have some ridiculous accents?
- What is with the Germans?
- How does having more torque benefit one?
- Do Chinese cannibals like to eat human feet?
- What is with the French?
- Was is wrong with the whole human race?
- If a fat guy says ten words and a thin guy says ten words, who is more talkative? Is the thin guy more talkative because he has a higher words per pound ratio?
- Where did I put my book about the Dynasties of China?
- Where did I put my keys?
- Did I turn off the gas on the stove?
- How would _____ react if I kicked him in the _______?
- If eagles could be humans, what famous human would they like to be?
- Does the KoW have my copy of Homage to Catalonia?
- If the Fat guy eats eleven hamburgers and the thin guy eats ten hamburgers, who is more of the glutton? Could the thin guy be considered more of a glutton because his greed to weight ratio is higher than the fat guy's?
- What is cool guy's favorite colour?
- Iron man, Super man, and Spider man have a Texas Cage Death Match. Who wins?
- What is thirty three times sixty seven in base eight?
- How do the Chinese manage to park their bikes so close together?
- What should I take photos of today?
- Should I even take photos?
- Why are we here?
- Does God exist?
- Why haven't I ever meet someone who is a Michael Jackson fan?
- Where is a good hiding place?
- How often do people shower?
- Why do some people run reds in heavy traffic?
- Why do I always lose my mojo?
- How can I rid myself of my constant need to be on the Internet?
- If you saw a rhinoceros in your path, what would you do?
- What would anyone want to be a polygamist?
- Do you ever step back from what you doing and ask "why"? Do you contemplate existence? Does it all seem sudden strange and distant? Do you go sometimes to a higher level of consciousness?
- Why do I lose my temper?
- Why in this world, do I keep my temper?
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I have been told that none of the students at Obama's Shanghai town hall meeting were actually students. If my source is to be believed, they were all youth leaders in the Communist Party and they were told what to ask. They didn't want real students asking embarassing questions.
"The wise man, even when he holds his tongue, says more than the fool when he speaks."
I found this gem of a story in the comments to the article about Karen Armstrong:
I think a story about Mother Teresa is applicable here. One day, Mother Teresa attended a theological conference. She was later asked, “What did you think of the conference?”
“Too many words” was her reply.
“But Mother, they are theologians….all they have is words.” was the response.
Mother Teresa quibbed, “I would be more impressed if they picked up a broom and swept the place”.
Academics love creating committees, coming up with high minding sounding statements which they trumpet as being significant. History is littered with such ideologist statements. They have no backbone. They have no passion. They have followup. They’re just words which disappear into the wind.
True compassion happens outside the ivory walls.
Here is another thought-provoking essay from Spengler: this time on American Foreign Policy:
It was mad to believe that America could remake the world in its own image. Given that more than half the world's languages will go extinct for lack of interest during the present century, it is even madder to turn foreign policy into an affirmative action program for disadvantaged cultures.
But those are the idiot twins of American idealism: either one size fits all, or size doesn't matter. I do not propose to draw a moral equivalence between presidents Bush and Obama: Bush wanted to elevate American Power and Obama wants to diminish it. Bush had better motives, but he was no less destructive of American influence.
- When we see men of worth, we should think of equaling them; when we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.
- James Legge, translation (1893)
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Canada is free of many of the foreign policy disasters and failures of vision that the United States has been correctly charged with, but they are free too of the satisfaction and pride of being history's singular bulwark of freedom and prosperity, and the eternal, unintimidated scourge of tyrants and murderers from the Barbary pirates, through the armed might of the 20th Century's parade of totalitarians and right up to Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden and the criminal lunatics that run North Korea.
Men open windows. Hurricanes come from elsewhere.
From my copy of "Verses from Tang Poetry"
Laughing to the sky, I go out the door,
I'm not an ordinary man at all.
Cut running water with a sword,
The water will faster flow;
Drown your sorrow by drinking,
The sorrow will heavier flow.
Imagine an iron house without windows, absolutely indestructible, with many people fast asleep inside who will soon die of suffocation. But you know since they will die in their sleep, they will not feel the pain of death. Now if you cry aloud to waken a few of the lighter sleepers, making those unfortunate few suffer the agony of irrevocable death, do you think you are doing them a good turn? But if a few awake, you can't say there is no hope of destroying the iron house.
End quote. So perhaps there's some reason, at least, to go on writing and talking. And then if, as I believe, we are going into a great darkness, we can still, at least, sing as we go. In the days of public executions in England, the condemned man on the scaffold was greatly admired if he could sing a popular song, or make a comic speech, while the hangman was testing his knot. It was the same in China, according to Lu Xun. The hero of one of his stories is vexed because, about to be executed, he can't remember the words of the operatic aria he wanted to sing.
(*This is from the transcript of the latest episode of Radio Derb. You can get the podcast for John Derbyshire's show on i-tunes.*)
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I took two videos on Saturday night. This is the first one.
- Oncoming traffic has a left turn signal. Cyclists will go straight and skirt these fast-moving turning trucks and buses. And they will do this in rush hour!
- Drivers will make left turns from the the right lane.
- Pedestrians will run in front of buses, counting on the fact that the buses will slow down.
- Cyclists will drive the wrong way down Freeways.
- Drivers will not stop at uncontrolled intersections.
- Drivers will cut off each other within inches to get ahead.
- I have seen pedestrians walk and forget to look at the pedestrian traffic signal.
- et cetera....
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
- Arriving home by taxi, Tony got out first and tried to open the door for me. It is great when he tries to be of help. The little man can be the little gentlemen.
- Last time I took him to school, he kissed all the girls. And he was a real gentleman about it.
- Tony tried to carry the shopping basket when we went shopping last evening.
- Jenny couldn't find her phone so I phoned it. The ring came from a Wheaties box where Tony had been packing things. I laughed while Jenny looked miffed.
- Pushing my bike up the flat ledge that you will see on the side of stairways, Tony didn't cry because he had to walk. Having learned the procedure, he duly and happily ran up the side of the stairs himself. He is showing understanding.
- Tony was pointing a toy gun. I know not cool in the West but whatever....
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Holmes is planning on moving to Canada. His application for landed immigrant status is currently being decided upon at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing.
Monday, November 9, 2009
There is something to be said for no being busy and not even bothering to make a pretext about it. Being really busy where you don't have the time to think what it is you are doing is terrible -- no one should want that for themselves.
GK Chesterton Quote
Life is always complicated for someone without principles.
...there is one thing that is infinitely more absurd and unpractical than burning a man for his philosophy. This is the habit of saying that his philosophy does not matter,
We should not allow ourselves to be moved by the cold hearts of professional tear-jerkers because when we reward that kind of thing we help perpetuate an emotional order that is dangerously false. We should instead be annoyed by attempts to manipulate us.
Falsehood has more consequences than the revelation of personal insincerity. What happened at Fort Hood was no kind of "tragedy." It was a criminal act, of the terrorist sort, performed by a man acting upon known Islamist motives. To present the perpetrator himself as a kind of "victim" -- a man emotionally distressed by his impending assignment to Afghanistan or Iraq -- is to misrepresent the reality.
– Have no interest in vanity or pride
– Never be distracted by flattery or gifts
– Be in control of the stomach
– Be slow to become angry
– Be as patient, gentle and humble as possible
– Be properly examined and without political ties
– Be a lover of souls
HARMONIZING A POEM BY PALACE-ATTENDANT GUO
High beyond the thick wall a tower shines with sunset
Where peach and plum are blooming and the willowcotton flies.
You have heard in your office the court-bell of twilight;
Birds find perches, officials head for home.
Your morning-jade will tinkle as you thread the golden palace;
You will bring the word of Heaven from the closing gates at night.
And I should serve there with you; but being full of years,
I have taken off official robes and am resting from my troubles.Du FuA VIEW OF THE WILDERNESS
Snow is white on the westward mountains and on three fortified towns,
And waters in this southern lake flash on a long bridge.
But wind and dust from sea to sea bar me from my brothers;
And I cannot help crying, I am so far away.
I have nothing to expect now but the ills of old age.
I am of less use to my country than a grain of dust.
I ride out to the edge of town. I watch on the horizon,
Day after day, the chaos of the world.