Sunday, January 31, 2010

The First of February

February Day
Why isn't there a holiday to celebrate the start of the second day of the month?  Why is it that only May and January have the privilege?
 
Outside, it is drab and damp.
 
Cosmic Turtle
Tony received a toy turtle at the CNY dinner.  The turtle plays music and displays lights of various colours.  There are star and moon shaped holes on the shell, so that in a dark room, the shapes light up the walls and ceiling.  Tony finds the effect most fascinating, and so the fall-a-sleep session with his father can be spent in the dark and even under the blankets where the canvas of stars is more colourful and closer.
 
The Turtle's lights are quite interesting; however, the music it plays is grating.
 
Looking at the shapes on the ceiling, Tony says "Moon!".
 
Hui Shan Tesco Review
There is no review available.  Perhaps, a review will be forthcoming in the next three days.  But there is a chance that maybe the review will have to wait another week.

Wuxi Tony Update #521: 2010 HyLite Chinese New Year Dinner.

A Wuxi Tony Minute.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I had a J.D. Salinger phase.

I had a phase when I very much liked J.D. Salinger, though I preferred his short stories to Catcher in Rye.  The story about the banana fish where Seymour Glass shots himself had such an impact on me that I read it over and over again trying to get clues for why he shot himself.  I suppose the reasons could be found in Catcher in the Rye, but I found the novel to be a bore.  The Caufeld kid just wasn't very "cool".  I also recall wanting so much to emulate another child from the Glass family who was reading a newspaper in the tub.  Salinger had him read in a tub in a cool way -- the water was so impressively filled to the very brim of the tub's edge; the Glass child seemingly experiencing ecstasies of nonchalant eccentricity.

But I then I discovered Conservatism and Rush Limbaugh.  Limbaugh's message of pick yourself up, and start all over again, did get me out the self-pitying phase I was in my late teens and  early twenties.  But the damage my Salinger phase has done to my life will probably never be overcame.  While I am now a father, have a great wife, and handsome child, I wasted so much time at that crucial point of my life.  I am doing now what I should have done fifteen to twenty years ago.

Here is David Warren's take. From Warren, I see I can blame Salinger for my too-long adolescence.  It serves me right, but I hope Jenny and Tony don't suffer unduly.

China-AmericaTrade War?

Yesterday afternoon, there was news that China was strongly protesting America's military arms sales to Taiwan.  One must wonder if perhaps China is testing President Obama's mettle, for America has had a military alliance with Taiwan for the longest time.  It was hopefully expressed that the protest will be a tempest in a teapot.

This morning however, the news became more ominous, for expatriates living in China, as it was reported that the Chinese government was putting up sanctions against American companies -- private American companies will be prohibited from making deals with the Chinese government.

At a class this morning with some students from Caterpillar, there was the temptation to ask the students if they felt personally impacted by the news.  However, many of the students probably weren't aware, it being the weekend, so it will have to be seen, in a few days time, how they feel.

HyLite 2010 Chinese New Year: The Dirt.

Tony
Tony attended Saturday evening's CNY dinner.  He behaved badly.  While his curiosity is something to be praised, his desire to own the object of his curiosity is most unfortunate.  His desire is so strong that it exhibits itself in the worst toddler behavior possible.  Last night, he threw tantrums and threatened to disrupt the festivities because he wanted to play with a drum set.  It took a combination of cola, beer, wine, and a spanking from his mother to calm him down.

While Tony's behavior last night, was best described as abominable, he did show affection for others combined with a discerning judgement of their merits.  He readily kissed everyone but gave more and longer kisses to the beauties at the dinner, as well as to the ones who treated him sympathetically.  He kissed some fifty people all told.

Staff Performances
The foreign trainers' rendition of Auld Lang Syne at the dinner was awful.  It was made all the more awful by the fact that the other staff of the school did admirable performances by actually having rehearsed beforehand.  The show of belly dancing performed by the Receptionists was so well done, it could have been professional.

Drinking
Andis drank beer for the first time since the Chirstmas party, and is feeling it now as he makes this entry.  

One of the Chinese staff members told me that the foreigners were said to have drank too much.  

Although, you should have seen the president of the school as well as the president of the school's mother company -- one of them had to be carried out.

The Food
Andis's wife Jenny said the food was good.  Andis, who was chasing around Tony and trying to mingle, really couldn't have an opinion.  But if his wife is happy, he is happy.


Singing at the HyLite Spring Festival Dinner



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Belly Dancing at the HyLite Spring Festival Dinner

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Tony at the HyLite Spring Festival Dinner

The next few entries will show some photos taken at Saturday's school New Year's Dinner. The first entry shows Tony playing with a microphone on stage.


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Friday, January 29, 2010

Questions

Why ask?
What is there that can be discussed today for your edification and entertainment?  Where is the Muse?
 
Why do they do that?
Why did the taxi driver have to take two fares at the same time, and somehow not think that he would annoy one of the passengers by going a long way off the usual route?
 
Why do these performances have to be done?
Why do the Chinese have to have performances at their parties or gatherings?  Can't people just sit and talk and mingle?
 
What is _____?
What is Beauty?  What is Good?  Are beauty and good the same?  Will the students be able to distinguish them, or will they insist that their grandmother is beautiful because she has a nice personality?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Aquinas

Aquinas
Funny, how I start to read Aquinas's Summa Theologica on his feast day which is January 28th.

Wuxi Tony Update #520: Playground

A short video of Tony at an indoor playground in downtown Wuxi.

My Bus Trip to Work

Baby in a basket
On the bus, there were these parents who had their baby child in a basket.  What was unusual about it was that the basket was three foot tall with a diameter on top of about 18 inches.  The baby was wrapped in blankets very comfortably, but was essentially standing up.

What goes around...
I didn't get a seat on the bus this morning.  I had a seat for about thirty seconds before I yielded to an old one-eyed man.  He gave the seat "back" to me later.

Long Day Done Did

Monthursday done for this week
You may call it Thursday but whatever day it is, it is my long day of the week.  Starting at ten in the day, finishing at nine in the evening, means I spend a long time away from my son.
 
Confucius Movie
Last night for my English corner, I was hoping that at least one of the students had gone to see the movie about Confucius, so I could ask them for a review of it.  Alas, none of them did.  One did hear a review which said the movie wasn't realistic. 
 
Everyone, it seems, still wants to see Avatar.
 
I asked the students about Confucianism, and they told me that it was not a religion but that is was used by the Emperors as a way of wresting control of the people away from Buddhism. 
 
What was the genius of Confucianism?  I then asked.  No one could really tell me. 
 
Was this because its' ideas have been so taken for granted that we have forgotten there was a time when no one had thought of them?
 
Stay at homer?
Asking the students if they had a stay-at-home lifestyle or liked to go out, I got the inevitable sometimes, I am, sometimes, I am not responses which really didn't answer my question.  One student, who did admit to having a stay-at-home lifestyle, did so because she lived on the 16th floor and it was too much of a bother to go out.
 
In No Uncertain Terms
Tony, in public, becomes very shy.  When a stranger, tries to be friendly to him, he will abruptly turn away from them.  It bothers me that he does this when the pretty girls at school want to be nice to him.  But conversely, it is nice that he wants to be with me -- I know in the future he won't want to be caught dead with me.
 
No seat on the bus
Having Tony in my arms when boarding a crowded bus, I can always count on someone yielding their seat to me.  But my wife is not treated so nicely.  She tells me that she often has to stand and hold Tony because no one will yield her a seat -- this happened to her yesterday.
 
Inexplicable.
 
Are the Chinese so concerned with giving a good show to the world that they neglect their own people?
 
Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) Dinner Tomorrow (Saturday)
Our School slash company will have its' annual CNY slash SF dinner Wedsaturday evening at some hotel on Jiekang Road -- the road that runs around the downtown city core.  There will be a series of performances by the staff, for which they have been rehearsing. 
 
Meanwhile, the foreign trainers will sing Auld Lang Syne and Gongsi Facai!  They haven't rehearsed yet.
 
I had to translate a speech that the big cheese of our company will be delivering Saturday night.  In it, he quoted Premier Wen, thanked God, mentioned the movie 2012 (did the Chinese build an ark in it?), and talked about how life gives us experience.
 
Expect, and demand, video and photographs.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wuxi Tony Update #519: VPN trouble

I haven't been able to upload WTUs 517 and 518 to Youtube. Rest assured, I will keep trying. But for now, I will have to make short one-minute WTUs so I can upload something.

It may be just as well. Some of these videos are too long anyway. Limits are sometimes good, even if they are courtesy Comrade Hu.

Back to work after a glum day off

No Tesco
It being cold on Wednesday (Sunwednesday in AKIC speak), I stayed home and looked after Tony while reading Pascal and Chesterton in snatches.  I didn't go to the newly-opened Tesco.  My wife tells me it is bigger and somewhat more expensive than Carrefour Baoli. 

I will report to you the new Tesco when I go next week.  I am sure to go then.

VPN trouble
I was able to finally upload two WTUs to Youtube after nearly a week of trying.  A lot of time yesterday was also wasted because of this.

Being with Tony, all the day
I would be lying if I said that being Tony all day yesterday was sugar and bliss.  It was trying and frustrating for both of us.  I felt trapped indoors and Tony's curiosity was insatiable and dangerous.  Sometimes, we didn't understand each other.  But, at the end of the day, he fell asleep beside me; and this morning, I got a good bye kiss as I left for work.  

So there are payoffs to this parenting thing.

Fog today
The highways were closed this morning because of the fog.  I figured this out as I saw hundreds of trucks lined up as I took the bus to work this morning.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

(Sun)Wednesday Tony


Is Tony watching a Soap Opera?
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AKIC Wedsunday

Morrissey, G. Gordon Liddy, and Tony
What's with Morrissey, the former lead singer of the Smiths and the American Right?  I remember once dropping out of my seat reading a City Journal article that paired the singer with the poet Phillip Larkin.  And then yesterday, I played a podcast from the G. Gordon Liddy Show which began with Morrissey's solo hit "The Last of the International Playboys".  Half the song was played when Liddy then began to speak saying that the Morrissey song could have been written for him.  Liddy was referring to the lyrics in the song about being in prison.
 
In truth, Morrissey can only make Conservatives shudder.  He supports animal rights, vegetarianism, navel-gazing, sullen posing, and blasphemy.  One of his songs goes "There are some bad people on the right". 
 
But no one should take a musician's politics too seriously.
 
Tony does like watching some Morrissey videos.  There is one video, that always grabs Tony's attention, where Morrissey goes to, presumably, the hometown and grave site of James Dean.  Tony sits still whenever it is played.  I thinks he likes the song's melody.  It was a good day, good day....
 
TESCO tomorrow?
Possibly.
 
Tony at the playground
Jenny has a card for an indoor playground located on the third floor of the shopping center on Zhongshan Road that houses a Papa John's Pizza parlour.  I took Tony there on Tuesaturday afternoon.  I let Tony loose in the place while I read some GKC.  Tony had himself a ball while I read as good a encapsulation of Confucianism as you ever going to find (expect me to put in a future links and quotes entry). 
 
The only trouble Tony had was when he first tried to cross a "swinging bridge" -- he didn't seem to know how to walk on these boards placed about six inches apart on meshing.  Tony got one of his legs stuck between the boards and I had to pull him out.  I showed him how to walk on the boards by holding on to the side handrails.  After that, he was fine -- he was a quick learner on one score. 
 
The only trouble he had with the authorities involved a toy truck and a corkscrew slide.  Tony found this toy truck, about a foot long and six inches across, and took it all over the playground, pushing it along the barrier of the ball pool, and pushing it on the floor of the playground.  He thrust the truck about twenty feet one time.  Tony then got it into his head to take the truck with him to the second level of the playground.  There he went to the top of the cork screw slide and let the truck go down it, earning the instant approbation of the attendants who took the truck away.  I found it amusing but very quickly, Tony put on such a fit that the attendants had to give the truck back to him.  I dealt with him in the end, and he quickly found something else to take his interest.
 
I figure Tony ran about a kilometer, all told, in the two hours he was there.
 
Conversation with Smemgy?  Not.
How about I calls you Smemgy?
 
No!!  What kind of goddamn name is that?
 
Oh Boy!  I guess Pascal is correct when he says "There is an internal war between reason and the passions.  If he had only reason without passions... If he only passions without reason...  But having both, he cannot be without strife, being unable to be at peace with the one without being at war with the other.  Thus he is always divided and opposed to himself." 
 
I choose that name to cause strife.  I won't call you that.  I will think of something much better.  How about Pascal?
 
No.  I don't think we (you mean I, or I mean you) could pull it off.  I suggest you think of another name, you moron.
 
Who are you calling a moron?
 
You.
 
Me?
 
No.  the other guy....  Well, of course, I mean you.  You dimwit.
 
Really.  Up yours!
 
Up Yours! Double twice!
 
Ah. I love this jocular swearing.  Nothing like men exchanging swear words in friendly jest, or manly love.
 
You mean I am a man?
 
Yes.  Of course.  Why would I make you a woman?
 
Maybe, you have a feminine side.
 
A little.  But still.  I know people who have much bigger feminine sides than me.
 
Anyway, you will be a man.  I will give you a male name and a little bit of a feminine side.
 
What?
 
Just enough of a feminine side to take my wife's side, should the need ever arise.
 
So mean I am a devil's and wife's advocate?
 
Yes.
 
But, doesn't that mean your wife is kind of like a devil?
 
No, it doesn't have to.  It is just two of many roles you get to play.
 
Can I be Fred Astaire?
 
I don't think we (I and you) could pull it off.
 
Okay.  I will ask you a question.  How come, AKIC only tangentially refers to China?
 
AKIC is more about AK than C, I readily admit.  But my mind is onto other more interesting things like Catholicism and U.S. politics.  China has such boring politics and I can't be bothered to read government pronouncements.  Everywhere else in the world, there is this palpable political tension in the air from political opposition.  Here, there is nothing.  None of the students seem to an active interest in the betterment of their community of country.
 
What about Chinese culture?
 
I am trying to learn the writing and I do try to read English translations of old Chinese novels.  But the current popular culture bores me.  It is all bubble gum idiotic pop music.  But anything that is said to be old here, has been restored and so you have to doubt its' authenticity.
 
Anyway, it's late.  Later.
 
Later.
 
 

Monday, January 25, 2010

New Hui Shan Tesco's doors close early.

My wife tells me that the Tesco was so crowded on the evening of its' grand opening, that its' front doors had to be closed to prevent too many people from coming in.
 
But that's the way it is with Grand Openings in China.  Hopefully, things will slow down in a week so I can go.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Frimonday Conversation and other things

VPN trouble
I have been having the hardest time trying to upload WTUs 518 and 519 to YouTube.  This morning, I got one third of WTU 518 before the link timed out.  What to do? 
 
Hui Shan Tesco to open today!
This will make life more interesting for the K family.  There will also be a KFC opening too!

Jenny will check out the store this afternoon, maybe (not a Chinese maybe).

Taking the bus just now, I saw the parking lot was packed with bicycles.
 
I wish I could have had a picture taken
I was reading Chesterton in bed last night, as Tony was flipping through a picture book.  A nice moment, I could never have imagined happening.  There we were, reading in bed together.
 
Tony, all of a sudden, said "boat!".  I looked at his book, and I'll be damned, but I saw a picture of a boat.
 
Conversation with ?
Have you thought of a name for me?
 
I am sorry I haven't.  You will have to be patient.  I got Tony and I got work and I got Jenny who also uses the computer a lot. 
 
Don't worry.  You will get a name.  Would you like to be called the Latin for Devil's advocate?
 
I don't want to be thought of as a devil.  But I do like the idea of a Latin moniker.
 
Remember, I don't need you to have vanity.  That is my job.  Your job is to always question it.
 
Right.  Do you think you are crazy talking to yourself in your blog?
 
Yes and No.  The question has crossed my mind.  But because the question has crossed my mind, it shows I have doubts about my sanity which is ultimate proof I still have my sanity.  Unless, I have some kind of uber-insanity where I am too sure of my doubt of my sanity.  But I don't think I am a boiled egg....
 
What podcasts did you listen to last night?
 
Thank you for asking, even though the question didn't have anything to do with what I was just talking about.  That is, it didn't seem a logical or natural transition.
 
I listened to a Rabbi talk about his photography.  He said that as an art, photography is seen as a poor cousin of painting, and that furthermore, colour photography is seen as a poor cousin of black and work photography.  The reason this is, according to the Rabbi, is that the best art comes from the process having limits placed on it.  This is so the case in poetry, where poetry has gone to pot since free verse became popular.  The most profound expressions of man come when we put limits on ourselves, continued the Rabbi.  He used this thought to justify his orthodox lifestyle (though, I hate to call it a lifestyle choice -- I think it is more than that).  I can gleam much from this wisdom about limits.  I so often try to do too many things at once and so do none of these things very well.  I have to stick to a few simple goals in my life.  One of them is to be a good father.  Number two: I should be a good teacher.  And then I have a goal which transcends them all but I can't really find the words to describe it.
 
I also listened to this podcast about the Southern writer Flannery O'Connor, who died the year I was born.  There is something inspirational about a writer, from what many so-called sophisticates call Hicksville - the American South, making it bigger than the literary smart set.  Her stories are so ultra-modern and yet filled with so much basic common-sense.  This podcast, like the podcast with the Rabbi, also touched on the idea of limits.  O'Connor, whose literature is filled with the freaks and the grotesque, was said to have been able to write so well about these subjects because she had lived in a society where she could still know what freaks were.  As well, she lived in a society where manners were still practiced, unlike the more casual and freer behavior of today.  Freaks can only be freaks in a society that places the limits of manners on itself.  The modern world doesn't know who or what is freakish or  grotesque.
 
It is all well and good to talk about limits.  But how do you define them?  And do you support say the limits that the environmentalists seek to impose on us?  And knowing that you don't, how can you support limits and yet oppose those ones?
 
Good questions if I don't say so my self.  And I would further add that it raises the problem of freedom and limits.  How can we want freedom and limits at the same time?  It seems paradoxical.  And yet life is paradoxical, and if we don't accept the paradoxes we can't get through life.  

The truth sets one free.  The truth also limits one to believing only what is true.

Environmentalists and dictators who seek to put limits on us, are limiting the wrong things in the wrong way for the wrong reasons.  They seek to chain a man to a spot rather than to give him a place with fences that he can call his own.   That is the best way I can put it without going into specifics for which I have no time at the moment.

Are you at work or is family calling?

I am at work.  

Okay.  Later.

Later.

Red Lanterns

On the street in front of our apartment, they have hung red lanterns from the street lamp poles. So far, this is the only place in Wuxi that I have seen these Spring Festival decorations hung.
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Links and Quotes on an AKIC Frimonday

Unattributed
In antiquity and in the Scriptures, it is a common belief that the name given to a person is not just a label but part of the personality of the one who bears it. The name carries will and power. The name conjures up the person; there is a desire to know the name and even a reluctance to give it in the Scriptures. (*I think about this as I think of my son Tony.  Could he have be named other than he was?  I couldn't imagine.  He is a soul for all time.*)

Pascal

This essay says a few more things about Haiti's plight.

Good entry.  Very good entry.  I could only add that the people who think the about statement is patently ridiculous better re-check their assumptions and throw their blind prejudices out the door.

Was Alan Greenspan like a Captain Kirk guiding and directing the Economy known as the USS Enterprise?  He wasn't but for whatever reason, he was portrayed as so.  The more I learn about the details of what America's Central Bank does, the more I become convinced that Greenspan was a fraud perpetuated on the public.  He can be credited with keeping inflation down for the time he was chairman.  If he had stuck to that instead of taking credit for and opinionating on things not under his purvey, like equity markets and jobs growth, he wouldn't be the discredited man he is today.

The Haiti Earthquake raised the age-old question of suffering and God.  The article linked above contains one take on the question.

There are a lot of scoundrel Laowai in China.  I have met a few of them.  I may well be one myself.
 
Dennis Prager says they don't make men like they used to.  I noticed watching a old movie that the young man in the man looked all adult and not at all a child.  These days, Brad Pitt just always looks like a teenage, and he is in his forties!
 
I like what this comment says about this question:
 
I have met mostly academics, who loved the star-struck attention of the pupils. It was such a strange sight, almost vulgar (I won't do these academicians a disservice and mention their names). I have also met some teachers: my thesis advisor was late Wayne Booth and he truly was a teacher. I had human conversations with him: from personal experiences of loss to irony in Flannery O'Connor's fiction. Another teacher that comes to mind is Leon Kass. His class on the Book of Exodus will always remain in my memory as one of the greatest classes I have taken. Dialogue was present there: clarity and the order of the mind and above all, virtue.  (Great Teachers must be virtuous)


Ronald Reagan
"We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down. Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefitting from their success -- only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free. Trust the people. This is the one irrefutable lesson of the entire postwar period contradicting the notion that rigid government controls are essential to economic development."


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Thursunday Contemplations

 What to blog about?  What to discuss?  A Conversation with _?_.
 
What don't you just admit you have nothing to say?
 
No, I am just experiencing some writer's block.  I can work my way out of it.
 
What did you do yesterday, or even this morning, that is out of the ordinary, that isn't boring navel-gazing dribble?
 
Good question.  But, I think I have an answer.  I got a wife.  I got Tony.  These are things that are radically different from four years ago for me.  Taking a step back, I can state whodathunkit?  Even the most ordinary or routine of moments are not so ordinary, mundane, or routine as one would think.  And it isn't navel-gazing, if you are thankful.  Gratitude is the source of all happiness.  So, being thankful means you have someone to be thankful to other than your navel.  And as for being boring, I can say I feel real excited now.  I think anything talked about in the proper spirit, a spirit of wonder, can never be boring.
 
Anyway, I have to take a shower.  Can you wait a bit?  We will continue this conversation.  I can feel the wellsprings (which are always there) reappearing to my myopic eyes.
.
.
.
 
How was your shower?  What were you thinking?
 
My shower was wonderful.  I am clean all over in every nook and cranny.  And I was thinking about  a whole lot of things while I had this shower.  However, looking at the time, I see I have to get ready for work, so it looks like I will have to continue this conversation at school.  Then I will tell you what I thought about in the shower and on the bus (Ask me if I had a seat.).
 
Okay.

.
.
.

Did you get a seat?

Yes.  Thanks for asking.  I the took the #610 bus.  I do have to walk for ten minutes to get to school, but it beats standing on the #25, which I most certainly would have done.

What were you thinking about on the bus?

Let's not get ahead of ourselves.  I said I would talk about what I was thinking about in the shower.  I thought about two things. 

First, I thought about my interaction with Tony.  He defies me like you wouldn't believe.  He seems impervious to my spanking of him.  Last night, I wanted him to stop playing with the blinds at the window in our small bedroom (really, our study).  About six times, I pulled him out of the bedroom and placed him on his little living room seat.  The little bugger kept going back into the bedroom.  So I tried spanking him.  He cried for a bit and then returned to the bedroom.  Now in the bedroom, we have this  combination bed, deck, closet, piece which has stairs to get to the bed.  These stairs are by the window.  After I thought I had given him a good spanking, Tony returned to the bedroom, ascended the stairs, and then turned himself around to sit on them.  I looked at him fiercely.  He, in return, looked at me, put his hands on his lap, and gave me a mischievous smile.  I was just taken aback.  There doesn't have to be war between us, but it is going to be something of a game.  So be it.  As long as this mischievousness is a sort of laughing at the uber-seriousness of the world, I will be disarmed, but otherwise.....

I should add that I was peeved at Tony because he was distracting me.  I feel guilty now, for I should never be distracted by my son.  He is the center of my world, now.  My previous concerns should really be the distractions.

Secondly,in the shower, I was thinking about this podcast, I was listening to last night.  The podcast is called Common Sense by Dan Carlin, who also does a podcast called Hardcore History.  Hardcore History is a good show.  Carlin takes his time and researches these shows very well, putting all sorts of interesting details in them.  That history podcast I recommend.  You may be taken by Carlin's shock-jock manner of speaking, but it works when he talks history.  However, when he talks current events and editorializes as he does on Common Sense, he becomes very grating.  He talks about matters then of which he has no knowledge.  And he reveals himself to be a squishy Liberal, try as he might to label himself an "Independent".  When it comes to Obama, for instance, Carlin has drunken the Kool-Aid.  The best that can be said for Obama is that he has political skills, but say that Obama is potentially great, shows an inability to step back from the situation -- Carlin is supposed to an historian!!  But then, maybe, I am  just being knee-jerk at the slightest hint of praise for O. 

But there was another idea that Carlin advanced in his show that really was stupid.  Talking about the American Health care debate, Carlin put forth the idea that there should be a Manhattan Project for Health care in America.  That is, to paraphrase Carlin, you get a bunch of smart guys in the room and build a health care system from scratch.  The original Manhattan Project where a group of scientists created the Atomic bomb, was based on experiment.  They had to try and try and try till they got it right.  A Manhattan Health care Project couldn't do that.  A medical system is so complex that it has to build itself, as do the most prosperous economies.  To centrally plan it is to defy experience.  A socialized medical system ultimately stifles experimentation.  If you want to have experiments, with smart scientist types doing what they are best at, adopt a more free-market system than the Americans currently have. Carlin, who likes to think he is practical, should advocate small reforms in America like letting Insurance Companies compete across state lines.  

Carlin also bemoaned the seemingly partisan nature of American politics saying it was stifling necessary reform of the American system.  To that I can say that democracy and politics are always partisan and that if you want people to get along, you will have to get a lot of them to shut up while the powers that be do what they want, unfettered by true opposition.  No dice!  What bemoan what should be glorified!

Can I ask another question?

Yes.

What is my purpose?  You can easily monologue without me.

Your purpose will be to ask hard questions, a devil's advocate, as it were.  I will give you a name and, more importantly, I will give you free rein to criticize and ask the hard questions that I need to be asked.  Your presence works for a blog because ultimately it is a rambling form of writing.  I wouldn't need you for essays.  I have read that the Internet is not the place for people with intense lives.  Tony does make my life intense, but really he doesn't give me the time to write nice essays.  I prefer to rant and argue, and so that is your purpose.  I am sorry if I haven't give you more time to speak, but I promise you that I will.  

I will have to see about that. Now, what did you think about the bus?

I didn't so much think as listen a podcast and try to read Chinese signs.  The latter I did do so well, but I am improving.  The podcast I was listening to, was about the history of the Catholic Church.  A very interesting podcast and now, I have another thing to want to read about.

Care to elaborate?

Not today.  I got some work to do.  Thank you for appearing.  You are someone I need on my life.

You are welcome.


Friday, January 22, 2010

The Bad Boy is 29!


Tony (Anthony Arnis Peng Kaulins) turns 29 (months) on Saturday. How he has grown before my eyes! I thank God for the good fortune to be able to have him. I thank my wife for doing such a good job of taking care of him. Her efforts have been tireless and more than I could have ever done.
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AKIC Wedsaturday Entry

Only till Eight! Damn!
The #25 bus which goes directly to my work from Hui Shan City is running later into the evening, starting this week, but not late enough for me.  I need the bus to run till nine thirty, not just eight!

We won't be going to Beixing this Spring Festival!  Hooray!
The wife does want to go Beixing, her home town for the Spring Festival.  She wants to stay at Casa Kaulins and, for a few days, stay in Jiangyin.

Sounds fine by me.  And if we go to Jiangyin, I can take Tony to the shores of the Yangtze River to see the boat traffic and the great suspension bridge that is there.

Smarter than the Mob
Being a conservative, with their natural loathing of mobs, mob rules, and mob thinking, it always gives me joy to outsmart a mob.  Friday morning, I was waiting for the bus, the number 25 to be exact.  Well, a 25 bus came on which there were no available seats, and there were twelve people going to board.  I decided to wait.  Five minutes later, a 25 bus with many empty seats came and I was the lone passenger to board it.

Ah! The masses: what do they know?

Tony misses Me!
The wife informs me that many days at six p.m. or so, Tony says my name and hopes that I come through the door.  To try to rid Tony of this notion, my wife has phoned me at work to talk to him, but this has only gotten him upset.
 
Tony is 29!
As of Saturday, Tony is 29 months old.  It is hard to believe, for me anyway, that it was 29 months ago that Tony was born, but after doing the math, I see that it is so.
 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tony the Organizer


Tony is an organizer, not a Community organizer. Thank God!

Jenny and I had to ask each other if we had lined up the cars like this. Neither of us did, so the likely suspect is Tony.

Way to go! Tony! Too bad, you couldn't line up your cars in a more advantageous spot.
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AKIC Tuesfriday

What is Tuesfriday?
It is the day after Monthursday.  Tomorrow to someone in Tuesfriday is Wedsaturday.  The AKIC weekend is Sattuesday and Sunwednesday.  

Understand?

wuxiguide.net suppresses Religion
Is www.wuxiguide.net a friend of the regime?  You would think so after it brutally locked this religious thread on its site.
 
KoW is now CoW or should I say GSoWEP?
 
We will rock you!  Oops!
You may recall reading in a previous entry how Tony likes singing the chorus to Queen's "We will rock you!".  I have the song on my MP3 player (my phone actually -- I have a MP-SAN with a phone attached to it, but that's another story).  So I play it for him.  Yesterday, I decided to make that song my alarm tone (It had been Roxanne by the Police.  Why not a Sinatra song, you lover of truth, beauty, and civilization?  These rock songs wake you up in the morning like a man crashing cymbals together would.)
 
This morning, the tone played to wake me up, and Tony had a fit.  It turned out he could only be placated if he heard the song. 
 
We played it ten times for him.  Thankfully, a bottle put him back to sleep.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Back to Work: Ramblings of Andis on a Cold, Damp Thursday (his Monday) in Wuxi, China

Couldn't get to sleep!
Dennis, one of the foreign trainers (from Ireland), was at work early this morning; that is, earlier than he had to be.  I asked him why and he told me that he couldn't get to sleep last night.  I knew exactly how he felt.  I couldn't get to sleep last night, as couldn't Jenny.  The spike in the temperature I complained about is causing a weather change that is making it hard for many of us in Wuxi to have a good night's sleep.

Dreary Wednesday
The weather on Wednesday was so drab that it was enough to make one have a dark night of the soul.  I don't mean to belittle these dark nights of the soul, but the weather, in fact, cast such a pall over my mood that the comparison I have made made gives you an idea of just how dismal I felt yesterday.  I couldn't decide if I hated China or my life.

Thankfully, Tony was able to get me out of my valley of despair with a simple gesture -- he grabbed my hand as we sat together on the couch watching television.  But of course, these little moments of joy with children have to be well-earned.  For Tony then proceeded to do three hours of constant demands of me accompanied with whining.

His mood made me want to take him somewhere, get him out of the house.  I notice that when we go for long walks, Tony is more passive and less demanding (but, notice, I say less).  Jenny had an idea that Tony and I would take the #610 to Qianzhou, a village bordering on Hui Shan and Yanqiao.  There, we could walk around, buy some KFC, and take it home for supper.  It was a splendid idea, but outside, the drab and gray was too much.  I went to Qianzhou, took Tony for a cursory walk, purchased the KFC bucket, and returned home.
 
Brown Wins!
The news of the election result for Ted Kennedy's old seat was splendid.  It was a bad result for Obama, no doubt about it.  But whether it signifies a continual loss of confidence in the governance of O and his party remains to be seen.  In '94, Clinton had a much more significant electoral spanking, but he learned lessons from it.  The Republicans with a weak party chairman, have benefited from Obama's fumblings, but have done nothing to show they have a solid alternative to what the Democrats are doing.  The chairman of the Republicans seems to want to be Democrat-lite -- not a good sign when the Democrats are being their traditional incompetent selves.

Still, a repudiation of Ted Kennedy's legacy is worthy of celebration and there is a good chance that this result marks the start of a significant backlash against the Democrats and O.
 
Jets - Vikings?
More immediately, does the surprise victory of the Republicans of Ted Kennedy's senate seat portend some upsets in this weekend's NFL conference championship games?  I hope.  Go Jets!  Go Vikings!
 
What Tony can do now
Tony can:
  • sing the chorus of Queen's "We will Rock You".
  • say "What".  I don't know if he means "What?", though.
  • when sitting on my shoulders, slide himself down the side of my body to get to the ground.
  • get into things he shouldn't like basically everything.
  • act -- he can fake crying.
  • give long kisses -- not pecks, but wet juicy lip-on-lip kisses.
 
The Chinese encounter this Foreigner
The Chinese person encounters a laowai  set-piece is old-hat for me.  But the encounters still happen a lot.  Tuesday night, I shared a motorcycle taxi ride home with a gentleman who could speak very good English.  He told me he learned his English by reading lots and watching movies.  He sells apartments in the Dream City complex that is being constructed by the MoreSky360 building.

At the bus stop yesterday, the sight of Tony sitting on my shoulders, caused a pair of locals to run up to me and just stare, all agog. I wanted to run away.  But the two asked me questions, in Chinese.  I pretended to know less Chinese than I really did.

Reasonable and Animal
Pascal says we have to contend with two natures:  to be reasonable and to be of base passions.  I had this observation borne out to me full-stop while contemplating one of his Pensees,  I found it to be particularly wise, and then I thought of how I could use this wisdom against some people I knew, and I then felt a spasm of anger against those people.  The spasm took me aback, but is was like a slap of common sense.  The battle against bad inclinations is constant and never-ending.


Wuxi Tony Update #517: Trying to show construction

I wanted to show you the construction currently taking place in the area in which the K family lives. Tony wouldn't let me, alas!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tony, Tony, Tony!



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Cranes and Construction Everywhere




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Wuxi Tony Update #516: Bad Boy Walking

What I hate about Chinese Apartment Decoration.


There is trash everywhere.
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Chinese New Year Prep

These people and their lanterns gathered on the street that runs in front of our apartment. I believe those red things are lanterns: a traditional Chinese New Year decoration.
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Who put the toys in the Washing machine?



Do I have enough evidence to convict?

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Wuxi Tony Update #515: Postman Pate

Tony talks more and more. He also likes to hide things.

The edtion for AKIC's Weekend

Fifteen hours a day
One my students works at a Textile factory.  He tells me that he and the workers there will be putting in fifteen hour days, before the Spring Festival, as they try to fill an increase in orders from America.
 
I asked him if he worried about quality issues with workers putting in such long days.  He say what could they do?  The orders had to be filled.
 
I asked if the workers got paid for the overtime.  He told they would get paid a little more, but not the double pay that the central government dictated.  It seems that the local governments can ignore the central government when circumstances and local forces demand it.
 
Wait! Wait! Wait!
Again, Tony can say the words but I don't think he knows what they mean.  He learned it from his parents' constant use of the word around him.  Right now, he seems to think that "wait" means "open the fridge" and "tie your shoes".
 
Music DVDs
Tony can indicate the DVDs he wants to watch.  He can say "Go-Go", "Postman Pat", "Pee Wee", and "Peter Pan".  If he wants to watch one of my music DVDs, he will point to the area I store them.  (I put them out of his reach to prevent his mishandling of them -- his DVDs all seem to end up on the floor.)
 
He likes watching Morrissey videos -- disturbing for me.
 
Work on the Subway
Work on the first line of the Wuxi Subway has begun in full earnest, as the expression goes.  On my commute to work, I can see the roads and sidewalks being torn and dug up.
 
Eighteen Degrees!  Bah!!
I am not happy about the temperature going up to eighteen degrees today.  You can call me crazy, but I am dressed for minus five degrees, so any increase in the temperature is uncomfortable for me.  I prefer the temperature to be consistent.  I hate surprises.  And this temperature increase is only a spike.  The temperature will go back down in a few days.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Things I would like to see.

Wishes
I would like to see a Jets-Vikings Super Bowl, and a Republican win that special senate election in Massachusetts.  I know the chances are against it but yet the chances are better than one would have thought a month ago for both scenarios.
 
Training
I got to be on my best behavior today.  Now, I should be on my best behavior every day, but things seem to go in cycles for me.  Today, I have a new trainer coming in for training which is why I feel I have to be better today than other days.
 
Perish the thought.
 
 

It is my Friday; not yours.

My office is blessed by a Monk
Sunday afternoon, a Buddhist Monk walked around the school throwing rice everywhere.  I suppose it was a way of blessing the school or something.  I made sure he threw rice in my office.
 
The cynical among us questioned why they needed to do that.  I didn't mind it.  It nice to see some belief in the supernatural in this country which has hitherto been too soulless for its' own good.
 
Tony puts shoes in sofa cushion
Tony greeted me as I arrived home Sunday evening wearing only one shoe.  It is the way with toddlers that their shoes are always coming off and they seem nonplussed that they only have one shoe.  I looked for the other shoe for about thirty minutes before I discovered that he had put the shoe in a sofa cushion.  He loves to zip and unzip the cushion case.  And he was playing with the cushion, I recall, when I got through the door....
 
Tuesday and Wednesday are my Weekend, almost.
It would be a weekend for me except for the fact that I am doing three classes of overtime on Tuesday night.
 

Wuxi Tony Update #514: Glad to have Tony

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The AKIC Wuxi Sunday Edition

No! No! No!
Tony knows how to say "no!".  He has picked it up because his parents say it to him all the time.  Problem is, though, that he doesn't know what it means.
 
The Frankfurt School
The secret of happiness is gratitude.  Figure that out, and most Left Wing philosophies quickly appear fraudulent.
 
I was listening to a BBC podcast for a show called In Our Time.  It is hosted by Melvyn Bragg.  The topic for the show I was listening to was the Frankfurt School -- a group of Left Wing intellectuals who lived in between-war Germany, 1940s America, and then finally post-war Germany.
 
I try my best to make a coherent critique of what I heard.  But, it won't be easy because I don't think the ideas presented were coherent.  I will try to recap, as best I can, in no particular order, some of the silly ideas I heard.
 
This Frankfurt group couldn't understand why there wasn't a revolution in Germany as there had been in Russia in 1917.  They thought by the laws of history that a revolution in Germany was inevitable.  They didn't understand that what had happened in Russia was that a particularly thuggish group was able to walk into a power vacuum -- there were no masses revolting demanding Socialism.
 
This Frankfurt group, trying to understand why revolution never happened in Germany, took some notions from Marx and Freud to explain it.  I won't go into detail about the notions but the conclusions were that the masses were "obtuse".  They were too stupid and were being duped, and so they didn't know that they should have been more unhappy than they were.

The Frankfurt Group rationalized the fact that their personal behaviour (they all seem to benefit from the Capitalist system) contradicted their professed disregard of materialism by saying that the Capitalist system had so co-opted everyone that until there was a complete change, no one had to change.  Thus, they could escape the Nazi persecutions by going to an America which they hated.  Talk about your lack of gratitude!

And what was that they wanted to by properly happy and unhappy about?  Who can say?  Tripe like that show shows why I am correct in my belief that the BBC and CBC (Canada's BBC) need not be funded by taxpayers.

 
New Shoes
We received the first pair of shoes ordered for me via Internet yesterday.  The shoes are ugly -- black and gold with Houston Rocket like designs.  The shoes fit as is to be expected with all shoes I buy  -- one of the shoes fits fine, the other is a little tight.  They are size 47.
 
 Sports Car Marriage Procession?
It could very well have been a publicity stunt.  It could have been a real marriage procession -- I did see a camera man in one of the procession cars taking video (as you would see in more simple Chinese weddings).  But what I definitely saw was a procession of 20 very expensive sports cars -- Porsche's, Audi's, and Lamborghini's -- on Zhongshan Road Sunday Morning.  Most of them had just married signs on their bumpers.  The procession attracted much attention -- people took photos.  The procession had me marvel at the irony of seeing such conspicuous material display in a country that still calls itself a People's Republic.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The edition for your weekend!

Your Weekend
So it is your weekend.  Set to go on a weekend getaway?  Have a party to go to?  Time to have a life you say?
 
Live every moment!  What is the matter with you?
 
Haiti Reaction
The students seem to have a dim awareness of the earthquake in Haiti, but the catastrophic nature of it hasn't gotten them to talk.  The subject of Haiti for me becomes a lecture -- not good.
 
Tony's moving
Tony, yesterday, was moving all his toy cars and trucks from the living room to under the old crib in the second bedroom.  Jenny tells me that Tony took each toy individually to the bedroom, moved the crib aside, laid down the toy, pushed the crib back in place, and then returned to pick up another toy and repeat the process.  There were about ten toys under the crib when I got home last night.
 
Tony notices Fireworks
Tony's first reaction to fireworks was fear.  It later became indifference.  But now, my wife tells me, Tony finds them interesting.  Last night, he ran to the window to watch a display.  He will have a lot to watch next month....
 
Google and China
Seablogger has this entry about Google and China.  One of the co-founders of Google was born in the Soviet Union, so he should have been under no illusions about his dealings with the Chinese.  You can also find out about China's most popular blogger.
 
I will have to find out if the students know about Han Han.
 
Nothing to do during the Spring Festival
Sadly, that is the complaint of some foreigners (laowai) about being in China during the Spring Festival.  Thankfully, that is not mine.  I have a million ways to occupy myself.
 
Ordering Shoes on the Internet
Nothing, I think, could be more problematic than ordering shoes on the Internet, but that is what Jenny did for me yesterday.  It seems that it is only on the Internet that I can find shoes that are my size: 46 and 47.  In Wuxi, all stores don't stock larger than 44.  The prices of the shoes seem reasonable:  my wife ordered two pairs for me for about 230 rmb.  But, the proof will be in the pudding.
 
Workers already at it
The apartment decoration process continues on the floor above us.  Hopefully, they will be finished in a month or so before the Spring Festival.  Anyway, as I type this Saturday morning at 730 a.m., I can hear them starting to work.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Miep Gies R.I.P.

Who is Miep Gies? 

She is the Miep in Anne Frank's diary, the gentile friend who helped hide the Jewish family and four of their friends for more than two years in the small attic apartment in Amsterdam. She is the woman who regularly bought groceries and supplies to keep all of them alive and who, along with her husband, lived every day in fear that the Nazis would discover what they were doing.

So, let us pause for a moment and recall the extraordinary life of Miep Gies, who died Monday at the age of 100.


Wuxi Tony Update #513: The corridor of a White Elephant

760,000 views on my Youtube channel.

Thank you very much!

Quotes and Links: the mid January 2010 edition.

From The Journey to the West
"Brother Li," said Zhang Shao, "it seems to me that people who struggle for fame kill themselves for it; those who compete for profit die for it; those who accept honors sleep with a tiger in their arms; and those who receive imperial favours walk around with snakes in their sleeves. Taking all in all, we are much better off living free among our clear waters and blue hills: we delight in our poverty and follow our destinies."
 

Yiddish Proverb
You can't control the wind, but you can adjust your sails."


In fact, "there is zero legacy from when Obama was here,"

What was Obama's solution at the time to Chicago's crime problems?
Obama attacks the Christian Right and the Republican Congress for "hijack[ing] the higher moral ground with this language of family values and moral responsibility." Yeah, sure, family values are fine, he says, but what about "collective action . . . collective institutions and organizations"? Let's take "these same values that are encouraged within our families," he urges, "and apply them to a larger society."

Socialism.

David Warren, being Canadian and Catholic, I am interested in his opinions of the game of Ice Hockey.  In the article linked above, he abhors the attempts to abolish fighting and brawling from Hockey.  He says:  We need to appreciate the greater evil presented by the intrusion of effeminacy into what is essentially a man's game.  

His view of Hockey in general is appreciative and realistic:
Hockey is itself a surrogate for warfare, and if you doubt it for a moment, listen to the crowd. (Including the women. Especially the women.) And while I might think professional sports in general a circus for the masses, and a lure into couch potatodom -- real men don't watch, they play -- hockey in particular has become valuable as a museum exhibit of many forgotten virtues.

He goes on to relate the sport to what as happened to Airport Security -- a further example of effeminacy of society in general.

I wish he could have commented on the use of helmets in the game.  Hockey, I feel, was a much better sport, when they didn't wear helmets and those ugly wire-caged goalie masks.  While the players are faster and stronger today, they are so in all sports.  In American football with all its padded equipment, there are more injuries than say rugby where they wear practically no equipment.  The game has become less about stick-handling and more about tackling -- offensive skill and initiative doesn't seem to get rewarded.

I further wish the institution of the bench-clearing brawl was, instead of being abolished, added to other endeavors like politics, synchronized swimming, and ping-pong.  The brawls in Taiwan are an argument for democracy.  Parliament should be civil war for the masses instead of the childish name-calling and government evasiveness it has become.  I, for one, would respect Stephen Harper more if he had socked that Iggy guy in the jaw a few times.  To have seen some Reform members duking it out with the NDP caucus would have been a great service for the country.  Parties like the NDP and politicians like Obama and Trudeau can only flourish in time of effeminacy.

Thank God it's your Friday!

It ain't mine!
Today is AKIC Tuesday!
 
Portrait Painter
We have hired a new part-time trainer.  Richard is from Australia and married to a Chinese girl.  One of his hobbies is painting -- portrait painting that is.  I am envious of people who have that drawing skill.  But I do have an appreciation of the faces you can see in China.  Some of them are magnificent.  You see these weather-chiseled faces or stern solid faces that make you wonder.  What have they seen?  What have they done?
 
No Relations
Talking to the students about the Haiti Earthquake, I learned that the country does not have diplomatic relations with the PRC.  Haiti is one of the few countries in the world to recognize T.  So most of the students, it seems, had little to say about the catastrophe. 
 
I have also read that a country close to Haiti, Cuba, hasn't had much aid to offer.
 
Daddy home?
I received a strange phone call from Jenny while I was at work last night.  She told me that Tony was convinced that I was outside the apartment door trying to come in and so he was unlocking and opening the door to let me in.  Jenny wanted him to hear the sound of my voice on the phone to get the notion out of his head.  Apparently, this tactic worked because he threw the phone to the ground, angrily, when he heard me.

One month till the Spring Festival
As of Friday, there is less than a month till the Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival, as the locals call it.  The students told me thought that it didn't mean the Spring Festival shopping season had begun. (I had told them about the Christmas shopping season lasting for six weeks.)

Pagan Worship at Wuxiguide.net
Check it out!  Registration may be required.

How is your Chinese?
It is awful still.  But I do make the effort to open a book and study.  This morning, I pulled out my dictionary and was using its' radical chart and index to decipher the meanings of signs.  As I have said before, I made a big mistake in choosing to not study Chinese writing.