Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dune, The Lord of the Rings, Nanjing, and Freedom.

Dune  I just finished this science fiction novel.  I read the book thirty years, and couldn't remember much about it except for, what I thought at the time was, a complicated network of alliances.  I was quite taken with the book all those years ago, maintained a high regard for it through the years.and for whatever reason, I felt a need to buy the book when I went to Canada last month.  Having read it again, it now seems too commonplace.  I will give the book away for 4 rmb -- it cost my 24 in Canada.

TLOR  I am now reading the trilogy (all in one volume).

Nanjing!  We go there  all expenses paid!  They want to use Tony for some reason.

Skateboards  A student tells me he goes to a skateboard park in Wuxi where he can rent a skateboard.  That strikes this Westerner as wierd.

Motorcycles  No one in the class wanted to ride a motorcycle.  Again weird.

Teenagers  Poor Souls.  Some of them are sent to our school because their parents don't want to look at them.  Many are in the awkward and ungainly phase of adolescence.

Are you married?  That question never seems to fail to get an over-the-top reaction from the students.  You think I was asking if they were gay.

Fortuitous Decision  It was a fine thing, I learned, that I decided to take bus #610 Saturday Morning.  I normally would have taken the #25, but for some reason, perhaps construction, the #25 route was changed so that the bus wasn't coming to the stop near my apartment.  No one seemed to have been informed of this change.  My wife told me that later she and a whole bunch of others waited for the #25 bus for over forty minutes before giving up and taking the #610.  Saturday evening, I took the #25 bus back and had to get off at a stop that was nowhere my apartment.  It remains to be seen if this route change will be permanent -- because of the construction the bus drivers have been changing their routes to avoid traffic jams.

Freedom Question I will ask the students:  If you were given complete freedom to do whatever you want would you a) Eat lots and lots of ice cream (or chocolate?) b) give a fervent kiss to the nearest handsome boy or beautiful girl?  c) Run naked in a meadow?  d) Punch someone you hate in the face?  e) play computer games all day?  f) sleep all day?  7) Drive a fast car?  or 8) something else? (The most popular choice, it turned out, was a variation on choice "d".  It seems the students all wanted to get back at the people who assigned them homework.  This was done in the sixties I thought.)

Blaise Pascal Quote . We owe a great debt to those who point out faults. For they mortify us. They teach us that we have been despised. They do not prevent our being so in the future; for we have many other faults for which we may be despised. They prepare for us the exercise of correction and freedom from fault.  (I am also reading Pascal's Pensees.  These I read on a PDF file on my computer).

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