Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Andis Kaulins in China Diary Entry for December 23 to December 29, 2013

Highlights of this entry:
  • Andis weighed in on the Duck Dynasty controversy.
  • Andis didn't celebrate his birthday.
  • Andis & Jenny bought Tony lots of presents for Christmas.
  • Construction around Andis's school was very annoying.
  • Andis was listening to one particular son by the Yardbirds.
  • Andis got Friday off because his school had no electricity.
  • Andis listen to the audiobook version of the Politically Correct Guide to Socialism.

Monday [December 23]
[Home Laptop]
  • I now know who is Phil Robertson. He is the cool old dude on Duck Dynasty. Based on what I have seen of him in the show, I would trade him for a million progressive-metro-sexual-socialist men any day. He is the salt of the earth.
  • I watched the Halloween episode of Duck Dynasty – it ends with a prayer.
  • Tony slept the afternoon at home. Jenny pulled him from school when she went to bring him his lunch.
  • Tony spent the evening on the Train Simulator program. He was taking a passenger train and stopping it at stations.
  • He also understood what I meant when I told him that he had to put the train in gear before he could apply the throttle.
  • No work today.
  • I had a conversation on Twitter with a PhD student who had spent two years in China. He was very good at speaking Chinese and drinking so he had a good time in China. He now studies ancient middle civilization and has had to learn Greek, Latin, and other languages.
  • Having not spoken Chinese for eight years, he says he has forgotten it all.
  • I may publish Dispatches from Akicistan tomorrow.

December 24 [Tuesday]
[School Laptop]
  • I work 13:00 to 21:00 today.
  • It isn't my birthday today, or so Tony said when I tried to tell him that it was. “Not your birthday!” he said. “It is me birthday!”
  • I will indulge myself best I can today since it is my birthday. I won't worry so much about my to do list.
  • I won't mention it being my birthday to anyone at school. I only let my family and you, my rare readers, know.
  • I spent the morning at the dentist. I had to wait a little longer than usual – two people showed up before me. I then had to spend a longer time than usual on the chair – seventy five minutes. I choked when the dentist put my upper teeth in a mold. I started breathing through my nose and the dentist said Yes! Yes! Yes! Jenny wasn't with me at that point.
  • I indulge myself by watching video on the bus: I am watching the first part of the Franco Zeffirelli four-part series about the life of Jesus of Nazareth. I am at the point where Joseph & Mary are heading to Bethlehem to take part in a census.
  • I didn't publish Dispatches #4 today.

December 25 [Wednesday]
[Home Laptop]
  • Yesterday, my birthday, was a day of inconveniences. I went to dentist and spent longer there than I had planned. I then worked and didn't get any breaks like a no-show or a cancellation of a class – I had to do my full slate of classes. Taking the bus home, traffic was slow enough so that I missed my early connection with the 635 bus and so then had to wait for a later connection with the 635 which meant I had to stand for about thirty minutes on the way home.
  • At least, Tony was happy to see me when I got home. He had been eagerly anticipating my arrival home last night with his Christmas presents.
  • This morning, we slept in. Tony had opened all his presents on Christmas Eve.
  • We are not having a traditional Christmas day. There is no snow, no tree in the house, no decorations, and no Christmas turkey or Christmas ham. For lunch we have gone to the Xinjiang restaurant in the nearby Wanda Plaza. This afternoon, Tony is playing with his toys in the living room along with Jerry, the son of Jenny's friend Ling Ling. We will have dinner at home. Jenny is cooking up some chicken, her way.
  • On Facebook, I had a lot of birthday greetings. At school, I had one and I was embarrassed to get it. I said nothing about it to anyone there. Some things are just not shared.
  • I tried to wish to Merry Christmas to as many Chinese as I could today. However, I told the motorcyclists running a red light as I was crossing the street to do something nasty to themselves.

Thursday [December 26]
[School Laptop]
  • I work 10:00 to 21:00 today.
  • Christmas was too short. At 8:00 PM last night, it was time to pack things in because we all had things to do early in the morning like go to school or go to work.
  • And while I am in the complaining mood, Downtown Wuxi looked gruesome. Construction and the fog gave it a gray and brown tinge.
  • Walk into the McDonald’s near the construction and the floors are filthy with trodden-in sand and muck.
  • What happened in 2013? What happened in 2012? I am doing some English corners on the year 2013 and I don't want to get things mixed up.
  • Just for the record, I am listening over and over again to a song called Stroll On performed by the Yardbirds in the film Blowup. Listening to that song prompted me to listen to more songs in the Yardbirds' oeuvre, as I suppose the French might say, and I can say that Stroll On is the only good song they ever did and even then the song disappoints you with an abrupt end when you wish they could have carried on for another minute or so.
  • The teachers at the local high school in my area were working yesterday. Poor sots. All the teachers at Wuxi Public Schools had to work Christmas.
  • One of my students went to see the musical Momma Mia last night. He didn't like it and didn't much care for my singing ABBA songs for him either.
  • It is 11:10 AM and it is freezing in the office. So, I will put on my toque again. I am wearing my green military long underwear.
  • I told my students jokingly that Boxing Day was the one day of the year when you can walk up to a foreigner and punch him.
  • I read an article at Taki's Magazine site that said the whole Duck Dynasty controversy was a publicity stunt to get the hicks who like the show and support its morality to get up in arms and buy more Duck Dynasty merchandise. If that was the case, why would A&E suspend Phil Robertson? The writer would say that Phil Robertson would be reinstated after Christmas and sales of Duck Dynasty merchandise would have peaked. I think the writer is of a conspiratorial frame of mind.
  • Morrissey's published an Autobiography. I found an epub version of it on the Internet. I have started reading and have picked up many examples of bad grammar...
  • The construction around the school, that I have been complaining about, has given me one benefit: Friday, I have just one class to do because our building is not going to have any electricity. My class will be at the City Hall.

Friday [December 27]
[Home Laptop]
  • I just have the one English Corner at City Hall to do and I am free the rest of the day.
  • I had been hoping to have coffee with the True Git this afternoon but he has a bad cold and has to stay in Shanghai. I am not sure what I will do instead....
  • [Later]
  • Instead, I took photos of a subway stop in the Hui Shan District. As I took the bus to school this morning, I saw the subway station looking very forlorn beside a big empty field. I decided that in the afternoon, on my way home, I would get off the bus and take photos of the station. [You can see the photo at AKIC wordpress.]
  • On the way to the City Hall, I saw a government building – I could tell from the emblem over its entrance – and asked the handler what its purpose was. He told me that it the headquarters of the armed police of Wuxi. Military Police? I asked. He said it wasn't that kind of police but a department of the civilian police force that was armed.
  • During the English Corner, I learned that many of the civil servants had done a lot of traveling during 2013. They had gone to Moscow, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Germany, and Chattanooga. I was embarrassed to admit I had gone a day trip to Shanghai once but otherwise did absolutely no traveling.

Saturday [December 28]
[School Laptop]
  • I work 10:00 to 17:00 today.
  • The intersection of Zhongshan and Xueqian Roads is ugly. The road and the sidewalks around it have been torn up. In the center of the intersection, a big hole has been dug. It isn't easy for pedestrians to make their way around the workers, holes, equipment, and piles of debris.
  • Yesterday afternoon, I was on the computer while Jenny was making and helping Tony do his homework – something I don't like to witness. Jenny, the tiger mother, screams at him, and Tony, the tiger mother's child, cries in terror.
  • In the evening, Tony & I walked to the Wanda Plaza Mall. We had dinner at McDonald's. I had a burger and wings. I had ordered the wings for Tony only to have him tell me he didn't want them. So I ate the wings and bought Tony chicken nuggets. While he ate the nuggets, I read to him from some storybooks which I had found for free on the Internet in pdf format. It was a nice moment and I couldn't have thought of a better way to spend a Friday evening.
  • A thought that came to me: Like my Dad who isolated himself in Brandon, I isolate myself in the Hui Shan District. He held and I hold political beliefs, and each of us probably obsessed or obsess about them. I at least know that it doesn't matter what I think, even if I am correct and the others are wrong. I suspect that my Dad was bitter because he was never listened to.
  • I shouldn't have asked the civil servants if Wuxi had a good year. They all seemed hesitant to answer the question. Finally one of them offered up the fact that some magazine said Wuxi was the best city in live on the Chinese mainland.
  • I just got a phone call from Jenny. Tony was looking for my Ipad Mini. I made the mistake of downloading a train simulator program on it last night and then showing it to him.
[Home Laptop]
  • I drool looking at this girl at school, but to talk to her.... uggh. Not much there.
  • I lost my temper in my second last of today. A student didn't understand the word “boat.” “What is a boat?” she asked. I tried to explain it to her using the word in three or four sentences, but then one of the other students, a little kid of 13, said ! I wanted to smack him in the head but thankfully didn't. As it was, I called him a stupid monkey three or four times, and told him and the other students that translating wasn't helping them...
  • It not the first time I have called the students and it won't be the last. Some of the students make sentences that aren't worthy of a monkey. Examples: “Everyone must eat vegetables to healthy!”; “I broke my pencil.”; “I sleep in my bedroom!”; and “I eat salad everyday!” [The student who made that sentence has earned the nickname salad boy from me!]
  • It isn't racist to call them monkeys because they aren't black.
  • I do call my son monkey even it is only to take the curse off calling the students at school monkeys.
  • I finished listening to an audiobook, on my Ipod, called the Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism. Its author is Kevin D. Williamson. The book was great. Books denouncing Socialism are a dime a dozen but this book did mention some things I hadn't thought of myself. For instance, Socialism is such a bad system that even the best managers can get it to work. If you take a successful businessman from an industry and place him as the socialist head of the industry, with all the power of government to bear on the industry, he will achieve results no better than bureaucrats in the industry. Why? He won't have the proper price signals to help him make decisions. Also, the American education system is so bad because it is socialist.
  • I was reading about the War of 1812. That the British could have held the Americans to a draw was quite something. They were fighting the Napoleonic Wars in Europe at the time. The Brits were fortunate that many of the Americans didn't want to fight the war in the first place.
  • I am listening to the 23 albums of the Smiths and Morrissey that I downloaded via torrent.

Sunday [December 29]
[Home Laptop]

  • Didn't go to Church today. My excuse? No churches in the area...
  • I did take Tony to Pizza Hut for lunch.
  • He has a horribly running nose. He went through four Kleenexes while at the restaurant.
  • We were seated at a window and thus subject to gawking from passersby.
  • I then took Tony to his afternoon drawing class.
  • Then I meet Jenny. She took me to get my haircut at a salon in the Wanda Plaza. She was dismayed to discover that my head is unsymmetrical. She had been giving the hairstylist heck...
  • The hairstylist was a short slight fellow with thick lips and a pompadour haircut. Having listened to some Morrissey albums last night and thus perused the album covers, I couldn't help but think that the stylist would have been a Morrissey fan if he had lived in England.
  • Afterward, Jenny & I went to the Wanda Plaza grocery store. I took the groceries home, a rather arduous task, and Jenny went to pick up Tony at his drawing class.
  • I read that Phil Robertson had been reinstated on Duck Dynasty. Perhaps it was a marketing stunt.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Dispatches from Akicistan #4

Gratitude:  Thank God for the birth of an infant boy in Bethlehem all those years ago.

Acknowledgement: I am a miserable s.o.b.
Request(s): Peace on Earth and goodwill to all.

What is Akicistan? It isn't a place. It is a state of mind that places cutting-edge state-of-the-art sticks in mud. The word Akicistan is formed from the initials AKIC and the root stan.

If Akicistan was an empire, it would comprise China, Canada, the Red States of the USA, Latvia, and the parts of the world that comprise Modern Christendom as well as ancient Christendom.

Akicistan news in brief: The Kaulins family may go to Hong Kong after the Spring Festival.

Important Akicistan Links:

In Akicistan:

Some of us can speak Chinese!  祝你圣诞快乐!!!

We sometimes pay attention to China. I was listening to an audiobook The Politically Correct Guide to Socialism on my Ipod – I got the recording via torrent. Socialism, said the author Kevin D. Williamson, has this thing for gigantic-ism. That is, Socialists like to construct buildings that are much bigger than economic necessity requires. I see this gigantic-ism taking place in Wuxi where they are erecting at least four more fifty storey skyscrapers.

We are fond of Canada! Andis wishes he was there for Christmas.

We are fond of Latvia! I am sorry to hear that Latvia is having a economic crisis at the moment. I have mixed feelings about it joining the Euro zone.

The Politics are Conservative and Reactionary! Down with Obama! Down with Trudeau! Down with Socialism! Down with Progressivism! Down with Public Sector Unions! Down with the Clintons! Down with Feminism! Down with Gay Marriage! Down with Atheism! Down with Freudian-ism! Down with North Korea! Down with Nancy Pelosi! Down with Hugo Chavez! Down with the Castro brothers of Cuba! Down with the fools who wear Che Guevara t-shirts! Down with the wild card in Major League Baseball! Down with Medicare! Down with Darwinism! Down with Scientism! Down with Liberalism! Down with the NHL giving one point for overtime losses! Down with Micheal Moore! Down with Communism! Down with the cult of the body!

Up with Love! Up with the Pope! Up with Reactionary attitudes! Up with Phil Robertson!

English is taught!
I am studying this old-school English grammar which lists thee and thou as commonly used pronouns. This grammar says that “shall” and “will” are used in future tenses. For mere futurity, this grammar states that will is used all the personal pronouns, except I and we which use “shall.” For determination, command, and promise about the future, “shall” is used for all the personal pronouns except I and we which use “will.” An example sentence to help remember this goes as follows: “I will be drowned, no one shall save me.” I am not determined to drown. I am not commanding myself to drown. I am not promising to drown. I am merely predicting I will drown because no one is to save me.
This use of shall or will is now archaic. But it is useful to know about this.
Citizens aren't freaks! We just average people trying to get through life best we can. And I am stuck in the wrong age.
Reading is the #1 Pastime! Here is what I had been working my way through the past week or so:
Don Colacho's (Nicolas Gomez Davilla) Aphorisms.  There are 2,988 of them in this book that I compiled for myself.  I try to read at least one aphorism a day.  I cut and paste the better ones -- they are all profound actually -- and I put them in the AKIC Weekly. (See below)
The Niomachean Ethics of Aristotle. After this, I will read Aquinas's Summa.

Ulysses by James Joyce.  I am following along with Frank Delaney as he slowly guides podcast listeners through Joyce's hard-to-read novel.  Delaney figures he will have the whole novel covered in about 22 years.  Delaney completed episode #183 this week and is working his way through the chapter that introduces Leopold Bloom. I am getting ahead of Delaney as far as reading the book.  I will be finished my reading of it, I figure, in a year. I read the novel despite its many blasphemies. It is best to be aware of this stuff because the world is full of it, and the world will always find a way of slapping you in the face with it

The Holy Bible (RSV-C2E version, aka the Ignatius Bible, and Douay-Rheims version).  I will read the two versions in conjunction. Last week, I was reading the Book of Genesis.

Reclaiming HistoryThe Assassination of John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi. This is a long book. I have no plan to read it in its entirety, but I will read most of it. As I have written before, I am a JFK assassination buff.

Spoiled Rotten! The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality by Theodore Dalrymple. Finished. A great book. It confirms a thought that I have had that victim-hood is coin in this day and age. I suppose Dalrymple has a lot of opponents who say he is mean, heartless, a curmudgeon, overly-negative, and prone to exaggeration. They are wrong. I see evidence of muddle-headed sentimentality in the few foreigners I meet.

Canada under British Rule 1760-1900 by Sir John George Bourinot. I feel a need to bone up on Canadian history.

The Rise of Modern China by Immanuel CY Hsu. David Warren recommended this history of China which pegs Modern China beginning with the fall of the Ming Dynasty.

Memorable quotes are presented and discussed!
Nicholas Gomez Davilla:
627 The majority of men have no right to give their opinion, but to listen. [It doesn't matter what I think. But it does matter to me if I am thinking the truth.]
629 Triviality never lies in what is felt, but in what is said. [There is a reason that I can verbalize the best moments of my life.]
632 Men disagree less because they think differently than because they do not think. [Many things that we disagree about aren't really worth the time to argue about if we really thought about them. What argue if people are racist if there isn't a chance in hell that any of them aren't going to bring back slavery or try to perpetuate the Holocaust.]
634 The goals of all ambition are vain and their exercise harmful. [Beautiful women, expensive cars, good nights at the bar. All bullshit.]
635 A man is wise if he has no ambition for anything but lives as if he had an ambition for everything. [Live each moment of life to the fullest.]
638 The future tense is the imbecile's favourite tense. [I had a student tell me that they didn't want to go to back to the past for a visit and there wasn't a time in the past that they would have liked to have lived. They said they wanted to go to the future. This was in a class where the topic was history.]
639 Modern artists are so ambitious to differ from one another that that very same ambition groups them together into a single species. [Bohemians, those ultimate individualists, move in flocks.]
640 As poor and needy as it may be, every life has moments worthy of eternity.
646 There is no stupid idea which modern man is not capable of believing, as long as he avoids believing in Christ. [What are some of the stupid ideas that Positivists have had? Socialism, Communism, Hedonism, Fascism, Public Sector Unions, Barack Obama is the Messiah....]
650 In no previous age did the arts and letters enjoy greater popularity than in ours. Arts and letters have invaded the school, the press, and the almanacs. No other age, however, has produced such ugly objects, nor dreamed such coarse dreams, nor adopted such sordid ideas. It is said that the public is better educated. But one does not notice.[One reason to watch older movies is that they are better looking.]

David Warren:
The old lady [an illiterate woman in Asia] had remembered, it seemed, every word I’d spoken, or rather tried to speak, on my last visit — so precisely that she could now do an elaborate parody. The sun shone when I heard what sounded like my own voice, played back as if on a tape-recorder. She had my number. I did not have hers. Her mind, uncluttered by the impedimenta of literacy, had taken everything in.

Teacher unions, in anything like their contemporary form, only become possible once the vocation of a teacher has been abandoned. That vocation actually required personal poverty, and simplicity of life: of being, oneself, a scholar. In that sense the unions are symptoms, not causes. [Real teachers don't go to pubs.]

By preaching moral responsibility instead, we could save about 3/4 of public spending, & at least 1/2 of the rest.

Theodore Dalrymple:
  • Not very long before the publication of Ariel [A book of poems of Sylvia Plath], at least in historical terms, self-pity was regarded as a vice, even a disgusting one, that precluded sympathy, though of course a permanent human temptation. [I am sorry for the mistakes I have made. I have come to the point of view that I have no one to blame but myself for my modest circumstances.]
  • activism is responsible also for a lot of the evil in the world as well as the good, so that activism is not in itself a good thing. The idea that activism is intrinsically good, and therefore excuses a lot, is itself a deeply sentimental one…

Lists are made:
The Reasons I Became an English Teacher and the Reasons I am Still an English Teacher.
  • My wife is Chinese.
  • My prospects in Canada are bleak.
  • Canada is still much too much of a Leftist country.
  • My job in Canada was boring. I was surviving, had a car, but no family or social life.
  • I have a son.
  • Canada is cold.
  • Chinese students are well behaved.
  • China is a traffic accident in slow motion. I can't help but have a morbid fascination about it.
  • I am too old to start in another profession.
  • I am no longer physically capable of doing my previous job.
  • I have a scholarly desire.
  • I like books. I don't like cars.
  • Teaching is a vocation and I can't become a Priest, although there are times that I wished I did.
  • There is nothing else I can or could do in China.
  • Wuxi has good public transportation.

Thoughts are thought

  • Above all else, a person should stay away from self-pity.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Andis Kaulins in China Diary for December 16 to December 23, 2013

  • On Saturday, December 21st, I went to the annual school Christmas Party.
  • I lamented the fact that I was spending Christmas in China.
  • I watched the films Blowup and the Pink Panther.
  • I watched my first episode of Duck Dynasty.

Monday [December 16]
[Home Laptop]
  • I didn't work today but I might as well have. It was a cold and miserable day outside. There was nothing for me to do but stay at home and finish watching the 1963 Pink Panther movie.
  • The movie starred David Niven, Claudia Cardinal, Robert Wagner, and of course Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau. I found myself liking the movie's style: it was filmed in that great early 1960s color, it had no swearing, it had good looking women who didn't have to take their clothes off, and good music. Peter Sellers was charming even if his humor was very physical. However, as the film came to an end, it was racked by a silly and illogical plot. I gave it three point five stars out of five.
  • Tony had the toy train track set up last night. This morning, he was awake enough to tell us to not take it down.
  • I visited Tony at his primary school during the lunch break. He also told his parents then to not take down the train set.
  • After seeing Tony eat lunch at his school, we went to a nearby restaurant in the area. It was a hole-in-the-wall of sorts. Because it was lunch hour, it was crowded and so Jenny & I had to find a seat on its upper floor. Walking up the stairs, we walked past stacks and stacks of empty beer cases. Once up stairs, we saw that the tables that hadn't been cleared of their empty beer bottles, and the floor hadn't been swept of its cigarette butts.

Tuesday [December 17]
[Home Laptop]
  • I lost a hour of my life, sort of, this morning. The girl, in the car that picks up Tony and takes him to primary school, was sick, we learned. So, we were going to have to get Tony to school by taxi – that was my job in fact. Jenny tried to phone the taxi hotline to get a taxi to come but had no luck; and so Tony & I went outside and walked along the street hoping to catch one.
  • We did catch one but not after three minutes of having to walk in the rain where I was holding Tony and an umbrella with my hands & arms.
  • In the taxi, I checked my mobile phone, which I had on silent setting, and saw that Jenny had phoned just as we gotten into the taxi. It turned out that the father of the girl was going to work and could have taken Tony to school.
  • I got this information too late and so I took Tony to the school. He was in turn late for school but so were many other kids.
  • The roads around the school at first bell time are jammed with cars.
  • I then had to walk to the bus stop and wait a while for a bus to take my back to Casa Kaulins.
  • Phoned my Mom last night. More about that anon.

[School Laptop]
  • The gloom and gray of yesterday is still in Wuxi today. The trip to school was depressing.
  • Talking to my Mom last night, I asked her about her trips to Ikea and Costco in Winnipeg. She said she didn't care much for Ikea. She thought it was too big and she didn't like how it forced you to go through the entire store to find something. Costco sold in quantities that were bigger than she needed.
  • Mom told me that mail carrier home delivery service is going to be eliminated in Canada. The carriers will be replaced by neighborhood depots or the what-not. An end of an era in Canada brought on by the Internet and competition from more reliable delivery services.
  • I have set my vacation dates. I will take the following days off: January 7 to January 11, January 14 to January 18, February 6, February 7, February 8, February 10, and February 11. In February, the plan is to go to Hong Kong.

Wednesday [December 18]
[School Laptop]
  • A week till Christmas, and it isn't even beginning to feel a little like Christmas anywhere I go.
  • I keep reminding Jenny that Tony isn't going to go to school next Wednesday. Jenny, being Chinese, has no idea of the importance of Christmas as a holiday to a Westerner.
  • I went to the dentist, at the Yanqiao Hospital, this morning for my third of five sessions to fix teeth on the upper right side of my mouth. He apparently worked on two of my teeth this morning, applying glue. In the next two sessions, nails and caps will be put in.
  • The next session with dentist is on the morning of the 24th (My birthday. Boo Hoo!)
  • Jenny suggested that I go the dentist on the morning of the 25th but I told her that there was just no way I was going to go to the dentist on Christmas morning.
  • Even going to the dentist on my birthday is sort of a sacrilege you would think but whatever... My 50th birthday is next year and I have had it up to here with birthdays!
  • I work 13:00 to 21:00 today.
  • My 1300 class canceled. Yahoo! I have more time for the things that are really important like studying Chinese, reading some Aristotle, reading the Bible, and boning up on my English grammar.
  • We have made a plan for Christmas. Tony will be pulled from school. We won't go out for supper because it will be too expensive – Christmas in China is a day for stores and restaurants, Chinese and Expat, to jack up their prices. We will instead go to the Beixiang (Xinjiang) restaurant for lunch.

Thursday [December 19]
[School Laptop]
  • I work 10:00 to 21:00 today.
  • I will tell you one thing I hate. I hate running into people I know when I am have my Ipod ear-buds and am listening to an engrossing podcast. Truth be told, there are few people I know in Wuxi who I think are worth taking off my ear-buds for. [Only one person is worth taking my clothes off for, but that is another story]
  • I know the previous thought is very UN-Christian, but there it is. And that is why I hate the situation. It seems to much of a sacrifice to bear to have to take off my ear-buds and talk to these people. Truth be told, it isn't a sacrifice and I am just being selfish.
  • Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, miserable sinner.
  • I may have mentioned in last week's diary entry that there was construction taking place on Zhongshan Road. The past two days they have dug up a section of Zhongshan from the McDonald's to the Yu Pai Fu Hao restaurant for the purpose of laying some pipe, or so it appears to me.
  • I will finish my Christmas shopping today. I will go to Ba Bai Ban to buy Tony one more piece for the train set. There are three or four pieces I am thinking to buy him, but I can only buy him one.
  • [Later] I went to Ba Bai Ban and ended up choosing the cheapest of the options I had given myself for that last train set piece. I could have chosen a crossing but I reasoned that we had two already and that was enough – and plus I had bought him a siding already and so that was enough diorama pieces already. I could have chosen a train but I thought that the one I had bought was enough already. I could have chosen a trestle bridge but that required too much assembly and the chances were that Tony would break it. I could have chosen a more simple bridge without the girders, but I figured that Tony could get more options for making bridges if I bought the cheapest option which was six more support columns for bridges which would be buying him five more bridges at half the price of buying the single bridge piece.
  • I listened to a BBC podcast about the poet Alen Ginsburg. Not my cup of tea was this fellow. I just heard this bit of dialogue where the podcast host asked the admirer of Ginsburg what it was that the Beat Poet stood for, it being so obvious what he was against was bourgeois values and tradition and the CIA and the right wing. The admirer responded by saying that Ginsburg was pragmatic....
  • Detritus. I found this word in the writings of Theodore Dalrymple. It is a good word to use in China and at Casa Kaulins because there is a lot at these places.

Friday [December 20]
[School Laptop]
  • I work 11:00 to 21:00 today.
  • Today will be the day that I wrap Tony's Christmas present. I bought the batteries I need for his toy train this morning so everything I can get has been gotten.
  • Tony didn't go to school today. He had a fever. Jenny phoned his teacher and learned that many of his classmates have had fevers as well.
  • I was, like Tony it turned out, happy to see he wasn't going to school. It allowed me to stay in bed till 7:00 AM, something I can't on the mornings when he is going to school.
  • Tony was full of energy as soon as he realized he wasn't going to school. However, he was disappointed to learn that I couldn't stay home with him because I had to go to work.
  • They were tearing up the sidewalk on Zhongshan Road right in front of businesses like this small shop that sells cream puffs and other pastries. The shop is one where the pastries are put in bins right at the front of the store with the staff standing behind to serve the customers. And so, pastries sitting but a meter from a ditch where pipe is to be laid is not an appetizing sight.

Saturday [December 21]
[School Laptop]
  • I work 10:00 to 16:00 today. The shift is short because the school is holding a six star Christmas party at what I assume is a six-star hotel. Jenny & Tony won't be going. They would have to pay and the hassle of going there on a Saturday evening wouldn't be worth it. I really don't want to be going either. I will be working on Sunday and celebrating tonight won't do me any good in the long run.
  • The inflation of standards involved in giving a hotel a six star rating has got me thinking. When are students going to be getting 110 ten percent marks on test or A+++ scores on report cards? The dumb students only getting A's. Or will the denominator on scores be shrunken so that a pass, for example, would be sixty out of sixty.
  • Our school has gotten around this problem by not assigning grades at all, or at least meaningful grades. We give but three grades: Excellent, Pass, or Repeat. The passing grade doesn't tell the students anything for it is so arbitrary. We tell them to pass but to focus on a weak point like grammar, vocabulary, or fluency....
  • Tony still has a fever. He told me that he didn't feel okay. Jenny told me that he hadn't eaten much at dinner.
  • I finished wrapping Tony's Christmas present yesterday. The box was big enough to require me using two sheets of wrapping paper. The first sheet was wrapped around the box. The second sheet had to be cut into sections in order to cover the spots exposed from using just one sheet. In China, wrapping paper seems to be available in sheets, not rolls.
  • The parcel is at school in a locker. The plan is to take the parcel home on the 24th. I will be a sort of Santa Claus riding public transportation.
  • My preparations for Christmas has been minimal. I have instead been wasting a lot of psychic energy on thinking about Christmas and the fact that my birthday is on the 24th and I am working that day, won't be getting home till very late and that I have to go to work early on the 26th which makes my effective Christmas holiday but a brief moment.
  • I was listening to the latest John Derbyshire podcast last night. He reported that Barbara Walters, a lib-Dem progressive media type, said or confessed, in an interview, that she and many others of her ilk had thought that Barack Obama was “the Messiah.” Many thoughtful observers, who were of course all Conservatives, said at the time of Obama's election that many on the Left were looking on Barack as if he were Jesus. I remember one conservative saying that Obama's election was like watching Jonestown.
  • Walters confession has to rank up with the “tingle up my leg” comment made by that MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews.
  • It is astounding that Walters made the confession without couching it in language that would exonerate her from directly admitting her stupidity, but she didn't. And she didn't just say that she thought Obama was the Messiah. She said she and a whole bunch of others who thought like her were stupid as well.
  • Perhaps her excuse was that she was caught up in the excitement of the moment...
  • Python update. I am been making my five team round robin GUI better and better. Today, I added a new tourney button so that I can play tournaments to my heart's content. Previously, I had to start the program over to play another tournament.
  • Five teams I had play in one tournament: Reagan, Carter, Obama, Clinton, and Bush.

Sunday [December 22]
[School Laptop]
  • I am working today at school, doing some overtime. My first class starts at 10:00. My fifth and final class ends at 17:00.
  • Tony wanted me to stay at home an set up his train set.
  • I am suffering a headache on account of last night's school Christmas party.
  • For the party, we went to some big international hotel in the suburbs of Wuxi (big international hotels in the suburbs of Wuxi are a dime a dozen), had a six star buffet meal (six stars out of twenty if you ask me), watched some performances (every Chinese function needs to have the attendees sing – always one has to be very charitable in one assessing them.), and had to deal with a hall that was heated (which was uncomfortable when you are dressed for halls that aren't.) I wanted to leave after an hour.
  • A lot of people were disappointed that Tony didn't come.

[Home Laptop]
  • Nothing but detritus at work.
  • Last night on the bus to the Hotel that was near the City Hall, I saw another huge new mall in Wuxi that I hadn't known existed. Wuxi hasn't finished its mall construction.
  • I am downloading episodes of Duck Dynasty.
  • Tony is building a train set as I type this.
  • Jenny is getting me a birthday cake for my birthday. Blah! Chinese cakes contain too much cream – even the Chinese complain about this.
  • Finished watching a 60s Mod movie called Blowup. It looked cool but had no real plot. The best scene had the Yardbirds playing Stroll On. I had to go to Baidu to get the MP3.

Monday [December 23]
[Home Laptop]

  • I am not working today.
  • I am making this diary entry eight days long. I just didn't have the energy to read over my diary entries and publish them last night.
  • Merry Christmas to my rare readers and those who have read this diary entry to the end.
  • Joy to the world. No joy for the bad person in the car who cut me off as I was crossing an intersection where I had a green walk signal. Even if you honk, you have to wait for me to proceed, don't assume I am going to yield my right of way to you!
  • For the first time, I watched a full episode of Duck Dynasty. I liked it. It wasn't supremely profound in any way, but you have to admire a show where the best Christmas present you can buy the guys is beef jerky and bullets.
  • Tony went to school but Jenny brought him home at lunch time. He had no energy and was coughing.
  • Temperatures are around zero degrees.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dispatches from Akicistan #3

Gratitude:  Thank God for Crown Royal drunk in moderation.
Acknowledgement: I am a prig. I don't know the exact nature and extent of how it is that I am a prig, but I know that I must be.

Request(s): Please visit my Casa Kaulins Blog.

What is Akicistan? It isn't a place. It is more a state of mind that places cutting-edge state-of-the-art sticks in mud. The word Akicistan is formed from the initials AKIC and the root stan.

Akicistan news in brief: The K family is thinking of going to Hong Kong.

Important Akicistan Links:

In Akicistan:

Some of us can speak Chinese!  我不会说中文。我可以读一点点中文词。

There is a Monarchy! Jenny is the Queen. Andis is the King, but really the consort. Tony is the prince. King Andis proudly proclaims himself a loyal subject of her majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

We sometimes pay attention to China. Andis doesn't want to be a know-it-all would-be Sinologist. The are enough on the Internet already. Andis has nothing that he can add to that pile.

We are fond of Canada! We are also fond of the USA which is a great country, perhaps the greatest country there ever was. But we have one thing the Americans don't have: the Monarchy.
We are fond of Latvia! Andis is well aware of the dark aspects of Latvian history.

The Politics are Conservative and Reactionary! Andis started out as a leftie. He even proudly proclaimed to some girl that he was a socialist. He saw Billy Bragg in concert twice and bought a t-shirt saying Capitalism is killing music. But then listening to Rush Limbaugh, and reading the likes of CS Lewis, William F Buckley, Frederic Hayek, and Milton Friedman smartened him up.

English is taught! I was reading in an English grammar that the rule when to use “more” or “er” with disyllabic adjectives is as follows: If the first syllable is stressed, you use “more:” if the second syllable is stressed, you use “er.” Example of the former is “helpful” whose comparative form is “more helpful.” An example of the latter would be “polite” whose comparative form is “politer.” But I would have thought that “more polite” was okay. Reading about it on the Internet, it seems that “politer” was the old form and now most native speakers use “more polite.”
Citizens aren't freaks! Akicistanians are what normal people should be like.
Reading is the #1 Pastime! Here is what I had been working my way through the past week or so:
Don Colacho's (Nicolas Gomez Davilla) Aphorisms.  There are 2,988 of them in this book that I compiled for myself.  I try to read at least one aphorism a day.  I cut and paste the better ones -- they are all profound actually -- and I put them in the AKIC Weekly. (See below)
The Niomachean Ethics of Aristotle. After this, I will read Aquinas's Summa.

Ulysses by James Joyce.  I am following along with Frank Delaney as he slowly guides podcast listeners through Joyce's hard-to-read novel.  Delaney figures he will have the whole novel covered in about 22 years.  Delaney completed episode #183 this week and is working his way through the chapter that introduces Leopold Bloom. I am getting ahead of Delaney as far as reading the book.  I will be finished my reading of it, I figure, in a year. I read the novel despite its many blasphemies. It is best to be aware of this stuff because the world is full of it, and the world will always find a way of slapping you in the face with it

The Holy Bible (RSV-C2E version, aka the Ignatius Bible, and Douay-Rheims version).  I will read the two versions in conjunction. Last week, I was reading the Book of Genesis.

Is Life Worth Living? by WH Mallock Finished. I don't know why this book and this author isn't more known in conservative circles. This book is a brilliant defence of Revealed Religion, particularly Catholicism, against Postivism. I have pasted a couple quotes from the book below.

Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor. Finished. Good stories written from a Catholic world view.

Reclaiming HistoryThe Assassination of John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi. This is a long book. I have no plan to read it in its entirety, but I will read most of it. As I have written before, I am a JFK assassination buff.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Finished. I read this book twenty years ago. I will read again in another year. It's a book like Road to Serfdom that changed my mind about a lot of things. [Now, if it can only change me into a new man.]

Farewell Fear by Theodore Dalrymple. Finished. This book is a collection of recent essays that I am lucky to have in e-book form. I will read anything by Theodore Dalrymple on any topic. He is that good a writer. He is also very sensible.

Memorable quotes are presented and discussed!
Nicholas Gomez Davilla:
600 The Leftist is so worried about the problems of the 19th century that he does not worry about the problems of the 20th century. The problems raised by the industrialization of society prevent him from seeing the problems raised by industrialized society. [These days, American Leftists are fighting the racism of the pre-1950s and ignoring the destructive effects of the welfare state on black people.]
610 In an egalitarian society neither the magnanimous nor the humble fit in; there is only room for pretentious virtues. [I have seen more people who spend more time saying they are good than actually doing or being good. Their actions belie their words.]
611 Man is nothing but the spectator of his impotence [I could modify that sentence and turn it into my personal motto. I could also use part of this aphorism in the title of my autobiography. I once said I was a bystander when it came to the raising of Tony.]
612 All satisfaction is a form of forgetfulness. [So is a lot of self-righteousness. I like how my memory will offer me flashes of my past that I ought to be ashamed of. I could rattle off many confessions. Once, for instance, I fired a rifle and its kick against my cheek made me cry.]
615 The calculations of intelligent men tend to fail because they forget the fool, those of fools because they forget the intelligent man. [I don't know if my calculations are those of the fool or the smart fellow. I find my calculations fail because I forget the clever people and I forget how insincere people are.]

Theodore Dalrymple (on the reading of old books):
....history should not be read as the backward projection of our current discontents, or of our grievances, that we are not just the victims of history but its principal beneficiaries so far. We have much to be grateful for because people like Messrs. Hood and Jackson labored for a better world, and others, more gifted or brilliant perhaps than them, or with better opportunities, succeeded in freeing us from the conditions that they described. If history is not merely the history of progress, neither is it the history merely of injustice reaching into the present. It should not be taught as it all too often is, as one of the subjects covered in the largest of all university departments, that of Resentment Studies.

WH Mallock:
Science is only possible on the assumption that nature is uniform. [This sentence is so pregnant with meaning for me.]

A horde of intellectual barbarians has burst in upon it, and has occupied by force the length and breadth of it. The result has been astounding. Had the invaders been barbarians only, they might have been repelled easily; but they were barbarians armed with the most powerful weapons of civilisation. They were a phenomenon new to history: they showed us real knowledge in the hands of real ignorance… [Who was the first of them? Rousseau... and they went from him.]

David Warren:
As the former prime ministrix of France, Édith Cresson, pointed out to reporters back in 1991, there has always been something of a problem with “Anglo-Saxon men.” Asked what she meant by an American reporter, she explained that, “They aren’t really men, they are all homosexual.” (As there was some surprise at this remark, she then qualified it by saying, “Well, not all the Anglo-Saxon men, of course. Perhaps only 35 or 40 percent. But you know what I mean.”) [I am not Anglo-Saxon. So, I heartily agree with this statement.]

We take our Godless Marxism so much for granted, that we cannot see through the class system. “Capitalists” and “socialists” alike have come to subscribe to Marx’s most original error. As Roger Scruton observed: “It was to Marx that we owed that first and disastrous attempt to organize society on economic principles alone.” [1)Marx invented the term Capitalism? Capitalists shouldn't use that term, even if it is a case of adopting the insult. Leftist pollution must be avoided at all costs. It pollutes thought. 2)Strangely enough, China failed first by attempting to organize a socialist society on economic principles alone and now seems to be failing again by attempting to organize a capitalist society on economic principles alone.]

CS Lewis:
If Christianity only means one more bit of good advice, then Christianity is of no importance. There has been no lack of good advice for the last four thousand years. A bit more makes no difference. [I was going to read a book called Quiet: the power of introversion. It was published in 2012 and was written by Susan Cain. But after reading CS Lewis's Mere Christianity, it seemed like it was going to be a rah-rah self help book. (It also didn't help that one of the heroes of the book was Al Gore.)]
Lists are made:
Here are some interesting moments in the life of Andis Kaulins, the king of Akicistan:
  1. Andis visited Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas.
  2. Andis visited the Trotsky Compound in Mexico City.
  3. Andis visited Tienanmen Square in Beijing.
  4. Andis saw Micheal Jordan and the rest of the Chicago Bulls in Vancouver, Canada.
  5. Andis saw Pope John Paul II in Winnipeg.
  6. Andis saw Queen Elizabeth II in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.
  7. Andis saw the Sex Pistols in concert.
  8. Andis saw the Team Canada Junior Hockey Team beat the Juniors of the Soviet Union 7-0 in 1981.
  9. Andis had a blog entry mentioned in the Commentary Website.
  10. Andis got Billy Bragg's autograph.
  11. Andis got Maurice “the Rocket” Richard's autograph.
  12. Andis saw Prime Minister Jean Chrietien make a speech in Winnipeg.

Thoughts are thought
  • The more you know people, the more they decrease in your estimation.