Monday, May 19, 2014

Diary: May 13 to May 19, 2014

  • Andis answers the following question: Can you tell your readers seven things that you are interested in?
  • Andis consumes a lot of media on his Ipad.
  • Andis heard some students say the darnedest things.

Tuesday [May 13]
[Home Laptop]
  • Can you tell your readers seven things that you are interested in? Yes, I can. Each day this week, I will tell you one thing I am interested in. The first thing I am interested in is Roman Catholicism. Why? Because of the following people: David Warren, Seablogger, Evelyn Waugh, William F Buckley, GK Chesterton, Pope Benedict, Hillaire Belloc, Anthony Esolen, Cardinal Newman, TS Eliot, Flannery O'Connor, and so on.
  • Last night, I took Tony to the Hui Shan Central Park and then to the square near the first stop of the #1 Wuxi Metro Line. At the park, Tony ran around and played on the slides and climbing fixtures. I noticed that new signs had been put up all over the park but one of the playsets hadn't been repaired and was in a dangerous state; and I saw a van that had somehow managed to evade the barriers put up to stop motor vehicles from being driven into the park. And to top it off, the van parked on the lawn. At the square, Tony played with some children who I presumed were his classmates from school. I talked briefly to a woman who was studying English at my school. In 2008, she had bought a house which is now near that subway stop. She is sitting pretty.
  • I watch the film Psycho last night. What can I say? It's a classic.
[School Laptop]
  • My shifts this week: Tuesday 13-21, Wednesday 13-21, Thursday 10-21, Friday 11-21, Saturday 10-18, and Sunday 10-18. I get overtime this week! Hurray!
  • My trip to work was uneventful.

Wednesday [May 14]
[Home Laptop]
  • Last night's salon topic: Fantasy and Reality. I asked the students who or what they fantasized about. A male student told me he fantasized about Lebron James.... ahhh.....He didn't understand.
  • I had a no-show for my 8:00 PM class and so I got to go home early.
  • I watched the sixth episode of the fourth season of Game of Thrones and the second episode of the first season of House of Cards. I should adopt the affectation of the Spacey character in HoC and talk to the camera that I believe is following me around. If Spacey is really such a wonderful actor, he should find a third thing to talk to when performing: a hedgehog named Norman. George Stephanopolous – if I spell his name right, I don't care – makes an appearance in that show. Stephanopolous is the egregious hack from the Clinton election team – he starred in the documentary The War Room – who became a hack journalist. Seeing him appear in the show is enough to make me want to stop watching it. There was also a character in the show who used the line trickle-down foreign policy in saying he didn't agree with Reagan except for his trickle-down economic policy which was a reference to a Democratic myth.... Aagghh! I'll keep watching the show anyway.
  • I overheard a story of a car that hit the back of a Wuxi public bus. It was a case of a Wuxi driver turning onto the road and not looking. And yet, the car driver thought the bus driver was at fault. It would seem that Wuxi drivers do believe that everyone should just get out of their way.
  • Why am I interested in Roman Catholicism? It is a beautiful thing when done right. It stands athwart the modern world. It embraces paradox. It gives free range to all the concerns we have about the world while keeping them in proper perspective. It really is the key to unlocking the mystery of our existence.
  • I listened to two Econtalk podcasts yesterday. The first one was about Bitcoin. The second one was about the economics of towns and cities. The second podcast was the more interesting because it discussed the kind of the things one can see everyday with one's own eyes: road and other sorts of municipal construction. Besides the well known problems caused to their financing by their worker pensions, cities in America are in dire straits because of perverse incentives which caused them to build white elephant mega projects, unnecessary roads, and neglect the basic services they were always meant to supply like policing and basic infrastructure maintenance. The take-away line from the podcast for me was the point made by the guest that city governments should get out of the business of trying to drive economic innovation. Innovation is for the private sector to do.
  • The podcast was especially interesting for me in light of what I am witnessing happen in Wuxi where a seemingly unsustainable building binge, with apartments and shopping malls and subways being constructed, is taking place.
  • Narrow streets encourage pedestrian traffic and wide roads encourage traffic flow. So the podcast did say. The wide boulevards around Casa Kaulins are monstrosities. I hate them. I only really feel I am in China when walking down its narrow streets. I can think of two in Wuxi that I love walking down because they seem lively. One is close to Casa Kaulins. I walk down it sometimes to get to the central park. The street is a few hundred meters long but is full of shops and restaurant, and has lots of pedestrian traffic. The other is the street I walk down from the bus 25 terminal stop to my school. This street is narrower that the one close to my apartment but again is lively because of its compactness. Zhongshan Road, on the other hand, is full of cars and buses and empty storefronts.
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 13:00 to 21:00.
  • I took the 25 bus to get to school and had another uneventful trip.
  • I can't get access my email account. This hasn't happened to me in a long time. Trainers with yahoo accounts had this problem often. I had this problem when I was using my gmail account and then I switched to a qq account which had given me far less trouble until today.
  • Can you tell your readers seven things that you are interested in? The second thing I am interested in is China. Why? Because I have to be, being here and all. I am learning to read simplified Chinese and I like to read about Chinese history. I don't want to a Sinologist though. If anything, I want to be thought as an anti-Sinologist, someone who observes the Chinese but has no desire to be an expert about them.
  • Another thing that annoyed me about that second episode of House of Cards. The Spacey character – he is the majority leader of the house or representatives – has some young college kids working on an education bill. Education bill! That shouldn't be a federal responsibility!

Thursday [May 15]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 21:00. No class in the morning, so I can work on the things that interest me. I then have a salon class, topic: conversation, at 13:00. Then, three classes in the evening. The 20:00 class is the Music Salon where I will try to play music for the students using my Ipod or Ipad.
  • Last night, for the last class of the evening, I had a pair of lively and talkative students. I fed off their energy and enjoyed talking to them. However, I had no advice to offer them about improving their English.
  • In the class I mentioned where the male student told me he fantasized about Lebron James, I forgot to mention that one of the women said she fantasized about Putin. A much more acceptable answer.
  • Took the 602and then the 67 bus to get to work.
  • Weather today is nice.
  • I am monitoring the game seven between the Bruins and Les Canadiens. Yesterday, the two game sevens were 2-1 affairs. The goals scored were the result of mistakes and crazy bounces, and no real offensive imagination or initiative. The important games during the NHL playoffs can be snoozers as it seems that the puck's random movements and not the players will decide who wins.
  • Anyway, Les Canadiens lead the Bruins 2-1 in the second period. I will cheer for a Canadien victory.
  • Can you tell your readers seven things that you are interested in? The third thing I will say that I am interested in is Economics. I am particularly interested in microeconomics, the sort of economic things that you can see with your own eyes. I find Macroeconomics and Econometrics boring. These two fields of economics are about as useful to people as alchemy and astrology. Value is subjective and so any economic numbers you work with are the result of subjectivity. Economic numbers are not as hard as the numbers of physics or of natural number mathematics.

Friday [May 16]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 11:00 to 21:00. I have an 11:00 class and then three classes, including an English corner, in the evening from 18:00 to 21:00. I will have plenty of time in the afternoon to work on keeping myself busy.
  • I have these interior rages that would physically manifest themselves, to anyone who would be watching me, as sudden mad gnashing of teeth and clutching of fists accompanied by a sudden straightening of the shoulders. The rages overtake me for an instance before I mentally take a step back and wonder why I have them.
  • There should be no wonder about these rages, not that I have taken a step back and thought about them. Some things in my life are not as they should be.
  • To say one is middle-of-the-road is to be glib.
  • The teams in the NHL playoffs seem to be evenly matched and the goals that are being scored are the result of some good fortune like a wild careen of a puck that no player, even the most properly positioned and alert, could anticipate. But for an offensive team to produce these careens of good fortune there has to be good fortune in turn.
  • Jenny & Tony will be going to Beixing, Jenny's hometown, on the weekend. I will have Casa Kaulins to myself on Saturday night.
  • Can you tell your readers seven things that you are interested in? The fourth thing I am interested in is blogging, whether writing or reading them. I have six blogs that I update on a regular basis. Four and a half of them are basically photo blogs. The blog that I put this diary entry in is my one blog that is completely devoted to writing. I read about three blogs on a regular basis: The David Warren blog, the Duff and Nonsense blog, and the blog of Peter Hitchens (the brother of the famous Christopher). Reading those three blogs is inspiring to me as a blogger and also humbling. Their writing can be glorious and it is finally dawning on me that I could never write like them. I must confess that I don't read any blogs about China.

Saturday [May 17]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift is 10:00 to 18:00.
  • Can you tell your readers seven things that you are interested in? The fifth thing I am interested in is books. I must have nearly two thousand of them on my Ipad. I love all sorts of books except anything that would trashy or pornographic.
  • I have discovered that I can get a live feed of an NHL playoff game on my computer. [Later: It wasn't much of a game and I was teaching anyway and so I didn't get to see much .]
  • What is a network?” I asked the student, who was bitterly amusing me with his obvious lack of preparedness. He told me that a network was used to catch people.
  • In the game I didn't watch much of, the Kings defeated the Ducks 6-2 and clinched a spot in the Western Conference Final against the Black Hawks. I would like to see a Canadiens – Black Hawks Stanley Cup Final. The first Stanley Cup final that I was ever aware of as it happened was the 1973 final between the Black Hawks and the Canadiens.

Sunday [May 18]
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 10:00 to 17:00. Overtime.
  • Jenny & Tony went to Beixing (J's hometown yesterday). I heard that Tony hurt himself playing basketball.
  • So while the cats were away, the mice played? Sort of. I spoiled myself. I had a pizza from Pizza Hut for supper. I made myself a Crown Royal and coke. On the Apple TV, I watched the end of the movie Coriolanus, the third episode of the first season of House of Cards, and the tenth episode (The Smile of Reason) of Kenneth Clark's Civilisation.
  • Coriolanus, a great Shakespeare play, was made into a great movie by Ralph Fiennes who updates the play by setting in a Yugoslavian Civil War type situation. I suppose everyone identifies himself with Coriolanus in that he is against the world and the mob. Of course, Coriolanus earns his right to denounce his mob with his incredible physical acts of courage. These days, a figure like Obama fashions himself to be like Coriolanus in that he has to put up with people who disagree with him.
  • House of Cards shows the Spacey character making a tear-inducing sermon in a church for entirely political purposes. It annoys him to have to do this because he would rather be working on an education bill. He loathes small-ball local concerns, does this Washington politician.
  • The Smile of Reason episode of Civilisation was very beautiful to watch. It showed truly beautiful art done by truly skilled artists. And it was made before anyone had even thought of CGI graphics.
  • I have seen lineups, hundreds of people long before opening time, at several banks this weekend. I will have to ask some students if they might know why. Was I witnessing a bank run? Were people expecting some kind of deposit to be put in their accounts? Were the banks having a promotion? Did the Wuxi people heard rumors of banks giving away free money? [I just asked a student and he told me that free subway tickets were being given away. So, it was like free money.]
  • Can you tell your readers seven things that you are interested in? The sixth thing I am interested in is American politics. Conrad Black says it is a magnificent spectacle. I agree with him but not without a sense of shame. I should have more interest in Canadian politics but I can't help but feel that the important debates about universal man are taking place in America. Furthermore, I envy those who can go through life with nary a concern for politics and don't bother to vote in elections because democratic politics does seem a puerile activity. Over concern with politics and too much time spent on hating people with different politics can turn one into a crank.... Be that as it may, I listen to podcasts about U.S. Politics every day.

Monday [May 19]
[Home Laptop]

  • No shifts today.
  • Tony got a red mark on his face because some classmate hit him with a rope. The teacher told Jenny that Tony and this boy are basically roughhousing it every day, and that after the boy struck Tony, he immediately apologized.
  • What can you do? Boys will be boys.
  • Can you tell your readers seven things that you are interested in? The seventh thing I am interested in is listening to podcasts. Before there was ever podcasting, I loved listening to Talk Radio. I remember using a transistor radio to pick up signals from Boston, Philadelphia and New York when I lived in New Brunswick. When I was in Manitoba, I would try to listen to radio from Chicago and Minneapolis. I remember a Minneapolis station playing replays of the Rush Limbaugh show late at night. So you can see that for a person with my radio listening experiences, podcasts were a god-sent. I can now listen to podcasts about US politics, Economics, History, and Roman Catholicism. My favorite podcasts about US politics include Radio Derb, the Three Martini podcast, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, the Riccochet Podcast, Need to Know with Mona Charen and Jay Nordlinger, Uncommon Knowledge, Radio Delingpole, the GLOP culture podcast, and the Milt Rosenberg Show. My favorite podcasts about economics are the Econ Talk blog, and Coffee and Markets. My favorite history podcasts are the China History podcast, Dan Carlin's Hardcore History and the Russian Rulers podcast. To satisfy my Roman Catholic urges I listen to Vatican Radio podcasts, EWTN podcasts, Forward Boldly and Father Z's blog. Other podcasts I will listen to, on occasion, include the Charles Adler Show (from Winnipeg), the Rex Murphy audio podcast (from Canada), Great Lives (from the BBC), Frank Delaney's ReJoyce podcast, Popup Chinese, Mark Levin, and Grammar Girl.

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