On the 1st day of 2017, the K family went to Hui Ju Mall, perhaps the biggest shopping center in Wuxi, China. Driving to the mall was fine until we got close to it and had to spend twenty minutes going down a stretch of road that normally could be covered in two minutes.
Chinese have nothing better to do on their holidays than go shopping. [And neither do I, it seems.]
I knew before we went that going to a shopping mall on a holiday in China was asking for trouble. It was so crowded. The best to said for our going was that I bought a pair of jeans at Old Navy for only 168 rmb. The first pair of Jeans I have ever bought in China! [I have been here since 2004]
The big crowds meant there were lineups at all the good restaurants in the mall. The place we wanted to go had a two hour lineup. So, we end up going to a faux German restaurant and had a meal that made one realize why it was so easy to get a seat there.
On the 2nd day of 2017, which was a holiday in China, my son Tony did homework and then did an online English test at 7:00 PM.
Hearing of the test, I told my wife Jenny that it was hard for me to keep my temper. What could be more absurd than for a teacher to give students an online test on a holiday? Jenny agreed but said that all the other parents agreed with the teacher.
What was wrong with the teacher I asked? I already knew what was wrong with the parents. [One child policy.]
Tony was back to school on January 3rd, a Tuesday.
It was a day off for me and I couldn't escape the feeling that I was wasting it. I was spending too much time on social media and too much time transferring videos from YouTube to Youku.
However, I did publish my December 2016 Notes. My impetus was seeing that John Derbyshire had published his.
We had avoided the nightmare that is picking up Tony from his school for a few months because someone else was taking Tony home. However that person had a baby in January so we had to pick Tony up from his school again.
The scene at Tony's school as they let the kids out is horrific. Everything that is wrong with mainland China can be witnessed then and there: the trash on the streets, the filth that is in the air and on everything, the uncouthness of its people, the stupid planning, the congestion compounded by the mainland Chinese ability to not think of anybody but themselves, the rampant materialism which is truly the worst of Capitalism and Communism combined, and rejection of a transcendent force in life.
I stood amidst it all, thinking foul and murderous thoughts and was even self-reflective enough to be ashamed of it. But the self-reflectiveness wasn't enough to stop me from losing it at a driver who didn't yield and made a right turn without looking. I was then stopped beside him at a light and honked my horn at twice to get his attention so I could give him a middle finger. He saw it but then turned away and stared ahead. He must have known he was in the wrong.
Really, I suppose I am fit to be tied. I want so much to be mellow but life and the people in China are so provoking.
Ominously, on January 3rd, I saw, in a silver Hyundai, this swarthy looking gentleman with whom I had a road rage incident. I was sure that he was the driver, who I had mentioned in an earlier blog entry, who had, one morning, done a cut off maneuver on me with his Hyundai to which I did a cut-off maneuver in retaliation before he thought he had gotten back at me by driving away in the bicycle lane.
I saw this guy and his car at our apartment complex gate as I walking to catch the bus. He was driving out of the complex. I stared at him and he stared back at me, but I was uncertain if it was because he remembered me from that morning or because I was a laowai and thus a rare sight.
I also saw a driver about to make a left turn with his left signal light on coming towards a flashing green light (Which means it is very pale and about to turn yellow.). It was not so unusual for I have seen a few – actually more than a few – local drivers use their turn signals properly. But then this driver reverted to local form. The driver decided he couldn't make the turn in time, came to a stop, and turned off the turn signal. It beats me why he didn't keep it on.
On the 4th day of 2017, I saw that David Warren opened his 2017 blogging year with a tribute to the economist Thomas Sowell. Sowell with his books and columns played a great part in making me conservative and reactionary . Sowell was great at explaining economics in a common sense way. He demonstrated how progressive policies could be used to damage the very people they sought to help, and how progressive policies could be used as weapons by illiberal people to further the causes of racism and segregation.
I tried to take photos and video at the intersection, which I had blogged about and where there was a yield sign, of drivers making right turns without looking and thus cutting off other drivers. I stood there for five minutes but got self-conscious about it and left with just a photo of the sign.
On the 5th day of January or, if you want, 2017, I am thinking that this entry will have 31 *'s (or 30 bullets actually). I mean to say that I will try to do an entry, a bullet point, for all 31 days of January. Of course that will make for what might seem disjointed entries which may span unrelated topics, but what the hay?
I am reading this book by Anthony Ensolen: Ten Ways to Spoil the Imagination of Your Child. It is a great read: gripping and very challenging. It may have clarify my thoughts about the Chinese Education system: not only what it does wrong but what it does right.
Thoughts about this will come to me through the month as I read the book and then contemplate it. [No, they didn't actually.]
I had four days off to begin January 2017. The result of which was that I felt as if I didn't take full advantage of them. One reason for this was that Tony was at school for two of these days. The other was that I didn't know what to do with myself. I did try to keep myself busy somewhat and so I did finish some personal tasks where I can say I know what to do with myself like get my December 2016 diary entry published, but I spent too much time doing stupid things like going to shopping malls and surfing aimlessly on the Internet.
I did watch, on my days off, a movie called the War Lover, starring Steve McQueen. I had read mention of it in John Derbyshire's December 2016 diary. Steve McQueen played a character who loved war and was having the time of his life in WW2. McQueen's portrayal, though interesting, made the War Lover seem more frustrated than gung-ho. The gung-ho aspect of the War Lover seemed more alluded than portrayed by McQueen. Perhaps the novel that the move was based on did a better job of showing this aspect of the character.
On the 6th day of January, I tried not to let a conversation I had with a student the evening before (that be the 5th), put me in a down mood. The topic of the salon class was the environment. The student John and I agreed that it was terrible in China. When we got on the topic of what could be done about it, the discussion got depressing. What I understood the student to say was that many in China were concerned about a quick buck and not the long term, that the Chinese Communist Party was not going to go away, and that it would take a hundred years to fix the environmental damage that had been caused (he was telling me that the true extent of the damage was being suppressed.)
A little tidbit that I got from that conversation was that there had been shots fired in Beijing between the Xi Jing Ping and Wen Jiabao factions but that it hadn't been reported
Oh! It's a curse to be living in interesting times.
Meanwhile, my reading of the Anthony Ensolen book was making me feel myself to be more of a dullard that I already suspected I was. Ensolen described things that seemingly simple hicks could do that would stump me if I tried them, like tasks mechanical and culinary.
I was thinking a thought, that I should have suppressed, on the 6th about my intention of wearing the new jeans I bought at Old Navy on New Year's Day. The thought was as follows: I should advertise to everyone in the office that I will be wearing my new jeans and that they would be subject to quite the treat.
On the 7th day of January, the K family went to see the new Star Wars movie: Rogue One. They went to a 9:15 PM showing at the Hui Shan Wanda Cinema multiplex. Cinema #2, where the movie was being shown, was not very crowded.
Tony & Andis enjoyed the film very much and were talking about when they would see it again.
As soon as Andis got home, he listened to podcasts reviewing the film and went on the internet to find reactions that he had been avoiding since the film debuted in North America on December 16th. The Federalist podcast was particularly gushing in admiration for film, echoing Andis' reaction to it.
On a WeChat group, just after midnight, Andis announced that he had seen the film and thought it was wonderful. Later on the 8th, he was disconcerted to read lukewarm reactions from other expats who had seen it. These nit-pickers hated the dialogue and said there was no character development and that it was full of fan-servicing without being original. While Andis would concede that the movie wasn't perfect and that the nit-pickers did have some valid criticisms, his overall impression that the movie was great fun to watch. He loved the characters portrayed by the Chinese stars, he loved the droid K2, he loved the climatic battle scenes, he loved the scene where Darth Vader was truly a force to deal with, and he loved the fan-servicing. Of the eight Star Wars films to date, Andis put it in the category of a good Star Wars movie, with four being good and four being not-so-good or awful (The four good ones, says Andis, are 4, 5, 7 and Rogue One; the four bad ones being thus 1, 2, 3 and 6.)
Tony liked it as well and seemed keen on watching it again.
Andis was reading Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's Seinfeldia on or about the 9th day of January. He had heard of the book from the Daily Shot, an email newsletter from the Ricochet site which advertises itself as a place for conversation among people who are of the center right to rightwards persuasion on the political spectrum. Seinfeldia tells the story of the making of the Seinfeld television series while providing many details about the people who made the show and the way the show changed the culture.
Like many, I was taken by the character Kramer. Something that I hadn't thought of was the “K” in Kramer. Being a Collins with a “K” and a person who will try to find some relationship with someone or something I like, I am disappointed with myself for not having, myself, thought about the “K” of Kramer. I should have latched onto it a long time ago. But I didn't. I will, however, latch onto it from now on because of this passage in Seinfeldia:
“That plosive consonant K sound is known to be among the English language’s funniest phonemes. (H. L. Mencken argued this in The New Yorker; Neil Simon made this point in his play The Sunshine Boys.) They couldn’t resist.”
It is with great pride that I will spend the rest of my life, telling everyone how the plosive consonant K sound is known to be among the English language’s funniest phonemes.
On the 10th day of January, I was disappointed by Tony saying he didn't want to watch the Star Wars movie again. Asking him why, he told me he wanted to see another movie. Common sense in that I suppose. Tony has a habit of being his own person at times which I will have to accept.
As well, Jenny had a toothache and was in a bad mood, and I thought she was mad at me when she in fact wasn't mad at me at all but someone else.
I tried to put money on my transit card. I thought I had solved the problem, of the Family Mart stopping the service that allowed me to do this, when I learned I could go to a nearby Kedi instead. But then the machine at Kedi didn't work on the 10th. The clerk told me: mingtian.
Because I couldn't top up my transit card, I had to use cash to buy subway tickets. I thought it would be a great idea, since I was making a round trip costing two rmb each way, to buy two two-rmb tickets at the Nanchang Temple station to save myself the trouble of having to go to the ticket machine at the other station: the Qingmingqiao station. When I got to the Qingmingqiao station, did my duties around there and so was ready to return to Nanchang, I went to the entrance gate and tried to use the second ticket I had bought. I got a message telling me to go to the EFO station aka customer service. I learned from the guy sitting at the service desk that I couldn't use the ticket I had bought at Nanchang at Qingmingqiao. The ticket could only be used to enter at the station at which I had bought it. Who knew?
Joke: He is so rich that when his car runs out of gas, he throws it away and drives a new one.
I was thinking about the pollution in China. Why hadn't I blogged about it? I just hadn't, till now.
I can't say that the air has affected my breathing. However, a colleague, who has only recently arrived in Wuxi from New York state, tells me that he finds the air to be horrible, affecting his eye sight and making it hard for him to breath.
I have been affected by the sight of thick smog in Wuxi though I do wonder how much of what looks like smog is really haze which I suspect is natural to this area anyway since it is a wet area with ponds and canals everywhere.
I have tried to wear a face mask but have been stopped by how it fogs up my eyeglasses.
Last evening, my doomsayer student John, who has good English, told me that despite the very bad smog in Beijing, the city's real estate prices have not gone down because everything important in China is in it like the best schools and the powerful government agencies. Xi Jing Ping and his minions aren't so affected by the smog as well, said John, because they have very expensive air cleaning machines in the Zhong Nan Hai compound that put the air to 2.5 PMC.
Students have told me that the pollution in Wuxi is drifting in from other places in China.
Exam Day for Tony. All the parents that know about primary school students having exams in Wuxi have been asking me about this.
Driving Tony to Exam Day, I saw that a car had hit an e-bike at a corner where drivers and e-bikers have to be very aware of each other's presence as there are many cars making turns through the paths of e-bikes. Unlike many other aftermaths of collisions between e-bikes and cars that I have seen, it looked like the car had run over the e-bike. [I posted a photo of this in my AKIC photo blog around the 10th of January.]
After an accident happens in Wuxi, the vehicles are not cleared until either the two parties involved come to an agreement about who compensates whom or usually until a policeman comes and has inspected the scene. So I passed the accident scene twice, before and after having dropped off Tony at school. The scene caused traffic congestion and traffic to slow down. As I was passing the scene, which was blocking one of the lanes which cars would turn into, the first time, I was bemused by one of the drivers behind me using his horns to try to get people to up their speed. Couldn't he see that there was an accident slowing traffic down?!?
Mingtian, now jintian, I was able to put money on my transit card at the Kedi.
The 12th day of January was a Thursday. Why I should mention the day of the date? I don't know.
The evening before, I had had a salon class (a conversation class really) about divorce. All of the students testified to knowing someone who was divorced. One student told me how her friend had gotten divorced because of having fallen love with another man. Her friend then married the other man and she told me that they were now a happy couple. I couldn't get it out of the student how the first husband felt about it. Another student told me that her parents had divorced in the past year. She was not upset about it. The divorce was something that she had been expecting for a long time. Answering my questions, she said the divorce happened because they were fighting too much. She blamed her father and was happy for her mother.
It seemed like no one in the class thought marriage was sacred and inviolable.
Thursday the 12th was Tony's last day of school before his winter vacation. I was almost happy as him because I could now get up later in the morning for a month or so. I had to get up at 5:50 AM in order to get ready to take Tony to school.
Driving back from dropping Tony off, I was stopped in the left turn lane at an intersection on the corner of our apartment complex. I was in front of the line, having decided to stop as the left turn green light had started blinking meaning it was pale. A van behind me drove around me and made a left turn completely ignoring the red left turn light. In Canada, I would have been astounded but here my reaction was almost blasé. Drivers of mini vans in China seem to think of themselves as cyclists and e-bikers and therefore immune to having to obey traffic signals. It was a perfect indication that China has no firm and set rule of law, and is in a fact a very corrupt place.
My commute now involves me taking the 25 bus to the Xi Zhuang metro station where I catch the train to get downtown and to the school where I work. To get to the platform at Xi Zhuang station, I take an elevator. This elevator only stops at two floors but it beats having to walk a long way around to get to an escalator, which I will use at all other stations. I was the first on the elevator and then two others quickly got on with me. As I pressed the button to get to the second floor and waited for the door to close, I wondered if one of the other passengers would press the close door button. A woman then did so even though it didn't make the door close any faster. I was perturbed and wished I could have taken a video. I imagined that if I had had someone to speak with, I would have made a “Did you see that!” comment. As it was, I made a slight guffaw.
I have met people who tell me that they read my blog though I haven't gotten any comments in a long time. I have closed the comment section but left a message telling potential comment makers to email me. I have decided that from now on I will make a plea for comments by putting my email address at the end of my blog entries. The first blog entry in which I did this was for my entry listing the movies and series that I watched in 2016. This got me one comment which said that I had been too generous in giving the Angry Birds movie, which I had seen in the cinema with Tony, two stars out of five as a rating. The movie was crap said the commentator. To this, I would say that I agreed with the commentator but the I gave the film an extra star for the animation.
Friday the 13th.
All peace, I read in a Nicholas Gomez Davillia aphorism, is bought with vile acts. I thought to myself how true, especially in my life. But I won't go into that. Instead, I will reflect on a peace that many know about that has been bought with vile acts.
Which one? I 'll give you a clue. It involves China. Mainland China.
The peace the civilized world has maintained with the People's Republic of China has been one bought with vile acts. There were the Americans who – though not fully – threw Taiwan under the bus when they sought to establish a relationship with the mainlanders. And then there have been all the businessmen and governments the world over who in the pursuit of money have chosen to ignore the vile and illiberal doings of Chicom governance.
If Trump violates the balance of the quasi peace around the Southeastern Asia area, it would be because he had backbone and wasn't tethered by a politician's need to gloss over issues of contention that would require courage to take on.
Tony and Jenny saw movie Hacksaw Ridge yesterday evening. He told me he liked it very much and still wasn't interested in seeing Rogue One a second time.
There is a game Tony likes to play very much on the computer called Ravenfield. Said to be a battlefield simulator game, Ravenfield has simple graphics with realistic battle situations. I mean you see the enemy and it is killed or be killed. Tony learned about the game on Youtube and told me to download it.
My VIP student told me that he was worried about the current generation of Chinese kids being raised. He said they were spoiled, little emperors as it were.
On the 14th , we will be having my school's annual Spring Festival dinner. I have heard that it will be at a place that we have held many a previous Spring Festival dinner and so, I am not looking forward to it. The food they serve at this place is pretty dull and there is never any beer to drink, only some cheap wine.
Tony & Jenny won't be accompanying me to the dinner. Jenny has vowed never to go to these school dinners anymore and Tony would have gone had he not had swimming lessons to go to because Jenny pre-paid for a whole slew of them.
The 15th. Sunday.
The previous evening's company dinner was about what I expected. The food was so-so. They didn't serve beer, only wine.
However, the company was okay. Eric and Edward, both Americans, seem to be good guys. Not given to vice or strong held but silly political stances as many previous trainers.
And there was a band playing that was actually quite good and one felt cheated that they only performed a few Chinese and English pop songs. But they had to make way for the parade of amateurs.
We took our car to the Wanda parking garage in the afternoon. I prefer walking to this nearby mall, especially on a weekend because it gets so crowded and parking is more of a chore than a convenience for me. But Jenny had coupons for parking.
It turned out I was right to think it would be a hassle because as we were driving to a desired parking spot in the garage (close to an office of someone we knew), we got stuck in a traffic jam. The cars in front of us didn't move for a few minutes. Jenny & Tony got out of the car leaving me to fend on my own. It would take me fifteen minutes to finally park the car. Jenny phoned me to tell that the cause of the jam was a big fight near the exit pay gate. After finally parking the car, I witnessed the scene. There was a crowd of forty or so people, many of whom were screaming. Half of the crowd consisted of security guards or policemen. Some of them were jostling with gray-haired civilians. I can only speculate what the cause of the commotion was, but it was the largest public spat that I had ever seen in my time in China.
I sometimes wonder if I hate China. I do find myself making loathing thoughts about it. But, there are things I like about China. To defend against charges that I thoroughly hate the Chinese, I will say that my attitude to China would of someone having a dear female friend who is beautiful in many ways, but is in a relationship with a batterer or a pimp. You want so much for this woman to escape but she won't. She passively puts up with the batterer, she grows insane on account of the beatings, she takes his flowers and trinkets gratefully, she adopts the mindset of her tormenter and is losing her soul.
The 16th was a Monday.
I felt depressed in the morning. Don't know if it was life or a chemical imbalance that was weighing down on me.
But I felt better when I took Tony to his school in the morning. I dropped him off at his school at 8:20 AM. As I walked him to the gate, Tony said we had gotten there early. There was practically no cars around the school. I was to come pick up him at 9:45 AM. He was going for the short time to see the results of the 'big” end of term exams he wrote last week.
He did not do so well. He got 92 in his English test [an English test designed by Chinese so I am not in a knot about him not getting 100.], 67 in Math and 24 in China. Jenny may be irate.
While waiting for Tony, I got a coffee at a nearby Starbucks. Walking to the place, I saw and photographed a nice traffic jam. (The picture is in my photo wordpress blog.)
I then drove back to his school so I could explore the park (still under construction) that is across the road from his school. Approaching the school, I saw that Tony was right to say I had gotten him there very early. There was now a traffic jam and I had to park the Kaulins Citroen a long way from the school. Still, I had plenty of time to take a leisurely walk with my Starbucks in hand around the park.
The park had many pathways in it, one of which took me under a freeway, past what looked like a rice paddy and along a canal with long barge boat traffic. It was a place I had been to before with Tony when he wasn't being made to go to school. I enjoyed the first time I went to the place and enjoyed it more the second time. I took many photos which you can see at my wordpress photo blog.
Later, the K family went to Ikea and bought a new and bigger study desk for Tony. I spent the evening after dinner putting it together. As with all my Ikea assemblies, one little detail didn't quite work and the furniture didn't seem as solid as it had in the showroom.
The matchups in the NFL semifinals don't impress me. One of four remaining teams is the Falcons: a franchise I loathe. I disappointed to see that the Chiefs got beat out by the Steelers. And don't get me going about the Patriots. Boring they are! Why did they have to change their uni designs? I much preferred the red ones they originally wore to the silver and blue they have been donned in their glory era.
The 17th was a Tuesday which was my Monday. (I work Tuesday to Saturday) I come to work feeling I didn't do enough leisurely things on my days off. I work harder and make more sighs from exertion on my days off than I do at work. What keeps me busy? Tidying up the house and tasks like putting Tony's desk together.
Besides teaching classes this week, I will have some primary school lessons to plan.
Three more days of Obama being President.
Getting back to school, the streets seemed more annoying because of lots of kids not going to school. I became aware of this as I was getting off the train at Nanchang station. They tell riders over and over again that they should let passengers get off the train before they board. Today, there was a kid who expected me to get out his way as he was boarding on the train. I didn't abide him.
My first class of the week, I had a one-on-one class with a teenage student. He walked into the class with a slack manner and when he answered my questions, he mumbled and babbled at low volume. A colleague had complained about him and said he had a bad attitude. I then had him in a class with a few other students and I could had seen why my colleague didn't have a favorable opinion of him. I wasn't too happy to see him today. So when my attempts at conversation were meet with what I perceived as insolence, I, as the expression goes, really tore into him. I told him to stop mumbling. I told him to speak in full sentences in a volume that allowed me to hear him. I asked, sarcastically, if he was on drugs, and told him that his manner was such that one would think he was. I let him sit for five minutes without talking to him. I rattled the kid so much that he was sobbing after the class... Whether I was giving him a valuable life lesson that he very much needed or just picking him because I was having a bad day is a question that I mulled over the rest of day. I suspect that it was for both reasons. I am certainly not consistent in expecting more of my students and laying down the line with them.
It rained on the 18th and so for the second day in a row I went to school in a dark mood.
About a week ago, I noticed a vehicle, parked on the narrow side street beside our school, with two parking tickets stickers stuck on its driver side window. I took a photo of the SUV and published it in my photo blog. Seeing this White Haval SUV then became a daily occurrence and I noticed all sorts of additional details. This vehicle also had two parking stickers stuck on the passenger side window. The vehicle was always parked at a spot near the entrance to the back parking area of the building complex in which our school is located. One day, the vehicle was parked at the same spot but facing in the other direction. I reported these sightings to my colleagues and to students who attended one of my speakers' corners. I even tried to introduce the expression “What's up with that?” to the students as I wondered who the driver was and what his story was.
Well, today, I saw the vehicle and the driver as I was coming to school. The driver was a male with glasses, probably in his late twenties or thirties. He appeared very nondescript, looking like half the Chinese men I see on the train and driving other vehicles. He was in his vehicle and was driving his vehicle from the side street beside our school to Zhongshan Road. He was fleeing the policeman who was walking down the side street to ticket cars parked on that side street. This sighting destroyed my theory that the driver was keeping the stickers on his vehicle to ward off getting more tickets.
My theory now is that he is lazy. That is, too lazy to scrape the stickers off his windows.
I would further theorize that he had connections who could help him get out of paying a fine, but then I have to ask why it was that he was fleeing the parking ticket cop.
An opinion piece that I read that was critical of Trump's declaring that he would make the pharmaceutical companies lower their drug prices got me to thinking long and hard about my father's death. The column by one Megan McArdle said that one of the options, governments or hospitals have in negotiating prices with drug companies is to walk away from the negotiations, like foreigners at fake good markets walk away from hawkers as a tactic in bargaining a price for some piece of clothing. This tactic if used in dealing with drug companies could result in patients not getting some life-extending treatment. McArdle then said it was a dirty secret that single payer systems like the NHS in Great Britain use this tactic all the time, thus denying life saving medicines to some patients. I wondered if this is what happened with my father's death.
First let me tell you my reflections on my father's death. It is a condemnation of our Medicare system, but also me. My behavior at my father's death is something of which I am not proud and would be something I think that I would have to answer for on Judgement day. Why? Two reasons. Firstly, I wanted him to die on schedule. I only had three weeks and the thought of having to delay my return back to China and the cost that that would entail was something I wanted to avoid. Secondly, when the doctor came to tell us his prognosis was not good and that it wasn't worth the expense to keep him drugged up and living, I cowardly demurred to my brother and mother when they gave us the option of keeping him or not keeping him on life support. I demurred saying that by being so far away in China, I had no right to decide what to do in this situation. But, even then, there was a feeling that the doctor wanted us to pull the plug to save money. I said nothing. I was on my schedule, you see. I should have made an effort to extend his life.
Say what you like about Trump. He can be vulgar and a boar. But he would never speak a sentence like the one Xi Jing Ping said in a speech to the world whatever conference in Davos. Here is the report from the English language People's Daily:
Blaming economic globalization for the world's problems is inconsistent with reality and unhelpful to solving the problems, Xi said, underlining the need to act pro-actively and manage economic globalization appropriately, so as to release its positive impact and rebalance its process.
All that can be said about what Xi said in the above passage is that it is a bunch of gooblygook. What, for instance, is with this expression inconsistent with reality? Consistency to me means that one is pursuing a course of action or a flow of thought where the elements of this course do not contradict each other. That is, you do AAAAAAA in sequence, not ABABABA where A and B contradict each other. In the above passage, there are two parallel courses of thought going on here, or so says Xi. That is, there is the blaming and there is the reality. If, from what I take Xi to mean, the blaming is BBBBBBBB and the reality is AAAAAAAA, it can be said that they clearly contradict each other, but are they inconsistent with each other? The blaming sequence I believe Xi has posited is consistent. Reality being what it is, I don't think it can be consistent or inconsistent. The things that make up reality can be consistent or inconsistent, but not I think Reality in itself. Reality cannot contradict itself so there is no way it can be inconsistent. For something to be consistent, it must be capable of being inconsistent. Reality can't consist of elements that are not real and can thus contradict it. So how can a thing which is consistent in itself be inconsistent with reference to a thing that is not an element of itself? Xi should have said that Critics of Globalization are wrong or have been consistently wrong.
You could say that it doesn't matter, Xi's meaning using inconsistent with reality is apparent enough. But this misuse of English is clearly trying to mask a diabolical intent. It reveals a desire for bureaucratic domination by appealing to the bureaucratic types who enjoy using highfaluting and meaningless language. Just continue reading the passage...
Last evening, Tony was laughing loudly as he watched an episode of Seinfeld. Tony thought a diatribe towards Jerry, over a unreturned book, made by a Library Book Detective named Bookman was particularly funny.
I had an one-on-one class with a student named Fiona who had stories to tell me of her time working in Dubai. She worked in a restaurant in many service capacities serving people from all over the world. She served Arabs wearing their traditional head dress and robes. She served Muslim woman wearing clothing that covered every part of their bodies including their faces, leaving two little openings for their eyes. Dubai, she said, had a beautiful downtown with tall buildings, but get out of this rich area and Dubai is not so wonderful.
In fact, Fiona's time in Dubai was not so wonderful. They treated her and her co-workers like slaves, making them work long shifts and sometimes twenty hour days. They would be told to go to bed and then woken up four hours later to get back to work. Dubai people, Dubaibians(?) are so rich that they can bring in workers from all over the world to perform service and menial tasks. Some of Fiona's co-workers were from India and the Philippines.
I will tell you about my podcast habits. Seeing how I have published blog entries about my video watching and book reading habits, I might as well tell you about my podcast listening habits.
I listen to a lot of American political podcasts. I regularly listen to the Three Martini Podcast, a political podcast from National Review. Each episode of TMP is never more that 15 or 20 minutes long: the length of my commute to work. I catch every episode of Radio Derb, a weekly podcast of political and cultural commentary done by John Derbyshire, a former National Review contributor who now writes for V-Dare. I also listen to many of the podcasts, when I am able to download them, that are put out by the Ricochet web site including their weekly flag ship podcast, Need to Know with Mona Charen and Jay Nordlinger, Mad Dogs and Englishmen with Kevin Williamson and Charles C. Cooke, The Law Podcast with Richard Epstein and Radio Free Delingpole.
I listen to religious podcasts. From EWTN, I like to listen to Mother Angelica classics and the Journey Home about Catholic converts. I have been listening, again when I can download it, the First Things podcasts
I like listening to history podcasts. I am working my way through podcasts about the history of the South American revolutions and the Decline of the Roman Empire. There is a podcast, that seems interesting, called Great Lives Tragic deaths, that purports to be historical, but is presented in such a politically slanted way (progressive, cultural Marxist), that I am thinking of giving it up, interesting as its episode subjects can be.
I like listening to podcasts about true crime. Now, I am listening to Stranglers, a podcast about the Boston Strangler, and Crimetown, a podcast about crime in selected communities of America. I given some other crime podcasts a try, like Unsolved Murders, but the acting is awful and off-putting.
And finally, I want to tell you that I listen to the Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast. I like it for its humor and its nostalgic look at movies and tv shows from the past. The podcast sometimes has guest interviews and sometimes the hosts of the shows talk about subjects that strike their fancy. Some of the interviews are great and some I can't be bothered to listen all the way through like one they did with the pretentious Bob Costas and others involving actors complaining about the Hollywood black list. You know. Most of Stalin's victims didn't survive to complain about their treatment!
I just saw the SUV with four parking tickets stuck on its windows. It was parked in its usual spot. I can espy the vehicle from a stairwell that I can get to from a backdoor of my school; so I am three floors above street level and don't have to go outside to check on the vehicle. It was interesting today that I saw two pairs of passersby stopped to examine the tickets that were on the SUV. One pair looked at the tickets stuck on the passenger side window, another pair examined the tickets stuck on the driver's side.
The 20th of January. The date of President Trump's inauguration. I have a feeling that it could be the greatest show on Earth, this Trump presidency. I hope there will be lots for me to cheer.
It is even nicer to see the end of Obama's tenure. Take away his superficialities, and I say that there was nothing to him. To me, he was an annoying liberal progressive cultural marxist with horrible policy ideas and a self-regard that was proportional to the unsoundness of his world view. Unfortunately, his departure from the White House is not the last we will have to hear from people who sound and think like him. Their hysterical gibberings will be the constant background noise of the Trump presidency.
But that is the way of the world, a lot of it is crazy and there is not much that sensible people can do about it. It's why we need religion, aside from the fact that it might be true.
Yesterday, I forgot to tell you about four other podcasts that I listen to regularly. One of these is the Andrew Klavan Daily Wire podcast. Andrew Klavan is a fellow bearer of the initials AK who is more importantly a conservative. I find his take on politics to be interesting and humourous. His podcast is also peppered with some of the more interesting political soundbites of the day. The second one that I forgot to mention is the Commentary podcast featuring John Podhoretz. It is a podcast featuring political commentary from a conservative, Jewish, neo-conish and slightly anti-Trumpish perspective. Podhoretz also appears on the GLOP Culture podcast hosted by the Ricochet site. On GLOP, I listen to political and cultural musing from Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg and Rob Long. And the maybe the last – there might be more – that I forgot to mention yesterday is, or I should rather say are, the Weekly Standard Podcasts: again, more political commentary.
Saturday the 21st, Wuxi's weather got colder with lows going below zero celsius. To deal with the cold I put on an extra layer: a sweater which I put on top of the shirt. On top of the sweater I wore a hoodie. The jacket I wear outside is not so thick. It seems I am cursed if I wear a heavier jacket because, sure as China is corrupt, I will overheat.
My teeth are in a bad way. They're yellow with no chance of ever being white again. Many of them are horribly decayed. After I eat, I have chew gum or swirl my mouth with water to remove the food that does get stuck in the cavities and the jagged remnants of the teeth I do have.
Trump was inaugurated early Saturday morning, Chinese time. Two years ago, I would have thought it wasn't possible. But at least I had heard of him. In January 2006, I probably hadn't heard of a guy named Barack Obama.
Trump's inconceivable election to the presidency was the result of Bill Clinton getting away with screwing an intern and then the election of an obscure Illinois politician who had no qualifications to be president. Bill Clinton coarsened the culture and Barack Obama lowered the bar for who could be president. Therefore, the Democrats who are responsible for these two events of the last quarter century, have only themselves to blame for the fact that Trump's election was possible.
Sunday, the 22nd was a day off for me. I slept in till 9:00 AM which is late for me to be rising. I spent the morning, via my VPN router, downloading Firing Line videos from Youtube and uploading them to Youku, the Chinese Youtube. Incredibly, these videos featuring William F Buckley, the arch American conservative have been allowed to be shown on Youku.
Yesterday, I really tore into a student for her saying that she didn't want to go to America because it was unsafe with all its guns. It was a lie I told her. Guns make for a safer and freer society, I said, and she guffawed at the suggestion. In China where ordinary citizens are not allowed to have guns, I told her, they cannot defend themselves against the whims of their government. [I should have mentioned the Chenguan] There is more danger to human lives from Chinese drivers, I concluded, than American guns.
The K family will go downtown to get haircuts today. I am hoping that I can shave all my hair off, be bald, because the bald spot in the back of my head looks more and more stark whenever a photo is taken of me from behind. Cruelly – or maybe not so cruelly, I suppose there are two ways of looking at this – I can't see this bald spot when I look in the mirror or see photos of myself taken from the front.
China annoys. Better to say this than to speak of having a China day. It seems to me that many foreigners like to blame their bad days on their being in China when the fact is life is annoying wherever you are in the world.
Still some peculiar things about China annoy me. This five thousand year old civilization they say it has must surely have been island of refinement in a sea of barbaric ignorance. Either that or the Chicoms have totally destroyed all vestiges of Chinese civilizational refinement.
I say this after two petty kind of occurrences this morning. Firstly, I was on the elevator, on the first floor, which was to go down to the minus one (-1) floor. As the door was almost closed, it was opened by a typically slovenly dressed Chinese peasant male who was probably in his forties. He had a lit cigarette in his hand. He pressed the button for the tenth floor. It took a few seconds for it to dawn on him that the elevator was going to go down first. The elevator went down. I muttered idiot! as I exited. This sort of thing happens so often in China on elevators. I then took an escalator and saw a similar demographic of Chinese male ahead of me. This man was standing in the middle of the escalator with his hands holding onto to both sides so that he was blocking anyone who might want to pass him. In more civilized countries, people will stand to one side to allow people in a hurry to pass. Of course, escalators are a relatively new technology in China, and many Chinese may never have ridden one before and are thus unrefined about it. This guy looked like he was holding on for his life.
Anyway, I can understand why some places outside of China have made attempts to segregate Mainland Chinese tourists from other tourists.
I never did get the baldness I desired. As soon as we we were in the hair salon, Jenny changed her tune about my getting my head completely shaved. “We will make it a little bald!” she said. It turned out that what she thought was a little bald, was not close enough to bald in my books. As the hair-stylist started snipping at my hair with scissors, when he should have been using sheers, I was debating whether I should explode in anger. It is my habit, unfortunately, to go along with things while all the while I fume inside. I did, however, this time, say something alone the lines of “Hey!, they are going to make me bald? Right?” and Jenny responded by saying “a little bald” and telling me to just see what they were going to do. And what they tried to do was basically give me the same hairstyle I had been getting and wanting so much to not get anymore: the one where I look in the mirror and see hair without being able to see the big gaping bald spot which does stand out when you look at photos of me taken from behind.
It had been Jenny's commenting on the standing out of the big gapping bald spot in photos that had given me hope that she would acquiesce to my doing what I have always wanted to do and have a completely shaven head. But when push came to shove, she didn't. I had to insist over her opposition and that of the hair stylists that they cut my hair short. It still wasn't as short as I wanted it.
Jenny said that short hair made me look like a criminal. I responded that I didn't want to look like a politician. Now that I think of it, I should have added that Xi Jing Ping doesn't shave his head as do probably all the members of the Chinese politibureau. What is Jenny talking about when she says that criminals shave their head? They don't, as far as I can tell.
I had a body checkup this morning. Jenny is getting me some kind of medical insurance.
During the checkup, I had to do my blood pressure test twice. First time, Jenny got me annoyed and got my blood pressure rising.
January 25th. Second last day of work before the Spring Festival holiday starts for me.
I entered the school about 9:00 AM. I support explain that the entrance to our school is on ground level and that you then have to walk two sets of stairs to get to the level where our classrooms, library and offices are. At the entrance level, there are some chairs on which passersby can sit. This morning, I saw a teenage male, who could have been a student or a passerby, sitting at the entrance eating an ice cream cone. I wanted to slap the pig.
I am not looking forward to the holiday. Expats who can flee China for the duration of the Spring Festival holiday. I don't need to flee, and I find it amusing that those who do flee often brag how much they like China. They're like the Canadians who are so proud to be Canadian but flee to the Mexico and the Southern states in January and December. I would just be happy if I didn't have to go to the hometown for the holiday. I would rather just stay in Wuxi. Going to the hometown means having to deal with traffic getting to the hometown as well as seeing and listening to all the fireworks. It means having to miss the few comforts that make living in China tolerable like Wifi and the VPN router.
Do the Chinese believe in education? They say they do but I think that most of them are mistaken and that they in fact believe in schooling.
Idea for an SPC: Education and Schooling. Question: Chinese don't believe in education. They really believe in schooling.
Further thoughts on the phrase “inconsistent with reality” which was used in passage from the People's China Daily that I quoted earlier this month. I thought that Marxists of Xi Jing Ping's irk believed that reality was just a construct. I am sure that that is what post-modernists like Derrida would say. But it further proves to me that what Xi Jing Ping was quoted as saying in that passage was nothing but gobblygook and mamby-pamby bureaucratspeak meant to sound like it was saying something important when in fact it signified nothing and was only meant for the consumption of globalists who just want power.
January 26th is the last day I work in the year of the Monkey. If reflect back on it, it really was the year of the Monkey for me, seeing how I had so much time dealing with Mainland Chinese primary schools and Mainland Chinese drivers.
I am born in the year of the Dragon on the day before Christmas. So I love to tell everyone that I share zodiac signs with Jesus Christ and Bruce Lee.
I will present some despairing thoughts about Spring Festival. I blog them not because I believe them but because they have crossed my mind:
- It lacks soul because like China, it has been ravaged by Communism and unbridled greed-driven materialistic Capitalism. [Communism is actually a very materialistic philosophy.]
- I feel like a loser because I am unable to get out of China for the holiday like many other Expats do.
- Chinese family dinners bore the hell out of everyone involved. Most of those attending, especially the younger ones are looking at their smart phones to while away the time.
- You can't do anything during Chinese New Year where you cannot escape the crowds if you are with a party of Chinese people. A foreigner, left to his own devices, can walk in places where there are no Chinese or Chinese won't go, and enjoy peace and quiet.
- Chinese are perfectly content to sit around and do nothing during the Spring Festival.
Student named Tony told me a great anecdote about a classmate who cut a ballpoint pen in two and had ink splatter on his face. It took the student thirty minutes to scrub off the ink.
The 27th was the day before Chinese New Year.
The K family drove to Jenny's hometown which might be called Beixin or might be called Xinjie. [Andis had assumed it was Beixin but when he drives to it, the turnoff sign calls it Xinjie.] The drive was not so bad. Traffic came to a slowdown but never to a grinding halt. Andis did make the mistake of trying to go through a ETC gate at the toll area. The gate didn't open and so he had to back up, thus forcing the cars behind him to reverse as well.
To while away the time, Andis went for a walk on the main street. He noticed that he was the only person walking. Everyone else was either in a car or some form of two or three wheel transport.
He spent the rest of the afternoon smoking cigarettes or wasting time on the social app WeChat. He sent everyone he knew a sticker in which he was making the gongxi gesture. He also posted some memes from the People's Cube site to the foreigner WeChat group of which he was a member. It was his way of responding to all the anti-Trump gibberish that he had been seeing the past few days.
The dinner at the in-laws was a simple affair. There was no brawl as there had been the year before, because the family of the brother who had initiated the brawl didn't come. [Apparently, they hadn't reconciled with Baba.]
Chinese New Year's Day: January 28th.
Around midnight, I heard lots of fireworks. I woke up the next morning to find that the K family Citroen was covered in fireworks debris, much to my annoyance.
Chinese New Year's Day has so far been a dull affair. I have spent too much posting pointless messages to WeChat. I have snacked on food and smoked cigarettes all day. I have had a two hour nap. I have gone for a drive with Tony during which I drove on a crowded street full of people who had nothing better to do with themselves but do some shopping in the few stores that were open on the holiday. I had to park on that street because I had promised Tony I would buy him a toy. I was impressed at how calm I was with backing out onto a street with so many cars and e-bikes and pedestrians. I now park like a New Yorker or a Chinaman now: if there is a spot I just take it. I also drove on the countryside, Sinatra playing on the music player. There really wasn't much to see in the countryside except lots of sameness. The area is basically flat and interspersed with some canals. The fields, the homes and the buildings have an annoying uniformity to them. When we came back from the drive, Jenny decided that we would drive to some relatives. I let her drive. It was her first time driving in her home area. She drove us to the poor relatives. I took some photos of them. The grandfather had a peasant oldness to him which makes for great photographs.
January 29th was the second day of the Chinese New Year. The K family spent it in three places: Beixin, Taizhou and Wuxi.
We woke up in Beixin.
About 11:00 AM or so, we, that is the three K's and some other relatives, drove to Taizhou. It was a two car convoy with the Citroen following a White Nissan Tilda driven by Jenny's cousin Jill's husband. To get to Taizhou, we drove on some minor roads that had single lanes going in opposing directions. Driving I found annoying because we couldn't just cruise down the roads. One has to constantly swerve to avoid slower moving vehicles like e-bikes and three wheeled pedicabs, all the while having to sometimes slow down for cars coming from the opposite direction which were in turn swerving to avoid e-bikes and the like.
Despite these constant annoyances, I was able to observe the scenery we were passing. Sadly, I have to report it wasn't pretty. It was monotonous and drab. Lots of concrete buildings, factories and homes that could benefit from good washings, new coats of paint or an end of neglect. This area is still relatively poor, I thought. But then I got to an area that looked to have been built as a result of the 2008 stimulus. I suddenly saw wide three lane roads with smooth pavement, new looking buildings like I see in the Hui Shan district area I call home, elevated roads and pedestrian overpasses. Nicer than what I had just seen but like all Chinese construction, it was very incongruous with its surroundings.
If you can avoid it in China, don't be the following car in a two car convoy where the driver of the lead car is Chinese. Cousin Jill's husband was a Chinese driver with Chinese driving habits. So he had a maddening habit of racing through pale green lights at intersections. I wasn't going to run a red so I stopped causing our convoy to get separated. Jill's husband also liked to drive in the bicycle lane. One instance, he made a left turn at an intersection and then drove into the bicycle lane so that we were driving on the left hand side of the road (China is like North America in that they drive on the right hand side.) against the flow of traffic. We did this for a block until we got to the next controlled intersection. Its light was red and so I was stopped behind him wondering what the hell he was doing. When the light turned green, he sped into the intersection, at an angle, to cross it and get back onto the right hand side of the road. He hadn't put on his turn signals, so his maneuver was a surprise to me. Seeing the other cars starting to speed up and enter the intersection, I wasn't going to imitate his maneuver. The result was that we got completely separated.
Thanks to mobile phone technology, we were able to join up again. And we went to a restaurant where tables had been reserved for a Chinese New Year dinner. The place was packed and I was the only laowai among a horde of swarthy drably dressed locals. The food was standard local fare only remarkable in that ten more plates of it came out after everyone had lost their appetites. There was a teetering pile of food on the tables that I would have photographed if I hadn't forgotten my phone at the in-laws.
It's the 30th of January and I haven't finished telling any readers, who have stayed with me this far, what I did on the 29th.
After the meal in the packed restaurant in Taizhou, we drove to another place in Taizhou where there was a touristy style open air market. There were booths selling meat cooked on coals, cheap toys, and other souvenirs. It was crowded with people but after walking through it for ten minutes, it suddenly came to an end and it was decided to go back to Beixin for dinner.
After dinner, we drove back to Wuxi. It was a good thing we did it that night because we avoided having to pay tolls. They don't charge tolls at holiday time. The drive was fine and I can't recall being annoyed at any other drivers so much that I felt compelled to blog about what they might have done.
First thing we did when we got back to Casa K was clean all our clothes and jackets. They always reek of smoke whenever we come back from Beixin.
It has been nice to be back in Wuxi. Our area is quiet. Most people in our complex have gone to their hometowns for the Spring Festival.
This evening, we went to the Mix CC mall for the first time. Not much I can tell you about it except it is another one of those big malls constructed in Wuxi after the financial crisis. I doubt if we will return to it very often. There is nothing in it that isn't in Hui Ju.
About 10:00 PM, I heard news of a shooting at a Mosque in Quebec. Six killed and fifteen injured I believe. Two men were under arrest but not much had been revealed about their identities. The authorities, it seems, have become reluctant to identify them; and so people eagerly await and hope that the perpetrators of the deed are of such an ethnicity as to be able to score political points against their opponents. Progressives are hoping the suspects are white males and Conservatives are cheering for the suspects to be Muslims.
Last day of January. There are 31 [or should I say thirty one] days in January. So, I'll leave it to you rare reader(s) to figure out the date at which I purport to have written this final bullit [or is that bullet?] point of this blog entry.
So, it turned out that the shooter at the Quebec Mosque was not an Moslem. And it appears that he acted alone. And the people making a show of tears about it are probably secretly glad it happened because now they feel they can attack Trump and any other perceived political enemy. All I get out of this is that Western culture has a death wish. It mostly doesn't believe in Christianity and is rarely serious about it when it does. It doesn't believe in defending itself. It is having a civil war with itself when it should be defending itself. And it gets joy out of mass murders – this applies to both sides of its civil war.
Really, I should ignore the politics as much as I can. But I am addicted to following it, having given up on following sports. I feel this despair because voices that I find clear-headed and intelligent when commenting on Trump – voices from the reactionary and conservative part of the political spectrum or the political cartesian grid – say contradictory things about Trump. And it seems that most of the people I am in contact with in Wuxi hate Trump. I just don't see how the controversy is going to end well, but perhaps it is necessary in some way.
I should really embrace Christianity and think more about comedy; just be above it all.
The last evening of January 2017, the Kaulins family went to the downtown of Wuxi. On the 11th floor the Hui Jin Building, which is next to the Ba Bai Ban building, we went to a place which offers living rooms for rent with nice sofas and easy chairs on which to watch movies which are projected on screens that cover one entire wall. I didn't so much watch movies as read Don Quixote on my Ipad Mini. But I very much enjoyed being able to lie on the sofas. I'd go to the place again.
I very much enjoy making GIF stickers that can be used in social media apps like WeChat. The past few days, I have created stickers using the character Kramer from Seinfeld. This evening, I made stickers using the plaintive cries of “Stella!” and “Elaine!” from the films A Streetcar Named Desire and The Graduate.
That's it. If you want to make comments on this entry or other entries or mine you have come across, to get some of the my GIF sticker creations, or to get a PDF copy of the compilation of Don Colacho (Nicholas Gomez Davillia) aphorisms I have made, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.