Sunday, August 23, 2009

My sister sees San Diego

California Panda
I received an email from my sister.  She saw Pandas in action in San Diego.  Five years in the country and what I have seen Pandas do?  Diddly Squat.

The Middle Kingdom is less self-centered than the U.S.A.?
I read this gaseous prose in the August issue of Map magazine:  Compared to the American Dream, the Chinese Dream is less self-centered.  The American people are like millions of trees in a forest.  Although, they make up a huge forest, they grow up individually.  However, the Chinese people are the sea.  Every Chinese person is a small drop of water in the sea.  So the dreams of Chinese people are more concerned about the nation.  Every Chinese person believes they are responsible for the future of China. It was written in the issue, Rare Generation, the values of Chinese teenagers.  It sounds like the crap I heard extolling the virtues of Multi-Culturalism when I was last in my home country Canada.

Tony Birthday Activities
  • I started the day by singing Happy Birthday! to Tony.  He seemed to appreciate it.  I think my wife would have appreciated my not singing it in Chinese to him.
  • I had to go to work.  So, I didn't actually get up with Tony.  At work, it was nose to the grindstone.
  • After work, we went to the Sichuan Restaurant across Zhongshan Road from school.  Yu Pai Fu Hao it is called.  I enjoyed the food when I had the chance to sit down and nibble at it.  Tony, as rare readers may know, doesn't like to sit in restaurants, so during supper, I took Tony around the block three times.  We also made about three trips up and down the elevator (we were on the third floor)
  • I made WTUs 389 and 390 at Yu Pai Fu Hao.
  • There wasn't a Nuremberg Rally-Woostock Music Festival sized crowd at Tony's birthday dinner.  Those attending were Ling Ling (Jenny's best friend in Wuxi), Connie (a student of mine), Connie's husband, Connie's son, and Neighbors (three people who have a car).
New Mobile Phone A'Coming!
It was the end of the line yesterday for my two-year-old black Nokia clam shell mobile phone.  The screen displayed nothing but black.  Today, I use my wife's discarded pink Nokia which has to be recharged twice a day.  Next payday, I will be getting a new phone.  I require my phone to have an MP3 player so I can listen to pod casts on my long bus rides hither and dither from work.

Derb on This and That
John Derbyshire, the affable and genial host of Radio Derb, has added a few articles to his archive since I last went to his site.  This article won't be popular in some quarters.  This article talks of the AAMs.  This article talks about Summertime Blues:  what juveniles do with their free time in the Summertime holidays.  Derb makes this observation about what boys and girls do with this free time:

William Faulkner, according to Gore Vidal, said that when he first heard the word "coevals" he thought it meant people who were evil together. This always comes to mind when I see my son in company with other 14-year-old males. Groups of midteen boys, even well-raised middle-class ones like ours, seem to radiate mischievous intent, especially in the long summer sloth. If Old Scratch is looking to make some work, here are the idle hands.

The confederates eye me warily as I approach. I doubt they have been up to anything worse than trading dirty jokes, but probably the other two have also been sent out for computer-time violations or other small misdemeanors, and the air is thick with anti-adult attitude. I dispel it with a flash of my magic amulet. "Mom can't cook. I'm going for fast food. Place your orders, please." (It's a neighborly street: We feed one another's kids pretty regularly.) Now I see enthusiasm!

Girls are, as everyone says, easier. My 16-year-old daughter is a bookworm, currently reading her way through my fiction shelves. On a single weekend recently she polished off The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Flann O'Brien's The Poor Mouth. Her sole computer interest is in a game called Sims, which lets you construct people with personalities and style choices, and have them interact with one another. The thing has deep appeal to the young-female soul. (I hope the diversity cops are dozing in their patrol cars here.) Girls seem less susceptible to computer addiction than boys, though. Mine tires of her creations after an hour or so and reaches for a book.

From my experience teaching summer students at my school, I agree that girls are easier.  They are of course easier on the eyes (my concession to sexpats) and they are much easier to teach.  The cleverest summer students are almost always girls. The boys are always hogging the school computers to play games, and are almost always the most vacuous, and the densest students in class.  They do have a air of mischievous to them.  (Thankfully, in my childhood, I was a loner.  So I was never part of this phenomenon).  I would have them shot if I could - the boys that is.
Tony can say "DVD"!
Tony said "DVD" Sunday night.  It is something I have been trying to teach him.  And so I see he will learn words he thinks are useful.  I have to say the kid is showing signs of being much more intelligent than me.  I couldn't say "DVD" when I was two.
Jenny doesn't want second child now!
Jenny tells me that she doesn't want Tony to have a sibling.  The reason is I am too old.  I have to change her mind about this soon.
Hitchens on Orwell on an Econ Talk Podcast
George Orwell will always be on the short list of my favorite writers.  Even though he declared himself a Socialist, he was always apart from the Socialist main stream and was always quick to point out where it was going wrong like when it was solidly behind Stalin.  He also possessed a heroic quality which the current pacifist Left has lost.
Christopher Hitchens has become a the unofficial trumpeter, spokesman as it were, for proclaiming the virtues of Orwell.  Hitchens' main point about Orwell is that Orwell still matters even in this post-Cold-War. post British Empire world.
So it is a pleasure to listen Hitchens wax poetically about Orwell on this Econo Talk Podcast.  At first it seems incongruous that Hitchens would appear on a Economics show, that is essentially Libertarian and Hayekian in its bent, to talk about an avowed Socialist.  But when you think of Economics as really a study of moral philosophy, and get away from its overuse of math to make predictions about Finance, talking about Orwell is the right and proper thing for Econo Talk to do.  Orwell read The Road to Serfdom and reviewed it, recognizing its significance.  The Road to Serfdom, as Hitches pointed out, was written despite the fact that the political trends at the time it was written were all against it.  But Orwell has the far-sightedness to see its relevance.
A few other things stand out in mind after listening to the podcast.  Orwell, said Hitchens, was not afraid to face unpleasant facts.  Orwell, Hitchens also said, was austere to the highest degree.  His tragic early death could have been stopped if he was willing to take a trip to America.  He instead chose to live on an isolated island.  Orwell didn't seem to be tempted by things like cars, big houses. (An austerity which came up when I read of a saint who boasted he was born in poverty, lived in poverty, and died in poverty.  Malcom Muggeridge, a Catholic convert, who knew Orwell noted this austere quality in him as well, comparing him to the French mystic writer Simone Wiel).

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