Monday, October 12, 2009

AKIC Weekend

The first of a new era
It is the first weekend of the post 60th anniversary and Odyssey to the countryside era.  I have woken up with a cold and a sense of guilt for being on the Internet too much.  So just a few headlines.
Student:  Why didn't Hu Jiantao get a peace prize?
I haven't found any students who think Obama deserved his peace prize.  One student made the point that Hu Jiantao has been making speeches about harmony in China for a longer time than Obama has been making his speeches, and so asked why Hu never got any recognition.  This student had a point. 
On a Chinese Screen
One of the books I brought to me with to China was On a Chinese Screen by Somerset Maugham.  It is a book I have read at least six times since I have been here and I find myself reading it again now.  In the book, Maugham wrote a collection of sketches of people and things he observed traveling in China in the early part of the last century.  While China has changed a lot in a hundred years, the observations Maugham made are still relevant today.  And the things that have changed have really only changed form.  Maugham observes the Chinese having public moments of passionate intensity.  I see these moments at least once a day.  In Maugham's time, a high official is saving face; in our time, people are mad at the service they get.  The coolie has been replaced by the migrant worker.  The missionary has been replaced by the English teacher.  And the effect that China has on foreigners is always a sight to behold.

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