Saturday, September 24, 2011

ABC in the PRC

Yeah, Locke! From Elizabeth Economy: Chinese Media Knock U.S. Ambassador to China for Being Too Popular.


"A series of candid photos of the ambassador with his family -- carrying their own luggage, riding in a minivan, and flying economy class -- elicited a tidal wave of ... popular attention" from the Chinese public, who are holding him up as a sharp contrast to their own officials. However, government-run newspapers have taken offense and are criticizing this public adulation.

Well, Ambassador Locke might not speak Mandarin, but this low-key and frugal behavior seems pretty Asian (American) to me. ABC's represent!

P.S. At APEC, I witnessed first-hand how the minister of a certain Chinese government body had three people haul his luggage for him, among other ostentatious things.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Derby Time!

Lots of hipster animals for the Shirt.Woot Derby this week. Some that I like are displayed below. You can click to vote for them in the Derby:

"Indie Turtle" (here)

"Neighborhood Thrift Store" (here)

"Couldn't Care Less Bear" (here)

"No Thanks" (here)

I also liked these thumbnails on the site:




a. "Panda Dance" (here)
b. "Neighborhood Thrift Store" (here)
c. "Couldn't Care Less Bear" (here)
d. "So Meta" (here)
e. "Scoff. Cooler than you." (here)

Saturday, September 10, 2011


'I used to like it, crafting, making things out of the coral. You visualise a thing. You find the words that it is. And you sing them to väki; it grows and makes it. And in the end you have something that is truly yours, a new thing in the world.'

-- Mieli, on how she made Perhonen. From The Quantum Thief

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

What's it for?

An appalling expose in Danwei about how some Chinese students blatantly fabricate their college applications, usually through the connivance of "educational consultants."

In the back of our minds, we all know there are people who fake their apps, but seeing it leveled so clearly is shocking and a bit horrible to contemplate. This kind of behavior is really quite troubling, on an ethical level and a personal level.

These people are stealing places that would have been open to a deserving student from a low-income family who may have the aptitude and the credentials, but not the money to pay exorbitant amounts for "polishing" services. (BTW that is another thing our humanities program can offer: a truthful letter of recommendation -- an honest appraisal of an applicants' ability to do college-level work and genuine interest in broadening horizons. The instructor has a good BS meter).

Please read the article for yourselves. I am aghast! When did such dishonesty become acceptable? If the whole system is predicated on cheating your way to the top, it demeans and devalues the honest work that others have done. I understand the desire to study at a top university in America, but it in no way justifies buying your way in or misrepresenting who you are.

College and the application process is an opportunity to express who you are, in an open, honest and sincere way. This is who I am. This is how I come to be who I am, where I am, how I am; and these are the things I believe in. Accept me on the merits of who I am, and what I have done, and the principles for which I stand.

Cheating completely defeats the purpose of a university education, because it is not only about acquiring technical skills or learning to navigate personal relations, though these are indeed important. Higher education presents a unique, life-transforming opportunity to discover oneself.

I wish to be somewhere I belong, to be accepted for who I am. I want to be part of a community that welcomes me precisely for being myself. Only then can I know that this place is where I truly belong.
If I can only get somewhere by fundamentally misrepresenting myself, how can that be the right place for me? It defiles the sanctity of the institution to which I am applying, and it disrespects my own identity by forcing me to distort my person. It is a losing proposition, and destructive to both the university and to the student who attempts to fake his or her way in.

Can you look your peers in the eye? Can you engage your professors with a straight face? Can you sign the Honor Code without shaking? Moreover, can you look in the mirror and live with the person that looks back? Cognitive dissonance is a bitch, and one day you will pay for it. On a gentler note, how can you not wish to be who you are? That is all one can ask for in this world. Many times, there are other pressures, responsibilities and obligations that wear on us. University is our chance to express ourselves, to have an opportunity to be who we really are: 當自己的人.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Tomorrow is Classic 明天會更好

A musical collaboration among the major artists of the Mandarin-speaking world. The year was 1985, baby! "明天會更好" (Tomorrow Will Be Better) How many of them can you recognize? (Listed in Chinese and English).

And a reprisal by a new generation of singers, a quarter century later:

中秋節 is coming!

Since the Mid-Autumn Festival will take place in a few days (sometimes referred to as the "moon festival"), I shall post a couple of excerpts that I like, from a story called "月牙兒" (Crescent Moon).

《月牙兒》, 老舍著:







Thursday, September 01, 2011

Seediq Bale - Taiwanese historical epic

A new film from the director of Cape No. 7, the smash hit from Taiwan. Seediq Bale tells the story of resistance by an aboriginal tribe against the Japanese in the 1930s. It looks like an epic film, mixing the emotional resonance of a variety of tales: the 300 at Thermopylae; Squanto, the Native American who helped the Pilgrims survive their first years in the New World, who bridged cultural divides; Avatar and the preservation of home culture; resistance by Indian tribes against westward expansion, led by chiefs like Crazy Horse. A general spirit of anti-colonialism seems to prevail. There are some stunning nature shots, and it's pretty cool that the actors speak in the aboriginal language. (Trailer below.)