Monday, April 21, 2014

Diary: April 15 to April 21, 2014

Highlights
  • This week's question: What is it that you believe that Leftists and Progressives believe?
  • I worked an extra shift on Sunday. My shifts on Friday and Saturday were not so busy.
  • My literary sidekick or nemesis Lector made a reappearance in this week's blog entry. [I came up with the idea of Lector from Hillaire Belloc's The Path to Rome.]
  • I was able to take a photo of the Wuxi Metro Train on the Hui Shan Metro Bridge

Tuesday [April 15]
[Home Laptop]
  • My shift today will be 13:00 to 21:00.
  • This morning, I publish last week's diary entry.
  • Yesterday evening, I took Tony, who brought along his push bike, to the Hui Shan People's Square and the Hui Shan Wanda Plaza.
  • There were lots of people dancing at the Square. I counted about four groups, each of which was dancing to its own music. You would think there were would be spots on the square where you had to listen to two different songs. Two of the groups were ballroom dancing. The other groups were dancing as a team. One group of women seemed to be practicing for a show. They began their dance by standing very close together. They would then fan out in unison. I wanted to watch them but Tony decided he wanted to go home. I convinced him to instead go to the Wanda Plaza where I hoped to take Tony and his push bike on a circuit of the mall, but he dragged me inside to the arcade – 15 rmb was what it cost me to convince Tony to go the mall.
  • What is it that you believe that Leftists and Progressives believe? They believe that Conservatism is the ideology of White Racists. Any policy that Conservatives advocate is meant to disadvantage minorities. Everything Conservatives say is a Racist Dog Whistle. [I am not one of them because I know that this belief is irrational. (This is one of the many things I know that cause me to not be one of them or one with them.)]
  • As I type this, I report that I am thinking of taking the 25 bus in order to hopefully get a photo of the Wuxi Metro train on the Hui Shan Metro Bridge.
[School Laptop]
  • I took the 25 bus to school. The train wasn't on the bridge – it was to have crossed it two minutes later. “Miss it by that much!” as Maxwell Smart would have said.
  • I will maintain a Trappist-like silence.

Wednesday [April 16]
[Home Laptop]
  • I finished reading Mary H Kingsley's Travels in West Africa last night. I then read chapters one and two of a Johnny Carson bio.
  • Kingsley, a woman, traveled in highly malarial West Africa and had the same attitudes towards the blacks of her male counterparts at that time. In fact, the book could easily have been written by a man or rather have been changed to look like it was written by a man with just a few changes.
  • It rained last night, and I think I am going to have to pull out my umbrella when I go to school.
[School Laptop]
  • The shift today: 13:00 to 21:00.
  • I saw the metro train on the bridge! Only problem was that I was on the 602and thus too far away to take a good photo.
  • I just had a coffee and two pies from McDonalds.
  • What is it that you believe that Leftists and Progressives believe? They believe that America is bad, and that Americans are evil except if when they are members of the Democrat party or are America-loathing Americans.
  • Twenty Five Years ago, students gathered at a square in Beijing.

Thursday [April 17]
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 10:00 to 21:00.
  • Heavy rain this morning as I took Tony to be picked up. Heavy rain as I walked to the bus stop to go to school. But at least I had good timing as far as catching buses. The 602arrived at the California Villa bus stop the same time as I did. Downtown, the 81 bus came as I got off the 602支。
  • What is it that you believe that Leftists and Progressives believe? They believe that they themselves are thoroughly decent people, and that anyone who disagrees with them is evil. They don't believe in right and wrong. They believe themselves to be always right. They believe that all the problems of the world can be solved by government.

Friday [April 18]
[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 11:00 to 21:00. Nothing to do till 18:00. I have no daytime classes. So I have plenty of time to finish off my next piece for my Wuxi China Expatdom Blog.
  • Tony, what day it is?” He told me it was Friday. He knows that Friday is regarded as a good day.
  • Friday isn't regarded as a good day by me. To my way of thinking, Friday is actually Thursday.
  • Last evening, I did a salon class about Social Networks. As these classes go for me, I thought it was interesting. The students gave some interesting answers to my questions. One student told me that her friends were her friends because they were the same height as she was. She had a theory about this that I found interesting.
  • So, I asked the other students about this and they said that they had friends who were shorter than them or taller than them. Still, I thought there was something to what the student said; and as I am wont to do, I tried to apply the theory to myself.
  • I first have to admit that I don't have any close, close friends – none that I talk to everyday or have a beer with. On my days off, I see only Tony and Jenny; I never meet any other people. The last thing I ever want to do is have lunch with the people I am acquainted with in Wuxi. The only person I talk to on my mobile phone is Jenny. I have deleted most of the phone numbers I do have on my mobile phone so that I have about four names on my contact list. I don't bother anymore getting the phone numbers of the others who work at school.
  • Why have I adopted this curmudgeonly and misanthropic habits? It goes back to what that student said about having friends who were the same height as her. No one in Wuxi, in my estimation is the proper height. They could in fact be higher and taller and mightier than me. Heck, a few could even be lower than me. And nightmares of my nightmares, some could in fact be the same height as me. But no one I have meet in Wuxi has the height or stature, in a moral and metaphysical sense, for me to even to begin to want, or even have regrets on not being able, to befriend. I am spinning my wheels for lack of people I could befriend in Wuxi.
  • LECTOR: Do you think that perhaps you are asking for too much? ANDIS: Hey Lector! Long time no see! I don't discount that possibility. (He he ha, I typed that cliché on purpose.) But on many levels, there is no common ground with these people. I will have to suppress myself when interacting with them, and it is not worth the bother. Better to pine for someone who I can get along with and argue with. LECTOR: What don't you try to be a happy warrior? ANDIS: Good question. Why don't I? I am shunned either way.
  • I have downloaded the first two episodes of Season Four of Game of Thrones. Jenny is keen to watch the show with me. It is the one TV series that we are both keen to watch.
  • What is it that you believe that Leftists and Progressives believe? They believe Conservatives and Republicans are Nazis. They believe private citizens shouldn't have guns for self-defense purposes. They believe that calling people names hurts people. They believe that it is bad to judge others. They believe the Catholic Church should adopt all the mores of the modern world. They believe that abortion, the killing of fetuses, is okay, and is a woman's right. They believe that smoking is immoral. They believe that eating fatty food is immoral. They believe that children have better morals than parents. They believe that old white people have bad ideas. They believe that young people and young single woman have good ideas.
  • I just read the latest piece by John Derbyshire at Taki's Magazine. Sitting is the new smoking. Sitting all day at a desk is bad for one's health. I had been thinking, only yesterday, that being able to sit at a desk for four hours concentrating on something was a sign that one had some self-discipline.
  • As I made my way to school and the laptop, I was passing one of the many construction sites currently in Wuxi and I saw three men, two of whom were wearing construction helmets, squatting in the Asian manner so that their butts were near the ground and their knees were bent so that that they pointed toward the sky. Something about the sight of them made me take a photo and immediately make a point of mentioning them in this blog. The squatting seemed remarkable to me for at least two reasons. One was their location: they stood outside the construction practically on the road. The other was their slight and diminutive statures: if they stood up, they would have been maybe a head taller than Tony. If it wasn't for their faces which showed their age, they would have looked like nine years dressed as workers.

Saturday [April 20]
[School Laptop]
  • I took the 25 bus this morning to get to school. On a Saturday, it is not something I normally do; and this morning I intended to take the 602支,but the a 25 bus came with available seats and I thought of taking that hoped-for photo of the Wuxi Metro on the Hui Shan Metro Bridge.
  • And I am happy to say that the train was on its bridge as the 25 bus was on its, and so I got the much sought photos. However, they were not as nice as I hoped. The photo, which I have already published to the AKIC wordpress blog, shows the bridge, a boat in a foreground, and the entire train on the bridge, but the train is hard to see on the Ipod with which I took the photo. It seems small, like taking a photo of a worm from across a room. Perhaps the train shows up better when you look at the photo on my blog.
  • Last night, my wife watched the first episode of the fourth season of Game of Thrones on my Ipad. Earlier, I had finished watching an old Astaire – Rogers flick Roberta.
  • I published a six page long piece to my Wuxi China Expatdom blog. I will use the spare time I have this morning to write another with the headline Wuxi Expat Pub to serve Caesar Salads with Gun-Shaped Croutons.
  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 18:00. I arrived at school at 8:50 and learned that my two morning classes were canceled. So, I don't have much teaching to do till 14:00. I do have ways to keep myself busy, but that does mean that I can say I have things to do? [Lector: You do have things to do, but the things you will do are not the things you should be doing. You have to think of your wife and child.]
  • What is it that you believe that Leftists and Progressives believe? Some large amount of government action is required to combat climate change. Government action is required to force people to interact with each other. Government should regulate the media and the Internet. Regulation is good.
  • A former teacher at this school has returned to his home country. He couldn't find a job in China because he was too old.

Sunday [April 20]
[School Laptop]
  • Easter. I listen to Father Z podcasts all morning. I can't tell if the church, next door to our school, is busier than normal. It definitely isn't as busy as it has been at Christmas when security barriers are placed around the church.
  • I am doing and overtime shift today: 10:00 to 17:00.
  • Traffic put me in an I-think-the-Chinese-are-a-bunch-of-inconsiderate-pricks mood. I was really annoyed that car drivers were not slowing down as they approached a pedestrian crossing. I wanted so much to make them stop and let pedestrians cross but they were driving too fast.
  • The K family had Korean food at the Hui Shan Wanda Plaza.
  • At home, Jenny watched the second episode of the fourth season of Game of Thrones on the Apple TV. The video file that she was watching was on the Laptop.
  • I published two articles to the Wuxi China Expatdom blog. My partner-in-crime on the WCE blog, HM, published some brilliant Sarah Palin pieces.
  • This morning at McDonalds, a man from Arizona asked me about the Gonzaga sweatshirt that I was wearing. I had to tell him that I didn't have it because I attended Gonzaga and that I had in fact bought the sweatshirt in Wuxi. Anyway, it was an ice-breaker. I learned that he was teaching English on the Jiangnan University campus.

Monday [April 21]
[Home Laptop]


  • No shifts today. It is raining. I stay at home.
  • After school yesterday, I meet Tony & Jenny at Baoli where we did some grocery shopping at Carrefour. We then took the bus to Casa Kaulins where we were to have sandwiches and potato salad for supper. I was excited at the prospect of this dinner because we had bought a lot of cold cuts, not easy to find in Hui Shan, at the Carrefour. But fifteen minutes after we arrived home, Jenny told me that we had forgotten to retrieve the bread that we had put in a Baoli locker. I immediately took a bus downtown to get it. Ninety minutes lost.
  • What is it that you believe that Leftists and Progressives believe? They believe they are tolerant. They believe people who aren't like them are intolerant. They believe White people are intolerant and that religious people are intolerant. They believe that people who are from victim classes are understandably aggrieved. They believe that all groups of people share the same capabilities. They believe that a room containing ten white men, no women, and no black people is proof of racism.
  • The thought does cross my mind that I am a rat bastard. For I keep to my haughty self and act rude by ignoring many people around me, and I make a point of it to never bother greeting them. I am being passively aggressive. And yet, people do things that I would never do, and if I am a rat bastard, I am a small one on the scale of things. I am not openly self-righteous, I am not licentious, I try to not talk about others behind their backs, I keep my loathings to myself, I rarely say things to make others feel uncomfortable, and I am capable of feeling shame.
  • But I do face a quandary. Do I keep to myself, should I be polite and fake fellowship, or should I tell people what I really think of them? I have chosen to be passive.
  • [Later] Thinking about what I have just written, I can recall things I have done that show me to not be pure of soul. Reading the Johnny Carson bio, which is really a memoir of his lawyer, is what made me think of the words rat bastard.
  • Last night, Tony had a sore throat, cough, and a raspy voice. He went to school this morning but came home in the afternoon. Now, he sleeps.
  • I have just downloaded the third episode of the fourth season of Game of Thrones.
  • [Even Later] The things that I am really ashamed for having done, I don't do anymore and wouldn't dare do anymore.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Diary: April 8 to April 14, 2014

Highlights
  • Another week of coasting.
  • This week's question to ask myself: What do you believe?
  • Also I will continue answering this question: How can you improve yourself?

Tuesday [April 8]
[Home Laptop]
  • I didn't sleep well last night. But then neither did Tony & Jenny. Lying awake, I got to thinking about my future. I am going to have to dedicate my remaining years of life to Tony & Jenny, I thought. I shuddered when I wondered about what I would be leaving them.
  • My shift today: 13:00 to 21:00.
  • The weather: it rained last night. I will wear a long sleeved shirt and a sweat jacket when I go to work.
  • What do you believe? John Derbyshire asked himself this question recently and so I will ask myself as well. The next question that is raised from this question is do you believe in God? I answer yes. Why? It is a feeling, I know. But I believe in the spirit. Poetry and music can be explained by biology and neurology I would suppose, but there are things that are sacred, there just are. [A lame answer I know.]
  • How can you improve yourself? David Warren's latest blog entry entitled Passiontide provided an answer. We must look on our fellows and do some Good. This might begin with looking into their faces, and acknowledging when they look into ours. It does not matter in the least if they are Christian, they are on the same road. We have been solemnly instructed to avoid harming our neighbour, whatever the temptation might be. We should take that instruction at face value. But we have also been solemnly instructed to love, and we must learn to love. Or we will arrive — knee, waist, shoulder, head — covered with the sins of omission.

Wednesday [April 9]
[Home Laptop]
  • I didn't make an entry to this journal while I was at work yesterday. I just never got around to it.
  • What do you believe? Socialism is bad. It makes the problems it attempts to solve worse.
  • Yesterday was a day of Trappist silence for me. Not in class, mind you. That is when the students go Trappist.
  • My shift today: 13:00 to 21:00.
  • Tony goes to the Wuxi Zoo today on a school field trip.
  • No internet at home this morning. The signal stopped last night about 11:00. No idea why. [Jenny had to call in Techs to fix the problem. A broken wire somewhere away from the apartment caused our Wifi to stop.]
[School Laptop]
  • I took the 25 bus to work. I saw the Metro train on the Hui Shan Metro Bridge but I wasn't at the right vantage point to take a photo. The bus was still riding towards the Hui Shan traffic bridge when the Metro was on its bridge.
  • What do you believe? Men and Women are different and can never be equal in the manner that Feminism wants them to be. When women try to be like men, it is an ugly sight.
  • What do you believe? Oswald acting alone shot JFK.
  • What do you believe? The less the centralized state gets involved in the lives of its citizens, the better. I believe in the Catholic idea of Subsidiary.
  • I got a new citizen card yesterday. The old card worked on the Wuxi bus. The new card will work on the Wuxi buses, the Suzhou subway, and the Shanghai subway.
  • Unfortunately, it can't be used for the public bicycles. Jenny was told that the social insurance card has to be used for that. I can see the logic of that. There is a better chance of knowing who is using the bike or who had the bike if it got lost.
  • The Burger King in Parkson's appears to have been shut down. I have just wasted ten minutes of my life walking there to find this out.

Thursday [April 10]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 21:00.
  • There were a lot of people on the 602bus this morning when it pulled into the jiazhouyangfang bus stop, that is the stop near Casa K. It was the first time taking that bus that there was a chance that I would board the bus and not get a seat.
  • I did get a seat but it wasn't at the very back corner of the bus – my chosen place on Chinese public transportation.
  • I wear a short sleeve shirt to work for the first time this year.
  • What do you believe? Liberals aren't lacking in cleverness but they are fools who use their cleverness to rationalize their foolishness. The foolishness of Liberals is a foolishness of will.
  • One of my students that I had in class just now was pregnant. The baby is due in a month!

Friday [April 11]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 11:00 to 21:00. I go to the City Hall to a lunch time English corner.
  • I finished watching the first episode of the documentary series the Search for the Trojan War. I watched the eighth episode of Kenneth Clark's Civilisation series which was entitled the Light of Experience. I watched most of the second episode of the new Cosmos series. I will probably finished watching it later today. I have been listening to a podcast of audio from Ben Stein's ID movie.
  • In the Civilisation episode I watched, Clark discussed the relationship between science and poetry, raising the question of whether the scientific worldview made for worse poetry. Clark made his observations before the introduction of the personal computer. Living in the age of high tech, I will have say that it is an age that hasn't produced little if any good poetry. If there has been good poetry written, it certainly has played a major role in the culture. So, it can be said with certainty that we do live in an unpoetical age.
  • The second episode of Cosmos is all about evolution and Darwinism. Cosmos e2 does make a strong case for natural selection and artificial selection. You would feel like a simpleton if you weren't convinced of evolution and these two types of selection playing a part in how we are today. But Cosmos e2 does nothing to explain the why of existence. “This is the way it happened and it was random!” is a depressing thought for those who are religious and believe in a creator. It is also a thought that doesn't ultimate explain existence. The host of the series dealt with these objections by stating that it was an idea that was elevating for the spirit nonetheless, after seeming to imply that there wasn't a spirit having a hand in our existence.
  • It is unfortunate that Darwinists are such fanatical atheists. Listening to some of them on Stein's documentary, they sound like displaced anti-Semites, circa 1930s in Germany.
  • What do you believe? I don't believe that there is a conflict between religion and science. I take it on faith that evolution is true, as are the descriptions I have heard from scientists about the size of our universe and the history of Earth. American Liberals and Progressives are delusional when they say that they are on the side of science while conservatives are not – there are places that science goes that that Liberals don't want to go, particularly with regards to differences between the sexes, the life of a fetus in a woman's womb, the detrimental effects of abortion on woman's health, and the abilities of different races.
  • The big breakfast at McDonalds is not 24.5 rmb. In a year, it could well go up to 30. I can remember when it was 18 rmb.
  • [Later] I have gone to the City Hall. The government handler who accompanied me on my ride to the city hall told me that he had been working for the government for two days. He had been working for a company run by the government, when he was told that he was now working for a department in the government. He hadn't been asked if he had wanted to do this.

Saturday [April 12]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 18:00.
  • It rained last night, and it seems it rained heavily because while I was taking the bus to school this morning, I saw deep, deep puddles, the kind that are a result of drainage systems being overwhelmed.
  • I listened to the latest John Derbyshire podcast this morning as I normally do on a Saturday morning when and if I can get the file downloaded. He mentioned this 89 year old English woman, healthy for her age, who went to Switzerland to be euthanized. She chose to be so not because she was in great physical pain or was handicapped. She chose to be so because she hated the world of e-mail and people staring at screens. She couldn't have conversations anymore she complained and the world was becoming inhuman.
  • There is something to be said for her complaints. The world isn't a place for old people anymore. The world isn't a place for people to talk.
  • At McDonald's, I sat next to a particularly egregious example of a person staring at a screen. A chubby male teenage was hunched over his mobile device, which was on the table, so that it was six inches from his face, and he was sucking on a straw which was bent, it seemed, so that he could be as close to the screen as possible. It would have made for a very telling photo. If I was his parent or if that was Tony, I would have kicked his ass. The sight made me think of that 89 year old English woman. I suppose it would be better in the cosmic scale of justice, if that young man was euthanized and the old woman could have kept on living.
  • I make the above points while acknowledging what Chesterton had to say about suicide. (He said it was a great evil. A not killing of one person, but a killing of the world.) The old woman did have the honesty to say she was killing the world. If only someone her complaints, which I think were legitimate, could have been heeded without her having to resort to such drastic means.

[Home Laptop]
  • Jenny & Tony meet me at school at the end of my shift. We decided to go to Pizza Hut for dinner. While there, I saw a chubby little kid, shorter than Tony and yet more mature in his movements. This chubby kid looked like a little emperor or a fat Chinese warlord. He sat, his legs crossed with his shoes off, like he was sitting on a plush carpet in his palace, haughtily holding court.
  • What do you believe? I believe in one God,the Father, the Almighty, Maker of all that is, seen and unseen. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,the only Son of God,eternally begotten of the Father,God from God, Light from Light,true God from true God,begotten, not made, consubstantial of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made for us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead,and the life of the world to come.
  • What can you do to improve yourself? Act like I really believe what I say I believe.
  • What do you believe? In forgiveness and not vendettas. In loving enemies but not in not having them. Cars like mobile devices make the world inhuman.
  • Pizza Hut serves breakfast and the prices are comparable to McDonald's. I will have to check it out next week.

Sunday [April 13]
[Home Laptop]
  • No shifts today.
  • This morning, I went for a walk through two nearby places, the public square and then the adjacent Times Century Plaza, where the surroundings gave me a feeling of forlornness. I couldn't help but notice the shoddiness of the construction. In the square, tiles were bulging and bent up from the original flatness of the surface upon which they had been laid. In the Time Century Plaza, store fronts were closed or seemed on the verge of closing. The opening of the nearby Wanda Plaza had obviously taken business away. And yet, amidst the ghost town feeling of the shopping area, there was more construction taking place.
  • I took Tony and a buddy of his for a walk. I took some good photos of them which have been published in TKIC blogspot and TKIC Wordpress.
  • I thought today was Easter. On Thursday, I had received a subscription email with a nice photo of Christ crucified which caused me to assume that Easter was today. It was an assumption which caused me to misread the calendar which I was checking to see if my assumption was correct! So I didn't realize my error until after I had posted the photo to We Chat!
  • What do you believe? I believe I am very insignificant. I believe the world is going to pot. I believe that men are fallen creatures. I believe that Feminism is nonsense. I believe that abortion is murder. I believe that the wildcard in Major League Baseball was an unpardonable mistake. I believe that the best place to be is here. I believe that scientists are men. I believe that the world needs poetry. I believe that the world needs beauty. I believe that time spent listening to modern pop music is time wasted. I believe that we can't help but waste time. I believe that the only way to not make enemies is to not have been born. I believe that children should be seen and not heard. I believe that we stand on the shoulders on giants.

Monday [April 14]
[Home Laptop]
  • No shifts today.
  • Up early this morning, I went to the Hui Shan Central Park which is near the Hui Shan White House and the end (or the beginning) of Wuxi Metro Line #1. In the park, I was treated to the sight of women walking backwards down the park's central walkway. There were two parties of women. The one nearest to me was walking backwards toward me; the other party, which was farthest from me, was facing me but walking away from me. It was a sight of which I should have taken a video, but alas the camera on my Ipod wouldn't have shown the woman in the distance.
  • When the locals do exercise, their movements, like this walking backwards, seem strange, gangly, and anti-graceful to this laowei's eyes.
  • I had lunch at the Hui Shan Wanda Starbucks. I had a Venti Cafe Americano and a Chicken Sandwich while reading a chapter and then some of Mary H. Kingsley's Travel in West Africa. I had opportunity to notice the customers who came in, and I can say that if you like to look at Chinese women, you can't go wrong sitting in a Starbucks in a Wanda shopping mall.
  • Jenny took Tony to government offices downtown to get his Visa renewed, but was told that the government had changed its policy, again, on children of Tony's status and so Tony is considered to be Chinese even though he has a Canadian passport. So, he doesn't need a Visa but instead will be given a Chinese identification card. If he spends a year and a half in Canada, he will not be considered Chinese anymore. If he leaves China, he needs an exit Visa like he did the first time we went to Canada. While this doesn't cost Jenny any money now, it does raise the question of how Tony would get back into China if he went away. Does he have to get a visa to get back in China?
  • I finished reading the Outer Limits of Reason by Noson S Yafonsky yesterday. A very mathematical book that has put me up to date on the latest developments in physics and math. I won't say that I understood the book completely. I did understand the conclusions that the author presented, but not so much the proofs.
  • As soon as I finish Travels in West Africa, I will start to read a biography of Johnny Carson and another book. I have so many choices, I can't even list them though the amount of choices isn't infinite, whether that be countable infinite or uncountable infinite.
  • Last night, I started watching the War Wagon, a western starring Kirk Douglas and John Wayne.
  • What do you believe? I believe that while the world is going to pot, it always has been and it always will be going to pot. I believe that I have a one in one hundred shot at redeeming myself for the life I have lead so far.



Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dispatches from Akicistan #8

Gratitude:  I am thankful for the Internet. I am thankful that I am aware of the goodness of silence. I am thankful that I am not given to boasting.

Acknowledgement: I haven't published a Dispatches from Akicistan for a long while because of sloth on my part. What else can I confess to? I don't reach out much to others. I don't boast because I don't much to boast about.
Request(s): To those of you who overuse the hole 'neath your nose: shut up!

What is Akicistan? It isn't a place. It is a state of mind that places cutting-edge state-of-the-art sticks in mud. The word Akicistan is formed from the initials AKIC and the root stan.

If Akicistan was an empire, it would comprise China, Canada, the Red States of the USA, Latvia, and the parts of the world that comprise Modern Christendom as well as ancient Christendom.

Akicistan news in brief: If someone, that is someone I cared about, asked me how I was doing these days, I would have to say I am coasting. [People never ask me how I am doing these days, but then I don't go asking people how they are doing. I don't want to know because I may not like what I hear and I may think even less of these people than I already do.]
Important Akicistan Links:


In Akicistan:

Some of us can speak Chinese! 每天在工作,我学中文。

We sometimes pay attention to China. But not that much. What's to sayIt is more polluted than ever and the Commies are still in power.

We are fond of Canada! But every time, I listen to a podcast from CJOB, I have less and less desire to go back. Winters are horrible. Hockey, at a minor level, can be barbaric, revealing the dark underside of the Canadian character.
We are fond of Latvia! Seeing what has happened to the Ukraine, we fear for Latvia because it has a sizable Russian population.

The Politics are Conservative and Reactionary! Obama bad. The EU bad. The UN bad. Bureaucracy bad. Homosexualism bad. Atheism bad. Libertine atheism bad. Scientism bad. Science good. Republicans mediocre. Middle of the Roaders dummies. Catholicism good. Liberal Catholics bad.

English is taught! How often do I have correct this mistake: I have ever done that. It is understandable how the error can come about. Ever is the opposite of never and so it would make sense that I have ever is the opposite of I have never. But ever means all the time. You haven't done something all the time of your life like been to Beijing.
Citizens aren't freaks! But then again, Akicistanians might be. To hold things that should be sacred sacred is a freakish thing, perhaps a miracle in this day and age.
Reading is the #1 Pastime! Here is what I had been working my way through the past month or so:
Don Colacho's (Nicolas Gomez Davilla) Aphorisms.  There are 2,988 of them in this book that I compiled for myself.  I try to read at least one aphorism a day.  I cut and paste the better ones -- they are all profound actually -- and I put them in the AKIC Weekly. (See below)
The Niomachean Ethics of Aristotle. Finished! Now it is time to read some Aquinas! The Niomachean Ethics is a very good book. I hope to read it once more before I die.

The Summa by Thomas Aquinas. This is a hard book to read. I have had to re-read every section in the book so far.

Ulysses by James Joyce.  I am following along with Frank Delaney as he slowly guides podcast listeners through Joyce's hard-to-read novel.  Delaney figures he will have the whole novel covered in about 22 years.  Delaney completed episode #195 recently and is working his way through the chapter that introduces Leopold Bloom. I am getting ahead of Delaney as far as reading the book.  I will be finished my reading of it, I figure, in a year. I read the novel despite its many blasphemies. It is best to be aware of this stuff because the world is full of it, and the world will always find a way of slapping you in the face with it

The Holy Bible (RSV-C2E version, aka the Ignatius Bible, and Douay-Rheims version).  I will read the two versions in conjunction. Last week, I finished reading the Book of Genesis. I am not in the Book of Exodus. In the New Testament, I am reading the Gospel According to Matthew.

The Man Who Loved China by Simon Winchester (Audio Book). Finished. Joseph Needham was certainly a clever scholar, but he was a unabashed Communist. He lived his life like he was a member of the politburo. The author of this book about sympathizes with him. I can't. The book was interesting for some of its detail about China, but that is about it.

All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare. Finished.

Antony and Cleopatra. On the birth certificate, Tony is actually Anthony. I have an “h” in the name.


Other Limits of Reason: Nolson S. Yanofsky. Very good book. Some chapters required re-reading on my part before I understood them. Yanofsky explores the limits of reason via mathematics and physics. I wish I could have read this book when I was studying math in university. I would have appreciated the subject more. As it was, I thought it was a chore.


The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson. [Finished] A novel set in North Korea. I read the book on John Derbyshire's recommendation.

Travels in West Africa by Mary H Kingsley. A travel book written in the 1890s. I believe I am reading it on the recommendation of Theodore Dalrymple. This book is politically incorrect and yet it is written by a woman. Feminists and Leftists would have to be forced to say that she wasn't a woman.



Memorable quotes are presented and discussed!
Nicholas Gomez Davilla:
815 We frequently discover, after many years, that deliberate solutions end up being more intolerable than problems
818 The leftist intellectual does not attack anything with fearlessness and arrogance except ideas he believes to be dead.
819 Obviously, in many cases we come up with our ideas, but we are not the first, nor the only ones, to come up with them.
820 Anybody has the right to be stupid, but not to demand that we revere his stupidity. [On first thought, I thought that what Davilla said in this aphorism was a truism or was trite. But on quick reflection of some people, I have seen, who talk of how crazy and idiotic they are, I can see they are doing what Davilla says, asking us to revere their stupidity or their coolness brought about as a result of their shortcomings.]
821 Modern drudgery does make it more difficult to believe in God, but it does make it impossible to feel Him. [As a drudge, I know exactly what he means. The rat race, I am involved in, does leave me time to look after my soul. However, my attempts to look after it are the attempts of an egoist trying to improve himself. My attempts to feel him are those who try to be strong by going to the gym for ten minutes a day.]
822 Intelligence is strengthened by the eternal commonplaces. And it is weakened by those of its time and place. [Nothing makes a person more stupid than following the fashions of the day and accepting current commonplaces.]
823 It does not help the mediocre man at all to emigrate to where great men reside. We all carry our mediocrity wherever we go. [The stark truth. I am stuck with myself.]
827 As the waters of this century rise, delicate and noble sentiments, sensuous and fine tastes, discreet profound ideas take refuge in a few solitary souls, like the survivors of the flood on some silent mountains. [I love to be one of those solitary souls, but I don't think there is much of a chance of that happening.]
828 We spend a life trying to understand what a stranger understands at a glance; that we are just as insignificant as the rest. [True.]
831 Those whose gratitude for receiving a benefit is transformed into devotion to the person who grants it, instead of degenerating into the usual hatred aroused by all benefactors, are aristocrats. Even if they walk around in rags. [I am no aristocrat if this definition is correct.]
832 The fervor of the homage which the democrat renders to humanity is comparable only to the coldness with which he disrespects the individual. [True.] The reactionary disdains man without meeting an individual he scorns. [Damn! I am not a true reactionary!]
835 To be civilized is to be able to criticize what we believe in without ceasing to believe in it.[I am sure that someone, possibly Chesterton, said something about the true lover being a reformer of the object of its love. You love something not for what it is, but for what you think it is capable of. And I know that in my case, and even in my advanced age, I would certainly want that to be so.]
836 Families are often purulent cells of stupidity and unhappiness because an ironic necessity demands that the government of such elemental structures require as much intelligence, astuteness, and diplomacy as does the government of a state. [If you deem it foolish to live in a family, how can you be qualified to express any opinions on the government of states?]
838 Whoever looks without admiration or hatred has not seen. [Those who try to look at world objectively are usually looking at the world through the cloud of their perceived objectivity.]
842 There is no individual who, upon evaluating himself without previous preparation, does not find that he is inferior to many, superior to few, equal to none. [The inferior- to-many thought has been a frequent source of depression for me.]
845 With the object of preventing dangerous concentrations of economic power in the hands of a few anonymous associations, socialism proposes that the totality of economic power be entrusted in a lone anonymous association called the state.
847 It would be easier to resolve modern problems, if, for example, it were possible to sustain the Utopian fancy that what causes the multiplication of plastic objects is only the manufacturer's commercial greed, and not the idiotic admiration of the presumed buyers.
854 The technical man believes he is a superior being, because he knows what, by definition, anybody can know. [I love this.]
856 Dialogue perverts its participants. Either they are obstinate out of a desire to fight, or they give in out of laziness. [Anyone who says he wants a dialogue is just a monologist who wants a rapt listener. Anyway, it is a good reason to not speak unless you are getting paid to.]
859 Every straight path leads directly to a Hell. [You have to a genius to think these things. And yet this is an expression that once known, seems to be so commonsensical that anyone could have thought of it.]
863 It is not easy to discern whether contemporary journalism is a cynical way to get rich by corrupting man or a “cultural” apostolate carried out by hopelessly uncivilized minds. [I think it is the latter. Journalists, for the most part, are a very ignorant bunch.]
865 Many people believe that a laconic statement is dogmatic and judge the generosity of an intelligence by the verbosity of its prose. [That is how many are fooled into thinking Obama has something to say when he hasn't said anything at all.]
867 The Modern World bitterly censures those who “turn their back on life.” As if it were possible to know with certainty that turning one's back on life is not turning one's face toward the light. [I suppose that those who “turn their back on life” can also be called retrograde or some much worse epitaph.]
872 Our misery proceeds less from our problems than from the solutions which are appropriate to them.[Oh! Do I have to work hard?!?]



Theodore Dalrymple
[Joseph] Conrad was attracted to England precisely because he saw the English national character as lacking in moral grandiosity and metaphysical flamboyance. The English people did their duty without the apparent need, or desire, to found it on any philosophical first principles. [Joseph Needham wasn't like that.]

the world is so infinite in its variety that our brief time on it cannot, or at least should not be able, to exhaust our interest. I used to tell my patients that it was vastly more important, from the point of view of reaching contentment, that they should lose themselves than that they should find themselves; and that, in losing they would find themselves and most of their problems would disappear, at least for the time they remained lost. If they made finding themselves the precondition of losing themselves, they were, in effect, lost. [link]

 
The greatest cause of boredom in the modern world is entertainment.[link]

the blogosphere gives the impression that the world is filled with bitter, angry, resentful people who spit venom at the slightest pretext and think that abuse is an argument—indeed, the only argument.[link]


David Warren
Call it a mood: one which can be maintained by the true Stoic over decades. I can easily understand it, especially at this moment, having been in a mood like that this past week or two, with nothing whatever to say to my own tiny shrinking public, or to the world at large, beyond, “Go to hell.” But of course this won’t do. If one is a writer one must never agree to shut up; not so long as there is one more reader. Force the smug, “enlightened” bastards to silence you. [Except in one aspect, this passage doesn't apply to me, but I envy its pluck. I have told the world, I could reside in, to go to Hell but not so much by my writing. I don't have a readership that has been large enough to dwindle.]

His column in the Hindustan Times, entitled, “With Malice Towards One and All,” will be missed up here in the High Doganate. [What a name for a column or a blog. I must steal it!]

Do you consider yourself to be in exile, imposed or self-imposed? I mean in temporal affairs, not the exile from the divine that is this life.” [In my diary, I have been dealing with this question that was posed to David Warren, as it applies to myself.]
The glib answer, supported by a Russian proverb (“A man can do most good where he was born”), is no, I cannot be an exile because I live in the same city wherein I was born. (It is also where one can do the most damage.) True, I was whisked away by my gypsy parents at a tender age, and several times having returned later I went off again, vowing never to come back, but here I am once again in the Greater Parkdale Area, enduring the general decline.[Alas, I couldn't do any good in Germany where I was born. The Russian proverb doesn't apply to me.]

I expect politicians to lie. That is their trade, after all, and many have devoted decades to the mastery of this art of “circumlocution,” which contains many little techniques of deceit, and is in turn part of the larger art of mass suckering, or “democracy.” The master of this art can tell a very big lie, that is aggregated from small, factually checkable statements, or uncheckable statements that will pass glibly.

We must look on our fellows and do some Good. This might begin with looking into their faces, and acknowledging when they look into ours. It does not matter in the least if they are Christian, they are on the same road. We have been solemnly instructed to avoid harming our neighbour, whatever the temptation might be. We should take that instruction at face value. But we have also been solemnly instructed to love, and we must learn to love. Or we will arrive — knee, waist, shoulder, head — covered with the sins of omission.

Robert Easy (A commentator on David Warren's Blog):
All that Christ asks of us is to be consistent. When we condemn sin in others, then we must condemn it in ourselves. When we treat others with contempt and indifference, then we are agreeing to be so treated ourselves by both God and man. Everything comes back to us and rests with us. [Those words contempt and indifference ring out directly, it would seem, at me. I am so guilty of doing these things to other people.]


from “Travels in West Africa” by Mary H. Kingsley
...I often wonder what are the things other people are really most proud of; it would be a quaint and repaying subject for investigation. [What am I most proud of? I am of course proud of my son. But what is the thing that I have done that I am most proud of? I can't really say. I wonder if anything I have done has meant a lick of good for anybody.]

By Paul Krugman, bolded below: 
Just to be clear, there’s no evidence that Mr. Ryan is personally a racist, and his dog-whistle may not even have been deliberate. But it doesn’t matter.  He said what he said because that’s the kind of thing conservatives say to each other all the time. And why do they say such things? Because American conservatism is still, after all these years, largely driven by claims that liberals are taking away your hard-earned money and giving it to Those People. [Krugman and all those who think like him are idiots, as this passage shows. Their belief in the dog whistle is akin to the belief in witches that Krugman and his ilk say all Conservatives believe in. As long as Liberals spout the quoted nonsense, how is it possible to have a debate with them?]

Carlos Caso-Rosendi
Scripture read in quiet solitude (my preference is to read by the window accompanied by a rather long cup of tea) with grateful reverence is perhaps one of the greatest experiences a human soul can enjoy.

Pope Benedict XVI
Let us ask, then:  What does it mean to become a Christian?  How does this take place?...  If individuals are to become Christians they need the strength to overcome;  they need the power to stand fast against the natural tendency to let themselves be carried along.
Life in the most inclusive sense has been defined as "resistance to the pull of gravity."  Only where such effort is expended is there life;  where the effort ceases life too ceases.  If this is true in the biological sphere, it is all the more true in the spiritual.
The human person is the being which does not become itself automatically.  Nor does it do so simply by letting itself be carried along and surrendering to the natural gravitational pull of a kind of vegetative life.  It becomes itself always and only by struggling against the tendency simply to vegetate and by dint of a discipline that is able to rise above the pressures of routine and to liberate the self from the compulsions of utilitarian goals and instincts.
Our world is so full of what immediately impinges on our senses that we are in danger of seeing only details and losing sight of the whole.  It takes effort to see beyond what is right in front of us and to free ourselves from the tyranny of what directly presses upon us.


A Scottish Proverb (from David Warren's Blog)
He has a hole aneath his nose.    [That is brilliant on so many levels. I know a few people to whom I would like to cite this proverb.]

Malcolm de Chazal (posted by a reader on David Warren's Blog)
We speak with our lips to explain, with our throats to convince.”
Women make us poets, children make us philosophers.”
The Bible: a book that either reads us or is useless.”
Laughter is regional; a smile extends over the whole face.”

Rob Long (from a review of a book about Johnny Carson)
Johnny appeared on television every weeknight. He was playing himself—or, rather, an idealized version of himself: jovial, chummy, witty, warm. The strain of that kind of acting must have been monumental. It’s no wonder that real movie stars—Jimmy Stewart, Michael Caine, a whole bushel of A-listers—respected him so much. In one of the best stories in a book filled with great stories, when Johnny arrives late to a very exclusive industry event filled with movie stars, he lights up the room. He wasn’t just the king of late night television. He was the king of managing not to appear like the rat bastard he clearly was. [I have this sneaking suspicion that I am a rat bastard or a person who likes to act like he is a rat bastard.]

A Buddhist Psalm:
Difficult is it for men to find a wise Teacher; so is it also for them to be instructed and to hear the Holy Law. More difficult still is it to receive the True Faith. [Lots of wise guys, I see. I haven't yet met any wise man.]
Anthony Esolen
It is never easy to rouse a sensualist, not just to heroism, but to the self-sacrifice of an ordinary life of virtue. [Sensualists do like to strike heroic poses, so they do like to be roused to a heroism of a sort, but damned if they every want to do ordinary and decent things – they find ways to rationalize themselves out of having to do them.]




Lists are made: Books and Authors that I want the world to know that I have read.
  • The Holy Bible
  • The Road to Serfdom by FA Hayek
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
  • TS Eliot
  • Charles Dickens
  • Shakespeare
  • Dostoevsky
  • F.A. Hayek
  • WH Mallock
  • Don Colacho
[This list could be a lot longer but I want to get this entry published.]


Thoughts are thought

  • It seems pointless for me to get emotional about the news I get fed by the media. The news has nothing to do with me. My opinions on the events of the day won't change anything.
  • Silence is a wonderful weapon.
  • I don't know who I am mad at.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Diary: April 1 to April 7, 2014

Highlights
  • Coasting. That's what I have been doing. That is the perfect word to describe the life I have been leading these days.
  • Nothing happened on April 1.
  • I had this idea to give the students Polish-Chinese English names.
  • I had four beers on Saturday – a high for 2014.
  • I attempted to answer the question How can you improve yourself?
  • I unsuccessfully tried to take photos of the Wuxi Metro train while it was on the Hui Shan Metro Train Bridge.
  • I made two videos that I published on the Internet.
  • I discussed how much time I spend on blogs and sites about China.
  • I had a long weekend. That is, a Saturday, Sunday, and then a Monday off.
  • Movies watched: The Big Heat, Once Upon a Time in the West, and I started to watch Rome: Open City.
  • I watched the first episode of the new Cosmos series. I watched two episodes of Kenneth Clark's Civilisation series as well. My comments on Cosmos could get me in trouble.

Tuesday [April 1]
[Home Laptop]
  • I don't have to worry about practical jokes this morning. I won't be getting strange emails or phone calls because I don't get normal emails and phone calls these days. I start work at 13:00 and even though I get to the school usually around 11:00, today is a day of Trappist silence so I won't be telling the others in the office that I don't think they are pederasts.
  • My VPN was slow yesterday so I wasted a lot of time on the computer trying to do things like get the previous week's diary entry published (I tried in the afternoon but wasn't able to publish the thing till late evening) and download some Manning Center videos from Youtube (the Manning center is a Canadian conservative organization) which featured speeches by Mark Steyn and Preston Manning.
  • I have this idea for giving students English names. Give them Polish-Chinese names! Or even just Polish names. When I say give them Polish-Chinese names, I mean to take their Chinese names and add “ski” to them; so, for example, you could give them English names like Chenlongski or Leexiaolongski. I would even like to give them Polish names like Kowalski and Stemkowski. As it is now, the students have a habit of choosing very, very common English names like Mike, John, and Tom. Oh! I can grow to like a student with the name of Pelski or Komanski!
  • It is sunny outside. It felt pleasant when I took Tony to be picked up and taken to his primary school.
  • I registered on the Wuxi City Guide site. I gave myself the name of Nicolas_Gomez_Davilla and in my short bio, I said I was a happy warrior and a reactionary living in the Hui Shan District.
  • Last week, I liked so much the being able to ponder a question during the course of typing in this diary, that I think I will try to answer another question this week. I was thinking to ask myself what good I have done in China, but that is too hard a question and would feel too much like a CV writing exercise which I hate, because for me, my CV is boring and depressing. So instead I will answer this question: How can you improve yourself?
  • This thought just occurred to me, so apropos of nothing, I will enter it in this diary. I don't often visit sites about China, whether they be news sites about China or the blogs of other people living in China. My favorite blogs are/were written by a former Ottawa Citizen columnist who is Catholic and Reactionary, a Brit who calls Anne Coulter darling Anne, and this gay man of conservative tendencies who converted to Catholicism in the last year of his life. The latter blogger blogged right to the end. Anyway, I find these blogs more compelling than anything written by anyone about China. China these days is surfeit with people blogging about their experiences in China. They are merely adding to the fog and ignorance that all westerners have about China.
  • How can you improve yourself? First, I need to be more attentive to my wife, my son, and my mother. That part of my answer is easy to make because I haven't talked about the sacrifices it would entail me doing.

[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 13:00 to 21:00.
  • I took the 25 bus to get to school. The Wuxi Metro train wasn't on the Hui Shan Metro bridge when the bus drove past. It could be seen, though, parked in its nearby work yard which is on the shore of the river over which the Hui Shan Big Bridge crosses.
  • My English Corner topic today is April Fool's day. I don't know what to do with that topic.
  • I finished reading the Orphan Master's Son last night. Interesting novel. North Korea is more horrible than I have imagined.
  • [Later] During the English Corner, I got, what I thought was, a brilliant idea for a practical joke to play on a co-worker's computer. I will take a screen shot of his desk top, then take all the icons and put them in a special file, and then make the screen shot his desk top. I chortle at the idea of his clicking on the icons and having nothing happen.

Wednesday [April 2]
[Home Laptop]
  • Last night, I finished watching the Big Heat starring Glen Ford and an actress who had a role in Oklahoma. Big Heat was a great movie. Black and White. Everyone wore suits. Everyone looked like an adult. The woman who played the Glen Ford character's wife was said to be 27. To my modern eyes, she acted like she was fifty. Very mature.
  • I then starting watching Once Upon a Time in the West. I had it on my Ipad, I hadn't realized it was a Sergio Leone western, having downloaded because I saw it a top Westerns movie list, and so I was terribly impressed when I watched the opening credits. The movie starred Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Jason Robarbs, and Claudia Cardinale. The style of the film immediately drew me it. It slammed me on the head with its stylish effects whether audio or visual. I want to get off board the life I am leading and take the time to watch the film in one sitting.
  • Last class of yesterday evening, I had a student who teaches a kindergarten class, senior level. I had to ask her how she controls her students. It has been my experience at Tony's kindergarten that the kids are impossible to control, at least by me. I wonder how the females are able to do it. Part of it is, I suppose, that she loves kids. She told she did with such a directness and frankness that I was taken aback.
  • I have just phoned my Mom, who lives by herself in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. The weather over the weekend there? Minus 27 degrees!!! Although it has warmed up to minus seven, the roads were still too slippery and so Mom was staying inside.
  • Last night, my Mom watched On the Waterfront.
  • My nephew Kyle will be nineteen on April 6th. He has been driving for three years. I mention this because in China, they don't get to drive till they are out of high school. I can remember I was in Winnipeg at the time he was born. When I first saw him a few months later, he was still small, a bundle not yet able to crawl. Now, he drives while I take public transportation to work.

[School Laptop]
  • My shift today: 13:00 to 21:00.
  • I took the 25 bus to work, sat on the side that afforded me a good view of the Hui Shan Subway Bridge, and didn't see the metro train on it. I would see it later coming up from the portion of the line that does underground.
  • How can you improve yourself? Other than what I said yesterday to answer this question, there probably isn't much else I can do because 1) I am as perfect as it gets. 2)I am as good as I am ever going to get.
  • Those answers were nonsense.
  • The beef sandwiches at the Xinjiang Restaurant across the way from the school are wonderful. The Chinese pinyin I have heard for them: rou jie mo.

Thursday [April 3]
[School Laptop]
  • Today: 10:00 to 21:00.
  • I saw the Wuxi Metro train on the Hui Shan Metro Bridge. Unfortunately, I was on another bus and was only able to see the train from a distance and so was not able take a photo.
  • Saturday will be a holiday. The K family has chosen to stay at Casa Kaulins, eschewing the opportunity to spend Tomb Sweeping Day in Beixin.
  • Last night, a student told me something that maybe demanded some investigation. She told me that when buying a car, a customer had to pay this non-refundable fee to the car dealer. As I understood her, the fee was paid if a price for a car was agreed upon and if for any reason the deal fell through, the money was not returned. I have never heard of such a thing happening in Canada.
  • How can you improve yourself? I can't. I am what I am and it is too late in life to make any radical changes to myself.
  • Earlier last evening, a student told me that her company was putting together an application to get High Tech Enterprise status from the local government. Having HTE status entitles a company to tax breaks. Which reminds me that earlier, I had been told by a student that the local government was also promising to give rent subsidies to Masters and PhD students who choose to locate in Wuxi. Yes. Government in action.
  • It is quiet in the office right now. That is just the way I like it.
  • I finished watching Once Upon a Time in the West last night. I thought it was an enjoyable film to watch, full of interesting performances, great stock characters, Leone's directing techniques, wonderful cinematography of the Utah and Arizona landscape, and great soundtrack music. Henry Fonda, who I had thought of as an actor always playing the good guy, was the baddie in this flick. Charles Bronson was the film's star despite not having top billing. The camera made him look intense and confident. His performance was seemingly minimal. Having read somewhere that in film acting, less is more, Bronson's performance was perfect, but I wonder if it seemed perfect because of the camera and Bronson's remarkable face and physical presence, or because of some genuine acting skill on his part. The film was fill of Leone's Spaghetti Western flourishes: the amazing marksmanship scenes, the focus on the expressions of the actors, the building up of tensions in the scenes, the interesting looking characters, the casual violence of the antagonists, the use of sound to magnify the lethal force of the shots, and the great music. If there was anything wrong with the film, it was the plot. Sometimes, the characters did inexplicable things and the scenes seemed disjointed from the plot. For example, a dramatic scene on a train came to an end, and this crippled character was suddenly in a cleft in a mountain. I couldn't tell if this scene was a flashback or a continuation of the plot in its normal sequence.
  • I will have to seek out the entire body or Leone's work.
  • A change in the one child policy. If you or your wife is an only child, you can have a second child.

Friday [April 4]
[School Laptop]
  • Today's shift: 11:00 to 21:00. Tomorrow's shift? None. Ha ha.
  • What will I do on this holiday? Don't know. I have vague ideas of wandering in the countryside on the family e-bike with Tony or sitting at the Hui Shan Wanda Plaza Starbucks reading a book on my Ipad.
  • Public bikes in Hui Shan! The public bike stalls now have bikes in them.
  • How can you improve yourself? Last night, I was on the 635 with 635 Sophia. I was telling her that I don't come into contact, outside of work, with any foreigners. Then she then point-blank asked me if I had any foreigner friends in Wuxi. I told her I didn't. She then asked me if I had any Chinese friends. I told her I didn't. So, getting back to that question I am answering this week, I suppose I could improve myself by having more friends “on the ground” in Wuxi. But that is easier said than done for me. I know people aren't perfect and you have to be very, very tolerant of their foibles. I, of course, am as far from perfect as a person can get while still having a pulse. But the foibles that many of the people have that I come in contact with here are really worthy of contempt. They are the foibles of numbingly stupid people, people who rationalize their stupidity and not face up to it, and not just weakness of character. I can't be friends with these people. Be that as it may, while withdrawal is completely understandable in my situation, I can't give up hope. There are surely some souls I can be pals with in Wuxi and I have to improve myself to meet them. [Am I the only right-winger reactionary in Wuxi?]
  • At least, I don't have to change my political beliefs. I may be a cunt, but I am not a left-winger, so I do have one redeeming virtue.
  • What can most people do to improve their oration abilities? Shut up.
  • I was listening to the Radio Free Delingpole podcast. Delingpole seems to be more of a libertarian conservative than a traditional conservative. He supports the legalization of mary jane in Colorado. He went overboard to show much he thinks it a really wonderful idea. At one time I would have supported this but now I have my misgivings. It seem to be the triumph of barbarism. Being a rock critic and thus a conservative who hasn't given up the rock and roll lifestyle, Delingpole seems like a conservative who doesn't want to give up on the idea of coolness. Conservatives, he seems to be saying, are people who can be cool! Nonsense. Bullocks. Conservatives are people of substance and not easily to be fooled by shallowness which is what cool really is.

Saturday [April 5]
[Home Laptop]
  • It is my sister's birthday today. I believe she is in Mexico now.
  • It is Tomb Sweeping Day. I don't have a shift today.
  • We have a visitor from Suzhou coming. Jenny says we will be taking her downtown.
  • I downloaded the first episode of the new Cosmos series. The host of the new series is black and he reminds me of Bryant Gumbel, the NBC sports host. I know that I shouldn't mention the detail but in this day and age, you can't help but feel that the race of the host is a factor in the choosing of the host. It is done with the best of intentions, but....

Sunday [April 6]
[Home Laptop]
  • No shifts today.
  • Yesterday. I drank four beers. I haven't done that in a long time. Reality can slap you in the face and actually make you realize that some course of actions you have taken were wise. I won't be drinking any beer today.
  • Yesterday afternoon, we, that be the K family, went to the Western Restaurant in the Hui Shan Wanda Plaza. I had two beers there.
  • Various places in the Plaza had wax figures of celebrities on display. I posed with Bruce Lee and Jackie Chen.
  • We then took the bus downtown to Nanchang Market and to the Nanchang Bar Street. We spent time at a Starbucks. We ate at some barbecue restaurant.
  • Tony caused me a brief scare. We were walking in a crowded Nanchang Market. He turned a corner while in my sight. I turned the corner two seconds after he did and I lost sight of him for two minutes. What he had done was quickly turn the corner and climb up a pedestal to look at some animals on display.
  • Later, Tony & I were at the Nanchang Temple Book Market when these two girls came up to me, told me Tony was very cute, and asked if they could take a photo with him. Tony refused in no uncertain terms. I had to apologize to the girls.
  • The public bikes are in the stall, but the card machines, that one has to use to borrow them, are not yet in operation. When will they be? I was keen to try the bikes this long weekend but it won't happen.
  • [Later] I took Tony out briefly this afternoon, we took the e-bike to the area near the bridge that joins the Hui Shan and Jiangyin Districts, and where we do some train spotting. Today, we didn't actually spend much time on the bridge deck. We instead rode further on to an overpass over the freeway that connects Jiangyin and Wuxi cities. We were able to do some trainspotting from this spot because not away, the high speed rail runs over the freeway as well. I took video which you will be able to see at Youtube or Youku!
  • Tony was a putz. As quickly as we got out to Jiangyin, he wanted to go home. He wasn't at all interested in exploring.
  • I have made my first Microsoft Train Simulation video. It will be shown on Youku. Using a David Bowie for music, I can't upload it to Youtube.

Monday [April 7]
[Home Laptop]

  • I did upload a video to Youtube last night. Entitled Trainspotting from an Overpass, it was filmed and edited yesterday.
  • No shifts for me. No school for Tony. I'd like to take Tony out but he would prefer to play with all our gadgets.
  • I may not be able to publish this blog entry today. Family things will take up my time.
  • Uploading of the torrents I really want has been slow. I want to watch some episodes of Sarah Palin's Alaska show and The Search for the Trojan War documentary that I have always admired.
  • How can you improve yourself? Listening to a podcast from Vatican Radio, a priest suggested that, during Lent, a good Christian should reach out to ten people who one normally would not talk to. I should do something like this, and I must confess that I go into my way to do nothing of the sort. I have to change this.
  • How can you improve yourself? I got to be a happy warrior, not the sullen and passive one that I am now.
  • Tony tells me that he has too much computer today. It seemed a surprising admission from him till he grabbed the Ipad from me. Clever of him to twist a criticism of his parents to suit his needs.
  • I have just watched the first episode of the new Cosmos series. Way back when, I was enthralled with the first series and its host Carl Sagan. I even requested and then got the companion book to the series for a Christmas/Birthday present. That there would be attempt at a sequel to the series is not unexpected. With video and graphic technology as it is, an update of the visuals would make the sequel worthwhile. Watching the first episode, I can say that the visuals are quite something and it was a treat to watch the show on the big screen via my Apple TV device. Unfortunately, the show took some shots at the Catholic Church and Christians that were scientism propaganda. (The fact that they used cartoons to show this version of what did happen was telling. Cartoon history.) The real history of what happened and why it did was more complex than people who see everything a scientist – ignorant savage lens could ever begin to fathom or understand. The host, Neil DeGrasse Tyson who, I earlier this week said was Bryant-Gumbelish and black, was black the whole show through, and wasn't so Bryant-Gumbelish as I first thought. He seemed a nice enough guy. He didn't speak in a strident manner. However, he was no Sir Kenneth Clark who spoke in an authoritative and yet personal way about Western Civilization in that 1969 series Civilisation (Civilisation ages quite well in fact compared to the Cosmos of Carl Sagan). Tyson's manner is too much of a nerd trying to sound authoritative.
  • Watch Civilisation and then watch the new Cosmos. Which show is conducted in a more intelligent manner? Which show is more appreciative of the genius of the past?
  • I will watch further episodes of the new Cosmos.