Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Let a hundred flowers blossom

Grandpa Jang reminisces about the Hundred Flowers movement to his grand-daughter Mei-Zhen.


Jang: Let a hundred flowers blossom. That’s what Zhou Enlai said.

Mei-Zhen: Meaning?

Jang: That the government needed criticism by the people. Especially by the intellectuals. Came from a poem, “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let there be a hundred schools of thought.”

Mei-Zhen: Can’t imagine the communist party allowing that.

Jang: It was to establish a new culture, and secondarily to promote socialism. Mao ass

umed that people would naturally come up with new socialist ideas. Initially people didn’t say much, so Mao said, come on, criticize, and then in June and July 1957 millions of letters poured in. Criticizing the government. He assumed they’d come up with new ideas. They come up with criticism.

Mei-Zhen: Never assume anything.

Jang: So that’s when the clamp-down started. Freedom, followed by suppression. It’s a Chinese pattern.


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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chinese New Year fireworks

Ming and Mei hold different views on fireworks CNY.


Ming: Don’t like the noise. My dog is terrified.

Mei: But the spectacle! Bursts of light, showers of colored shooting stars criss-crossing the sky. Flashes, glitters, sparkles. Rubies, sapphires and diamonds.

Ming: FireFLOWERS, they’re nice. But it’s the fireCRACKERS going off, CRACKLE, BANG, RUMBLE, BOOM. All the alarms going off. The smoke. It’s like a WAR has started.

Mei: Only once a year. No smoke, no fire. Can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.


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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Affirmative action

Affirmative action


Oprah: Michelle became what she was by affirmative action. Hillary got where she was with the help of Bill.

Eva: No way. Michelle and Hillary got there by climbing obstacles. They had to run in the outside lane.

Oprah: You don’t think they got even a little boost from AA and Bill?

Eva: Look, AA and Bill wouldn’t have been the slightest good if they hadn’t had what it takes.

Oprah: So is it time to scrap affirmative action? Like they have in Colorado, and Nebraska?

Eva: May be a little early. Despite the exceptions of the Obamas and Hillary Clinton, there are still plenty of poor and disadvantaged who could use a little AA.

Oprah: Like white males?

Eva: For them we’ll need an amendment specifying competence disorder.


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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Flat battery

Level 3 of the parking building.

Won't go. Doesn't turn the starter.

Battery's had it.

Don't think it's the solenoid? The battery is only two years old.

Same thing happened on mine. Battery died two years after I got bought the bike.

Should last four to six years.

Normally, yes. But the CB1300 needs so much power normal running doesn't charge the battery, They die in two years. The latest ones they redesigned the wiring and they don't have the problem.

Design fault?

Design fault. Hey, you see those cars over there? Design fault.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Baiting the envious

Eric, up on the ski-fields, can’t help texting his colleague Diarmad who has to work.


Eric 090116 11:07 AM Blue skies, streaming sun, one is reminded of Sicily in spring.


Diarmad: 090116  11:24 AM Weather report is for streaming skies from Sunday. How long U up there for?


Eric: 090116 11:32 AM If it's streaming Sunday I may stay all day. Last train is 9.40.


Diarmad: 090116 13:16 PM Don’t you just feel a tiny bit guilty while we all work late to cover you not being here today?


Eric: 090116 13:35 PM Guilty? It’s hard work you know. And I’ve only done 28 runs so far AND I’m getting badly sunburnt.


Diarmad: 090116 15:38 PM  Nice pic. Was that taken before you had your afternoon fall?


Eric: 090116 5:59 PM No fall as such, but this was taken by a kawaii gakusei who had just helped me dig my ski out of 3 feet of snow.


Diarmad: 090116 Any more tantalizing photos of blue skies and stories of romps with snow queens and your apartment may be broken into and ALL your computers sent to China!


Eric: 090116 18:03 PM Feel free to burgle. All my computers (the ones in Japan anyway) are with me here.


Eric: 090116 19:52 PM I am not gloating in any way, you must understand. I am sure you had a delightful day at work. Nevertheless I have to say I think I just had one of the best skiing days ever, with sunshine, clear blue skies, crisp new snow and not too many people on the gelaende. I broke all the rules by rushing on to the lift for that very final run of the day and came no nearer to a cropper than losing my ski in very deep snow once (I think I was trying to turn on an azalea bush). It didn't hurt that Y-san has lent me a car for three days that is rather more intelligent than I am: I know how to read satnav but not to programme it enough for it to know where I want to go.

But I am back now. I have the place all to myself and can tell the cook just what I want for dinner or sit in various nooks and crannies to avail myself of the WiFi (they offered to lend me a laptop for the purpose but I'm not falling for that old one) and hop out the window for a naked stroll in the snow after my long, luxuriant bath.

It's 19:45 and I now have the rest of the evening to explore every inch of my surroundings. I could play pingpong, or raid the beer machine, or maybe rumple all the starched pillow cases in the linen room. So why is it I think I will just err go to sleep. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

 Enjoy work tomorrow.


Diarmad: 090116 20:18 PM This is serious. All alone up there. But hold on just a little longer.


We are all coming up to keep you company, and to keep you from going completely 100% bonkers by yourself. Everyone feels so sorry for you. We are also bringing DragonLady to serve you tea and mop your brow.


We will be there by MIDNIGHT. Meantime and by all means, you CAN raid the beer machine, and, yes, after a couple of cans, we all think it an excellent idea that you take a walk in the snow. Naked. Very refreshing so you can be ready for us.


So nice to be among friends don't you think? Don't go to sleep now!


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Friday, January 9, 2009

Faithful vs free translation


Meredith: You have something to read on the flight?

Harold: Do you think I could finish Tale of of Genji in 15 hours?

Meredith: Whose?

Harold: Seidensticker’s.

Meredith: You’ll go to sleep. It’s good, it’s faithful, he leaves nothing out. But…

Harold: But?

Meredith: If you took Waley’s translation you might go quicker.  He played fast and rather loose, cut a lot… I have a copy...

Harold: You mean it’s an adaptation. Maybe that’s what I need on a flight.

Meredith: But there's also this one.  Royall Tyler's version is sort of midway between faithful and free. lot… Take it if you want…


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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Getting a job

Good news!


Samantha: Did you hear? He did it! He got the job!

Guy: Fantastic. Amazing.

Samantha: Just graduated, economy’s in tatters and he’s snapped up by the first company he interviews with. We have to celebrate this.

Guy: Doesn’t it just make you feel like… feel like…

Samantha: Like kicking your heels up?

Guy: Or letting your hair down?

Samantha: Or…or… Can you think of another expression, a jubilant one, ending with a preposition?