• Now that I've been officially working for a generator manufacturer here in Shenzhen for a few days,after a couple of training sessions,as an insider,I now have a clearer picture of this industry and have also accumulated a number of tip-offs that offer you a rarfied glimpse into an industry you barely know much about.

    Here goes:

    Tip-off 1,this industry is blessed with fat margin of profits.They buy brand-name engines which is the core for any generator(because they often procure them from Joint ventures set up by world-famous engine producers here in China,such as Dongfeng-Cummins in Hubei province,they can get them at a "localized" price which is much lower than that in many other countries) ,reassemble,repolish,repackage them in their own assembly yard,affix their own brand,and then resell them at a much higher price.The profit margin is rarely seen in China manufacturing sector.The owner of the factory I work in is a primary school drop-out and he came to Shenzhen at the still tender age of 14.He now have a factory of his own manufacturing generators which have a turnover of over 100,000,000 RMB a year.He is only in his late 20s.See my point?Absolutely low-tech,definitely high-margin.

    Tip-off 2: The competition with this industry is deadly cutthroat.This tip-off is directly connected with,or shall we say,caused by the first tip-off.Apparently the competition could easily reach fever pitch if the barrier to entry is extremely low,which is exactly the case for this industry.You don't have to have your own R&D team and allocate a big chunk of your profit to research,all you need to do is to buy at competitive price and market at competitive price and see if the margin is fat enough for you.Such a fool-proof business opportunity soon attracts attention and renders a once lucrative industry overcrowded.

    The immediate consequences of this overcrowding is that the law of "survival of the fittest" soon kicks in.The infirm,the new comer,the lame would all be crowded out of the market by their mega rivals.These industry giants in turn grab the bigger market share and maintain their grip on the securer prospect of permanently enjoying fat profit margin.

    As an interesting anecdote,my boss once lamented that he would not dare to vigorously conduct too aggressive a publicity campaign,which is urgently needed for a "brand is all" industry,for fear that bigger competitors would turn predatory and destroy his business.He said he chose begrudgingly to lie low and wait.

    Tip-off 3: Brand loyalty is very powerful in this industry.This is an industry where once you bought a product of one brand,if there's no big configuration flaw,you would stick with the brand for the rest of your purchasing mission.This is the factor responsible for the strange cycle seen in this industry- if you secure more orders,you will secure yet more in the future;If you fail to secure any order at the beginning,unfortunately this adverse situation will most likely hold for longer time.

    The reason for this is obvious:Generators are among big-ticket items.Even the smallest one costs thousands of dollars.And the most possible buyers are from countries which have not a normally functioning power provision system,which is to say,most of them are poor or third-world countries,such as Bangladesh,India,and Nigeria etc.They buy from China for only one reason: affordability.For them the best deal shall have the best value for money.Before they place any order,They have to be absolutely sure that the products they buy is the best products from the most reliable suppliers.In other words,they can't afford to allow themselves too many choices.That's too much risk,They'd rather stick with the brand they once did business with and know these brands are at least reliable,if their products are not the best.Their economic constraint effectively diminishes their power to SHOP AROUND.Better safe than sorry is their guiding purchase policy.

    You have to understand them.

    Above are the tip-offs I've accumulated so far about the generator industry.This is by no means an exhaustive list of the whole industry dirty-little-secrets.If only it could inform and guide as it is intended,I will be greatly satisfied.

  • I've been thinking about this for a while,right since I started my job search this sepetember.

    I'm tired of filling typical nine-to-five job openings.Bore aside,it's an impasse,a dead end no tunnel vision would penetrate.

     I'm thinking about starting my own business and ideally it would be web-based.I mean it might be some website.I know I know Dot.com Boom have officially passed,with some not-so-savory corporate events in its wake.But I don't think the internet economy has any trouble supporting one more tiny entrepreneur.I'm not setting unrealistic goals like emulating Google.I just want to have a business of my own,which is modern,neat,swift and easy to handle.Website seems to be the most likely candidate.

       Like the one established and operated by Dane Carson,my American namesake,whose site www.business-opportunities.biz represents the ideal web-based business I've ever envisioned.

    Well-aimed and well-loved.Offer much-needed information that might also help others realize the dream of building their own business.

    Since it's useful,predictably there will be a large following online which in turn could generate some ads revenue which could sustain the operation of the website which would get only better which would attract more attention.Perfecly virtuous cycle.

    The best part of it yet is you don't have to be bound by the strict work-place rules.Don't have to rise early in order to rush to company and punch in on time.Don't have to work overtime because you backlog hasn't been cleared or just because boss told you to.Say goodbye to those things.You are now FREE!

     It's the state of being I'm aspiring to.It's the profession I'm enamored with.

    It's the work that I will never get sick and tired of.The job you could call me workaholic for while I'm not unhappy about.

    It's the sense of ownership.

    I will have to keep watching...

  • 2006-10-13

    scammer in Benin

    Well,well,well,so much for the legendary African scams.

     I identified an African scammer today.He is based in Benin.

    People are talking about Negeria scammers all over the world.They(scammers) claimed they are the next of kin of some freshly deceased millionair in their country,whose large fortune will only be released when you pay a small(comparatively) sum of transaction fee or bribe money to faciliate the processing.Or they may be the secretary of some newly dethroned high-ranking official of their government.Naturally they also need some small amount of money to grease someone's hand to get the money.On this enticing premise,you are invited to come aboard and pay the fee and share pro rata in the fortune successfully released.

    The one I encountered proclaim himself authorized agent for a certain "reputable" organization called "National Agency For Africa Development",(NAAD for short).He made it clear at the very beginning(the second email actually) that he would be interested in doing business with us and were willing to buy two cummins generators from us with the total price running well into 5 million US dollars.He instructed me to commit and issue Pro forma Invoice immediately with that "NAAD" organization.

    In international sales business,when you feel there's something fishy going on,there probably is.Especially when a deal is too good to be true.We never expect to get a deal done even after dozens of bargining interactions and lengthy exchange of techincal data.But in this case,they almost decided to come aboard right on the spot.Highly suspicious.

    So I did a little background check on google,which turns to be such a powerful self-service detective agency.And guess what?There're numerous red flags raised about this particular scammers around the world.A US importer all but fell for this scam.Some one in Ireland posted a long article targeted specifically at cracking this scam.Those scammers' next move,goes the expose,is to ask you to send some money to them to,again ,you guess it,facilitate the fund release from terminally corrupt African officials.They would even go so far as to furnish us with some exquisitely forged banking and legal papers to attest to the legitimacy of their request.

        I have decided to play with them for a while,just to see what's their next trick to pull.If they stick to the old trick,I'll suggest they try something new next time.If they do come up with a brand-new version,I'll play with them a little longer,to coax out more scam info from them.Then I'll post the specifics and mechanics of this latest scam onto the internet,to inform,to warn,and hopefully,to entertain.

                                

     

  • 2006-10-12

    can I pull it off?

    I'm now working part-time for a generator manufacturer,which is located far away from where I live.By part-time,I don't necessarily mean "You can work at home,at your own leisure".Nothing of that kind.I'll have to be there,only I don't have to adhere to the strigent rules there which regulates other "Regular" workers.In other words,I may work on my own schedule,but I'll have to work there.

     So here I am,typing those words on my office computer.Frankly,I don't like it here.People here are not very kind.And the boss is not as helpful as he promised he would be when he first talked with me.I have to learn my way into competency.

     Did I mention that I'm doing international sales?Well,that's what they want me for.TO sell diesel generators abroad.Before I came here,I thought sales would be good.I wouldn't have to work very hard before I could find some serious buyers and get some deals cut.There're so many places in the world that are in urgent need of power after all.Iraq,African regions and some parts of south eastern  Asia.Our products are as good as,if not better than those provided by other major suppliers here in China.Our pricing is also highly competitive.Lower than our rivals,if anything.And the fact is they are selling very well.All of those considerations have led me to believe,quite naively in hindsight,the hardship I'm going to endure here will be well worth it.

      I couldn't be more wrong.Sales performance here is as languid as it could possibly be.And the problem is there's no easy solution in sight.I've talked with their boss for a couple of times,about the marketing strategy,about the way to enhance the overseas recognition of our brand,which conceivably will improve our chances of receiving more attention.But as you know,it's always easier said than done.The hard part is always how to execute those visions and strategies.and execute effectively.

      Anyway,I'm not so confident about the situation here.I don't think it will change(for the better I mean) any time soon.Their boss seems to be looking for  a silver bullet for his overseas sales predicament,and fails to realize that there's no such a thing.I feel greatly stressed.All I can do here is help to identify the marketing flaws,if any and fix it,and intensify our pitching initiatives.Whether it's going to work or not,We'll have to see,with our fingers crossed....

        To be updated

  • 2006-10-06

    Ugly fad

  • 2006-10-06

    how come

    How Come
      
      A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he wants. A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't want.
      
      How Come
      
      A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband. A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.
      
      How Come
      
      A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man.
      
      How Come
      
      To be happy with a woman you must love her a lot. And not try to understand her at all.
      
      How Come
      
      Married men live longer than single men. But married men are a lot more willing to die.
      
      How Come
      
      Any married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing.
      
      How Come
      
      Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed. Women somehow deteriorate during the night.
      
      How Come
      
      A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't. A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change and she does.
      
      How Come
      
      A woman has the last word in any argument. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.
      
      How Come
      
      There are two times when a man doesn't understand a woman, before marriage and after marriage.
      
      How Come
      
      If a man talks dirty to a woman it's sexual harassment If a woman talks dirty to a man it's nine dollars a minute
  • 2006-10-04

    Hi,Crystal

    你好,Crystal.下面这片英文日志是送给你的.Read on to find out...

    This post is dedicated to a nice young lady,Crystal,Whose blog I came across the other day when searching online for something about apparel trend.She is with Fashionsnoops.com China office,an online fashion info web portal based in NYC,United states.

     To be more specific,one of her posts struck a chord with me.It's about urban loneliness,or rather,about human loneliess.Actually it isn't some kind of abstract piece that waxed philosophic,rather,it's very human,very emotional and very earthy.She talked about how she planned her national day holiday and mid-autumn festival(which happen to coincide) and how she spent the past ones alone and how she longed for company and true love....

      Chick stuff,you may argue.Well,in my view,it's genuine stuff,a bit sentimental,but very pleasantly sentimental.And very infectious.I mean,I was rendered a little BLUE after reading her post and started thinking,very seriously,about my life,my love,my future.....

     anyway,keep up your good work,crystal.I appreciate you.

    and by the way,If you ever visit here and read this post,I want to say,I also come from Anhui originally.So,we are LAO XIANG(fellow townsmen in Chinese).In chinese idioms,We should hug each other and cry out loud.(老乡见老乡,两眼泪汪汪).Haha...

                                                                                                                                Dane

  • My favorite washingtonpost columnist Mr Mallaby wrote a very trenchent piece today,as always.It's about the parallel and direct/positive relationship between immigration and development.A topic rarely conceived,much less discussed.But to me,it's point well made.

     It covers a wide range of today's hot issues:immigration,foreign aid,debt relief,development,guest-work program,charity organizations,brain-drain problem,you name it.

    and most importantly,it somehow manages to weave eloquently and brillantly those factors and issues into a neat tapestry,which is the big picture of what's really going on in the poor countries as well as in the rich ones,in terms of poverty reduction and development.It coolly and wisely teases out the insights of managing the headaches plaguing both worlds,which originate from much the same source,or cause-the uneven distribution of talents and resources.

    Mallaby's work is always a delight to read.It's clarity and uncanny ability to puzzle out the reasons from intricate context never fails to impress me,or rather,entrance me.

    Enjoy...

    Migrating To Modernity

    By Sebastian Mallaby
    Monday, September 18, 2006; A17

    After the terrorist attacks of 2001, voters understood that poor failed states could hurt them. President Bush launched a smart new foreign aid program and multiplied the U.S. commitment to fighting HIV-AIDS, and rich countries around the world boosted development spending. But our approach toward poor countries remains confined, idiotically, to the debt-aid-trade box. People don't see that other policies in rich countries have a major impact on poor ones.

    Consider immigration. Just about all rich countries are arguing about border enforcement, employer sanctions and so on, but nobody relates this stuff to the parallel arguments about development. Contemplating the noisy immigration politics in the United States, Gawain Kripke of Oxfam confesses, "we've been mostly bystanders in the debate, and I really regret that."

    Development charities such as Oxfam certainly should feel sorry. In " Let Their People Come ," a new book published by the Center for Global Development, Lant Pritchett reports that if rich countries permitted extra immigration equivalent to 3 percent of their labor force, the citizens of poor countries would gain about $300 billion a year. That's three times more than the direct gains from abolishing all remaining trade barriers, four times more than the foreign aid given by governments and 100 times more than the value of debt relief.

    It's true that there's a downside to immigration from poor countries. This isn't that it depresses wages in the United States; researchers find that this effect is small or nonexistent . Rather, it's that when doctors, nurses and other skilled people leave Africa, they hit the development process in its weak spot . A lack of trained workers is a more serious obstacle to poverty reduction than any lack of money.

    Still, Pritchett's numbers show that the development gains from migration swamp the brain-drain problem. For the migrants themselves, a ticket to the rich world is the fast track out of poverty: A laborer who moves from San Salvador to Phoenix can multiply his income without altering the type of work he does or how good he is at it. And this process benefits developing countries, too. Migrants send home remittances, which exceed aid flows and are probably more effective, since the migrants ensure that their hard-earned cash is used productively by relatives. After a few years the migrants may return home armed with savings and ideas. The brain drain becomes a brain gain.

    So migration ends up as a net plus for development. But a development-friendly migration debate would sound different from the current one. Immigration advocates in the rich world feel most comfortable making the case for allowing in skilled workers. Skilled migrants, however, trigger the biggest brain-drain concerns; allowing in unskilled workers does more to reduce global poverty. Equally, immigration advocates tend to want arriving workers to assimilate. But the best way to promote development is to allow a rolling cohort of poor workers to amass savings and experience -- and then return to their own countries.

    Many immigration experts insist that a guest-worker program isn't feasible: As the old saying goes, there's nothing more permanent than a temporary worker. This is where Pritchett gets really interesting. Germany's Turkish guest workers have put down roots, he concedes, but Singapore, Hong Kong and the Arab Gulf states have taken in vast numbers of foreign workers who leave after a few years. Perhaps this is only possible in authoritarian states? Pritchett's answer is partly no, and partly that there are worse things than authoritarianism.

    If the United States offered Mexico a million temporary work visas, it could attach conditions. It could stipulate that these workers be recruited by agencies in Mexico, which would screen candidates for criminal records, require minimal English skills -- and ensure repatriation. The agencies could do that, for example, by withholding some of the migrants' pay until they returned home. An agency that failed to bring people back could be ejected from the program.

    Enforcing repatriation would still require tough government action. The United States would have to decide what to do about migrants who marry Americans, which is one obvious way in which temporary guests turn permanent. Singapore deals with this problem by denying guest workers the right to marry citizens. That is beyond the pale, you say? But if desperately poor migrants accept the no-marriage condition in exchange for a visa, who are we to second-guess them?

    Pritchett is getting at a ticklish issue. Because the immigration debate is conducted without reference to development, it is couched in terms of American ideals; we don't want to let people in and then treat them harshly, for that would offend our own self-image. But if you bring development into the picture, it's obvious that extremely harsh poverty afflicts billions of people and that opportunities to alleviate this suffering are few and precious. An expanded temporary worker program is one such opportunity. If American ideals stand in its way, what does that say about them?

  • 2006-09-16

    hey,Dave!!!

    David Sedaris is definitely among my most favorite writers,living or dead,in English literature,seriously.I understand there're not so many people who think quite the same way.He is a self-proclaimed gay man,and he writes funny english,which seem to be teasing,parodying and vilifying(though not necessarily spitefully) eternally.In the grand hall of fame of english language,it's hard to imagine it ever having a place.But I'm no Literary critic,nor do I want to.To my mind,pieces that delight,inspire,titillate,stimulate,entertain,enlighten are all great pieces.Sedaris's work is reflective of some,if not all,of the qualities I listed offhand above.

    The hell with it!I don't know why I EVEN bother to explain!I just love the way this guy wrote,LIKE IT OR NOT!SCUMBAG!!!!

    well,turns out I'm more than just fond of this guy,I'm subtly Sedarised....

    Here his latest New Yorker Piece,enjoy!

    IN THE WAITING ROOM
    by DAVID SEDARIS

    Six months after moving to Paris, I gave up on French school and decided to take the easy way out. All I ever said was “Could you repeat that?” And for what? I rarely understood things the second time around, and when I did it was usually something banal, the speaker wondering how I felt about toast, or telling me that the store would close in twenty minutes. All that work for something that didn’t really matter, and so I began saying, “D’accord,” which translates to “I am in agreement,” and means, basically, “O.K.” The word was a key to a magic door, and every time I said it I felt the thrill of possibility.

    D’accord,” I told the concierge, and the next thing I knew I was sewing the eye onto a stuffed animal belonging to her granddaughter. “D’accord,” I said to the dentist, and she sent me to a periodontist, who took some X-rays and called me into his conference room for a little talk. “D’accord,” I said, and a week later I returned to his office, where he sliced my gums from top to bottom and scraped great deposits of plaque from the roots of my teeth. If I’d had any idea that this was going to happen, I’d never have said d’accord to my French publisher, who’d scheduled me the following evening for a television appearance. It was a weekly cultural program, and very popular. I followed the pop star Robbie Williams, and, as the producer settled me into my chair, I ran my tongue over my stitches. It was like having a mouthful of spiders—spooky, but it gave me something to talk about on TV, and for that I was grateful.

    I said d’accord to a waiter, and received a pig’s nose standing erect on a bed of tender greens. I said it to a woman in a department store and walked away drenched in cologne. Every day was an adventure.

    When I got a kidney stone, I took the Métro to a hospital, and said, “D’accord,” to a cheerful red-headed nurse, who led me to a private room and hooked me up to a Demerol drip. That was undoubtedly the best that d’accord got me, and it was followed by the worst. After the stone had passed, I spoke to a doctor, who filled out an appointment card and told me to return the following Monday, when we would do whatever it was I’d just agreed to. “D’accord,” I said, and then I supersized it with “génial,” which means “great.”

    On the day of my appointment, I returned to the hospital, where I signed the register and was led by a slightly less cheerful nurse to a large dressing room. “Strip to your underwear,” she told me, and I said, “D’accord.” As the woman turned to leave, she said something else, and, looking back, I really should have asked her to repeat it, to draw a picture, if that’s what it took, because once you take your pants off d’accord isn’t really O.K. anymore.

    There were three doors in the dressing room, and after removing my clothes I put my ear against each one, trying to determine which was the safest for someone in my condition. The first was loud, with lots of ringing telephones, so that was out. The second didn’t sound much different, and so I chose the third, and entered a brightly painted waiting room furnished with plastic chairs and a glass-topped table stacked high with magazines. A potted plant stood in the corner, and beside it was a second door, which was open and led into a hallway.

    I took a seat and had been there for a minute or so when a couple came in and filled two of the unoccupied chairs. The first thing I noticed was that they were fully dressed, and nicely, too—no sneakers or sweatsuits for them. The woman wore a nubby gray skirt that fell to her knees and matched the fabric of her husband’s sports coat. Their black hair, which was obviously dyed, formed another match, but looked better on her than it did on him—less vain, I supposed.

    Bonjour,” I said, and it occurred to me that possibly the nurse had mentioned something about a robe, perhaps the one that had been hanging in the dressing room. I wanted more than anything to go back and get it, but, if I did, the couple would see my mistake. They’d think I was stupid, so to prove them wrong I decided to remain where I was and pretend that everything was normal. La la la.

    It’s funny the things that run through your mind when you’re sitting in your underpants in front of a pair of strangers. Suicide comes up, but, just as you embrace it as a viable option, you remember that you don’t have the proper tools: no belt to wrap around your neck, no pen to drive through your nose or ear and up into your brain. I thought briefly of swallowing my watch, but there was no guarantee I’d choke on it. It’s embarrassing, but, given the way I normally eat, it would probably go down fairly easily, strap and all. A clock might be a challenge, but a Timex the size of a fifty-cent piece, no problem.


    The man with the dyed black hair pulled a pair of glasses from his jacket pocket, and as he unfolded them I recalled a summer evening in my parents’ back yard. This was thirty-five years ago, a dinner for my sister Gretchen’s tenth birthday. My father grilled steaks. My mother set the picnic table with insect-repelling candles, and just as we started to eat she caught me chewing a hunk of beef the size of a coin purse. Gorging always set her off, but on this occasion it bothered her more than usual.

    “I hope you choke to death,” she said.

    I was twelve years old, and paused, thinking, Did I hear her correctly?

    “That’s right, piggy, suffocate.”

    In that moment, I hoped that I would choke to death. The knot of beef would lodge itself in my throat, and for the rest of her life my mother would feel haunted and responsible. Every time she passed a steak house, or browsed the meat counter of a grocery store, she would think of me and reflect upon what she had said—the words “hope” and “death” in the same sentence. But, of course, I hadn’t choked. Instead, I had lived and grown to adulthood, so that I could sit in this waiting room dressed in nothing but my underpants. La la la.

    It was around this time that two more people entered. The woman looked to be in her mid-fifties, and accompanied an elderly man who was, if anything, overdressed: a suit, a sweater, a scarf, and an overcoat, which he removed with great difficulty, every button a challenge. Give it to me, I thought. Over here. But he was deaf to my telepathy, and handed his coat to the woman, who folded it over the back of her chair. Our eyes met for a moment—hers widening as they moved from my face to my chest—and then she picked a magazine off the table and handed it to the elderly man, who I now took to be her father. She then selected a magazine of her own, and as she turned the pages I allowed myself to relax a little. She was just a woman reading a copy of Paris Match, and I was just the person sitting across from her. True, I had no clothes on, but maybe she wouldn’t dwell on that, maybe none of these people would. The old man, the couple with their matching hair: “How was the hospital?” their friends might ask, and they’d answer, “Fine,” or “Oh, you know, the same.”

    “Did you see anything fucked up?”

    “No, not that I can think of.”

    It sometimes helps to remind myself that not everyone is like me. Not everyone writes things down in a notebook, and then transcribes them into a diary. Fewer still will take that diary, clean it up a bit, and read it in front of an audience: “March 14th. Paris. Went with Dad to the hospital, where we sat across from a man in his underpants. They were briefs, not boxers, a little on the gray side, the elastic slack from too many washings. I later said to Father, ‘Other people have to use those chairs, too, you know,’ and he agreed that it was unsanitary.

    “Odd little guy, creepy. Hair on his shoulders. Big idiot smile plastered on his face, just sitting there, mumbling to himself.”

    How conceited I am to think I might be remembered, especially in a busy hospital where human misery is a matter of course. If any of these people did keep a diary, their day’s entry would likely have to do with a diagnosis, some piece of news either inconvenient or life-altering: the liver’s not a match, the cancer has spread to the spinal column. Compared with that, a man in his underpants is no more remarkable than a dust-covered plant, or the magazine- subscription card lying on the floor beside the table. Then, too, good news or bad, these people would eventually leave the hospital and return to the streets, where any number of things might wipe me from their memory.


    Perhaps on their way home they’ll see a dog with a wooden leg, which I saw myself one afternoon. It was a German shepherd, and his prosthesis looked as though it had been made from a billy club. The network of straps holding the leg in place was a real eyeopener, but stranger still was the noise it made against the floor of the subway car, a dull thud that managed to sound both plaintive and forceful at the same time. Then there was the dog’s owner, who looked at his pet and then at me, with an expression reading, “That’s O.K. I took care of it.”

    Or maybe they’ll run into something comparatively small yet no less astonishing. I was walking to the bus stop one morning and came upon a well-dressed woman lying on the sidewalk in front of an office-supply store. A small crowd had formed, and just as I joined it a fire truck pulled up. In America, if someone dropped to the ground, you’d call an ambulance, but in France it’s the firemen who do most of the rescuing. There were four of them, and, after checking to see that the woman was O.K., one of them returned to the truck and opened the door. I thought he was looking for an aluminum blanket, the type they use for people in shock, but instead he pulled out a goblet. Anywhere else it would have been a cup, made of paper or plastic, but this was glass, and had a stem. I guess they carry it around in the front seat, next to the axes or whatever.

    The fireman filled the goblet with bottled water, and then he handed it to the woman, who was sitting up now and running her hand over her hair, the way one might when waking from a nap. It was the lead story in my diary that night, but, no matter how hard I fiddled with it, I felt something was missing. Had I mentioned that it was autumn? Did the leaves on the sidewalk contribute to my sense of utter delight, or was it just the goblet, and the dignity it bespoke: “Yes, you may be on the ground; yes, this drink may be your last—but let’s do it right, shall we?”

    Everyone has his own standards, but, in my opinion, a sight like that is at least fifty times better than what I was providing. A goblet will keep you going for years, while a man in his underpants is good for maybe two days, a week at the most. Unless, of course, you are the man in his underpants, in which case it will probably stay with you for the rest of your life—not on the tip of your mind, not handy like a phone number, but still within easy reach, like a mouthful of steak, or a dog with a wooden leg. How often you’ll think of the cold plastic chair, and of the nurse’s face as she passes the room and discovers you with your hands between your knees. Such surprise, such amusement as she proposes some new adventure, then stands there, waiting for your “d’accord.”

  • I come across an amazing translation/interpretation website today.It boasts this hugh database of english glossories sorted by industry,which may come in handy next time I'M assigned to translate something.

    Here is the URL:  http://www.i-bbw.org/bbs/index.php?showforum=4 .

  • 2006-09-13

    spy or what?

    I went to shenzhen talent job fair today.While there,I noticed there were two foreigners snapping away at the scene of swarming job-hunters  pushing and shoving around them with a digital camera.My gal suggest I go up and ask what they are doing there.I demurred patiently,explaining that foreigners don't appreciated other people minding their business.My gal retorted:"why?You could just insinuate your message and coax their answer out of them!"To which I gave no for an answer.

      Secretly though I think those two guys might be with some foreign news agency or sth,and they are assigned to shoot some pictures of Chinese job markets.Perhaps some analyst is writing an article about China's economic trend,and since employment index is an important barometer of economic performance and drive,he wants some fresh stuff from Chinese job market as corroborative footnotes.Hence this pic mission....

  • 2006-09-06

    American Dummy?

      

  • Here is the letter I sent to Mr Stephen J Dubner,the co-author of Freakonomics the other day,about an intriguing phenomenon I observed here in China.Hopefully he would be interested and kind enough to post it on the website he maintained for the said bestselling book.It would be better if he would comment  a little on it,from economic and journalistic perspective.Here goes:

     

     

    Dear Mr Dubner:

       Here in China I found a very curious and interesting thing the other day,I thought you might also be intrigued.It's about some of the sales practices conducted by Chinese supermarkets,and I wonder if it's an universal practice all over the world afer all.that is,They will not sell you more than 2 jin of eggs at a time.Bewildered,I approached the sales clerk around the egg section demanding an explanation,cuz it seems like they are depriving us customers our perfectly legitimate rights to purchase whatever we want,at  whatever quantity that suits our needs.I mean who give them right to ration our supplies of eggs.We may be socialist planning economy once,but we have long since scrapped it and crossed over into market-oriented system which is now in super-high gear.Food rationing has OFFICIALLY become a thing of the past.Then what's this 2-jin-per-person cap?A extremist socialist throwback?Well,turns out it's right the opposite.Instead of socialism running rampant again,it's actually capitalism at it's most efficient work.They supermarkets decide to cap the egg supply to customers as a competitor-screening method.Translation:1.they provide eggs ,quality eggs,to customers,at a very competitive price;after all,that's what supermarkets are all about:good goods could be bought at low price.2.Customers at large emcompass a lot of small sub-groups-including but not limited to,small vendors that could find a second business chance here,that being Repackaging and reselling the eggs purchased cheaply at supermarkets to still other customers,at a profit.3.if supermarkets leave this unchecked and don't impose any supply cap,some of their potential egg customers willl be lost to the ubiqitous vendors,the conveniene offered by whom often trump urban customers' consideration of a few more cents per egg they have to pay.

      So supermarket are forced to fall back on the not-so-effective supply capping strategy,in the hope of screening potential competitors and stemming the flow of Cheap eggs being resold at their expences,quite literally.

     

                  Hope you enjoy this,both as a ROGUE economic journalist and as a,well,hopefully,egg buyer.

    URL of the website of the book:   www.freakonomics.com/blog.

  • We don't have to be moved to be Moved....

    By Dane Cao

    Get bewildered by the title huh?

    Here is the story:This noon I watch a documentary program on CCTV news channel,entitled "To Forgo".It's about this youngman in China's southwestern Yunnan province(a world-famous tourism resort best known for Shangri-La) who chose to forgo other kind-hearted people's offer of assistance for him to go to college when he decided he had received enough of it and tried to divert the offers that keeps pouring in to other kids in need.It' something highly respectable and sure is touching.Not for the act per se,but for the context from which it stands out;Times have changed.Money is everything.But this kid stick to the old value system:to embrace kind assistance with gratification,enjoyment and gratitude.and what's more,he acquired the all-too-rare "pay-it-forward" mentality,never forgetting to try and help those who is also in need,even when he is barely better off.I admit,I was overwhelmed with emotions when I watched this,especically when I heard that his family has been heavily in debt in order to pay his and his sister's tuition fees over the past few years,which makes the outside donations all the more enticing.Even his parents relented.But the kid wouldn't budge.For once,When I see a guy refuse monetary aid,I didn't call him a lunatic.This time,I look like one.His unselfishness and stoicism  most assuredly put my self-centredness and greed to shame.

       But My reason was not in full retreat.'put it into perspective",I remind myself.Keep an open mind about this issue.Think further out and broadly and try to get the big picture.

      Try to get the big one I DID.Only then did I realize there're a lot of unsettling messages in that show than I previously thought.What that kid did is truly exemplary and outstanding,but why there're still many offers pouring in even after he made it clear that he had plodded through his hard times and needed no further outside aid?(A college located in TianJin China has offered to waiver the four-year tuition fees for him if he chooes to go there,where he did go;And a middle-aged woman in Shanghai asked to offer him 300 RMB each month to cover his meals and lodging expenses,which he also accepted).After watching the program and being moved myself,I venture to suggest that the kid KNEW HOW TO draw SYMPATHY.Not like he could help it.He is just that way,FORTUNATELY.The way he looks,the way he carries himself,how he packed each sentence with emotions and sentiment,how he show effusively his gratitude,all of these help to project an image of a polite,soft-spoken,driven and dedicated youngman,on whom the philanthropic investment seems to be a wise one to anyone.So in short,he is natural human catalyst for human sympathy.When he add respectableness(which is inspired by his refusal of other monetary offers and cordial introductio of other kids in need) to that already-strong sympathy,People tend to react with outpouring of compassion,which most conveniently takes the from of finantial aid.

      There's nothing wrong with this of course.To quote a potential donor whose offer has been preempted,'it's still such a good thing that there're so many people out there trying to help you out".But the unsettling thing is,we seem to have given the money because we are moved,which amounts to tossing coins into the clown's hat after a circus show.Only in that case,Whole-heated laughter takes the place of heart-breaking pity in this case.And it is not right.We lend our hand because someone might need our help,and we might make their lives earsier and livable.We offer our help not because someone has put on a wonderful show,wittingly or unwittingly,which happens to play to human's primitive sympathies.Our kind-hearted donations shall not be a thinly-veiled "admission fee" or tips or something of that calibre,but rather the genuine token of our care and concern for those deprived and underprivileged,of our love of human dignity.

         Again in this regard,the 'actor" of this show leads by example.As I earlier mentioned,he tried to divert those "misplaced" donations to other kids who are crying for help but unfortunate enough not to have been noticed and pitied.He is literally telling everybody who liked to show their ability to shed tears more than their capability to give love,thank you for your concern for me,I now need you to show true love,which shall be boundless and earmarked,to the ones who need it the most.This bold suggestion he made,of all things,is the reason why I am truly moved,I finally realized.This lesson for HELPERS has come from the person we least expect it to come from-the HELPED.An irony,but a very constructive irony.

       we renounce favortism in politics,in workplace,in marketplace.But we don't realize in some cause as noble as showing love and giving help.we let it slip.We rush to try to help a single "truly pitiable" victim,but fail to reach out to a vast number of other disadvantaged out there.Not see the forest for the trees,as they say.

         Love is blind.How I wish it was...

          

  • check out this interesting site for an unique fund managing firm Marketocracy(www.maketocracy.com)

    they don't rely on professional investing wisdom but rather on the intuitive(but uncanny indeed in most of the cases) knacks of regular folks to make speculative bets.Visceral Vs Cerebral.Khkis Vs Pinstripe.

      Result? Amazing! Those financial laymen,outsiders and nobodies all out perform the market and thus outperform their sleek professional counterparts.

    Lesson? A lot.

    1.the myth about speculative investment is debunked.There's no such a thing like "rich investment expertise and skills).

    2.Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling Nonfiction Book "blink" recommended.

    3.trust yourself,your knowledge,your experience,you insight and most of all, your intuition. It pays.

    4.when talking to a professional broker,don't let his fancy linbos intimidate or fool you.Throw in the questions that pop up in your mind spontaneously.Never fear to challenge him,Cuz chances are you might be the right one.

    5.it is not to say,financial professionals will have to be made redundant.It's hardly the thing I mean.They are not to be.They might still be very effective,they are just not magic.Their sound financial knowledge,excellent analytical skills and remarkable executive power will all come in handy when the right occasions call for them.so take heart,Morgans!

    Last but not least,the web-based model.The truly amazing thing about this is not,as all too often assumed,the convenience it might offer to the clientele,but the collective wisdom it manages to tap and utilize.Look around,how many companies could be as strong as they are today had the internet era not come along?Hardly conceivable!

                   Anyway,this would also make perfect practicing field for those interested in the investment,especically Intuitive investement.Like my friend,Morgan.

                      Have fun and have a productive career.

      

  •  

  • Pride issue

    -a whole new perspective on Lebanon-Israel war

    By Dane Cao    People’s Republic of China

      Now that the Lebanon-Israel war has been raging for a while,and there’s no sign of abating,I reckon it’s about time for me to say a thing or two about this ongoing bloody conflict.What do I think is the origin of it,what do I make of the whole event,where in my opinion will this strife go and what should the international community do to tone down or even dissipate the tension that keeps driving wars between two groups concerned.

       When we talk about Israel,the words “Jewish” and “Zionist” pop to mind of its own accord.Why is this?Is there anything special about those words except that they are somewhat exotic-sounding?To state the obvious,They are basically useless,or pretty much the least frequently used words in our everyday lives.You don’t use them when you are at dinner table with your family or with friends,you don’t use them when you travel around the world meeting different kinds of people and cultures;I mean,They are not “Ni Hao” in Chinese,or “Foie Gras” in French,for god’s sake.But why,why are they still so attached to our mind,so much so that whenever Israel is mentioned,they are invoked almost instantly?

       The answer,I think,is because of Israel’s undying projection of ethnic image,a relentless bombardment of identity consciousness onto people’s minds.Simply put,they are so historically marginalized that they almost compulsively and desperately want to be recognized as a legitimate ethnic group once their own country was founded,which is,of course,Israel.They think there are too many misunderstandings or biases,about their nationality,and all those misconceptions deserve to be cleared up once and for all when they,as a nation,are capable of disseminating necessary amount of information(or arguably misinformation) to the world audience.Of course,They made it;Those key words for Israeli identity somehow stuck in people’s mind.

       The origin of Middleeast feud,is not driven by oil,is not even driven by land,it’s driven by  a strong Arab backlash against just as strong an ethnic identity complex,which is enshrined in every administration of Israeli government and deep-rooted in Israeli national consciousness.

       The problem.I think,is not in the information itself;The problem is,Israel chose a wrong place to Launch its information campaign(the wrong place to settle down,that is).If you consider Israeli’s ethnic identity campaign as a sharp lance swirling around the globe,then you can also clearly see a giant Arabian curved sword being raised up resolutely to clash with it.Yes,the Arab world,the world’s one and only place where the religious and ethnical piety reaches the point of exclusivity,the world’s one and only place that feverishly believe in a religion which metes out punishments as immediate and “unreligious” as “beheading”,as opposed to eventual poetic justice and tolerance espoused by world’s other main religions.In a word,when you try to talk a nationality as self-righteous and ruthless as Arabs into believing that there are other sacred people and places in the world than the one they believe they exclusively pride themselves upon,you risk insulting the whole Arab world.For thousands of years,history tells us,Arab world is better left unprovoked.If it thinks it’s the heavenly kingdom,so be it.Everybody knows better,but what’s the point of pressing the point?They Arabs live for honor,die for honor,which an expedient acquiescence from the saner world could supply aplenty.Why not do it and let them leave us alone?

       I sure have no problem with Israelis’ de-smearing .It’s perfectly legitimate and long overdue,I have to admit.But there’s a fine line to walk here for their grand cause.Too aggressively pushing for restoration of Jewish grace would inevitably squeeze the neighboring Arabs’ puffed-up ego;And don’t forget there’s also a holy city at stake here.As far as I know,Jews and Arabs all lay emphatic claim on Jerusalem in observance of their respective religious-ethnic festivals.The status quo is each grabs half to festoon when holidays roll around.Jewish people might not care,for they have nothing in the past;Half of holy city suits them just fine.But Arabs are not so easy to satisfy.They’ve seen better,far better.They have never been made so “pathetic” as to have half a holy city to control and revere,never before.This spiritual buise is far more poisonous than the physical loss of half a city.Frustration begets resentment,which breeds revenge mentality,which fatally plunge the whole Arab world into a seemlingly eternal warfare.

     To be continued

  • 2006-07-31

    Ole' Henry Is Back

    Ole Henry is back.Not to Active political sphere of course,for as the spirit is willing the flesh is weak;But rather,to mainstream public opinion forum,under the auspice of Washington Post.Today’s Post run a piece of insicive political column by Henry Kissinger,the political wizard who was widely praised for pulling off the seemingly impossible mission of bring Red China around at the end of 1970s.When the Lebanon and Israel crisis are in High gear,when international community is at a loss as to what is the next move to take,when the so-called Deplomacy Six failed to come up with any rational and clear-minded strategy to deal with the crisis,Old Henry,as always,jumped out from No where,and magically,decisively pulled a bottle of wonder brew,which he claims to be the only sensible and feasible way out for the ongoing bloody strife.

      Truth be told,it’s the first ever article I’ve read by Old Henry.Heretofore I’ve heard a lot about his sharp wit,inscrutable decisiveness and in most of the cases,uncanny prophecy.After reading this little piece,I feel compelled to add one attribute:abstruseness.I spend almost half an hour finishing,much less fully digesting,the whole article.But the true essence of his argument is nonetheless loud and clear:Think more broadly,act more decisively,push more smartly.Only in such manners can Iran issue,which is believed to be the underlying motivation for Lebanon crisis and driving force for Islamic-western rancour,be solved once and for all.To me,those suggestions put forward by Old Henry are clearly the echoes of his own personality:sharp,decisive and smart.Any take anyone?

     

    Negotiations Must Go Beyond the Nuclear Threat to Broader Issues

    By Henry A. Kissinger

    Monday, July 31, 2006; Page A15

    The world's attention is focused on the fighting in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, but the context leads inevitably back to Iran. Unfortunately, the diplomacy dealing with that issue is constantly outstripped by events. While explosives are raining on Lebanese and Israeli towns and Israel reclaims portions of Gaza, the proposal to Iran in May by the so-called Six (the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China) for negotiations on its nuclear weapons program still awaits an answer. It's possible that Tehran reads the almost pleading tone of some communications addressed to it as a sign of weakness and irresolution. Or perhaps the violence in Lebanon has produced second thoughts among the mullahs about the risks of courting and triggering crisis.

    However the tea leaves are read, the current Near Eastern upheaval could become a turning point. Iran may come to appreciate the law of unintended consequences. For their part, the Six can no longer avoid dealing with the twin challenges that Iran poses. On the one hand, the quest for nuclear weapons represents Iran's reach for modernity via the power symbol of the modern state; at the same time, this claim is put forward by a fervent kind of religious extremism that has kept the Muslim Middle East unmodernized for centuries. This conundrum can be solved without conflict only if Iran adopts a modernism consistent with international order and a view of Islam compatible with peaceful coexistence.

    Heretofore the Six have been vague about their response to an Iranian refusal to negotiate, except for unspecific threats of sanctions through the United Nations Security Council. But if a deadlock between strained forbearance by the Six and taunting invective from the Iranian president leads to de facto acquiescence in the Iranian nuclear program, prospects for multilateral international order will dim everywhere. If the permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany are unable jointly to achieve goals to which they have publicly committed themselves, every country, especially those composing the Six, will face growing threats, be they increased domestic pressure from radical Islamic groups, terrorist acts or the nearly inevitable conflagrations sparked by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

    The analogy of such a disaster is not Munich, when the democracies yielded the German-speaking part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler, but the response when Mussolini invaded Abyssinia. At Munich, the democracies thought that Hitler's demands were essentially justified by the principle of self-determination; they were repelled mostly by his methods. In the Abyssinian crisis, the nature of the challenge was uncontested. By a vast majority, the League of Nations voted to treat the Italian adventure as aggression and to impose sanctions. But they recoiled before the consequences of their insight and rejected an oil embargo, which Italy would have been unable to overcome. The league never recovered from that debacle. If the six-nation forums dealing with Iran and North Korea suffer comparable failures, the consequence will be a world of unchecked proliferation, not controlled by either governing principles or functioning institutions.

    A modern, strong, peaceful Iran could become a pillar of stability and progress in the region. This cannot happen unless Iran's leaders decide whether they are representing a cause or a nation -- whether their basic motivation is crusading or international cooperation. The goal of the diplomacy of the Six should be to oblige Iran to confront this choice.

    Diplomacy never operates in a vacuum. It persuades not by the eloquence of its practitioners but by assembling a balance of incentives and risks. Clausewitz's famous dictum that war is a continuation of diplomacy by other means defines both the challenge and the limits of diplomacy. War can impose submission; diplomacy needs to evoke consensus. Military success enables the victor in war to prescribe, at least for an interim period. Diplomatic success occurs when the principal parties are substantially satisfied; it creates -- or should strive to create -- common purposes, at least regarding the subject matter of the negotiation; otherwise no agreement lasts very long. The risk of war lies in exceeding objective limits; the bane of diplomacy is to substitute process for purpose. Diplomacy should not be confused with glibness. It is not an oratorical but a conceptual exercise. When it postures for domestic audiences, radical challenges are encouraged rather than overcome.

    It is often asserted that what is needed in relation to Iran is a diplomacy comparable to that which, in the 1970s, moved China from hostility to cooperation with the United States. But China was not persuaded by skillful diplomacy to enter this process. Rather, China was brought, by a decade of escalating conflict with the Soviet Union, to a conviction that the threat to its security came less from capitalist America than from the growing concentration of Soviet forces on its northern borders. Clashes of Soviet and Chinese military forces along the Ussuri River accelerated Beijing's retreat from the Soviet alliance.

    The contribution of American diplomacy was to understand the significance of these events and to act on that knowledge. The Nixon administration did not convince China that it needed to change its priorities. Its role was to convince China that implementing its strategic necessities was safe and would enhance China's long-term prospects. It did so by concentrating the diplomatic dialogue on fundamental geopolitical objectives, while keeping some contentious items in abeyance. The Shanghai Communique of 1972, the first Sino-U.S. communique, symbolized this process. Contrary to established usage, it listed a series of continuing disagreements as a prelude to the key common objective of preventing hegemonic aspirations of unnamed third parties -- clearly implying the Soviet Union.

    The challenge of the Iranian negotiation is far more complex. For two years before the opening to China, the two sides had engaged in subtle, reciprocal, symbolic and diplomatic actions to convey their intentions. In the process, they had tacitly achieved a parallel understanding of the international situation, and China opted for seeking to live in a cooperative world.

    Nothing like that has occurred between Iran and the United States. There is not even an approximation of a comparable world view. Iran has reacted to the American offer to enter negotiations with taunts, and has inflamed tensions in the region. Even if the Hezbollah raids from Lebanon into Israel and the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers were not planned in Tehran, they would not have occurred had their perpetrators thought them inconsistent with Iranian strategy. In short, Iran has not yet made the choice of the world it seeks -- or it has made the wrong choice from the point of view of international stability. The crisis in Lebanon could mark a watershed if it confers a sense of urgency to the diplomacy of the Six and a note of realism to the attitudes in Tehran.

    Up to now Iran has been playing for time. The mullahs apparently seek to accumulate as much nuclear capability as possible so that, even were they to suspend enrichment, they would be in a position to use the threat of resuming their weapons effort as a means to enhance their clout in the region.

    Given the pace of technology, patience can easily turn into evasion. The Six will have to decide how serious they will be in insisting on their convictions. Specifically, the Six will have to be prepared to act decisively before the process of technology makes the objective of stopping uranium enrichment irrelevant. Well before that point is reached, sanctions will have to be agreed on. To be effective, they must be comprehensive; halfhearted, symbolic measures combine the disadvantage of every course of action. Interallied consultations must avoid the hesitation that the League of Nations conveyed over Abyssinia. We must learn from the North Korean negotiations not to engage in a process involving long pauses to settle disagreements within the administration and within the negotiating group, while the other side adds to its nuclear potential. There is equal need, on the part of America's partners, for decisions permitting them to pursue a parallel course.

    A suspension of enrichment of uranium should not be the end of the process. A next step should be the elaboration of a global system of nuclear enrichment to take place in designated centers around the world under international control -- as proposed for Iran by Russia. This would ease implications of discrimination against Iran and establish a pattern for the development of nuclear energy without a crisis with each entrant into the nuclear field.

    President Bush has announced America's willingness to participate in the discussions of the Six with Iran to prevent emergence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. But it will not be possible to draw a line between nuclear negotiations and a comprehensive review of Iran's overall relations to the rest of the world.

    The legacy of the hostage crisis, the decades of isolation and the messianic aspect of the Iranian regime represent huge obstacles to such a diplomacy. If Tehran insists on combining the Persian imperial tradition with contemporary Islamic fervor, then a collision with America -- and, indeed, with its negotiating partners of the Six -- is unavoidable. Iran simply cannot be permitted to fulfill a dream of imperial rule in a region of such importance to the rest of the world.

    At the same time, an Iran concentrating on the development of the talents of its people and the resources of its country should have nothing to fear from the United States. Hard as it is to imagine that Iran, under its present president, will participate in an effort that would require it to abandon its terrorist activities or its support for such instruments as Hezbollah, the recognition of this fact should emerge from the process of negotiation rather than being the basis for a refusal to negotiate. Such an approach would imply the redefinition of the objective of regime change, providing an opportunity for a genuine change in direction by Iran, whoever is in power.

    It is important to express such a policy in precise objectives capable of transparent verification. A geopolitical dialogue is not a substitute for an early solution of the nuclear enrichment crisis. That must be addressed separately, rapidly and firmly. But a great deal depends on whether a strong stand on that issue is understood as the first step in the broader invitation to Iran to return to the wider world.

    In the end, the United States must be prepared to vindicate its efforts to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapons program. For that reason, America has an obligation to explore every honorable alternative.
  • Forgive, sounds good.
    Forget, I'm not sure I could.
    They say time heals everything,
    But I'm still waiting

    I'm through, with doubt,
    There's nothing left for me to figure out,
    I've paid a price, and i'll keep paying

    I'm not ready to make nice,
    I'm not ready to back down,
    I'm still mad as hell
    And I don't have time
    To go round and round and round
    It's too late to make it right
    I probably wouldn't if I could
    Cause I'm mad as hell
    Can't bring myself to do what it is
    You think I should

    I know you said
    Why can't you just get over it,
    It turned my whole world around
    and i kind of like it

    I made by bed, and I sleep like a baby,
    With no regrets and I don't mind saying,
    It's a sad sad story
    That a mother will teach her daughter
    that she ought to hate a perfect stranger.
    And how in the world
    Can the words that I said
    Send somebody so over the edge
    That they'd write me a letter
    Saying that I better shut up and sing
    Or my life will be over

    I'm not ready to make nice,
    I'm not ready to back down,
    I'm still mad as hell
    And I don't have time
    To go round and round and round
    It's too late to make it right
    I probably wouldn't if I could
    Cause I'm mad as hell
    Can't bring myself to do what it is
    You think I should

    I'm not ready to make nice,
    I'm not ready to back down,
    I'm still mad as hell
    And I don't have time
    To go round and round and round
    It's too late to make it right
    I probably wouldn't if I could
    Cause I'm mad as hell
    Can't bring myself to do what it is
    You think I should

    Forgive, sounds good.
    Forget, I'm not sure I could.
    They say time heals everything,
    But I'm still waiting
     

                                   Straight from their latest album"taking the long way"

                                                                             courtesy Dixie Chicks

  • On mature consideration,I finally decide to relocate..

    more to come later,keep your eyes peeled..

  • TV's Rare Bird
    Networks Don't Know What to Do With Functional Families, Except Ignore Them

    By Teresa Wiltz
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, May 21, 2006; N01

    There's an increasingly endangered species on modern television: functional marrieds. That is, cool functional marrieds. Where are the connubially contented, the happily hitched, the well-wedded? No, not the too-blissed-out-to-be-true couplings of the Huxtables or the Cleavers -- or even the Camdens of "7th Heaven" -- but unions reflecting a new, non-psychotic reality: couples grappling with dirty kitchens, sibling slugfests and whose turn is it to do the after-school pickup thing. Couples dealing with daily power plays and tender snuggles, quotidian negotiations and the unvarnished intimacy of morning breath.

    Why should we care that functional marrieds are MIA? Because they make for compelling television. Never mind Tolstoy's assertion about the yawn factor inherent in happy families. The average American marriage, even a happy one, with all its byzantine bargainings and convoluted compromises, has enough drama to fuel many fabulous seasons of must-see TV. But this past week, as the networks announced their fall lineups, it's clear that we won't be seeing many functional marrieds anytime soon.

    Indeed, the only shows out there in which realistic couples tackle the drama of everyday life are dressed up in fancy plot apparel: NBC's "Medium," in its second season, with a wife who talks to dead people for a living; HBO's shining star "The Sopranos," with a husband who makes dead people for a living; and the more-is-more polygamy of HBO newcomer "Big Love." Marriage -- moody, messy -- is largely missing from TV.

    Marriage was never messy back in the days of June and Ward Cleaver, notwithstanding Jackie Gleason's bellowing about sending Alice to the moon. There were no internecine power struggles, next to no wives working outside the home, no dishes piled high in the sink, no squalling tykes. Life's complexities were wrapped up in a tidy 30 minutes -- and Pops always knew best, or at least Mom let him think that. Marriage, as perpetrated by the likes of the Jetsons and the Bradys, bore little resemblance to the real world.

    We're way too cynical for a return to those days, but where is the middle-class angst of "thirtysomething"? You didn't have to be coupled up or even staring down 40 to appreciate the trials of Hope and Michael and Nancy and Elliot.

    Historically, sitcoms have revolved around the nuclear family, and more recent sitcoms bear that out: "The Bernie Mac Show," "Everybody Hates Chris," "According to Jim," "The Hughleys" and even "Will & Grace," which, with its gay-straight pairing, is a Y2K rendering of "I Love Lucy."

    Not so with today's television dramas, which for the most part flat-out ignore marriage in favor of procedure-heavy story lines found on the "Law & Order" and "CSI" franchises or hospital-driven fare such as "House" and "Grey's Anatomy," populated by prickly workaholics who solve crimes or save lives but can't figure out how to save their own relationships. If they have them at all. Or we're being fed serialized crises a la "Prison Break" and "24." Of course Jack Bauer can't commit to Audrey -- he's got to keep President Logan from destroying the world.

    "I haven't seen any upturn in television programs featuring typical stable marriages," says sociologist David Popenoe of Rutgers University's National Marriage Project, which studies marriage and society. "It's a complete downer."

    None of the 25 top-rated prime-time shows depicts a happily married couple, with the exception perhaps of the high camp of "Desperate Housewives," although out of the five housewives, only two are married. (For now.) Take a look at the top five shows: "American Idol" (its Tuesday and Wednesday airings claim the No. 1 and 2 spots), "CSI," "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy" -- the last which has excruciatingly ambivalent pairings.

    But amid the murders and the exotic diseases, the elaborate prison breakouts and alien infestations, there are glimmers of real life. "You can learn a lot about American relationships and families by watching television, but you need the secret decoder ring," says Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. "We do see a reflection of real family life in television, but it's not a direct reflection. It's through a distorted mirror."

    A handful of shows are changing how commitment is depicted on the small screen: "Medium," with its family-on-the-fly approach; recent seasons of "The Sopranos," with Carmela coming into her own; Showtime's neurotic "Huff" and cannabis-fueled "Weeds"; and HBO's "Big Love." Even with "Rome," which debuted on HBO last season, the relationship between loyal soldier Lucius and Niobe, his not-quite-faithful wife, is painted as a partnership, with two equally yoked spouses hammering out the niggling details of ordinary life. Then there's "The L Word" on Showtime, a rare instance where long-term lesbian couplings are given the same attention as heterosexual marriages.

    Those programs are a departure from the "Dynasty"/"Dallas"/"Melrose Place" days and their uber-women -- Joan Collins's Alexis Carrington and Marcia Cross's Kimberly Shaw Mancini jockeying for control of vast fortunes. That was fantasy. Fun, to be sure. But think how much richer television watching would be if we had more shows that echo real life, with all its meddlesome details -- and without piling on the melodrama. If there's to be a revolution in the way marriage is characterized, it seems we should look to the ground-breaking world of cable to lead the way.

    Says "Big Love" co-creator Mark Olsen, who writes the show with his life partner of 15 years, Will Scheffer: "The first things that came out of our mouths [when we pitched the idea] to HBO was, 'We wanted a show about marriage and family . . . the shifting balances of power between spouses."

    Marriage on TV, he continues, "is really hard to do. The saccharine version of it, no one really buys anymore. Everyone's sick of easy, glib, dysfunctional families. No one believes that, either." But, still, polygamy as a vehicle to gain marital insight? Explains Olsen: "You need to look at the lens of something like polygamy to examine the hoary old truths of relationships."

    * * *

    Drama is life with the boring bits left out .

    -- Alfred Hitchcock

    In part, we can blame the absence of functional TV marriages on the fact that it's hard to make the mundane look interesting. Drama is about conflict and resolution ratcheted up for theatrical effect. Exploring marriage within a dramatic context requires a surgical eye for human behavior, and the talent to render the everyday as evocative of greater truths. "It's really hard to do compelling domestic drama," Syracuse University's Thompson notes. "If I want to see a husband and wife struggling, I'll turn off the TV and go into the living room."

    Echoes Olsen: "Audiences do want to be entertained. . . . There's something serious about marriage and family that no one wants to watch."

    Or at least they don't want to watch it up close and personal. Soaps and sitcoms are the traditional arenas where marriage is explored, says Ellen Seiter, a professor of critical studies in the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television. Both genres explore marriage, but from a certain remove.

    "Soap operas are obliged to threaten [the marriage] constantly with separation," Seiter says, "and serial monogamy is the norm. Sitcoms just threaten the couple with external factors that cause the basic personality clash of the couple to be displayed for humorous effect, and with the knowledge that no real threat of separation exists."

    Without the high camp of a soap, it helps to have a gimmick: mobsters, polygamists, drug-dealing suburban moms . . . It's the Trojan horse approach: Hit 'em with a distraction, and then under the cover of night, sneak in what you really want to talk about.

    Case in point: "Medium," currently ranked at No. 37 in the prime-time Nielsens. Patricia Arquette plays Allison DuBois, a psychic who solves crimes, usually while she's asleep and receiving messages from the dearly and the nearly departed. But the murders almost seem like background noise in Allison's life, as she and her aerospace engineer husband navigate opposing worldviews and carpool schedules. Despite their differences, there is real tenderness between them.

    For the series's writer and creator, the marriage "was the only reason to do the show," says Glenn Gordon Caron, who also created the 1980s hit "Moonlighting" with Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis. If he had his way, he says, Arquette and her TV husband, played by Jake Weber, would perform 75 percent of their scenes in their underwear with their hair messed up. "That's how [couples] reveal intimacy. They let each other see themselves unadorned. . . . Marriage is joy and bliss," he says, and it's a mess.

    "The most interesting shows on television today are about marriage," Caron notes, citing shows including "Weeds" and "The Sopranos."

    The latter is arguably the best drama shining a spotlight on marriage's not-so-pretty underpinnings (the show has an average of nearly 9 million viewers on Sunday nights). He's seeing a shrink, and trying to figure out life after almost dying from a shot in the gut. She's thought about leaving her mobster hubby, but she's not so keen to give up her cushy lifestyle. And what about those crazy kids? Dra-ma.

    Observes Thompson, "If you take out the whackings and the business deals, 'The Sopranos' is about a struggling modern American family."

    Meanwhile, "Big Love," which averages 4 million viewers, takes the notion of a struggling American family and multiplies it by three. Here the gimmick is the shock value of polygamy. Bill Henrickson's got three wives, three houses, a lot of headaches and a prescription for Viagra. Sure, they're threatened by a weird, cultlike leader called the Prophet from Bill's past and at least one nosy neighbor, but aside from that, the Henrickson family with its suburban lifestyle seems so . . . normal. Still, we've got to wonder: Is the real marriage depicted here between Bill and his wives, or among the wives themselves? After all, they're the ones who must negotiate with each other on a daily basis, haggling over shopping, babysitting and scheduling sex with the lone husband ("When are you ovulating? Why don't we swap nights then?"). Between them, there is affection and frustration, trust and betrayal.

    * * *

    Edith! Stifle yourself!

    -- Archie Bunker, "All in the Family"

    So as we wrap up the May sweeps and the networks are trotting out their fall plans, what can we expect to see in the future? Fewer Functional Marrieds and more workaholics hellbent on saving the world a la Jack Bauer, including an NBC series centered on a kidnapping and an ABC drama about a relationship coach who can't get her own personal life straight. And "7th Heaven," the longest-running family drama on television -- which had its final season on WB -- will be resurrected for another season on the newly formed CW network. But this show has more in common with an "After School Special" than the complex world most of us inhabit. (One promising newcomer is CW's "Runaway," a family drama starring Donnie Wahlberg as a husband and father. But the show also employs that Trojan horse approach: He's wrongly accused of murder, so the family's on the run, living under assumed identities.)

    Says USC's Seiter, "TV genres always come in cycles, and we are in the midst of an action-fantasy cycle at this point." And nothing succeeds like success. Just watch one show featuring Functional Marrieds claim a top-five ranking, and the next season we'll be knee-deep in talk of mortgages and monogamy.

    But in the meantime, what does it say about us that we've got precious few depictions of healthy marriages on television? Clearly we're conflicted. Never mind the turgid Mommy Wars, never mind our blue-state/red-state blusterings about family values -- judging from what we're watching, we'd rather not examine our own lives too carefully. We'll take escapism over introspection any day, especially if it's served up in a crime plot that will be comfortingly solved before the hour is out.

    Why should we care that portrayals of functional marrieds are in danger of becoming extinct? Because they're the harder art -- they require more of the viewer (and the creator, for that matter) and ultimately yield a bigger payoff.

    Sure, there's validity in the pure escapism of television, particularly after a long hard day battling the real world. But at its best, while it's entertaining us, television shows us something about ourselves, instructs and enlightens. It reflects a heightened view of life for us to examine and process; a view that's at once comforting and cathartic. Marriage, or any other long-term committed romantic union, exposes us at our most vulnerable, bringing out the worst in us -- and the best. How reassuring to watch others grappling with those challenges, too.

    It's also refreshing, notes TV Guide senior critic Matt Roush. "That's what's nice about 'Medium.' They're doing family life on the fly. It's shown to be a mess." At the same time, you the viewer are at home "dealing with the fact that you

    haven't dealt with your bills this week, and the clothes are still in the dryer."

    Where would we be without the realistic Functional Marrieds of the past? We'd still be intimidated by the perfection of the Cleavers and the "Goodnight, John Boy" Waltons, according to Dale Atkins, psychologist and author of "From the Heart: Men and Women Write Their Thoughts About Their Private Lives." "People who didn't have that kind of marriage or family life, and few people did, felt they were in some way insufficient or failing," he says.

    "Thirtysomething" resonated with its audience in the 1980s, as did "Family" in the '70s. More often than not, it was the sitcoms that gave domestic life a realistic edge; they were pioneering in a way that today's sitcoms ("Joey," anyone?) rarely are: Rhoda separated from her TV hubby in the mid-'70s, a situation so unheard of on prime-time TV that it was milked into a special two-hour episode; "Maude" grappled with a surprise midlife pregnancy and abortion; "The Cosby Show" gave us an affluent, loving African American family and altered perspectives on race and class. So bring it on, TV people, greenlight more of this stuff. We're ready, eager even, for shows that reflect back the pains -- and pleasures -- of modern commitment.

    Marriage doesn't have to, as Aristophanes once declared, signal the end of the story, but rather a new and juicy beginning.

  • 2006-05-20

    To rise above

    When someone copies on an exam,we say,"It's only human."If someone cheats on his taxes,we claim,"it's only human".People get divorce,and we chant,"it's only human".

     We call only our vices "human".In fact,sometimes this "human" becomes a synonym for "animal".Human is the intelligence that makes man search for truth.Human is the will,the urge to struggle,to rise above defeat,to hope against all hope.Human is the desire to be better.All that is human.

     That's why the real glory of human beings is in choosing among these things,knowing full well that we can stay at the animal level or rise to the sublime.

                                                             courtesy of Readers' Digest

  • I'd like to dedicate this song from Paul Anka to my gal,who is exactly like the girl Paul lauded and adored in the song,Diana.She is older than me,and I will not care what other people say about us.The only thing that matters here is she loves me and I love her.

    here is the lyrics of "Diana",enjoy!

    Diana
    Paul Anka
    - words and music by Paul Anka
    - written in 1956 at the age of 15 by Paul Anka about
      his 18-year-old neighbour (in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
      Diane Ayoub, whom he had a crush on.

    I'm so young and you're so old
    This, my darling, I've been told
    I don't care just what they say
    'Cause forever I will pray
    You and I will be as free
    As the birds up in the trees
    Oh, please stay by me, Diana

    Thrills I get when you hold me close
    Oh, my darling, you're the most
    I love you but do you love me
    Oh, Diana, can't you see
    I love you with all my heart
    And I hope we will never part
    Oh, please stay with me, Diana

    Oh, my darlin', oh, my lover
    Tell me that there is no other
    I love you with my heart
    Oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh
    Only you can take my heart
    Only you can tear it apart
    When you hold me in your loving arms
    I can feel you giving all your charms
    Hold me, darling, ho-ho hold me tight
    Squeeze me baby with-a all your might
    Oh, please stay with me, Diana
    Oh, please, Diana
    Oh, please, Diana
    Oh, please, Diana

    On the same note,I'D like also to present to her this song(which is much younger) from the amazing British gal singer Katie Melua,entiled "nine million bicycles ",with the lyrics attached below also;Hope you and my gal enjoy it.

    There are nine million bicycles in Beijing
    That’s a fact
    It’s a thing we can’t deny
    Like the fact that I will love you till I die
    We are twelve billion light years from the edge
    That’s a guess
    No-one can ever say it’s true
    But I know that I will always be with you
    I’m warmed by the fire of your love everyday
    So don’t call me a liar
    Just believe everything that I say
    There are six billion people in the world
    More or less
    And it makes me feel quite small
    But you’re the one I love the most of all
    We’re high on the wire
    With the world in our sight
    And I’ll never tire
    Of the love that you give me every night
    There are nine million bicycles in Beijing
    That’s a fact
    It’s a thing we can’t deny
    Like the fact that I will love you till I die
    And there are nine million bicycles in Beijing
    And you know that I will love you till I die ...

  • I guess it is lost on no one (at least those inquiring enough and really into browsing washingtonpost on a daily basis) that Hu's first impression of the states and the white house isn't a very good one.

     Some gaffes "unexpectedly" occurred.

    For starters,literally,the trip bodes ill.It even lack enough legitimacy to be granted the title" formal state visit".Bush administration only condescendingly acquiesced to a lesser "formal visit" and 21-gun salute.Odd match,isn't it?

    When Hu is in the "safe" sphere of white house,you might say,he will just forget about the previous unhappiness about titles,it's just visit itself that matters,isn't it?Be there,and you win.Now you're there,next to the president of the United States,and you'll shake hands and exhange some very good-natured pleasantries for the whole world to see.Mission accomplished.Whew!....  You'd be dead wrong,folks.

     The nightmares has just begun.

    Exactly ninety seconds into Hu's customary speech,a woman in her mid-forties sneaked out from no where,and began yelling extremely unsavory words at President Hu,jeckling him right after he has just confortably let his guard down.Who could expect to have a disruptor lurking around at that time and that ceremony?Well, that's a pretty good question.US security service shall have some explaining to do.Up till now,they just shrugged. And by the way,that one and same woman pulled the same old trick just a few years back  in Malta when Hu's prodecessor Mr Jiang Zemin was visiting.She made the news then,and presumably should also make the list of security guys.But they just shrugged.Things happen,they seem to be saying.

        And yes,things happen.To add insult to injury,when it came time to strike some solemn chord ,The official announcer  said the band would play,quote,"the national anthem of the Republic of China".As if it's OK to play jokes on each other;they just forget taiwan issue has the whole damn nation at stake.Absolutely,rigidly,irreversibly off-limits to jest,intentional or negligient.

      There're a few other slights Hu has been suffering the whole day which I don't see the point of elaborating upon;since I've gotten the message across.Bush've been playing games.And here is the advice Mr President.Hu is truly someone to be reckoned with.Never ever fool with national interests.Think about what this meeting is supposed to accomplish,on the US side.Trade,Iran,DPRK,RMB...there're so many things where you're supposed to be warming to China if they ever want to be addressed at all.Teasing and humiliating isn't going to help.or could be even worse;just try to imagine this senario Mr president:The next time Air Force One touched down in Beijing Intl Airport,you will find you are surrounded by Al Quaeda-trained Eastern Turkestanians from Xinjiang.Demand an explanation?You guess it,the Chinese will just,well,shrug..

  • 2006-04-15

    diplomatic drama

     

  • 2006-04-12

    a life as a whore

    Today when I searche the google engine for something I  stumble upon this totally cool and eye-opening blog.It's kept,brace for this.by a prostitute somewhere in Nevada,USA.She documented her career as a stripper and a prostitute moving from one brothel to the next,always on the go,always on the high.Her casual writing style and breezy tone allow you a basically unhindered view of what the life is like being a prostitute in America.And the amazing thing is,this gal has absolutely no guilt or shame whatsoever as to her indecent job,Quite on the contrary actually.She is a tad bit proud,and even driven in what she is doing.She even entertains an ambitious life goal:To be the leader of the free world.Isn't that the title for George W Bush right now?Of course,if you construe the term"free" broadly and decently.Then again,who says a prostitute can't be given a chance to lead a nation?Democracy should bear the sore test of perversity.shouldn't it?

     Anyway.here is the link to her blog:  http://www.rottentomatoes.com/vine/journal_view.php?s=&journalid=123291 

  • 2006-03-28

    a brave new voice

    I like different voices.I appreciate maverick minds.I tend toward unconventional thinking.

    Here today I come across a news article in WashingtonPost online edition which is just like that.Distinct,unorthodox,confident.Check it out.

    Why U.S. Business Is Winning

    By Sebastian Mallaby
    Monday, March 27, 2006; A15

    Newspapers bring us the dark stories about American business. The Enron trial serves up tales of lies and looting. The General Motors restructuring dramatizes the death of traditional U.S. manufacturing. Commentators from left and right agree that a growing swath of the economy, from accounting services to non-emergency health care, may one day move offshore. And yet something is going dramatically right inside American corporations. Despite all the nostalgia for the era when GM dominated the world's car industry, the heyday of American business may actually be now.

    The dawn of this heyday came in 1995. In the two preceding decades, the productivity of American workers had grown more slowly than that of Japanese and European competitors. But in the decade since 1995, U.S. labor productivity growth has outstripped foreign rivals'. Meanwhile U.S. firms' return on equity -- that is, the efficiency with which they manage the capital entrusted to them -- has pulled away from that of Japan, France and Germany, according to data provided by Standard & Poor's Compustat.

    Other measures tell a similar story. Up until the 1990s, management books were crammed with Japanese buzzwords, and the early Clinton administration was in awe of Germany's apprenticeship system. But today the United States provides most of the business role models, from Starbucks to Procter & Gamble, from Apple to Cisco. The (British) Financial Times publishes an annual list of the world's most respected companies. In 2004 and again in 2005, no fewer than 12 of the top 15 slots were occupied by American firms.

    Or consider the database on management quality constructed by Nick Bloom and John Van Reenen of Stanford University and the London School of Economics. This duo organized a survey of 732 medium-sized American and European companies and measured their management procedures against benchmarks of best practice. The result: American firms, including the subsidiaries of American firms in Europe, are simply better managed than European rivals. In fact, superior American management accounts for more than half of the productivity gap between American and European firms.

    Whence this American superiority? The first answer is that competition is fiercer. The United States has relatively few trade and regulatory barriers for firms to hide behind, so bad companies either shape up quickly or go bust. In retailing, for example, firms such as Wal-Mart and Target have been able to spread their super-efficient logistics systems all across the country -- at least until lately, when a perverse anti-Wal-Mart campaign has sprung up. In Europe and Japan, by contrast, a web of zoning laws entangles efficient retailers, sheltering unproductive companies that overcharge consumers.

    The next explanation for American superiority is a healthy indifference to first sons. Bloom and Van Reenen report that the practice of handing a family firm down from father to oldest son is five times more common in France and Britain than in the United States. Not surprisingly, this anti-meritocratic practice does not always produce good managers. So even though the best European companies are managed roughly as well as the best American ones, there's a fat tail of second-rate firms in Europe that's absent in the United States.

    Competition and meritocracy cannot explain all of America's superiority, however. The U.S. economy has always had these advantages but hasn't always trounced overseas rivals. Nor is it enough to say that Americans work harder than Europeans, since the productivity numbers show that Americans are boosting what they achieve per hour. And anyone who explains America's superiority by saying that the country is more "dynamic" or "creative" is merely relabeling the mystery we're trying to solve.

    The best guess about the "X factor" is that America's business culture is peculiarly well-suited to contemporary challenges. American business is not especially good at coaxing productivity out of factory workers: The era when this was all-important was the heyday of Germany and Japan. But American business excels at managing service workers and knowledge workers: at equipping these people with technology, empowering them with the right level of independence and paying for performance. So the era of decentralized "network" businesses is the American era.

    Moreover, America's business culture is perfectly matched to globalization. American executive suites and MBA courses are full of talented immigrants, so American managers think nothing of working in multicultural firms. The immigrants have links to their home countries, so Americans have an advantage in establishing global supply chains. The elites of Asia and Latin America compete to attend U.S. universities; when they return to their countries, they are keener to join the local operation of a U.S. company than of a German or Japanese one.

    So the shift from manufacturing to services; the gallop of globalization; and the rise of information technology that flattens corporate hierarchies: All these forces come together to create an American moment. But you could be forgiven for missing this, because other forces spoil what ought to be a celebration. In the midst of this American moment, hatred of President Bush has simultaneously created an anti-American moment. And in the midst of American prosperity, rising inequality has prevented American workers from sharing in the success of American firms.

    smallaby@washpost.com

  •  

  • A friend of mine,Mark Byers,who is a Hollywood indi producer and screenwriter(credits including Guasha treatment and Dragon squad) sent me an email requesting my help.He is now writing a screenplay about a story that transpired in Yuan Dynasty.So he wants my opinions about Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan,as a modern Chinese.Probably he just wants to write something more true-to-history and accurate.Anyway,I just wrote back this long reply mail,and hopefully it will represent accurately what modern chinese are thinking of Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan and truly help my friend out.Here goes:

    Mark:

    Genghis khan now is generally viewed by Chinese people as one of our historical heroes.For as is witnessed by the historical record,his invincible troops,mainly cavalry formations demonstrated  to the fullest possible our military valor,ingenuity and tenacity when they aggressively expanded their “turf” and succeeded in foraying as far as into the Danube River areas in Europe.The territory expanse in Yuan Dynasty(which was founded by The grandson of Genghis Khan,Kublai,as you must have known) is among,if not the single,largest ones in the Whole Chinese history.Chinese people ‘s  admiration  for Genghis Khan was so well captured and encapsulated in one line of Chairman Mao’s 1936 poem”snow”:That proud son of heaven,Genghis Khan……

    As for Kublain,he was the worthy torch holder of his grandfather and as is noted above,the founder of the great Yuan Dynasty.Since Yuan was founded and ruled by The Mongolian ethnic minority(as opposed to Han people), and the two nationalities had so little in common at first(different languages,different customs..),there was always some dark side to the meaning of being under the reign of the Mongolians for Han people,which is the most populous component of Chinese people.Quite predictably They were suppressed economically,culturally and even physically. For thousands of years,Han people had been the superior nationality in China,but during Mongolians’ reign their status plummeted, quite abruptly and unceremoniously I’d say,to that of servants to a whole new noble class—the Mongolians.Needless to say,they were very disgruntled and bruised.And some of them did rebel.Another historical figure we Chinese people also eyed as hero is a Yuan rebel who fighted the Yuan troops to his last breath;His name is “Wen Tian Xiang”.In one of his poems,he showed his conviction of rebelling against The Mongolians by writing the lines “Since death is unavoidable to everyone throughout history, what one should strive for is a loyal heart, gloriously recorded in the historic books.”.

    Now you may wonder what is the attitude we Chinese people are holding towards Genghis Khan and his offspring’s dynasty after all.    It seems all too ambiguous.Actually as far as the suppression and insults suffered by we Han people back in Yuan dynasty is concerned,let’s just say,philosophically, that is all past.And those throes were just an integral part of the birth of a new era,which is the greatest ever integration of nationalities in Chinese history.Jumping out of all these historical contexts,we can always rely on the anthropological knowledge to remind ourselves that we Han people and Mongolian people actually share the same ancestry:Mongolian race.And since now Mongolian people mainly lived in China(the republic of Mongolia once was part of China),or shall we say,mainly originated and once thrived in China,we can just call them(Genghis Khan the proud son proudly included) Chinese people.And hence when Genghis Khan and his offsprings fighted and reigned,they fighted and reigned as representatives of The whole Chinese people,with Han people disgruntled or not.

     Now it’s clear.We Chinese people,as a nation or a race, are proud of what Genghis Khan and his offsprings did to our Chinese history and historical progress.His suppression of Han people is truly a shame,but his greater good has certainly prevailed.And here I think it noteworthy that Mongolian people during Yuan dynasty were not necessarily Teflon rulers,so to speak.I mean they were very humbled by Han culture and in some cases even showed interest and ardor and absorbed some of it.So in a larger sense,the culture we now proudly label as Chinese is actually an alloy of different sub-cultures,including the Mongolian one.This cultural integration commenced upon the very founding of Yuan dynasty;Before it actually.The Title of Yuan dynasty, “Yuan”,was taken out of a Confucian scripture—the I-Ching and determined by Kublai himself.Quite an Irony huh?

     But anyway,is my long answer above satisfying to you?Will it help your screenwriting proceed more smoothly?And if you still have any questions,feel free to challenge or ask.Always with pleasure.

                                                                                           Take care,mentor.

      

     Dane                               

  • Culture of Intellectual Corruption

    By Richard Cohen
    Special to washingtonpost.com
    Thursday, March 9, 2006; 12:00 AM

    It will be nearly impossible in the next several months to avoid the phrase "culture of corruption." It is of Democratic vintage, coined to take the sins of Jack Abramoff, former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham and maybe some others and visit them on all Republicans running for office, especially congressional incumbents. Strictly speaking, it's a bit of a smear. But if it applies anywhere, and it does, it's not to corruption having to do with money, it's to corruption having to do with thought. The Bush administration is intellectually corrupt.

    Some of this corruption is induced by the inability to keep religion in its place. The president suffers mightily from this. After just eight months in office, George Bush drew a line between acceptable and unacceptable stem cell research and based it entirely on religious views that had nothing to do with science. Destruction of the cells was likened, as so much is nowadays, to the supposedly overriding issue of abortion or, as it is sometimes put, the "culture of life."

    That culture, as applied by the Bush administration, holds that what works is what ought to work. So, for example, the official policy of the United States government is the promotion of sexual abstinence (outside of marriage), which is all right in and of itself but not as a substitute for a workable policy of population control and HIV-AIDS avoidance. The latter should entail sex education and, of course, the use of some sort of contraceptive device, particularly (for AIDS prevention) condoms. The Bush administration eschews that approach, exhorting the young and the randy just to eschew sex. That approach works until it does not. Then catastrophe hits.

    Similarly, the Bush administration has somehow bottled up Plan B emergency contraception so that it is not yet available over the counter to women 17 and older. This is the case not because Plan B is dangerous or ineffective or even because it is an abortion agent (it is not), but because it is manifestly something that's needed if abstinence is, somehow, not practiced. In other words, the scientific basis for this policy apparently comes down to this: A good girl should not need such a pill.

    In the same way, the Bush administration for too long virtually insisted that there was no such thing as global warming. It has since changed its tune, conceding some of the case, but the epiphany has come late and not until additional damage was done both to the environment and, with the rejection of the Kyoto treaty, to America's international standing. "On issues ranging from population control to the state of the environment, and from how science is taught in the classroom to whether Iraq's research establishment was capable of producing weapons of mass destruction, the administration has repeatedly turned away from traditional avenues of scientific advice," writes Michael Specter in The New Yorker.

    Specter is right to link Iraq with everything else, because the debacle there is a product of the same magical thinking that rejected global warming, stem cells and condoms alike. Underlying it all is a commitment to belief over fact, what should be over what is. It is evidenced in the insistence by Bush and others that "intelligent design" is, like evolution, worthy of teaching. "Both sides ought to be properly taught," Bush once said. Yes, and astronomy and astrology, too, and maybe chemistry and alchemy as well. It's a totally bogus proposition.

    It was a chat about a religious moment that purportedly bonded Bush to Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader of increasingly dictatorial bent. It's as if Putin, an ex-KGB spy, read Bush's file -- and conned him. He knew Bush would rather believe than think -- and that others in the administration, who knew better, would simply go along.

    Intellectual corruption has cost Americans more -- much more -- than the occasional crooked congressman or lobbyist. Maybe they represent a corrupt system -- one in which the Democrats also partake -- but they pale in significance to a neoconservative theory that took the country to war to face a threat that did not exist. In the war, as with stem cells, we are talking about unnecessary loss of life -- right now on the battlefield, a bit later when the cure for some disease arrives later than it might have.

    Corruption of any kind corrupts. It costs us either money or confidence or both. But intellectual corruption is far more dangerous. It ruins and costs lives.