Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, Feb 7, 2010

Treat Yourself Well, No Discount and No Compromise

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:10 am

I never know people can go so far to treat themselves well until I learned of the story told by the visiting relative of ours. She has a friend whose daughter got married in the most splendid style, a truly eye-opening event. The young couple belong to one of those new nouveau riches in China. The banquet foods were rich and extravagant in extreme, putting to shame those of any royal families. Still, the young man was not happy with the food served there. He said to the bride, “If we eat three meals a day, we will have 1095 meals per year. If we live another 50 years, we only have 54,750 meals to eat in our lives. We should not compromise each meal and should only have foods that we really enjoy most.” With that, he and the bride went out searching for his favorite food, whatever that might be, leaving behind their guests.

People commented that he really knew how to treat himself well. I never know people treat themselves well in such calculating manner. I am sure the man could be of great value to society if he applied his talent in that direction. I am not sure of the consequence to his health if he thus insists.

1, Jan 22, 2010

Observations and Random Thoughts in China

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:48 am

Human feelings invariably play a role in all human interactions, no matter where you go. In the U.S. the first impression during a job interview is very much made of feelings, one’s like or dislike of the interviewees, unexplainable at times and not based on reason. Yet, in most cases, feelings play a much lesser role in the U.S. than in China. The United States, being vastly different from China, is largely a land of laws.

The visit of the aunt and uncle of the family on 1/19/2010 brought to us the news of their son’s second divorce, under the excuse of his second wife’s mistreatment of the child of his first marriage. Later we learned the man had another extramarital affair before this second divorce, as if history repeats itself again and again, giving us a peek at coming attractions. No wonder China rates highest in divorce in the land strangely governed by human feelings and relations instead of laws and rules, fashionably reinforced by modern divorce laws.

I have always been puzzled by the surreal complexities of human relations in an other-oriented culture but am more than amazed by the rising disintegration of families brought upon by the hot pursuit of inner-oriented feelings or gan3 jue3 at the cost of everything else.

It is no exaggeration to claim that on the average people in China are hugely more complicated than those outside China.

1, Jan 16, 2010

Like a Mother Bird, We Build Nests for Our Offsprings

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:33 am

While I am in China, I hear lots of talks about Chinese parents amassing wealth for their children, in the form of house and money. To be true, it is a very primitive type of love that parents naturally demonstrate for their offsprings, very much similar to that shown in a mother bird when she builds a nest for her fragile eggs and baby birds before they can fly on their own.

Guess what? Human parents are a lot smarter and powerful than birdie parents. Human parents can build nests that covers way beyond the point of their childhood, intending to shelter all the way to children’s whole adulthood, rendering them incapable of living on their own, forever. Human parents are expert in bringing out dependent adult children. So loving, caring and dedicated! That is, if both parents and children are happy with this arrangements. Let us hope parents can live as long as or longer than their children.

For me, I still follow the primitive love of the birdie mom and let my youngsters stay in their first nest only before they are strong enough to fly on their own but let them out when they become independent adults. Absolutely no baby nest beyond their childhood. Cruel love!

1, Jan 15, 2010

Simple Scam on Simple-Minded People

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:19 am

On 1/12/2010, I went to meet three middle-high school classmates, two of them still working and one in retirement. I learned some kind of scam going on targeting senior citizens in China. The scam goes like this.

Some illegal people calls your home, confirming your name and bank account number, informing you that certain criminal group has crept into your bank account and intend to withdraw all your money. You should immediately transfer your money to another account, which is given to you over the phone. The key to the safety of your money is total confidentiality, not a word is uttered to anyone else, even to your spouse or children. As soon as your transfer is complete, the swindler takes away all but a few cents from your account. A friend of my classmate was thus swindled, with damage totalling half a million yuan or nearly 76,000 US dollar, the sum of her lifetime savings.

I related the detail to my mother, hoping she would be well informed. It turned out she already knew it and much more. Next she opened my eyes to more scams implemented here. Alas, I feel so out of touch with the reality in the land of my birth. I might be too ignorant or inexperienced or having lived in a very restricted and limited quarter. Anyway, I must admit that China has changed way deeper than I am prepared.

1, Dec 11, 2009

Shameful Waste and Stingy Care for Public Welfare

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:23 am

Not long ago, I was disturbed over something that I learned from another adult in the house. One of his relatives just had an extremely extravagant wedding in China, total cost running up to $80,000. They took over a whole floor of a five-star hotel, the best one in town. The news was used to prove how rich people have become and that his nephew should go back to China to catch the train to the rich and fame. But what a huge waste for just one wedding! Imagine how many children and how many lives they will be able to reach and touch with that amount of money!

Meanwhile, one of my relatives told me of a real story in China. Some super-rich people tried to get rid of their money by driving on the highway while tossing cashes out of windows in hundreds, just to enjoy the scene of money flying in the sky. Shameless and senseless beings!

These people have done nothing less than writing a shameful and infamous chapter in the history of Chinese civilization, an unprecedented one, way to prove this point, the one that the world is not willing to see, that is, the rise of an economically powerful China together with the fall of a moral China.

I hope these people were just a few isolated beings. I wish China had as many philanthropists as her millionaires and billionaires. Sadly to say, philanthropists are very scanty. Why? Off the top of my head, I can come up with one explanation — this sense of social responsibility for any unrelated human beings has not been part of education in most of Chinese families when the emphasis has always been within one’s family. Indeed, good moral and spiritual education starts from one’s first family. Or is it so? I have no other answer.

As my daughter put it, “These selfish millionaires are worse than those working at McDonald’s.” My son said, “You can be this luxurious after you have given back.” Well, not according to this writer. Wealth without morality, this is something I have warned my children against. Whatever you have means nothing, holding no social values until you share it with others, the more you share, the more valuable you are as a social being. Make efforts and make difference so that other fellow humans will lead a better existence because of you.

1, Nov 3, 2009

Times are Different, So is the New Generation

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:46 am

Last Wednesday, a young relative of ours came over. While chatting about his future, I learned that one of his parents wants him to get a job here upon graduation, the other doesn’t care. For him, it is more comfortable going back to China. He still has not got over the hard life in America, after 3 and a half years.

I can understand perfectly the hardship and the challenge of finding a job and beat out your own path here. For a young man, that’s the fun part of it all. Nothing can compare to the true joy that one experiences in establishing one’s new world.

The new generation, a rather different one indeed. What about this ancient theme of going through trials and triumph in one’s life’s journey? I wish my children still believe that nothing is as majestic as this epic journey threading through one’s coming-of-age to independence and finally to finding one’s secure and glorious place in society, or better than this, in history. Life would be too boring to endure if it lacks any transcendental meaning.

There, finally put my children in the picture. For them, I write today.

1, Oct 28, 2009

Pollution in China Captured by Lu Guang, Winner of 2009 W. Eugene Smith Award

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:53 am

Photographer Lu Guang of China has won the 2009 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography for his four-year project on the effects of pollution in China. For more of his work on pollution in China, go to fengniao site.

My daughter was deeply disturbed seeing the human tolls brought upon by pollution in China. “It is wrong. And it is even more wrong if we don’t do something to stop the wrong.” Hopefully, Lu’s work will wake the world up to the stark reality of pollution in China and to more legal, collective and governmental actions.
The air is too filthy to be here.
Children born deformed and abandoned.
Land after polluted water.
Pollution has created more cancer villages.
Wasted water flowing into the ocean goes international.
No blue sky.
Washing in river filled with industrial wastes.

1, Sep 22, 2009

Universal truth or Unbelievable Perversion

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:18 am

Last weekend a friend of mine sent to me the following as “universal truth.” Something must be wrong here. What happened to the values that we parents use to brainwash our youngsters? Like emphasis on reading, study and honest hard work? How can they make friends without drinking or become famous legally? I am confused, still I remain stubbonly old-fashioned and I shall not be otherwise. Here’s the translation.

People make friends through drinking,
–find lovers at dancing balls,
–make enemies at gambling table,
–become a crazy man at stock market,
–turn into celebrities through cheating or any illegal activities,
–end up a mere mediocre after honest work,
–are perceived as a wise person via IM,
–book-reading makes one idiotic,
–public service transforms one into rich being,
–remain a poor soul after a life of hard work.

1, Jul 12, 2009

China Needs No Confirmation. Neither Do All of Us

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:53 am

On the evening of 6/24, while I was reading Joseph Campbell’s A Hero with A Thousand Faces at Border’s with my daughter, a stranger initiated a conversation with me, telling me that he was studying Chinese now and how wonderful China was. I appreciate his kind expression of good-wish and friendliness. Yet, I cannot stop wondering how naive some people can be. He talked as if I needed to be confirmed and needed to be told how great China was, as if I cared how the world thinks about China. Sounded nicely condescending, leaving unpleasant taste in the mouth.

Somehow I have passed the age when I need this confirmation. And I think China also has passed this immature stage of development. She does not need anybody to tell her how she is and should not care any comments from outside. Just as America does not need to be told how great it is.

This friendly guy reminded me of the time when I was told how Americanized I had become, given to me as a compliment. Yes, I do need compliments like a little pupil! I know the world would be a lot sunny if people are not as sensitive as I am. Oh well, again, let truth stand.

Now I feel better after letting it off my chest.

1, Jun 5, 2009

Democracy Fighters were Far Above 80% of Chinese Population

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:01 am

I was aware how unpopular my position was while I was writing it, especially when the whole western world rallies itself behind the so-called democracy fighters or Tiananmen heroes, as if they represent the whole China. Still, I chose to come out with what I truely feel, even if it means going against the flow. Call it disrespect or even outrageous. I owe an explanation to my readers and my children.

First of all, the governing of country must be first and foremost deeply human, in that the basic physical human needs for every member in a society must be met before anything else. Whatever the motives for these student leaders, they were far above 80% of Chinese people who daily struggle to make ends meet and can’t care less about democracy or whatever. Food and shelter, health and security are their main concerns. If anything, these handful leads represented a tiny fraction of Chinese population who are well-fed and heeled and have never experienced the hardship of the under-fed, unshod and unclothed, and those who live on the brink of starvation and expiration.

Secondly, on the corruptions, we know no government is immune from this disease. Chinese government is well aware of it and has everything intention of having a clean government. Who wouldn’t? Only it cannot. The corrupt force can very well overpower a government. See what happened during Bush administration — resulting in a legacy of wiping out 10 of thousands of people during his two pet wars and trillion dollar deficit and the wonderful economy like this today.

The only hope for a clean government in China lies in openness and a full-fledged establishment and enforcement of laws and order, leaving nobody above these laws. American society is legally very mature, not through anything like our dearest “democracy fighters.”

Third, on tight control of Chinese government, a unified tight control state is better than a divided falling-apart one like former Soviet Union. Well, best situation for western divide-and-conquer. Throughout Chinese history, successful state heads all unified China through heavy power. The current government is no exception. Government itself is a necessary evil. I give Chinese government mountains of credits for making China what she is now.

I do not endorse the government’s handling of those inexperienced student leaders like Wuerkaixi and Chai Ling, etc, like shooting flies with atom bombs, though I am honestly sympathetic toward Chinese government. I could strike a better deal with these stupid babies than whoever in power. It will be left to historians of future generation to write this chapter. History will reveal its true picture and whatever impact it might have on Chinese society at that moment, from the interests of the whole nation.

This event is a sad reminder, showing us how a tiny spark can trigger a prairie fire that can engulf the whole land, having enough heat to burn us all. China is such an ideal place for this fire. Don’t we enjoy seeing her burn to ashes? That would be too hot for June and too much pollution.
Sorry, I am a lost dog in a rainy night, looking for shelter

1, Jun 4, 2009

Chinese “Democracy Fighters” = Good for Nothing

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:01 am

Today marks 20th anniversary of Tiananmen demonstration. 20 years ago, my son was a baby and I was young and vastly stupid. I am glad I am wiser now.

Looking back, I feel ashamed of those so-called “democracy fighters,” who are so far away from the reality of the grass-root Chinese people and have no idea what these people really want in life. Democracy is genuinely empty to anyone who has to struggle everyday for his empty stomach. It is the last thing a man will think of when he cannot bring food to the table for his family.

Democracy sounds so hollow, out-of-touch, hypocritical, useless —
When school age children cannot afford to go to school,
When children go days without a decent meal,
When parents have to go far away for jobs, leaving their babies behind,
When the sick have no money to see doctor,
When decent people cannot find a decent job,
When poverty-stricken families have to sell their children,
When thousands of girls have to sell their bodies to support their families,
When thousands of baby girls are abandoned for want of boys,
When people never see blue sky because of pollution,
When homeless people reached out for a penny on Beijing streets,
When a man has to steal food for his disease-plagued wife,
When a person is dying of starvation and illness…

Chinese are very practical people, following the golden rule of “Black or white, a cat is good as long as it catches rats.” There are millions of things ordinary people must take care first before the need of democracy crops out. Here’s my valuable advice to those well-fed, richly-dressed, lard-filled, fat-faced from overeating “democracy fighters,” if you genuinely care for Chinese people, do at least one practical thing for those under-privileged, to raise them out of disease, ignorance, poverty, and crimes. There are millions of those out in China. For example,
feed the hungry,
Clothes the poor,
Shelter the homeless,
heal the sick,
assist the old,
educate the young,
adopt the abandoned, etc.
There are millions of chances to make a difference in people’s lives, for the better materially. Something or anything is better than empty slogans.

Alas, the world is so full of big talkers, especially today. I am more than mad and furious listening to their empty hypocritical utterances on radio and over TV about empty, stupid, good-for-nothing democracy. Turn off TV or radio immediately!

1, May 12, 2009

One Year Anniversary of Earthquake in Sichuan China

Filed under: China — admin @ 12:48 am

Exactly a year ago today, on May 12, 2008, a spectacularly cataclysmal earthquake hit Beichuan county, Sichuan province, China, dispatching from the earth about 69K lives and devastating thousands of families whose loved ones are here no more. The great number of school children thus passed tragically testified the sad reality of the poor condition of school buildings in that area. To these departed children, this posting is dedicated.


1, Dec 28, 2008

Chinese Parents’ Tendency to Belittle Their Children

Filed under: China,Parenting 101 — admin @ 11:45 am

I have found this issue rather deep-rooted in psyche of some Chinese parents — the tendency to talk negatively about their own children in front of their friends. I pointed it out before to the other responsible adult in the family, but it cropped out again during yesterday’s gathering with friends. I tried to make him stop, to no avail. This morning, while the children were still sleeping upstairs, I reminded him again of not bad-mouthing the children to others, either in front of the children or behind their backs. Find something else to talk about.

It is not because our children are so great and flawless that we have nothing bad to say about them. Nor is it because we should try to cover up their flaws. The bottom line is respect. Children are individuals, no matter how small they are, deserving no less respect than us adults. It is not fair to them if we treat them like pets, as if they cannot understand or do not care what others say or think about them. It is sometimes frustrating to me that some people simply don’t get this point.

In Chinese language, there is a rather self-depreciating way of referring to one’s own son — quan zi. I even feel uncomfortable translating it into English, but I have to.  It means “son of a dog.” How I dislike it!  

Don’t take it as these people are really playing down themselves by using the phrase quan zi. They just try to be modest. Or rather, they think they are supposed to be modest and thus act out modesty. Either way, I am fed up with the inconsistency between what is modestly said and what is thought inside. Well, I found myself in a not-so-nice mood when it comes to inconsistency.

Back to my topic, sometimes the need to keep a modest appearance might overwork itself when some Chinese parents feel the urge to belittle their children in front of their friends. Such a heavy topic on this sunny winter Sunday.

1, Dec 1, 2008

Some Thoughts and Observations While I was in China

Filed under: China — admin @ 8:05 am

When I was in China, I read about and heard people complaining of corruptions, pollutions, and illegal practices in China. I chatted with a young man, who might be representative of his generation. He has very much idealized American society.

To be sure, corruptions and illegal practices are rampant everywhere without exceptions. The difference lies in the degree or scale as well as in people’s attitude toward it.  Most of Americans believe America is a democractic society, with elected government, simply because there is one more dominant party than in China, while not most of Chinese share the same belief regarding China, when in fact, both societies are minority-dominated, with money playing more role in America than in China.

While Chinese are more likely to see their own corruptions, Americans are good at finding wrongs in other countries, thus sending troops out in the name of correcting the perceived wrongs.  Chinese are more reflective and self-critical while the same qualities are very much lacking in America.

America is the land of opportunities to all who are willing to make sincere efforts, while China, with colossal population, is the land of intense competition and limited opportunities.  While law and order prevail in America, money, relationship, and connections work better in China. China still has a long way to go before law prevails, if that’s the desire of the majority.

1, Sep 2, 2008

Michelangelo Antonioni’s Documentary Film — China

Filed under: China — admin @ 10:58 am

A longtime friend of mine shared with me an article about Michelangelo Antonioni, an Italian filmmaker who made a documentary film called China in 1972. The film was realistically shot without any obvious personal bias, nor any cave-in or compromise to either west or east. It is now an excellent, rare-of-a-kind record of life at that historic moment of China. The true Antonioni fashion also feasts the viewers’ eyes with rich landscapes in various parts of China before China headed for full-blown modernization drives. The film was subsequently severely denounced in an 18-page article called “A Vicious Motive-Despicable Tricks-A Criticism of Antonioni’s China Film ‘China'” published by an official publisher Foreign Language Press in Beijing in 1974.

I would think the film was condemned because it ran against the policy at that time, that is, media should work as a propaganda for lauding China to outsiders. Anything negative should not go public.

I hope my children will remember this — Truth is like the rock buried in the midst of a roaring sea. When surrounding water subsides, the rock is revealed, standing the test of time and tide. So is it for Antonioni’s China, so be it for any truth.

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