Thursday, December 24, 2009

No surprises anymore

Almost a year ago today, I posted a link to China's Charter 08 and mused about a possible "transition" led by China to a more ethical and just governance ...

Well the architect of the Charter is in jail and was sentenced recently, according to BBC reports, but that is just a small indication of the pipe-dream of an "ethical China."

Folks, it is not going to happen. Even taking into account the real national security reasons for China's scuttling of the Copenhagen talks, as reported by the Guardian, what we can look forward to is a China confident and arrogant enough to do whatever it pleases.

My friend Zhuang once pointed at a nouveau rich Chinese guy we saw at a restaurant and said:

"When China gets powerful enough, that's exactly how they will act."

Needless to say, the guy was arrogant, brutal, venal and self-serving at the expense of anyone who stood in his path. Superpowers come, superpowers go but the corrupting influence of power is immortal and universal. War between China & Co. and US & Co. in 2012 as the catalyst for the mystic Mayan prophecy? Not outside the realm of possibility.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The American Dream and the Written Word

So I am reading Daniel Boorstin, The Seekers, which is the third in a series that begins with The Creators and continues with The Discoverers. Boorstin is one of my favorite historians.

So in Seekers, Boorstin explores the philosophers and "idea-men" that helped to establish the foundations for Western political and social systems. What I found most interesting was the disdain the ancient Greeks had for the written word.

For Socrates, especially, the flame of understanding can only be passed through direct eye to eye mouth to ear contact between individuals. And have you ever noticed that the conversations you have with your brothers and sisters lead you to the Truth, but to write those conversations down is futile and silly? I have. It makes sense. Writing, for Socrates, impaired the memory, excluded dialogue and basically provided an inaccurate sketch of what it actually feels like when you make a breakthrough sitting around the fire with some friends, looking at the stars.

Socrates used the title "Poet" as an insult. I suppose he wasn't thinking about us, when he did all of his deep thinking about the Sage-King, Wisdom and Ignorance. If Plato and Aristotle hadn't written the "useless poetry" that survived the centuries, then Socrates' contributions would have drifted as far as the borders of ancient Greece and no farther.

Ironically, Islam's problems can be traced back to a related problem: Tyranny of the Written Word. Truly, Islam focuses the most upon the written word (Quran=Word of God=Law), but their great prophet Muhammad spoke to his people in Medina about Good and God. When he died, he did not leave written instructions as to how to lead the Ummah/Community. Only the Koran survived, along with an ever increasing collection of hadith, or lessons and interpretations. The wrangling over the written word led to the dissolution of the Community and wars between the factions and eventually war with anyone they met, including their cousins, the Bible worshipers.


So, while I was listening to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings yesterday morning, I heard her rendition of "This Land is My Land" (awesome version btw) and It reminded me of a rambling post here about where America is headed and also about a conversation I had with a Chinese friend of mine the other day.

He asked me why Americans, who come from all sorts of different backgrounds, are willing to raise the red, white and blue and fight for a country they have no blood ties to. He said this in the context of the Mainland's view of all people of Chinese descent: that they are Chinese first and forever. For him, it was self-evident that any Chinese in the USA would betray the USA if it came to a conflict with China. This is a very typical sentiment in today's China. Now, I know plenty of Asian Americans who have a hard time when they go back to seek their roots and meet the ethnic nationalism of China, Korea and Japan. Its a weird place to be in, I am sure.

Anyway, my response to his "question" was, that being American is a state of mind, not a bloodline or an obligation. It is as close to a "choice" as one can get in terms of nationality. I tried to explain the Manifest Destiny as an example of this state of mind. Unfortunately, he wasn't trying to talk about being American as much as he wanted to assert his idea of being Chinese. So I have to carry on this thread of thought with ya'll.

The Mainland Chinese have a VERY hard time with non-Mainland Chinese who consider themselves American, French, Thai or whatever. These weird creatures are deluded at best, outright traitors at worst.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Good Morning

Whatchyallknowbout Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings?

Just finished Natural Born Lover and moving on to Stranded in yo' Love

And this album makes me jig my way around this living room in my chupa, wrapped up and ready for this cup of coffee i got infused with anti-viral honey from Andrea Shanti's store, check it out and get you some.

Good Morning Ya'll

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Free to Post

I wrote an essay a while back about censorship in China, for, and I basically said that within the parameters of black and white, all life transpires.

Well i am now, thanks to Freedur, safely within the gray. Freedur is a VPN protocol that allows me to surf through a proxy and avoid sneaky, evil Chinese censors. If you have problems with haters or just wanna be anonymous, check it out.

If you are interested in buying the service ($60 for one year), type in "chengduliving" and you will get 10% off. is a website I am working on with my friend Charlie and it should be going live in a few days. Check it out when you have the chance.

So it is a trip to be back. The sky is always gray, which makes me feel completely isolated from the world, like the movie Dark City. I feel enveloped by the grayness and the thing about gray fog is it stretches on forever and has no borders, no shapes, no delineating lines -- it just is. So that can get kinda old.

And walking around is one of those things I forgot about. You have to get into a "China state of mind" to handle the throngs and swarms of people and vehicles passing in and out of your path with missions and dreams and plans and fears of their own. I miss being inconspicuous and part of the scenery.

Bean is plump and healthy. We brew up warm milk with anti-viral honey and sleep in late. The apartment we are in now is just a two-minute walk from the hospital. Tomorrow I will go to Dujiangyan house hunting.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

to all the beauty in your life

back in Shanghai, listening to Christmas music. i had a small panic attack in the vancouver airport as i watched asian people be asian and realized that my ass was headed back to China to live for a while and be a father and all that. started trrrrriping. in my own head of course. was waiting for the whole world to shimmer and disappear. probably had something to do with the fact that i was still drunk and loopy after a night at Beckett's with my man Big Scott. It was a rough morning. but as soon as i was on the flight it was all good and now that i am back in the old familiar hallways of China, all is good and as it should be.

i watched the movie Public Enemies and that was a good one. Special Agent WInstead's message to Billy at the end really got me. busted out in tears, but no one saw me do it.

also watched 9 and that was enjoyable. I couldn't help myself and watched the Time Traveler's Wife (Aliya really wanted to watch that one) and it is sweet and lovable and emotional too. got a little teary there too. i am a sensitive guy you know.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009


Ni zai kan ma??

Ni GUADEBUDELIAO! dajia dou xiaode.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Farts in the wind

I like to categorize my friends, even if those categories only last till the end of my breath and the beginning of an action on their part to make my cubby-holing a vain useless attempt to get a laugh.

So anywayz, i like to kick it with Tenz cuz he's all heart and Johnny cuz he's all balls and Scott cuz we get all intellectual on each other. So today me and big scott were talking about Obama and we basically came to the conclusion that, hey, we love the guy and he speaks like a messiah and sure we hate the hating-ass republicans who jump on him and will continue to jump on him till 2012, but you know, the truth is, we should have known better.

The whole idea that an elected representative in America can do any good or put through an idea or really make a change is dead and gone. On the national level. On the state, county and municipal level, maybe. I still reserve the right to scoff at any political debate.

We got to talking about States' rights. And this led us into a discussion that brings this question into light -- the legalities of marijuana. In each state, the laws governing the cultivation, sale and possession of marijuana are different. And these laws almost always come into conflict with the federal government's War on Drugs. So we have the DEA swooping in on a legal operation, according to State/County law, and cutting down plants, taking bins of weed out of a dispensary and so on. And never pressing charges.

Now i learned in history class that the battle between States and Federals is eternal (princes and kings, vassals and warlords etc) and the weakness of one will result in the victory of the other.

So this discussion led to a broad appraisal of America as a nation and its health and the condition of its psyche. I quoted this:

"A nation long united must divide, long divided must unite."

So we talked about where in the grand scheme of things was the US: long divided? or long united?

Interestingly enough, we found the debate to switch places according to what kind of division and unity we spoke of. Racially? Culturally? Politically? Economically? It seems to be a little confusing. Politically, one could argue that the US has been "long united" based on the acceleration of history in the 20th century. By Acceleration, we mean here that things move quicker: the Holy Roman Empire lasting 800 years vs. the American Empire lasting 80 years is a function of epoch, not strength.

Culturally and Socially, we are slowly working towards a "unification" or are we?

I remember looking at a map of Blue and Red regions (Democrat and Republican) and saw that the divisions were spread out across the US and it could be said of anywhere in the nation that "over the hill" were idiots who knew nothing about the "right way to live."

All of these topics are linked and I Know it:

Obama's rise and subsequent failure (so far) to be what we believed him to be (not his fault, but so what) and the battle over marijuana legislation in California and the divisions in a unified society ultimately will decide if we are a society "long divided" or "long united" because we, in essence, are one or the other and we are reaching a point where we will swerve in the opposite direction.

Why do I say we are reaching a point in which a change must happen? Well, because so many things (war, banking, Obama, weed, energy, climate, hippy mysticism, discontent) are, well, coming to head. Its a feeling i guess. And its one of those things that the stats back up, but no one at the coffee house really bothers to look at the stats cuz the coffee house guy just kinda feels it. (again, the never ending debate: didn't those guys FEEL something in late summer 1929? or late summer 1939? or even way back in 1529? and look. we are still here dammit, like roaches. AHA! good analogy. Roaches. How many times has a kitchen straight GOTTEN IT from a can of raid and all the roaches experienced the Apocalypse and for them, that was it? many many times. Still we have roaches. And still, many times a day, roach colonies all over the world are convinced that they FEEL something about to change their lives forever. Hence their skittering.)

Back to the tangent:

If, as is most likely, the US as a nation of people is both (divided yet united in division), then what chaos would emerge out of a nationwide about-face? Or, what is just as possible, what ennui would result out of this about-face, a switching of modes and modalities that is so widespread and involves so many people moving in opposite directions to each other that, in effect, (in math, so to say) no one is moving at all ... well ... that would be nothing to see now wouldn't it?

It would become cliche before it could have any impact because all those who turned left would ridicule those who turned right who would ridicule those who turned left and in the end Fox';s ratings would go up and the Daily Show would make jokes about it.

So i say, hit up the strip club, grab some numbers, tell jokes to your friends, eat good at the Ethiopian spot and flirt with the waitress, call yer lady up and make her giggle, read a good book, think deep and say something almost wise in front of someone you don't know that well, come up with another nickname for yer homie, check facebook again (imagine this rant slowly fading out so i can stop typing.)

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

They roundin up Hobos!

Bout to watch the Return of the King. Again. And the only reason I want to do it now is to get the full account of Gandalf the White's battle with the Balrog.

I feel quite comfortable with my fractal personality that involves serious nerdocity, hobo tendencies, sleazy charm, demagoguery and half-ass intellectualism. Add a pinch of poetic sensibility and a few shakes and splurts mystic hippy-ism and rebellious isolationism and confront it all with Ego and the terrible certainty that I have to be shattered and re-Made into One come the Rapture, or face the fate of the Father in the novel, The Road, and wander a desolate landscape estranged from the Truth and Love of God.

My boy Tenz reminds me of this race of giants called Titans in a fantasy novel. They had simple spells, but they bellowed those spells out repeatedly and loudly enough to crush any sputtering, gesturing, long sleeved wizard.

He be giggling in my ear like an ogre. And he smells like artichokes and mayonaisse. And he bought me cottage cheese for Thanksgiving, but we forgot to consume it. So now i have been gnawing on his leftover pork for days.

Johnny and me gave up World of Warcraft. If i decide to pick up the pipe again, i'll let ya'll know and feel free to harass me.

It sho aint easy, but it sho nuff necessary.

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