Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Answer to Societal Corruption? A Liberal Arts Education: The Chinese Stanley Fish Speaks

Today, browsing Professor Liu Cheng's blog, I came across a fascinating interview with the dean of Fudan University, the top university in Shanghai and one of the top universities in China.  Of course, while I'm always thrilled to read every dean interview I can get my hands on, it was the title of this interview that particularly intrigued me: "The Collapse of the Chinese University Consciousness."

It seems fair to ask what consciousness existed that could have collapsed, as it was only thirty years ago that many of China's universities re-opened after being shut down for years during the Cultural Revolution.  Well, Dean Yang answers that:

“If there's corruption, bribery, and sex-power transactions even within the universities, then is there any point in talking about social trust at large? Universities are getting carried away with following the trends, and have become employment services. ...."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What'll it be World...Cup or Expo?

If you haven't heard, the World Expo's taking place right now in Shanghai, the same time that South Africa's hosting the World Cup.  Assuming you had to pick one to visit, to which would you go?

I'm a fan of an educated decision, so let's look at the stats:

Stats de Excess
  • Shanghai's spent forty-five billion US dollars on the event, more than was spent on the Beijing Olympics.
  • South Africa's spent over five billion US dollars, nearly 2% of its GDP.

Stats de Exasperation
Factor de la Determination

So, as far as excess and exasperation indicators go, they're running neck and neck. What to do? Please allow me to offer the determining factor: their official songs.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tennis and Implicit Quality

I'm no good at writing home about my day. Sometimes I'll write home – paragraphs, pages – and I'll still get this reply from my mom, “That's nice Seth, but what have you been doing?” So here goes. I'm going to try and stick to a narrative.

Yesterday my girlfriend and I went to play tennis. It's the first time she's ever played, which I felt gave me good odds. Thus far, we've only played sports that were geared to her strengths (coordination, focus, poise, general motor skills) and not to mine (the fact that I'm twice her size). Of the racquet/paddle sports, then, tennis was the natural choice, especially because she's had a plastic dry cleaning bag stuffed with over one hundred brand new tennis balls sitting on her balcony for over five years -- a present from a friend at an athletic club who never bothered to ask her if she owns a tennis racquet, plays tennis, or puts much stock into gift presentation.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wen and Wenceslas

Here's the title of a recent article I saw on, “We have to show care and concern for the new generation of peasant [migrant] workers just like we would for our own children.”

“On June 14th, on the approach of the Chinese people's joyful celebration of the Dragon Boat Festival [Duan Wu Jie], Premier Wen Jia Bao successively visited a number of child welfare institutions, the 'Modernize/Enrich One's Country' Community, and the construction site at the Line Six 'Peace' subway stop; [he went] to call on orphaned and disabled children and those receiving little social aid, to understand the current vegetable supply and price situations at the farmers' market, and to convene a 'new generation of migrant workers' symposium.”

I have great respect for Premier Wen Jia Bao (see my earlier posts on his “dignity” comments), and it was with equally great interest that I opened the link to this article about Wen's recent day with the people. As I've mentioned earlier, “Grandpa Wen” is the human side of the central government, a side that has been increasingly shown in the news media. Proving again that no one can compete with China in either photo op quality or quantity, Wen managed to visit poor and disabled children, poor pensioners, the poor pensioners' market, and the new generation of poor migrant workers all in one morning. (Showing care and concern for one dispossessed group is good. Showing care and concern for every dispossessed group is better.)

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