Monday, September 27, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
You learn something every day. 紅樓夢本為清朝禁書，由和珅勸乾隆解禁。
好比，If it were not for Mussolini, today we would probably not have the chance to enjoy Vivaldi. His music had been forgotten, but Mussolini, in his quest to inflate Italian pride, prompted musicians who dug out these almost extinct scores. The first people in the
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
What is the wind in a typhoon like? you may ask. The east coast got Force 17 gales, but in
A big wind blows down trees, as they discovered recently in
For some preliminary gusts, please click here:::
We put a fitted tarp on our car and parked it in a protected place. The wind blew off the tarp, but luckily it wrapped around the mirror. Otherwise, they would have picked it up on the radar in
Bawnay said, "Strange, it didn't rain in our village." Yeah, they're drying out there, they got only 90mm of rain yesterday.
They lost their electric power. Bawnay said, "有時候過沒有電的生活也很不錯！Sometimes it’s nice to spend some time without electricity."
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Please remember that today is the most sacred of holidays, Talk Like A Pirate Day, and be sprightly about it, matey, if you know what’s good for you.
We celebrated TLAPD by hunkering down as this typhoon poured water all over us. Then at around three in the afternoon, the wind came up to blow. That's when I really got into the spirit of TLAPD, because the wind blew down a clump of my 巨竹 giant bamboo, which was finally, after how many years? getting gigantic: AARRGGHH!
Fortunately it fell away from the house, but the stalks were crushing a couple trees, so I got out a good saw and my laraw (headhunting knife) and went out to hack them down a bit, singing
Blow you winds in the morning,
Blow you winds Hi Ho,
It's clear away your giant bamboo
And Blow, Boys, Blow!
all the while ruminating on the deep question, what does Talk Like a Pirate Day (TLAPD) have to do with the pirates on the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)? Worth considering.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Recording his journeys in Taiwan in 1869, Edward C Taintor wrote, "I had hitherto always held Keelung [基隆] to be the filthiest town in the universe, not deeming it within the bounds of possibility that a place could be worse than it; but a visit to Suao [蘇澳] forced me to confess my mistake. Suao thus far, in my experience, bears the palm, with little danger of losing it."
Not to be disrespectful, but if you look at the English language literature concerning Taiwan before 1945, whether written by explorers, scientists, or missionaries, the words that invariably pop up are 'dirty' and 'filthy.'
Not that everything was cleaned up immediately after the Japanese warlords surrendered. In the summer of 1973, Josh came for a visit. One day when we were coming out of the mountains, we reached Suao, which in those days was as far as the train from
Before the sugar cane had bounced, Josh said, "No, ask her to wash it." So I asked her to wash it. She was completely befuddled. "Wash it? What for?" "It fell on the ground." "So? Is there something wrong with that?" "But it’s dirty." "Dirty??" "Yes, it fell on the ground so it’s dirty." You could see she had no idea what I was complaining about, and kept on peeling the cane. I said, "Look, if you don't wash that piece, we aren't buying the sugar cane." She gave me a look that said, What won't these crazy foreigners come up with next, and washed the sugar cane for us… in the grey sewage flowing out of the pipe. Josh immediately lost his appetite for sugar cane.
So you see, progress has been made!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Today when I was cleaning this tea bowl, it slipped and broke. My old friend Tang Sefang gave me this in 1983. The cap broke in 1999. Sic transit gloria mundi
Sunday, September 12, 2010
After yesterday's somber commemoration, today we will commemorate the day, September 12, 1940, seventy years ago exactly, that four French teenage boys, some refugees from the Nazi occupation, went for a ramble on a hillside. Their dog Robot popped down a hole left when a tree fell over, and in searching for Robot, the boys discovered the glorious painted cave called
Shortly after its discovery, Picasso visited the cave, and said concerning modern art, "We have invented nothing."
There’s a virtual tour here::: Look on the left for Visite de la grotte.
This is also worth reading.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Capt. Tom Daniel, a retired career Navy man who teaches the Navy JROTC program at
On the anniversary, Captain Daniel says, "the most important lesson is pretty much what we emphasize every day – and that’s being good citizens," not necessarily by joining the military but by doing their best in whatever profession they choose. "That's how you pay back society for the privileges that you have as an American citizen."
for the complete article, read here::
Friday, September 10, 2010
I hope he comes back again.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
In his brilliant Categories of Medieval Culture, A I Gurevich (Арон _ Гуревич) points out that during the Middle Ages, "value belonged exclusively to what was old."
In Beowulf as well as in Viking sagas, the hero's sword is extolled because it was passed down from his grandfather or generations before. Imagine today's Rambo or Terminator appearing on the scene with an old single shot .303 Lee Enfield rifle.
Nowadays we do not value what is old. Yesterday I took an on-line survey rating a product from 1 to 10, hard to use 1, easy to use 10; unreliable 1, reliable 10; ugly 1, beautiful 10; old 1, young 10. This is how modern society values the old.
Experience is not esteemed in an age where tools do all your work for you. A 毛筆 Chinese writing brush takes years of practice to control, as does a quill pen. You can change fonts with the click of a mouse, and use WordArt and other programs to modify your words. If you don't know how to use WordArt, fiddle with it, you can master it within five or ten minutes.
The phrase 功夫 kung-fu, or gungfu, is often mistakenly used in English to refer to Chinese martial arts, but actually it means the skill developed through time and effort, and does not necessarily have anything to do with a martial art. Martial arts necessarily require years of practice, but any skill requires kung fu, be it sweeping the floor or playing a guitar.
When you have shot a stickbow long enough to wear out several bowstrings, your arrows begin to go where you want them to, more or less. A beginner with a well-tuned compound bow and zero pin gap fiber optic bubble level sight can group arrows within half an hour, and a sighted crossbow practically shoots itself. Our tools are so efficient that they allow for no sense of achievement.
Small wonder that we place little value on what is old. By the time you get your newly purchased software up and running, it is obsolete. Who has time to devote to making your own clothes when they will be out of fashion by the time you finish? The key here is that once you have paid the purchase price for a product, you need to feel dissatisfied, in order for the producer to make further profits on your next purchase. Out with the old, in with the new!
Fashionable modern life is a marionette show. People proudly strut and posture, yanked back and forth by the irresistible demands of advertising.
Sunday, September 05, 2010
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Mark Twain said, "Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it." (although it appears his collaborator on The Gilded Age, Charles Dudley Warner, actually wrote the statement). Okay, now I'm doing something about it: I'm posting another piece of cheerful blather about it on my blog.
Okay, now, everybody, repeat after me in your best American accent: amAAAAzing!!