Friday, June 30, 2006
I am sitting in my office thinking about many things. I am always thinking about many things. I sometimes wonder if I ever do anything. I think and think but do I ever do. I don't know the answer to that question.
I am going to go to Nanny's and think about that some more tonite. I will go with my friend the poet. Paddy is mad at me because I have not been been keeping up my share of the Blog. I agree with him. But it is not the same with his stool empty. He has been doing a great job. I mean he is in China. His photos are exotic and interesting. He is doing something that just might make a difference in the world. The stuff that I am doing right now will just make the world more like it already is.
Is there anything more important than a beer and some good music? If there is tell me why it is more important. Is the street food in China better than the street food in Adams-Morgan? Maybe it is all the rain here for the last week. I thought I was going to have to start building an Ark. I will get some audio up on here shortly. Keep the China pictures coming!!
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Time for a little distance between me and the program. I'm skipping lunch at the moment; need a little me time as they say. So I'm in my room enjoying a cold Tsingtao, listening to the soundtrack from the movie Patton, and having a good chuckle over WOPs attempts to fix the webpage. While organized, useful information is at a premium in China, food is readily available at every turn, so I don't really mind missing lunch.
This lady has become a regular on my mid-morning chow break curcuit. For the equivalent of 25 cents she serves up a wonderful hand wrap. First she paints a Chinese tortilla with a sweet brown sauce, adds chillie sauce, fresh cilantro, sprouts, noodles, garlic, and an oil-poached egg, and wraps it all up like a burrito. Outstanding! As you can see, I also have the option of beef, sausage, tofu, and ummm mystery meat. I have a feeling she and I will maintain a healthy and productive business relationship over the next four weeks - the steamed bun lady next to her lost out big time, considering my appetite for Shanghai street-food.
Now the vendor in the above photos makes a sort of crepe by spreading an egg-based batter over her flat griddle. She then fills it with chillie sauce (ubiquitous on the street), green onions, and some kind of ground meat I think. Then she wraps the crepe around a crispy block of pastry, so the entire thing looks something like a big filled envelope, which she then cuts into two with her trowl. I haven't tried this one yet, but it's on the radar screen.
Off course there's always the old standby: wok-fried noodles (with plenty of chillies of course).
Ahhhhh...I'm already distracted from the impending revolution. Whereas Pu Yui had his concubines and opium, Paddy's got his street-food (and concubines and opium- eehhm). This other guy with the big dragon-urn serves tea (as you might expect, Paddy only uses him as a photo-op).
Normally I avoid chicken...especially after 5 years in the Hogwarts' Dorm...but how can you walk by fried chicken made in a bakery without at least giving it a go? And as the flyer says: JUST DO EAT! Eat your heart out Nike; no copywrite lawyers here!
[stopped writing at 4pm - started again at 10pm]
Ok, let me ammend the above already. It was that bad. And got worse this evening when we had field-study briefings for tomorrow. First of all a group of 16 students missed the entire briefing because their dinner lasted too long. Ok, I can deal with that. Oh, and by the way, on the written schedule we received for the week 'Dine In' apparently means we take the kids OUT to a local restaurant. Hmmmm, curious you might say. It gets even better. Mr. Kwan, hale and hearty at table, finger on the pulse of the market, Asia-maniac, refuses to follow the practical route and actually give usable information to his administrative team.
---- For fuck's sake...what a day. It's now 2am and we've been dealing with a window-breaking incident since 10:30pm - more bout that maybe later. -- For double Fuck's sake...it's now 12 noon the following day and the State is buckling from confusion and discontent. The angry mobs have yet to take to the streets, but they are certainly gathering in the dark recesses of the city. We've been forced to issue an October Manifesto of sorts to retain some loyalties among our Teaching Assistants (after I sort of bit the head off of one who tried to tell me this morning that she was offended that I had read a newspaper about a Chinese sports commentator who openly rooted for Italy against Australia and was shamed into apologizing to the nation) - the pampered pukes! It's almost time to secure the armory and sieze powder supplies.
To paraphrase Sullivan Ballou: I have no misgivings about or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how the Program now leans upon the triumph of the Administration. And how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of previous years and I am willing, perfectly willing, to lay down all the joys of my life to repay that debt.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Alright WOP, all your playing around with the color and shit has resulted in a rather screwy page. I get an initial flash of horrid monkey-shit green when the blog comes up, which then resorts to the original bland template colors and the postings start about 12 inches down the page. What's going on over there man? Are you spending your entire day watching football at the bar in Nanny's and then attempting to alter the code? Come on, clean it up Buster.
As an alternative, I visited Jing'an Temple (the rainbow colored swaztikas called out to me) and lit up in another way. Though the insense didn't quite satisfy like a Lucky Strike, the bowing kept me distracted enough to avoid the smoke shop for another hour or so. (I was reciting the Hail Mary by the way, for those of you out there thinking I was searching for some sort of non-existence.Pffft!) Apparently I missed the Festival of the Bathing Buddha, but I gotta figure that in this heat and humidity the ol' Buddha is just bathing in sweat, which is a bit of a turn off as festvals go in my book.
Ok so this temple dates back to like AD247, but not really since most of it was destroyed in the mid-19th century (probably by some long-nosed, white ghost barbarians after the monks refused to beg for opium), and yet the only bit of information my guidebook wants to tell me about the place is that some wise-guy named Khi Vehdu ran the temple in the 1930s, that he was almost 2 meters tall (what is that, like 6ft?), had a large following (posse more like it), and that each of his seven concubines owned a house and a car. Golly! No wonder there are more and more monks signing up every day. I'm not sure if it's the concubines, the cars, or the Burger King on the back wall of the Temple. Well at least we all know why the Buddha is so happy.
Ok, so a few hundred gong-smacks later I realized I fail miserably with the sincere Buddha thing and moved on to Tai-chi.
Monday, June 26, 2006
I thought Wop would get a kick out of this sign I came across in the airport. Commuism may be dead in China, but vestiges of the dream remain. (I'm not convinced that the real workers can actually afford international travel, but it's good to know they have a service dedicated to the principal of the Internationale anyway).
The last of the students arriving at our hotel - yes I'm basically living out of a hotel room for 7 weeks. This is a conference center for foreigners on the campus of East China Normal University. Of course they have to keep the foreigners happy and insulated from the realities of normal living conditions.
So how was Nanny's last weekend? And has anyone located Moon Pie yet?
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Friday, June 23, 2006
The amazing thing about the Internet is the way it frees people to share their experiences with each other. All of the wonderful posts from Paddy in China have raised the level of this Blog. I wish I was with him eating "Baby Lobster" or reaching into a platter of steaming lamb and chomping away on animal flesh.
But as I stare at Paddy's empty bar stool I can only wish for his return so I have someone to complain to. It seems I cannot find the Poet though I will try to tonight.
To remind Paddy of where I will spend Friday night....I may even wear my Hiberian t-shirt as I play a Harp and listen to the Angels.
Sorry for the food hang-up, but...well, this is Paddy, and if you didn't know I have a thing for eating (one of the deeper connections between Wop and me). So apparently here in Shanghai we're in the season of 'baby lobsters,' or crayfish, one of the most sought after dishes in Shanghai (besides Paddy that is). So after the Muslim hand-grabbing I thought i'd take the advice of the placard (Chinese are WAY into slogans) and GRASP THE CRAYFISH.
The back gate of the university comes to life after 6pm on a Friday night, completely transformed into a kinda of semi-precious county fair atmosphere. Bicycles with coal grills on the back open shop with BBQ corn on the cob, squid, chicken, beef...AND STEAMED BABY LOBSTER of course. This is quite the scene.
And the result... Pao Pepper Crayfish. I'm sure I should have read something about hepatitis A and B, but...what the fuck, it's Baby Lobster season.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Hmmm...after much thought I say: "Eat him anyway!"
So for the first week in the PRC Paddy's program director, Mr. Kwan, has treated me to a moveable feast throughout the city. Mr. Kwan, a man of refinement and taste, enjoys showing off Shanghai's food scene and has been impressed with Paddy's adventurousness when it comes to eating.
While in Beijing Sully introduced me to Muslim food - as made by the Uighurs, a Central Asian ethnic minority from Xinjiang province - and I'm hooked. So Mr. Kwan sent us off to Aini Bayi Restaurant where we tucked into platters of mutton and chicken. Two special favorites were 'Big Plate Chicken' (on lower left), I added the ribbon noddles to soak up the rich spicey brown gravy, and Nan Zhou (right platter), wonderful, thick-cut flat bread fried with heavily spiced (cumin mostly) lamb and onions. Of course all washed down with copious amounts of Xinjiang Beer. Outstanding all around! Of course the Delicate Flower found it all difficult to digest and appreciate (I will never respect anyone who willingly accompanies a meal with Sprite!); I think he ate the cup of plain youghert, which Paddy used to dredge his chunks of animal flesh. We finished the flesh feast off with 'Hand Grabbing Meat' (below), a platter of boiled lamb rib, staked ribs alternately layered with fat and served with carrots and onions. The meat was succulent, though, in Paddy's opinion, rather bland, and was supposed to be dipped in a side dish of salt. Not my favorite. I did, of course, enjoy the hand grabbing.
Taeko, being Japanese, of course refused the Hand Grabbing, and dug in with the chops. Her assessment of the meat fest: "Yang pai hao chi - lamb rib delcious!"
Well it's almost noon. Mr. Kwan and lunch awaits.
adendum: Well, we were to dine at one of Shanghai's better Sichuan restaurants for lunch today, but as you can see in the photo it was rather difficult finding a table, or the restaurant for that matter. Says something about the pace of change here in Shanghai and the construction boom that has taken hold over the past decade. Apparently, in just the past five years, the city has built office space equivalent to all of the offices in New York City. So no Sichuan hot pot, but piff paff, left turn and we're into another Uighar hangout with more spicey grilled lamb. (I'm going to be so fat by the time I make it back to DC. Oh, and Delicate Flower is really wracking up the points in the little game of perpetual annoyance he's playing.)
A contented Paddy tucks into another heap of spicey animal with Mr. Kwan. Tres bon appetite I'd say.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
5am Thursday finds me awake and rested after a few days of even more bizarre sleeping habits than usual - and here is the lovely view of the world from my window on the 6th floor of the conference center at the China East Normal University in Shanghai. I figure I better develop some sort of writing habit here or the dream of PaddyWop-as-cultural-dialogue (rant?) will go the way of the CCP in Shanghai, i.e. an ambitious and well-intentioned enterprise that somehow got pushed aside by business and fashion. Ok, so Shanghai...well I just noticed as I write that my google search has gone all Chinese on me. Now Paddy's already getting good at ordering hip Asian fusion food in Mandarin, but cheking the weather is another thing. Which brings me to the issue at hand: IT'S HOT! Hot in a dear-me-some -fat-German-businessman-just dumped-another-cup-of-water-on-sauna-stones kind of way. Hot as in "Odds botkins Jarmyn, what's a man of your stature and girth doing roamin the streets without a sedan chair at this hour?" (The right honorable, and quite gout-ridden, Fezzywig Constantine representing the rotten borough of Bowie-on-the-Wold knows what I'm talking about here.) At 5am the temp stands at 84F! This is NOT Paddy weather to be sure, but I'm coping. The world outside the Yifu Building here at China East Normal University is just a public, but keep your crows on preez mister, sauna. But no worries. As you can see my ever resourceful Directress has discovered a 'New' way to beat the heat.
OH AND Paddy has already developed irritation at a certain administrative staff member (a fellow from Hogwarts who recently endured the blue box ceremony) who's proving to be quite the delicate flower when it comes to just about anything, heat, eating, walking, work, etc. (more bout that later maybe). [The other photo on top was taken on central campus, in front of the 'administration' building; but hey, it's a communist university so it's all administration right.]
In the rapidly approaching-legendary EFF vs. AT&T suit currently underway, the Justice Department has filed a brief claiming that they are above judicial review (and I quote):
"The court-even if it were to find unlawfulness upon in camera, ex parte review-could not then proceed to adjudicate the very question of awarding damages because to do so would confirm Plaintiffs' allegations."Or, as the EFF interprets the government's statement:
Essentially the Government is saying that, even if the Judiciary found the wholesale surveillance program was illegal after reviewing secret evidence in chambers, the Court nevertheless would be powerless to proceed, because the Executive has asserted that the Program, which has been widely reported in every major news outlet, is nevertheless still such a secret that the Judiciary (a co-equal branch under the Constitution) cannot acknowledge its existence by ruling against it. In short, the Government asserts that AT&T and the Executive can break the laws crafted by Congress, and there is nothing the Judiciary can do about it.If you'll recall, the Executive Branch has already made the Legislative irrelevant by creating federal agencies which can essentially make laws through regulation. The judicial is, of course, the next logical target.
Louis-Quatorze would have been proud! L'Etat, c'est moi!
- The Duke
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Ok - well first of all, I did make it on the flight, after, get this, learning that it didn't depart until 7:55am. Ah well, it's always good to give WOP a little practice on the 10 minute run from Hogwarts to National Airport. No here's the real rub: apparently the Commies block the display of the blog, though I think I can still post for some reason know only to the senior cadre. I'm going to need someone to e-mail me and let me know if this post gets through before I write more.
Monday, June 19, 2006
After a send off night at Nanny's and one final chorus of Go Hom British Soldiers for the summer I raced to the airport with Paddy, barely arriving with my life intact and on time for his plane. Paddy departed for 7 weeks in the Peoples Republic of China and will be missed for everyday of that time. He will be checking into the blog and keeping us apace of his adventures. I look at Paddy as a modern day Marco Polo (Italian) during his sojourn in the east. So that leaves the Duc and the Poet for my Nanny companions!!
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Brother Whiggy arrived on this planet in the first century B.C. His father owns France and his mother smells nutmeg. After many long years of arbitration, he is no longer related to Adolph Coors, though his single sibling Pat believes Whiggy is the Oracle of Delphi and continually petitions the Greek government for free Ouzo and Olives.
In 1998, Brother Whiggy came to Ann Arbor Abbey to earn a little extra pocket money as "The Maid," but his career was cut short due to a union dispute. His favorite book is entitled, "Lesbian Mimes Break Silence." He loves everything and his hobbies include black rage, nude cycling, cultural revolutions, hay, and ignoring gravity. His turnoffs include the spoken word, cheap imported rebar, yesterday, and Lichtenstein.
A native of Rapanui ("Easter Island"), Brother Wog claims to be the inventor of Edam cheese, though he is a strict macrobiotic vegan. His father was over eight feet tall and his mother was famous in her day for cooking several visitors at the Chicago World's Fair. Brother Wog has 237 sisters named Gretel and his brother, Hansel, is missing and presumed bread.
Brother Wog's high mechanical aptitude first brought him to the attention of the monks of Ann Arbor Abbey. He arrived in the summer of 1998, expecting to enjoy his "free skiing vacation," and has been held as an honored prisoner ever since. He loves all varieties of soil, especially dirt, and collects it voraciously. His turnoffs include the Marquis de Sade, iceberg lettuce, 6:15 A.M., beanie babies and other crimes against humanity.
[Cheers to the masters of Weasel Breweries ]
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
New research suggests that drinking lots of coffee significantly decreases your chances of suffering from cirrhosis of the liver.
From the article:
"People drinking one cup of coffee per day were, on average, 20% less likely to develop alcoholic cirrhosis. For people drinking two or three cups the reduction was 40%, and for those drinking four or more cups of coffee a day the reduction in risk was 80%"Hurrah, I say! Tragically, it seems that tea DOES NOT bestow this wonderful protective effect upon one's liver. On the other hand, this means my Swedish friend had it right all along. "To make Swedish coffee, take a krona and put it in a coffee cup. Add coffee until you can't see the krona, then add vodka until you can see it again."
What do you expect from a country where they only get 4 hours of sunlight a day?
Brother Cormier was born. His father once met Eartha Kitt and his mother was Eartha Kitt. He has no brothers, one of whom was named after Asteroid 1967-12B. In 1997, Brother Cormier came to Ann Arbor Abbey seeking a ride back to his place. He loves to eat animals and his hobbies include door-to-door encyclopedia collection, dogsledding to work, home fusion, dental hygiene, and the Captain Marvel/Isis Power Hour. His turnoffs include fuzz, the Whig Party, Denny Tario, objects at rest, and objects in Motion.
Brother Pathos was born in 1969 in El Paso at the State Theater during the dusty, west Texas town's first and only showing of Federico Fellini's "Satyricon." Both of his parents were killed in the resulting riot and fire, but the infant Pathos was saved from the inferno by an aspiring country songwriter and avid Marty Robbins fan. Pathos lived with this kindly but entirely doomed young songster until he was killed only months later in a shoot out at Rosa's Cantina with a wild young cowboy over a Mexican barmaid named Felina. Pathos was spirited away during the gunfight by an old Commanche shaman named Four Rears, who was himself killed in a bizarre rhubarb related incident in Burlington, Vermont less than a year later.
This was to be the pattern of young Pathos' life for the next eighteen years, as successive guardians met death by flood, tornado, coyote, falling safe, meteorite, exploding piano bench, soup, premature burial, hurricane, ennui, Hanta virus, circular saw, sunburn, spontaneous decapitation, shingles, base jumping, carbon monoxide poisoning, sniper, rusty nail, involuntary organ donation, narcolepsy, and cork. Brother Pathos joined the Order in 1999, and since arriving at Ann Arbor Abbey, not a single monk has perished, though the abbey remains on permanent death watch. Understandably, Pathos' interests are almost entirely limited to brewing, modern Italian surrealism, and snuff films.
[Eternal thanks to the boys at Weasel Breweries]
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
As far as cycles of history go, the West has been 'on the rise' arguably since the 15th century at least. Have we perhaps reached to apogee of power and relevance? If, as Max Weber contends, culture matters, then might not that so-called Protestant ethic (and Judeo-Christian and Greaco-Roman heritage) which got us this far (i.e. to political liberalism, industrialization, the nation state and military dominance) still matter? The issue here that may lead to our collapse, or at least decline into the nugatory, seems twofold: 1) one can argue that we have, in fact, lost a common heritage, a common culture from which we traditionally drew strength. There are no longer accepted standards of education or even agreement upon what texts or ideas should be studied and known to a Westerner. More often, we now force students into 'understanding' the non-Westerner, spending more energy making them swallow (oh and they better like it; no dissent or argument about the importance of the text please) the Koran and read minor (and just plain bad) African writers than understand the importance of a Shakespeare, Voltaire, or Hamilton. And 2) In the emerging era of integrated economies, a globalized workforce, assymetrical warfare, and megapolei (yes, I'm thinking Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo here) the Western cultural traditions no longer carry the day anyway. The same process that Max Weber observed developing in the 16th century with regard to Calvinism may indeed be underway in Asia today. Now Paddy's understanding of the Analects is, admittedly shallow, but I wonder if there is something about the 'Confucist Ethic' (authoritarian, disciplined, family oriented, communal/social, where the individual is less important than the community) that especially suits the emerging social situation in the advanced cities of the world. I'll propose just one example of contrasts to show what I mean: Washington DC --> racially segregated and crime-ridden ghetto of poor/skyrocketing crime rate (over 7300 violent crimes per 100,000 people)/nearly 35% of children in USA born out of wedlock (much higher the further down the education/poverty ladder...i.e. large parts of DC)/ well over 50% or marriages end in divorce. AND THEN THERE's Tokyo --> racists, yes, but against outsiders, not domestic populations/a barely perceptable crime rate by our standards (under 50 violent crimes per 100,000 people)/ 1% of children born out of wedlock (and believe me, that 1% brings shame upon themselves and their families)/16% of marriages end in divorce. Is there something here that concerns culture and tradition that we're losing, but which is fortifying Asia for the struggles -- social, economic, and political -- ahead?
And , yes, if you couldn't tell, Paddy is involved in a crash course of Asian studies in preparation for the summer in China, which prompts such musings. Now where did that geisha get to with my Guinness??!
Sunday, June 11, 2006
While we're waiting for WOP to post his "counterattack from hell", check out this interesting article in the Washington Post about the increasing usage of prescription amphetamines such as Adderall and Ritalin by high-school and college students who have not been diagnosed with any problem.
The Duke personally knows several people who are in the habit of grinding up Ritalin and snorting it before big tests. Since we here at Paddywop hate anecdotal data however, we're going to conduct a totallly unscientific Paddywop Poll (TM). If you are a high school or college student, please write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org , and tell us whether or not you or somebody you know regularly uses cogntive-enhancement of the chemical sort.
The boys really went off on me the other day about Ivan Illich. They really had me fired up but rather than attack rashly I am retreating and preparing the counter-offensive from hell. Stay tuned for it...But to more pleasant topics
Pasty Whalen came to Nanny's this weekend and the boys were there like never before. Patsy and Brian were at their best, pounding out wonderful renditions of all of our favorite songs. They did a great version of Boys of the Old Brigade and Patsy played Orange Blossom Special like it has never been played before. I was just in awe. The boys are becoming such fixtures at Nanny's that Pasty and Brian now join us on the breaks. It is great fun. Patsy and Brian have a new CD coming out soon and we can't wait to review it here at PaddyWop. I had the MP3 player out at Nanny's and I hope to put a few clips up after editing. Paddy even got some video of one song and we are working on that also. Stay tuned!
If you have been following the Blog you know that we also met a retired Major General on Saturday night. He was a real down to earth guy and a lot of fun to be with. We will stay in touch with him and, who knows, maybe even get him to write some things for PaddyWop. He is a real Irishman, himself. Paddy has the same awe for Generals as I do for Princesses.
One last remark....the poem recited herself again at the bar.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
After floating a whisky to one of our Irish boys in uniform -- luckily it wasn't Marine Corps Birthday this time -- we struck up a conversation with Maj. Gen. Mike Sullivan (USMC ret.). Now this guy has got the stories: 400 sorties over North Vietnam. He flew um f-4s I think (is that correct WOP?) out of Danang on bombing missions over Hanoi and B-52 protection. And even though this guy still defends W's (the other W, not WOP) so-called military service, Paddy and WOP have an open invitation to North Carolina for shrimp and beers with the general and buddies.