Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May 21

Two reasons why Harold Camping couldn't make an accurate prediction about Rapture: (1) He never finished reading the Bible; (2) He's an Amercian who sucks at math.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Situation in Egypt

Mr. Mubarak, wise man once say: "Admitting failure like drinking bitter tea" (Charlie Chan in Egypt). Also, public sentiments, like fickle girl, privileged to change mind.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

kiss my butt, bro

The Alabama governor should have said, in the parlance of his fellow Republican governor from Maine a few days ago, "If you have not accepted Jesus, you can just kiss my butt." Nothing beats the brotherly and sisterly love of butt kissing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


One enormous consequence of the Wikileaks is that suddenly we don't know what's real and what's not. Many of these documents were originally intentional disinformation. "Leaking" them now endows them with certain credibility. Charlie Chan say, "To know forgery, one must have original." But where's the original?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

new san

They name many places "new" in New England, but they are mostly going back in time. They name many places "saint" in California, but they are often cities of sin.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Prop 19

I feel conflicted over California's Prop 19, which would legalize marijuana. The state badly needs tax money, but the passage of the proposition would only provoke the federal govenrment to reinforce its own law, spelling trouble for my angel-eyed students. I would hate to miss those papers that are full of "visionary" ideas.

Friday, October 29, 2010

from coolie to cool

I'm waiting to see if China will win the bid on California's super-railway. Last time the Chinese built railroads here was in the 1860s, when the Chinese coolies and the Irish crew finished the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. Many lives were lost. This time, China will build it with technology--no more coolie, only cool aid.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010




Alex Sink, the current Democratic candidate for governor in Florida, is the great-granddaughter of Chang and Eng Bunker, the Siamese Twins. Like the Twins, shrewd businessmen who knew how to take the country by storm, Sink has worked in the banking industry for years and has been the Chief Financial Officer for the state. I was impressed by her debating skills--she battled her opponent last night on CNN. Come Nov. 3, just imagine how the headlines in Florida newspapers would flash: "Alex Sinks Rick Scott" or vice verso.

Friday, October 22, 2010

man up

I hate hearing wheeling-and-dealing, spineless politicians calling on each other to "man up" on this and that. Even worse, they use it only as a rhetorical gimmick during debates, to taunt, catcall, and disguise their own inability for a civil, candid, informed discussion ("That's in the First Amendment?!)--the cornerstone of a great democracy. Will the real Charlie Chan please man up?

hello, yokels

Just read Deborah Fallows' smart and clear-as-water book, "Dreaming in Chinese." As a trained linguist, she chooses the topic of Chinese words and builds her book around it, weaving in her own experience of living in China. It's the kind of book I like, a hot plate of chop suey, seemingly simple, mixing up things, and mysterious as Charlie Chan's "Confucius say." It cracks me up, however, when she addresses the term 老百姓 (laobaixing, "ordinary people"). Fallows writes, "At the showcase military parade in honor of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic, President Hu Jintao deliberately invoked the Party-speak of the Moaist era, bypassing laobaixing for the culturally laden period word tongzhi [comrade]." As good a linguist as she is, Fallows doesn't seem to understand how the term is used in Chinese. For Hu to say "Greetings, laobaixing" would be somewhat like saying "Hello, y'all yokels!"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

all about walls

In the days after the announcement of the Nobel Prize for Peace, my email messages to friends and family in China bounced back like ping pong balls hitting against a concrete wall (that was, by the way, how I used to practice ping pong as a kid). Qin Emperor's Great Wall really pales before the Great Firewall of China today. Aiya!