Thursday, June 29, 2006

The big-print headline of today's Shanghai Morning Post, a major city newspaper, is this:


  • 一些家长担心对孩子有“视觉污染”
  • 游泳馆表示只能委婉提醒

Today, the topic we are most concerned about is... (drumroll)... PDAs in local swimming pools. Parents worry that young couples hugging and kissing at public natatoriums will harm the mental development of their young children. The mother of one 6 year-old says that a child's instinct to imitate is particularly strong at that young age, so seeing these "things that should not be seen" is not so good. Pool officials say that this is personal behavior and cannot be regulated, and that they can only go so far as to issue "tactful reminders".

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I made some mistakes filling and printing out the forms for Jodi's visa application, but we got those fixed up with the help of the visa center's equivalent of ticket scalpers. The interview went great, thanks to Jodi's quick thinking. We celebrated by going out for Sichuanese at Tony's. See you folks State-side on the 11th.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

For lots of people, the highlight of tonight's Top Floor Circus show at Live Bar was when the lead singer stripped to his socks and sneakers. But for me it was their punk version of 超级女生's 想唱就唱. Top Floor Circus always drives the crowd like a racecar.

Then I hung out outside with Brad and some new friends. I ended up walking for an hour or so, which included stopping for a plate of fried rice and free soup, and then catching the 330 night bus all the way back to Zhongshan Park. Where I met a Japanese lady at the 永和大王 who wants to recruit me to work at her "venture company" here in Shanghai.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I'm going out to listen to music tonight? Wanna come? E-mail or give me a call.

Top Floor Circus is playing at the Live Bar.

I don't drink or smoke, but afterwards we can bum around the streets of Shanghai.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Why do Chinese salespeople insist on playing with the object of interest themselves, when you're the one who is supposed to be evaluating the product before making a purchase?

I picked up a kids version of 西游记 with pinyin above the characters and I've been reading it on my commute to help me with tones. It's been pretty effective in that respect. It definitely helps that I've read the original in translation, though.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Well, that was annoying. I just got a call on my China Mobile cellphone from number 0211860 (customer service) asking me if I wanted to switch from pay-as-you-go to a monthly subscription. Considering that most of my expenses are text messages and web surfing, I said no thanks.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I was disappointed with today's Morning Post, only to find a treasure trove on the front page of the Metro Express alone:

  • 网上扬言攻击政府被依法逮捕
    The police give examples of people who were recently fined or jailed for using the internet to: issue death threats against government workers, incite workers to strike, and create pictures that are critical of the government. They remind the readers to be civilized users of the internet, according to the published law.
  • 珠江口两高速客轮相撞145人全部获救

    Two boats crashed yesterday morning in the Pearl River Delta, a Zhuhai Haitong boat going from Zhuhai to Guishan and a First Ferry boat from Hong Kong to Macau. Haitong's ship suffered from major damage, resulting in a semi-dramatic picture of a boat sinking. All 145 involved were rescued.
  • 免费调度中心“渔翁得利”暂不“跟风”
    Qiangsheng and Bashi taxi companies have decided not to immediately follow Dazhong's lead in charging RMB 4 for reserving a taxi over the phone. Qiangsheng and Bashi saw their own reservations rise by 20% and 10% respectively after Dazhong implemented the surcharge yesterday. City officials say the surchage is perfectly legal, and that they are happy to let the market sort things out as long as companies are rationally managed and pursue outcomes mutually beficial to companies and customers. Passengers say they are satisfied with the current situation and will choose to use Dazhong taxis only during hours of peak demand.

In the sidebar of national and international news:

  • 山西长治发生禽流感
    Incidents of the chicken flu virus reported in Shanxi.
  • 大陆货运首次直航澎湖
    First-ever flight of cargo from Fujian's Quanzhou to Taiwan's Penghu.
  • 美国驻柬埔寨使馆意外收到14万发子弹
    American embassy in Cambodia mistakenly receives a shipment of 140,000 bullets. A representative of the Cambodian government says it was simply a shipping mistake, but is still investigating.
  • 美国副国务卿辞职将加入高盛集团
    US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick's resignation was announced yesterday by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. He will join the Goldman Sachs Group as a managing director.

From the "More Inside" section:

  • 铁路南站南北广场胡永

    Shanghai South Railway Station's north and south squares brought into use; underground tunnels facilitate transfers.
  • 网友派送“单身腕带”

    Online singles wear wristbands to attract conversation partners on the subway.
  • 美国一家族11人

    American family of 11 all have stomach removal procedure together.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Bingfeng quotes, I read, and translate:

Three Grievences Against The Way Chinese Parents Educate Their Kids

By: Unknown
Date: May 11, 2006

("You're a well-behaved child.")

In general, parents face four challenges in educating their children at home: to cultivate a healthy child-parent relationship, to raise a socially and mentally bright child, to engender their child's self-confidence, and to raise a child who can overcome challenges. In fact, these are four areas where I've seen parents fail in raising their children, leading to problems which I'll call "the three grievences."

Grievence 1: Why the need to raise a "guai" child?

There is currently a big misunderstanding in our country--that children need to be "guai". In appraising a child, it's easy to say "you're really guai!" or "you're not being guai," where guai serves as an educational guidepost, concretly meaning "obedient", indicating a child who follows teachers' or parents' instructions. But what's worth noting is that there is no corresponding word for guai in English!

In molding these batches of "goody two-shoes" kids, we often deprive kids of a space to build their self-esteem. It even gets to the point of strangling their creative ability! This turns out to be an extremely lopsided approach to the socialization process.

When handing out awards for good behavior in school, why are 7 or 8 out of every 10 given to girls? Why don't we ever see those over-active boys in the ranks of "students of the month"? It's quite simple, really; compared to boys, girls are easier to quiet down and put to work: they don't rabble-rouse, don't question the teacher. They completely conform to what society recognizes as the guai child standard.

The model students who get awards for good behavior, admittedly, are worth recognizing. But in my opinion there's also something to learn from the other kind, those naughty and disobedient kids. For example, the ones who like to fidget in class: even though they're often reprimanded by the teacher in class, each time they are disciplined they immediately dust themselves off and continue being naughty. So what I'm saying is, their ability to take hits and keep on ticking will be much stronger than that of the model students. Being able to adjust their own attitude to weather a hardship becomes a valuable ability! In the future, they will be able to face life with an unshakable optimism, an ability which will serve them well when they step into the real world.

Expert view: Disobedience is not necessarily bad behavior.

In actuality, occasional disobedience of parents by young children is a special characteristic of their mental and physical development. Some psychologists think that a 3 year-old infant who doesn't protest his parents is not developing normally. By five to six years-old, disobedient behavior should be evident. In any case, as today's child grows up in an information rich environment he absorbs information right and left, and should develop his own way of thinking about things. If parents begin to apply adult standards to their children at an overly early age they risk running afoul of the child's natural development rhythm, squelching his childhood and destroying his invaluable and unique creative self. For the parents this would be a regrettable and irreprable mistake.

A noted German developmental psychologist performed a related experiment. He did a study covering the early years of one hundred 2-5 year-old children who strongly resisted authority, compared to 100 children who didn't display this trait. The results showed that 84% of the first group of kids grew up to have a strong sense of determination, their own point of view about things, independent analytical abilities, and the capability to judge and make decisions. In contrast, only 26% of the second group grew up to have these traits: instead they tended to be less determined, less able to independently make decisions and bear responsibility for their actions. This research shows that strongly disobedient children grow up to have a strong sense of individual determination, a factor highly desired in the 21st century labor market.

(English review, test paper, study questions: "Child, here's dinner!")

Grievence 2: Why the narrow focus?

Within the context of globalization, today's childhood education has already left behind the "walled enclosure" model of the past. Even the notion of a school as a material object has been abandoned. For today's child, the level of quality of teaching resources and educational equipment has reached an level of sophistication never seen before in history.

But we should reflect on this for a bit: why, then, have the minds of children grown so narrow? They are only able to care about the things in their immediate surroundings. What happened to the grand thinking of the past, loving your country, fighting for human ideals? None of this is present in the mind of today's youth.

Because childhood education is so focused on the accumulation of knowledge, there's no time left to spend on these kinds of heroic ideals.

China's strong emphasis on education is recognized internationally. But what is not recognized is that the high emphasis on factual knowledge is a crucial factor in the narrowing of childrens' minds.

("No playing. No going out. No watching TV. No computer games.")

Grievence 3: Why children won't go home?

In talking with most parents, they will often boil the concept of "child" down to the concept of "student." In this way a child's life is reduced to a single facet, but at a high price. We should always remember: the connotation of the concept of "child" is much greater than that of "student." Besides being a good student at school, a child still has many different roles to play at home and in society at large.

Because of this, a family should not just provide a home for studying, but also a home for the soul. Why do so many university students refuse to go home for the holidays?

That's because in their eyes, home is just a "civilized prison" where their parents' only role is to be study supervisors.

Nowadays, some parents love to accompany their child as he or she does their homework. I think this is a habit worth discussing.

Generally speaking a child should adapt to his or her education, and likewise education should be adapted to the individual child. This itself is a mutually reinforcing process. But what should be pointed out is that today's parents make their child's home education unidirectional in relation to their schooling: that is, their education at home revolves around what they are learning at school. In the end, parents end up sacrificing a lot of chances to promote good qualities in their children. School can actually complement learning at home, and outstanding parents will be able to take advantage of opportunities to do so.

Don't set to many rules to limit a child's freedom. You should let your child go and do the things he likes to do, given an opportunity to show his ability to act independently. If you have reservations, use the "joint decision" method to guide him. As an example, if your child likes to play computer games, don't tell him he's not allowed to play; instead, if your grades are good enough or if you finish your homework then you can play, but each week you can only play for two hours. Turn each chance to deny your child an opportunity into a chance to create an opportunity by putting the initiative on his shoulders. In this way you can encourage independence and the desire to do the things he "must do" in order to the do the things he wants to do.

Today John sent me a link to an article called Against School: How public education cripples our kids, and why, which the author of the above essay might find interesting. I'll probably discuss it in a later post. Suffice it for now to say that I strongly agree with the essence of the "no school" movement despite being a teacher myself, and that I often use it as an inspiration for lessons.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

jayder on AskMeFi (fast becoming my newest daily read):

what was different about my mother and father's parenting was that my father constantly lectured us---he enjoyed expounding upon his conclusions about life---while my mother never lectured. My mom was more into providing us with enjoyable and educational experiences (museums, movies, festivals, art galleries).

My father and mother played almost identical roles. Does it have to be that way? I'm afraid of the situation that occhiblu describes later on:

I feel like my parents fell into fairly stereotypical gender roles when raising us, in that my father taught me structure and intellectual strength and my mother taught me to respect my emotions. The typical "dadness" my father displays tends to be, as someone mentioned above, delivered in the form of lectures or intellectual debates rather than heart-to-hearts. Which gave me a strong sense of my intellectual worth, but now, especially since my mom's gone, makes it hard sometimes to connect with him and just talk about our lives (to the point where he's explicitly said, "I don't want to hear about it," mostly jokingly, when I've had emotional quandries). I wish he could have connected with us more on a human level, rather than just as the moral-examplar "Dad" construct.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Jodi and I are going dancing at Rojam tonight with some colleagues of hers, followed by some hot 豆酱 action at Yonghe Dawang afterwards.

If you are interested, give me a call. Probably around 9pm.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

For some reason I was always under the impression that the word "meh" (as in "so-so") was of Asian origin. Maybe that's because my Asian-American friends in high school used it a lot. Language HatLog (thanks John) traces it back to the Simpsons, which lead me to search for an Asian connection. All I turn up is its use in Malaysian and Singaporean English ("Manglish" and "Singlish", respectively), but in a sense totally unrelated to its current usage: basically a partner to Mandarin's 吗.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Google Spreadsheets is mine, all mine!

It's got a buncha statistical functions, joy!

Monday, June 05, 2006

I wish I had ran across and linked to this yesterday:

Beijing lay under a thick cloud of smog on June 4. Tian'anmen Square remained open to tourists walking through it to visit the Forbidden City, and the scene at the Square appeared to be the same as ever.



Saturday, June 03, 2006

Didya notice that...? by me.

Mark Pilgrim is blogging again, and he's on a Linux kick. Joy!