Friday, August 17, 2007

ahoy! moving!

Tilt your browsers over to Barking at the Sun.

That's my new blog. If you're one of the two people who link to my site, please update your links.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

screen shots of the new website

Front page:

Blog:

Still aiming to have it all finished by the end of August. I'm having trouble making my design into a wordpress template because I am not a talent when it comes to HTML and, more specifically, PHP.

Let me know what you think of the design.

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back--stuff from a newspaper--wherein i ask important questions

So I'm back from AMERICA and it was everything I thought it would be--bright and sunny and filled with lots of my parents' tasty desserts. I think I gained like ten pounds over there. I also did many other important things when I was there, such as eat ribs and numerous potato dishes.

But, I must say, the most important and exciting part of my trip was actually on the way home, on my China Air flight from San Francisco to Chengdu, when I discovered that somehow I always get aisle seats on plains. Due to the small size of my very active bladder, this quite obviously means that god both exists is intimately concerned about the quality of my life.

***

Anyway, China Air is actually a pretty good carrier, with pleasant staff, fairly roomy seats, and food that is both free and not awful (well, on the international flights, anyway). They also provide complimentary newspapers, including a number of Chinese papers and also USA Today, the most colorful paper in America.

With a 12 hour flight looming ahead of me, I snatched one of the USA Todays quickly and firmly, keeping it close to breast in case any fellow travelers got any smart ideas related to stealing it from me. After sitting down and losing myself in the giant full-color weather map on the back page for about three hours, I scanned the paper for any China news. I found one article and it was absolutely colorless--I mean, really, there was one picture and it was, like, only black and white. Regardless, I dove in and read the entire thing, "Hidden culprit of product scandal made in China" (online version here).

Thankfully, it was just about light and fluffy enough for me to feel like I learned something. Of course, it's the feeling of being knowledgeable on a subject that's most important to me and, thankfully, it's just this kind of feeling that American media is more than happy to provide me with. Sadly, I like to have color images so that the feelingness of my knowledge is even more intense, and this article simply failed to deliver.

I should try to be fair, however. Its contents almost took it past pure feeling into the realm of solid knowledge. The author rather bravely attempted to show China's side of the product safety scandals, and to explain how at least part of the blame ought to be placed on American companies and consumers. In fact, despite the worthless personal anecdote at the start of the story, I was actually only partially completely dissatisfied with it. That is, until I got to the last paragraph:
Recall that for a thousand years, China was the source of nearly all the world's finest products and luxuries. It is capable practically and culturally of enforcing the highest standards, so long as we are, too.
Uh, what?

I guess the author received his education on world history from a mainland history textbook, because he clearly suffers from a common disorder over here, which is to distort China's history to the point where it is pre-eminent in world affairs prior to, I don't know, say 1842. That's not to say it wasn't pre-eminent at some points nor is it to say that it wasn't pre-eminent for a long time nor is it to say that it wasn't the most technically advanced country for some time; it's just that power balance back in the day is pretty tricky to quantify at present, as was the speed of progress and the proliferation of new inventions. When Europe was in its dark ages China was certainly the far more advanced of the two; but beginning with the European renaissance, that all began to change quite quickly.

I can think of a couple things that were considered luxury items and came from China--silk, porcelain, and tea; but I as far as I'm aware, many of the world's luxury items came from locations as diverse as, well, all the entire world. Did pearls orginate in China? Aged French wine? Caviar? Mink coats? Diamonds? Rolls Royce? Scotch? Lapis Lazuli? Snuff? Any of the worlds thousands of spices? Opium and its derivatives? Cashmere?

Why do writers on China, both Chinese and not, so easily fall into this trap of
skewing world history to being China-centric? Is it because for so long Western writers have unfairly skewed world history to be Western-centric, and this is some kind of unconscious correcting of the scales?

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