Friday, April 30, 2010

Someone Sufferes More Than Others

San Francisco Chronicle reported that Oakland mayor Ron Dellums broke his promise to take pay cut, citing family difficulties. Apparently, to Mayor Dellums, someone suffered more than others and that person was him.

San Francisco is debating on boycotting the state of Arizona due to the draconian immigration law passed there. Shouldn't San Francisco start from home and boycott Oakland as well?

Swamp /  沼澤 / Sumpf

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Drill or Not to Drill, Mr. Obama?

Facing the catastrophe of the oil spill in Gulf of Mexico, I hope that President Obama will retract his Offshore Oil Drilling Plans.

We cannot drill our way to prosperity. Obama, without a fight, gave much to his opponents. It is time for him to find terra firma again.

Explosion / 爆破 / Ausbruch

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Happiness of Denial

New immigrants to the United States of America are often struck by how insistently sunny, cheerful and youthful Americans aspire to be. This touching naïveté in the end becomes annoying. Many new immigrants wondered when would these Americans grow up and face the reality. They do, alas, only through the Reality TV shows.

Recently, a writer friend of mine mentioned a culture phenomena in his blog Retreat to happiness, relating a story reported by a not always reliable newspaper, that many adults in the US are fleeing from serious themed novels and literature, and trying to find comfort in teenage literature. Though the original source is not reliable, I would rather believe in this reporting. The trend is obvious. Instant reward and satisfaction, easy fame, great sense of humor, things Americans treasure are mostly luxury in reality-based countries and cultures. The one here is the wonderland of group-hugs. Growing up? Not a chance. Both Bush and Obama have been adamant that we [the Americans] will not change our lifestyle, after the trauma of September 11 attack and economic meltdown. Only if it can be sustained.

Awakening / 喚醒 / Wecken

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Clout of Unions

The unions in the US have suffered great membership decline in the past decades. One cannot pin all the causes on the efforts of union busters. Many unions have become so ossified and only work for their own benefits, other than members.

My job at University is covered by a small union, which is trying to leave the current one and join the other one. Any difference? From corrupted to more corrupted?

I just received a flyer from the current large union, which promised so much that I wondered if they are to catch the moon for me.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Sad State of English Education

With the end of George W Bush era, I hoped for a return of reason and correct English. Alas, my hope was dashed by Barak Obama's infamous, wrongly used phrase of "too big to fail". The strangulation of English continued.

Even in my daily life, I was assaulted by such misuse of English constantly. A friend of mine, who has a degree in English from the prestigiousUniversity of California Berkeley, often uses phrases like "more sharp" instead of sharper. I also heard Obama talked about the new nuclear weapon treaty will make our country "safer and more secure". Securer should be used instead of secure.

How sad that even such elites cannot speak proper English.

Dissonance / 不和諧音 / Dissonanz

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

More About Schools

Recently, my office building reduced janitorial staff and we, the office dwellers, need to clean our own garbage and recycling baskets. Suddenly, I remembered that in my entire elementary and high school years in China, our classrooms were always cleaned by students ourselves, usually a couple hours on Friday afternoon.

It is not the case in the USA. Professional janitors are to do the dirty works. When we worry about our school funding and fret about the spoiled kids, shouldn't we realize that it is wrong not to let kids to do some labor in their own classrooms?

Woodcutter / 樵夫 / Holzfäller

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Failing School or Failing Pupils

There are a lot of angst in the US - our school systems are failing and we cannot compete with China or India in the future.

I have to agree with this sentiment but I have to disagree with prevailing diagnose and it cure - more money, smaller classroom, No Child Behind, etc.

In our high school, students learned no practical skill but preparation courses for higher education. However, how many of them are built for and destined for a rigorous academic career? If not, then we are setting them up for their failure by failing to provide them a practical skills so they can learn to be a respectable technicians.

Germany sets a great example here. There, students are to choose either to head for a college training or technical skill early one (roughly our junior high school level). Therefore, they produce both scholars and high skilled workers and both camps are respected and well paid. No sense of failure is attached to those don't go to universities. Actually, their high schools are more like our colleges while their universities are more like our graduate schools.

People argued that high school educations are needed for every student to learn how to be a citizen. Those training can be provided at technical schools as well.

Recently, I read a disturbing story took place in China - a few college graduates applied for and was hired to clean manure in dry toilets. When confronted with the waste for resources, someone had the nerve of saying that the higher education enabled them to understand how to use the tools (ladles, poles and buckets) better.

Jianan five college grads hired to clean dry toilets

With the declining of the American's economic power, I'm afraid that kind of joke will take place here too.

Epic / 史詩 / Epos