Friday, July 23, 2010

Socialist Seedlings and Capitalist Weeds

During Chinese Great Culture Revolution time, there was a well-known slogan: "Rather have the socialist weeds, does not want the capitalist seedlings". The slogan was mostly used in late 1970s through early 1980s. Since 1980s, Chinese people realized the idiocy of this slogan and largely abandoned from that ideological rigidity and embraced many elements, both with socialism and capitalism characteristics, beneficial to the economic development.

Here in the US, it seems that a large section of the society has adopted that cast away slogan, with a sole difference of turning it up-side-down.

Now, they shout: "Rather have the capitalist weeds, does not want the socialist seedlings". Idiocy also has market.

Can we stop asking the question if its family name is capitalist or socialist?

Controversal late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping has expressed vividly before: "It doesn't matter if the cat is white or black. As long as it catches mice, it is a good cat."

Tree Trunks in Gray Landscape / 灰色風景裡的樹幹 / Baumstämme in Grau Landschaft
Tree Trunks in Gray Landscape © Matthew Felix Sun

Sunday, July 18, 2010

End Game?

There are a lot of frets and hand wringing lately, over US's losing jobs to the rising economic powerhouses such as China and India. The crying bringing jobs back is loud and louder with mid-term election's fast approaching.

I have serious reservations on such notion. Even if it can be done, which is highly doubtful, I strongly believe that morally the US should not attempt it, rather adjust our lifestyle to face up the new world.

In the later half of the twentieth century, the US enjoyed an unprecedented economic boom, largely due to globalization which was highly beneficial to the US, on the burden of many other countries. It was a world order wearily accepted by other nations and eventually they eagerly embraced to play catching up. Now, the table turned and we found that globalization is not so benign after all and suddenly the advantageous years we enjoyed it were utterly forgotten and we demand a change of rules!

We are becoming a nation of crying babies.

World changes. Nothing will stay static forever. The US had a great run as the most economically advanced nation for a long stretch and those days are over and we must accept it as stoically as other nations endured their economical hardship.

The best President Obama and his successors could do is ministering the decline as gracefully as they can and usher us into second tier nation with least pain as possible. A second tier nation is not bad at all - there are many nations would die to be included in this rank. All feast will come to an end. End it with style, please.

Falling / 墜落 / Fallen

Falling © Matthew Felix Sun

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Professionalization of Children's Games

Football, or Soccer, World Cup ended with a thrilling match. More and more Americans tuned in for this global sans one phenomena. Yet, the future of football in the US is not as rosy as this new passion displayed during World Cup period predicted.

The future of football in the US might be doomed by its staunchest supporters - Soccer Moms.

The football has a long tradition and a glorious past and future in South America and Europe, and African and Asian countries are trying hard to catch up. But the terms of Soccer Mom or Football Mom is a uniquely American phenomenon.

In other part of the world, kids play football with casual attires and casually organized. It's fun and spontaneous, easily accessed and relatively cheap. Here, minor leagues are equipped and organized like professional organizations and players were pampered or yelled at as if their moms's lives depend on the results of the matches. The young players were organized according to their skills, and covertly, their family wealth. Such effort not only tinted kids games with pre-mature commercialism, it also created a divide separated well-offs and the poor, deliberated or not. This can only hinder the progress of this sport in the US and the progress of the society.

Hands off, moms!

Ecstasy / 狂喜 / Ekstase

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Online Education

San Francisco Chronicle in their article UC online degree proposal rattles academics reported that "University of California wants to jump into online education for undergraduates, hoping to become the nation's first top-tier research institution to offer a bachelor's degree over the Internet comparable in quality to its prestigious campus program."

"'We want to do a highly selective, fully online, credit-bearing program on a large scale - and that has not been done,' said UC Berkeley law school Dean Christopher Edley, who is leading the effort."

This proposal is controversial not only in doubt of the validity of the claim that by teaching online, it will save money, more important, many people, students and faculty included, don't believe that face-to-face interaction is dispensable, even for the courses lab hours are not needed.

At this very moment, a minor academic scandal is raging in China. A former Microsoft executive turned entrepreneur, Mr TANG Jun, was confronted with the unpleasant fact that his doctorate degree in Electronic Engineering was issued by an uncredited Pacific Western University ("PWU"), which was established in 1988 and closed in 2006.

In 1994, Louisiana's Board of Regents closed PWU's office in that state, because PWU gave theses too many credits, had too few lecturers and did not provide enough courses, amongst other reasons.

One has to shudder to think that the glorious Cal will be mentioned in a single sentence of other uncredited diploma factories.

Even with better monitoring and administration from the universities, what can they do to prevent someone else other then the enrolled students "take" and courses and exams? Are we to dispatch monitors to the remotest part of the world to guarantee that the online education is just as good as they sit in the classrooms with stimulating discussions with peers and professors?

Interaction by Matthew Felix Sun on Flickr


According to Wikipedia,

Pacific Western University in Hawaii and Pacific Western University in California were once owned and operated by the same party. According to Inside Higher Ed, the association ended in 2004 when Pacific Western University in California) was sold and began operating under new ownership, administration, and faculty.

Pacific Western University in California has subsequently changed its name to California Miramar University. On June 6, 2009, California Miramar University received accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Joe DiMaggio's Sand Box

The (San Francisco) Historic Preservation Commission had voted to make the North Beach branch library a landmark, but forgot to say why, according to San Francisco Chronicle. I have to wonder what made it a landmark.

When I lived in North Beach, I used that branch often. It is very small and cramped. It boasts no significant architectural distinction, it doesn't really fit into the richness of Italian-American neighborhood North Beach like gloves. It is dilapidated and in urgent needs of expansion or replacement.

I don't like the modernistic design for the replacement but that should not be the excuse of keeping this deplorable old facility. I believe that one of the reasons for some to keep it was due to Joe DiMaggio factor - he used to play there, in a tiny sandbox no bigger than your flower bed, perhaps. I don't think a library is a fitting tribute to a baseball player, however, if one insists, wouldn't a statue of DiMaggio a better monument than this pathetic, outdated little barn?

St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral, San Francisco / 聖彼得和保羅教堂, 舊金山 /  Heiliges Peter und Saint Paul-Kathedrale, San Francisco
St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral, San Francisco © Matthew Felix Sun

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thoughts on the Fourth of July

Fourth of July is approaching. It is rather a poignant date. For a long time, America did represent freedom and the Star and Stripes was a beacon of democracy.

Yet, it is so stained and I wonder when it will ever be clean.

I also remembered an incident in my life. Once I was chatting with my colleague in a large corporate, about life in my home country, China. We talked about holidays there and she asked me, in absolute sincerity: "Do you celebrate Fourth of July?"

I struggled hard not to show my astonishment. Of course Chinese are not celebrating Fourth of July. But they would, when America represents liberal democracy, without stains and qualifications.

Prisoner Calendar