28 July 2016

Two conventions, two lies

Some people were unimpressed by Michelle Obama's speech at the DNC. The two conventions are based on easily refutable lies. No, the biggest threat to the U.S. isn't ISIS and crime rates are by no means at historical highs. And no, the economic situation (for most people) hasn't been getting better. We do need change but not in the direction of Fascism. We're now left with a choice: which set of lies do we prefer?

22 July 2016

Kafka on the Shore

Today, I finished Murakami's Kafka on the Shore (海辺のカフカ). I enjoyed this more than some of this other novels. The book's chapters skip back and  forth between two story lines that are ultimately connected (albeit, tenuously).

21 July 2016

Made Kane's comment on the Melania plagiarism controversy...

Melania’s speech was revealing; 
In her push to make Donald appealing, 
She stole lines from Michelle 
About values. 
Oh well, 
This confirms that both Trumps value stealing.

19 July 2016


13 July 2016

The Opium War

I recently finished The Opium War by Julia Lovell. It isn't great writing--there are places where it's easy to get lost as the flow of the narrative isn't always smooth. But it has some fascinating stories. This period of Chinese history when China confronts aggressive Western powers always fascinates me. And there's always a mystery in my mind as to why China failed to prepare better for (and react to) the encounter. Reading this book and listening to related university lectures (viewed on YouTube), I sense that the notion that China was simply a hidebound bureaucracy, while containing some truth, is a bit simplistic. One aspect of Qing China that is discussed to some extent in the book is the extent to which China was divided in many ways between Manchurian elites (with their special military units) and the majority Han Chinese. Another factor seems to be the Chinese government's inability to respond rapidly to situations and to confirm information.

8 July 2016

A wealthy state headed off the fiscal cliff

Alaska is a microcosm of all that's wrong with U.S. politics, particularly the Republican Party.

4 July 2016

Guizhou telescope

China's apparently finishing its construction of the world's largest radio telescope. The Time article where this is mentioned says something about China searching for alien life and then mentions pulsars in the body of the article. I wish they'd elaborate. I find the search for alien life to be worthwhile and fascinating. I'd be interested in knowing if China would actually fund something along those lines. If so, they have my imprimatur.