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2012/01/13 / Horace

我的2011年

2011年,我总要为之写一篇东西。我应该十多天前新年的时候就把这个给弄完,不过,考完试之后,我才可以在这个后现代的夜晚,以这样的一种后现代的精神来写。

后现代,究竟是什么?于我,后现代就是脑残。如果一个人可以毫无保留地在另一个人面前脑残,那么,这个人一定爱着另外一个人;而如果这个人可以在全世界面前脑残,那么,这个人真的就是脑残,或者,我们可以很文艺地说,他拥有了一定后现代主义的潜质。 似乎,我真的是一个后现代的人。至少,在某个比我大五岁的人看起来,是这样的。在一个比我大五岁的人看来,我是一个脑残。以我现在的眼光,看我的五年前,我那个曾经自以为美好的五年前,不同样也是脑残吗?可能,前浪总是认为后浪是脑残的,然而,又这样被后浪硬生生地推着向前走。正如90后推着80后,我们的现在推动着过去,一边推动过去,一边将我们推动到我们也未曾预想过的远方。

或许,这就是成长,一个由脑残的荷尔蒙和荷尔蒙已经过去的人的各种评论相互交织的过程。那些没有荷尔蒙的人评价着我们,并且一定程度上决定着我们;而我们却还在被荷尔蒙驱赶,并喜欢着那种被荷尔蒙驱赶的感觉。两种不同的思考模式不断的冲撞,其结局是,我们的荷尔蒙也所剩无几,然后,扎堆在一起,看着那些荷尔蒙勃发了的人经受我们的口水的洗礼。

趁我的荷尔蒙还没有消失,我报了新东方。在经过了三轮面试之后,我进入了人家的talent pool,然后项目经理告诉我,我有可能还是被淘汰(而且,确实有一个倒霉蛋被淘汰了,只不过不是我而已),而且还要花大量的时间进行大量的前期准备。我当时很纠结,因为这实际上是一个赌局,如果在这个时候退出,一切都不会发生;而如果跟,就意味着越来越大的赌注和最后可能的损失。

我纠结了一个下午,在纠结了一个下午之后,同一个朋友通了电话,当然,这件事情是话题。在我还没有把问题说完的时候,他就说,我应该坚持。 听到这句话之后,我就停止了一切纠结,决定接着赌下去,仿佛自己纠结一下午就是在等这位朋友的一句话。后来证明,很多事情,最难的一关,就是决定开始做决定事情。一旦开始,一切都不难了。这个寒假,我可以上课,可以请那个家伙吃一顿饭,可以给自己买一件新衣服,尽管,暑假的时候我未必可以出现在讲台上。

或许,这就是信任,一个可以让一个声音决定你行动的心境。大人们说的,或许是正确的,人不应该轻信。但是,大人们总会把一些跟别人不说的话同一个小圈子里的人讲,并且从那里,总可以得到最大最真诚的支持。那天打电话的时候,听到对方回复,豁然开朗的感觉只存在了几秒钟,而且,这一年只发生过这一次,而且似乎再给这样的感觉发生的机会并不适当,因为这样的情景多多少少体现了我的犹豫——不过,那种感觉,真的很好,你感觉到,关键时刻,你真的不是一个人。

最后,最后我不知道要说什么了。在这个大三的后现代主义,也就是脑残主义的夜晚,我想到了我的初三。那是一个从现在看起来非常(消音)疼,但是在当时看起来感觉相当良好的日子。我不知道这样的日子是否会重演。这样的趋势似乎是可能的。人总要脑残,事不过三,我第一年有幸没有重度脑残,第二年有幸没有脑残致死,我第三年肯定逃不掉。我或许需要脑残一年来重新规整我自己,以一种脑残到头破血流,脑浆遍地的方式来重新认识我自己。

《欲望都市》里有一句话我特别喜欢,有一些约会必然属于你,而有一些约会你永远得不到。有一些脑残属性必然我会拥有,而有一些属性,我却永远得不到。 然而,我相信,正如我个子高却不会打篮球一样,我会永远这么狗血地同时站在一条极长线段上的两个端点。如果我一边站在脑残的点上,另一边,我一定会碰到一个让我知道我很脑残的人。如果我一边站在犹豫的点上,另一边,我一定会碰到一个让我作出决定的人。如果我一边站在期末挂科的点上,另一边,我一定会碰到一个给我很高平时成绩的人。如果我一边发生着让我幸福与满意的事件,另一边的某件事,一定会让我以后后悔。

所以,我的2011年就这样结束了。我充满着希望开始了这条时间轴,却到最后盛满了现实;我充满着愿望开始了这条时间轴,却到最后充满了各种参数和变量;我充满着各种不确定开始了这条时间轴,却到最后载着那么一点点确定——有人告诉我脑残,有人告诉我答案,还有我自己,告诉我自己,线段有两个端点,所以一些事情,可以看淡。

2011/11/25 / Horace

Why do I love talent shows

This year’s Blossoming Flowers (花儿朵朵) has dropped its curtain, and I am worried  whether I could still see my favorite talent show next year. As the country’s censorship agency tightens its on TV entertainment, the show might be off the air.

I have been watching talent shows since 2005.  The first show I watched was “Super Girls”(超级女声), a Chinese version of American Idol featuring girls. Watching the show was a brand new experience for me, since never in my life had I ever been able to see a person, who was just an ordinary people like the rest of us, step into her stardom. I was not only a witness of a girl’s success but the creator as well. I voted for my favorite contestant via text messages, persuaded my friends to watch her on TV and bought her albums. Jane Zhang(张靓颖), the contestant I supported in 2005, has become one of the most successful artists in China. I feel very proud of Jane, and I feel very proud of myself, because I am one of the millions who not only appreciated her dream but also materialized it.

Talent shows have reshaped China’s entertainment industry. It is no longer a matter between talent scouts and candidates, but a matter of people’s choice. Talent shows have also reshaped our attitude towards artists. We have find they are not arrogant, extravagant and ignorant entertainers, but our peers and pals having  joys and fears, enduring pressure and misunderstanding and pursuing their dreams and happiness.

Jane Zhang lost her father when she was only 14. Her mother was also unemployed, so Jane started singing in bars to support the family. Laure Shang, winner of the 2006 Super Girl contest, was an excellent student from Fudan University who used to be as busy as any Chinese student preparing for the College Entrance Examination. Liu Wei(刘伟), champion of the 2010 China’s Got Talent, lost his arms but kept on playing the piano.

When I first saw Susan Boyle’s  I Dreamed a Dream, I couldn’t help crying, not only because her voice was so moving, but also because Susan told me that dreams, although far away, can be reached through persistence. Talent shows are not “excessive entertainment” nor “shoddy” nor “bad for children’s development” as some people say. They are encouraging, inspiring and much better than those hackneyed communist propaganda from Xinwen Lianbo we see at 7 p.m every day.

I strongly believe that I am not the only one holding such an opinion. Talent shows are headlines as often as they are in the UK and the US. Many of my friends watch them and feel inspired and moved. Talent shows are kind of symbol of our generation and a mirror reflecting what we think, what we adore and what kind of world we want.

I am a tune deaf and a karaoke hazard. I would never be able to sing as well as they do although I desperately dream so. Since my dream is hard to realize, why cannot I realize someone else’s? Since every one has dreams unrealized, why cannot people contribute to others’ dreams? We volunteer to bring hope, then why does the censorship agency deprive us of the right to dream and dream for others?

Yes, there are some problems in China’s talent shows, but they are generally good programs, and we viewers can make our own judgement. If a show is really bad, we won’t watch it and the show will disappear of itself. For now, all programs are doing good jobs, and I believe they will do even better jobs in the future. Please, let them sing, give all those who can sing a chance to sing what they want. Please, give us a chance to make our broken dreams realized in someone else’s voice.

2011/11/16 / Horace

After the Tiger Mother comes the “Wolf Father”

After the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua, comes the “Wolf Father” Xiao Baiyou (萧百佑).

Wolf Father

China Hush reports a man named Xiao Baiyou who sets strict restrictions on his children and will beat them if they fail to meet his standards. Although controversial and violent, Xiao’s parenting seems to be very successful. 3 of his 4 children have been admitted by Peking University, one of the most prestigious university in China. Many parents have sent their own children to Xiao so that he could teach them during the winter and summer vacations.

Xiao says,

Beating children is not that simple. My experience tells me it is not easy to do it scientifically and artistically. How to do it scientifically? I think there must be clear home rules and punishment measures. The kids have to know what is right, what is wrong, or whether they are repeating the same mistakes, where is the wrong part, how many whips to it, and no resistance during when receiving the punishment. And when the punishment’s over, they have to express their resolution to be good next time.

According to China Hush, Xiao believes

 All children have three natures: animality, humanity, and sociality. Before the age of 12, the animality in children plays a more important role therefore only corporal punishment can teach them what’s right and what’s wrong. “So I mainly adopt “beating” in their upbringing before 12 years old, after that their humanity is basically in form, I won’t beat them anymore and instead adopt lecturing.”

Success?

It is of great honor to have a child admitted by Peking University in China, however, Chinese media seem to have a negative attitude towards the Wolf Father’s parenting.

An editorial on Beijing News doubts whether being admitted by Peking University is really something worthwhile to show-off.

2 of them have Hong Kong ID, and the other  has acquired American citizenship. They got their Chinese education in China but took part in the College Entrance Examination as people from overseas. Anyone with a little bit knowledge about education knows that their being admitted into Peking University is of little value compared to other ordinary mainland students.

China Youth Daily doubts whether it is enough to prove one’s success just with an admission of a famous university.

Does having a child admitted by Peking University mean successful education? If so, it will be a tragedy of our education. Even from the narrowest bettermentics perspective, many PKU graduates are at the lowest level of society, some even have become criminals. How to account for all these?

The official website of the Ministry of Education even condemns Xiao’s parenting as “despotism”, bringing no good to his children.

This despotism requires children’s absolute obedience to parents. It will only lead to slavishness. It will not forge any creativity because there is no humanity in his [Xiao’s] heart.

Showcase?

Media also questions whether everything is just a showcase or publicity campaign for Xiao’s new book Therefore, Peking University Siblings and his private school.

China Youth Daily says everything might just be to “label him and publicize him so that he could meet market demands.” The article says the plots about beating and punishment might have been exaggerated by Xiao.

Such an opinion is shared by many, including the People’s Daily, in which an article  recalls the case of Amy Chua, the tiger mother. The article says many Chinese parents bought her book  of “little value of education” and they were appalled  after Amy admitted that her children’s success was more of a matter of their own efforts.

Trend?

Nevertheless, Xiao is still popular.

A survey has shown that nearly 60% of students are willing to be parented by such a “wolf father” as long as they can be admitted by Peking University. Around 30 children have been sent to Xiao’s private school for the wolf-like training during vacations.

Another survey reveals that over 80% of the interviewees admit that they have seen such a “wolf father”, with more than 25% saying they know “many” similar cases around them. As for whether such a parenting will do any good, nearly 25% believes it is OK to beat children as long as they can succeed.

Xinhua Daily Telegraph, a daily newspaper run by the official Xinhua News Agency, says, “as long as our education is still test-oriented,  any method that is good for higher scores and better management will not be totally abandoned.”

2011/11/02 / Horace

Same-sex rape victim charged for assaulting his attacker

Horace Lu for Shanghaiist

Many thanks to Jessica Colwell and Dian Huang for editing my post!

A man named nicknamed Junjun was looking for work in Nanjing, and met a man surnamed Zhang at a job fair. After being offered a place to sleep, Zhang took advantage of Junjun’s kindness and raped his host. A later confrontation with Zhang resulted in Junjun attacking him with a stick, and then subsequently being charged and convicted of committing willful and malicious injury.

For more details about this story, please click to see the full report.

For more up-to-date information about China, please “like” Shanghaiist on your Facebook.

 

2011/11/01 / Horace

Man finds worm in milk powder, but dealer says compensation offered only if worm proven to be Dutch

Horace Lu, reporting from Beijing for Shanghaiist
A man surnamed Wang living in Qingdao, Shandong Province claims that he has found a worm in a can of Frisolac milk powder imported from Holland. The dealer promises to return the powder and send him another 400g can free. However, when Wang asked for higher compensation, the dealer says it is only possible when the worm is proven to be Dutch.

Find the more details about the post on Shanghaiist:

2011/10/30 / Horace

After riot is pacified, calls for tax reforms.

The riot in Zhejiang caused by tax increases has sparked a national call for tax reform.

The riot began on Oct. 26th after a children’s clothing store owner in the town of Zhili in Wuxing District in Huzhou City refused to make tax payments to local officials and then mustered other shop keepers to rally in support, Shanghai Daily reports.

Around 600 people took to the street and blocked a major highway.

“As they tried to smash a passing Audi sedan”, the frightened driver hit 10 with 2 of them in critical conditions as he attempted to flee, says  China Radio International. At night, people gathered at the town hall, “vandalized public properties” and injured several policemen and urban management officers.

Radio Free Asia quotes local residents, saying 40 vehicles were smashed on Wednesday alone and another 100 were smashed on Thursday.

No one died in the incident with the wounded in good care, according to Huzhou Online, a government-run portal delivering local news and information.  Local police have launched a crackdown on criminals with “quite a few” having criminal records and that the police have held 21 under criminal detention.

Local media says the situation has now been calmed and most business has returned to normal, while police are having an “all-around patrol” and propaganda materials are being distributed.

Tax burden

Small enterprises in China are having a difficult time this year due to more restrictions on bank loans and the current global economic turmoil. Many entrepreneurs have gone bankrupt or suddenly abandoned their factories and fleed in order to escape debts.

Zhili, where the riot took place, is the biggest manufacturing base of children’s wear in China. Self-employed migrant workers rent houses and make clothes to make a living. The  government taxes sewing machines in the town and decided to double the charge this year from 300 yuan (48 USD) per machine to 600 yuan.

It was a business owner’s rejection of this tax that sparked the riot.

Now, the “sewing-machine tax” has been suspended.

Media reflection

Most media reports in China on the incident are simply or similar to government news releases. However, there are comments on the incident urging tax reforms.

China’s government revenue has been growing much faster than GDP for years. The tax revenue in the first 9 months of this year has witnessed a growth of 27.4% year-on-year, while Peking University estimates this year’s GDP growth to be lower than 9%.

In an editorial, China Business says the increase in taxation should be controlled and shouldn’t make people feel that the government is extracting benefits from the people.

Southern Metropolitan Daily recalled a popular protest by Zhejiang clothes makers in ancient Ming Dynasty and concluded that it was the unreasonable taxation policy that bankrupt employers and made workers jobless, which finally led to the protest.

Meanwhile, a commentary on Hexun.com, a portal mainly focused on financial news, says the tax increase is quite bearable compared to the profits of these workshops. The commentary further notes that workshops in Zhili, where the riot broke out, still enjoy a much lower tax than their urban counterparts even after the increase.

Wang Yahuang, the author, says the riot broke out because the government increased the tax unilaterally without any negotiations. He says there should be a mechanism to fully express voices of different interest groups and that taxation should be settled by both sides instead of by the government itself.

Even before the riot broke out, the central government had promised to reduce double-taxation of certain transportation in China, a move expected to encourage some business activity and amounts to a philosophical change. Yet, there might be a long way for Chinese citizens to share more of the country’s prosperity.

2011/10/29 / Horace

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Mistake in previous post

Dear readers:

I am sorry that I have made a horrible and serious mistake in my previous post. The number of “left-behind children” in China shall be around 58mln, not 580mln. Once more, the number shall be 58mln.

I was working on the post at around 1 a.m Beijing Time, so maybe I was a little bit tired and my brain wasn’t working well.

The mistake has now been corrected in the post now

Again, I apologize for the mistake and all the misunderstanding or inconvenience it might bring.

Yours very sincerely

Horace