Monday, December 31, 2007

Good bye, 2007 - Welcome, 2008!

Well, 2007 ... that was that. Thank you for being so good to me (with a little fortune hiatus from late September to late November, but I don't want to bear a grudge, not today). But since the even years in my life usually tend to be much better than the uneven ones, I'm expecting a wonderful year 2008 ahead. Then again, looking at the elections in Taiwan in March and this bombastic event in Beijing (formerly known as being somewhat connected to sports) in August, there are already some clouds in my coffee. Anyhow, let's wait and see.

One thing is for sure: I'll (again!) try to blog more - and on a regular basis!

A terrific, marvelous, prosperous, healthy new year, everyone!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Chinese Singer Proposes To The "Most Eligible World Leader"

Earlier this month, Nicolas Sarkozy made it on top of the FP list of "Most Eligible World Leaders" ("Interests: Anglo-Saxon economic reform, jogging, the United States of America"). Et voilà, here we go:

"I want to say to the President of France: 'Choose me. I will be a perfect wife for you," said Namu - whose full name is Yang Erche Namu - in a filmed internet plea aired by French website


She is from the Himalayan Mosuo minority near Tibet - a matriarchal people (...)

Apparently, for a Mosuo woman, proposing seems the normal thing to do. Then again:

where the women never actually marry.

Instead, they take a series of lovers throughout their lives and bring up the children under one roof.

The roof of her mother's house hasn't been big enough for Namu, though, judging from this source from 2004:


[S]he was a 13-year-old running away from a small village in which she felt trapped, and from a mother from whom she was estranged. Few in her tribe expected her to survive. To her people, the world beyond their mountainous home was largely unknown and incomprehensibly vast. Not only did she survive, she thrived, making her way to Shanghai, where a combination of luck and talent secured her a place at the prestigious Conservatory of Music, where she was the school’s first Mosuo student.


Sounds like an interesting person. Rachel DeWoskin might have thought the same, making Namu the focus of a lengthy article on "the new cultural revolution" (no, really!) for the Sunday Times and claiming that Namu "gave China the right to vote" (to vote a TV idol, that is. For the beginning, don't let it get too ambitious, right?):


Yang Erche Namu is somehow both a predictable and unimaginable candidate for playing the part of China’s Paula Abdul (the American Idol judge who is a constant source of gossip). She is a model of the conflict between what audiences want to watch and what Chinese censors claim to want to conceal.


She won’t consider marrying a Chinese man; westerners, she tells me conspiratorially, are “more romantic”. The subject of Chinese women dating anyone other than Chinese men is a fraught one in China. The reasons for this range from historical resentment over barbarian invasions to the gender imbalance in China’s population and concern over the dwindling number of marriageable Chinese women. Namu, by publicly taking herself out of the running, is a PR agent for western men and potentially a terrifying role model.


An article from the Shanghai Daily (Publicity hound wants to be first lady of France) serves as an example of how terrified some Chinese are. Namu is labeled as a "disgraced talent show judge", and the author doesn't forget to mention that Namu is quite experienced as it comes to be engaged with foreigners:

Yang is also famous for her love affairs with foreign lovers. She married an American, divorced him, had a seven-year romance with a Norwegian diplomat and became an author when she decided to write about her adventures.

If the proposal turns out to be a failure, Namu could then propose to Hugo Chávez (# 5 on the FP list), who is on pair with Sarkozy in terms of divorces.

When She Wakes

In the upcoming issue, the Economist has a piece on this week's EU-China summit. It starts like this:

“LET China sleep, for when she wakes the world will shake.” So, purportedly, said Napoleon some 200 years ago. In Beijing this week European leaders have been telling their Chinese counterparts that such unease is at risk of spreading. Once content to let the Americans do the worrying, the EU is joining in.

The Napoleon quote is all nice, but... she? What makes China a woman? I don't get it. And the EU is joining the worrying? Maybe that is why the Xinhua headline went like French President Sarkozy's visit marks new phase in relations.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Warship Traffic

China reversed a decision on Thursday to block a United States aircraft carrier from making a four-day port call in Hong Kong, but the change of heart by Beijing officials came too late to stop the ship from returning to its base in Japan and missing families who had flown to Hong Kong to celebrate Thanksgiving.


The ships, with 8,000 crew members, were due in Hong Kong on Wednesday for a four-day visit.

Some crew members were planning to join family members who had flown in from the United States, Japan and the Philippines.

(U.S. Warship Misses Thanksgiving in Hong Kong. By Donald Greenless, The New York Times)

Welcome to China! Isn't that a nightmare - to look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with your loved ones and being treated like this? Btw, define "some" in "some crew members" here - or see the report by Associated Press:

Hundreds of sailors' families had flown to the city to spend the holiday with their loved ones, while dozens of Americans living in Hong Kong had prepared turkey dinners for those without visiting relatives.

"Hundreds" strikes me as being a little bit more than "some", no? Taking into account that a Thanksgiving feast needs some preparation, the dozens expats mentioned here aren't too happy either, I suppose.

Another AP report has more (wikipedia link added):

''It's hard to put any kind of positive spin on this,'' Adm. Timothy Keating told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday while flying back to the U.S. after visiting troops in Iraq. ''I'm perplexed and concerned.''

I also can't put any kind of positive spin on this, and concern is due, since it was the second time in a week that China refused to let U.S. Navy ships into the port.

Just imagine what would happen if U.S. authorities would cancel a flight to China shortly before Mid-Autumn Festival! Wouldn't there be some outraged comments from Chinese officials accusing "the USA" of "hurting the feelings of all Chinese people"? For sure.

Oh, and in the meanwhile:

A warship sailed Wednesday for the first port visit by the Chinese Navy to Japan since the end of World War II, Chinese state media reported.


The warship, the guided-missile destroyer Shenzhen, left its home port in Guangdong Province and is to arrive Nov. 28 for a four-day visit to Japan at the invitation of the Japanese Navy, according to Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency.


(Chinese Warship Visits Japan. By David Lague, The New York Times)

They'll get a warmer welcome, I presume.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chinese Hydropower and the Olympics

Mad Minerva points to an article by Jim Yardley on the human costs of Chinese dam projects. Since IHT links tend to disappear into the net nirvana, I'll give you the NYT link: Chinese Dam Projects Criticized for Their Human Costs. By Jim Yardly, New York Times.

Dai Qing, a well-know critic of the Three-Gorges-Dam project, also takes on this issue - and links it to the 2008 Olympics: Thirsty Dragon at the Olympics. By Dai Qing, The New York Review of Books. A quote:

[D]uring the Olympic Games, Beijing will enjoy an unprecedented supply of water. Special pipes will bring unpolluted water from the provinces to provide for the whole city, allowing people to enjoy potable water from their taps for the first time—but only for as long as the games last. Meanwhile, when the crowds watch and applaud the Olympic performances at the aquatic events, neither they nor the athletes will be aware that they are not really competing on the waters of Beijing's original Chaobai River. The "river" they will be using is an artificial creation made by damming the two ends of a long-dry riverbed and filling it with water pumped from deep underground.

After the Olympics, what then? The quest of Mao Zedong and his fellow Communist leaders to conquer nature led to the widespread razing of forests, the destruction of grasslands, the conversion of wetlands to farms, and the incessant damming of rivers. The heedless and unaccountable use of natural resources in more recent decades has led poor Beijing to the desperate state it is in today.

It's interesting to see how Qing stresses the line of continuity between Mao and his successors as it comes to the destruction of the environment.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How To Lose A Guy

Yesterday, I watched "How to lose a guy in 10 days" on a German TV channel. I liked the movie and endured even the (as per usual) too long and too many commercial breaks. The strange thing was that I liked the movie although I didn't find any of the actors or actresses even remotely attractive.

The German Wikipedia entry tells me, that the movie was largely panned by the critics because of being "predictable" and "frumpy". Then again, relationships between guys and girls are predictable, including all the courting and flirting actions leading to them.

As for me, it is much easier to lose me. Bringing a little, ugly dog which pees on my belongings alone would do it. But in real life, the girls are usually much more imaginative...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Berlin Impressions

In Berlin again. Yeah!

Yesterday, Jörg and me went to the Web2.0 Expo. "A Conversation with Neil Holloway, Microsoft Europe. Interviewed by Tim O'Reilly" was incredibly boring, even by "Web2.0 Talk" standards. The key note on Creating Passionate Users (Kathy Sierra) was quite funny. Then again, I always get annoyed if a mother of teenage girls is using the term "kick ass" every two minutes and regards it (plus "wtf") even "Power Point presentable". She made a point, though, by telling us that "getting laid" (the true meaning in web2.0 conferences, if I got her right) becomes a little sketchy if the audience lacks gender diversity (provided you are not gay, that is). And since the people I saw at the web2.0 expo yesterday were by about 94.4% pale, badly shaved males in their 20s to 30s, gender diversity was something from the "in your dreams, baby" section.

If you're interested in what Kathy actually said, please see this detailed blog entry by Stephanie Booth .


In the evening, I spent nearly two hours at Cafe Meilenstein, reading newspapers and listening to singer/songwriter lovesongs. The coffee and the Earl Grey were good and soooo cheap in comparison to Duesseldorf *sigh*.


Today, I went to see an exhibition about the Silk Road at Martin Gropius Bau. It was a little dry, but quite okay.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Greg Mankiw's Blog: Don't be fooled with statistics

Two of my blog friends are taking on Greg Mankiw's Blog: Don't be fooled with statistics:

Joerg Wolf has cross-posted his response here and here (this one drew some comments already), whereas Statler of the German blog A-Team, (short for "Antibuerokratieteam", anti-bureaucracy team) is fiercefully combatting his opponents here (alas, in German).

Sometimes a little confusing, this whole blog thing...

(This post is mainly to test the "create a link" feature.)

Monday, October 22, 2007

"My Reagan Stuff is doin' super"

This morning, German public radio station Deutschlandfunk had a short feature about the presidential primary debate in Orlando, Fla., last night, ending with a quote from a guy who sold GOP buttons and stuff at the meeting:
My Reagan stuff is doin' super and the Anti-Hillary here is selling

This is spot on, no?

(a more detailed version, in German: this way, please)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Che, the Icon: Even the T-Shirt is a Fake

(Ex-) Leftists around the world celebrate Ernesto "Che" Guevara again these days. The Irish Independent asks: Should Che be an icon?

The notorious George Galloway answers "yes". (You know you're done, when George Galloway comes to your rescue.)

Here's a snippet from the "no" piece by Johann Hari:

The myth of Che Guevara is seductive and lush. It's the story of an Argentinian rich-boy who was so shocked by poverty he became a Robin Hood fighting alongside the poor, until eventually he was murdered by the CIA. But the reality of Che Guevara is very different. The facts show that he was a totalitarian with a messiah streak, who openly wanted to impose Maoist tyranny on the world. He was so fanatical that at the hottest moment in the Cold War, he even begged the Soviet Union to nuke New York or Washington or Los Angeles and bring about the end of the world.


Since the Soviet Union was too soft for his tastes, there were only two countries that Che found truly admirable: Maoist China and Kim Il Sung's North Korea. He bragged that there was "not a single discrepancy" between Mao's world view and his own. As Che was happily fawning over Mao in the flesh in Beijing, in the surrounding countryside there was an epidemic of mothers cutting off the flesh from their inner thighs to feed it to their starving children. The programme that caused this biting hunger - the mass collectivisation of the farms - represented "true socialist morality", Che said. The dictator killed 70 million people in the end, cheered on by his guerrilla friend at every stage.

Of course, Che's defenders act as if this was the only choice confronted by Latin Americans: you were either for US-imposed market fundamentalism, or for Maoist Communism. But you don't have to look very far in Che's life to see that this is a lie. (...)

And the left-wing weekly New Statesman reveals that the famous photograph of Che by Alberto Korda has been worked over before being used as a motif for posters and T-shirts (Still a messiah? By Isabel Hilton. New Statesman, 04 October 2007):

In 1968, when the photographer Don Honeyman was experimenting with Alberto Korda's iconic image of Che Guevara, he discovered something curious. Honeyman had been experimenting with a process of solarisation as a way of making fashion images more exciting and had been asked by a poster company to try the same thing with Korda's photograph of Che - said to be the most reproduced photo in the world. But he was having trouble duplicating the look of the image as it had first been published in Europe by the revolutionary press.

"I worked over the image for several days," Honeyman wrote, "but couldn't seem to get the same idealistic gleam in Che's eyes. I finally compared the first Che with the second, and discovered that some canny designer, presumably at [the original Italian printers], had made Che slimmer and his face longer, by about one-sixth. It was so effective that I, too, stretched him, and it worked like a charm. It doesn't really do to have a revolutionary who's too plump."
So, even the posters and T-shirts of Che are a fake.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Rich Ohio State University Graduate

Forbes: 26-year-old woman is China's richest person

By Joe McDonald, AP Business Writer

BEIJING — A 26-year-old Ohio State University graduate worth $16.2 billion is mainland China's richest person, the business magazine Forbes said Monday, topping a list of tycoons whose wealth has soared amid a boom in stock and property prices.

The fortune of Yang Huiyan — also Asia's richest woman — is based on shares in Country Garden Holdings, a real estate developer founded by her father, Forbes said. It said the company's Hong Kong stock market debut this year made billionaires of Yang and four other people.


But sorry guys, Yang Huiyan (杨惠妍) is already married (quite normal for a 26-year old Chinese woman, no?):

The then 24-year-old bride smiled beside her unnamed groom in the pictures. He is to have graduated from Tsinghua University and studied in the United States.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Cruel even by Chinese Standards

Leader who blew up mistress is executed. By Jane Macartney, The Times


Mr Duan was a former chairman of the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress, or parliament, of Jinan, the capital of eastern Shandong province. He had admitted asking his nephew, Chen Zhi, a Jinan policeman, to help him to arrange a road accident to eliminate the young woman, Liu Haiping.


He took the divorced woman — about 30 years his junior — as his mistress in 2000 and gave her money to buy two cars and four apartments, one in a smart district of Jinan that she bought in the name of her mother.

The rising party cadre also arranged a job for her in the Jinan Financial Bureau and then the city Bureau of Land and Resources. Her two sisters also obtained higher-paying jobs.

But as the years passed, Miss Liu’s demands for money and marriage began to grate with her benefactor. He tried to split up with her.

Some reports said that she obtained evidence linking him to illegal income and may have been blackmailing him. His conviction said that he had taken bribes and asked for as much as 1.69 million yuan (£120,000), and that he had been unable to explain another 1.3 million in assets — well beyond his income level.

Mr Duan told police he had not intended to kill his mistress, but only to arrange an accident so that she would “lose her ability to think”.


The article has also a "TOP 5" of recent corruption cases.

Monday, September 03, 2007

My New Hobby: FedEx Tracking

Ah, international logistics. What fun. Being the cold-hearted neoliberal capitalist that I am, I recently discovered a new free time activity: FedEx Tracking! It looks like this:

Almaty! Just imagine! So, I try to generate as much tracking numbers as possible in order to insert the numbers and track the shipments! It's a little bit expensive, though :-/

To my horror, I learned today that FedEx does not deliver within Germany. Argh! In my panic, I chose DHL instead. After only five minutes in the queue, I was told that I have to buy an envelope first! But not at the DHL counter - noooo! Another 20 minutes spent in line at the normal post office counter. And back to the queue at the DHL counter. I'll try TNT next time. Then again, as I just checked the TNT web site for a little test, the system told me that "destination and zip code don't match!" So, you wanna tell me that I don't know my own zip code, or what? That's certainly not a good start...

Lessons learned today:

1.) FedEx does not do domestic Germany.

2.) The term "free-of-charge envelope" is totally unknown to DHL.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Tummy Button

Is there really a need for a colloquial expression for navel? Well, that seems to be the case.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Intelligenzbestie March Tian Boedihardjo

Mad Minerva has the story about nine-year-old March Tian Boedihardjo, the youngest ever student to enrol in a university in Hong Kong. You go, boy! Well done! And all the best for your future.

In the German news, they used the term Intelligenzbestie to describe March. The English term is "brainiac", but the word Intelligenzbestie, literally Intelligence beast, is so telling. An intelligent person is a problem and a threat to society, as is a beast.

Btw, the press conference with March and his father had a very nice quote of the latter (my emphasis):

"I will advise parents in Hong Kong there's no need to know the IQ of your children. Just try to do your best to nurture them and give them space to develop," Tony Boedihardjo said.
That's it. Nurture and space. Education is easy.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Suicide Bombing Approval Rates And Stupid Statistics

How stupid can statistics get? I just came across an article in the Financial Times (EU Muslims: seeking jihad or democracy?) with a chart by PEW on "Muslims views on suicide bombing". The answers given were:

- often/sometimes justified
- rarely/never justified
- don't know (sic!)

For me, the only answer possibilities acceptable would be:

- justified
- never justified

The PEW possibilities given are plain stupid. What's the difference between "sometimes justified" and "rarely justified"? And why these two answers are in different clusters?

Btw, as the chart shows, about 1/4 of Spanish muslims think suicide bombings are justified, whereas only about 10% of muslims in Germany seem to embrace suicide bombings. Scary enough.

Backbone? Values? - Nah, just listen to the pollsters.

I really like the ECONOMIST, and sometimes, I like articles of the Wall Street Journal as well. On one issue, they both get it totally wrong: illegal immigration. It starts with bashing those who oppose the illegality and those who oppose immigration as a whole alike, and goes on by mixing all kinds of arguments only to make the point that the U.S. needs immigrants.

There's one point that really worries me. Couple of weeks ago, the Economist warned:

In the long term, though, anti-immigrant hardliners are likely to suffer most. Latino voters are growing quickly in number (see article) and history suggests they will punish intolerant talk on immigration. Mark DiCamillo, a pollster, points out that California's Hispanics used to lean only slightly leftwards. In 1990, for example, they favoured Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic candidate for governor, over Pete Wilson, a Republican, by 53% to 47%. Then in 1994 came a ballot initiative, supported by Mr Wilson, which sought to make life much more difficult for illegal immigrants. Since then California's Latinos have favoured Democrats by a margin of between two-to-one and four-to-one.
Today, Kimberly A. Strassel from WSJ's editorial board follows:

[F]or every base Republican who is gratified by talk of ID cards and border patrols, there's an entire family of Hispanic immigrants who are absorbing the mean language of "sanctuary cities," "lawbreakers" and "deportation." Many of these folks are religious, entrepreneurial, and true believers in the American dream; as such, they're the biggest new voting potential the Republican Party has seen in ages. But a growing number, just like those Catholics of yore, are angered by the recent rhetoric and wondering why they should pull a lever for any party that would go out of its way to tag their community as the source of America's problems.
So, to cross the border illegally does not involve breaking the law? And the American dream means leaving your family, crossing the border illegally, working illegally, hoping everyone involved keeps a blind eye and finally the government changes things for the better by launching a big "naturalisation campaign" (or similar - I still prefer the term amnesty here.)? This is what the American Dream consists of? If so, I have to recalibrate my mind set. Hands down, most of the Hispanic immigrants are religious and entrepreneurial - but you can't call yourself neither if not obeying by the law in the first place.

But what bothers me most is this idea not to ask whether something is right or wrong, but whether a large group of voters will react irresponsible. If Hispanic voters are really going to turn their back on those politicians who opposed the latest attempt of immigration reform - well, then be it. But I really doubt that. Plus, I doubt that it's a good idea to give the signal: "Hey, just threaten me a little and I'm doing what you want!".

A final point. In another piece, the Economist ranted:

[T]he immigration problem remains unsolved. The border enforcement system remains overwhelmed. Hostility to migrants remains high, even though large parts of the economy depend on migrant labour. Some 12m or more people are left toiling in the shadows, just as before, with many more to follow. The abject failure of this bill suggests any future efforts at reform will be similarly mired.
All those problems exist. But none of them would have been targeted, let alone solved, by the immigration reform that failed in June. And if the perspective of getting legalization within a decade or so isn't a bold incentive for more illegal immigration, what is?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Stories from the 21st century (2): Web 2.0 Overkill

Some Web 2.0 tools are useful (like or diigo or wikipedia), but sometimes this whole hype leads to a huuuge waste of time:

300-page iPhone bill

Btw, I've really forgotten about the fact that telecommunication bills *could* be printed on paper. I received my last paper bill in ... 2005? Maybe.

Stories from the 21st century (1): Holy Innocents

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

In Bed with Hugo

Come again?

Chávez oil dollars buy bus tickets for London

Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s president, broke new ground in his campaign of global oil diplomacy on Monday when London mayor Ken Livingstone announced half-price bus travel for poor Londoners, funded with millions of Venezuelan oil dollars.


Mr Livingstone on Monday denied he had been seduced by Mr Chávez’s petro-diplomacy. “When someone turns up and says: ‘Do you want £14m?’ they get my attention,” Mr Livingstone told the Financial Times.

But he told reporters: “Frankly I’d rather be getting into bed with [Mr
Chávez] than, as the British government has been, getting into bed with [US president] George W. Bush.”

I wonder how long Berlin's mayor would resist such an offer. He recently declared Berlin "poor, but sexy". Then again, who would not trade sexiness for some millions?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Sounds of a moribund hard disc


Telling from the sounds my computer's hard disc is making right now, it is going to die in the very near future...

So, if this place will be silent again for a couple of days, this time, I might have a good excuse.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What kind of celebrity wedding is this?

My students in Nanning always used to say: "No, we don't like him! He is ugly!" They preferred to rant about Michael Jordan instead. Well, I like him, especially after reading this story about his wedding:

The three-hour ceremony was attended by over 70 family members and close friends while security guards patrolled the hotel to keep the Chinese and international media out.

Pardon me? Only 70 family members - and no media? Yonkers. What kind of celebrity wedding is this?

And he didn't even offer shark fin's soup. Perhaps because of his former team back in China...


That doesn't come exactly as a big surprise:


I know. I KNOW! (Chagrin of my life. Okay, one of the chagrins.)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Thank you, Nancy!

Since he is so heavy on my mind these days I put the energy in this thread instead of sitting vigil. I hope you enjoy these pictures of my dear friend.

Barton Lee and me: A brief retrospective - The Sinatra Family Forum

R.I.P., Lee Hazlewood.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I'm 80% Capitalist!

You Are 80% Capitalist, 20% Socialist

In general, you support a free economy and business interests.
You tend to think people should fend for themselves, even when times get tough.
However, do think the government should help those who are truly in need.

Hmmm... sounds like Pareto distribution, no?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

At times, men can be very stupid

I mean, really, really stupid (my links):

"Because you know how these things go," Shipman told detectives. "I said, 'Is there gonna be some crazy lady showing up at my door, trying to kill me?' He said, 'No ... she's not like that. She's fine with it. She's happy for me.'"

Monday, January 29, 2007

Stupidity, Gullibility...Whatever

That's so true (link added):

Does stupidity lead to gullibility? [F]or the most part, the movie depicts low-IQ people as very hard to trick because they scoff at whatever they do not understand.
Bullies may be stupid, but it's nigh-impossible for a nerd to trick a bully into leaving him alone. The bully has a simple but powerful word that keeps the nerd from getting the upper hand: "Whatever."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What I Read Today, Plus Art Buchwald Stuff

Just to leave a trace and have something to remember 40 years from now:

Today, I skimmed over the Wikipedia article "Taboo food and drink", because it is the article of the day in the German wikipedia. Quite interesting.

Unfortunately, I then turned to the "Deaths in 2007" page, which is always a time killer. Speaking of time killers, I also read some articles about the UK Big Brother racism scandal, for example:

I'm not racist, says TV's Goody

Jade Goody, at the centre of an alleged race row on Celebrity Big Brother, has been evicted from the Channel 4 show.

Goody, 25, was up against Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, who had been the target of the alleged abuse from Goody and others in the reality TV show.

And since I use the name Shilpa Shetty instead of "the Indian", I am apparantly no racist. I'm lucky.

To make my update concerning the BB ballyhoo perfect, I watched about three CNN vids. And being at CNN vids, I again watched the two vids about the passing of Art Buchwald, "Goodbye, Artie" by Kyra Phillips and "Buchwald: I made them laugh" (I presume, that those CNN links are not permanent; hence, a hopefully permanent youtube-link to another "dying is fun, actually" vid of Art Buchwald.)

Art Buchwald made it to German newspapers in late 2006 with his book "Too soon to say Goodbye": Der Mann, der einfach nicht sterben will, Die Welt, December 13, 2006 ("The man who simply doesn't want to die", in German.) You can find his final column, which he asked to distribute following his death here: Goodbye, My Friends, Washington Post, January 19, 2007.

Finally, I found a quote of Buchwald's over at IMDB which made me laugh:
I'm not a Republican, and I'm not a Democrat. I'm against whoever's in power. People talk about Nixon and I say, 'I worship the very quicksand he walks on.'

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Humphrey Bogart died 50 years ago

How Humphrey got to be Bogie

Bogart became a legend near his death 50 years ago, when his acting was more closely aligned with his real-life personality.

By Richard Schickel

January 14, 2007

Humphrey Bogart died on Jan. 14, 1957, exactly 50 years ago. By all accounts, notably those of his friends, John Huston and Alistair Cooke, he died with great gallantry, hiding to the best of his ability the pain of the cancer that wracked and decimated him.

It worked this way: He would rest in his bedroom most of the day; then, in the late afternoon, he would be dressed in a blue blazer and ascot and transported, by wheelchair and elevator, to his living room. There, with cigarette in hand, martini at his side, he would await the arrival of friends. They brought industry gossip, in which he remained avidly interested; they went away inspired by his courage. His illness was never discussed. (read on this Los Angeles Times Op-Ed...)

When I was younger, I loved to watch film noirs with Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Peter Lorre etc. But nowadays... I don't know... maybe it's simply too late in the evening when I happen to watch those old movies again. Anyway, here's a short sequence of the famous To Have and Have Not, giving evidence of the equally famous "onsreen chemistry" between Bogart and Lauren Bacall:

Friday, January 12, 2007

Radio Play About Bix Beiderbecke

Lots of cats tried to play like Bix; ain't none of them play like him yet.

Yesterday, there was an radio play aired on German radio station Deutschlandfunk, called
Leben und Tod des Kornettisten Bix Beiderbecke aus Nordamerika (Life and Death of the cornett player Bix Beiderbecke from North America; link is in German), by Ror Wolf (link in German) from 1986, which was awarded with the Hörspielpreis der Kriegsblinden (radio play prize of the "Federation of the German War-Blinded"; link in German) the following year; which is the most important and prestigious prize for radio plays in Germany.

This radio play about Bix Beiderbecke brought one thing back into my mind as clear as possible, namely the importance of the internet for my little life. Because it was the third time that I listened to the play - first time was in 1986, second was in 2003 (I guess, because that was the 1ooth anniversary of Bix' birth) - and both times, I was left to my own devices concerning further information about Bix. Even in 2003, I didn't have the possibilities I have now, and in 1986, there was literally nothing I could do but wait until I happen to enter a record shop for the next time. But today, I just type in the name at wikipedia and youtube - and here we go:

Here you can find some Audio tapes of interviews conducted with people who knew Bix Beiderbecke. You can find "Bix Beiderbecke & His Rhythm Jugglers - Davenport Blues (January 26, 1925)" as mp3, too.

And finally, three videos from youtube. It's so fantastic to have all these sources, right? (Plus, I have a copy of the radio play in ogg format now!)

A tribute:

Wake Up Bix:

The Jean Goldkette Orchestra in 1926:

Syphilis: Comeback in China

Syphilis rates 'soaring in China'
By Jill McGivering
BBC News


The Lancet reports that China - which virtually eliminated syphilis in the 1960s and 70s - is now seeing the disease return with alarming intensity.

It reveals that reported rates have risen from 0.2 cases per 100,000 in 1993 to 5.7 cases per 100,000 in 2005.

Dramatic intervention is now needed, one of the report's authors says.

The study involved doctors from China's National Centre for STD Control in Nanjing and from the University of North Carolina's School of Medicine.

Dr Myron Cohen, a co-author of the report, described the spread of the disease as "fantastically rapid".
(Links added)

Further Sources:

Syphilis resurgent in China (Comment by David N Fisman, The Lancet)

China’s Health Calamity: Causes and Consequences
A Panel Discussion with Bates Gill, Myron Cohen and David M. Lampton
The Nixon Center, Washington, DC June 4, 2003

The Lancet Podcast - 13 January 2007 (mp3, 7.88Mb)
This week's podcast features an interview with Dr Miren Cohen from the University of North Carolina, one of the authors of a research article documenting a resurgence of syphilis in China over the past decade. A range of unique biological and social forces are responsible for the latest epidemic.
Syphilis rates skyrocket in China (New Scientist)

or, to put it bluntly: Sex Practice Changes in China Lead to Jump in Syphilis Cases.

The U.S. and Europe - Globalization meets cheese standards

Thomas P.M. Barnett, reviewing Roger Cohen's review of Überpower, has this to say:

Europe keeps expecting America to 'come home' and it just ain't gonna happen. We're living in the vast rule-set reset that is globalization's advance around the planet. Europe and Japan, the classic West other than America, wants largely to sit this process out, instead arguing over cheese standards and ag subsidies and UN Security Council resolutions.

(a 2006 draft leftover)

Is China going to dominate the 21st century?

From "Learning to Keep Learning" By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, The New York Times, December 13, 2006:


Sorry, but I am not ready to cede the 21st century to China yet.

No question, China has been able to command an impressive effort to end illiteracy, greatly increasing its number of high school grads and new universities. But I still believe it is very hard to produce a culture of innovation in a country that censors Google — which for me is a proxy for curtailing people’s ability to imagine and try anything they want. You can command K-12 education. But you can’t command innovation. Rigor and competence, without freedom, will take China only so far. China will have to find a way to loosen up, without losing control, if it wants to be a truly innovative nation.


Why should any employer anywhere in the world pay Americans to do highly skilled work — if other people, just as well educated, are available in less developed countries for half our wages?

If we can’t answer this question, in an age when more and more routine work can be digitized, automated or offshored, including white-collar work, “it is hard to see how, over time, we are going to be able to maintain our standard of living,” says Marc Tucker, who heads the National Center on Education and the Economy.


Tomorrow, Mr. Tucker’s organization is coming out with a report titled “Tough Choices or Tough Times,” which proposes a radical overhaul of the U.S. education system, with one goal in mind: producing more workers — from the U.P.S. driver to the software engineer — who can think creatively.