A Question of Coffee

So as far as Fulbright updates go, I’m settling into the book project. Read the biography of an old Harbiner last week, and now I’m on to a book of essays about Harbiners by a Harbiner. Going well so far.

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Also doing some research on Jewish culture in general to better inform myself.  Tuesday saw me spending a good bit of time reading in order to answer the simple question, “Could a Jewish woman in her 20’s or 30’s conceivably be found alone in a cafe?” I.E. did women have that much social mobility in Harbin in the 1910’s?

What I found most interesting in the process of answering that question was Jewish feminism, which has gotten especially big since the 70’s, but has been working for a long time.  Judaism has an interesting view of gender roles that Christianity dropped explicitly at least.

Some of you may or may not know that Judaism is passed through the maternal line, so only if a person’s mother is Jewish are they considered a full Jew.  So a lot of texts put emphasis on that, how the mother is the ruler of the household, it is her duty to manage that domain, raise the children etc. etc., stuff you see in cultures all around the world.

What stuck out to me though is how harsh and based in scripture some restrictions placed on women are.  What do I mean? I stumbled across a story where a woman asks a real insightful question to a rabbi and he refuses to answer her, stating, “I would rather see the words of the Torah burn than be taught to a woman.”  That’s a little fucked up.

Jewish women did have it better off than Christian women though, a Middle Ages rabbi named Maimondes decreed that a women could initiate divorce if she found her husband repugnant as, “she should not be forced into intimacy with a man she reviles, as she is not his slave”. Sound reasoning.  Women could also divorce for lack of sex so it goes both ways.

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There is the problem of “agunah” or “anchored women.”  Jewish divorce, no matter who initiates it, must be acknowledged by both parties, and served by a document known as a “get.” Suppose though that you’re a woman whose husband went away to war or on business and never returned.  Is he dead? You assume he is, so you remarry.  Suddenly your husband returns, and you’ve committed a bunch of sins. None of your children from the second marriage are legitimate, both your marriages are null, and you’re kind of on your own.  So to avoid that risk a woman would never remarry without hard evidence her husband had died.  And if neither the husband nor evidence arose, she was “anchored” to that marriage.  Rough deal. Some men would apparently give conditional gets with a term of x months or years to avoid this, but apparently the problem still vexes orthodox scholars to this day.

Also, women were pretty much forbidden from pursuing higher education up through the 19th Century.  Until recently women also didn’t count minyan, a quorum of ten Jews required for many religious practices, and Israel still practices gender segregation in a bunch of ways, particularly in orthodox communities.  That said, Jewish women started becoming rabbis in the late 19th century, and the reform movement in particular has been working hard to made Judaism a more inclusive space in the past 50 years.  Real interesting stuff, hope to learn more, and I encourage you to look into it yourself.

The answer to my question though is a definite “yes.”  As early as 1916 Harbin had a Jewish Women’s Zionist Organization, they were extremely active, and all the study groups/schools I could find pictures of in Harbin specifically at the time had co-ed membership. So that short story is a go!

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In other news, had a very nice dinner with some Chinese Fulbright alums in Changchun (capital of neighboring Jilin province) put on by the American consulate. Ate a lot, met some very interesting people, and generally had a great time.  I was only one of three Americans, counting one FSO. Felt really professional, traveling to another province just for a dinner, a bit silly admittedly, but it only cost me like $20 which is probably less than the meal would have cost anyway.  Thanks Fulbright!

And as for my biggest Fulbright news: I have a draft article only a week behind the schedule I set in March! Holy shit! I will say, it really more resembles a Jackson Pollock painting than even the roughest sketch of a complete article, but it’s progress, and with the relish I’m tackling the book project with it feels really good! So soon begins the onerous task of editing, editing, and more editing. While I have lower standards for this than I did, I still don’t think I’ll be able to get it into the August issue of the journal, gonna aim for October.  Oh! And the June issue of the journal is out which is the first to have all of its English abstracts translated by yours truly!  That feels good, and I finally feel like I put in good work.  All-in-all some good Fulbright success for my June report! 😀

I realized that I am a narcisisstic putz and only put up the pictures of me last week. Here’s some that I took of that wonderful walkway and adjacent village north of the river I went to way back when everything was frozen.

Saturday I went to a poetry talk featuring a local author of some renown named Li Qi. She had some really cool thoughts on poetry like, “poems make our hearts soft.” Not soft in a bad way. Soft as in malleable, as in flexible, soft enough to absorb the punches that life throws at our guts and keep on going. Soft so that we are no longer brittle eggshells that crack under pressure. (Analogies by me).  Also she was really really happy that Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize. I found that funny.

I then spent the rest of the day hanging with some Chinese college students which, while exhausting, was ultimately really rewarding, we had some great talks, I saw a new part of Harbin, and even met a Chinese Wiccan! Who woulda thought?

Here’s one of Li Qi’s best-known poems, 《当你老了》or “When You Are Old”. Based on this poem by Yeats.  I think it’s incredibly beautiful, and I hope my translation does it justice.

When you are old, these words first said by Yeats,
gently say them, these five little words
they sound as if they want to cry.

When you are old: these soft, downy words
love and cherish them
and the riotous colors between each syllable.

When you are old, when said with a soft and tender tone
is the golden rays of dusk, the silver streaks of moonlight
rising warmly, like the strains of a cello.

When you are old, when those two pairs of eyes have lost their brightness
and gaze into each other in old age, this beauty
will tug at your heart.

When you are old, when you have a pilgrim’s soul
when you hear the chimes of love
calmly sounding their last pledge of loyalty.

When you are old, I truly hope
this poem will be written for me, or
in many years time, I’ll be the one to write it.

A few other things actually happened this week, and I’ll save some for the next post as this week might not be as eventful. I will end with a hilarious cultural interaction that I felt incredibly guilty about.  On Friday I went back to the Jewish museum to do research, and afterwards went to Central Street to get bread and enjoy the scenery. I sat down on a bench, and an old man comes up and says, “hello!” in somewhat stilted English. I had already had this happen with a guy who wanted a picture with me so I was not in the best mood. (Like really buddy? All this beautiful architecture around you and you wanna snap a picture with the scruffy white guy?)

As a result, I tried a seldom-used defense mechanism where I pretend to be Russian and therefore give them no option but to speak Chinese with me.  Turns out the guy’s Russian was better than mine! Shit! We ended up talking for about fifteen minutes, I maintained the illusion that I was Russian, told him where and what I studied, and learned that he had studied abroad in Russia back in the day (I assume the 50’s).  He was amazingly sweet, nice, and adorable, and even invited me to his house to “做客” (zuo ke, dzuo kuh literally “be a guest” which sounds perfectly natural in Chinese and Russian). The only thing I can assume is my pronunciation is good enough to convince him I was Russian despite my limited vocabulary. Or he noticed something was up, but attributed it to his own old age and/or not having been to Russia in a long long time and gave me the benefit of the doubt.

I eventually excused myself before I gave myself away, but I felt *incredibly* guilty! This old guy was nothing but nice to me and I lied to his face for fifteen straight minutes! So at the time I was really at a loss for how to accept his invitation and explain that I was actually an American. Consulting with Chinese friends has given me the answer that I should just tell him when I get there, apologize, and bring a present. Probably tea. So I still feel bad, especially considering I’m supposed to be representing America at all times as a Fulbrighter, but hopefully he’ll be alright with it.  It did feel really cool to get to be able to use my Russian like that though!

And kitties!  Always kitties!  Got the perfect picture of Meow on the left here. See you soon!

 

 

For Pride

In honor of pride month, I thought I’d revisit some old territory and talk a bit about the LGBTQ culture over here in Asia.

Happy LGBT Gay Pride Month 2014 Web

First of all shoutout to the protesters who interrupted DC’s Pride march, pointing out that Pride has become a huge, corporate event that while enjoyable, is pretty far from it’s roots at Stonewall. They also had some beef with the apparently pretty rampant racism in the LGBTQ community.

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Based on my own experiences at the two pride events I’ve had the joy to attend, some of the sponsorships did seem a bit off key for lack of a better term. To paraphrase another article, “it’s kind of like a pageant to see which large corporation can be the most LGBTQ friendly in a grab for queer money.”

This post though, is about a paper that was sent to me about the role coming out plays in Asian cultures, specifically Singapore from which its author Chris K. K. Tan hails. I should have done more exploration in this direction last year in Xi’an when I was ostensibly focusing on this subject, but better late than never, yeah? I will say now as a disclaimer that this is based on my very cursory understanding of Confucianism gleaned through tangential study, and if I ever go more in-depth I’ll be sure to do thorough research.  This is just a blog post though, so my biased impressions will serve just fine for my pseudo-academic musings. Maybe I’ll develop this subject and write a more pointed piece one day.

To briefly sum up, he talks about how in the West, coming out wholly and completely is somewhat of a right of passage/a requirement to be true to yourself, the community as a whole, and to your friends and family. He refrains from exploring more why this is, but if I had to hazard a guess I would attribute it to the importance that Western culture places on self-determination and individuality.

In Asian cultures though, those influenced by Confucian philosophy, the emphasis on filiality, continuing the family line, and just generally marrying a person of the opposite gender to facilitate the above two goals, don’t really mesh with being out and gay. Many of the people he talked to in Singapore said they didn’t come out to their parents or at all because it would be “hurtful” to their parents, bringing them shame etc. Most of these people do come out to friends, but for whatever reason the home remains “sacred”.

As an alternative, they do something the paper calls “going home”, which I had never heard of before.  He mentioned it also being practiced by gay Dominican men in New York, and it’s a strategy wherein men will bring their partners home and introduce them as “just a friend”, and wait for the family to put two and two together. This apparently usually results in tacit acceptance that allows men to continue living as they like and lets the family maintain face. While they might still face pressure to marry from other relatives, the nuclear family usually accepts their child’s orientation and drops the matter. The practice even extends to gay Muslims in neighboring Malaysia apparently, to similar degrees of success.

Now, my initial reaction, and probably the reaction of most liberal Westerners would be to decry a culture that condemns open/monogamous homosexuality (it was tolerated in ancient times as long as you were making babies on the side). The fact that the culture apparently makes people see their sexuality as something wrong and shameful that could harm their parents just feels so wrong to me having grown up as a liberal Californian.

Having that reaction did make me question my perspective though.  While I can certainly prefer my culture to Asian culture with regards to their attitudes towards the LGBTQ community, do I have grounds to say one is empirically better than the other? Or is that just me imposing my values on others that have no need or want of them much like early colonialists?

The pro-Confucian argument would say that this is a culture that believes a cohesive nuclear family is the foundation of a stable, productive, happy society.  As a result, it’s more conservative members can view heterosexual marriage and production of offspring not only as a route to personal happiness, but as a duty that if neglected threatens the very fabric of society itself.  There’s also something touching about the emphasis on filial piety.  After all, according to Confucianism your parents are responsible for your very existence and by extension everything good that you experience in life, so you owe them a lot. By that argument they’re also responsible for everything bad in your life, but that gets outweighed I guess. As a result, it seems these gay Singaporeans who choose to “go home” rather than “come out” love their parents so much that they are willing to compromise their own well-being to make their parents more comfortable.

And it’s when I had that realization that I was reminded I still have a lot to learn about Chinese culture, and there are probably some parts I will never completely understand. However, I still think it’s wrong to put modern people through the choice of either lying to their parents or risking family drama. I think Confucianism is completely right that stable nuclear families are a cornerstone of stable society, but I think it’s continued insistence on  It’s a sad truth, but it’s a truth. Who am I to judge as an outsider? What I don’t get though is the stubborn insistence that said family must have one male and one female parent, and that the kids have to be biological.  To my eyes, gay marriage, adoption/IV fertilization, and Confucianism are perfectly compatible, and to force gay people into heterosexual marriages or make them stay single is actually undermining that harmonious society that Confucianism strives for. Isn’t a society with less bad marriages, more good ones, and less orphans good for everyone?  I have yet to meet a hardcore Confucian to test these arguments against, but I guess I’ll be on the lookout. Because in the meantime this is actually one of the major forces opposing LGBTQ rights in Asia. Where in the west homophobia generally stems from the religious right, here it stems from this emphasis on the sanctity of the “family unit”, an argument which usually takes a secondary or tertiary role in the western opposition.

Tan makes the very valid point in the paper that for Singaporeans, and Asians in general, adopting this nonconfrontational “going home” approach does retard the general progress of LGBTQ rights in Asia.  I mentioned a similar view several times at the Taiwan conference, and I completely agree.  Only by coming out and being more visible will acceptance grow and give opportunities for discussion. That’s kinda one of the main points of Pride I believe.  But it seems like the Asian queer community has different priorities here.

What do you all think? Is going home superior to coming out given the cultural environment? Or is it a selfish choice to avoid potential conflict that postpones the fight for the next generation? I’m curious about your views, and I hope you have a gay day!

EDIT: Literally minutes after posting this, I read this article about a Malaysian teenager beaten to death for allegedly being gay. Besides being heartbreaking, it was also a reminder of how far the movement has to go in Asia. The fear of coming out is very real when this stuff is happening.  I still believe no one has any right to make another person come out as any flavor of LGBTQ, especially if it threatens their safety. But it’s a step that has to be taken, not only in striving for greater acceptance, but also to give closeted folks a visible example that coming out can work out.

Pulling. Them. Off.

So, for a good while, probably a year or so, I’ve wanted a pair of late Qing, early ROC dark sunglasses, like you see in movies. The original article can be seen on the left, and a more modernized one on the right.

Now, obviously the ones on the left are real hard to pull off if I could even afford a legit pair, but when I was in Pingyao I got a more modern looking pair that still had crystal lenses (the important part) for only 20RMB (bargained from 30, and still probably 5 or 10 more than I needed to pay. I laughed when a woman offered me the same pair for 60).

Recently took a couple friends out to see Daowai, and one of the Jormy (Chinese, but spent her time in the States in Alaska of all places) turns out to be a good photographer.  And based on this evidence, I gotta say I’m pulling my pair off just fine. Love em.

Narcissistic joking aside, please tell me if I look like a putz and living in China hasn’t just warped my sense of fashion. Also, considering growing out my beard more, as you can see (this is like 1.5 months of growth). What do you all think?

Now, a very special shoutout to my amazing amazing little sister Clara who is GRADUATING COLLEGE!!!!!!!!!!! From entering at the young, yet still brilliant age of 16, to graduating with stellar grades, a hugely successful public health club as her legacy. Clara, I am so proud of you, you definitely got all the work ethic and are actively working to make the world a better place. You’re going to to amazing things and make so many lives better (like you already have for us, your lucky family), and I’m privileged to call you my sister.  Love you tons, can’t wait to see you again. (Sorry I missed your graduation. Again.)

And an equally special shoutout to my grandmother Joanna who has been such a presence in my life, always full of love and support, and a role model in terms of hard work and responsibility. Happy 80th birthday grandma (at time of writing). Hope it’s fantastic.

Lastly, happiest of Fathers’ Day to my beloved dad Bruce. I am incredibly thankful for all your love and support as well. You’re a shining example to me of how to find the many joys in life, do what you love/love what you do, and get some great stories along the way. You inspire me, I hope you have a fantastic day, and I love and miss you tons.

In other Fulbright news, I went to the Sino-Russian expo, which was quite the unique experience. My first time being to an expo, and it was pretty cool!  Booths from all over the world, selling a lot of the same things, quite overwhelming. I wandered with a friend, sampling everything from beef jerky to wine to cocoa butter, and walked away with a nice French table wine and a box of stoopwaffles for my neighbors.  Oddly enough, I didn’t feel an uncontrollable urge to buy everything I saw. Mostly just the edible stuff.

I also popped down to Beijing last week to see my undergrad professor who came home for the first time in five years (I can’t even imagine doing that myself), so another shoutout to her for starting me on the road to learning Chinese, so much of what I have today is because of that foundation.  Also, thanks for pointing out that my second tone still needs work, I’ve been getting real lazy with my Chinese, and as much as it stings to recognize my mistakes, it’s a good reminder to slow down and be more present when speaking.

Moving from skills I thought I had mastered more than I do (Chinese) to skills I thought I might have lost, but still have, I read four books last week, one of which was in Chinese!  It’s been a while since I read purely for pleasure, so realizing I can still tear through a book at lightning pace like in middle school was nice.  Just takes something more engaging than a yearly report on the SCO I suppose. And now all my pleasure reading also counts as research for the book!  Love how that works out.

Most recently among those books was 13 Reasons Why, which is a ten year old novel in which a high school girl, Hannah Baker, kills herself and posthumously releases 13 tapes to 13 people who she felt were critical in bringing her to that decision.  It was recently made into a Netflix series, which I haven’t watched, but has gotten flak for being *far* more graphic than the book, and for breaking practically every good practice for depicting suicide in media.  While the book is somewhat neutral, from my understanding the series really glorifies suicide, depicting it as Hannah taking power back that’s been stripped from her and getting back at everyone who made her life unbearable.

I made a point of reading it as the series aired right about when I started working for Crisis Text Line, and apparently it caused a huge uptick in suicidal texters.  You could say that this is because the show lists us as a resource for viewers affected by the content, but I suspect that many people texting in would not need to if they hadn’t watched the show in the first place. There’s plenty of analysis out there, but that’s my two pieces.

The book, by contrast, is relatively tame, and moving, but still suffers from some fundamental flaws I’m not skilled enough in literary analysis to fully articulate. Compelling read with a nice message.  I really don’t like the show though, and will probably not indulge it with my viewership.

Other random news, I attended a Chinese Toastmasters meeting on Wednesday, ostensibly as a judge, but I ended up giving a speech as well on short notice. Fun times, will probably go back, much less of a cult-y feeling than my experience at one in America. I got voted best judge actually!

Additionally, we won trivia this week, and got some super cute photos out of it.

To wrap up, doing a lot of reading and feeling good. So many things I may have forgotten some.  If I did, they’ll go in the next post.  Have some noodles with a kitty and a kiss.

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It was my birthday!  And dad’s!  happy birthday dad!  It took me a while to eat cake after my birthday day, but did have some birthday watermelon!

And Harbin’s 119th birthday!  Actually that June 9th date’s a bit controversial, I recently read a paper about organizing a centennial conference in 1998, and a lot of conservative Chinese don’t like that, as it marks the construction of the railroad that made Harbin the city it is today.  They view it as yet more colonial infringement.  So some prefer setting Harbin’s birthday in September, 1905 when the Qing government set up administration for it.

I had a lovely birthday filled with hiking, sweets and relaxation, followed by some changes to my Fulbright mindset.  I mentioned the side project my mother inspired in me (a novel about the Harbin Jews) to my adoptive older sister, who proceeded me as a Fulbrighter at HLJU three years ago and is now a badass freelance journalist.

Her advice at the mention was “drop everything, screw your research paper, write that book.”  So with that vote of confidence I’m focusing more on that project.  I’m not abandoning my core research, nonono, I still hope to publish.  However, Lydia made the good point that everyone can write a research paper, while a historical fiction about the Harbin Jews is something unique (at least as far as I can tell) and equally worthy of the Fulbright name.

So hoping to crank up my work output and do both.  The historical fiction is gonna need a lot of research, I’m still in the brainstorming phases, but my little pitch sentence is, “Several stories take us through the lives of Harbin’s Jews to explore the city’s enchanting history.”  I want to do short stories/vignettes to explore Harbin as a setting in the beginning of the 20th century, with characters and plot secondary.  That frees me from the confines of an overarching plot and lets me assemble it piece-meal, keep my research into manageable chunks, as there are a lot of issues I’m going to have to cover.  I’d like to have a finished draft of the whole product by the time I get back to the States.  Doable, hopefully, but a lot of work, and a lot of pretention.  I’ll keep you updated if you’re interested!

I really don’t have much more to add, sorry. :/

Meow

Not much eventful this week, but I’ve got some cute cat pictures and silly musings and that’s all you need for a blog, right?

First off, the happiest of birthdays to my amazing father Bruce.  I hope you spend it wonderfully and happily.  Love you beyond words.

Now my Fulbright update, I have over 4,000 characters written, which is a lot more progress than I thought I’d get!  So going back to do more reading.  When I say writing, I really mean just getting my English notes translated into full Chinese sentences and put in roughly the correct location on the paper.  But it’s progress!

We had more class off for Dragon Boat Festival, which was quite lovely.  The holiday is celebrated by 踏青’ing (ta qing) which literally translates to “stomping green.”  What it actually means going to grassy places near water to have a picnic, which is pretty awesome.  At the same time people will take off colorful bracelets they’ve been wearing  for two weeks up to this point and throw them into the water, allegedly to get rid of all the sickness in their bodies. Also eating sticky rice wrapped in leaves. In the south it’s sometimes accompanied by dragon boat racing as you might expect.

Now why do people do this?  Opinions differ.  The most popular theory is that during the Warring States Period, the minister Qu Yuan of Chu was exiled when he opposed his ruler allying with the state of Qin.  When the Qin later captured Chu’s capital, Qu Yuan was so griefstricken that he jumped into the Miluo river to kill himself.  The people loved him, so they raced boats (dragon boats) to recover his body, and when they couldn’t find it, they threw rice balls in the water to keep the fish from eating it.

Other people though, believe it is to commemorate the (unjustly) ordered suicide of Wu Zixu with similar protection from the fish.

Other places commemorate other just people dying unjustly, but the overall tone is the same.  Incidentally Korea apparently celebrates a very different version of the holiday, and the differences are the study of a decent body of academic work.

The day of the festival, I went to buy groceries and get breakfast at the farmer’s market as has become my custom, and randomly ran into my advisor!  He suggested that I go to Central Street to see the crowds of people, and as I had been planning to go the next day, I adjusted my schedule.  What resulted was a lot of walking, a LOT of people, and some great journal writing environment.  Got a tan, bought some bread, and overall had a lovely time.

This makes a fair enough transition to my thoughts of the week, which are still developing.  Something happened while I was out on Central Street where a random woman yelled, “Hello!” at me in English as I passed by.  This happens fairly often when you’re non-Asian and in public in China.  Depending on my mood, it’s sometimes really funny and return the greeting (especially if it’s a little kid), but if I’m tired or just not feeling it it really irks me.  This was one of the later times, and I almost chewed out this poor woman, who was just being nice.  (I kind of did, “do we know each other? So you just go saying hello to random strangers?”)  It, combined with something someone said, made me ask myself why I feel so combative in China, so apart from the culture despite living here for over two years now.  Part of that has to do with being white of course, I stick out, I’m always different, but part of the blame lies on me as well.  I certainly could be making more  efforts to integrate fully with the culture, but there are still some disconnects that I find hard to overcome.

One of them is politics, as mentioned last post this inability to accept criticism of the country, the inability to grasp the concept that you can love something and still want to see it improve, provokes this almost primal reaction in me that leads to a kind of antagonistic mindset when I talk with people here sometimes.  I’ve begun noticing this, and I’m trying to examine why exactly it happens and how to stop it, but it was a bit disheartening to realize it.  I feel like I’ve failed my duty as a Fulbrighter and as someone who prides themself on understanding Chinese culture better than your average American.  But it seems understanding doesn’t equate to assimilation or adaptation.

I’ll close this by adding that I actually have some good, local Chinese friends now! (Who came to trivia and the tea-shopping trip) so it’s not all bad!  And kitty pictures to close it out.  Hopefully a more eventful post next week.

 

Trivia!

Update from my Sunday, I went to buy tea, ended up spending way more than I intended.  Going to a teashop (or tea city as it ere) here generally entails you sitting down and chatting with the propiretor while he (in this case) pours you tea.  We sat there drinking for four hours before buying so I allowed myself to be talked into spending twice what I intended, and I consider it worth it.  Anyway, on to trivia!

1. What is the name of shortstop in Abbot and Costello’s ‘Who’s on 1st?’ sketch?

2. Besides Harbin, which Chinese city is known for its Jewish population?

3. What province was the founder of Harbin’s famous Laodingfeng bakery from?

4. Name two Qiulin/Churin (local Harbin food company) products whose names are transliterations of Russian words. 1/2 point for each

5. Harbin has nicknames based on which two European capitals?

6. What was Xi’an’s name when it was the capitol of the Tang dynasty?

7. What substance did Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a united China, drink in pursuit of immortality?

8. The first person to export soya beans to Europe was a resident of which Chinese city? (Hint: it’s in the northeast)

9. What is Vladivostok’s Chinese name?

10. Which is the only Chinese minority without its own language?

11. According to the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Agreement, how many meters need to be between any two given 牛肉拉面 restaurants?  Closest guess gets it.

12. Matching! The Tang, Song, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties are considered the pinnacle of four different types of literature: poetry, novels, prose, and plays. Match the medium with it’s dynasty.  (1/2 point for each correct pair)
13. What was the first place in Asia to take steps towards legalizing same-sex marriage?

14. The name Australia is derived from the Latin australis, which means what in English?

15. What was Australian outlaw Ned Kelly’s ‘occupation’? I.e. he was known as a blank…

16. Name the four main members of the Kelly gang. (1/2 point each)

17. Apartheid means what in what language. Have to get both.

18. Kind of Blue and Bitches’ Brew are albums by which Jazz legend?

19. Which jazz legend was known by the name ‘Bird’?

20. The famous Blue Note Jazz Club has four locations around the world, name the cities. (1/2 point each). (Hint: they’re in three different countries)

21.” A name is a name, but it is not the eternal name.” Name the famous work of Chinese philosophy this sentence comes from or its author.

22. According to Greek mythology, who was the first woman on Earth?

23. In Norse mythology/religion Valkyries perform what function?

24. Name 4 of the 7 confirmed US orchestrated or supported coups. (1/2 point each) One bonus point if you get all the years.

25. Which two countries not in the western hemisphere supported the Salvadorian military government during the Salvadorian civil war from 1979 to 1992?

26.  How many new states were born of what was formerly Yugoslavia.

27. Excluding the Muslim world, the blood libel against the Jews, wherein Jews would be accused of killing Christian children to use their blood for magic or ceremonies, found its last institutional pull in which country? (European country)

28. Chinese film: The great Chinese director Zhang Yimou came out with a new film recently. It was criticized (mostly) in the US for whitewashing because Zhang casted Matt Damon. There was another non-Asian actor who did not get much mention in the criticisms. Name this person or his appellation in the role he is most famous for.

29. The movies Xiao Wu, Platform, and Unknown Pleasures by Chinese director Jia Zhangke are collectively known as the blank trilogy.

30. Name that trilogy: Which three movies make up what is known as Lars van Trier’s Golden Heart trilogy?
Bonus point: Which one is dogme 95 certified?

31. The San Francisco Bay Area has two designated China towns, name the two cities that house them.

32. Upon initial completion, the trans pacific railroad ran from Omaha, Nebraska to which Californian city?

33. What kind of shop did Harvey Milk run in San Francisco’s Castro district before becoming mayor?

34. Where is the supposedly real “Hotel California” of the Eagles hit song, and when did the Eagles bring legal action alleging copyright infringement on the hotel?

35. Also known as “beast mode” this American footballer recently came out of retirement to play for the Oakland Raiders. Give his name for a half a point, and any of the four previous teams he’s played for for a bonus point (including high school and college)
Bonus point: How is beast mode doing today? (name the food/dish)

36. Emanuel Macron recently won the presidential election in France. He got some shifty eyes for is ongoing marriage to a former high school teacher who taught what subject?
Drama

37. Taking excessive amounts of mescaline caused French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre to hallucinate (for an extended period of time) which animal?

38. This famous philosopher and cultural critic was a member of the Hitler Youth.

39. The practice of interpreting dreams is unique to which western psycho-therapeutic practice?

40. In what language did Franz Kafka write his novels?

All answered?  Keep scrolling down for the answers!

 

 

 

 

1. What is the name of shortstop in Abbot and Costello’s ‘Who’s on 1st?’ sketch?
A: I don’t give a damn/darn

2. Besides Harbin, which Chinese city is known for its Jewish population?
A: Kaifeng in Henan province, these Jews are believed to be a “lost tribe” that settled there over 1,000 years ago.  They’re also  being pressured by the government as Judaism is not one of the five approved state religions.

3. What province was the founder of Harbin’s famous Laodingfeng bakery from?
A: Zhejiang.  No one at trivia got this, and I’d be stunned if you did, so no worries!

4. Name two Qiulin/Churin (local Harbin food company) products whose names are transliterations of Russian words. 1/2 point for each
A: Bread and Kvas which in Chinese are called 大列巴(dalieba, da lie(stress on the e)bah from Russian khleb which means bread) and  格瓦斯(gewasi, guh wa suh, a kind of bread soda from Russia.  Better than it sounds, but still not amazing IMO)

5. Harbin has nicknames based on which two European capitals?
A: Paris and Moscow

6. What was Xi’an’s name when it was the capitol of the Tang dynasty?
A: Chang’an, longtime readers of this blog should have gotten that.

7. What substance did Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a united China, drink in pursuit of immortality?
A: Mercury, it didn’t work out as planned.

8. The first person to export soya beans to Europe was a resident of which Chinese city? (Hint: it’s in the northeast)
A: Harbin!  It was one of the Harbin Jews who did it actually.

9. What is Vladivostok’s Chinese name?
A: 海参崴(haishenwai, haishunwai).  Vladivostok used to be part of the Qing Empire before Russia took it after one of the Opium Wars. A lot of Chinese people still use this name today, partly because it’s less cumbersome to say, but also out of resentment and still viewing it as Chinese territory.

10. Which is the only Chinese minority without its own language?
A: The Hui.

11. According to the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Agreement, how many meters need to be between any two given Lanzhou beef noodle restaurants?  Closest guess gets it.
A: 400m.  This is an unofficial treaty amongst the Hui, but apparently some bad shit happens to it if you break, as a guy in Shanghai learned last year.  The Hui community led a massive boycott and the city government had to get involved to clear it up. For context, Lanzhou beef noodles are kind of the signature dish of the Hui, and the treaty was written to avoid too much competition.  It”s also the progenitor of Japanese ramen.

12. Matching! The Tang, Song, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties are considered the pinnacle of four different types of literature: poetry, novels, prose, and plays. Match the medium with it’s dynasty.  (1/2 point for each correct pair)
A: Tang poems, Song prose, Yuan plays, and Ming novels.

13. What was the first place in Asia to take official steps towards legalizing same-sex marriage?
A: Taiwan!  (We were politic and used “place” instead of “country” due to location)

14. The name Australia is derived from the Latin australis, which means what in English?
A: Southern land!

15. What was Australian outlaw Ned Kelly’s ‘occupation’? I.e. he was known as a blank…
A: Bushranger

16. Name the four main members of the Kelly gang. (1/2 point each)
Ned Kelly, Dan Kelly (little bro), Joe Byrne and Steve Hart.

17. Apartheid means what in what language. Have to get both.
A: “Segregation” or “separateness” in Afrikaans.

18. Kind of Blue and Bitches’ Brew are albums by which Jazz legend?
A: Miles Davis!

19. Which jazz legend was known by the name ‘Bird’?
A: Charlie Parker

20. The famous Blue Note Jazz Club has four locations around the world, name the cities. (1/2 point each). (Hint: they’re in three different countries)
A: New York, Milan, Tokyo, and Oosaka.

21.” A name is a name, but it is not the eternal name.” Name the famous work of Chinese philosophy this sentence comes from or its author.
A: The Daodejing (Tao Te Ching) by Laozi (Lao Tzu), base text of Daoism (Taoism).

22. According to Greek mythology, who was the first woman on Earth?
A: Pandora

23. In Norse mythology/religion Valkyries perform what function?
A: They decide who dies in battle and gets to go to Valhalla.

24. Name 4 of the 7 confirmed US orchestrated or supported coups. (1/2 point each) One bonus point if you get all the years.
A: Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Congo in 1960, Dominican Republic in 1961, Vienam in 1963, Brazil in 1964, and Chile 1973.

25. Which two countries not in the western hemisphere supported the Salvadorian military government during the Salvadorian civil war from 1979 to 1992?
A: Israel and Taiwan (we were not as politic on this one).

26.  How many new states were born of what was formerly Yugoslavia.
A: 7

27. Excluding the Muslim world, the blood libel against the Jews, wherein Jews would be accused of killing Christian children to use their blood for magic or ceremonies, found its last institutional pull in which country? (European country)
A: Poland

28. Chinese film: The great Chinese director Zhang Yimou came out with a new film recently. It was criticized (mostly) in the US for whitewashing because Zhang casted Matt Damon. There was another non-Asian actor who did not get much mention in the criticisms. Name this person or his appellation in the role he is most famous for.
A: Pedro Pascal/Oberyn Martell/The Red Viper of Dorne.  Willam Defoe is apparently also an acceptable answer.

29. The movies Xiao Wu, Platform, and Unknown Pleasures by Chinese director Jia Zhangke are collectively known as the blank trilogy.
A: The Hometown Trilogy

30. Name that trilogy: Which three movies make up what is known as Lars van Trier’s Golden Heart trilogy?
Bonus point: Which one is dogme 95 certified?
A: Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dar, and The Idiots (certified one).

31. The San Francisco Bay Area has two designated China towns, name the two cities that house them.
A: SF and Oakland

32. Upon initial completion, the trans pacific railroad ran from Omaha, Nebraska to which Californian city?
A: Sacramento

33. What kind of shop did Harvey Milk run in San Francisco’s Castro district before becoming mayor?
A: A camera shop.

34. Where is the supposedly real “Hotel California” of the Eagles hit song, and when did the Eagles bring legal action alleging copyright infringement on the hotel?
A: Mexico, 2017

35. Also known as “beast mode” this American footballer recently came out of retirement to play for the Oakland Raiders. Give his name for a half a point, and any of the four previous teams he’s played for for a bonus point (including high school and college)
Bonus point: How is beast mode doing today? (name the food/dish)
A: Marshawn Lynch.  Oakland Tech, Cal Berkeley, Buffalo Bills.
Bonus: Salad (“solid” with an accent).  Don’t ask me, I didn’t write the question.

36. Emanuel Macron recently won the presidential election in France. He got some shifty eyes for is ongoing marriage to a former high school teacher who taught what subject?
A: Drama

37. Taking excessive amounts of mescaline caused French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre to hallucinate (for an extended period of time) which animal?
A: Lobsters and crabs both acceptable.

38. This famous philosopher and cultural critic was a member of the Hitler Youth.
A: Hans Georg Gadamer

39. The practice of interpreting dreams is unique to which western psycho-therapeutic practice?
A: Psychoanalysis

40. In what language did Franz Kafka write his novels?
A: German

Fuck Vegetables

Dedicated to this sign.

InzwKm

This comes from the fact 干 (gan, long a)can mean either “dry” or “to do”.  And in Chinese as in English, you can “do” more than one kind of thing (or person).  In this case vegetables.  So this sign is actually “dry goods”, as 菜 can mean vegetables or food in general.

So yeah, I went to a talk on translation this week and really enjoyed it, hence the sign. The speaker was a longtime party translator talking about One Belt One Road and translation in general.  He went on for a long long time, covering specific examples as well as general  theory, and overall I really enjoyed it.  Biggest thing for my own work is the reminder that when translating, ensuring the audience’s understanding is key, so you have to be aware of what background knowledge etc. you can expect for the audience of any given piece.  I’ll spare you the specifics of English-Chinese translation, but another good theoretical guideline I’ve heard elsewhere is when performing literary translation, the original novel is merely your raw materials, the finished product should reflect your own voice.

Aside from that, the week started out a little hectic.  I logged in to do my counseling shift to find the queue blowing up.  Apparently one of our texters had shared a post on facebook that went viral, and as a result we had like 400 people trying to get in.  It seems CTL pulled in everyone they could, and for my first couple hours there were 200 counselors fielding texts (that shift usually has 20-30 or as many as 60 I believe, it’s a time slot that can see some traffic spikes.  We got it under control though, and it seems to have been the second largest surge in the service’s three year history.  Feels good to have been a part of it.

Probably not as hectic as the University of Maryland’s though.  Aside from the tragic, probably hate crime killing of Richard Collins III, their commencement speaker Yang Shuping has managed to piss off the Chinese internet.  Originally from Kunming, China, Yang gave a commencement speech about how much she loved the fresh air and free speech of America that she didn’t have at home.

This, of course, pissed a bunch of people off in China, and a lot of them are calling her a traitor, telling her to stay in America if she likes it so much etc.  Fortunately some Chinese netizens are defending her saying she kind of has a point and that policing her speech from China is just strengthening it.  There’s also been an online movement of other Chinese students abroad talking about their hometowns and how the air is clear, they feel so free etc.

As for my personal thoughts on the matter, I’m UM is sticking by her and defending free speech.  As I’ve mentioned countless times, I do love China.  I love living here, love the food, the people are great, I could go on forever.  The air sucks though at least half the year, if not more, and Chinese people are quite aware they don’t have free speech.  Everyone who appears in one of the response “I’m proud of China” video I watched, with one exception, is from the South where the air is clearer (but not completely) and so I feel they’re not really addressing her arguments.  No one really is addressing her arguments or refuting them, they’re just pissed that someone is “airing China’s dirty laundry” to borrow NPR’s turn of phrase.  Also, as far as I could tell in the video, everyone there is Han Chinese.  Get a Tibetan or another minority up there and see how they feel.  Oh wait, they can’t, because there’s no free speech in China.  Mini-rant over, here’s the NPR story if you’re curious.  Link

It’s actually kind of scaring me and pissing me off, this ideological policing of international students, maybe I’m reading too much about it.

Fulbright updates: I have an outline!  I’m not done reading, but it felt like time to start writing, y’know?  I feel like I’ve fallen behind on things, and I’m worried that I’m too far in that I won’t be able to pull myself out of the lazy routing and get as much work done as I should be able to.  I’m writing at least 700 characters a day, and it seems to be progressing alright, and I have yet to find better accompanying music than house mixes. (Shoutout to Brody for making those, and congrats on your engagement!)  I’m writing some terrible stuff, but I figure it’s good to start getting it out there and I have plenty of time to edit later in the year.

Also submitted my mid-term report for Fulbright yesterday.  Really crazy to think I’m halfway done (more than halfway done if you count CET), so that was another factor in making me start writing.

I also have more pictures from the talks last week, and the great thing about the internet is I only have to show you the photogenic ones! Ain’t it amazing?

In fun news, I co-hosted trivia on Thursday night!  It was a close match, with two teams scoring 27 and 26 out of 40 respectively.  The audience were mostly native English speakers with a few exceptions. I’ll post all the questions and answers next week as a bonus post if you want to learn something and test yourself.

 

Only other news, my neighbor took me fishing on Saturday.  Just catch and release at this spot in the wetlands.  It was really nice actually, made me think about camp and all the lovely times I’ve had fishing with dad.  Even started learning how to flycast (shoutout to John, wish you could have been there, could have practiced your Chinese too), and managed to catch a fish!  Got another bite, but that one broke the line.  I have to say though, I was kind of uncomfortable just holding the fish, didn’t quite feel right, so reexamining going more vegetarian (don’t worry dad, I’ll still eat just about anything you cook/order for me).

It was also real nice to see that much nature relatively close to Harbin.  Great experience, not sure if I’ll be repeating it.  On the note of getting into new spots of Harbin, check out this shot of pretty much idyllic Chinese suburbia (in reality just a block away from campus).  This is kind of the Chinese equivalent of those stereotypical suburban housing developments you see in America though, manicured high-rises for days, preferably near a good school.  The second shot, if you squint, has two boys playing with sticks on a mound of dirt, which is just a beautiful, screen-free experience that I imagine is hard to find in urban China and made me think back to bright memories of my Childhood.

I also went to the opening ceremony for sports day.  Sports day is an event that just about every Chinese college has in the spring near as I can tell.  It kind of serves as a replacement for the lack of school sports here, where all the departments enter students in various sport events (usually track and field, but some team sports too) to compete and everyone has a good time.  The opening ceremony consisted of representatives of every department entering the stadium and then lining up on the field, capped off by cannons and colored smoke.  Pretty cool, I didn’t stay to watch the rest.  I believe there’s some dance performances too.

I’ll close with a quote from Jack Ma of Alibaba fame that was brought up at the event last Sunday.  There may be a standardized English translation, but this is mine.  “When it comes to opportunities, most people don’t see them at first, then look down on them, then don’t understand what they’re seeing, then only when it’s passed do they see what they might’ve been.”  Take that into your lives as you will, and be well, and enjoy the cat.

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