The Light Touch of No Government Regulation                                            Summer, 2011

 

In the socialist economy of China, government regulation is often as derided, or ignored, as in any of the tea party fantasies coming out of prole-land or Romney-Ryanville.

A key example is elevator operation in China, particularly in the non-western oriented buildings  (meaning buildings that have Chinese oriented businesses, not buildings that don’t have a western wall on the outside).    I can’t really speak to elevator safety, or emergency situations.   I don’t inspect limit switches, or floor leveling software, or cables, or brakes.   I have seen some heat-activated floor selection buttons, which have long been a no-no in the heavily regulated US, but what I really want to talk about is elevator floor selection software.

Shibboleth                                  

October 2007 and Spring, 2015

 

The first time was in 2007, in Dalian, one of my favorite cities.

One of my students - government officials from China – was showing me her hometown, and we were late night driving from Dalian to our next stop that would take me to the airport in the morning.

She was not driving.  Her driver did that, so we had plenty of time to talk.  And there were two other of my students in the van, and we moved from topic to topic about China and the US and national monuments and American history and  9-11 and terrorism in China and the US.   And I said that the 9-11 terrorists missed the most important target – the Statue of Liberty.

Moller Villa           October, 2008

 

You will all like this one, Rob particularly.   I am staying at the Moller Villa in Shanghai, which was a family home built by a Swedish/English shipping magnate in the 1930's for his daughter.  The story is that the daughter envisioned living in a fairy tale castle, and her father proceeded to comply with her wish.  The villa, interior and exterior, is phenomenal - beautiful brickwork and wonderful carved wood, like in some European... well, castle.  The villa was used in turn by both the Guomindang and the Gongchandang (Nationalists and Communists) after 1945 – no reason for leaders of any stripe to stint on luxurious surroundings. 

Source: Legolas1024 [CC BY-SA 4.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)],from Wikimedia Commons

American History, and a Memorial           October, 2010                                                                                           

When Rob Mier died, in 1995, a good part of the national progressive community, in academia and neighborhoods, felt the loss.   Rob was not simply an academic – professor of urban planning and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and head of the Center for Urban Economic Development, a research unit in public policy and community development.    “Not simply” because other teachers, at other schools, could match his academic pedigree.   But Rob was … more.   He was a professional engineer (a piece of his past that he used to great advantage in meetings and negotiations with government planning officials) and had a passion for activism in community development.   Theory, yes, but always balanced with real community action. 

Firemen are firemen, even in China …          Spring, 2011

 

... although they are members of a national service, run out of Beijing, not by local governments.  So that is the reason for the army guys, not the police, doing traffic control when the local fire brigade ran through some training exercises yesterday.   But firemen are, down deep inside, guys, and high school guys at that.   So part of the training is a run, about 100 meters, with hose and connections.  At the end of the run, they have to hook up the hoses and put out a small electrical fire.  The water was already hooked up to a small pump, and came from our on-campus lake.

 

 

 

 

Some of you remember Victoria, from Taizhou   Spring, 2010

 

Some of you remember Victoria, from Taizhou.   For those of you who don’t, Victoria is- I think the east coast term is wicked- smart, clever, beautiful, and ambitious as all hell.   In other words, a dream.  Last year she put on a show for Scott and his kids and me.   You know that these trips for Scott and me are fun and we learn a lot, but there is an awful lot of showing off and maneuvering behind the scenes of every event.   There is a lot of jockeying to see who sits at the head point of the (round) table, next to the person paying for lunch.  Last year, Scott usually got to sit next to the person paying for lunch, and on the other side was the most senior or most powerful leader (this is where the personal jockeying comes in- sometimes we spent two or three minutes standing around the table, while two people fight out who is going to be the least important.  Sort of Alphonse and Gaston, with every “No, you go first,” a bluff.  First one to call the bluff wins).  

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