Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Monday 19 April 2010

I mean, literally. Sunday afternoon:

This morning:

Shanghai has been hazy since we arrived, so some of the fog is man-made. It isn't approaching the level of London in December 1952, but it isn't exactly the fresh spring fog of an Appalachian valley, either. (I'll have more to say about China's economic development in a bit.)

Monday 19 April 2010 17:15:24 CST (UTC+08:00)  |  | Duke#
Sunday 18 April 2010

Before I get to today's actual entry, I should mention to those of you reading on Facebook that I still haven't regained access to the service. I'm looking into a different VPN solution after the Great Firewall figured out how to block the Duke VPN, but it's possible that my Scrabble games will have to languish for another week. Apologies.

Also, just a reminder, if you're reading the blurbs on Facebook, you can see complete blog entries at The Daily Parker.

Today's actual blog entry, with photos, is here.

Sunday 18 April 2010 18:44:17 CST (UTC+08:00)  |  | Duke#
Saturday 17 April 2010

Really, it's the food. We're all going to double our waist sizes here. This afternoon they took us on a teambuilding exercise in which we made lemon chicken and pork fried rice. Much fun, many calories. Our team won best preparation but, owing to a lack of salt (we think), only came in second overall. Our presentation:

One of my teammates copied down on his iPhone the entire procedure as the chef demonstrated it. Once he's able to send me the note, I'll repost it. It involved only one ingredient whose name the chef's translator couldn't translate, that seemed to be a lemony-orangy powder. Without the powder, you can make fried chicken with lemon slices, which is not lemon chicken. I'd bet there's a Chinese grocery somewhere in Chicago that can hook me up with the secret lemon powder. Otherwise, with a commercial stove and a wok the size of an airplane engine, it's a pretty easy recipe.

Saturday 17 April 2010 21:42:03 CST (UTC+08:00)  |  | Duke#
Friday 16 April 2010

I'm still digesting Shànghăi, possibly because it's all about the food. Take, for example, the family dinner my classmate Kyle invited me to. Including me, there were five of us. This is what Kyle's mother and wife prepared:

That doesn't show the rice, by the way. All of it was delicious. I admit, I didn't try the green jellied duck eggs, but Kyle smoothed that out with his folks.

Continued here...

Friday 16 April 2010 17:25:17 CST (UTC+08:00)  |  | Duke#
Thursday 15 April 2010

Obligatory Pŭdōng skyline shot:

And completely surprising shot of the kids that mobbed me to practice their English:

Thursday 15 April 2010 13:52:33 CST (UTC+08:00)  |  | Duke#

Best view yet:

Much better than Dubai.

Thursday 15 April 2010 08:33:11 CST (UTC+08:00)  |  | Duke#
Wednesday 14 April 2010

It's 5:20 in the morning here, and I don't know what day it is. This, believe it or not, I expected, which explains why I got here a day early.

Just one major complaint: The Great Firewall apparently blocks Facebook[1]. Those of you waiting for me to play Scrabble, I'm sorry. (The Great Firewall sometimes changes its mind, so I'll keep trying.)

I won't bore you with details about my messed-up circadian rhythm when I could do it with something else, so here, à propos of nothing, is a photo of Tokyo Narita Airport:

When I (a) figure out what I'm doing today and tomorrow and (b) actually do it, I'll post more.

[1] It also apparently blocks the Wikipedia entry about itself. That's funny.

Thursday 15 April 2010 05:26:49 CST (UTC+08:00)  |  | Duke#

Above Siberia, 9:34 JST

I actually can see Russia from my window:

Thursday 15 April 2010 09:12:53 ANAST (UTC+12:00)  |  | Aviation | US#
Tuesday 13 April 2010

Over Great Bear Lake, N.W.T., 16:20 MDT

Note the first: A westbound 13-hour flight seems a lot shorter than a 9-hour flight the other direction. We left Chicago a little more than four hours ago, which equals the flying time from Chicago to San Francisco, the farthest place you can go within the Lower 48. It doesn’t feel that far. The sun confounds perceptions of time: we took off at 1pm and we land at 3:30, chasing the sun across the Canadian permafrost most of the way. I get to Shanghai at 7pm. My clock at home will say 6am. My brain will not have a clue.

Note the second: It turns out that flight attendants covet the Chicago-Tokyo route. Our cabin crew includes a husband-and-wife team, both of whom have worked for American longer than 30 years. The husband told me that the Chicago-Beijing route starting at the end of this month has become the most-sought trip for flight attendants; he expects he’ll be able to bid for it in a couple of years. Let me repeat that: when he has 40 years with the airline he might get on the Chicago-Beijing route.

Tuesday 13 April 2010 16:20:00 MDT (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation#

First, a housekeeping note. This is the one of three entries posted after the fact. Almost always, a post time you see on The Daily Parker accurately records when I first posted the blog entry. At this writing I’m on an airplane over Canada’s Northwest Territories, so the post time shows when I took notes about the entry that follows. This all may seem, as my dearest friend might say, “a bit Asperger’s-y.” Perhaps. Another very close friend blogs retrospectively, because she wants her entries to correspond in time to when the experiences happened. I think either is fine as long as it’s consistent. Otherwise, it’s almost like lying to yourself.

(We now rejoin the blog already in progress.)

If you have to fly out of O’Hare, you really can’t beat mid-morning on Tuesday. It took me 11 minutes from the time my cousin dropped me at Terminal 3 to check two bags through to Shanghai and get through security. Eleven minutes. Yes, I have Platinum status, but there weren’t any lines I could see at anywhere else. Always do things when no one else is doing them, someone once told me. Good advice.

In a moment of stupidity I forgot they would feed me on the plane, so I got lunch. The stupidity compounded itself by suggesting that, since I was heading to China, maybe I should skip the usual Terminal 3 two-item combo from Manchu Wok and get something impossible to get in Shanghai, like, say, a Quarter Pounder. Understand, the last time I ate at McDonald’s, ridiculous comparatives hadn’t been invented yet, so all we could say was “it was a long time ago.” I think I last had a Quarter Pounder during the Daley administration. The first one.

I think they’ve changed the recipe. The Quarter Pounder and small fries I had didn’t taste anything like I remembered. What happened to the salt? Where was the grease? What kind of cardboard bun was this? (At least they still make cardboard buns.) What a disappointment. I wanted my last meal in the United States for two weeks to be something quintessentially American, and obviously fattening and hypertensive. Instead I got what tasted like...well, it didn’t taste like anything, actually. Then American Airlines added to my culinary confusion by serving me a quite tasty beef filet in garlic ginger sake sauce with wild mushrooms paired with a decent Australian cabernet.

What is America coming to, when airline food is better than McDonald’s?

Tuesday 13 April 2010 11:50:00 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Kitchen Sink#
Monday 12 April 2010

As reported earlier, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens do not like the Pope's actions in dealing with child abuse. Dawkins has clarified his remarks:

Needless to say, I did NOT say "I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI" or anything so personally grandiloquent. You have to remember that The Sunday Times is a Murdoch newspaper, and that all newspapers follow the odd custom of entrusting headlines to a sub-editor, not the author of the article itself.

What I DID say to Marc Horne when he telephoned me out of the blue, and I repeat it here, is that I am whole-heartedly behind the initiative by Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens to mount a legal challenge to the Pope's proposed visit to Britain. Beyond that, I declined to comment to Marc Horme, other than to refer him to my 'Ratzinger is the Perfect Pope' article here: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5341.

I thought it sounded unusually acerbic, even for Dawkins.

Monday 12 April 2010 15:38:02 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | World | Religion#

I discovered this joke from the head of Duke's CCMBA IT department:

An accountant is having a hard time sleeping and goes to see his doctor. "Doctor, I just can't get to sleep at night."

"Have you tried counting sheep?"

"That's the problem - I make a mistake and then spend three hours trying to find it."

And 24 hours from now, I'll be somewhere over Minnesota on my way to Shanghai...

Monday 12 April 2010 14:07:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Duke | Jokes#

Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, whose work I have followed for years, want to arrest the Pope when he visits the U.K. in September:

Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.

The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.

Dawkins and Hitchens believe the Pope would be unable to claim diplomatic immunity from arrest because, although his tour is categorised as a state visit, he is not the head of a state recognised by the United Nations.

I think the Pope's conduct in the child-abuse cover-up completely destroys any credibility and moral authority Ratzinger claims to have through his office. Still, despite the history of the U.K. vis a vis the Catholic Church, I caution Dawkins that perhaps this isn't the best way to make his case.

I think Dawkins was correct last month when he suggested the Pope "should remain in charge of the whole rotten edifice - the whole profiteering, woman-fearing, guilt-gorging, truth-hating, child-raping institution - while it tumbles," which creates dramatic irony, rather than trying to arrest him, which makes Ratzinger a victim. I just hope more children aren't tied up and raped before it happens.

Monday 12 April 2010 10:09:18 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | World | Religion#
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Changing views of China (Shanghai residency day 3)
Culture Dash (Shanghai residency day 2)
Team-building cooking class (Shanghai residency day 1)
Old Town Shanghai (Residency day 0)
Walk to the Bund
Obligatory hotel-room-view shot
In Shanghai (Duke Residency day -1)
Note to Sarah Palin
Two short notes on a too-long flight
Bad food choices
Dawkins clarifies
On the way to get my 3rd term grades
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David Braverman is a software developer in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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