Saturday, August 02, 2008

My Shorts Were Too Short!

Last time we were in China, every other minute was picture time. Now, older and more sensible, I realize that my shorts were incredibly high in all of those photos. Not only that, but my shirt was tucked in!

Now I wear low shorts, untucked shirts, and "real" shoes. Now, I have a "real" hair cuts like mohawks...and not mushrooms! :(

This time in China, I hope that I will be sensible in my "fashion" choice. I'll have to compare!


Friday, August 01, 2008

Let's Do the Olympic 4-Step!

You may have heard that China has adopted an "official" Olympic cheer, complete with a series of hand motions. With the opening ceremonies just a week away (!), here is what to listen and look for (and do?) during all of those hours of action.

While clapping twice cheer "Aoyun!" This means "Olympics" in Mandarin.

Cheer "Jia you!" while giving the thumbs-up sign with both hands. This literally means "add oil." It's essentially the equivalent of saying "Go!" in English. (We all need petrol of some sort to get us going!)

Clap twice again this time cheering "Zhongguo!"
This means "middle country" in Mandarin, which is how the Chinese people refer to their motherland. (It is the center of the sporting world for a couple of weeks...) I think I'm going to try a variant of this cheer while walking the streets of Beijing during the games. Instead of cheering "Zhongguo!", I'll scream "Meiguo!" This, as you might guess, is Mandarin for "America." (The United States is referred to as "beautiful country" by the Chinese.) I'll let you know how this goes!

Cheer "Jia you!" again but this time stretch your arms out straight up in the air on either side of your head.

So there it is..."Olympics! Add oil! China! Add oil!"

To see the Olympic 4-Step in action, check out this link (a serious news report featuring large crowds of Chinese partisans) and this link (an irreverent take on the whole "official" cheer movement).

And don't forget to jia you!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Have Topics, Will Travel

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing recently asked me to send them a list of five topics I would be willing to lecture on while in China. This list is to be circulated to universities around the country, with the idea that it will help me secure invitations to speak in front of audiences in Beijing and beyond.

So what topics should I list? The starting point, of course, is subjects I teach and do research on. (No point in embarrassing myself any more than I have to!)

But beyond that, are there ways to frame my areas of "expertise" so they appeal to non-Americans who are not necessarily specialists in my narrow fields of interest? Here is what I came up with...

(1) The 2008 United States presidential election and transition to a new administration.

(2) How health, safety, and environmental regulations are written in the United States.

(3) The diffusion of policy innovations across American cities and states.

(4) Has the Internet changed everything, or anything, about public participation in American politics and policymaking?

(5) The politics of disaster management in the United States--lessons from Hurricane Katrina, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the preparation for an avian influenza pandemic.

I will be curious how much interest this list generates on the part of Chinese universities. In particular, I wonder if one of these topics will end up being much "hotter" than the others. Conversely, will there be a topic that is avoided altogether?


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You Can't Measure Magic

Sure, we can give you the tale-of-the-tape of the other night's Bruce Springsteen show at Giants Stadium. 50,000 fans. 30 songs. Well over three hours. But that would only be half the story, at most. It was the intangibles that made the show outstanding, even by E Street standards. The energy, the interaction with the crowd. Now if the tour would just make a stop in Hong Kong this fall...

Tenth-Avenue Freeze-out
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
No Surrender
Adam Raised a Cain
Spirit in the Night
Summertime Blues
Brilliant Disguise
Atlantic City
Growin' Up
Janey, Don't You Lose Heart
I'll Work for Your Love
Murder Incorporated
The Promised Land
Livin' in the Future
Mary's Place
Working on the Highway
Tunnel of Love
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Born to Run
Bobby Jean
Dancing in the Dark
American Land