Friday, September 28, 2012

Midwest Political Science Association Meeting

There's one week left before the due date for paper proposals for the 2013 annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, which will be held April 11-14 in Chicago at the Hilton Chicago and Palmer House Hilton.  Click here to submit a proposal, especially for the Public Administration Section, which I will be chairing this time around.  Here's my call for proposals...

The public administration section welcomes submissions from all areas and traditions of the field, broadly construed. The section is especially interested in submissions that are theoretically innovative and methodologically rigorous. Submissions that focus on a particular national or sub-national political system are welcome, as are submissions that are comparative in their orientation.

Bring 'em on!

~Steve



Thursday, September 27, 2012

Drying Nectarines

This is a photo taken by Julie this summer in the mountains several hours north of Beijing.  Someone in this small village of less than thirty people was drying nectarines out in the bright sun and blue sky.  Today the snapshot is the photo of the day over at China Digital Times.

Way to go, Jules!

~Steve

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Julie's Qipao, Part II

There we were, making the trek back across town to Yashow Market, where Julie was having a traditional Chinese qipao custom made to her specifications.  For careful readers, you will already know that I was not thrilled to be going back to the land of aggressive, poor-English-speaking sales clerks.

Hello, want to make something?

Luckily, Julie had discovered a tailor who was very laid back, so after running the gauntlet, we were in a safe and quiet place at the very back of the market.

And, after all, this would be our second and last trip back.  We were just going there to pick up the completed qipao.  Right?

Wrong!!!

It turns out the qipao was not quite ready.  Some of the measurements had to be adjusted.  (Recall that a qipao is custom tailored to fit each person's specific measurements.)  Plus, Julie was interested in making some changes, to things like the collar.  So it was a worthwhile trip in support of a mission of securing a qipao that is a perfect style and fit.

If only we didn't have to go back to Yashow for a third time...argh!!!

~Steve

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Association Of Chinese Political Studies

I had the chance this past weekend to travel to San Francisco to take part in the 25th annual meeting and international symposium of the Association of Chinese Political Studies (ACPS).

I delivered a presentation on some research that Zhou Liao, a Ph.D. student in the Political Science Department at George Washington University, have recently been doing on political participation on the Chinese Internet.  (The punch line...It is not all about censorship and revolution.  There are actually potentially productive uses of the Internet that may benefit both citizens and government officials.)  That's Zhou and me after my talk.

I also was elected Research Director of the ACPS, a post which means I have the responsibility of promoting the research activities of the organization in the broader field of political science and Asian studies.  That's the Board of Directors, none of whom had I personally met before the weekend.

A couple of things humbled me during the conference proceedings.  In the course of listening to dozens of research presentations, I realized that although almost all of the lectures were delivered in English, relatively few of the presenters are native English speakers.  Native languages included Portuguese, German, and, of course, Mandarin.  I have a long way to go in my own language learning!

Also, I realized how little I still know about China and Chinese politics.  I was stunned to hear that China has one of the smallest police forces, per capita, in the entire world.  No sooner was that fact uttered by a speaker that I confirmed the information online.  (Hey, if Wikipedia says it is so, then it must be!)

All in all, a useful weekend professionally, even though I didn't have the chance to see any of our San Francisco friends (sorry!), nor see any of the San Francisco sites (never even set eyes on the Golden Gate Bridge!).

下次 !  Next time!

~Steve

Monday, September 24, 2012

Xie Dao

Xie Dao (Crab Island) is this really weird place that we would never have found out about had we not had the A-Z Kids debacle that we posted about last week.

Our friends did some quick work to pick up the pieces after we were met with closed doors at A-Z Kids, asking the locals in that way out part of Shunyi what fun things there are in the vicinity.

And so it was on to this place called Xie Dao, apparently a very large outdoor fun place that somehow we had managed to miss in all of these years of living in Beijing.

Of course it would take us two cabs to get there (too many people to squeeze into one car), and of course our respective drivers took different routes, leaving us off in separate areas of a place none of us had ever been to.  Time to work the cell phones!

Walking over to where our friends were waiting, we observed the following assortment of outdoor activities...

Men fishing in small ponds stocked with fish.  This is actually a pretty common phenomenon, especially out in the countryside, which is kind of where we were, such a far way from Beijing proper.

All kinds of wobbly bridges to walk across.  There were varying degree of difficulty, but all paths led over a lotus pond out to a little island.

A swimming pool.  Now there's a rare card in China, an outdoor swimming pool.  And it was actually packed with kids and adults alike, many with inflatable plastic tubes.  Where are we?  Silver Spring?

A driving range.  Yes, a driving range!

A horse stable.  Yes, a horse stable!

A zoo.  Yes, a zoo!  We did not have the nerve to go inside and see what kinds of animals and conditions might greet us.

By the way, every one of these attractions costs a non-trivial amount of a money.  So this is by no means a cheap day out for the ordinary Chinese family.

The education of the Balla family continues...

~Steve

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Scenes From The Jesuit Gridiron Classic

It was a great day for a high school football game last Saturday, and with the proceeds going to the Washington Jesuit Academy, it was all for a good cause.  As for Z, it was great to see him in the stands, jumping and going crazy...perhaps just a foretaste of his days ahead at Duke!? 

~Steve