It is interesting how many movies and television shows in the US use automobiles, including pick-up trucks, that date to the 1980s and early 1990s.

Why do producers use these vehicles so consistently? Did cars resemble cars more back then? Why are contemporary characters riding around in vehicles from back in the day?

Is there some kind of cult, operating behind the scenes, that enjoys manipulating symbols and cultivating memes that much?

The more one notices, the more one notices…

To Assange or not to Assange,

That is the question…

After a few years of claustrophobic confinement in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Julian Assange will simply walk out.

Here, this simply states the obvious. The possibilities include a) that nothing will happen whatsoever; b) that he will be detained an extradited to Sweden, to face politically-motivated questioning, and where, possibly, the Swedes will prepare him for extradition to the US (they probably would, since they answer to the same factions, and since legendary Swedish neutrality is now part of the history  books).

If “b” happens, he and his lawyers (and/or his “handlers,” if he has them), might either i) quickly talk themselves out of the situation, and Assange can return to whatever he likes; or ii) team Assange blows the entire situation out of the water by releasing the “Apocalypse files,” which would overturn at least one regime in the western world – you know, those internal documents that shed light on deep state (so deep that the state is now stateless really, taking “plausible deniability” to the extreme) involvements (“involvements” is plural, with more than one state’s statelessness) in 9-11 and, equally dramatic (for some at least), NSA involvement in assassination programs targeting American citizens. Either one would “Release the Kraken.”

And so, the entire Assange episode will either have been much ado about nothing or, conversely, about everything, from the basement to the roof.

PRC knows how to party

Camera phones











_DSC0095 (2)

_DSC0099 (2)

_DSC0105 (2)

_DSC0102 (2)

_DSC0106 (2)

Chengdu’s city center








Power v. Profit (power wins)

“The markets are gonna crash, and we’ll be flooded with worthless money.”

“It’s gonna be a train wreck.”

“The entire financial house of cards is gonna come tumbling down, and no one will be able to put the pieces back together again.”

“The debt bubble is gonna pop.”

There are is no shortage of analogies and mixed metaphors to describe the current world economy. They are common to both mainstream and alternative approaches. Pretty much everyone, from liberals to conservatives to libertarians, from marxists to monetarists, considers that the economy (all of it or a large part of it) is autonomous from political power (not formal puppetry but more oligarchic power). But it’s not.

If the US economy, for example, really responded to some universal economic laws, it would have crashed by now.

In other words, the economy won’t crash until various interlocking factions, over and above the economy, are good and ready to have it crash.

Markets are purely artificial creations. Markets are constructed, and not from the bottom up (except in some mythical past, or in textbooks).

The stock markets, gold and silver markets, bond markets – all these are rigged and manipulated, and more for the long-run than for the short-run…

This is not just about profit, about making the quick buck; it’s about power, and about using that power to eventually dump a system in favor of a new one that provides for more complete – and more sophisticated – control over human subjects.

From this view, all the hysteria about the economy is just clever misdirection.

Bicycle Polo







ESL teachers & Econ grad students











It is interesting that the Chinese language depends so much on context, on the implicit understanding of people speaking it.

Verb forms do not change because of subject, and verbs do not change because of tense. People listening are simply supposed to know what is being discussed. Sentences in the past simply have an additional marker word added to the sentence. (The only real difficult thing about Chinese is the pronounciation).

Most interestingly, listeners are supposed to know if another person being discussed (“ta”) is a man or a woman. There is no “he” or “she” in Chinese. It’s the same third-person pronoun for both: ta. If that second layer of information is relevant (after personhood), then it will be explained (probably implicitly).

This also fits into Chinese culture, which tends to minimize the distance between genders, arguably even more than in western culture.

It might even be that densely-populated Asian societies have created pressure cookers for the evolution of language. High context cultures require more mutual engagement and implicit understanding. This is why all the intricate forms of case, tense and gender are not present or have fallen away in some remote past, especially in Chinese.

By comparison, the Romance languages, in which everything must be literal and explicit, are extremely complex – absurdly so (insultingly so). Does everything have to be spelled out? Are humans that obtuse?

Perhaps it is possible to speak of Asian languages are more “evolved.”

Cable Shows Online

If there is a trinity of high-quality cable series, perhaps it is Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and… Suits, the last of which is generally underrated and under appreciated.

I tore through Season 1 and Season 2 on Youku, the Chinese website, which then opens the shows in soudu or tudou, but Season 3 is strangely missing. Now I have to download an APP (which is not referred to as an “APP” in China but sounded out with the letters as an “A – P – P”) and then do a search for ”金装律师” .  And my smartphone, a locally made Aole,  is smarter than I am so this will be a challenge. (Interestingly, cell phones are about the same price as in the US, or just a tad cheaper, but monthly service plans are ridiculously cheap, and with my plan it’s about 13 dollars a month).

Meantime, I switched over to binge on the show “Lie to Me,” about a detective specializing in facial gestures and body language. I’m convinced that population density encourages natural abilities in these talents; as a result, most Chinese people are extremely adept at reading micro-gestures and so forth. This is the basis of a “high-context culture” after all. I’ve never met people so attuned to the thoughts and feelings of others. The tall Chinese woman at karaoke last week, for example, has quasi-telepathic abilities.

One advantage of online life in China is that so many western shows are available online, for free, and much of this seems to be legitimate, as they appear on corporate pages and have periodic corporate commercials. So maybe someone bought the rights or something.

Unfortunately, most shows on youku are not available in the United States, blocked by the Great American Firewall.