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Archive for February, 2007

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Seeing Red Over Mao in Alhambra

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

Values in China today are only carried forward by the culture largely as a result of the destruction of ethical and civic standards wrought by Mao during the Cultural Revolution. In other words, in my experience, there is generally no honor given in China today for verbal or written contracts and the visitor will find him or herself at the mercy of Chinese pragmatism.

In China today portraits of Mao are everywhere and due to the controlled press few Chinese know the truth of their own modern history. And I am horrified when I hear “Maoism” being bandied about…even here in Oaxaca Mexico!

To understand how this came about, to understand the ability of the Chinese to dupe Westerners and to understand the anger of the Chinese community in Alhambra over the hanging of Warhol-like images of Mao you can read the 1995 “Mao: The Unknown Story,” an 832-page biography of Mao written by the husband and wife team of historians, Jon Halliday and Jung Chang who herself was a Red Guard during the Revolution. It depicts Mao Zedong, the former paramount leader of China and Chairman of the Communist Party of China, as being responsible for mass murder (upwards of 30-70 million people) on a scale greater than that committed under the rule of Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin.
[read on]

Contemplating Going “Home”

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

I was quickly stopped by a policeman. “Have you been drinking? Have you been smoking pot? Your eyes are all red! Then he made me stand, in high heels, on one foot and count to forty. Then follow his finger moving back and forth with my eyes. Then he let me, shaken, go.

Last time I got off the plane in Portland from almost a year in Asia, I found myself jet-lagged and completely disoriented…driving on the “wrong” side of the road.

Found this blog by a Chinese-American on Bootsnall. He is probably much younger but his experience is none-the-less very similar to mine.

Coming Home: Sharks Also Need Constant Motion
By: Jeffrey Lee

“Coming home meant coming down. It was easier to stay up. I’d return home to piles of bills and an empty refrigerator. Buying groceries, I’d get lost – too many aisles, too many choices; cool mist blowing over fresh fruit; paper or plastic; cash back in return? I’d wanted emotion but couldn’t find it here, so I settled for motion.

Out at night, weaving through traffic, looking for trouble, I’d lose myself in crowds. Gaggles of girls with fruit-colored drinks talked about face products and film production. I’d see their lips move, look at their snapshot smiles and highlighted hair. I didn’t know what to say.
[read on]

Following Trouble?

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007
Good grief! Either I am following trouble around the world or trouble is following me! First a violent demonstration on a university campus in Istanbul...then the tsunami in Thailand...then the coup in Thailand...then the subway strike in ... [Continue reading this entry]

Watching The Chinese

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007
A local newspaper in Borneo reported another logging agreement. China had just placed a rush order for 800,000 cubic meters of wood to be used in the construction of its sports facilities for the 2008 Olympic Games. Authorities are planning ... [Continue reading this entry]

Solitude In The Sierra Norte

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007
In search of a little alone time yesterday, I drove 40 miles (but two hours) north of Oaxaca City up into lush, pine-clad crests descending deep into river canyons to the Sierra Juarez, the birth-land of Benito Juarez, Oaxaca's beloved ... [Continue reading this entry]

Wedding In Teotitlan del Camino

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007
My friend Bardo is from Teotitlan del Camino near the Puebla border and his parents, three brothers and a sister still live there. Bardo's father, Don Bardo, a furniture maker, and Dona Mari raised six children in their big open-air ... [Continue reading this entry]

CoCo’s Cantina

Saturday, February 17th, 2007
The last time Max partook of his Brandy Presses at Cocos, a working man's bar with classic swinging louvered half-doors near his apartment, he met with an altercation with a burly self-professed "communist" Mexican who insisted on appropriating Max's drink. ... [Continue reading this entry]

The Looming Tower

Thursday, February 15th, 2007
Have recently finished the acclaimed "The Looming Tower" by Lawrence Wright which is a history of Islamic radical fundamentalism beginning in the 1930's and 40's and ending with the bombing of the World Trade Center. Including the ridiculous and ... [Continue reading this entry]

What Now For Oaxaca?

Monday, February 12th, 2007
Local analysts argue about whether the causes of the popular social movement here in Oaxaca are utter corruption and the history of political bossism by the PRI party, the effects of transnational/neoliberal policies created by NAFTA, the lack of economic ... [Continue reading this entry]

A Typical Sunday in Oaxaca

Monday, February 12th, 2007
Made another trip to the Tlacalula Sunday Market last week with my next door neighbors Ana, Steve and little Oscar. Bought some carved coconut shell halves made for drinking our wonderful Mexican chocolate and then in my impending senility just ... [Continue reading this entry]

Crack Down on Mexico’s Crackdowns

Monday, February 5th, 2007
Last Saturday, in Oaxaca City's Centro, I watched the 9th MegaMarch enter the Plaza de la Danza. They had walked five miles in sweltering heat from the airport. The teachers and their supporters are letting people know their demands ... [Continue reading this entry]

What The Tourists Don’t See In Oaxaca

Monday, February 5th, 2007
In December, Hilaria Cruz interviewed Dionisio. Translation: Joy Turlo Dionisio had gone to the demonstration in Oaxaca on the 25th of November. After the demonstration he and his friend Juan de Dios went to get something to eat, during which time confrontations ... [Continue reading this entry]

Khmer Rouge Trials

Friday, February 2nd, 2007
Ever since visiting the killing fields in Cambodia in 2002, (for pictures click on the category for Cambodia on the right-hand side of the screen) I have watched closely the development of an international tribunal that hopefully will try the ... [Continue reading this entry]