• #32 费城

    February 21, 2020 by

    The Fulbright is over. My expectation of being in China until July 2020 is over. I have nothing to do, as far as I know, until August, when The University of Dayton (Go Flyers!) Fall courses begin. If you have nothing else to do in the Fall, pop by for a little symbolic logic or… Read more

  • #31 再见苏州

    February 14, 2020 by

    Kicking and screaming (figuratively, for the most part), I left Suzhou on February 10th. I assumed this day would be long and full of bureaucratic snafus, missed flights, long lines, minimal food, and an excess of coffee. Sometimes, one’s predictions turn out to be exactly correct. But, in all honesty, it wasn’t as bad as… Read more

  • #30 死成

    February 7, 2020 by

    Somewhere around January 28th, all the Fulbright scholars in China were told to leave the country. If we stayed, we would lose our Fulbright status, and our funding. (But as I tell my Introduction to Philosophy students, it is not as if the Catholic Church did not give Galileo a choice.) We were also told… Read more

  • #29 特朗普/川普

    January 31, 2020 by

    It is very likely that the blog entry below will have salty—saltier, saltiest—language, inappropriate for younger readers. You know: readers younger than me. Deal with it. I taught in the Spring after President Whatshisface™ was elected. I told my class that some students were bothered by my cursing in class. I do so, I realized,… Read more

  • #28 新年:第二

    January 25, 2020 by

    Part Two of the New Year’s Holiday report. You want quiet? Come walk around a large Chinese city on New Year’s Eve. Or New Year’s Day. I’ve been in louder libraries. I live in a town of about 10 million, and this is what my street looked like New Year’s Eve at about 8 o’clock… Read more

  • #27 新年:第一

    January 18, 2020 by

    In about a week, it will be next year here, and everyone is getting prepared. We leave the year of the pig, and head into the year of the rat. I do not like rats. I really do not like rats. Conveniently enough, the Chinese word for “rat” seems to be the same for the… Read more

  • #26 食

    January 11, 2020 by

    Classes have concluded. Grading has concluded. Nothing happens until after New Year/Spring Festival. So it is, naturally, time to eat. I’ve mentioned before that the easiest introduction to Chinese culture is food. Food is everywhere; there are probably 50 restaurants within three blocks of where I live, and the blocks are not especially large. Many… Read more

  • #25 小队目标

    January 4, 2020 by

    My daughter Emma, bless her heart, is good at introducing to me current lingo (although by the time I write this, it will all be, no doubt, out of date): “lit,” “HAM,” and, importantly, “squad goals.” If I understand “squad goals” correctly, it is the idea that one’s group has certain aspirations, either to be… Read more

  • #24 中国观察随笔

    December 27, 2019 by

    I’ve already offered some of my observations about China, and about people I’ve encountered in China. This blog entry is just a bunch more random observations about the Middle Kingdom and some of its residents, a few of whom have appeared here before. Since the first picture I post is the one that shows up… Read more

  • #23 节日

    December 21, 2019 by

    I realize I don’t write all that much about the actual Fulbright experience. I seem to write about what goes on while I take advantage of the actual Fulbright experience. So be it. I’m about four months into the ten month stay, and I know I won’t want to return to the US. I especially… Read more

  • #22 北京

    December 16, 2019 by

    Thanks to my pals at the State Department and the Fulbright program, I was asked to help interview 80 Visiting Research Scholars who are trying, more or less, to do what I am doing in China, only in the other direction. The candidates we interviewed were in all sorts of disciplines, from linguistics and law… Read more

  • #21 死亡

    December 7, 2019 by

    This is not a happy blog entry. If you are here to be entertained, well, you might read #4 or wait for #22. I am in Beijing, helping the Fulbright folks interview Visiting Research Scholars to see if they get their projects funded for a year’s research in the US. (More about that later.) I… Read more

  • #20 音乐

    December 2, 2019 by

    In Madrid (and, to a lesser extent Rome) there was pretty constant music: buskers, groups of classical musicians playing various popular classical tunes, the occasional want-to-be opera singer belting out an aria. For a while I wondered why the Spanish loved Elvis so much, since I kept hearing “It’s Now or Never.” I then remembered… Read more

  • #19 黄山

    November 23, 2019 by

    I’ve been to some pretty scenic spots: the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, the Camargue in the south of France, the beaches of Barbados, Cabo da Roca in Portugal. I’m not sure, but Yellow Mountain in Anhui Province, PRC, may have them all beat. Hence, there will be many pictures offered here.… Read more

  • #18 通讯故障

    November 18, 2019 by

    One of the difficulties of speaking to someone in a foreign language is that they are speaking in a foreign language. Hey: if you spoke it, it wouldn’t be foreign, would it? Traveling to Huang Shan, the famous “Yellow Mountain” scenic spot of China, has been a case study in communicative perplexity. I was a… Read more

  • #17 公交

    November 11, 2019 by

    I spend a lot of time on public transportation in Suzhou. Most of my Chinese friends have cars, although personally I think one would have to be slightly insane to drive in Suzhou. (One would have to be completely insane to drive in Shanghai.) Some of my expatriate/老外 friends use DiDi all the time (the… Read more

  • #16 糊涂

    November 4, 2019 by

    China can be confusing. Chinese can be really confusing. “了” is sometimes (often) “le.” But sometimes it’s “liao.” Confusing. “长” is sometimes “zhang.” But sometimes it’s “chang.” Confusing. The saintly, wise Yoda from Star Wars, in Chinese, is  “You da”[尤达] while the very unsaintly guy who sits in Satan’s mouth in Dante’s Divine Comedy is… Read more

  • #15 棒球

    October 27, 2019 by

    This blog entry will have very little to do with the Middle Kingdom, and will have a great deal to do with baseball. When I was 10, in Kansas City (technically, Independence Missouri, home of Harry S Truman), there was no major league team. The A’s had departed for Oakland, and the Royals had yet… Read more

  • #14 螃蟹!

    October 21, 2019 by

    It is crab season in Suzhou now—the famous “hairy crabs” from Yangcheng Lake. People come from pretty far away to eat these. This Sunday, some friends were nice enough to invite me to join them in a crab extravaganza. The star of the show was, of course, the baby: Xu Liman, or 徐黎曼. Her mother… Read more

  • #13 西瓜汁

    October 14, 2019 by

    “Watermelon Juice” may well be what my audience thought I was providing at my talk. In any case, this week was a talk to philosophy students and some philosophy faculty, on Kant and Rousseau. I know those reading this are dying to know the basic claim, so here it is: in On the Social Contract,… Read more

  • #12 黄金周 Golden Week

    October 7, 2019 by

    The Seventieth Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China was this week (October 1, for those keeping score at home.) Lots of businesses close, people travel; there is a big parade in Beijing although, from what I understand, the proletariat generally has to watch it on TV. Most people I know just… Read more

  • #11 太忙了!

    September 30, 2019 by

    I don’t know. I seemed pretty busy this week. I gave a talk, taught four classes on Friday and four on Sunday, went to an official dinner to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, walked around a bunch, and had to wear a tie. There are no pictures… Read more

  • #10: Yak Yak Yak

    September 24, 2019 by

    I’m giving a talk this week, so most of my time has been preparing for that. Details about all of that will be the topic of next week’s entry. Since that entry will be mostly words, this entry is mostly pictures of the few things I managed to do, with captions. (My apologies if some… Read more

  • #9: Bureaucracy

    September 16, 2019 by

    As noted in the previous blog entry, my schedule is, um, forgiving. I met with my students and taught my classes on Friday the 13th (in spite of my being a recovering triskaidekaphobe). Then MidAutumn Festival arrived: along with many mooncakes and threats of more mooncakes, school was closed Friday, so I had the day… Read more

  • #8: Overworked

    September 9, 2019 by

    I live and work in Suzhou, a town a lot of people in the US have never heard of. It has a population of a little more than 11,000,000, making it bigger than Chicago and a bit smaller than London. That would make it the 16th biggest city in China (although demographers and other sensible… Read more

  • #7: DO(H)!

    September 3, 2019 by

    One of the hazards of taking (or teaching) logic is wondering about things from a particular, possibly idiosyncratic, perspective. No one else seems to care about the paradox (antinomy?) of the Vatican Museum: as mentioned before, what if everyone buys a “jump the line” ticket? Similar kinds of questions keep appearing: since the Fulbrighters had… Read more

  • #6: 再见美国

    August 26, 2019 by

    There is a trope one sees on social media; someone does something quite badly (this often seems to be Donald Trump) as if to dare others to do worse. To indicate that someone else is up to the challenge, one identifies the original screw up, and who can surpass that level of incompetence, along with… Read more

  • #5: Firenze, Venezia, America

    August 20, 2019 by

    A couple of trips outside of Rome took us to Florence and Venice. Everyone loves Florence. We were there for much too brief a time (e.g., I didn’t get to see Michelangelo’s David). Climbed Il Duomo, toured the Uffizi, ate some gelato.  Sounding like Douglas MacArthur, with a different attitude: “I will return.” Everyone hates… Read more

  • # 4: Roma

    August 13, 2019 by

    People asked me what I did in Rome. [For those not following along, I taught in Rome after leaving China, and before returning to the US for my Fulbright orientation.] I could say I did a bunch of things: saw all four of the famous Basilicae, toured the Vatican (twice), ate a lot of cacio… Read more

  • #3: Between China and Rome

    August 6, 2019 by

    I finished teaching in Suzhou (PRC) in late April 2019, and then started teaching in Rome in late May. I didn’t really want to go back to the US, get jet lag, and then turn around and head for Rome and get jet lag again. So I had to find some interesting place between Shanghai… Read more

  • #2: So, What Do YOU Know About China?

    July 30, 2019 by

    Not that much. I mean, if I asked a random person sitting in a random waiting room with me “So, what do you think about the Taiping Rebellion?,” I’d probably sound informed. But, generally, I started the China game pretty late in the day—not advisable when trying to catch up on 3,000 (4,000 or 5,000:… Read more

  • #1: Controversy

    July 23, 2019 by

    I’m not all that comfortable blathering on about myself, but this seems to be standard operating procedure for this kind of thing (a blog). This week’s entry will be a little background about what I will not be talking about. Those who know me also know that there are few things I’m unwilling to discuss,… Read more

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