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 of me wearing a tie, nor are there pictures of me toasting with the Suzhou Chair of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, nor the Mayor of Suzhou. In spite of the fact that we are all pretty much now besties, some won’t believe any of this without evidence.
The talk went well. The issue was whether the current President of the US is the worst president in US history. I tried to stick to facts; the basic premise is that the US has had some bad presidents, because they were corrupt, incompetent, racist, dishonest, and/or divisive. Trump is all of these. Thus he is the worst president in the history of the US, and any other candidate one might mention (Buchanan, A.Johnson, Harding, Nixon) was not as bad. Since he is worse than the worst presidents, and a worse one cannot be named, he wins. (I did suggest that we need to leave a special place in our hearts for William Henry Harrison, since he was only in office for 31 days.)
I ended up with 54 PowerPoint slides, could have had another 50—at least—on the topics I addressed, talked for an hour an a half, and still didn’t even address some very important aspects. Hence this slide:
I got a pretty good crowd, and all the questions (both from the audience, and then later on WeChat) were informed and insightful.
I’m confident that the eponymous target wasn’t aware of my talk—which is sort of funded by him—but this letter did generate the smallest, tiniest, itty-bittiest glimmer of some emotion one might call “guilt.” I got over it.
Suzhou is sometimes called the “Venice of the East.” This is, of course, nonsense; Suzhou began in 514 bc/pce, and Venice didn’t really get going until 568 ad/ce. So can we agree that Venice is the “Suzhou of the West”? Suzhou is a very beautiful city, which is why I asked to come back here; it is my favorite of the Chinese cities I’ve been in (Beijing, Guilin, Chengdu, Xi’an, Shanghai, Nanjing). Here are a few pictures, with many, many more to come.
A couple of closing photos, the first from the campus of Suzhou/Soochow University, where I teach.
And, of course, some food; this from a good—not great, but good—Uighur restaurant. Some of the best restaurants in Suzhou are from Xinjiang Province.
Happy National Day, everyone!