Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Farewell Poem (Second of two to a girl of Yang-chou)

Passion too deep seems like none.
While we drink, nothing shows but the smile which will
    not come.
The wax candles feel, suffer at partings:
Their tears drip for us till the sky brightens.

—Tu Mu (803-852)

Saturday, July 1, 2023


Some of my writing has been redirected to emailing my new friend, who lives in Hanover, New Hampshire. We met and had a long talk over a late breakfast, and it looks as if we will remain in contact for some time. There is the usual mix of things in common and not in common, and overall there seems to be compatibility. This could take a long time to develop, because we may not see each other very often. I don't detect any evidence of psychiatric issues, and we may have some similar interests, though there will obviously be a few differences.

At this point, I've done most of the things necessary to make the new house habitable, though there will be things to do for some time. The back porch was all sealed off with plastic, and I removed that. It's a nice place to sit and is usually cool. There have been no sightings of William anywhere, so I think that chances are he's deceased by now, though there is still a possibility that he'll turn up.

I am beginning to get back into my reading routine, but it may take time to return to previous levels. I just finished The New China Playbook: Beyond Socialism and Capitalism, by Keyu Jin. I won't write a full post on it but will make a few remarks now. The author is a young Chinese economist who was educated in the U.S. and now works at the London School of Economics. I found her perspective refreshing compared to what one encounters in the American news media. Chinese policy was botched under Mao Zedong, but major improvements were made by Deng Xiaoping in the 1970's. Deng converted the economy from an impoverished agrarian one to a wealthy manufacturing one with great success. The one-child policy prevented overpopulation. Deng's influence didn't fix everything, because China still has a weak financial system that limits its power compared to the U.S. Nevertheless, I don't think that many non-Chinese people recognize the mind-boggling changes that have occurred in China since 1970. It remains to be seen whether current and future Chinese leaders will be able to perform as well as Deng. Keyu Jin touches on how social responsibility is deeply ingrained in the Chinese people, and how this offers advantages over the cutthroat American process. I think that the problem is not how people become national leaders but who becomes a national leader. In modern capitalist countries like the U.S., the leaders are more often than not de facto corporate representatives. If a leader such as Xi Jinping can rule the country well without being democratically elected, so what? The political system in the U.S. is currently so arthritic, with voters drowning in a sea of misinformation, that it is easy to imagine a centrally controlled country with long-term goals and competent leadership outcompeting the U.S. China's leaders have the opportunity to instantly implement new policies, and if they can do this competently, they have a vast advantage over their American counterparts. Lately, I've been hearing the word "democracy" so often that it only sounds like propaganda.