Will just have to wait a second.
The end of the year brings a leap second, which is really, er, meaningful (2008 to last a second longer). It gives me an extra second to contemplate 2008.
That started with a holiday in Hong Kong during the Spring Festival and the coldest winter the Territory had experienced in a long time; but then again, the rest of the country was pounded by snow storms.
The second term had Quincy and me teaching all three Senior 2 classes, and just as things were going well, the Dowager Empress remembered IELTS, resulting in the remainder of the term (i.e., most of it) degenerating into a mess as we rotated the IELTS and General English classes so that neither of us would have to endure the latter beyond reason. That didn’t work because “beyond reason” with the GE class was about a minute or two.
Then there was the Sichuan earthquake – 12th May 2.28pm – which largely spared Chengdu, but devastated other places such as Dujiangyan. We had another slight tremor a couple of days ago, and I’ve been told of others, although often I haven’t felt them.
I went back to the UK for the first time in three years in July, but that was soured by the ineptitude of the banking system. But I did get a new laptop, which has turned out to be a pretty decent piece of kit, although the screen left something to be desired.
My encounters with Pudong Airport left me absolutely hating the place, which I hope I’ll never pass through again, but while I was in that part of the world, I actually managed to see Shanghai – without my camera. Bugger!
Because the school pulled out of the programme, there’d only be three of us here to teach Senior 2. Then Row decided enough grief was enough and departed, leaving Glen and me to deal with all three Senior 2 classes until the arrival of a new teacher (who, coincidentally, arrives late tonight). I wasn’t expecting these classes to be any better than last year’s, and I wasn’t disappointed. Glen, on the other hand, has been disappointed. Classes he liked teaching last term have morphed into Senior 2s.
Elsewhere in the world, the year ends in an economic mess thanks to American banks. The UK has been knocked down and is now being given a good kicking. A few days ago the exchange rate was ¥10.17 to £1. When I checked the night before last, it was ¥9.85. Things are looking bleak in Blighty. China may not be immune to all this, but it’d seem to be a better country to be in than a lot of others.
At least the Americans ejected Ayatollah Dubya from the White House, but Barack Obama now has to clean up an enormous mess and will, I continue to predict, have to deal with the usual smear campaigns from the right.
In the New Year’s honours list, Terry Pratchett has been knighted. So has Chris Hoy for riding his bike. Now if that’s all it takes to get a knighthood, then I’m long overdue for one, having ridden bikes most of my life, although there were those three gold medals he won at the Olympics. Rebecca Adlington also gets a gong – an OBE. Lewis Hamilton only gets an MBE, whereas I would’ve thought he’d get an OBE at least. If I had to rationalise the difference, I’d guess that because the last British F1 champion picked up that honour not so long ago, the achievement might be regarded as less significant than winning three golds for the first time in a century or getting two golds by swimming from one end of the pool to the other without getting lost somewhere in between.
Looking forward, 2009 will be the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. Maddy’s cif piece about it (Darwin shouldn’t be hijacked by New Atheists – he is an ethical inspiration) claims that he’s a standard-bearer for atheism in the 21st century. Is he? Really? No, Maddy, I don’t think so. When I first started nosing around on line into Humanism and atheism, I found that the old adage about the enemy of my enemy being my friend was true. Two things which get religious nutters all overexcited are homosexuality and evolution, which then pushes these things into bed with atheism. Of course, being gay doesn’t stop someone from being a religious head case.
Evolution tends to leave things to nature, which doesn’t have flora and fauna springing, like Athena, fully formed from the head of Zeus. As a response to environmental conditions, evolution shouldn’t really bother anyone and, as I noted some time ago, humans have manipulated plants and animals to their own ends every since agriculture was invented, which means we’ve been mucking around with evolution ourselves. The religious cranks could comfort themselves that the formulation of evolutionary theory is merely a clarification of the grand design of their particular deity, and which human is supposedly able to understand the mind of any god?
I expect that this’ll be my last year with the programme because it’s time to move on or move no further. A slight change of scenery without a change of location is necessary. There will be no repeat of the second term this year because they’re all going to do IELTS – eventually.
As for the rest, I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
Happy New Year. 新年快乐