Tag Archives: stupid humans

Look what escaped from the vegetable garden

A Tale of Cabbages.

Carrefour. The moving walkway to the first floor has come to an end. What next? Keep moving? No. Stand waiting for the floor to carry me to my destination because I’m too stupid to think of the impediment I am to others behind me, and too lazy to walk? Yes, and wonder why the electric coolie is no longer ferrying me to my destination.

Later at the checkout. The nice man or lady has given me my receipt. What do I do now? Move hastily on so as not to be a brain-dead nuisance? No. Stand gawping stupidly at the receipt because I’m sure that the shop has made a mistake, and thus get in the way of other customers? Yes, and then wonder why the aliens have blown the planet to pieces because they concluded it wasn’t inhabited by any intelligent lifeforms.

The monthly tests are finally over. We need to do something about factoring in the writing tests if we’re going to do them separately because I’ve had a total of 8½ hours of invigilating over the past two weeks. It’s part of the job I utterly loathe because it’s a colossal waste of my time. Sooner we get professional invigilators in, the better.

I’ve had the time to finish marking PAL 1’s reading tests today, but it never takes that long to deal with reading. It’s writing which is the pain because that’s more likely to send the marker into a mouth-foaming fury from encountering the same inane statements over and over again, which ten years have still not erased from the arsenal of dimwittedness with which Chinese students arm themselves

Oh dear god. Shut up, Mr Needlessly Shouty Person. I don’t want to hear you in the morning or the evening. Your shouting is irksome, annoying, and unnecessary, and not a form of exercise. Perhaps you’re shouting because you’re angry with Mrs Needlessly Shouty Person, who has you under her thumb, or perhaps you’re pissed off at another 60 years of abuses on top of the previous 2,500 years of unenlightened, authoritarian rule. I don’t care why you’re shouting. You can rage ineffectually on Weibo and give the rest of us some peace and quiet.


Nationalism in a foreign tongue

The eloquence of Chinglish.

This afternoon after I come out of 远东百货 after l’expedition de la shopping (as they say in authentic, 21st-century French), there’s a white Buick (elsewhere known as a Vauxhall, I believe). On the front wings is emblazoned “F_ck Japan” and on the rear in Japanese (for which I cannot vouch) and Chinglish is “Japanese and dogs no nearing”. (I’ve seen that somewhere before.) I assume that the sentiment on the front wings can’t be expressed in Chinese without the risk of prosecution, but I also can’t help but note the irony that apart from a little 汉字, not a word of this is in the woman’s native language.

I can only conclude that nationalism in this more refined age is a quite international affair. Extraterrestrials had better watch out. The people of Earth stand united in blinkered idiocy.

A Clash of Traffic

Go on orange.

The situation: Some halfwit on an electric scooter starts taking a left turn as the light is turning orange. At the same time some halfwitted taxi driver comes hurtling through the intersection and almost squashes the first moron against the front of a bus turning left from the opposite direction. The clod-brained peasant on the electric scooter is most aggrieved. Question: Which idiot is at fault?

If the Empire was governed by the rule of law, then I think the dolt on the electric scooter would’ve been (officially) at fault because the orange light signals the end of the green phase for traffic going straight ahead not the start of the green phase for turning left; but the nitwit in the taxi should also be censured for trying to speed through an orange light when he should’ve been slowing down to stop.

Mr Bamboo’s policy is to wait for the light to turn green and check behind him.

This wasn’t the only instance of idiocy I saw today. I was crossing 县前街 when I saw another moron on an electric scooter ride out in front of a car with a gap of 10-15m between them.

23rd of May. There was another incident at the intersection outside Baoli yesterday. I didn’t see it happen, but as I was turning left, I saw that some woman on one electric scooter had been knocked over it by some man riding another. She was yelling irately and he was probably wondering what the problem was.

Great birthday present

Unfortunate irony.

The big news, which will have the local unelected government seething with rage, is that Лиу Xиаобо has been awarded a Peace Prize by the Foundation created by the inventor of dynamite, a certain Mr Alfred Nobel. I don’t know quite what this is going to do to the Internet, but at the moment, I can read the story on the BBC and The Guardian, at least for the time being.

As has been said in the past, the imperium sericum has effectively suppressed information about Лиу Xиаобо, which means a lot of people have no idea who he is. Sad to say, a lot of people probably don’t even care, and I don’t mean the vested interests. I wonder whether this will get mentioned on the news here (the usual ludicrous ranting you expect from a simple-minded mob of robotic authoritarians) or whether it’ll just be ignored.

But I’m also thinking red rag and bull. (Yes, I know bulls are meant to be colour blind.) There was an article just recent about Лиу Xиаобо being nominated for the prize and the imperium sericum assuming that the Foundation’s host government must be responsible for an autonomous organisation. “’Cos that’s how we do things here,” said the Foreign Min­i­s­try spokesman. Not that distant Cathay is any different from the A­me­r­ic­ans who think, “Thus in America; so everywhere else.” (Well, just look at the assumption that because the Americans are always on the Internet, the rest of the world must be. Once upon a time, I used to turn the Internet off; these days, I leave it on because American software will demand, sooner or later, that I should go on line.)

Thus, the local robber barons will threaten þone Norwegiscan geweald (contrived Old English) even although the Foundation is not their re­spons­ibility. The Vikings may have got it wrong last year by giving it to Barack Obama about five minutes after he arrived at the White House, but this year they got it right.

[16.08.14. Consequently, a Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to the Chinese author, Mo Yan. While I’m sure he’s an excellent, deserving writer, the prize was probably politics more than anything else to shut the Party up.]

Score update

Mr Bamboo 1 – TV earthquake prediction 0.

I eventually heard from Linda that some expert had dismissed the TV prediction as a bunch of old rubbish. But even although the locals probably now know this, people were still turning up on the running track with tents early this evening and setting them up. Perhaps they’re now there not in case of earthquakes, but in case of more ridiculous rumours.

The school went so far as to buy us tents. Glen and Row are using one to­night to spare themselves from being dragged out of bed on the basis of an­other rumour and spending a sleepless night outside. Brian’s decided to take up residence in the other tent. Not sure why. Perhaps just for fun.

As I expected, there is school as usual tomorrow.

In vaguely unrelated news, Chris is apparently unable to get onto Spaces from Beijing unless he uses a proxy. That might have something to do with the three days of mourning, although I’m having no issues from here, being able to access GB with both Firefox and IE.

What set this off?

Another earthquake rumour, I guess.

At about 10.55pm, there was suddenly a lot of shouting outside and I saw quite a number of people passing by outside with blankets under their arms. There’s also quite a lot of traffic on the street as you can see in the first picture. The van with the flashing light eventually sounded its siren to make cars coming from the other direction back off and let it through. This level of activity is most unusual at this time of night.

rumour001 rumour002

In the second picture, you can see people gathering at the main gate of the school to take shelter.

I assume that some rumour of an imminent quake has gone round again, even although you cannot predict these things. I’m told that the last noticeable aftershock was this morning, possibly just before lunch when Glen and I were talking about the activity in the gym (which is above our office) causing us to think there might be a quake.

Anyway, I’ve just heard from Linda that an announcement about a big quake was made on TV this evening and people have been told to go outside.This seems somewhat irresponsible. When is the quake meant to strike? Er, some time. I wonder where this particular announcement came from. Was it an official source with credible scientific backing? Or did the wife’s brother call with some story he heard from a guy he met in a bar whose mate knows the sister of Sichuan’s chief seismologist’s charlady’s cousin who happened to hear that something might happen at some time in the future because things are known to have happened in the past?

Yes, there might be another aftershock, but that’s what happens after a major quake. And no, they don’t make an appointment before they come calling.

I’ve just had a call from Row. She says that she and Glen have been kicked out of their building, but she couldn’t get a reasonable answer about the time the quake was alleged going to be happening.

The next day. Unless I slept through it, nothing happened. School’s closed today because something might happen. Even if there is an after­shock, it doesn’t really prove anything, because it’s not unreasonable to as­sume such an event might occur. This announcement might’ve been made on TV every night for the past week, but unless we can predict with a reas­onable degree of accuracy when a quake is going to happen, the in­form­at­ion is useless.

[15.08.14. This is an excellent example of the consequence of rumours and a cred­ul­ous, unthinking population. Apparently, so Linda told me later, I made a name for my­self by staying in my flat instead of flocking outside with the sheep.]

The waiting game

3 o’clock on the dot of 5.

The washing machine and the hot water are working again. The latter was a matter of replacing the batteries which power the igniter and cleaning out the taps which had accumulated a lot of grit from the pipes. Probably every time anyone does some work in the building which involves hammering on the walls, the rust in the pipes comes loose.

The former was a faulty control panel. It seems that when it got jolted by the motion of the washer, it was causing the machine to turn itself off.

When the repairman came round on Friday, he said he’d be round at 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon to sort it out. He also wanted Linda to be here to translate. She arrived in good time yesterday and time passed. I showed her pictures of other places I’ve been in China and the website of the British Antarctic Survey where I worked in the early 90s. I had a look through the names of the people working there and recognised a few from my time.

But time continued to pass and although no repairman is ever on time, time was passing and I was getting fed up with the delay. Linda managed to contact the guy and he turned up at about 5 o’clock. Remember how he’d been to the flat the day before? Well, he walked in and headed towards the bedroom or the study, and had to be pointed in the right direction. When he’d finished, he emerged from the laundry (sans his gloves) and again headed towards the bedroom or the study to try and get out of the flat. Doh! And I thought my sense of direction was dreadful.

Cats with Chinese characteristics

So the megaphone comes as standard?

Cats in this country are loud. A couple of nights ago, probably around 2am or 3am, there was a cat fight which was probably the loudest I’ve heard so far. Then for the past two days, there’s been this grubby white kitten which started yowling and running around outside the lock-ups a couple of mornings ago. It’s a large-ish kitten, but the sound it makes is disproportionate to its size. I’m guessing that somehow it’d lost its mother and was hungry.

Last night as I was walking up the street, I saw some kid trying to herd the kitten away by poking at it with a stick. I looked at him, and he kind of looked sheepish. Although I like cats, this particular specimen threatened to deprive me of my sleep because its yowling tended to be incessant. Anyway, when I got back home, it was back and seemed to have been incarcerated in one of the lock-ups. It was yowling again this morning, but has now fallen silent.

I was tempted to do something about feeding it, but I’m not going to make the same mistake Jane did by taking in a stray only to find that it was basically feral, insane, and diseased.


Well, there’s a piece of Chinese taxi culture I didn’t know. I needed to go back to Metro, but left it till late afternoon. I went down to Louhou Lu and hailed a taxi, but got the sense that the driver was only taking me to Metro because it was on his way. He also asked for the fare before we got to our destination. Fortunately, he asked for the right amount. He also drove like a maniac.

It was the same coming back, but I had to say “Shifan Daxue”. Normally I say “Yizhi zou” (“Straight ahead”) because most taxi drivers don’t know where Louhou Lu is. (10.08.14. That’s because, I believe, it was actually 对湖路.) It’s easier to tell them to turn right when we reach the intersection. For this sort of situation I’d need to be able to say “The intersection of Sangao Lu and Louhou Lu”. Of course, most drivers would then have said, “Where?” To which I’d reply “It’s just past the main gate to Shifan Daxue; on the right-hand side of the road.” Unfortunately, my Chinese doesn’t extend that far.

I guess these guys were going home which is why, as I sensed, they wanted me to be going a specific direction. Actually, the second one said he had a couple of kids in the States, but I couldn’t understand exactly where they were because the conversion of English words straight into Chinese will typically render them unintelligible to English speakers because of the difference in syllable structure between the two languages.

Chinese trolley etiquette.

When I was in Metro yesterday I noticed two guys pushing trolleys near the fruit and veg. section. It was a classic driving moment. Wang xiansheng (先生: Mr.) is going straight ahead (silly laowai boy here would consider him to have the right of way); Zhang xiansheng is angling into his path. Does Zhang xiansheng give way? Not bloody likely.

Howler time.

Now for some howlers of a different sort. Here are some semi-precious gems from yesterday’s progress test.

By the end of the 1970s, rock had stolen some musical instruments.
The director of photography is instead of sweets or crisps.
When I want a snack, I have fruit in charge of the camera operators.
The Beatles developed in charge of the camera operators.
He doesn’t have a car instead of sweets or crisps.
The dog is out of the drawer.
Steve says he hasn’t chewed on the cassette.
I like science fiction films. Because them can help me study.

The last answer was to the writing task. It was meant to be six sentences about films with plenty of prompts available, but this particular pupil is a complete 傻瓜. When I gave the kids in Benniu this test last year, I believe one of them wrote that she (?) liked Chicken Run because it told her about the lives of chickens.

Where did that spring from?

Build it and they will come.

James, Katie and I went into town at lunchtime to buy some DVDs. I came out of the shop opposite the park in the centre of town, looked right, and noticed that they seem to be building a mosque just up the street. Large one, too. I didn’t know Changzhou had much of a Muslim population. I’ve seen Uyghurs around town selling those sickly, sticky blocks of whatever they are, but I didn’t know there were that many Muslims overall. We do have some in the town where I live.

There is a Christian church in the centre of town as well. It was a surprise to see that when I first arrived in Changzhou. I assume that it gets used for the usual purposes.

Who needs reality TV?

On the way back home, we stopped in the MacDonald’s at the railway station for ice cream. While we’re eating our ice creams, some guy comes up to the window and stares at us.

What’s wrong with you people? Foreigners are so old hat.

[07.08.14. Of all the places I’ve been in China, Benniu and Changzhou were char­ac­ter­ised by the amount of slack-jawed staring from the locals. It happens oc­cas­ionally here in Wuxi, which is only about 40 or 50km away, but often around times of the year when there are bumpkins in town.]