Sunday, May 31, 2009

Famous local Quanzhou soup

Here is a short video to introduce you to the first of many of my favorite local dishes. The featured soup is one that you can't find in the restaurants but one may be fortunate enough to be treated to in a local's home.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

corruption is in the air...

This is one of the best, most informative segments I have yet seen regarding the current shock waves in our economy.


The financial industry brought the economy to its knees, but how did they get away with it? With the nation wondering how to hold the bankers accountable, Bill Moyers sits down with William K. Black, the former senior regulator who cracked down on banks during the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s. Black offers his analysis of what went wrong and his critique of the bailout.

"Treasury Secretary, Paulson created a recommendation group to tell Treasury what they ought to do with AIG. And he put Goldman Sachs on it...Even though he had just been CEO of Goldman Sachs before becoming Treasury Secretary. Now, in most stages in American history, that would be a scandal of such proportions that he wouldn't be allowed in civilized society." -William Black

More as it comes.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Western Influences: #1

I'm going to be sharing more interesting stories that reveal some of the most surprising aspects of western culture that have found their way into China. For this first installation, I thought I would share a classic American song that has been constantly playing since before I first came to China four years ago.

John Denver's "Country Road." The version I have loaded here is a soft, jazzy cover by Lisa Ono, a Japanese-Brazilian bossa nova singer born in São Paulo. Different and interesting in itself. But the version I most often heard, was a dancified, techno version which I am still desperately trying to find a copy of.

La Bamba, one of the biggest disco's in Xiamen (until its closure late last year) would literally play that song at exactly midnight every Friday and Saturday night for at least 2 solid tops on fire, dancers, confetti, the works...all with Country Road's melody bouncing along over a fat bassline. That may either be your dream come true, or your worst nightmare...either way, you don't forget it. And sometimes you inexplicably go back for me.

The quiet jazz interpretation I've provided here is also very popular. I wouldn't be surprised to hear it in the background of a hotel lobby or something. Enjoy.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Some Chinese *Pop*

This song is one of the most popular in China these past few years. Ri Bu Luo is the star singer, she is Taiwanese. Her song has been all over the radio and karaoke bars for well over a year now...I hear it on the bus lines, in the elevators, etc...But its kinda catchy and the video is entertaining as well. The theme of the video seems to be her and her boyfriend enjoying China's blossoming keenness for tourism...especially of the international brand. The video showcases the lovestruck duo bouncing through London of all places.

So take 5 minutes and enjoy China's answer to Mtv.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

We Should Kill the Fed

Just passing on a well written piece by Pat Buchanan this week. Love him or hate him, he is right on the money (get it) when it comes to the Federal Reserve being the root of all evil.

Should We Kill the Fed?
by Patrick J. Buchanan

For the financial crisis that has wiped out trillions in wealth, many have felt the lash of public outrage.

Fannie and Freddie. The idiot-bankers. The AIG bonus babies. The Bush Republicans and Barney Frank Democrats who bullied banks into making mortgages to minorities who could not afford the houses they were moving into.

But the Big Kahuna has escaped.

The Federal Reserve.

"(T)he very people who devised the policies that produced the mess are now posing as the wise public servants who will show us the way out," writes Thomas Woods in Meltdown.

Already in its sixth week on the New York Times best-seller list, this eminently readable book traces the Fed's role in every financial crisis since this creature was spawned on Jekyll Island in 1913.

The "forgotten depression" of 1920–21 was caused by a huge increase in the money supply for President Wilson's war. When the Fed started to tighten at war's end, production fell 20 percent from mid-1920 to mid-1921, far more than today.

Why did we not read about that depression?

Because the much-maligned Warren Harding refused to intervene. He let businesses and banks fail and prices fall. Hence, the fever quickly broke, and we were off into "the Roaring Twenties."

But, the Fed reverted, expanding the money supply by 55 percent, an average of 7.3 percent a year, not through an expansion of the currency, but through loans to businesses.

Thus, when the Fed tightened in the overheated economy, the Crash came, as the stock market bubble the Fed had created burst.

Herbert Hoover, contrary to the myth that he was a small-government conservative, renounced laissez-faire, raised taxes, launched public works projects, extended emergency loans to failing businesses and lent money to the states for relief programs.

Hoover did what Obama is doing.

Indeed, in 1932, FDR lacerated Hoover for having presided over the "greatest spending administration in peacetime in all of history." His running mate, John Nance Garner, accused Hoover of "leading the country down the path to socialism." And "Cactus Jack" was right.

Terrified of the bogeyman that causes Ben Bernanke sleepless nights – deflation, falling prices – FDR ordered crops destroyed, pigs slaughtered, and business cartels to cut production and fix prices.

FDR mistook the consequences of the Depression – falling prices – for the cause of the depression. But prices were simply returning to where they belonged in a free market, the first step in any cure.

Obama is repeating the failed policies of Hoover and FDR, by refusing to let prices fall. Obama, with his intervention to prop up housing prices and Bernanke with his gushers of money to bail out bankrupt banks and businesses are creating a new bubble that will burst even more spectacularly.

The biggest myth, writes Woods, is that it was World War II that ended the Great Depression. He quotes Paul Krugman:

"What saved the economy and the New Deal was the enormous public works project known as World War II, which finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy's needs."

This Nobel Prize winner's analysis, writes Woods, is a "stupefying and bizarre misunderstanding of what actually happened,"

Undoubtedly, with 29 percent of the labor force conscripted at one time or another into the armed forces, and their jobs taken by elderly men, women and teenagers with little work experience, unemployment will fall.

But how can an economy be truly growing 13 percent a year, as the economists claim, when there is rationing, shortages everywhere, declining product quality, an inability to buy homes and cars, and a longer work week? When the cream of the labor force is in boot camps or military bases, or storming beaches, sailing ships, flying planes and marching with rifles, how can your real economy be booming?

It was 1946, a year economists predicted would result in a postwar depression because government spending fell by two-thirds, that proved the biggest boom year in all of American history.

Why? Because the real economy was producing what people wanted: cars, TVs, homes. Businesses were responding to consumers, not the clamor of a government run by dollar-a-year men who wanted planes, tanks, guns and ships to blow things up.

"The Fed was the greatest single contributor to the crisis that unfolds before us," Woods writes of today, and "more dollars were created between 2000 and 2007 than in the rest of the republic's history."

After 9-11, the Fed kept interest rates low – in one year as low as 1 percent. That money flooded into the housing and stock markets. And in 2008, as the Fed tightened, the bubble burst.

Now the money supply is again expanding, to rescue us from a crisis created by the previous expansion. Of Nicholas Biddle's Bank of the United States, the great Andrew Jackson was eloquent.

"It has tried to kill me," he said. "But I will kill it." And he did.

Should not this creature from Jekyll Island, for all its manifold crimes and sins against the republic, also be summarily put to death?

April 3, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TANG Dynasty!!

Its official. China has fulfilled the final requirement to be accepted into the elite circle of modern nations...they have acquired the sensational and necessary powder that is Tang!

Seriously though, I was pretty excited to find this stuff at the market and had to share the joy with you all. For all I know, they've had it for years, but this is the first I've seen of it.

Below is a brief summary of the real Tang Dynasty taken from "" When I quizzed many of my school children on where they would go if they were able to make use of a Time Machine...there were a surprising amount who referenced the Tang Dynasty. Other answers included 1949 and, again surprisingly, 1776. They've read a good bit about George Washington and Lincoln. Now, if they would just study a bit of Jefferson... :-)

Tang Dynasty:

Viewing the Chinese history record, you will find the Tang Dynasty was the most glistening historic period in China's history. Founded in 618 and ending in 907, the state, under the ruling of the Tang Dynasty, became the most powerful and prosperous country in the world. Particularly, in this glorious period, the economy, politics, culture and military strength reached an unparalleled advanced level.

Well, now I'm off to enjoy another glass of boiling Tang!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Day in the Hills

Thanks to an important ancestor worship holiday, our busy busy Saturday classes were canceled. It couldn't have fell on a better day. After weeks of cold, wet dreariness (ahh the rainy season) we had one amazingly beautiful Saturday.

The high was at least in the mid-70's, the sun was out, and me and a few of my peers decided to make a day of it. We met just before noon to hike up the mountainside jutting out directly behind our office. It was an all day adventure. It took us a couple hours to reach the top, where we found ourselves completely free from the city below. In fact, if I had just been dropped out of a chopper and landed on this hillside, I would have had no idea there was massive city surrounding the rest of the island.

Along the way we stumbled across some old military training grounds, as well found ourselves in a small mountaintop village that seems to be mainly housing for the local army. We waved and said hello to the friendly soldiers as we watched dozens of them working dutifully in the well irrigated gardens that were laced through the town. While there, we got ourselves a deserved mountaintop range duck and all. Very salty and very delicious!

Before we could head down the backside of the mountain, we knew we'd have to give the fishing pond a shot. It was great to find some peace and quiet even if we didn't manage to catch any fish. Some of the locals would occasionally walk by carrying sacks full of freshly caught fish and wearing big grins...God only knows what we were doing wrong. The poles were about as simple as they fishing reel attached...and they would cast the pulls in an underhand manner. You can see the bait we used in one of the photos...we had two hooks on each line to attach the bait to. Strangely, the red clay looking bait smelled like a mix between fishiness and...strawberries! Not really sure what it all was though.

When we realized the sun was setting a bit too fast, we gave up our fishing poles and headed on down the mountain. An hour and half later we'd reached the beach on the backside of the mountain and were ready to go find ourselves a little beach side bbq.

Not a bad day off at all!

More as it comes.

Xiamen rests below