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Showing posts from January, 2008

Pros + Cons of the Videoconference

As a frequent videoconferencer (I give many presentations through a videoconferencing unit to schools across the country), I am surprised by the sometime randomness and uncertainty of videoconferencing. Problems range from not being able to see the other side (the POINT of videoconferencing) to not being able to show a computer's screen even when the presentation cord is hooked up, to not being able to hear the other party, to not being able to turn the thing on! But at the same time videoconferencing technology has allowed me to give many presentations to schools far away that would have taken a lot of time to board planes, hook up projectors...to put it briefly, the videoconferencing unit has allowed me to give more presentations. I think that's good.

Hairstyles of Dictators of the World

Hairstyles of Dictators of the World
Svitak, Adora

Looking at a picture of Chairman Mao, I notice a striking similarity between his high-forehead hairstyle and that of modern day North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il. This made me want to analyze hairstyles of other dictators of the world, and so I began my political fashion quest. Let's see...Josef Stalin has a fairly high hairstyle. (And all of them have rather chubby faces, but don't tell the Russian, North Korean, or Chinese government I've said this.) Pol Pot, infamous leader of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge, has an about normal hairstyle. Fidel Castro? Yes, he has a high hairstyle, but I think this is because he's balding in old age. Poor Fidel...Our hearts bleed for you.

Although Marie Antoinette doesn't fit under the term "dictator," her hair was pulled back high above her forehead, as was the fashion at the time. So were the dictators mentioned above--many of them Communist--ironically influenced by the Imp…

Becoming an Expert: Words I Learned

Today I am learning about the Red Guards of China's Cultural Revolution by reading articles from Encarta and Wikipedia. While the writing of the article isn't exactly that interesting itself (typical reference writing), the subject is interesting enough to me that the way it's written doesn't matter that much. Here's a word I find popping up a lot in anything related to the Cultural Revolution that I didn't know before:

re·ac·tion·ar·y /riˈækʃəˌnɛri/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[ree-ak-shuh-ner-ee] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation adjective, noun, plural -ar·ies.
–adjective
1.
of, pertaining to, marked by, or favoring reaction, esp. extreme conservatism or rightism in politics; opposing political or social change. –noun
2.
a reactionary person.

But reactionaries don't have to be related to the Cultural Revolution.

Becoming an Expert: Draft 2

For the Becoming an Expert project, I'm supposed to write about how my perceptions changed when I visited China or my assumptions were proved wrong. But to be honest, I did not have perceptions or assumptions about China before my visit; I merely learned new things that I probably would not have been able to learn from Wikipedia or Encarta. I'll include some of my discoveries here.

I learned a lot about Chinese culture, especially relating to food. The Chinese love eating, and even in Beijing, where space is one of the most important commodities in this city of millions of people, every restaurant has a private room for those people who want to savor their food without the chitchat of the open area. Street food is cheap to many of us tourists, with hot yams at a quarter and cakes at two.

But don't think everything in China comes cheap. In Xi'an's colossal, seven-story shopping mall, some swimsuits cost hundreds of dollars. And often, vendors will try to charge you m…
For the Becoming an Expert project, I'm supposed to write about how my perceptions changed when I visited China or my assumptions were proved wrong. But to be honest, I did not have perceptions or assumptions about China before my visit; I merely learned new things that I probably would not have been able to learn from Wikipedia or Encarta. I'll include some of my discoveries here.

I learned a lot about Chinese culture, especially relating to food. The Chinese love eating, and even in Beijing, where space is one of the most important commodities in this city of millions of people, every restaurant has a private room for those people who want to savor their food without the chitchat of the open area. Street food is cheap to many of us tourists, with hot yams at a quarter and cakes at two. But in other areas, like Xi'an's colossal, seven-story shopping mall, things don't come cheap--some swimsuits cost as much as hundreds of dollars.

Like many Asian countries, China va…

Becoming an Expert: The Qing Dynasty

One of my favorite Chinese dynasties, the Qing Dynasty, last imperial dynasty of China, lasted

for almost 300 years, extended China's borders farther than ever before, and perfected the

imperial system. The French writer Voltaire,

author of Candide (one of my favorite books) praised China for having the most effectively

organized government that the world had ever seen.


The founders of the early Qing dynasty were members of the Jurchen tribe, which had

conquered the Northern Song many years before. The Jurchen were nomadic people, but later

abandoned their nomadic habits for more settled ways. They adopted a new name, the

Manchu, and took control of China, even forcing the Chinese to wear Manchu-style pigtails. I

would be a little ticked off if conquering tribes restricted my fashion decisions.


To keep control over a huge country of millions of people, the Manchu gave top posts in the

government to Manchus and lower posts to Chinese. The Manchu rulers sometimes

appointed two official…

Vocabulary List of Words I (Previously) Did Not Know

pe·nu·ri·ous /pəˈnʊəriəs, -ˈnyʊər-/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[puh-noor-ee-uhs, -nyoor-]
–adjective
1. extremely stingy; parsimonious; miserly.
2. extremely poor; destitute; indigent.
3. poorly or inadequately supplied; lacking in means or resources.

pol·i·ty /ˈpɒlɪti/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[pol-i-tee]
–noun, plural -ties.
1.a particular form or system of government: civil polity; ecclesiastical polity.
2.the condition of being constituted as a state or other organized community or body: The polity of ancient Athens became a standard for later governments.
3.government or administrative regulation: The colonists demanded independence in matters of internal polity.
4.a state or other organized community or body.

aug·ment (ôg-měnt') Pronunciation Key
v. aug·ment·ed, aug·ment·ing, aug·ments v. tr.
To make (something already developed or well under way) greater, as in size, extent, or quantity: Continuing rains augmented the floodwat…