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Archive for June, 2017

Tempest on Table Tennis

June 25th, 2017 No comments

During the round of 16 of Chengdu Table Tennis Open of men’s competition, 3 of the top Chinese champions and 2 of their coaches withdraw from competition and were disqualified. They also posted in Weibo their dissatisfaction over the reassignment of head coach ( a promotion, but really more kick up stair.). The resulting furor triggered mostly negative reactions from the fans mostly in favor of the athletes. They apologized a few days later, and expect punishments to be mete out soon. I suspect something like probably 6 months suspension from competition for the players and exile of the coaches. Observing the furor from afar I have no special expertise on the bureaucratic infighting of China’s athletic departments, but some conclusions can be drawn from this incident.
The target of the protest obvious is against the minister of national athletics. He initiated some overdue reforms which touch on the special interests. He limited the commercial interest in soccer and basketball by limiting the number of foreign players the various teams can buy to boast their teams. The recent scandal of female table tennis team coach on his gambling debt in Singapore ( as a communist party member he’s barred from even entering casino.) probably triggered the change in table tennis. Chinese table tennis has resumed domination in this sport recently, and fans are loath for any disturbances which will affect the status quo.
The question is not unrelated to President Xi’s anticorruption campaign. Xi has been trying to reinstate some socialism values by not just attacking obvious malfeasances such as bribery, none performance, and other monetary corruptions, but setting value systems like Mao was trying to do. He’s getting pushbacks by entrenched interests in all levels. What’s the value of Olympic gold medals and the resulting hero worships? Will China return to more socialism values and away from capitalism monetary rewards.

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Ireland

June 23rd, 2017 No comments

As I wrote earlier I went to my niece’s Irish wedding in June. Overnight after a flight from NY to Dublin, I found that Theresa May lost her election gambit, so the young people after indifference to Brexit finally decided to vote. Hopefully Millennials in U.S. will do the same soon to evict Trump. The wedding took place in the town of Wicklow, about an hour drive south from Dublin. Ireland, known as Emerald Isle, totally fit this description, with green everywhere eyes can see. The gulf stream keeps Ireland and Britain Isles both warm and temporal with few episodes of snow or ice. Hopefully the climate warming will not change this soon, as I understand that the melting of ice from Greenland with resulting fresh water might disrupt the current, causing cold weather for Northern Europe.
We have a reception the next day by the groom’s family with Irish music played by 2 local musicians. Irish folk music like “Danny Boy” and “Molly Malone” were played. I requested an American folk song “Freight Train”, although they remember only a few stanza of lyric, they played beautifully. All those songs like Chinese folk songs tell what life is like for ordinary people. The next day we have a catholic church wedding, though I am an atheist, I found the ritual enchanting, with guests finishing some of priest’s incantations. The Irish people are inevitably graceful and open, and I found myself responding likewise.
After the wedding we stayed for 1 week more for sightseeing and soaking in local culture. On the 4 hours drive to see Cliffs of Moher we stopped in a rest stop called Obama Plaza. Unlike U.S. where any taint of black and you are considered black, Ireland embraced Obama, his 7th cousin by his mother side are celebrated. To me someone like Beyoncé is more white than black, and Tiger Wood is very much Chinese as much as black.
Ireland with more than twice the size of Taiwan, yet with a population of only 6.4 million (1.8 million in Northern Ireland). We went to see EPIC museum about Irish emigration through the ages since 500 AD. I always compare Chinese to Jews, as both have long history and cultural identity, but after seeing the museum I have to include Irish in this regard. They were colonized by Britain, most were tenant farmers struggling to feed their family and survive, paying absentee landlords exorbitant rents, and when natural disaster struck as during potato famine, forced to starve or emigrate. In the 1841 census, Ireland has a population of 8 million, yet after the potato famine a few years later, 1 million starve to death, and more than 1 million were forced to emigrate. China over the ages, suffered the same, when natural disasters and wars forced migrations all around the world. The famine sculptures on the northern bank of river Liffy testify the toll on people.

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