Ten hours

That seems to be the average time I’m spending behind the desk each day with my new job. Needless to say, it doesn’t give me much time to blog. I’ll try soon, but if the past few days are any indication, I’ll have to cut it way down. I thought I’d be able to sneak in at least one post a day, but lately that’s been simply impossible.

Most painful is the realization this week that I’f have to give up my Chinese classes after making decent progress over the past six months. I really don’t feel like going to class after a long day of work.

On a brighter note, winter finally seems to have ended here in Beijing and the past couple days have been spectacularly beautiful. And work isn’t bad, it’s just tiring. I look at my situation and that of some of my friends and relatives back home, and I have to say I’ve got it pretty easy.

The Discussion: 19 Comments

I can relate to the 10 hour days. On top of that I seem to be spending between 3 and 4 hours on trains to/from the office. Finding time to update my blog is certainly a challenge, but regular Chinese study is near impossible. However I’m not giving up. here are a couple of things I’ve done to keep up with both blogging and Chinese.

Give up trying to study/write whilst commuting. It isn’t productive.
Keep a mind map of ideas/thoughts for new blog posts. Easy to dip in and write something when time is available.
Negotiated an early departure from the office one day a week to make it to Chinese class.
Study when you have the energy. Studying when tired, stressed, or busy only causes frustration.

April 8, 2009 @ 4:05 am | Comment

Would that be a 5 or 6 day week? And does 10 hrs a day include work done at home?

April 8, 2009 @ 4:06 am | Comment

Bill, thanks a lot for the tips. It’s 5 days a week, Sunday – Thursday, and the tn hours does not include work done at home. On top of that, it’s a 30-minute commute by taxi – no subway or bus will work, adding another level of stress and costing nearly 40 kuai a day. Will try to bicycle now that spring seems to be here.

On the other hand – it’s the kind of work I wanted to do, and there are some rewards (and some frustrations). SO again, so huge complaints. I just can’t do much blogging for now.

April 8, 2009 @ 8:07 am | Comment

Richard wrote: “On the other hand – it’s the kind of work I wanted to do, and there are some rewards (and some frustrations). SO again, so huge complaints.”

“On the other hand….”

What if the speaker only has one hand, like Captain Hook?

April 8, 2009 @ 8:50 pm | Comment

Always worth doing something that’s worth doing. My last job had me working 12-14 hour days sometimes for 10 days straight, I didn’t mind it at all because the money was OK and the experience was worthwhile. The only bad thing was that due to the company’s policy of localisation, there was no chance of promotion, so I quit to come back to the UK and see if I couldn’t get a job in the same line of work as well as do my masters. Right now I’ve got 3 months to go to graduation, at which point I’m almost certainly going to get dumped onto a dead labour market – nobody is hiring. I’d gladly crawl back to my old job on my hands and knees, but they aren’t hiring either. Failing anything turning up in the meantime I’m going to go back to teaching English – so look on the bright side, it could be a lot worse.

April 8, 2009 @ 9:52 pm | Comment

totally understand.

April 8, 2009 @ 10:00 pm | Comment

Site traffic has gone straight to hell. Oh well. That’s the headache with a blog like this. If you don’t update constantly people lose interest. On the other hand, sometimes you just need a break. Give me another few days.

April 8, 2009 @ 10:44 pm | Comment

no problem, take your time, smell the flowers:)

April 8, 2009 @ 10:57 pm | Comment

Is there any way you can do some of your work at home? Does your office have that type of culture? Maybe you can swing some understanding where you work at home one day a week but keep in contact with the office using tools such as Skype and the phone? This might reduce your commute by 1 day, and benefit both you and your employer.

April 9, 2009 @ 1:13 am | Comment

I Am Afraid China is becoming more and more like America

Do Americans like to promote equality between people? The answer is No – Americans don’t promote equality, and don’t like equality. The American social elites of course do not like equality. But even the regular citizens of society do not think about helping those on the bottom rung of the society.

When I was a graduate student in America, there was a very insightful American professor in my department. (Note: there are a lot of intelligent people in society, but very few insightful people, and talking with insightful people is a highly enjoyable intellectual exercise that always make you discover and learn new things, new ideas.). One time, I asked this professor,: “Why is it that everytime I talk to you, I feel I am a student and you are a professor, and never feel that we are talking on an equal footing?”. The Professor thought about it and said, “You came from a Socialist country, you don’t understand that in this nation, there’s a highly self-regulated system of social hierarchy. For example, professors will not go eat lunch with their secretaries, and would not sit down and chat with janitors.”

The upper echelons of the society looks with contempt at anyone who does not belong to their class. The rich ones have their own clubs. Of course those clubs will not openly say “Only the rich can join.”. For example, there’s a private golf club here in my neighborhood, the annual membership fee is: $70,000. So, without saying explicitly so, the club effectively made sure that regular citizens won’t be albe to join. Now, does a club really need $70,000 a year from members to maintain itself, I certainly don’t believe so. The price tag is a filter, to filter out what the upper echelons consider “scums of the society.”

In America, a citizen’s social status is highly important. And Americans are very aware of their own social status. People from differnet stratas of societies rarely mix, rarely become neighbors, rarely hang out together, rarely join the same clubs, rarely send their kids to the same schools. Somewhat peculiar is that fact that those Americans who live on the bottom rung of the society do not really hate the rich, and seem to be contempt with their low social status.

So the question arises: why is it that Americans living in the bottom of the society do not seem to complain all that much, do not seem to feel mistreated, do not feel a need to change their situation? Please read on.

In America, the concept that there should be equality between people does not exist. Instead, the socially accepted doctrine is: Everyone has Equal Opportunity. “Every has Equal Opportunity” is a very deceptive slogan. Putting aside the fact that differences in physical and mental abilities, life experiences, cultural backgrounds will lead to wildly different opportunities that are present in people’s lives, the most fundamental rule is: With money and without money, with lots of money and with little money would result in totally different opportunities for people. So exactly how is it that Everyone has Equal Opportunity?

Money is the pillar of the American Spirit. Yes, there are indeed some people in America who rose to riches from poor backgrounds. But this is a highly low-probability event amongst the vast majority of regular citizens. So, the established and elite class capture those few examples of “rags to riches” and tout that “Everyone can realize the American Dream”. Using this “American Dream”, the social elites helped create a very united (around money) and centrifugal force amongst the regular citizens. This deceptive doctrine of “American dream/Equal Opportunity” is being injected into the minds of Americans year after year, decade after decade. So that Americans now totally believe in that “truth”, believing that “we all have equal opportunity, we can all achieve the American dream, this is the land of opportunity, etc, etc.” This perhaps is a very unique and peculiar trait of American society.

The riches use a small portion of their wealth to create charities. This is called “largess”, like a gentleman giving a few pennies to the beggers on the street, and then feel so morally superior about himself afterwards. By creating those charities, the social elites comfort themselves and think that they are not only wealthier than most, but morally superior than others.

In this ladder of social status, Americans on the low end of the ladder very much admire and want to be those on the high end, and very much look down upon those who are lower than themselves. Looking upward, trying to get into a higher club is a insivible and heavy pressure that burdens most Americans throughout their lives. Most Americans, under this burden of trying to get into a higher club, toil and sweat for the rest of their lives. There are also those who can relieve themselves of this burden, and live without worrying about which social class they and their families belong to, but those are a very very small group. Social status, therefore, is a tacitly understood, self-regulated, but never talked about order of American society. It’s the oil that keeps this society running.

Interestingly, this system of social status in America is not being enforced through laws and regulations, but through the voluntary and subconcious actions of regular Americans themslves. This perhaps would be an envy to Chinese leaders, for Chinese would never ever acquiese to this kind of hierarchical systems in society. That’s why China underwent 3 violent revolutions in the past 100 years. So ironically, the supposedly most “free” and “equal” society is one in which its citizens are the most obedient and accepting of social hierarchies… This is something that one can only realize after living in America for decades and truly getting a feel of the society.

So another question arises: Is there a society with true equality?

The answer is Yes. The Chinese society during Mao’s time is a society with true equality. I am fortunate to have lived through that society and remember some of the fond memories. When I was in school, I was told that everyone is equal (not the revised version of “every has equal opportunity”). No one is more superior than any other, no job is better than another. The social theme of the time was working hard, be positive, help each other, be plain. Intellectuals are hated at the time, because they position themselves on a pedestal and act as of they are the teachers of the masses. Unfortunately, this kind of society did not last long, and today’s China is becoming more and more like America.

April 9, 2009 @ 1:19 am | Comment

Ahh, a post without Math is like…a post without Math! He is singular.

April 9, 2009 @ 3:30 am | Comment

People aren’t equal. True, pure equality didn’t exist under socialist regimes either. Mao himself had a personal chef; Soviet Party leaders had privileges that, given the relative wealth of the proletariat, were obscene. The truth is that since people aren’t equal, true equality cannot be sustained; it will at the very best be a hollow ideal people pay tribute to: the poor because it makes them feel better about their situation, the (secretly) “rich” because it placates the poor and acts as self delusion.

John Rawls’ Veil of Ignorance would, in a more perfect world, create a relatively equal starting point, but things would spiral out of control as soon as people with the resources to get it, wanted more. And there will always be people like that, and there should be people like that. (Incremental) Progress might be driven by the masses, but it isn’t created by them..

That said, it has gotten to obscene levels in the States, and seems to be so thoroughly entrenched by now that the concept of Upward Mobility is loosing its lustre.

Anyway: what do you work as, anyway?

April 9, 2009 @ 3:47 am | Comment

Richard wrote: “On the other hand – it’s the kind of work I wanted to do, and there are some rewards (and some frustrations). SO again, so huge complaints.”

What was the name of that crappy movie starring Richard Gere and Julia Robers—“Pretty Woman”?

Julia Roberts played the ebulliant, cheerful, but misunderstood happy hooker.

April 9, 2009 @ 4:41 am | Comment

Don, I wish. No, it seems it has to be done on-site.

Hi Math. Lisa, it’s probably one of his recycled diatribes from a year ago.

Chris, I work as a glorified proofreader at the moment. Well, not exactly but close enough.

April 9, 2009 @ 7:11 am | Comment

I shouldn’t be encouraging Math but anyone who truly believes that China under Mao had social equality is either ignorant or letting nostalgia get in the way of their better judgment. What would you call hukou but institutionalized discrimination against the peasantry? And what about the red-blood party establishment? Why do you think the cultural revolution took off like wildfire amongst the masses? Do you really think Mao could have exploited that movement and mobilized rebellion against the party establishment if society was truly equal to begin with? And when all was said and done, who do you think paid the highest price? Chinese society will never be harmonious and human relations will never be genuine until we have truth and reconciliation.

April 9, 2009 @ 9:34 am | Comment

Hehe, math, some of what you are saying rings true, in a very twisted sort of way.

I do believe that society, and the world in general, that there is just the true elites and everyone else.

Then again, this is what I consider a problem with humanity/life in general. No one is perfect, and like Budda man said, life is suffering. Basically. True equality is an utopian dream. So, equal oppuntinity is what we got to work with –for now– until we all reach Nirvana on earth, or some similar shit (HAHA yeah right). Disclaimer: I’m not really Buddhist.

Personally for me, I don’t really give a damn about climbing no social ladders. I just wanna make enuff money (it’s my dream, hey) so I can fucking retire by traveling and living where the f*** I please.

Richard, I feel you man. But you got to do what you gota do, to make a living.

April 9, 2009 @ 9:58 am | Comment

Utopia MAYBE is possible… in the future. If we get free energy (i.e. real free energy) … but this is a science fiction utopia bullshit day dream, though.

But you still have humanity left and all the GOOD and EVIL that goes along with it. Basically, I doubt you can elminiate what I like to call the *wild cards*.

Plus, greed 4 power may still overpower any infinite potential implied with free energy and the Utopian dream.

April 9, 2009 @ 10:01 am | Comment

Richard wrote: “I work as a glorified proofreader at the moment.”

I suggest that you march into your Boss’s office, kiss him on the lips and ask for a rise.

April 9, 2009 @ 5:29 pm | Comment

“Utopia MAYBE is possible… in the future. If we get free energy (i.e. real free energy) … but this is a science fiction utopia bullshit day dream, though.”

You’ll have to get rid of all of the stupid people.

Remember the scene in the Woody Allen movie “Antz” where the obese bugs are dining in the human garbage can and one bug says to the other:

“Hey, this tastes like shit!”

The other bug also takes a bite and says: “It is shit.”

April 9, 2009 @ 5:33 pm | Comment

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