Sunday, January 30

Artists never got money

Francis Ford Coppola, interviewed by Ariston Anderson, argues
You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.

This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?

In the old days, 200 years ago, if you were a composer, the only way you could make money was to travel with the orchestra and be the conductor, because then you’d be paid as a musician. There was no recording. There were no record royalties. So I would say, “Try to disconnect the idea of cinema with the idea of making a living and money.” Because there are ways around it.

Just because you mean to do good doesn’t mean that you will actually do good.

Wednesday, January 26

“Snail” does not mean “slime cow”

Tim Flannery claims
The Chinese characters for “snail” read as “slime cow”
If he means the characters 蝸牛, the most common word for snail, he's wrong. While 牛 ("niú") does mean bovine (bull or cow) 蝸 ("wō" in China, "guā" in Taiwan) means "snail". And anyway what's the significance of what it means in Chinese?

Monday, January 17

Yikes: Chen Kuiyuan (陈奎元)

A vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and dean of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Chen Kuiyuan is strongly associated with China’s hardline left, and his presence in the official news photo from Xinhua is for media insiders in China a tangible sign — a flesh-and-blood cautionary note about the need for media to fall into line in 2011.

It was this same Chen Kuiyuan who wrote an influential essay in the People’s Daily in August 2004 arguing that the greatest legacy left by Deng Xiaoping (邓小平), the architect of China’s opening and reform policy, was not reform itself but the so-called “Four Basic Principles, or si xiang jiben yuanze (四项基本原则). A favored political buzzword of China’s conservative left, the Four Basic Principles — sometimes referred to as the “Four Cardinal Principles” — are as follows:
1. We must cleave to the road of socialism
2. We must uphold the dictatorship of the proletariat
3. We must uphold the leadership of the Communist Party
4. We must uphold Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought
And it looks as if he'll be severely restricting media freedom.

Friday, January 14


From Conquering Fear in the WSJ
"Part of what mindfulness does is get to you to recognize that these critical thoughts are really stories you have created about yourself. They are not necessarily true, but they can have self-fulfilling consequences," says Zindel V. Segal, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto who devised Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy to help depressed patients. "If you can get some distance from them, you can see that there are choices about how to respond."

Mindfulness also involves paying attention to your breathing and other physical sensations while observing your thoughts so you have a tapestry of information to consider, says Dr. Segal. In fact, neuro-imaging studies have shown that when people consider problems mindfully, they use additional brain circuits beyond those that simply involve problem-solving.

Although some critics initially dismissed mindfulness-based therapies as vacuous and New Age-y, dozens of randomized-controlled trials in the past decade have shown that they can be effective in managing depression, panic disorders, social phobias, sleep problems and even borderline personality disorder.
Psychologist Dennis Tirch, director of the New York Center for Mindfulness, Acceptance and Compassion-Focused Therapies, uses this formula to help even people with profound developmental disabilities take control of their emotions: "Feel your soles of your feet. Feel yourself breathe. Label your emotions and make space for your thoughts."

The article has several illustrations with suggested coping strategies:
Worry About Getting Fired
  • Change: Resolve to work harder and be indispensable.
  • Deny: Remember your recent raise and glowing review.
  • Accept: Understand that everyone feels this way and ask yourself if worrying is worth it.
A Fear of Flying
  • Change: Force yourself to fly as much as possible until the fear subsides.
  • Deny: Remind yourself that flying is much safer than driving.
  • Accept: Expect and acknowledge the fear; breathe deeply and focus on the moment.
Feeling Fat and Ugly After Reading Fashion Magazines
  • Change: Resolve to eat less, exercise more and improve what you can.
  • Deny: Remember nobody looks that good; even the models are air-brushed.
  • Accept: Realize that magazines always make you feel fat; assess how much you really care.
From, "mindfulness" is translated as follows:

七?X支 Seven Enlightenment Elements...念 mindfulness...?穹? Wisdom - 相关搜索
我常将之译成「观察力」(observing power),而非「念」(mindfulness)。然而,...

I've also found it on Google as 冥想 、靜觀 and 玄覽:心居玄冥之處而覽知萬物。老子

Searching Google books for "靜觀 the" leads to this selection from Custody and treatment of dangerous prisoners: recommendation no. R (82) 17:
Page 93
認為人的認識&像不是外界事物;而是人身,認識的目的是通過內省自身兩表達天意. ...
Page 241
是一種神秘主義的直覺認識, ~老子的認識方法是"靜觀"、"玄覽" ,老子講"觀" ... 1 儘管
芸芸萬物、千變萬化,但都歸根於道,只要"靜觀" ,就能認識萬物周而復始、不離其根的 ...
Page 471
作為 ..
I guess I should try to find the book.

Sunday, January 9

Locavore idiocy

[N]o agricultural economist has informed the public that a key claim of local-food advocates—that local-food purchases enhance the local economy—violates the core economic principles taught in every introductory economics class. Until now.

Spending other people's money

It's presented as a test, but here are the answers:
1) Total spending for the federal budget for 2010 is projected to be approximately $3.6 trillion.  The budget comprises total expenditures and total receipts by the federal government.

2) The federal deficit for 2010 is projected to be approximately $1.2 trillion.  However, note that in 2009, the deficit was projected to be $407 billion but ended up being $1.4 trillion.  The deficit is total expenditures less total receipts (such as income taxes) received.  When receipts exceed expenditures, there is a surplus.

3) The national debt at the end of fiscal year 2010 is projected to be $14 trillion.  This debt is the accumulation of every year's deficit since 1776 less all accumulated surpluses.

4) The annual interest payment on the National Debt for 2010 is projected to be $164 billion.

Sunday, January 2

Some needed context

Jonathan Mirsky writes,
[Susan Greenhalgh, professor of anthropology at the University of California, Irvine] herself refers to the years from 1980-93 as a time of "human and natural catastrophe," of "bad governance, even by the regime's own standards, which have consistently rejected the use of what in party-speak is called 'coercion and commandism.'"
In fact, on p. 56 she writes,
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Leninist birth planners had tried to operate the population program on a natural science model.... The result was a human and political catastrophe.
And on p. 86,
population management was a prime example of bad governance....
He makes it sound as if she's criticizing Chinese policies in general, whereas she's criticizing population policies.