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China\'s Lost Culture

Starting in the summer of 1966 Mao Zedong, the leader of China's Communist Party launched what he termed "The Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution." At that point communism had been China's form of government for about 17 years (starting in 1949). Chairman Mao was alarmed by what he saw as an increasing trend towards bureaucratization. Read more »

The Teacher Holocaust

These stories are excerpts from the Chinese Holocaust museum, the author of which has attempted to document the Cultural Revolution with first hand accounts of the atrocities that occurred. The excerpts were slightly edited to improve readability. To read the entire original article by Youqin Wang of the University of Chicago, click here.

The Scale and Degree of Violence Against Teachers

In the afternoon of August 5, 1966, some tenth-grade students at the Girls Middle School attached to Beijing Teachers University started "beating the black gang," a group comprised of three vice-principals and two deans (there was no principal). Many students came to join in. The students splashed ink on the clothes of these five, forced them to wear "high hats," hung boards with their names crossed out by red X's on their necks, forced them to kneel on the ground, hit them with nail-spiked clubs, scalded them with boiling water, and so on. After three hours of torture, the first vice-principal, Bian Zhongyun, lost consciousness and was put into a garbage cart. Two hours later she was sent to the hospital across the street. There, she was later found to have been dead for some time. Another vice-principal, Hu Zhitao, suffered bone fractures. The others were also severely injured. Bian Zhongyun, fifty years old, who had been working for this middle school for seventeen years, was the first educator to be beaten to death by students in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution.

Large-scale violence had, however, begun earlier at the Middle School attached to Beijing University. Liu Meide was a vice-principal and a chemistry teacher at this middle school. On July 31, on the day the "working group" that was in charge of the school in June and July received the order to withdraw from school but had not yet left, a group of students launched a violent action against her. They hacked Liu's hair, put dirt into her mouth, and beat her. Liu was forced to crawl on the playground and repeatedly say: "I am Liu Meide. I am a poisonous snake." One day in August, she was ordered by the students to climb on a table and kneel there. A student placed one foot on her back, posing as per Mao Zedong's description of how to struggle against landlords: "force them down on the ground and then place one foot on them." After a journalist of the Beijing Daily took a photograph, the student kicked Liu from the table to the ground. Liu was pregnant at that time. Her baby died from prenatal injuries soon after the birth. Many teachers at this school were tortured during the same period. Read more »

American Idol Final 6

This week on American Idol we lost Constantine :shock: . So I figured he would probably get voted off sometime before bo and carrie, but getting beaten out by Scott and Anthony... I didn't see that one coming. The theme (if it can be called that) this week was songs of the millenium (2000-2005).

Constantine did fine. It wasn't his best, but neither was it a bad performance, and since this is the time every year when someone cries racism... and I have yet to hear such a cry... here goes. Its cuz he's greek isn't it, greek orthodox no less... its all about race. Why else would Scott have gotten through after such a crummy performance of a terrible song over Constantine. Scott's the "heart and soul of America" after all... he he he. Just kidding. :twisted:

Anthony actually did better than usual this week. He did pretty well singing an over-the-top Celine Dion song. I still wouldn't have voted for him, but he was actually in tune with the music this week.

Bo was awesome once again singing "I don't want to be anything other." Bo singing that song was perfect. It seemed like he wrote it himself. If Bo keeps this up we might not even notice Constantine missing for the final weeks. Read more »

Texas Takes a Step Backwards

I got this in an email a few days ago: Read more »

American Idol Final 7

My prediction that scott would outlast Anwar came true this week as Anwar got sent home. Its been a while since I thought anything Anwar did was very good, however this week certainly wasn't bad. He didn't pick something cheesy. He didn't sing a song whose only real substance was the last note. Anwar actually did pretty good this week singing a song about remembering September. Nevertheless I was glad that he was finally gone. The group is slowly getting wittled down to its strongest performers, and that makes for great no-cringe television. Now if we could just get rid of Anthony Federov.

Anthony sang "Dont take away my music" -I'm guessing on the name. 70's dance songs was the theme. There are so many great songs from that period I have to wonder where he drug this one up from. He actually sang in tune for the most part this week and it wasn't a bad performance (except his dancing still looks awkward and forced). It was just a rather uninteresting song. Read more »

China\'s Disappearing Debate

Imagine sitting down to write a controversial blog entry on the death of Pope John Paul II, and then curiously getting no reponses or comments to it at all. Since I often have posts with little or no comments, this would not concern me a bit. Apparently in China it should. From Angry Chinese Blogger: Read more »

Utopia is Not a Preference

"Utopia is not an option" is one of the lines David Bergland says in one of his many speeches about how to communicate libertarian ideas effectively. The idea is to get across the notion that we as libertarians are not trying to create a perfect, and thus impossible. society. While this is true, it is missing a very crucial point. Libertarianism is in no way utopian.

These days people use the term to refer to anyone who has idealistic views about how the world should be. Utopian is meant both as idealized and unrealistic. However this broad usage is technically incorrect and glosses over some of the crucial differences between utopian and non-utopian ideologies.

Utopia is a book written by Thomas More in which he describesd his perfect society, and aptly named that society Utopia, which means "no place." More knew his society was impossible, though whether he knew why it was impossible, or simply glimpsed that it was incredibly improbable, I don't know. But the reason behind its impossibility is an irresolvable conflict that ultimately brings every utopian inspired system crashing down. Utopia is a vision of a static society, though ironically the actual Utopia is far more dynamic than most utopian ideologies ended up being. Nevertheless, it is a vision of a society in which all the people function in very specific ways, dress in certain ways, work in specific ways, and adhere to very specific standards of behavior and morality. Read more »

American Idol Final 8

We lost Nadia this week :bigcry: , though to be honest I would have been far more disappointed if we had lost Bo. Of course he did sing Freebird almost exactly as we have all heard it ten million plus times, and for that I could see him getting voted off.

Nadia on the other hand sang a song by Crystal Gayle. I know who that is because I was enthralled with her very long hair when I was 3 or 4. I never liked her music though, and did not care for the song Nadia sang. Plus I have no sympathy for the "God has a plan for me/Whatever happens is God's will" sentiment. There are so many things wrong with that idea. I always sound like an intolerant jerk when I go off on stuff like that so I'll leave it alone for now.

Anthony improved by leaps and bounds over last week and still was not even remotely enjoyable to listen to or watch. Thats because "Climb every mountain" from last week was just really that bad. This week he sang "Every time you go away." I really don't get what people see in him. It must be a Clay Aiken resemblance or something. If he actually sounded like Clay, and wasn't so goofy when he's trying to dance on stage, I'd like him too. By the way this week's theme was "song's from the year you were born." It was actually the producer's way of slipping in a mid-70's to mid 80's theme night.

Anwar sang "I know I'll never love this way again." It was the same story as weeks past - sad dramatic song, big grin. Okay, he was better this week. This song was much more interesting than the one last week about not leaving you in the springtime :sleep: . Yet somehow (and I hate to sound like Randy Jackson but...) it just doesn't work for me. I want to see people that look like they mean the words coming out of their mouths, and Anwar just cannot pull off sincerity in his performances. He looks like a sincere guy in general, but he also looks like he's entirely oblivious to the meaning of the words coming out of his mouth. I bet you could substitue "I know I'll never love this way again" with "It's time to kill all the polar bears," and he'd look (and it would sound) exactly the same. Read more »

American Idol Final 9

This week on American Idol the theme was classic show tunes/musicals. While I am a big fan of musical theater the show was actually disappointing for me. Every single performer left me with the thought: "surely you could have picked something better than that."

Nikko got voted off, though he was far from the worst performer on Tuesday night. It was probably because the song he picked was a duet and hearing the recorded second soloist come in on top of his voice was a little eerie. Duets are fine until the second vocalist is invisible.

Carrie had one of the strongest performances of the night but sang a song from one of my least favorite musicals - The King and I. The song was called "Hello Young Lovers." Carrie's rendition sounded significantly better than the rendition we are subjected to in the movie version of the musical which is why it didn't put us to sleep. Read more »

On Dying with Dignity

"There's no such thing. Our bodies break down, sometimes when we're 90, sometimes before we're even born -- but it always happens and there's never any dignity in it. I don't care if you can walk, see, wipe your own ass -- it's always ugly, always. You can live with dignity, but you can't die with it."

-- House, M.D. Read more »

American Idol Final 10

Last night we lost Jessica Sierra. I can't say that I am even remotely disappointed with the result. There is not a single performance of hers that I actually liked. Anthony, in spite of his awkward moves, cheesy facial expressions, and often-hit bad notes at least occasionally picks fairly good songs. Last night Jessica sang a song, which had a chorus that made me cringe: "We're on the side of angels, after all" :razz: The sort of sentiment those words conjure is downright nauseating. :no:

This week was actually about an even split between good and bad performances. We started off with Bo Bice, who once again had an amazing performance. He sang "Remedy" by the Black Crows.

Constantine had probably the best performance of the night. He sang "I can't make you love me," by Bonnie Raitt. I would not have believed that Constantine could have pulled off that song if I had not heard it for myself. It was awesome. It was a smooth subdued melody, and his voice flowed perfectly with it.

When I heard that Anwar would be singing R. Kelley, my thought was "please, please don't sing 'I believe I can Fly.'" Of course I had no such luck. Paula said it was the most original version of the song she had ever heard. An "original rendition" of a song that consists of repeating "I believe I can fly" over and over, and never explains why the author has that particular belief :wall: . It was another one of Anwar's boring, "look I can belt out power notes, but can't pull off the rest of the song" performances, except this time he wasn't in tune for most of the song.

Anthony sang Elton John's "There's something about the way you look tonight." I really don't get how anyone can mess up that song, but Anthony managed to once again make it unentertainging, uninteresting, and not really good to listen to either.

Nadia sang "The Only One," and while she was better than last week, I really expected a performance of that song to be a little more interesting than Nadia made it. Her performance style is starting to get a little old. She used to remind me of Tamyra, but now she's starting to seem like a one-trick-pony. Read more »

American Idol Final 11

After a two day wait, the results for this week's American Idol are in, and everyone's favorite contestant got voted off - Mikahlah Gordon. Obviously she wasn't everyone's favorite, and she annoyed more people this week than she impressed. But that being said, Mikahlah did add some much needed personality and color to the competition.

This week the theme was billboard # 1's, which if you ask me is not a "theme" at all. In any case Mikahlah sang "Love will lead you back." Out of the 900 plus songs she had the choice from, I am surprised she could not find something better than that to sing.

As for the other contestants, Tuesday's show was overall a great show. Anthony Federov started the show with a characteristically poor performance once again including a very cheesy song selection, multiple out of tune notes, and a very awkward physical performance.

Nadia also had a poor performance this week, uncharacteristically. She choose one of my favorite songs "Time after Time" by Cindy Lauper. Musically she sounded shaky and winded through most of the performance, and we did not get to see or feel many of the emotions that could have easily been evoked by the song. I think she may have freaked out a little after singing "Always in spircles" instead of "caught up in circles," near the beginning of the song. That would explain the shakiness. Though I certainly think Nadia could have chosen a better song, I also think that song, performed well, would have been very powerful. It wasn't, but on an interesting side note Nadia was sporting a mohawk that looked really cool.

Carrie Underwood sang "Alone" an 80's rock ballad. It was her first real non-country performance and she did really well. She's still mic-eating and needs to work on her physical performance - particularly the emoting part. Nevertheless it was a great song for her voice, and she sounded awesome.

Constantine Maroulis also had another non-annoying, actually good performance this week. He sang "I think I love you," by The Partridge Family. Though he's still not one of my favorites I have to say that picking that song was brilliant. The charming, charismatic rocker singing "I think I love you" has double platinum written all over it (funny how Simon missed that :beatnik: ). Read more »

American Idol Final 12

Last night started with Jessica Sierra. Somehow I just really do not like her performances much. They are uninteresting, and she does not seem to emote well. Last night was 60's night and Jessica sang "You better Shop Around."

Anwar Robinson was next with "A House is not a Home." I suspect he was trying to pull off the kind of performance Tamyra did with the same song in season 1. He failed. It was dull, and hard to listen to. It was also hard to watch a sad song being sung by a smiling performer. In spite of his obvious refinement in comparison with some of the other contestants, and his performance abilities, we have yet to see anything from Anwar that is particularly unique. He seems like a good singer singing good songs, but in the end I would take a less polished singer with a more distinct personal style and flare over the "polished singer" any day (Fantasia for example).

Mikahlah was up next and sang "Son of a Preacher Man." I am beginning to wonder if Mikahlah is perhaps all style and little substance. However, her performances have so much personality she is hard not to like (for me at least). Tonight her musicality was rather grim. She sounded like she wasn't using the mic right or perhaps wasn't projecting well. Nevertheless she was cute and energetic, and that counts for something (perhaps it shouldn't... but it does).

Constantine finally, finally, gave a performance I actually liked. He was really great last night singing "You make me so very happy." His quirky moves actually fit well with the song, and his voice just melted into the music. It was very impressive. It wasn't annoying, contrived, and off key as it has been in the past. It looked like he had put some serious work into his performance in the past week. I really enjoyed it :eek: . Read more »

Ditching \"Liberal\"

"Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others." [Ambrose Bierce, "Devil's Dictionary," 1911]

A week or two after the election this past fall I was perusing my church's chat list (yup I'm an atheist that goes to church...) when I came across the following statement by a fellow church-goer and acquaintance of mine: "I hate having to qualify the word "Christian" with the word "liberal." My thought in response to this was: "I hate having to qualify the word "Liberal" with the word "Classical."

It seems the term liberal is used in the political sphere to mean everything from communist to libertarian, and quite a bit in-between. Just as the word "Democrat" once actually referred to an advocate of democracy but now refers to a coalition of people and ideas that has little or nothing to do with their namesake, so the term "liberal" has become a catch all label for anyone and everyone who is uncomfortable with the political label "conservative."

This has gotten me to thinking, perhaps its time to ditch the word "liberal" all together. It always was a rather broad, unspecific term, and thus carries little meaning politically beyond the connotations we infuse it with. The left has certainly won the connotations game. Most Americans have a specific idea of what is and is not a liberal and right now that idea is not an advocate of free minds and free markets, nor does it equate to "classical liberalism" in any sense of the term.

Time and time again I have found myself saying (or thinking as the case may be): "How can you say that and still call yourself a liberal?" "How can you support the drug war and consider yourself liberal?" "How can you be so damn intolerant and proclaim yourself liberal?" How is it that you can call yourself liberal and fight against change harder than any self-described conservative I've ever met?"

I imagine the answer of most Catallarchy readers, and perhaps some of my fellow catallarchists to be something along the lines of: "You do know what a Liberal is don't you?!?"

I used to have fairly broad definitions of both the terms. For me a "liberal" was someone who recognized that the universe was a changing place and embraced change (though not necessarily all changes) as an inherent part of reality. This was in distinction from a "conservative" which was someone who fought against change and thus against reality itself. The dichotomy was between stasis (which led to the encroachment of entropy, decay, and death) and growth. (There is an obvious bias in the fact that I defined the word "conservative" to mean stasis for the sake of stasis but did not define "liberal" to mean change for the sake of change which can be just as detrimental, but thats another story.) Read more »

American Idol Top 12

I finally started school this week and as a result I did not catch up on my tivo-ed American Idol episodes until today. Luckily I found little I was that interested in commenting on. As for the top 12 I was a little disappointed to see Nikko and Travis Tucker leave. They were both very talented and lost out to several inferior competitors. A similar phenomenon happened with the women. Amanda Avila would certainly have been a stronger top 12 contender than Lindsey Cardinale. Nevertheless the top 12 is far from disappointing. Read more »