Chaired professor

I never knew I had a “sciatic nerve,” but now I do. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and it runs from the back of your spine all down the length of your legs. I now know since my right leg suddenly started hurting as if it was on fire and […]

Chinese exam hell

This graph shows just how mad the Chinese educational system is. Beata, my second oldest daughter, is collecting data regarding how often the teachers in her classes mention the word “zhongkao,” meaning “high-school entrance exam” in one day. The zhongkao is the big test, coming up in two months from now, which determines which high-school […]

Stupid censors stop my mid-term

My undergrads were supposed to have their mid-term today, online, like I usually do it. The page with the exam opened up at 10 AM but five minutes later it all crashed. My first thought was that the database on the server had been overloaded by too many users — RAM on the server is […]

China’s soft power

In one of my classes we’re reading an op-ed piece by Joseph Nye on “China’s soft power.” Or rather, on Nye’s account, China’s lack thereof. Nye is arguing that no one will look up to and respect China as long as the country has no democracy and is doing poorly on human rights. A state […]

Yali at Yale

A student on SJTU campus is wearing a Yale sweatshirt, and I’m surprised to see a reference to my alma mater. Then I look again and I realize it doesn’t say “Yale” at all but rather “Yali,” although the font is the famous Yale one. “Another pathetic Chinese attempt to rip off a Western brand,” […]

Deng Xiaoping is still killing people

Twenty-four years ago, during the “June 4th Incident” at Tiananmen Square, the Beijing leaders, led by Deng Xiaoping, ordered the killing of students who demonstrated on behalf of democracy and human rights. The number of people killed during those days is disputed but it was at least 200 people, possibly well over a thousand. Ever since […]

We are leaving China

Big decision in the Ringmar family: we are leaving China! When we came here two years ago, we really thought we would stay for the long haul. That I would work here, if not until the end of my career at least for some good 10 years. But this is not going to happen, and […]

Diane’s book

Diane just finished the index of her book — and this is the cover. Congratulations to her! It only took 18 years — incidentally the same length of time that Gabriel Garcia-Marguez used to write A Hundred Years of Solitude.

“China is pretty democratic,” say researchers

China, it turns out, is pretty democratic after all. This, at least, is the conclusion reached by researchers at SJTU, the university where I work. OK, I haven’t seen the final results, but I know how the methodology works.  Foreign students on campus are given a questionaire on which they are asked to rank various […]

“To pollute is glorious”

BEIJING (China Daily Show) — Leaded water, an absence of wildlife and thick, syrupy air are all healthy signs of a flourishing economy, China’s Minister of Environmental Protection told an open-air audience at the Renmin University Center for Conservation and Sustainability on Monday. “Heavy fog is a sign of strength,” Wang announced from inside a […]