Monthly Archive: October 2005

Halloween Costume

Distinct reactions from two professors today towards some dude in my section wearing a halloween costume to class.

Criminal Law prof: Even though the dude sat in the middle of the classroom with a plastic “deadly weapon” prominently erected right next to him, she didn’t even take notice until the class was almost over, when she suddenly made the discovery and made fun of herself for not noticing it earlier. The whole class fell into laughters.

Torts prof: He noticed the dude as soon as he walked into the classroom, and on hearing the Crim prof’s reaction, said she was always too deeply involved in her lecture and mimicked her usual eager gesture of making an argument. Everyone laughed, again.

I snapped a picture of the scary costume guy with my cellphone, but am too lazy to upload it. Anyhow, it was a much needed diversion in a day of endless reading…



另外要仔细研究一下下个学期选课事宜,万圣节过后就要定下来。除必修课以外只有一门课可以自由选择,看来看去想选的课(比如Japanese Law – Michigan的一绝)时间不对,不想选的课(比如Tax)一大堆,不知如何是好,直到看到一门International Financial Systems的课,居然是研究IMF和世行的,心下大喜,这样一来我算是近水楼台,靠我的另一半来弄点内部观点,没准混个A也有可能。嘿嘿。

When do they sleep?

I took a walk around the Law Quad close to midnight, and most rooms in the dorm sections had lights on. I am going to sleep now, otherwise I can’t get eight hours of sleep. Once someone in my class asked how many hours I slept a day, and I replied that I slept on average eight hours a day, give or take half an hour. He said he slept only six on average, and that made me worry for a few minutes, before I concluded that I’d rather be a slacker than to lose precious sleep.

Another eligible bachelor?

I was calling Ping on my cellphone when Andrew from my section saw me.

“I heard a rumor about you, littlenorth.” He said.

“Hold on a second, ” I said to Ping, and turned to him, “What rumor?”

“Someone told me you were married and had a kid.”

“Well that’s not rumor. It’s the truth.” I replied.

“Really? How old are you?”

I figure I must have “immature” written all over me, despite the fact that I’ve been married for five years.

“Ah. Another eligible bachelor off the list…” Andrew joked as he walked away.

I had a good giggle and resumed my conversation with my wife, with my daughter babbling in the background.

Morning Call

I was dreaming about having lunch,
in the Lawyer’s Club Dining Hall
when I had the sudden hunch
that I might miss an important call

So I woke up to the familiar ringtone
I rolled over to reach the cell phone
And it was none other than Ping.

Memo Writing

I spent the whole day in the law library doing research for my first open memo assignment on a toy case concerning Minnesota’s Whistleblower Act. Not exactly my favorite topic to read up on, but I guess getting assignments in random areas of the law is part of the game, so I will just have to deal with it and hope for a more interesting case next time.

Friday’s Zhejiang, Sichuan and Hunan

On Friday afternoon I went to a talk at the University of Michigan International Institute. The title of the talk, given by Professor Fewsmith from Boston University, was “What kind of party is this — the Chinese Communist Party and its reforms.” I actually thought about this a whole lot, and related to this issue in my law school personal statement, so I was curious what would be the point of view of an American scholar.

A few points I recall from the talk:

  • He did much of his field work in Zhejiang province: Wenzhou, Taizhou, Hangzhou, etc.
  • At the local elvel, democratic experiments are emerging, taking various shapes and forms, although none were legitimized or had enforceable outcomes.
  • At the elite level, there is much research and scholarly work taking place among the Chinese think tanks as to whether, when and how to reform the party and democratize China. There is much debate on the “whether” issue.
  • China is a “hard sale” in Washington.

A few Michigan professors in the audience raised several interesting questions. One talked about his own research work in the Chinese legal system and its implications on the political reform agenda. Another pointed out that, according to his research, most Chinese people would prefer an “effective” government rather than a “representative” one, that is, as long as the government is effective, most Chinese couldn’t care less about democracy. Very good point. Exactly what I was thinking. One could argue that without democracy a government will inevitably become corrupt and therefore is inherently ineffective, but democracy as a relatively new concept (to China at least) certainly did not contribute to China’s past prosperity.

Later today, I went to a Chinese restaurant with a group of friends and, as I was sitting down, I noticed Professor Fewsmith from this afternoon’s talk sitting by a round table in a corner, introducing Chinese dishes to his friends. What a coincidence. I went up to him, introduced myself and said how much I enjoyed his lecture. “I am glad you came,” he said, “Duo Xie!”

When my friends and I started looking at the menu, Sarah said she wanted “La Zi Ji,” with the most perfect mandarin accent. I didn’t know her well, except that she lived in China for a while and that she spoke some Chinese, but I didn’t expect her Chinese to be this good. She then went on to explain to others that “La Zi Ji” is a typical “Sichuan” dish.

I disagreed. I said “La Zi Ji” could be a Hunan dish as well. I don’t know where I got the impression that “La Zi Ji” was a Hunan dish, but anyhow I just had this concept stuck in my head. Besides, I was one of the only two Chinese at the table, so I was half the authority.

But Sarah wasn’t about to give up. “Are you sure?” she said, “I lived in China for two years and traveled around quite a bit. I am pretty sure La Zi Ji is from Sichuan and not Hunan.” As it turned out, she spent much of the two years in Hunan province, more specifically, teaching English at the Yale Middle School in Changsha. That led me to the suspicion that she went to Yale for undergrad, which turned out to be true. No wonder her Chinese is this good — I guess either Yale students are generally more linguisticly capable, or they must have some really good Chinese instructors…

So finally I conceded that I was wrong, and we all enjoyed our La Zi Ji.

Where am I from?

Upon a closer look, I noticed in the facebook ta few guys who are apparently from China (listed Chinese colleges as their undergrad institutions) but listed a U.S. city and state as where they are from.

I frowned. That’s just not right.

I went to school, lived and worked in Maryland for many years (perhaps too many) and loved the state, but whenever I am asked I still tell everyone I am from Nanjing, China, because that’s where I grew up and spent my childhood and adolescent years. There are certain things that simply don’t change with time once I am an adult, and the place where I am from is one of the things that forever won’t change.

In all fairness, these folks might have thought that the facebook registration form required a U.S. state as the answer to the question “Where are you from,” and responded with the place where they spent a couple years in an American graduate school. If so they are excused from my daily exercise of cynicism, but I have to release my anger somewhere, and my anger is not without reason: I’ve known a number of students from China who, for whatever reason, vehemently deny and desparately try to cover up the fact that they are not from the U.S., in spite of the fact that everything else they do clearly indicated otherwise. Some even totally abandoned their Chinese firstnames (some even went as far as their lastnames) in favor of a randomly picked English name they want to be known as, and that for an adult is just despicable.

This reminds me of one guy’s bio that I came across some time ago. He went to a certain teacher’s college in Hunan, China and listed on his bio “summa cum laude.” I laughed. He might very well have been the top of his class (still a highly questionable claim, as most Chinese colleges back in his time never ranked students), but since when did Chinese colleges give out Latin honors? This is as riduculous as calling an LL.B. degree from China a J.D. and a “Medical Degree” from China an M.D. I wanted to tell this guy, “present yourself as what you really are, not as what you want other people to think you are,” but decided against this idea — why do I care?

Exactly. I don’t care. I am from Nanjing, China. Period.