Here are some more key quotes about Chinese society:
"For much of his career, [Wei Liangyue] has specialized in human-rights law. He has suffered as a result. At the time of the trial, Wei had only recently returned from a reëducation camp… In 2009, he and his wife were detained for a month by police from Harbin’s public-security bureau…"
And if Michael Brown was not angelic, I was practically demonic. I had my first drink when I was 11. I once brawled in the cafeteria after getting hit in the head with a steel trash can. In my junior year I failed five out of seven classes. By the time I graduated from high school, I had been arrested for assaulting a teacher and been kicked out of school (twice.) And yet no one who knew me thought I had the least bit of thug in me. That is because I also read a lot of books, loved my Commodore 64, and ghostwrote love notes for my friends. In other words, I was a human being. A large number of American teenagers live exactly like Michael Brown. Very few of them are shot in the head and left to bake on the pavement.
The “angelic” standard was not one created by the reporter. It was created by a society that cannot face itself, and thus must employ a dubious “morality” to hide its sins. It is reinforced by people who have embraced the notion of “twice as good” while avoiding the circumstances which gave that notion birth. Consider how easily living in a community “with rough patches” becomes part of a list of ostensible sins. Consider how easily “black-on-black crime” becomes not a marker of a shameful legacy of segregation but a moral failing.
“When it’s time for the battle, the condor is given alcohol to drink and lashed to the back of a half-ton bull in an arena. The beast then tries to shake off the condor, while the huge bird attempts to gouge out the bull’s eyes.”—
This was actually the high point of the article, which is otherwise about the sobering issues of animal cruelty / conservation and colonialism. There are estimated to be only 600 to 1,000 condors left in Peru. However, possibly 50 condors are captured for the Yawar Festival (or “Peruvian Blood Festival”), taking them away from being able to raise their young and potentially cause them injury or death. Farmers shoot or poison condors, mistakenly thinking the condors hunt and kill their livestock. In fact, condors are opportunistic scavengers that feed on dead animals—dead animals that could otherwise harbor lethal bacteria like anthrax and botulism.
The fight between the condor and the bull is symbolically important for many Peruvians because it represents Peru’s liberation from Spanish rule. Hundreds of years ago, the Spanish conquistadors massacred and oppressed the Inca people. Their culture and society shattered, life is still difficult in the Andes, where poverty, alcoholism, and domestic abuse are common. Spectators and supporters of the Yawar Festival see the condor’s victory over the bull as foreshadowing a good year, while the condor’s defeat is an omen for a poor year. The festival is also a way to attract tourists to otherwise rural Peruvian towns and drawn family members who have left the town in search of work in the cities.
“When stopped by police, blacks in Ferguson were twice as likely as whites to be arrested—even though police found contraband for 34% of whites they stopped and searched, versus 22% of blacks—said Scott Decker, a criminologist on a team contracted by the attorney general’s office to compile the data.”—
To put it another way: The actually-having-illegal-drugs-and-weapons rate for blacks was 50% less than for whites in situations where the police stopped and searched people in Ferguson, MO. But the arrest rate for blacks was 100% more than for whites. Now, you don’t need a B.S. in Statistics to know that there’s some racial profiling B.S. going on.
I’m not black. I’m not white. I've never had a run-in with the police. I've never had to call the police. I've never been down to Missouri. I've never been in a protest. But as an American, what's happening in Ferguson, MO—and what continues to happen across America, some half-century after the Civil Rights movement—is concerns me. As a person, I read about this, and I just feel angry, and afraid for my own safety, and disappointed.
Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.
Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length.
And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.
"blood is thicker than water" doesn’t mean that the bond between blood relatives is stronger than friends. The blood refers to freely chosen "blood brothers" and the water refers to the water in your mother’s womb. So that phrase is actually saying the bond between the people you choose is stronger than the bond between the family you were born into which you had no control over.
A question that’s been posed to teenagers by their science or philosophy teachers since probably before the Cold War—probably before the French Revolution: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Now, if I do something other than eating Domino’s and watching Netflix, and I don’t post it on Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, and/or Twitter, does it really happen?
Today, my phone died during my hike and RunKeeper didn’t track the final two miles. I didn’t take any photos of the multiple deer sightings or interesting plants (like cacti flowers) along the trail for Instagram. (Although, I am writing about climbing a tree leaning over the Hudson River—picking the ripe mulberries and pelting the geese circling below with the unripe ones—on Tumblr right now. Being the gluttonous mallards that they are, of course they didn’t give a damn about indignity and greedily gobbled up the berries floating on the water.)
At some point, however, I actually contemplated that, perhaps maybe, the reality of my Saturday afternoon might have been diminished in some way by the lack of accompanying social media evidence. It was a fleeting feeling, but the fact that this thought had even occurred to me lingers on my mind.
Is this peer pressure about not sharing my life to the same extent that some other people curate theirs on social media? Is this a creeping paranoia that, without a digital carbon copy, my memories would fade away and these moments would be lost? And what does it mean that I’m questioning about social media, on social media?
I thought I’d dislike the ads that Yahoo started placing on my Tumblr dashboard. (Yahoo acquired Tumblr about a month ago, and has started monetizing the website.) But I’m actually enjoying this new ability to not only like posts by people I follow, but also express my dislike and disdain for posts by people I don’t follow. It’s quite satisfying, really.