dal niente

Month: June, 2006

Mighty Foot Engaged

I was bored at work today, so I tried out kicking off walls to see if I could reach places that I can’t normally reach, sorta like what Jackie Chan does.  At first, it wasn’t very useful.  I could jump as high by wall jumping that I could just by plain crouching before jumping, so it wasn’t very useful.


However, I figured out that the technique isn’t to try and jump off the wall, per se– I mean, that’d be fine and good if I wanted to bounce horizontally.  No, the trick, it seems, is to do it as if you were running up the wall.


With this technique I managed to get myself over a gyprock wall in the records department and thrown into a room full of stationary.  Not very useful.  I used this technique all over the sub basement level, because around there most of the walls are false and don’t go all the way up to the ceiling since there’s a lot of network and electrical cabling running about.


I found my way into the mens changing room, the womens locker room, and a hidden “living area” for doctors, that actually looks like a mini appartment suite– complete with a little kitchenete, throw carpet, couches and a lazy boy chair.


I swear, it’s like learning to double jump in a video game and then going back to previous levels to see if there’s any hidden areas.


Now I have a bit of a sore knee though. Maybe I should try and punch in every combo into the combo-locked doors and see if I can’t get in more ‘legitimately’.  I’ve also just noticed that most of the offices in the k building have suspended ceilings– i’ll have to see if i can get around through those maybe too.

Random Snippets from the paper I’m working on about Organized Crime in Canada

In Vancouver, you can have heroin delivered to your front door
faster than pizza. Asian drug dealers have set up “dial-a-dope”
telephone lines for a quick fix. As long as you have the cash, your
drugs are delivered in less than 30 minutes. Police estimate that well
over a billion dollars worth of heroin and cocaine are smuggled into
the city each year. 


In the mid-90s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that the illegal trade of CFC-12 could be as big as drug smuggling. That said, as is the case with the Solicitor General’s estimates about waste removal, this statement should be treated with the understanding that it is merely an estimate.

A black market for CFCs has existed since the late 1980s, when 149 countries signed the Montreal Protocol, banning the ozone depleting substance. But certain developing countries, like China, Russia, India, and Mexico, are allowed to produce the chemical for domestic needs until 2010.

For decades preceding the ban, CFC-12 was among the most widely used industrial chemicals. Sold under the brand name Freon, it is still used in refrigeration equipment and air conditioning systems around the world. The chemical is also the main coolant for car air conditioners. In the United States, an estimated 80 million cars built before 1994 still use it.

This means that companies and individuals who don’t want to replace their outdated cooling equipment want access to CFCs. While much of the illegal substances are imported to the United States from the developing world, Canada is also a supplier, according to the Solicitor General. This is because Canada still has large stockpiles of CFCs, plus it is much cheaper to buy here than south of the border because the American government has imposed a hefty surtax on CFCs.

As a result, the profits in CFC trafficking can be immense. CFCs may sell for about $4 a kilogram in India or Mexico but a kilogram of CFC-12 could fetch $25 to $40 on the U.S. black market. In Canada, smugglers buy CFCs legally for a little over $6 a kilogram and then sell it south of the border for more $50 a kilogram.

The British based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) exposes environmental crime around the world. The EIA says that the illegal trade of ODS–ozone depleting substances–from the developing world peaked at roughly 20,000 tons in the mid-1990s.

Play hard

Can I rely on you?  To go for it? To make sure my sacrifices aren’t in vain?  To make this all worth it? That you’re going to do your best, keep your cool?  That you’re going after the same thing that I’m going after?

Are you a team player? Are you on my side?

… or are you my opponent?

Either way… can I expect all this of you?

If yes, then lets roll.


Self improovement, facilitated by passions, is an end that is beyond allies and ennemies.

People ask me why is every freaking website I make on a dark background.

Simple answer.

I’m a lit student.  Do you know how freaking redundant it gets to read black on white?

Not only that but if you check the timestamps, I do most of my writing at night.  A white background just floods my tired retinas with pain and fire.  So I opt for darker, less harsh color shemes, like what they do on the Neberkandezer in the Matrix.

(Yes, I spelled it wrong. I don’t care.)

Give me passion give me feelin’ give me somethin’ to beleive in

There is a subculture of people who enjoy the game.  I don’t need to name which game.  The game encompases pretty much anything that’s not for real, and yet, as a product of the human imagination, is still a representation of what can be important to us.  The other day, I was playing a game of Halo with 15 other players.  Yes, that’s right.  It was a full house, which is something that seldom happens– mostly due to server-player distances, the sheer computer power and bandwidth constraints usually make it impossible to do– or at least, supper choppy in a very un-fun sort of way.  But no.  That day was something different.  There was no lag, and everyone on that server was making the best of it.

It was a simple game of capture the flag in the Blood Gulch– physics engine loads up, the narrator announces snidely “Team Capture the Flag” and then I check the radar– I’m running right forward, and the blips tell you that though you can’t see them thanks to the tunnel vision of your monitor, every one of my teammates is there running too, so that my radar looks static.  It is a nice feeling.

I jump in a jeep and before even having to check the rearview mirror, one guy’s jumping in to ride shotgun, and someone’s behind manning the Big Gun behind me.  He gives off a warning shot, signalling that we’re ready to go.  Beside us, another Warthog has been similarly decked out with 3 cyborgs with rifles and grenades, and behind leading the pack on either flank is a pair of ghosts.  They’re not even trying to take safe routes or move under cover of hills or trees– they’re moving as fast as they can to get first strike initiative.

There is nothing quite as comfortable as hearing the engines of your alies in stereo headphones on either side of you.  My passengers take a moment to introduce themselves:

Church to All: red rolls over blue foos

New001: C1, f/b/h p/u. k?

(Circle the bunker once — i’m jumping — will indicate front or back or help. Ok?)

I tap the spacebar 3 times while making a jump with the jeep, signaling morse code for “O” (meaning, OK).  Because, you know, while you’re driving it’s not safe to be text messaging.

About 2/3s of the distance to the ennemy base, the first shot is fired as an ennemy, similarly positioned and incoming fast, trumpets their charge.  By the time we get to the halfway point of the map, all hands are on guns or grenades.

When we arrive at the ennemy base, deffenses are tight.  As much as you can take out ennemy soldiers by running them over, shooting them or blowing them up, they respawn in their base 5 seconds after you kill them.  So, for every skilled frag you make, it really only buys you 5 seconds of relief. New001 dives out of the passenger seat.

Narrator announces: Blue team has the flag.

Shortly after,

Narrator annouces: Red team: Flag returned

New001:hhh

That’s shorthand for “help”.  Church dives off the back of my ride. You see, we really can’t do it like in those old 30s gangster movies– if you park your ride outside and wait with the engine running in halo, all that’s gonna get you is a peperoni coating of sticky grenades stuck all over you and your vehicle.  So, there is no such thing as ‘parking’ in Halo– the entire battlefield, no matter what level you are on, is a strictly enforced No Parking Zone.

Since i’m at the wheel, I don’t have any hands on guns, so I’m doing my best to run the red team over.  In one instance, I ram an ennemy jeep (with passengers in it) and it flies about 20 feet into the air, spinning and spraying hot lead in all directions like a roman candle.

Church: f

Church: f

Church: f

I drive round to the front, where church is running like a madman with a flag (not exactly discreet) and with New001 close behind, trying his best to fend off pursuit.

Before Church gets in, he’s runned over.

New picks up the flag, jumps in and mans the gun.  We start running like hell, as ennemy ghosts and warthogs converge on us while our other teammates do their thing– they start running deffense, while one of them hides in the ennemy base, already ready to steal the flag again if we drop it, or when we score.

We make it about halfway across the map when our vehicle is blown up by a tank shell.

The flag’s out in the open. I respawn just in time to see that one of the ennemy just got our flag and is running right past my visor, jumping into the teleporter.

We take it from there.  I won’t bore you with the details.


 

I’m going to coin a new term.  A few terms, actually.  When I say “vee ninety-nine”, I mean to say it’s a new idea.  Like version 0.99 that you get on beta releases.  If I say “one point oh”, that means it’s standard– it’s the production model, it’s supposed to be solid.  It is ‘conventional’.  If I say “one point oh one”, I mean that it’s a bit better than standard because it’s been reviewed and improoved somehow, but it’s not necessarily an interesting idea.

Playing games involves a lot of these grades.  When you’ve gotten a feel for the game, you start making up your own subroutines, some algorithms by which you are seeing if you can group the frequent occurances so that you can be more efficient.  For example, if you’d asked me about a week ago, if my opponent had a rocket launcher and I only had a belt of grenades, I had a procedure which was still v99– it was a prototype, not quite fleshed out but with promising results.  But if you ask me today, we’re in the 2.0 stages now.  Not only can I do it, but i can do it solid.


 

A lot of people dimiss games (not just video games, but any games, including board games, sports and other things– with the exception of game-shows, which aren’t really games but zoo displays).  Which is unfortunate.  The usual idea behind this dismissal is that a game isn’t real– it’s a pale reflection of reality.  In some cases, it’s a downright fantasy– I mean, only in D&D and such can we battle dragons with a thong of +1 resistance to dragonfire.  Or something.

But playing games is no more unreal than participating in the conventions of modern north american life.  Fashion.  Education.  Career.  Family life.

How different, really, is life from a game?

Like a game, life is probably not worth enduring if it’s not fun– and yet, in aspiration of getting better at it, we sometimes take detours from the yellow brick road in order to get better.  The training.  The v99 experiments.

There are some people out there who takes the 1.0 models only– they don’t feel the need to be at the bleeding edge, or to do their own experiments.  But for most, the v99 is a daily occurance, in some way shape or form.


I usually order cha siu (roasted pork, roughly translated) from the butcher shop in chinatown from the brother of a chef who used to work with my dad back when my dad was in the restaurant industry.  My dad’s friend, the chef, used to make all the cha siu– until all the radiation from the oven of his kitchen arranged a title match with cancer.  It’s not that restaurants are slow-wick chernobyls or anything– but, spending about 9 hours a day next to an oven at 600 degrees is not necessarily good for your eyes, or anything else about you.

And yet, he’s been doing it for over forty years, every year, every month and day straight, starting at 5am, including holidays.  They do not wake up at 5am (like I do, very reluctantly, to get to work for 6:30 am).  They are at work at 5am, because they have to have those pigs, ducks and chickens ready for the openings of the various restaurants in chinatown which they supply.

 

My dad once asked him “Now that you’ve been diagnosed… you still gonna do it?”

And his friend told him he was trying to see if he could pass the business on.  He loved his work– it was, to him, a game– and he had won at it.  Many people will tell you that his goods are the best in chinatown.  He’d come out on top with few disbeleivers, and there was nothing to regret.  And what is a life threatening disease? What does death, really, do to us, except rob us of opportunities?  And having spent his life perfecting his art, then what could he possibly feel he had missed?

Anyone can be nitpicky.  Anyone can say he could have seen the world, done things differently– and yet, this is jealousy talking in most cases.  We live ordinary lives day by day and we tend to get better at some things than others– but what does it take to be the best?  What would you sacrifice for that?

Take any art, push it to the wildest edge of edges, and then you enter the realm of magic.

And that’s not to say that he’s dead.  He’s not. In fact, his treatments have been going rather well– he’s just now stockpiled enough of a fortune and enough confidence over years of hard work and discipline that he’s gonna try out new things.  It is, apparently, boring at the top.


Whenever I go to the YMCA and play a few games of badminton, it’s like going back to that clubspace which is always still alive.  I’ve wasted a fair share of my teenage and young adult years in clubspaces back in college.  But every year I go back for a visit, something’s changed.  Faces. Attitudes.  Furniture.

“Fucking pansies,” swears Giulio on the subject of the current generation Martial Arts Club at Dawson.  He became the president after Chili and I left, but like all of us, he graduated and left it in ‘capable’ hands. Or something.  “They’re there to socialize.  They don’t know a thing about training.”

Oh dear, it seems that I’m talking like an old man, making the past sound better than it probably was.

In any case.  YMCA.

The thing about the YMCA in Chinatown is that there is always a special something about that place.  You know, the YMCA was supposed to be this driving community force– something to bring people together.  When I first joined, do you think I beleived that? Hell no.  I thought it was just a bunch of christian minded propaganda.

But really, it turned out to be just what they said it was.  It’s a community.

There were, and always will be, the assholes who treat you like dirt– as if they were born with skills and smart talk.  But they weren’t.  People start off as equals… and largely, as life progresses, most people hover around that average.

But even if you don’t.  Say you’re a noob, as I once was.  Does being good at something make it alright for the seniors to pick on the juniors?

There were, and always will be, the assholes who treat you like dirt– but they’re not the people that make up the community.  They’re the antithesis, the background against which a community is defined.

When I went to the YMCA, I remember going with Vittek a few times a month to play with ‘the night crowd’.  To me, these people were unbeleivable.  They moved, they hit, they did everything so much better than I did.  In actuality, I went to play with the night crowd, but ‘play’ is such a misnomer– I went to get butchered.  I lost every game.  And no matter who my partner was, no matter how good, I made them lose too.

But there were people at the YMCA who were always nice to me, despite my inadequacies.  And these people are still there today.  The clothing has changed.  The haircuts too.  But the attitudes– that welcoming call when they see you, that makes you feel as if you’d only been gone for a day, even though it’s been weeks or months– every time, it makes you feel fresh.

People tell me sometimes that games are delusional.  There’s a balance, I agree.  But don’t tell me that we shouldn’t obsess over the activities we love.  You show me someone who doesn’t play games, and I’ll show you someone who is sad and bored.  I’ll show you someone who does play games– and these are the passionate people of the world who inspire and form the communities upon which our humanity depends.

Lost track of time, and it’s already 10:45… that’s right, time to go to bed, need to wake up pretty damn early tomorrow to go to work.   This post is just a reminder for myself about what to post about tomorrow.

Halo 16/16
YMCA
5am Cha Siu

Burn

I got a flat tire on my Cruiser yesterday, front wheel– which is kinda dumb and unprecedented, considering that I just changed inner tube when I reconditioned it.  It’s only been what, 3 months?  I’ve haven’t even logged a hundred km on it yet.

On a side note, I was just remarking to my dad, “Man, they don’t make this stuff like they used to.  The tire on my Peugot, it’s balding.  I’m starting to see the brown rubber under the black road rubber.”

“Huh, that’s odd. Aren’t those tyres new?”

“Yeah.”

Turns out, it wasn’t really that they wear down that fast normally (or that I’m actually going that fast).  Ever since I switched to a soft lock (I’m not using a U-Lock anymore, but one of those fat, galvanized steel cables) I just sorta assumed they were rigid enough to rest in the bike’s cargo rack, like what I used to do with my old lock.  But turns out, well, it’s soft, like i mentioned… the lock itself kinda wobbled half out of the bike rack, and it’s been rubbing on the wheel.  The friction from the lock on the wheel at a constant 25-30kmph, well, it just almost completely shaved off the rubber road coating on my wheels.  But the tyre rubber didnt go down without a fight– it rubbed off most of the rubber coating on the lock too, so that you could almost touch the metal cable inside.

Yes, I agree, that was dumb. But then again, I’ve learned my lesson now!

I’m still waiting for my folding bike to arrive. What’s taking that damn thing so long?

You’re not very good at this are you

He was vaguely aware that the patio window had shattered,
and that he didn’t see any blood.  He
wasn’t dead since he’d chickened out at the last minute.  His left eardrum was on fire (he was a
lefty) and now, he was busy trying to balance himself by clutching his
nightstand.  The world wouldn’t stop
stay in one place though, and he fell out of bed anyway, hitting his head.  It hurt. 
Yes, this was confirmation: pain definitely meant the bullet had missed
its mark.

 

/*-/*-

 

When he awoke, he found himself flat on his back, and he
couldn’t move his neck.

 

“…stop fidgeting… nothing serious but you did hit
your head good.  You understand?”

 

He nodded without understanding anything, and it hurt his
neck. He grimaced.

 

“Close enough,” muttered the paramedic with the
heavy Jersey accent.  “Listen, Mr.
Rotiano, you gotta lump on his head the size of a golf ball, but you went out
from the pain rather than from a concussion. 
Any continued dizziness, nausea, you take a taxi to St-Mary’s.  It’s full with people from the accident in
the Linchon, so you wait until morning unless you want to lose an arm in the
next few hours to up your priority.”

 

A police officer came into view.

 

“Good morning, Mr. Rotiano.  I’m officer Crest. It’s 1am. At approximately midnight-thirty,
someone was trying to break into the adjacent appartment 214.  The suspect likely jumped to your patio in
his escape, which is when you fired a shot. 
You didn’t hit him, but you did stun or scare him. In either case, he
went over the rail and his leg missed the pool by about a foot.  He’s alive, and is in custody. “

 

“I shot someone?” Rotiano croaked.

 

“No sir, you didn’t shoot anyone. You shot * at *
someone, which is okay given the circumstances. We picked up a 9mm Beretta
soaked in with the half drowned suspect. 
If you hadn’t drawn first, given his rap sheet, things might be worse
than a crack on the noggin.”

 

Rotiano swallowed, and just nodded, which hurt his neck
again.  He’d never foiled a rapist with
attempted suicide before.

 

/*–/*-

 

This time, he was going to get it right.

 

He’d forgotten his wallet. 
The taxi driver looked at him warily when Rotiano had asked him to stop
in the middle of the Brooklyn bridge, and began fishing for change in
his pants.

 

“S’okay.  I can’t
charge for this kind of thing,” and with that, he drove off.

 

Rotiano stood up on the railing, putting a beam behind him
so that he couldn’t fall to safety.  He
looked at the water, folding over itself in the moonlight and freckled in the
rain.  He just had to stand here. He
didn’t have to do anything.  He’d
sneeze, he’d get scared, and he’d get a cramp or something.  Then he’d slip, and then he’d fall.  This had to be easier than the trigger. He
didn’t have to do anything except get tired of standing—which was easy, since
he hadn’t slept in a while.

 

He stood for minutes or maybe hours, not moving a bit. Then
someone spoke to him.

 

“Hey, before you go, can I have your sweater?  It looks nice. It’s cold, you know.”

 

Rotiano didn’t move.

 

“Come on, don’t be a cheapskate.  It’s not gonna keep out the Hudson!”

 

Rotiano sighed, and began to take his sweater off.  He struggled a bit—his neck pain accentuated
every time he lifted his arms quickly. And then suddenly, he felt a sharp tug
on his belt.  Before he knew it, the air
rushed out of his lungs as he slammed into the pavement in a daze.

 

“Nothing personal, guy. 
You’re free to resume your scheduled activities after I perform my civic
duty to prevent your legal tender from being destroyed.  Which is against the law, might I add.”

 

Rotiano was vaguely aware of hands frisking through his
pockets.

 

“Are you kidding me? 
Man, I almost sprained a finger pulling you back up, and you’ve got
seven fifty?  Figures, you’re probably a
gambler or a stock broker.”

 

“Throw me back,” rasped Rotiano.

 

“Hell no! Do it yourself.”

 

“I can’t do it myself, I can’t sit up.”

 

“Man, what is your problem?”

 

“I said, you fucking twisted my neck, it hurts to move.”

 

“No, why you wanna die so badly? Someone after you?”

 

“No.”

 

“Your girlfriend?”

 

“No.”

 

“Your dog die?  You
run it over? Are you Hitler?”

 

“No, for chrissakes. 
Will you shut up?”

 

“So what you got?”

 

“Nothing!  I’ve got
nothing!!” he yelled out.

 

“That’s a problem?”

 

“Yes it’s a problem!”

 

“I got nothing.  I
don’t see a problem.  It gives me a lot
of freedom, and a lot of time for hobbies, like talking down on foos like you.”

 

“I don’t wanna live like that.”

 

A pause.

 

“No, that’s not the problem. You don’t wanna live,
period.  Something don’t make it
happen.  More of something don’t make it
happen either.  But nothing’s a good
start, means you got a lot of space.”

 

Another pause.  “Toss
yourself if you want, but I don’t want to be here when it happens.”

 

Rotiano groaned, and fell asleep.

/**/**

When he woke up, he confirmed that he was alive when he felt
the pain in his neck again.  His first
thought was to try again. But he found that someone had tied a sturdy length of
rope to his ankle.  He was bound to the
railing.  There was a note taped on the
bridge: “Try bungee jumping before you try the real thing.  Call it practice.”

 

Traffic had begun to build up on the bridge, and cars slowed
to a crawl beside the pedestrians’ lane. 
He looked over, saw an ugly, rusted pinto, and a small, bug-eyed kid smiling
toothlessly at him from inside.  The little boy waved.  He smirked cynically, and the kid started
laughing from behind the window, pointing at him.  Eventually, the car dragged itself along.

 

Rotiano sat back down and sighed.  He didn’t notice that someone had scrawled ‘loser’ on his
forehead in his sleep.  He found, oddly,
that there was a pack of cigarettes in his sweater pocket, along with a lighter.  The surgeon’s general warning was circled in
a thick black marker line.

 

He laughed out loud, hurting his neck.  He hadn’t enjoyed a cigarette in years.  As he lit up and took a long drag, the sun began to rise.  He sat there and waited for someone to free
him.

Roll with it

The other night, I was biking through angrignon park in near pitch darkness.  This is generally considered to be a very bad idea, since there’s hardly any lights that make the paths obvious.

I hit a pothole that was about 4 inches deep.  Which was kinda annoying, because if I was paying attention it’d be easy to avoid it since I knew it was there, I just wasn’t concentrating very much.  Lucky for me, I felt the down bump a split second before the up bump and got in an abandon ship posture, so I managed to more or less jump the bike before landing upside down in a tangle with it.

So, maybe it was ‘luck’ that someone stole the bungie chords from my bike’s cargo rack– because if I had tied my mom’s birthday gift to my bike, it’d be less than presentable after taking a fall.  Instead, it was attached with carabiners and straps to my back, which made it through the night safely.

The inadvertant virtues of theft nonwithstanding, I’d like to have a word with the punk who stole my bungie chords.

But you gotta wonder… maybe the guy really needed bungie chords.  Maybe he had no choice.

But they do only cost like 99cents at the dollar store.

Moral regulation

I was reading up on the Analects which is something I previously didn’t touch, because I’m not much of a fan of Confucianism at all.  I just find that it’s all very high and mighty.  I mean, it has its usefulness. It has its moments.  But it’s far from complete, even though it often pretended to be, which is one of the things that I hated about it.  I also hate it because being Chinese, first born generation in Canada, means that you have to put up with a lot of it, which is a total cultural displacement from North American values.

To tell you the truth, I only really started studying the stuff because I wanted to figure out what my parents were thinking.

On a side note, this blog has some food for thought. There is this Uncle that I have, who was estranged from the family since he was 18.  He didn’t get along with my grandfather in part because he dated a non-chinese, and even though that relationship didn’t even last back then and it wasn’t the sole reason why, that uncle eventaually ran away from home.  As a result, over the years, we’ve seen that particular uncle perhaps enough times only to count on one hand at most.

My dad is the second eldest son next to that uncle.  He’s sorta inherited the role of the ‘man of the family’, i guess you can say.  And what he has with that uncle is a bit of a love hate relationship I guess you can say.

It’s got Confucianism written all over it.

To a certain extent– I have confucianism written all over me.

You know that christian thing about “Honor thy parents”?  It doesn’t have shitall when it comes to the family doctrine of Confucianism.

What Confucianism is about is the family unit.  Your clan has to be maintained above all else– including the law.   That moral duty to your own blood is more important than the law, and Heaven agrees with this.

But this is a problem, see.

This Uncle is the eldest.  He’s never even seen my grandfather in the hospital.  Not once, out of all the times over the years.

But why should he? He hardly knew my grandfather… my grandfather was always working.  There is no relationship there, between my uncle and my grandfather.  In fact, because my Uncle was always the rebel, and he moved out to live with my grand-uncle when he was young, even my dad doesn’t have much of a relationship with him.

So why does my Dad seem sad that he doesn’t know his brother?

The North American in me– the utilitarian– would say fuck it.  You don’t try to talk to me, I don’t try to talk to you.  The simple explanation is that we have nothing to say.  What does blood mean?  Nothing.

And yet, that’s not what I’ve been taught.

Despite my Dad converting to Christianity, what it comes down to, as he gets older, is still the same old confucianism.  It’s why he still goes with us to visit my grandparents every sunday, even though they hate eachothers guts with a passion.  It’s why he still visits at the hospital, even if just for an i-told-you-so and to look miserable all the time.

It’s because of the tendrils of Confucianism.


Do you know what some of the principles of Confucianism are?

One of the emphasises is on the family unit.

The other is on benevolent leadership.  Leadership by examples. Examples by ritualization.

The idea is that you can make laws.  But people will break them, and they might not even feel guilt even if you catch them.  See, a lot of people don’t feel guilt at all– they just feel bad because it sucks that now that they’ve done the crime, they’ll have to do the time.  It has NOTHING to do with guilt.

So Confucius came up with this idea– if you want to make people do the right thing, you can’t just make them do it because they fear the punsihment of not doing it.  You have to make them punish themselves– you have to ingrain it in their heads.  You have to ritualize things– make it so that the rituals are practiced all the time, day in day out, so that at the end of the day if they break that law, you don’t need to catch them– they’ll feel guilty about it and not want to do it.  Confucianism’s stance towards government has to do with self-moderation, with shame as the controlling tool.

What it provides is a higher form of law enforcement– self regulation, with built in emotional responses whenever you take your actions.  Your own mind is trained to feel guilty when you do something bad.

The question is… who gets to decide what’s good and bad?

Confucius decided that the family unit, that blood ties, were very, very good.

Fast forward two thousand years.

My dad wants to know his brother.  Despite all the things that he did to get as far away from the family as possible.

Me? I feel indifference.  And I rather feel that I want to know my uncle if only so that it’ll make my dad happy.

Is that confucianism?  Maybe.

But i have no illusions about revering parents just on the basis of blood ties.  I do it beacuse I owe my parents– objectively.  That isn’t confucianism talking– that my North American upbringing, that tells me that to be independant you settle your debts.  My parents are good people.

But sometimes– you wonder if people should be going so far out of their way to revere blood ties that are otherwise meaningless.

There are people out there who don’t acknowledge enough what they owe their families.  And there are those who think they owe too much.


Confucius… you yourself had a good idea in mind.  But like with so many other world religions, your disciples mucked it all up. It went too far.  They built too much something on areas where there was nothing… and we all know what happens when you build too much on nothing.

And now what?  Your name shows up in 1 out of 10 fortune cookies.  People are reading your analects, trying to apply 2000 year outdated social analyses to the contemporary world, one where we don’t even have a clue what it means to go to war or to be a servant of the people.  Cultural displacement?  There is a reason why Confucianism was so popular in china– because china kept everyone else out of those kinds of affairs, like the family.  And so the family was at once protected and at once sheltered, where it folded and folded upon itself.

And so the typical chinses family… the confucian chinese family… is bound by rituals that people don’t even remember the meaning of.


 

It is not wrong to beleive in confucian ideas.  It is not wrong to practice them.  But.  The purpose of it all was to help people who could not help themselves.  It was to fix society by giving every man his safety net.  The confucian family unit was not meant to be adopted everywhere– even Confucius emphasized the need for a meritocracy, where people got their positions based on competancy rather than favoritism and blood.

It’s

all

just

outdated

So, stop.  It’s self-delusion at this point. It had it’s time, it had it’s turn.  But now, you’ll have to find better reasons to love your family than just because.  We’re more scientific than they were– we’re better than that.  We don’t need to have our love handed to us.  We can find our own reasons.