Archive - Jan 2007

Tiananmen Square

Perhaps this picture gives some idea of the size of the famous public square, the largest of its sort in the world. It has held over 1 million people for large rallies organized by the Communist Party years ago.

January 30th

Suzhou bridge

Suzhou is a city of canals and bridges. When Marco Polo came through, he estimated there were 1,600. That was probably an exaggeration.

So, when we walked through this park, lined with mature cedar, and found this bridge, it might have seemed right to assume it is a surviving relic of the past.

Nope. Three years ago, a shoddy apartment building stood on this spot. There were no cedar, and there was no bridge.

Mysterious Light

Here is the Mysterious Light Pagoda in Suzhou, China. It is 1,000 years old. That is to say, something has been on that site for 1,000 years. Because it is made of wood, one suspects it has been rebuilt several times.

The name of the pagoda is the result of the sometimes subtle Chinese aesthetic: Indeed, as the sun set in the Suzhou haze, the quality of the light was that of a late summer evening after a thunderstorm has passed. Golden, rich, surreal.

January 29th


If you like early color photographs of rural America, this site might keep you busy for a while. This is a great sample.

Falun Gong

The above picture, taken by Lance on Tiananmen Square, is more interesting than it looks at first blush.

I am talking about the fire extinguisher at the soldier's feet.

Of course, we couldn't ask the soldier what it was for, but we could speculate.

January 28th


Attorney General and apologist for torture (as well as the suspension of habeus corpus) Alberto Gonzalez is causing frowns, even amongst solid Republicans. John Dean, Nixon's boy wonder lawyer, later a witness in the Watergate probe and now rehabilitated as a commentator, finds Gonzalez' exchanges with Republican Senator Arlen Specter to be a bit much. I watched some of the exchange, and Dean's account is about right.

Suzhou, cont.

Another of the windows at the famous Master-of-Nets garden in Suzhou. The spare geometric patterns are, to the Western eye, so strikingly modern, yet they were designed hundreds of years ago. Also, here is a famous pagoda. The roof edges are turned up to demonstrate that the roof is meant to be decorative, not practical.

January 27th

McGovern weighs in

People who remember George McGovern as the anti-war nut who lost to Nixon forget that, in the end, he was proven right. Now, he is 84-years-old and still asking impertinent questions. Remember, McGovern flew 34 missions in World War II, and has always believed in the validity of that war.

Airing out the chamber pot...

...and the underwear, too, for that matter. This is in a residential area of Suzhou. Even the chamber pots are painted the distinctive Suzhou deep brandy color.

Early lawn ornament

This duck at the Shanghai museum dates to 200 A.D.

The above dish is about the size of a cereal dish. It is from 600 A.D. Different colors of clay were deliberately intermingled to create the illusion that the dish was made of wood.