At 2:30 (Beijing Time), I saw on the news that Britain had voted to leave the European Union. With a victory at about 51.7%, the British people decided their own fate, through their own electoral process. The majority was not persuaded by threats from European apparatchiks nor promises of doom from their own government, led by David Cameron. Since he risked his position on the Remain vote, it looks like he may be out.

Already, the markets are panicking under the future uncertainty, when it will take the UK up to two years (or longer) to untangle itself from Europe. The pound sterling has already fallen 10% to dollar, hitting its lowest since 1985. Since this was warned, it means that the British people voted for liberty over their pocketbook. Bravo! Many are already warning that Scotland and Northern Ireland may jump ship to reattach themselves to the EU teat. I say go ahead, despite the fact that one of the EU’s largest financial bulwarks have just been pulled, with Britain signaling to others disenchanted with the EU model that may flee a sinking ship.

Down with the bureaucrats!

*Poster at top was found at Instapundit. It is one of my favorite news sites.

**Update** – That didn’t take very long (couple of hours). David Cameron announces his resignation, stating, “I will do everything I can as prime minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months, but I do not think it will be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.”

An End to My Employment

Yesterday marked the end of my employment of 3 years at Beijing University of Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Beihang, for short). I have turned my grades in and hope that no modification of them is needed. Grading is my least favorite part of teaching. Some people are the most earnest students, but quite frankly stink at studying languages. I always feel that there are some who received a better grade than they deserve and a great many more who received less than their due. That is one of the difficulties in judging grades for classes that are oral based. Any mark is almost entirely subjective. For example, a introverted student usually receives a lesser score because of the nature of the class. Being a natural introvert myself, I can understand this. I hope that they themselves consider it fair. One of the things that sooth my conscience was the fact that I only provided half of the English grade, with the rest resulting from an English writing class given by a Chinese teacher.

All in all, I have taught almost 4,000 students at the university, the great majority of them graduate students. I have been deeply impressed by their skills and desire to learn. I have had a few jackasses, but those have been extremely few. A similar experience in the US would have no doubt had more. I should know, since as a student I could sometimes be a jackass with the best of them. I wish them the best in all of their future endeavors. Along with my previous students at Beijing Normal University (2005-2007), these guys have deeply influenced me more than they know. This is especially true to my visiting students and my classes in American history.

I Remember

For a nation that proudly touts the five thousand years of Chinese civilization, there remains an event that the government yearly endeavors to erase from the consciousness of the its people.¹ According to this article at Foreign Policy, it seems that they are succeeding, at least within the boundaries of China. I, however, choose to remember. Even today, the beautiful idealism displayed there brings tears to my eyes. I have read and seen in documentaries many accounts of those days. I have read the biographies of many arrested and sent to the laogai. If placed in a similar situation, of standing up to a despotic government, I often question if I would have the strength to stand by my convictions. I state with pride that I would, but in searching the depths of my heart, I must state with certainty that I cannot be certain. I was not there and another such moment for me has not come. Therefore, I can only do what little I can. I remember.


For me, this picture encapsulates the measure of a man. Faceless, nameless and no doubt afraid, he stood up to the Leviathan in the only way that he could. His punishment was no doubt detention and execution, but in this moment he stood up for an entire nation. Everyday in classes that I teach, my students talk about the latest superhero movie or basketball star. Here, among the ashes of history that some would bury, stands a hero greater than Superman or Ironman. I remember.

Here is a poem by the poet, Meng Lang²:

· 孟 浪 ·




Mnemonic for 6/4: Three Nines Make Twenty-Seven
By Meng Lang

Between a bloody hand and a bloody handprint
Oxygen is interposed; smearing and rubbing have faded
What is setting forth and what is arriving—they collide together
Memory’s guards escort forgetting; some look on but take little in
Yet I want to give you a plain view of the invisible
That erstwhile partitioning and jettisoning, done directly
Those flames in the cranium that overleapt, again overleapt
Sin, ah sin, somehow learning to vanish
Twenty-seven years, the shame of an entire nation

Traces, criminological studies, having mastered ways of escape
Insert themselves in government and sit still, pretending innocence
Procession of vehicles, crowds—a thin, drawn-out line, a nerve fiber
Extracted by this pair of hands that were cleansed by means of sin
Roughly kneading a billion-some balls of dough: angry faces
Turn away, turn away, in the end to be twisted and wrenched
Ah, that wrenching sacrifice, its savor, nursing bereavement
Heavy rumbling, clamor and din, magnificence like a jetting fountain
Twenty-seven years, the enzyme of an entire nation…

The bloody handprint is printed on the sky; who would now
Point falsely? Is God’s fingerprint to be molded in plastic?
I hereby point out, this nothingness is to no avail
On the wide land, only this last bit of greenness remains
From tips of grass shake down that wordless dewdrop
She, the one who bears the whole sky’s weight
Her long sigh is heard from the deepest place
A mnemonic for something—not to be held back, not to be obstructed
Three nines make twenty-seven, followed by four sevens which make twenty-eight

( Tr. by XM )

¹Before any wumao heads explode, I want it to be understood that I despise all governments, including my own to a great extent. My politics tend toward libertarian. I have always maintained a great respect and love of the Chinese people. The government and party, despite what they wish people to believe, are not the people and thus can go to hell.

²This poem was originally published in the Mingpao newspaper, Hongkong, June 1, 2016. It was passed to me through Ohio State University’s Modern Chinese Literature and Culture (MCLC) Resource Center.