Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Beijing Swings!

terpsichorean (turp-si-kuh-REE-uhn, turp-si-KOR-ee-uhn, -KORE-)
  1. adjective: Of or relating to dancing.
  2. noun: A dancer.
[From Terpsichore, the Muse of dancing and choral song in Greek mythology.
The word Terpsichore is the feminine form of terpsichoros (delighting in the dance), a combination of Greek terpein (to delight) and khoros (dance), which is ultimately from Indo-European root gher- (to grasp or to enclose) that's also the source of chorus, carol, choir, garth, court, and garden.]
To my delight, Beijing has a lively swing & lindy hop scene! Jeremy and I went last Thursday and I went again on Monday. Even though I've been away from swing dancing for a good while, it was wonderful. It was as close to Stanford as I'd seen in a long time - just on a smaller scale, with more Chinese thrown in.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

More penguins from East Asia

This time from a bakery near the Beijing World Trade Center.

Friday, May 05, 2006

That Tokyo conference

Since I haven't been at liberty to discuss the conference publicly, I thought I'd post this bit from Knight Ridder:

WASHINGTON - Last month, the chief U.S. negotiator with North Korea wanted to meet privately with his North Korean counterpart, hoping he could persuade Pyongyang to return to talks on eliminating its nuclear weapons program.

But the meeting between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill and North Korean Vice Premier Kim Kye Gwan on the sidelines of a conference in Tokyo never took place.

Hill's superiors in Washington forbade him from talking directly to the North Koreans, said three U.S. officials, a conference participant and another knowledgeable expert. All requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.


Hill, the assistant secretary of state, was urged to attend the Tokyo conference after two senior North Korean diplomats agreed in consultations involving two former senior American diplomats that it would be a chance for him to meet privately with Kim, the North Korean envoy, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions who asked to remain anonymous.

This person and a conference participant said Hill saw it as a chance to persuade Kim to rejoin six-nation talks on eliminating North Korea's nuclear arms program. The isolated Stalinist regime has boycotted the talks since the United States took action to halt what it charges are Pyongyang-run money-laundering, drug-running and counterfeiting operations.

Kim met privately with officials from the other nations - Russia, China, South Korea and Japan - involved in the moribund negotiations, said three U.S. officials and the conference participant.

Speaking at a conference in Washington on Tuesday, Hill insisted that "it was my call" not to meet Kim.

"Is someone impeding me from having bilateral contacts? The answer is yes, and it's the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea)," he said. "We are not prepared to sit outside the six-party process and let the DPRK boycott the process and look for favors to get them back."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

May Day

This week is a national holiday in China, perfect for some R&R. The umbrella I'm holding is not for rain but to ward off the sun--it was 90 degrees! Here we're standing in front of the entrance to Yuanmingyuan, the Old Summer Palace (destroyed twice by foreign troops in the 19th century. Here's the official story)

The construction noise has started again upstairs. Fortunately, it was quiet when our guests came over yesterday. Our Chinese friend, Sarah, had her parents come up from Nanjing for the May holiday. They traveled 10 hours on an overnight train to see their daughter for 2 days! We had them over for a mid-afternoon snack: apple crisp, baked to perfection (Jeremy's expertise), sliced mango, and watermelon seeds. They had never had baked apples before, but they seemed to enjoy it! To my consternation, there were no leftovers.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The infamous Yasukuni Shrine

Interestingly, every Japanese person I spoke to about the shrine told me that the privately-run museum presents a very distorted view of history (see below).