Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Who am I? 

Why? That is the question that has always been foremost in my mind throughout my life. From my childhood in the countryside in northern Japan, through my teenage and college years in the United States, and my graduate studies in Canada, on through the various positions I have held in my adult life, the question of why things are the way they are has consumed a great deal of my attention.

My interest in technology has always been a very large part of this questioning process. I have always been interested in how things work, and in why it matters. Radio was a particular interest during my childhood in the north of Japan. I was interested not only in the technology of radio, but in the reasons why that technology was useful. My radio, for example, kept me company during the lonely evening hours in the boarding school. I could escape to different places far away with my shortwave radio tuned to the Voice of America, or Radio Moscow.

Understanding. Trying to figure out how it all came together. This also has occuppied my thinking for much of my life. When I graduated from high school in 1972, I hitchhiked from Oregon to Florida, because I wanted to understand America. I found out that it was too big a task for one summer. Some things take longer.

When I went to college, I chose to major in the Social Sciences and Humanities, because I believed that people were more important than machines. They are of course, but they are also quite a bit harder to understand. One summer I worked at a special hospital for people with mental problems. I was troubled by the complexity of the problems which haunted them, and the limitations of technology in dealing with such problems. This experience strengthened my belief that technology only has value if it can be used to help mankind.

Knowledge. The power of technology to assist me in satisifying my hunger for knowledge has perhaps influenced my thinking about technology more than any other factor. Of course, the Internet is a very big part of this. I can still remember lying in my bunk in our summer cabin in the Japanese Alps listening to my shortwave radio. President Johnson was giving a speech about the Vietnam War. I listen to (and watch) the news on my laptop or my tablet now, and I can't even remember the last time I used an encyclopedia. So the technology of information is perhaps the most important technology. Which brings us to the world of database.

Information. In the most general terms, we are talking about information storage and information retrieval. In my younger days as a school teacher in the countryside of North Dakota, I had a steel filing cabinet to store documents. Anything important now is stored digitally. Through all my years teaching here in China, my filing cabinet has been a flash disk. And even though I am not teaching database anymore, I still use my Oracle database to store and retrieve thousands of records. Such a system would have been all but unmanageable with a paper-based system.

Wisdom. The Bible says that "The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom." But what is the end of wisdom? Does wisdom only benefit me, or does it benefit those around me? And what is the relationship between wisdom, knowledge, and understanding? Can you have wisdom without knowledge? I think not. But can you have knowledge without wisdom? I'm afraid so. So clearly wisdom is the more important. But wisdom does not stand alone. And the ability to understand this important balance enables us to keep our perspective and ensure that we do not put all the emphasis on one and neglect the other.

I started this blog in December of 2003. My original intent was to provide a way to let friends and family in the United States know what I was doing without having to write a bunch of emails all the time. There was no Facebook in those days. Now after fifteen years and twelve hundred blog posts, the world has changed. The people who communicate with me regarding the stuff I have written about China are not friends and family. They are people I have never met, who share my interest in China and the part it plays on the crowded stage that is the twenty- first century. And the stuff I used to post for my family is now on Facebook. And recently Facebook made a major change that convinced me to find a way to use them together. You used to be able to friend someone on Facebook, but unsubscribe to them so that you did not see their posts. You can still do that, but you can also do the opposite. You can follow someone on Facebook without having them first accept a friend request (providing their posts are set to "public"). So Facebook has now become a blog.

A couple years ago, Dropbox changed the function of their "Public" folder. You can no longer use this folder to host jpg files for a blog. I understand their reason for doing that, but it left me with a couple hundred broken links. Kinda discouraging. I puzzled for awhile what to do about my blog. I decided to resurrect my blog in the fourth quarter of 2018 to focus primarly on news and information, and use Facebook for family stuff.

I should also mention the companion site on Podbean. Podbean hosts my podcast. Each podcast episode can be accessed through a corresponding post on this blog, so you don't need to go to the Podbean site, but you can if you would like to subscribe to the podcast, or just see all the episodes in one place. Or, if you have Google Podcasts or some other podcast utility, you can do a search for BEIJING DIARY PODCAST and subscribe that way.

One further technical note: Each blog post on Blogspot has a unique permalink. You can get that permalink by clicking on "Posted by:" link at the bottom of the blog post. This can be convenient if you want to store the link to a specific blog post.


Country Moments - Songs from the heart of America

What is the Christian message? - Songs that answer this question

Rest Beyond Words - Inspirational instrumentals

Yuletide Melodies - Christmas melodies old and new

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Curriculum Vitae 

Click photo for full image.

Eric Langager     王长野

Xiangshan Nanxincun 10-13
Haidian District
Beijing 100083 CHINA
Phone: 86 13681031447
Email: langager@gmail.com
CV: http://beijingdiary.blogspo t.com

OBJECTIVE: I am not looking for a full time position right now, but I am available for lectures. In my retirement, I have been working on my blog and podcast, and doing research to get an understanding of the nature and history of conflict. I am very interested in the education of youngsters in developing countries. I am particularly interested in the problems faced by children of war. It would be difficult to establish schools for these children in the conflict zones in which they live, so I am wondering if there may be a way to remove the young people and teach them in a location safely removed from the conflict.


EDUCATION / CERTIFICATIONS:         (Click on link for full image.) Certifications: Oracle9i DBA Certified Associate -- 11/2003
Arizona Community College Certificate -- 09/1999
Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer -- 10/1998

Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Psychology -- 1986

University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Bachelor of Science in Education -- 1978
Oregon College of Education, Monmouth, Oregon

PROFESSIONAL OVERVIEW: VISITING PROFESSOR -- 09/2011 to 06/2017 [My university merged with another institution, so I retired.], China Youth University of Political Studies, Beijing, China
  1. Taught classes involving discussion of social issues to freshmen students.

  2. Taught rhetorical skills to English Majors and non-English Majors.

  3. Developed database for evaluating student presentations. Evaluated somewhere between two and three thousand oral presentations.

  4. Assistant to the coach for the Jessup International Moot Court Competition for five seasons. The first season they were 17th in the nation. The last season I was with the team, they took first place in China.

SABBATICAL YEAR -- 07/2010 to 09/2011, Beijing and Hong Kong

  1. Began development of an NGO for the purpose of bringing teaching and training to children of war.

  2. Developed a database for research at the National Library.

  3. Began development of a flashcard and database system for learning and review of language.

STUDENT -- 01/2010 to 07/2010, Tianying Xueyuan, Wudaokou, Beijing, China

  1. Studied Mandarin grammar and vocabulary.

  2. Studied colloquial language and syntax.

  3. Assisted with development of presentation materials for introducing my school to the public.

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR -- 01/2004 to 01/2010 [Beihang University has an upper age limit of 55 for foreign professors.], College of Software, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Beijing, China

  1. Designed the graduate Oracle DBA course here on the Beijing Campus.

  2. Designed and implemented the Intro to SQL course, to accommodate bright students who may have trouble with oral English.

  3. Designed and built the PL/SQL course to give students basic knowledge of the essential Oracle programming language.

  4. Designed special courses for students from Beihai College in Guangxi Province.

  5. Taught Oracle courses in Beihai (South China) as a visting professor during three semesters.

  6. Facilitated upgrade and maintenance of lab network.

  7. Adapted and taught the DBA course to students with high level of experience, but some language learning difficulty at Fujitsu in Fuzhou.

  8. Established the Oracle Study Group for students pursuing Oracle Certification.

  9. Implemented the adaptation of the Oracle curriculum into the Software English courses, to facilitate the long-term objective of enhancing English learning by teaching content courses in English.

  10. Recruited and trained TA's for the purpose of teaching in a multi- language environment.

  11. Designed curriculum and course content for the Oracle Database courses.

  12. Designed and built the student web site for distribution of materials.

  13. Designed lab exercises taylored to non-native speakers.

  14. Taught Oracle database courses in a lab environment in the English language to students with varying levels of English proficiency.

  15. Met with students on an individual basis to assist with adjustment to cross-cultural learning environment.

  16. Designed and built online tests to facilitate the distance learning portion of my courses.

  17. Adapted and taught the graduate DBA course to students at South China Institute of Software Engineering, employing a combination of local and distance learning tools.

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR -- 03/2000 to 01/2004, College of Software Engineering, University of Advancing Computer Technology, Tempe, Arizona

  1. Designed course materials and wrote syllabi for Networking courses.

  2. Designed and wrote lab exercises used by Networking instructors.

  3. Taught Microsoft systems courses in a classroom setting, including Exchange Server, Internet Information Server, SQL Server, as well as the Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 server platforms and the Windows NT, Windows 2000 Professional, and Windows XP client platforms.

  4. Designed, developed, and taught the Oracle Database courses for the University.

  5. Served as Oracle Database Administrator for the University.

  6. Worked with other faculty in the Software College on Curriculum design and revision.

  7. Designed and maintained student website for distribution of student materials.

  8. Provided academic guidance and career advisement for a wide variety of students in the University.

  9. Submitted training requests, and participated in Oracle training by Oracle trainers in Phoenix, Arizona and San Francisco, California, including Oracle8i DBA, Oracle SQL and PL/SQL, Oracle9i Fundamentals I and Oracle9i Fundamentals II.

  10. Established the Oracle Study Group for students pursuing Oracle Certification.

IT INSTRUCTOR -- 08/1999 to 03/2000, South Mountain Community College, Phoenix, Arizona

  1. As an adjunct instructor, designed and devoped the Microsoft Network Engineering program for the College.

  2. Taught Network Engineering courses in a classroom/lab setting at the college, including, Windows NT Server system, Windows NT client system and Networking Essentials.

  3. As a cooperative program with the College, performed network administration for a local charter school, including administration of the Exchange email distribution server.

  4. Provided academic advisement for students at the College.

LEARNING ADVISOR / Y2K PROJECT MANAGER -- 06/1998 to 07/1999, Scholars.com/CBT Systems, Scottsdale, Arizona

  1. Taught systems engineering courses over the internet to English speaking students throughout the world. I worked the night shift (midnight to 8 am), so most of my students were in Europe and Australia.

  2. Developed and wrote training courses for online delivery.

  3. Provided technical consulting for end users.

  4. Corresponded with students through email, and served as a mentor by way of online chat rooms.

  5. Served as Y2K Project Manager after the training division moved to Canada.


References available upon request.


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

History of Modern China 

Soap ad from the Minguo period in China


Overview of Chinese History

This group of documents is particularly helpful for developing a basic familiarity with the historic dynasties. Pay special attention to the History Timeline.

Timeline Of Modern Chinese History

This timeline provides a very readable overview of the period of time covered by this course. It is not by any means an exhaustive history, but can be very useful in helping to "get your bearings" with respect to modern China.

Chapter 10 of "The Civilization of China," by Herbert A. Giles

This is an old book, but the chapter to which this link connects provides a brief and very informative description of the transition from the Ming to the Qing Dynasty.

The Macartney Mission

This paper contains several key documents relative to Macartney's mission, including his original commission, his own description of his meeting with the emperor, his assessment of China's government, as well as the complete text of the Qianlong Emperor's two edicts repudiating Macartney's mission.

The Reception of the First English Ambassador to China

Brief description of Macartney's audience with the Qianlong Emperor.

Letter of Advice to Queen Victoria (1839)

Text of Commissioner Lin's letter to Queen Victoria, excoriating her for British involvement in the opium trade.


  Emperor of China Declares War on Drugs

Excellent synopsis of the events leading up to the war between Britain and China over the opium trade.


  The Opium War and the Opening of China

I am always nervous about discussing how the Opium Wars helped to open China, because there is a subtile tendency to use this "end" as a justification for the clearly immoral "means." But there is no question that the Opium War did have the effect of opening China to trade with the rest of the world, and it is important to understand how this process came about.


  The Economic, Social, and Political Effects of The Opium War

This is an old article, but it does contain a good summary of some of the effects of the Opium War. The debate about how the Opium War affected the relationship with China to the rest of the world will never end, but it is helpful to study a variety of positions and compare them.


  300 Tang Dynasty Poems

300 Tang Dynasty poems in Chinese and English from the University of Virginia collection.



Friday, July 19, 2019

Blowin' in the Wind 

The video below is the third part of what appears to be a three-part treatment by The Pulse on the problem in Xinjiang, China's far western province, where at least hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and Kazakhs have been detained in re-education camps. The first segment talked about the way Muslims are being treated in China. The second segment pointed out that many Kazakhs are also being detained. This problem does not only affect Uyghurs. This final segment (below) focuses on the fact that many of those who are detained are not in need of vocational training, but are detained because of their relationship with those outside of China. In one case, a man was detained because his daughter, who was living in Kazahkstan applied for citizenship there. In another case, a woman was detained supposedly because she had WhatsApp on her phone. It is a big problem for citizens of China to have a non-Chinese commmunications app on their phones. The first part of this video is about a completely non-related Hong Kong issue, so I have configured this video to start at Part 2. So the segment takes up half of a twenty-minute program.

Every country has internal matters dealing with its people that outsiders don't necessarily need to be involved in. But as I have said before, cruelty to innocent people is always everybody's business.

Those of you who lived through the Vietnam period perhaps remember Bob Dylan's song "Blowin' in the Wind." It is often associated with the Vietnam War, but Bob Dylan actually wrote it in 1962, before the Americans really got involved (in 1964). So it is really an anthem for how we view any injustice. These lines from that that song come to mind when I consider the current problem in Xinjiang:

How many times can a man turn his head, pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.


Labels: , , ,

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Bride Kidnapping 

Actual bride kidnapping in the country of Kyrgyzstan

This video (below) is disturbing. So why watch it? Later, I am going to do a podcast about arranged marriage. This video shows an extreme example. It serves two purposes:

First, it helps me to make the point that arranged marriage and forced marriage are not the same. A forced marriage is one type of arranged marriage. But arranged marriage is not necessarily wrong. In the community I grew up in (northern Japan), every marriage was arranged, but I never saw a forced marriage.

Second, sometimes when you are at the point of discussing an issue about which there can be significant disagreement, it is useful to take the issue to an extreme that both sides can either accept or reject. So, for example, during the Cold War, Democrats and Republicans disagreed about many points of policy, but they all agreed that Communism was bad. They were right, of course. Even China has now rejected traditional Communism.

More recently, we were beset by ISIS. Democrats and Republicans have been at each other's throats like never before, but on this issue they agreed. ISIS was bad and had to be defeated.

You see, sometimes if you can identify an extreme that you both sides find deplorable, it is a little easier to move from that extreme to the point where your viewpoints diverge, and then you can begin to establish what we call stasis. It's a rhetorical term, but it basically refers to the process of agreeing on what you disagree about. Sounds obvious, but you would be amazed how many times two people or groups of people will waste enormous amounts of energy arguing about something before they discover that they are basically on the same side (at least partly). This happens because they have not done a good job of establishing stasis, or because they are struggling with the process.

So watch the video. I have shown this video to many groups of students, with a variety of reactions (which we will discuss later). I should note that this is a very old video, so you will probably not be able to watch it on your mobile device. But I usually don't have a problem watching it on my laptop, although it may ask you to enable FLASH. Anyway, it is short (about 18 minutes), but very well done. Again, is quite painful to see (forced marriage is not pretty), but I do think it is useful as a take off point for our discussion of this issue. I also recommend that you full screen the video once you get it open.

Please note: The video below requires flash. Click on this link if your flash isn't working:



Labels: ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?