Monthly Archives: March 2009

Saving the Small Family Farm Part II

30 March 2009

Here’s an interesting piece in today’s NY Times about an effort to forge greater connection between food consumers and the farmers who produced it: 

Forging a Hot Link to the Farmer Who Grows the Food

Published: March 28, 2009
A flour miller in Washington State turns to the Internet to revive once-strong ties between consumers and farmers.



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Translation of Guantanamera from Spanish to English to Chinese

30 March 2009

The song Guantanamera is a Cuban folk song.  It is based on the poem Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca by the poet and hero of the Cuban revolution, .  It’s a song of revolution, as well as a song of peace.  Marti wrote:  "Life on earth is a hand-to-hand mortal combat… between the law of love and the law of hate" (letter dated 1881). 

I created this hermeneutic translation a year ago.  I re-post it now for benefit of my Chinese friends who would like a translation of the song from Spanish to Chinese (Zhongwen).  On this 50th anniversary of Chinese rule of Tibet, I post it as a reminder that Revolution can come in many ways, sometimes through cultivation of a white rose.  



Guajira Guantanamera
Guajira Guantanamera

[Guantanamera means a song of Guantanamo

Guantanamo is a town on the Eastern coast of Cuba

Guajira is slang for a peasant from the countryside





Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crecen las palmas
Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crecen las palmas
Y antes de morirme quiero
Echar mis versos del alma

I am a sincere man from where the palm trees grow
I am a simple man
from the land of palm trees.
And before I die,
I want to pour out these verses that flow from my soul








Mi verso es de un verde claro
Y de un carmin encendido
Mi verso es de un verde claro
Y de un carmin encendido
Mi verso es un ciervo herido
Que busca en el monte amparo

My verses are brilliant green, and also fiery crimson; my poems are clear green, and also flaming carmine; My poems are like a wounded fawn seeking refuge in the forested mountains;







Cultivo la rosa blanca
En junio como en enero
Qultivo la rosa blanca
En junio como en enero
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franca


I cultivate a white rose in June and in January; I cultivate a white rose, in June and in January, for my true friend who lends me his steady hand


我耕种白色 玫瑰花


我耕种白色 玫瑰花



Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazon con que vivo
Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazon con que vivo
Cardo ni ortiga cultivo
Cultivo la rosa Blanca


And for the cruel one who would break my heart; And for the cruel one who would pluck out my living heart, I cultivate neither thistles nor nettles; I cultivate a white rose







Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar
Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar
El arroyo de la sierra
Me complace mas que el mar

With the poor people of this earth, I cast my lot; With the poor people of this earth, I throw my fate, for the brooks of the mountains please me more than the sea




我一起安置我的命运, 因为







For more, see my Original Post




Filed under News and politics

Columbia, SC

18 March 2009

What’s There To Do in Columbia, SC?

Here are some suggestions from the official city web site  ( ) :

See a concert at the Colonial Center. an ice show at the Carolina Coliseum. a Broadway show at the Koger Center. a national dance touring company at The Township. a regatta at Lake Murray. a replica of a three ton white shark at the State Museum. historic homes from the 16th century. festivals, concerts and an amazing view at Finlay Park. Catch a theatrical production at one of Columbia‘s many theatres. Walk through the tallest trees on the East Coast in the Congaree National Park. Tailgate at Williams-Brice Stadium as the University of South Carolina battles in Southeastern Conference football. Enjoy food from around the world at one of many festivals. Listen to one of music’s hottest performers at the South Carolina State Fair. Play challenging golf course. Visit Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden, consistently rated one of the nation’s "10 Great Zoos." In short, Columbia really does have it all!

Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden

You can easily spend a full day at Riverbanks Zoo. When you purchase your ticket, check to see the times for your favorite animal feedings (penguins, seals, birds, sharks) and then schedule your visit around that.

Until the Charleston Aquarium was constructed, Riverbanks was the largest Aquarium on the Eastern seaboard between Sea World in Orlando and Sea World in Williamsburg.

Depending on your preference, the botanical garden (across the river on a footbridge from the zoo) is lovely and includes a trail that goes through remnants of a pre-Civil war encampment. It was from this location that Sherman bombarded the City.

State Museum

The State Museum is housed in a former textile mill building that at one time housed the first electrically powered mill in the USA. The building is constructed by master craftsmen using construction techniques that are no longer available in the USA. Taking up four floors, the first floor is Art, second floor is Natural History as well as various traveling exhibits, 3rd floor is Science and Technology, and 4th floor is Cultural History. The Cotton Mill gift shop has gifts and souvenirs made by local artisans and with themes unique to the state.

University of South Carolina

This is the flagship university for the state. It is one of the oldest public institutions in the USA. Within easy walking distance of the State Capitol building, the historic portion of the campus is centered around the “Horseshoe,” which includes the buildings which house the McKissick Museum and the South Caroliniana library (below). The Law School is home to a Children’s Law Center. The Koger Center for the Performing Arts, Town Theater, Workshop Theater, Township Auditorium, and Colonial Center are all within a ten minute walk of the University.

Some web sites for various departments at the university: 

Finlay Park:

This is an award winning park located at 930 Laurel Street, which is near Assembly Street about nine blocks north and two blocks west from the state capitol building. Unfortunately, either due to budget constraints or simply because of winter, the beautiful fountains are not currently operational.

Congaree National Monument

One of the few old growth forests remaining on the East Coast (spared because the swampy wetlands are too low for logging), has a boardwalk of about half mile from a parking area to the river as well as some miles of hiking trails.

Saluda Shoals Park

A lovely park with hiking trails on the shore of the Saluda River, interpretive center, as well as a children’s zero-depth water playground in the summer.  A bit north and west of the city. 

Lake Murray

At one time the Lake Murray Dam was the largest earthen dam in the world.  Lake Murray is about fifty miles long with both open water and coves, and it is a popular destination for fishermen.  The following web site has links for fishing guides:

Tour of State Capitol Building

four city block area that makes up the State Capitol Complex is a very
nice garden in and of itself. There are state-run souvenir shops in the
basement of the Blatt Building and on the first floor of the Rembert
Dennis Building.

How to Find Local Event Schedules and Tickets

Koger Center for the Arts

Trustus Theater

Workship Theater

Colonial Life Arena;colonial%20center

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More on 三八女 (the social status of women in China)

11 March 2009

A few days ago, I wrote about International Women’s Day, celebrated on 8th of March each year.  The name of this festival is "San Ba Jie," or "Three Eight Festival" (for third month, 8th day).  It is a festival day in China to celebrate the equality of women in society, particularly in Communist societies.  Women in China, Chairman Mao said, "hold up half the sky."  The only problem is, that ordinary citizens in China don’t really see women that way.  Women may hold up half the sky, but they are not viewed as equal with men. 

Nor are women valued as highly, literally.  If they were, it would not have been necessary for the Chinese government to ban the storefront ultrasound businesses, which would tell people whether the baby they were expecting was a boy or girl, so they could selectively abort the baby if it were a girl.  It would not have been necessary for the government to institute a campaign in the countryside to convince parents that "Every child is precious." 

How well I remember the days in the USA when women who agitated for equal rights were viewed as abrasive.  Let’s put it bluntly.  They weren’t just viewed as pushy.  They were viewed as something akin to lesbian bitches.  Well, … in China, to refer to a woman as a "san ba nu" (three eight woman) has somewhat the same connotation.  It’s not a nice term. 

That’s why, when I recently referred to myself as a "san ba nu," one of my Chinese friends wrote to me:  "It is not a positive comment for you. Stop using that word. :)"  She didn’t realize that I knew it wasn’t a flattering way to refer to one’s self.  But, I’ve already been there, done that.  I’ve battled those barriers of sexism in the workplace.  You don’t make progress by being sweet and playing by the same rules that kept women in their "place" for centuries already. 

Thus, my reply to her?

"Wo zhidao [I know]. My point really is that, it just goes to show how far women still have to go in a society — how small our gains are — when the mere fact of seeking equality with men is equated with being an annoying, yacking, gossipy, complaining, bitch! I utterly disagree with the Chinese use of the term we westerners would call "liberated woman" as being the equivalent of what we would call "bitch", MOST ESPECIALLY when the term itself (directly translated "March 8th woman") is a direct reference to International Women’s Day, which is about nothing more than seeking equal rights for women! I PRAY that the future for you (and for all sisters) will be much better than this cultural stereotype indicates!!" 

Another of my friends wrote to me a really sweet note, which in part says:  "I don’t think we need a worldwide banner proclaiming how great we are. We already knew."

To which I reply, "zhende, zhende [truly, truly!]"!!! 

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8 March 2009

Have you ever wondered just what was the spark that ignited the flame of the Russian Revolution in 1917? Russia was at war in on its eastern front and sending supplies to support that effort.  In St. Petersburg, it had been a long winter.  The men had largely been conscripted into the army, leaving women to support their families alone.  There was hardship and hunger.  On International Women’s Day in 1917, thousands women marched on the Palace to demanding "peace, bread, and land." 

Fearing unrest, and with most of his Army away from the city, the Tsar Nicholas II was desperate enough to keep order that he commanded the Palace Guard to fire on the marchers.  The guards refused to fire on the unarmed women, and joined them instead.  One thing led to another; things snowballed and escalated.  The rest is history. All because of International Women’s Day and the distaste of the Palace Guard for firing upon women who were marching for food for their children.  [For one reference available online click HERE].

I was shocked to learn, however, that the first precursor to International Women’s Day was in the same year my grandfather was born, in 1908.  In the year of my grandfather’s birth, 15,000 women marched in the streets of New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay, and voting rights [for full reference click HERE].  In 1909, the National Socialist Party in the USA declared the first IWD. Once the ball was rolling, the cause was also taken up in Europe.  At a conference attended by women from 17 countries, Clara Zetkin proposed that one day in particular be designated internationally, and the date was standardized.  Well, guess what day that is?  Today!  March 8th!* 

The link of IWD with socialism and condition of the working class is significant.  IWD has particularly been associated with class struggle of socialism and the seeking of worker rights.  Immediately after the Russian Revolution, great advances for women were written into Russian law.  Some of those changes are written about HERE.

Women still have a long way to go.  Statistics show that women still earn a FRACTION of the pay of similarly situated males.  (I note that in the USA, women received the right to vote some decades after did the freed male slaves.  Perhaps we’ll have a female president in about the same amount of time after we have an African American, male president?) 

Women still have a long way to go in China in terms of reaching equality in that society.  While it is possible for women to achieve positions of leadership in government and business, it is more often the exception than the rule.  More typically, a woman considers herself "middle aged" in the working world when she is over 30 years old.  As just one example, I one time asked a tour guide how she chose that profession.  She replied:

I used to work as a waitress in a restaurant, and then I became the manager.  I worked as a waitress for two years.  I worked several more years as the manager.  About four years.  I really loved my job, and I was good at it.  My boss was great.  He was the owner.  I did really well and the business grew by leaps and bounds.  But after a few years he told me, "You’re not so young any more.  I really like you, but I’m going to have to hire someone younger.  Take some time, maybe a year, but you need to find another position."  You know [she explained to me], when people come into a restaurant, they want to see a really pretty face.  I wasn’t so young anymore.  I wasn’t so pretty as I had been when I was younger.  So, that’s when I started to look around.

Advertisements sometimes plainly state that only pretty girls need apply, and many women over age 30 believe they are no longer marketable.  I had one friend, for example, who had worked for a large multinational corporation until her first (and only) child was born.  Now that he was older, she wanted to return to work.  I suggested that she reapply to the same company where she had previously worked.   "Oh no," was her reply.  "I’m much too old.  I’m all washed out.  They’d never hire me."  This was a woman who was 36 years old when we were speaking. 

I also noticed a double standard socially, in terms of behavior that was accepted for women and men.  I once turned heads when I ordered beer in a restaurant, because all the other people with me were Chinese women.  In my group of friends, women did not generally order beer.  Old enough to have lived through the Cultural Revolution, they still thought it was unladylike.   I had not realized this, because when I had been out with Chinese people before it had always before been in mixed company.  Under the particular circumstances, I decided that I would break the rule and have the beer anyway.  One of my friends asked me, "In America, do all women drink beer?" 

"No," I replied, "Only San Ba Nu. Wo shi [I am a ] San Ba Nu." 

To explain what is a "San Ba Nu," I refer you to this video!  Enjoy! 

And ….  San Ba Fu Nu Jie Kuaile!




*According to one web site, IWD is now an official holiday in China, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.   For a more detailed history with references see THIS history by Alexandra Kollantai, translated from its original 1920’s source.


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