Yesterday was supposed to be a long day of classes, but after four hours worth (starting at 8 again, ugh!), I was done. I sometimes go through these phrases where I get completely fed up with classes and say to myself, what's a post-generals doctoral student doing spending all this time in classes, anyway? Shouldn't I be teaching the classes instead? Of course, it makes good sense for me to sit in classes. Some of my best class-room buddies are university lecturers here on "enrichment" visits. They go to a whole of classes, and in the same I do--without really doing any of the work, just there to see what's up.
Anyway, the classes were good when I could stay focused, but after lunch I opted out of the next four hours worth of them and just went home and lay in bed wearing my red sleep-sack because of the cold air seeping in through the window-glass. Overtired, in need of a bit of downtime. Then I spent way too much time reading blogs, thanks loads Repressed Librarian for posting this link to the NaBloPoMo randomizer. :P Boy is it ever addictive to read blogs. Of course for me every month is "blog every day month," and I do my very best to do it. If I don't blog quite every day, I at least blog about every day, to the point where some of you who don't know me in real life (and some of you who do) are probably bored stiff. Hey, not my problem. I deliver the goods, and y'all can take or leave them.
Actually what I wanted to say, though, was that my repeated trips to the randomizer turned up one that was really something--a perfectly ordinary everything/nothing blog, AtomicTumor, that suddenly became an intense many posts per day and highly emotional nightmare whirlwind when the wife of the couple suddenly contracted a mysterious, life-threatening infection and went from playing tennis on Saturday to being near death on Monday. And there she stays, lying in a hospital bed on a respirator and not conscious. And meanwhile her man lays bare his soul on the interweb for your…what, not enjoyment exactly, but it's definitely a powerful experience to read it. The rest of the internet community seems to agree, as he had enough hits to crash his server--working fine now, after some technical adjustments, but it was an amazing thing. I don't know if anyone leaves snotty comments--you'd have to be a monster to do that--but he's gotten a lot of good supportive ones, and it really seems to make a difference to him.
I've always thought that the problem with reality TV is that it puts real people in unreal situations. The thing that I like so much about blogs is that it's real people in real situations, their own real lives. Sometimes their situations are wild and extraordinary or nightmarishly unbelievable like the above. Sometimes mundane, or quietly awful, or deliriously happy, or overwhelmed. But I like to wander through their variously decorated pages and thing about all those real lives out there so different from mine.
Okay enough random musings.
I realized I have stopped posting news items, probably because I've been so busy lately. But there's one I thought worth mentioning: Wednesday night the sociologist and the legal historian were getting highly incensed about some recent dog-suppression campaigns in Chinese cities, especially considering that the dogs were being destroyed in some pretty low-tech ways. I didn't have much of an opinion, because though I by no means advocate cruelty toward animals, I also think it's not an issue worth spending huge amounts of energy on. Isn't there enough cruelty to humans to concern those of us who feel the need to be concerned? Mencius and the sociologist agree that compassion for animals is the root of a bigger, more all-encompassing compassion for humans. But I can't help thinking that's a little backwards and unexamined. Why do we feel so little for our own species that we have to get our compassion started on some other species?
Also, I just don't have an "oh how cute response" to puppies; I just don't.
Anyway, yesterday I then read this article, which starts, "Over-sized dogs and those without photo identification in Beijing are being snatched by the city police to curb the spread of rabies, which has killed about 200 people a month in China this year." Excuse me, did they say 200 people a month?! Could this figure possibly be correct? (I mean it is a notoriously unfree press, but bad news is usually suppressed, not exaggerated!) Now let's just say that an animal-born disease were killing 200 people a month in the U.S.--would there not be a pretty extreme public outcry, which might well include rounding up and destroying the animals in question? We vaccinate against rabies, but what if there were some new dog plague? Would we really not kill dogs to save humans, especially if we lacked the technology to sort the healthy dogs from the sick ones, or the resources for widespread vaccination? And if we wouldn't do what China is doing now, then I'd say there's something wrong with US.
Yes, hate to say it, guys, but for now I'm siding with the Chinese government on this one. My colleagues are thinking about the cute sad-eyed and sickly curly-haired puppies being sold off blankets at every subway stop, but I'm thinking of Cujo. And 10 deaths in the capital alone--that's Beijing, where I am! I am so not going near any dogs here, and that’s for sure. The article is right that the real mistake was to make vaccinations and legal ownership so prohibitively expensive, while meanwhile the dogs themselves are cheap and freely available in the "informal economy." But now the damage is done and--hate me if you want--if it's dogs or people, I'm taking the species-ist path and voting people.
But then at least half my ancestors lived in a country where dogs are considered food so I'm probably not the best person to talk to about canine rights!