Monday, June 07, 2010

Bon mot for the week

"Where evil holds sway, there are greater opportunities to do good."


I think this should perhaps become my new standard answer when people ask me, "Well, why do you live here if you hate the country so much?"

The more straightforward response I usually give is that I don't hate the country at all. Quite the reverse. I don't even hate any specific members of the country's leadership. But I do deplore the institutions of public life which perpetuate such a culture of brutality, corruption and deceit here.


Tony said...

Yes, I and probably some of your other readers have sometimes wondered why you stay in China where so much is vile and such nasty things happen to you; one can understand why bars play such a big part in your life. But you have now given a very good answer which does you much credit.

I spent a total of around four months in China spread out over seventeen years. Some of it I enjoyed and I made some good Chinese friends, but then I was an honoured guest and not trying to make a living. I never for a moment wanted to live there but this was probably because I had neither the ability or the the opportunity to appreciate its attractions as you clearly do. I never went to a Chinese bar except those they had in the awful Friendship Hotels or, in later years, the Japanese-built luxury palaces which are awful in a different way.

Froog said...

Ah yes, your years as a ping pong panjandrum must have given you a lot of exposure to Chinese bureaucracy, Tony. When I first visited in the '90s, and foreigners were still something of a rarity here, I was treated to a lot of that elaborate official 'entertaining'; rather less since I came to live here.

I am now plotting my escape - albeit somewhat vaguely or half-heartedly thus far. Studying Spanish, listening to a lot of tango music, that kind of thing...

JES said...

Oh -- you were serious about South America as a candidate! Not that I've any objection, but when you mentioned it some time ago I took it as a vague throwaway possibility.

In 1990, my circumstances were such that I could pretty much move anywhere I wanted for a year or two (limited to the US, unfortunately, for a number of reasons). I found a reference book called the Places Rated Almanac, which evaluated the largest 200 metropolitan areas on something like 8 or 10 different scales -- arts/culture, economy, safety, and so on. I thought this was pretty nifty except for one crippling limitation: in ranking these cities top to bottom, the author(s) assigned the same weight to all 8 or 10 categories.

But I didn't care much about professional/university sports, for instance. I wanted that to be almost completely disregarded. And wanted (say) arts/culture to be weighted heavily.

So I laboriously transcribed all the data into a spreadsheet. In a different area of the spreadsheet I inserted the weights I wanted to each category, calculated a WEIGHTED score for each city, and then sorted on that. Much different results than the book came up with!

Not sure I'd recommend that approach to anyone else, though.

(And since you'll probably ask: I spent a few weeks traveling around to the top 5-6 cities to get a "feel" for them. I ended up in something like #5 or 6, Richmond. This lasted until 1993, by which time The Missus-to-be had made locations other than North Florida irrelevant.)

Froog said...

Well, of course, I'm not nearly so scientific about it. I've just decided that I'd like to try the southern hemisphere for a bit, and it has to be well away from the tropics because I don't enjoy steamy climates. Africa's just a little bit too scary. And Australia and New Zealand are too isolated. So, that leaves Chile and Argentina.

But I may well find myself discouraged when I start investigating the employment prospects there.

And The Bombshell is threatening to move here next year...