Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Favourite posts from the 2nd quarter of 2012

A rundown of highlights from earlier in the year...

Pick of the Archives:
Favourite Posts, April-June 2012

1)  Bon mot for the week  -  2nd April 2012
One of my own, and one of my best.

2)  Inadvertent Truths 12  -  4th April 2012
I seem to find telling little observations about China everywhere.

3)  If only it did mean that  -  6th April 2012
I indulge in some etymological frippery again.

4)  More futility  -  12th April 2012
I am particularly exasperated with this year's English assessments at Xinhua News - which take ineptitude of test design and implementation to new depths. (Still, at least we got a few compensatory laughs out of it.)

5)  Haiku for the week  -  13th April 2012
A poignant observation on my looming departure from Beijing, drawing parallels with a faltering love affair.

6)  Your lupins or your life!  -  14th April 2012
A brief spasm of renewed interest in my Invent a band name thread over on The Barstool eventually produced its 200th comment contribution. The 'winning' suggestion was a Chinese phrase that means 'righteous bandits' - and that prompted me to dig out one of my favourite Monty Python skits to post, the ballad of the well-intentioned but inept highwayman Dennis Moore.

7)  Illegal Alien  -  19th April 2012
An extended piece on the difficulties of obtaining Chinese visas.

8)  More found humour  -  24th April 2012
I have to use a Chinese map for the first time in ages; and it provides me with a good belly laugh.

9)  The genie won't go back in the bottle  -  26th April 2012
Another of my longer and more serious pieces, this time on the impact of Sina Weibo, China's hugely popular micro-blogging service.

10)  Striking a balance  -  27th April 2012
I fret over whether my writing is sometimes too verbose; but at least I've found a wonderful cartoon to illustrate the eternal dilemma between comprehensiveness and conciseness.

11)  Another Film Quotations Quiz  -  28th April 2012
Another little end-of-the-month trivia challenge for my readers; rather easier this time, I thought.

My work for a leading international relations think tank regularly furnishes topics for me to gripe about: here, Chinese superstition, China's 'soft power' agenda, China's relations with Africa - and stupidity in general.

The recent centenary of the Titanic's sinking led me to read Walter Lord's famous account of the disaster, A Night To Remember... and then to start obsessing about all the points that he didn't really cover. This post grew into a monster, with several updates and emendations, and further discussion in the comments.

14)  My Fantasy Girlfriend: Liz Phair  -  12th May 2012
The raunchy rock chick is particularly closely associated in my mind with China, since a taped copy of her fabulous debut album Exile In Guyville accompanied me on my first visit here in the 1990s. Here, I post a couple of the best songs from that album.

15)  Haiku for the week  -  18th May 2012
Contemplating my imminent departure, I remember a useful Italian proverb, and comment on why I - and so many other people - are giving up on China.

16)  When is a gunboat not a gunboat?  -  18th May 2012
A particularly lunatic pronouncement on the Scarborough Shoal standoff by a Chinese "international security expert" prompts me to recall a favourite cartoon from Punch in the 1970s. At least I'm trying to retain my sense of humour!

17)  I feel FREE!  -  19th May 2012
Delirious with relief at the prospect of my escape from China, I celebrate with Cream's finest moment - and Pete & Dud's finest moment.

18)  Yang Rui takes a crazy pill  -  21st May 2012
Just as I'm leaving, an odious Chinese TV 'personality' ramps up the xenophobia levels here with an obscenely hateful microblog outburst. I lobby (vainly, alas) for his dismissal.

19)  "Possible", but difficult  -  22nd May 2012
The story of one's life in China for a foreigner! I try applying for a credit card - just for the thrill of rejection.

20)  Haiku for the week  -  25th May 2012
I have a Hello, Darkness, my old friend moment upon arrival back in England.

21)  I thought you were dead!  -  25th May 2012
Why - and HOW - is Carl Jung paying me money??

22)  Six Sigma in the toilet  -  31st May 2012
Even now I'm escaped from China, crazy stories from there keep following me around. (Another one here!)

23)  Hong Kong still remembers  -  6th June 2012
This year's post on the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen protests.

24)  The weekly haiku  -  8th June 2012
I find myself overwhelmed by my reacquaintance with the colour green. (I soon wrote about further reasons why I found myself enchanted to be back in England.)

25)  Farewell, dear friend  -  8th June 2012
A brief obituary for my blog friend Tony Brooks, recently deceased.

26)  Haiku for the week  -  15th June 2012
An unusually soul-baring little post: my excitement about the upcoming European Football Championship (in which I felt England had a chance - ah, foolish optimism!) is undercut by some morbid reflections on the dangers of nostalgia.

27)  Looking at things differently  -  18th June 2012
After years of vain searching, I finally unearth one of my favourite cartoons to share with you.

28)  Vilnius calling  -  21st June 2012
Lithuania seems to be one of the likeliest locations for my next spell of expattery. The vibrancy of the local music scene is amongst its many attractions.

29)  The Fantasy Girlfriend 'Football Team'  -  23rd June 2012
In keeping with the football theme of the moment, I come up with a squad of 12 of the lovely young actresses who captivated my heart during my childhood in the 1970s.

30)  Haiku for the week  -  29th June 2012
A hymn of praise to ceiling fans.

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