Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

You In China Now

Arrived in China last night (although night is subjective when you have a 12 hour time differential), and after a bit of a drive to Suzhou we had dinner at a fantastic little Malaysian place which served something called ‘Roti’. Roti is apparently phyllo dough with stuff inside and then fried. The “stuff” usually consists of bananas or chicken and is damn delcious! I’m a bit exhausted and about to go out shopping but just wanted to post a funny anecdote and some pictures of my parent’s house (which has been converted into a museum in my absence!)

The story is a run-in with police that my dad had. He recently bought a car over there and while driving in Suzhou came to a point in the road which was blocked off by a huge gravel truck. My dad waited and waited until finally the truck’s driver got out and waved around like the truck was there to stay. So, my dad turns around and heads the car the oppostie way on the one-way street (no choice!). A police car spotted him doing this, turned on the sirens, ran a red light, and crashed right into my Dad’s new car–on purpose! My dad jumped out (obviously upset, and driver’s mirror was hanging off and the car was dented) but the policeman just started yelling “You in China Now! You in China Now! You Can’t Drive Like That! You In China Now!!!!” My Dad kept trying to explain the situation but the cop wouldn’t look up the street at the truck and just kept yelling. A couple minutes later, another car tried to go down the street, was blocked by the truck, and turned around. Finally my dad got the cop to look at what the other car was doing, the cop realized his mistake and did an emotional 360 from yelling to abject apologizing. He then started to salute my Dad over and over again until my Dad gave up, got into his car and drove away. Repair bill NOT comp-ed by China btw. ๐Ÿ™‚ Funny story I thought.

And below the fold are some pictures of my Dad’s ever-growing collection of Chinese relics, arts and crafts. Some really amazing stuff, I’d suggest taking a look!

A castle carved out of a granite stone which had embedded jade.

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No Xmas tree, so I decorated my Dad’s Terra Cotta Soldier instead. He likes Holiday Crackers and brought us some all the way from Williams and Sonoma!

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Its called a “Generation Ball,” concentric spheres carved out of jade representing the number of generations of the carver.

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They bought a baby grand!


My Dad bought these ancient stones in the country, they are thousands of years old and tell some kind of story. But they are written in archaic Chinese which not many people can read.


A close-up of one of the stones. Can you read it?

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Some beautiful vases.


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Stone lion that my Dad had to pay the guys that hauled it up the stairs, every flight of stairs. Cause they woudl stop, put it down, demand more money, etc etc. Luckily he lives on the 4th floor.


More pictures of his collection later…..


  1. #1 RPM
    December 13, 2006

    I guess car does not drive you in China….

  2. #2 Vladimier
    December 13, 2006

    Yeah, the Chinese are neat. Say something to them about using prisoners as organ donors, persecuting relgious believers, and enforcing atheism on the Tibetans as a means of destroying their cultural identity.

    And while you are at it, see it they will reign in their North Korean junk yard dogs.

    Thanks in advance.

  3. #3 aLvIn
    December 13, 2006

    Thought I may be a little helpful here.
    1. The words as seen the titles in one of the stones bought by your dad were written in a very primitive form of Chinese (trust me, the evolution of language has decreased the no. of strokes and hence made the learning of the language easier).
    2. I can only recognise 3 words of that title (to be read in the right to left manner; sorry, it’s the olden way of writing things): “Shan” (Virtous/good), “Guo” (fruit?), “Chang” (frequent). Without the last word being identified and reading the whole script, the title itself seems a little….dodgy.
    3. There’s a phrase when loosely translated into English, it means “There’s heaven high up in the skies, but there’s SuHang down here on earth!” SuHang itself means Suzhou and Hangzhou, both famed for its scenery and goods (Hangzhou’s famous for its green tea, Suzhou’s for its silk). I’ve been there a while ago and loved it, and I’m sure you would.
    Have fun!

  4. #4 Madison
    December 13, 2006

    The Chines have big plans for the world.
    And we are included.

    On their targeting maps.

  5. #5 AgnosticOracle
    December 13, 2006

    Wow do you think people do daily web searches for blogs mentioning China so they can post tirades? I could say a lot of bad things about modern China. But reading those tirades really made me want to defend it, or at least direct them to Matthew 7:3-5.

    Anyhow, you may have mentioned this in a earlier entry before I discovered your blog, but why are your parents in China?

  6. #6 Roy
    December 13, 2006

    AgnosticOracle- I know! I had the same gut reaction- “Man, she’s visiting her parents and having a nice time, what’s with you people coming on to harass her about it, like she shouldn’t be impressed or interested in the culture of one of the oldest societies on the planet.”
    Sure, there are things to dislike about modern China- but that doesn’t change that, for example, the Generation Ball is a beautiful and interesting piece.

    I can’t make it out very well in the top picture- but are those trees and paths and buildings carved all the way around?

  7. #7 Shelley
    December 13, 2006

    Oh tirades, I’m used to them by now. Try explaining to someone who hasn’t been to China anything about the politics or culture and watch out. I just sit back and laugh that Americans, who HAVE bombed and invaded foreign countries criticize China, who hasn’t. They don’t see the irony so I never bother. ๐Ÿ™‚

    My parents are in China due to my Dad’s job. He works in Suzhou managing a manufacturing plant there. His company in the US is called Contec but in China its T&A. Which cracks me up every time.

  8. #8 Roy
    December 13, 2006

    My father used to work for a company over here called T&A Systems. We have T&A coffee mugs, hats, and t-shirts.
    They crack me up, as well.

  9. #9 Bob Abu
    December 14, 2006

    Not to pick on anyone but a former Reagan administration official claims that the USA actually imprisons more of its people than China.

    As a proud American I find it hard to believe, but you can read it here at

  10. #10 Goldstein
    December 14, 2006

    The Chines may imprison less because they kill more.
    Did you know that selective abortion of female babies is rampant in China, as is forced abortion.
    No CHOICE there.
    And they don’t invade? Hell, they control Tibet NOW and are enforcing atheims on the Tibetans as a means of destroying their cultual identity. (Amnesty International)
    Not to mention that the Commie government has killed some 60 MILLION of its own citizens! (Black Book of Communism, Harvard University Press.)

  11. #11 Shelley
    December 14, 2006

    Tirades are so boring. ::yawn:: Especially when they are so ill-informed.

    Actually the abortions aren’t forced for second children. You can certainly lose your job for it though, or lose out on govt money. Crappy choice, but a choice nonetheless.

    Also, the Chinese government has banned elective sonograms for the very reason you mention (girls are less prized as they cannot work as hard, etc). You cannot know the baby’s sex unless it is imperative to the mother or baby’s health.

    As for Tibet, while I don’t agree with it, they have always viewed Tibet as part of China. Certainly not considered invading–thats an outsider’s perspective. Again, irony lost, sigh.

    Since when did a travel post invite anti-China blather? Take it elsewhere or be banned.

  12. #12 AG
    December 14, 2006


    When comes to view about China, Chinese people and culture, an interesting pattern can be observed. Exemely high IQ types people like Francis Galton, Bill Gates often view Chinese culture and people with deep respect and admiration. Low IQ types especially some natives living in southeast Asia or Africa or red necks in America look at any thing Chinese with contempt.

    Well, it takes one to know one. It is hard for semi-retarded to appreciate Einstein.

  13. #13 Shelley
    December 14, 2006

    Right on AG! Who let all the nutjobs out of the nutjar lately? Has there been a paucity of rant-worthy posts on these crazies’ sites or what? ๐Ÿ™‚ Best to shoo them away like the annoying buzzing flies they are, or ignore them.

  14. #14 Roy
    December 15, 2006

    Making legitimate criticism isn’t stupid- but being an asshole is- being a reactionary idiot and lambasting anyone who dares say something nice about China and comparing someone’s family to Nazis is most certainly stupid.

    You’re not winning any allies by making posts like this. Even if I, or (I suspect) anyone else, agreed with the ideas that you’re presenting, you’re presenting them in such a hostile and antagonistic way that you’ve already pushed me away. You come across as less interested in engaging in an intellectual discussion about the current state of China than in being a self-righteous prick. If you were really interested in the things happening in China, it might have been a better idea to ask legitimate questions about it. “Say, Shelly, what does you and your family think about the situation in Tibet?” might have been a little more reasonable than “Shelly, your family are clearly monsters and you hate human rights! And you hate America!”
    That’s just a hunch I have.

  15. #15 Mike
    December 15, 2006

    What’s all this xenophobic stuff about the Chinese wanting to conquer the world – they don’t have much of a history of trying to do that. Anglo-saxon-celts, on the other hand…

  16. #16 Roy
    December 15, 2006

    “…what does you and your family think about…”

    Good to know that my education is paying off in spades. =P

  17. #17 Roy
    December 15, 2006

    If you don’t actually care what her or her family think about the situation, why not sod off and find a bridge to hide under?
    You’re coming on her blog, and acting like a obnoxious jerk, insulting her and her family, and just generally being a troll.

    And, as long as you’re interested in checking out Amnesty International, why don’t you tell us what the top headline there is right now? Here, let me help you: “Global action against Guantแฎกmo.” But, then, you’re not really interested, are you? You’re not really concerned about convincing anyone on here that we should care about the plight of the Chinese or the monks in Tibet, so why should I be surprised?

  18. #18 Roy
    December 15, 2006

    Sorry Shelley- I shouldn’t engage in fruitless back-and-forth with trolls on someone else’s blog (or my own, for that matter, I suppose).

    Since we’re obviously “pals,” I’ll buy the next round of drinks (using government money, of course) when we get together to talk about how much we hate America and how great bloody dictatorships are, or how much we wish we could trample human rights beneath our goose-stepping boots. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  19. #19 Alon Levy
    December 15, 2006

    A few notes:

    1. China does have a history of imperialism, as many Koreans and Vietnamese will tell you. Ho Chi Minh went as far as saying he’d rather be occupied by France than by China.

    2. China executes a lot of people because it has a large population, but the country with the largest number of executions per capita is Singapore, which American conservatives venerate.

    3. China has one of the lowest maternal mortality ratios in the developing world – 48, compared with a global average of 400. Remember that next time you rant about Chinese reproductive rights policy.

    4. China is authoritarian rather than totalitarian, and has been since Mao died. Current Chinese repression is a lot more similar to this of most regimes the US brought to power (or for that matter post-Khomeini Iran) than to the revolutionary zeal of Maoist China, fascist Italy, or Taliban Afghanistan.

  20. #20 Shelley
    December 16, 2006

    ::Sigh:: What a waste of neurons. Looks like I’m gonna have to go back to comment moderation. Sorry guys. :/ Nuts will be nuts.

  21. #21 doctorgoo
    December 16, 2006

    Shelley, your China stories brings back memories of Thailand for me. I share your love of Roti. I don’t know if it’s common all over China, or if you were just lucky enough to go to the right restaurant. But roti stands can be found in just about any market in any town in Thailand.

    My favorite is crushed fruit (usually lychee or longan) mixed with sugar and cream. But dinner roti is good also.

    I look forward to seeing your pics when you get back. Enjoy your trip!

  22. #22 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    December 22, 2006

    Ahh Shelley, I see you’ve been introduced to Legion. Legion has many names but you can always tell it’s it by the slobbering rant filled post it makes. They’re all similar and its favorite subjects are atheists and scientists and how they are all one in the same. Usually there will be some conspiracy babbling and almost certainly it will eventually link all atheists and scientist to communism and any horrors perpetrated by communists. It has been kicked off many a blog before but likes to run around changing its name and making attacks on “those damn sciencey types”. Its cute, but it gets old. I would just do yourself a favor and not suffer the fool for too long.

  23. #23 AG
    January 9, 2007

    As for Tibet, while I don’t agree with it, they have always viewed Tibet as part of China. Certainly not considered invading–thats an outsider’s perspective. Again, irony lost, sigh.

    Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, said on around Christmus.

    “It is in our own interest to remain with People’s Republic of China. A powerful nation — economically very powerful,” he told an audience at a book launch in the Indian capital.

    NOW EVEN TIBETAN LEADER WANT TO BE PART OF CHINA. All those crying for Chinese invasion can shut up.

  24. #24 Javier Rodriguez
    January 15, 2010

    Hello Shelley, I was trying google-ing “Generation Ball” when I ran into your article. I have one myself and mine is a 5th generation. But from looking at yours and mine yours is more shinier than mine and mine does not have dragons but some kind of birds on it.

    As for your study on hair cell regeneration, I think that is pretty cool, since nowadays most people (men and women) are losing their hair. I think it is the water…afterall, how many times can water be purified and chemically treated after having gone through so many people’s kidneys and so forth, before it can cause some sort of damage on whom ever drinks it or bathes in it. There has to be a chemical in the water that is affecting hair.

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