The ol' Swedish girl's still holding in there. Barely..., a photo by emaggie on Flickr.
No visit to my childhood home would be complete without checking on the status of our Swedish barn (built in 1890). She's still got that aching lean, as if the clock stopped just before she let go. The romantic in me hopes it stays that way forever. The realist, however, just loves to look. And shoot more pics.
First up, the high speed rail system between Beijing and Shanghai is supposedly all good to go once again. Whether or not anything has been re-engineered following the collision that killed 43 people back in July is an open question. For a nation that plans to build thousands of miles of new high-speed track by 2015, getting that system back on track has to be a nerve-wracking story for a whole lot of people.
Secondly, the explosion in car sales in China is unavoidable if you just look around the streets there. Oops, maybe that's a crude word choice to follow up a train crash story. Still, the Chinese love their cars. And they also apparently love to categorize those newly-coveted cars. A Mercedes, apparently, equals an old fart. An Audi means "bureaucrat", so just get the hell out of the way if you see one. I'm sure there are others - the handful of ridiculous Lotuses and Lambourghinis I saw speeding around the cities certainly indicate a very particular kind dickish customer. But where I was surprised in this piece was in the news that one of the hottest luxury car lines in China is actually the Buick - the oldest American car maker, and one that's recently even been dissed by GM's execs. Nevermind that Buick is also partly the namesake (derived from a favorite Midwestern cliche') of my prior blog. Buick's back, baby. At least on the streets of Beijing. I don't know why, but that makes me happy.
- I've written about my interest in the case of Ai Weiwei in China. I'm certainly not alone. Enough donations have flooded in (nearly $1.4M) that an appeal of his ridiculous, intimidating tax bill ($2.4M) should be possible. Not surprisingly, the complexity of Chinese bureaucracy makes things far from transparent and new roadblocks have emerged. I'm still fascinated by this artist and the emerging showdown between his hilariously named design firm (Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd.) and the Government. If you don't see it elsewhere, please expect that I will keep you posted when things catch my eye as the plot continues to thicken.
- I've gotten my first digital review copy (DRC) for a book coming out in January. Big shout out to Edelweiss (a preview and catalog service operated by Above the Treeline) for seeing fit to tag me as...I don't know what. A book reviewer? Book blogger, maybe. Writer with way too many distractions? All of the above, in fits and starts. Regardless, my first effort in this realm of read/absorb/review will wrap back around (at least somewhat) on the larger canvas I'm working on. I promise.
-As an important aside, my Kindle has just knocked my proverbial socks off. The struggle for a coexistence between the digital and the dead tree in publishing is a well-worn, expanding trope. But when these tools aid in the access to books that can then benefit both sides of that divide, the results are pretty darn nifty.