“Beijing Spirit”

Here is Beijing Spirit (as codified in a subway display ad):

Patriotism. Innovation. Inclusiveness. Virtue. Quite apart from the questions of who developed this formula, what the public purpose is, and whether anyone in the citizen audience for such encouragement pays even the remotest attention (and indeed, whether there is any reason that they ought to), I found this intriguing. I thought about this on several long walks between subway lines, and sandwiched among my fellow humans who were Going Places on the Beijing Metro.

I am all for sane and non-toxic forms of patriotism. I still love me some Canada as I learn to love the world.

Innovation is a grand thing, the yang to tradition’s yin. (Or vice versa.) Bring on the new; in China, for all its reverence for the 5000 years of civilization, change is a high-speed train. Wisdom is needed to keep it on the rails.

It’s hard to see any dark side to inclusiveness, so long as it’s about more than holding one’s nose in tolerant contempt – say, for the migrant workers who build the luxury highrises and supermalls – or smiling for the foreigners who buy and spend, and then muttering darkly about them in private.

Virtue seems such a quaint idea, and is all the more lovable and necessary for it. Chinese respect for virtue runs deep, and let’s hope it’s a renewable resource in this furiously competitive, deeply wary society.

Think. Ask. When does patriotism collide unkindly with virtue? Can it co-exist with inclusiveness? Must virtue and innovation be at odds, or can there be new and creative expressions of the truly and deeply good? (Pray for ‘yes’.)

These are thoughts from an afternoon on several subway lines.

Super Bowl Monday II

A guided tour of America…

This is PART TWO of my extended riff on watching Super Bowl XLVII. Please click HERE to read Part One.  

11:25 a.m., Dalian, China. Jimmy, get out of the bathroom! Jimmy! JIMMY! 109 yards in 11 clock seconds, according to The Heads, went Jacoby Jones with the 2nd half kickoff. In the pantheon forever. the unbreakable record. Rayvens 28, Forty-winkers 6. (Cheap shot. Sorry. Also, the return was recalibrated at 108 yards. So there’s room for improvement. Whew.)

Off to the races from the 2nd half kick-off, Jacoby Jones gallops.

11:30. The lights go down in the Superdome, and the Three Wise Men and I share a collective Uh-oh! Talk turns to jihadists and fear-mongering possibility and Black Sunday – the movie – and this is the way the world goes.

11:32. The realtor as hero: the Century 21 Man saves the wedding. (We are all heroes, insofar as we support the consumer economy.) Blah. I’m getting tired of this. The thrill is gone. But the Blackberry commercial got my attention: “In 30 seconds, it’s easier to show you what it can’t do.” Great song, easy-going, in the background. Jimmy thinks it was Pitbull. I don’t know what that means. (Matters not, as the song was “Who Knows” by Marion Black; the Wise Men and Me ain’t got no soul.) Oh, my goodness, and Air Force One has been de-tailed! People have been sucked out of a plane at high altitude and we are all to believe that they are still alive! (How can fact and science and logic match up to Marvel-at-the-Movies?) It’s Iron Man 3. Coming May 3, coming to save the POTUS and his high flyers and redeem our boredom. (I was quite surprised to have had a good time at Iron Man, before it needed a ‘1’ behind it: good acting, and snappy dialogue along with the CGI. I’m not sure there are enough new ideas, in the same way that the Star Trek reboot will suffer the inevitable sequel Scarecrow disease: no brain.)

11:33. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, CBS’s voices of choice, can’t be heard because of the blackout. Sideline reporter Steve Tasker doesn’t know WHAT the hell to say. Thank goodness for commercials.

11:35. “It’s Febberary…Febuary…Febwuary.” Isn’t it funny how nobody can actually pronounce that month? A little, I guess. Out-takes are always fun. Subway’s is doing something in February that we should all be very excited about. (No mention, then, of restoring the lost inch to their alleged footlongs. Scandal.). Oh, and earlier, various stars (largely unrecognized by me) congratulated the famous Jared on the 15th anniversary of his sub-inspired weight loss. An iconic tale of modern America: man beats obesity and keeps it beat. Heroes are everywhere. (Jared did not look well to me, when I replayed the spot next day.)

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