During my first week in China, I have spoken to dozens of people and toured all over Beijing. I even have a map listing the locations of all of the McDonalds in Beijing. Spatial theorists need to write down a model to explain how a uniform distribution of McDonalds is what we observe.
While I am quite happy to be here, this is not a low cost trip. The flight over was literally a pain in the neck. I'm in trouble with my wife
for vanishing for 2 full weeks. Apparently, professors are supposed to reply to student emails and colleagues' requests. While this is all "new news" to me, I will have to address a subset of such issues if and when I return to UCLA. There is also this new thing called a course syllabus that we are supposed to hand out at the start of a quarter. I keep receiving requests for them but I feel they limit a professor's freedom to improvise.
So, for those of you who are busy but would like to know what is really going on in China, permit me to offer you an insider's tour. Go to this newspaper and read it carefully; http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/.
It is more interesting than the predictable New York Times and I believe it is honest as a sociological statement about the "mindset" of what smart people care about and are thinking about in China.
I very much like the daily section of the paper that tries to teach Western people a phrase in Chinese and tries to teach Chinese people a strange Western phrase. For example, last thursday there was a quote about the "brown noser who is just kissing ass". So, this English phrase was presented and translated into Chinese characters.
I was impressed that the State views this as good stuff for their citizens to know.
To be serious for a moment, China will "take action" on carbon mitigation but they will take these efforts to build up their next "green export" sector and to reduce their economy's energy intensity because they know they are energy importers. They also don't want to be
cast the villians in international relations. Status is taken quite seriously in this nation and they appear to believe that a first tier nation should not be "brown". Green Cities are in vogue!