Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Golden Rule

Sometimes there are problems in translation, problems that arise from the inability to directly take a word or concept from one language to another. These problems are certainly not rare, and though at times may be frustrating, really don't surprise anyone.

Then there are other problems that might at first seemed to be mired in silly translation, but are frighteningly deeper than that.

For any number of reasons I was discussing "The Golden Rule" with a few Chinese recently. They all claimed familiarity with the maxim but kept saying it wrong. I was expecting "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (or something to that affect) but instead I kept getting "Do to other people what they might do to you."

Now, the difference in words was slight, and I had them write out the phrase in Chinese so I could check it myself, and a better translation might be "Do unto others what they wish to do unto you before they can do unto you themselves."

Which, is pretty scary.

I read an article today about the Chinese government injecting steroids into chickens to build their immunity to avian influenza. As a highly adaptable (and inter-breedable, if that is a word) as influenza of any form is, and coupled with the high turnover and contagion rate in chickens, this could easily lead to a stronger strain of influenza that could pose a serious threat to humans, as the avian flu has jumped species in the past and could easily do so again.

Not to puff myself up too much, but I've spent more than perhaps the average amount of time on infectious diseases, bioterrorism, and microbiology. Plus I've studied government reaction to scenarios such as outbreaks and mass hysteria. Plus I've studied the Chinese reaction to the same disasters. I'm not an expert, but I award myself the right to be worried about this. Back off man, I'm a scientist.

Today one of the universities I teach told me my 2 hour exam had to be cut down to 30 minutes, and also that I need to coordinate and produce a joint exam with 3 other teachers, all of us having taught totally different material.

At the moment, despite all this silliness around me, I am in a fantastic mood. I'm sitting in my newly acquired monk's shirt sipping my LaoShan tea from my hand painted porcelin tea pot. I am listening to Styx.

(In the picture above you'll see my office manager Renee, who is one month younger than I and in charge of my schedule. She is also, maybe, half my size.)

2 Comments:

At 11:31 AM, Blogger eirishis said...

A week without Bill? Good God, boy, blog already...work is boring.

 
At 12:17 PM, Blogger Tito Maury said...

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