Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Shanghai City

Today it was Allen Taylor's turn to regale the Wanderers with real life stories of adventures around the world; Shanghai this time. Dr. Taylor, as he is known at Fudan University, is part of an accredited degree program offered through Portland State University. Graduates of this state of the art curriculum get a PSU diploma. Much of the instruction is by video, so this was a unique opportunity for students to finally meet the on camera talent live. Jovi and others invited Allen out for a meal -- one of many such invitations, which kept the happy couple busy and joyous the whole time (sounds like not much was lost in translation).

PDX has a long history with China, as does Oregon State. One of the first Chinese apothecaries the westward drifting European pioneers had ever met settled in John Day awhile back. Plus the verb "to shanghai" developed real meaning here in Old Town. An underground railroad rescued alcoholics from a dead end lifestyle, and took them out to sea. They'd wake up shipboard, and not necessarily in a mood to express gratitude. I don't know how many ever managed to talk their way back to shore, but no doubt some got to see China.

These days, Portland is proud of its state of the art Classical Chinese Garden (the Japanese one is likewise faithfully rendered), and an approach via West Burnside will take you through our Ceremonial Chinese Gate, a gift from Kaohsiung, Taiwan. For years, my wife and I have done programming and bookkeeping for the Northwest Regional China Council, which helps broker cultural exchanges and relationships.

Allen is an entrepeneur, not just an academic, and so had some business proposals for his Chinese hosts. Plus his wife is into stuffed toy penguins, as well as the real thing (she and Allen visited penguins in Antarctica recently). Did you know GenToo was a subspecies, hence the name of that well-regarded Linux distro?

One proposal was to distribute Evil Cult, which Allen produced, and his family stars in (in the movie, his son Rob, alias Neil Stryker, keeps wanting to go back for his stuff). This proposal was shot down however, as digital media just get copied willy nilly in that neck of the woods. Traditional copyrights don't get much respect. But that doesn't mean you can't secure an income in the software biz, where it's often more a matter of who gets it first, even if the code is later made more widely available (yes, the open source model is big in China too -- makes sense).