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American Friends - Enjoy Your July 4th Holiday Tomorrow Options
Posted: Monday, July 03, 2017 9:21:54 AM

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Joined: 3/23/2015
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Location: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
To our American friends on TFD, have a great Independence Day holiday tomorrow, July 4th.

Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have. -James Baldwin, writer
Posted: Monday, July 03, 2017 9:58:27 AM

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Joined: 7/23/2014
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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Enjoy your 7/4 also, and have a great time playing and watching Tennis!
Posted: Monday, July 03, 2017 10:05:55 AM

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Joined: 9/12/2011
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom

Oops - sorry, wrong picture . . .

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Andrew Schultz
Posted: Monday, July 03, 2017 2:16:27 PM

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Thanks--after so many years, I have to admit I'm sick of parades and fireworks and so forth. But that is surface stuff. It doesn't change the significance of such an anniversary, or that a national holiday is about celebrating all we have done and all we are able to do.

It seems every 4th, I get back in touch with a couple internet friends I meant to, but never got around to, and a national holiday (USA or otherwise) is special in a way New Year's isn't. So I hope people in other countries find this, too, on July 4th or their own national day.

I particularly enjoy the idiom section of this fine website.
Posted: Wednesday, July 05, 2017 9:24:14 PM

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Location: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Gary, We did not find on a national station the "Boston Pops July 4th" show but quite enjoyed "A Capitol Fourth". The Beach Boys are still in fine form, Surfin'' away.

Then we watched an hour show about all the at-least-ten-month long preparations that go into the fireworks. The company that does it is in a south eastern American state - forget which one. They go to China, where not only were fireworks discovered, but where they are mostly manufactured. They watch all the displays at five different factories and buy the fireworks. We saw how the Chinese factories put each ball together and even how they make shapes such as a star as they explode.

They have to be all wired and attached to software etc. - a lot of work.

And it really is a challenge to set them all off as planned without any accidents. Even the weather caused problems and they had to make sure everything was dry after the afternoon storm. And then they had to clean up the mess afterwards. Very interesting.

Hope everybody had a good July 4th no matter how you celebrated.

Between July 1st and July 4th we've had enough celebrating and fireworks 💥 to last quite a while.

Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have. -James Baldwin, writer
almo 1
Posted: Wednesday, July 05, 2017 9:59:15 PM
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Joined: 10/16/2016
Posts: 684
Neurons: 3,032
Location: Fussa, Tokyo, Japan

At noon on November 30, 2012, beneath a clear late-autumn sky, Wayne Clough, the white-bearded, affable secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, appeared before a collection of cameras and microphones. As he spoke, a cold wind blew across the National Mall. The audience stood bundled in their overcoats as a representative of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held aloft a mysterious gold medal. The Smithsonian’s honored guest that day was the famed Chinese artist Cai Guo Qiang, who had been feted the night before at a tony gala inside the Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art—an event cohosted by my wife, Susan. Some four hundred guests, among them House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Princess Michael of Kent, and the seventy-four-year-old widow of the shah of Iran, clinked glasses to celebrate the Chinese-American relationship and to catch a glimpse of Cai, who had won international acclaim for his awe-inspiring fireworks display

The following day, as Cai was introduced, he was dressed in a Western-style suit, gray overcoat, and orange-red scarf. A trim, handsome man with graying hair, he looked out upon the Mall and the subject of his latest piece of performance art, a four-story-tall Christmas tree decorated with two thousand explosive devices.

As Cai twisted a handheld trigger, his audience watched the tree explode before their eyes, with thick black smoke emerging from the branches. Cai twisted the trigger again, and the tree exploded a second time, then a third. The five-minute display sent pine needles across the vast lawn in all directions and dense black smoke—symbolizing China’s invention of gunpowder—billowing up the façade of the Smithsonian’s iconic red sandstone castle.2 It would take two months to clean up the debris and residue left by the explosion.

I don’t know if any of the guests contemplated why they were watching a Chinese artist blow up a symbol of the Christian faith in the middle of the nation’s capital less than a month before Christmas. In that moment, I’m not sure that even I appreciated the subversion of the gesture; I clapped along with the rest of the audience. Perhaps sensing the potential controversy, a museum spokesman told the Washington Post, “The work itself is not necessarily about Christmas.”3 Indeed, the museum labeled Cai’s performance simply, “Explosive Event,” which, if one thinks about it, is not much more descriptive than what Cai called it on his own website: “Black Christmas Tree.”4

Secretary Clinton’s aide waved the gold medal for the press corps to see, as Cai smiled modestly. He had just been given the State Department’s Medal of Arts, the first of its kind, which was presented to the artist by Clinton herself, along with $250,000, courtesy of the American taxpayer. The medal was awarded, she said, for the artist’s “contributions to the advancement of understanding and diplomacy.”5 Cai seemed to agree with the sentiment: “All artists are like diplomats,” he said. “Sometimes art can do things that politics cannot.”6

I was a little suspicious and mentioned Cai the next day during a secret meeting with a senior Chinese government defector. He was incredulous at the award and explosion. We scoured the Internet. I wanted to investigate Cai and his works of art a little more closely. I didn’t bother reading the English articles proclaiming Cai’s genius, but rather what the Chinese were saying on various Mandarin-language websites about one of their most acclaimed citizens.

Cai, it turned out, has quite a large following inside China. He was and remains arguably the most popular artist in the country, with the notable exception of Ai Weiwei. Many of Cai’s fans were nationalists, and applauded him for blowing up Western symbols before a Western audience. China’s nationalists called themselves ying pai, meaning “hawks” or “eagles.” Many of these ying pai are generals and admirals and government hard-liners. Few Americans have ever met them. They are the Chinese officials and authors I know the best because since 1973 the U.S. government has instructed me to work with them. Some of my colleagues wrongly dismiss the ying pai as nuts. To me, they represent the real voice of China.7

Cai and the hawks appear to be very supportive of the narrative of the decline of the United States and the rise of a strong China. (By coincidence, his given name, Guo Qiang, means “strong country” in Mandarin.) Cai’s earlier exhibits featured variations on this theme. For instance, while American soldiers were coming under nearly constant assault by IEDs in Afghanistan and Iraq, the artist simulated a car bomb explosion to ask “his viewers to appreciate some kind of redeeming beauty in terrorist attacks and warfare.”8 The artist raised eyebrows when he said that the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, was a “spectacle” for the world audience, as if it were—in some twisted sense—a work of art. Shortly after the attacks, an Oxford University professor reported that Cai Guo Qiang proclaimed that his favorite book9 was Unrestricted Warfare: War and Strategy in the Globalization Era, a work of military analysis in which two Chinese colonels recommended that Beijing “use asymmetrical warfare, including terrorism, to attack the United States.”10 Even now, Chinese bloggers were enjoying the spectacle of their hero destroying a symbol of the Christian faith only a stone’s throw from the U.S. Capitol. The joke, it appeared, was very much on us.

Only later did I learn that the U.S. officials responsible for the payment to Cai had not known about his background or his dubious artistic strategy. I couldn’t help but feel that my wife and I had also been caught unawares—happy barbarians gleefully ignorant of the deeply subversive performance taking place before us. This wasn’t much different from U.S. policy toward China as a whole. Chinese leaders have persuaded many in the West to believe that China’s rise will be peaceful and will not come at others’ expense, even while they adhere to a strategy that fundamentally rejects this.

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