The Surprising Life Story of Yong Zhao

January 17, 2023

Discover Yong Zhao’s journey from his impoverished childhood in a rural village in China during Mao’s Cultural Revolution when he was too small and scrawny to plow the fields with a water Buffalo, so he was allowed to go to school instead. Today he is a Chinese American scholar.

Yong has written some 30 books, which education historian Diane Ravitch once said were “saturated with remarkable scholarship and learning,” and he has done extensive work in creating schools that promote global competence and language-learning computer games.

Diane Ravitch's blog

One of my personal heroes is Yong Zhao, a Chinese-American scholar from whom I have learned much about education. I first met him through his writings, which are informative and provocative. Over the years, I met Yong at conferences, and we became friends. Not long after Anthony Cody and I created the Network for Public Education, we invited Yong to be the keynote speaker at our annual meeting in Chicago. He was a sensation. He had no prepared speech, but he did have a computer loaded with images. As he flashed from one image to another, he told a coherent story that was both based in scholarship, personal, and uproariously funny. When I created a lecture series at Wellesley College, I invited him to speak, and he again gave an informal talk that was illuminating, authoritative, and delivered with grace and humor.

I reviewed one of his books—demystifying the…

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Is this an Indie Troll or a Russian, Iranian or North Korean Hacker trying to trick me with a Trojan Horse?

September 15, 2022

Lloyd Lofthouse

A few weeks ago, two e-mail alerts landed in my Gmail inbox telling me new comments had been submitted to two of my four blogs. This isn’t anything new. My four blogs have had more than one million views over the years, and I get e-mail alerts like these two all the time.

Once I see an e-mail alert, I go to the specific blog and either delete the comment if it’s SPAM or approve it.

But these two e-mail alerts were different.

The first time these e-mails landed in my inbox, since I seldom if ever click on links in strange e-mails, I went to the two blogs and couldn’t find the comments where they should have been, waiting for me to delete or approve them.

So, suspicious, I sent both of those e-mails to SPAM and blocked them from my Gmail account. Now they land in the…

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Reviving Old Semarang

May 9, 2021

If you are interested in one chapter of the long history of “overseas” Chinese, I recommend reading this piece. When you’re about halfway through you will reach – “Bidding goodbye to Tjahjono, we headed south to Chinatown, another historic neighborhood Yogi was well-acquainted with. The Chinese presence in Semarang long predates the Dutch takeover in 1678, when the Mataram Sultanate ceded the important port town – along with the fertile Priangan Highlands far to the west – to the Dutch East India Company as a reward for its decisive role in crushing a major rebellion and restoring the Javanese monarchy.”

There’s a lot of worthy history here.

Plus Ultra

Barely a decade ago, the Old Town quarter of Semarang was a place best avoided after sundown. The former hub of trade and commerce in one of Indonesia’s greatest port cities had been slowly deteriorating since the seventies, as the ground sank and businesses decamped for areas less prone to tidal flooding. When darkness fell, its abandoned Dutch colonial buildings were taken over by squatters or used as places for prostitution. Unsuspecting visitors who walked the narrow, dimly-lit streets of the area would have rubbed shoulders with small-time criminals who made a living through extortion and common thievery.

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Will the Tech Industry’s Obsession for Disruption End my Blogging

July 31, 2020

UPDATE July 29, 2020

It looks like my regular blogging days are over with my four WordpPress blogs. Taking advice from a comment, I Googled how to get the Classic Editor back from WordPress.

Here is what I found:

WordPress – Change Back To Classic Editor View

  1. Go to Plugins section.
  2. Search for Classic Editor.
  3. Click Install Now.
  4. Click Activate.
  5. When done, locate the plugin and click Settings.
  6. Do whatever changes you want, I want the Classic Editor to be the default editor, to the plugin and click Save Changes.

However, once I found Classic Editor to install it again, WordPress stopped me with: “Upgrade to the Business Plan to install upgrades.” Without paying that price, I wasn’t going to be allowed to “Install Now” and “Activate” the Classic Editor.

That monthly fee was $25 or $300 annually. That is not going to happen. I refuse to pay $300 a year to WordPress to get the Classic Editor back after I was allegedly tricked into clicking a button that replaced the Classic Editor with the Block Editor I did not want. I didn’t see any warning that by clicking that button, I was going to lose the Classic Editor and have to pay $300 annually to get it back. I thought it was a preview, and if I didn’t like it, I could just stay with Classic Editor. I guess that is not how WordPress greed works.

That does not mean I will close my four blogs. I will continue to pay the domain name fees to keep the blogs active on WordPress (unless the fees are increased and end up too costly), but I will not be publishing fresh content using that “FUCKING” Block Editor. That includes the three posts I already wrote in Word to publish during August 2020.

The Original Post Continues from this point.

Last Saturday, July 18, 2020, my blogging was disrupted by WordPress, and my temper, calm for months, exploded.  Before the COVID-19 pandemic I had lunch with friends every week and joined others in group meet ups. Thanks to the virus, I have lived alone since March 13. No one has visited me, and I have visited no one. Zoom, e-mails, phone calls, and WebEx help but cannot replace face-to-face visits.

Back to July 18 when I logged onto my blog to schedule three new posts for August, my first thought when I saw the new editing page for WordPress was, “What the FUCK!”

I complained to WordPress and the little help they offered did nothing to end the stress from the disruption they caused.

I learned that WordPress was changing the Classic Editor I had been using for a decade to a Block Editor (whatever that is).  From what I saw, I did not like the Block Editor and that feeling has not changed.

I was comfortable using the Classic Editor. I have better thangs to do than be forced to learn something new that stresses me out.

On Sunday, July 19, I wrote an angry letter expressing my frustration to Matthew Charles Mullenweg, the Founder and CEO of WordPress.  When I write an angry letter, I never mail the rough draft. I wait a few days and then revise to filter out the worst of my anger. But that rough draft will never be revised and mailed to Mr. Mullenweg. Instead, that letter has been added to this post.

Matthew Charles Mullenweg, Founder and CEO of WordPress

WordPress Corporate Office Headquarters Automatic, Inc.
60 29th Street #343
San Francisco, California 94110-4929

Dear Mr. Mullenweg:

This morning I attempted to start scheduling the August 2020 posts for my blog [806,254 hits/visits], and ran into an “alleged” improvement to the page where bloggers like me create their posts and schedule them.   The changes to the WordPress editing page were so drastic that I couldn’t complete that task.  I did not know what to do. I was lost. All the old menus were gone. I did see how I would upload a photo from one of the files on my desktop. I am not in the mood to learn how to use the new and disruptive Block Editor that is replacing the Classic Editor.

I always write my blog posts offline and copy and paste them into the Classic Editor that I have been using for a decade for all four of my WordPress Blogs.

Here are my other three blogs: [92,621 hits/visits] [121,597 hits/visits] [238,261 hits/visits]

Why do I want the Classic Editor back?

WordPress just became the flaming straw that set off the fuse to my explosive anger. Somehow I managed to stay calm since March while billions of people around the world (including you) are struggling to avoid dying of COVID-19. Last month, when the electrical circuits in my garage blew out, I still managed to stay calm. Then last week, my HVAC system stopped cooling my house in the middle of a heat wave. That HVAC was a new system installed in 2017 for $18k, but I still did not flip my lid.

Then along came WordPress with its NEW Block Editor.

Why change something that was working? Why not set up an easy to find button where we are allowed to keep the old design over the new one? What is wrong with you guys? Keep it simple. Do not change the old so drastically that it becomes stressful to deal with.

In the short term, stress can leave us anxious, tearful and struggling to sleep. But over time, continuously feeling frazzled could trigger heart attacks, strokes, and even suicidal thoughts. “In short, yes, stress can kill you,” – The American Institute of Stress

In case you don’t know it, change is not always good.

Sincerely (not really, I’m too angry to feel sincere),
Lloyd Lofthouse

High levels of cortisol caused by stress over a long period of time wreak havoc on your brain.

A few days after writing the letter to Matthew Charles Mullenweg, I read a piece from The San Francisco Chronicle. There’s a name for tech’s attitude problem: toxic positivity, Silicon Valley’s obsession with disruption and destruction of the existing order and evangelical embrace of the new. It’s better on the other side of the river, we promise … in recent years, that’s become its own kind of orthodoxy, where the only appropriate response to new technology, according to the insiders of Silicon Valley, is cheerleading. Criticism of technology isn’t viewed as rational skepticism by those for whom innovation has become a religion; it’s heresy.”

Forbes also published a piece on this topic. “The Myths of Disruption: How Should You Really Respond to Emerging Technologies? Disruption may be the most overused term in the business lexicon today. Every startup wants to disrupt the established order. Every incumbent is scared of being disrupted. Disruption is a rallying cry or a bogeyman, depending on where you sit. And no one is immune: if an executive dares to suggest that their industry is free from the threat of disruption, they are accused of being short-sighted or in denial, and heading the way of the Titanic or the T-Rex. I find this obsession with disruption a little disturbing. “

Years ago, I started rebelling against technology’s forced disruption.

I bought two Kindle e-readers. Then a couple of years later, I returned to reading books printed on paper and my kindles have been gathering dust ever since. Old fashioned books do not have batteries that need to be recharged and do not have software to update. This is ironic since the novels I have published have sold more than 60,000 e-books through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other bookselling sites.

The new should always be easier to use than the old.

I had a smartphone once, and after a couple of years I turned it in for a dumb phone. I do not text. I do not run around taking smartphone videos and photographs of myself. My dumb phone gets used about five-minutes a month. That smartphone was a fucking pain in the ass, always demanding attention to keep working.

Fuck that shit! If you want to replace something old with something new, keep it simple!

When I bought my first tablet computer, it lasted a day before I returned it, because it wasn’t easy to set up and use.

I have an HP laptop locked in a safe. I update the laptop once a month. If my desktop gets hijacked again by ransomware, that laptop will be my backup while the desktop is in the shop being unhacked.

The last two times I bought new cars, I refused to sign the contract unless the dealers replaced the satellite-linked, streaming radio with the fancy touch screen with a CD player that was easier to use. The only new shit I liked was the backup camera and the chirping thing that warns me when another car is in one of my blind spots.

I plan to do the same thing with the next car I buy.  If the dealer wants my money, they have to replace the irritating new crap with a CD player, or I will start looking for an older, used car that predates the annoying disruptive tech.  If I can afford to buy a new car every few years, I can afford to rebuild an old one when it wears out and even have someone add batteries and turn it into a plugin hybrid. I’ve read about people that have done that on their own.

I have news for disrupters like WordPress, Microsoft, Apple, and all the others tech geniuses. I do not want you disputing my life. I do that just find by myself, and when it comes to learning new things, I want to make that decision and not have it forced on me.

This might be my last post for all of four of my blogs if I cannot get the Classical WordPress Editor back. There is enough stress in this world without Donald Trump and Silicon Valley companies like WordPress generating disruption.

Will this be my last blog post? I do not know. I have been blogging for a decade. I have written and published 2,455 posts for iLookChina, 614 for, 1.444 for Crazy Normal, the classroom exposé, and 269 for The Soulful Veteran. That is a lot of writing, research, and reading. Those posts have generated more than a million reads or visits.


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat vet living with PTSD. He went to college on the GI Bill and earned a BA in journalism followed by an MFA in writing.

Discover his award winning books:

My Splendid Concubine

Crazy is Normal: a classroom exposé

Running with the Enemy

The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova

Interpreting Humor

July 29, 2020

Before I write about Chinese humor, I want to point out the difference between Chinese and Western thinking. Europeans and Americans tend to have a linear-thinking pattern compared to most Chinese that start with the specific and move to the abstract creating thought metaphors.

While metaphors exist in English and Chinese, they are seen differently. For instance, the Academic Exchange Quarterly says the Chinese people consider themselves descendants of dragons. These metaphorical expressions always carry positive meanings and attitudes. Although dragons can be found in English literature, they are often described as evil monsters. If someone is referred to as a dragon in English, it is always associated with the derogatory connotation, meaning “a fierce person”.

The FluentU Mandarin Chinese Language and Culture Blog offers “5 things You Need to know about Chinese Humor.”

“Comedy is a tricky thing!” FluentU continues, “What is funny in English may not be funny in Chinese. In fact, a lot of things we find humorous in our culture can be downright offensive in Chinese culture. Don’t worry—it’s actually not that hard to get a grasp on comedy in Mandarin. It just takes a little studying on the subject of faux pas in Chinese interactions to understand what’s funny and what’s not.”


Chinese Humor from a Western point of View


Why is this important?

Because understanding what a culture finds funny is important when making friends from other cultures. Humor is a very precise thing among cultures. For instance, FluentU says that depressing irony is kind of hilarious in Chinese culture.  This form of comedy is often dark, sarcastic, and very ironic. This may be funny to some Westerners, but it may come off as too dark to most.

Lacking facial expressions is pretty funny to Chinese people, too. Western comedians are quite expressive, both in their faces and bodies. In China, a lack of facial expressions while delivering witty one-liners is considered much more entertaining.

If you want to learn more about what works and what to avoid when it comes to Chinese humor, I urge you to visit

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

My Splendid Concubine is now available to read through Kindle Unlimited.

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