NYU professor Ann Lee on what the US can learn from China, and other Thursday public events 


Who's in town
Ann Lee, a professor at New York University and an expert on China and its economic initiatives, speaks at the World Affairs Council. “What Can the U.S. Learn From China?” is the topic of her talk. [6 p.m., 312 Sutter St., S.F.]

Carey Perloff: American Conservatory Theater’s artistic director talks about her creative process and the larger themes within her latest play, “Higher.” [7 p.m., Jewish Community Center, 3200 California St., S.F.]

Golden Gate Park: The Golden Gate Audubon Society presents its January lecture, “Golden Gate Park: A Stroll Through History.” [7 p.m., First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin St., S.F.]

Grocery issues: Bi-Rite Market owner Sam Mogannam and Safeway real estate manager Natalie Mattei discuss land-use policy, labor costs, customer expectations and other grocery-related issues. [12:30 p.m., SPUR, 654 Mission St., S.F.]

Art show: “John Baldessari: Class Assignments, (Optional),” an exhibit of student-created work based on Baldessari’s teaching notes, opens with a reception. [6 to 8 p.m., California College of the Arts, 1111 Eighth St., S.F.]

William Gibson: The best-selling novelist talks about “Distrust That Particular Flavor,” his first collection of nonfiction. [7:30 p.m., Booksmith, 1644 Haight St., S.F.]

Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel: Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Barry and Thurber Prize-winning writer and “Saturday Night Live” alum Zweibel present “Lunatics.” [6 p.m., Commonwealth Club, 595 Market St., S.F.]

Eric Shanower: The award-winning cartoonist of the graphic-novel series “Age of Bronze” provides a behind-the-curtain look at his “Oz” projects. [7 p.m., Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission St., S.F.]

Public libraries
‘Thursdays @ Noon Films’: The program features a screening of director John Hillcoat’s “The Road” (2009), a drama set in a postapocalypic landscape. [Noon, Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St., S.F.]

Dragon tales: Author Oliver Chin reads the seventh adventure in his “Tales From the Chinese Zodiac” series, in this family program celebrating the Year of the Dragon. [3 p.m., Ocean View Branch, 345 Randolph St., S.F.]

Baritone and pianist
Baritone Christopher Maltman and pianist Malcolm Martineau appear in recital. Featured composers include Faure, Schumann, Schubert and Mahler. [8 p.m., Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., S.F.]

Local activities

Baroque violin: Elizabeth Blumenstock plays a program of works by Castello, Schmelzer, Biber and Leclair. [8 p.m., All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 555 Waverley St., Palo Alto]

Comedy festival: SF Sketchfest presents its 2012 kickoff show: “Night of the Shorts III: The Search for Schlock,” with Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” [8 p.m., Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., S.F.]

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