Monday, January 31, 2011

Shanzai FAIL


In a development that could further inflame Hollywood’s frustrations with unauthorized reproduction of its intellectual property in China, Chinese netizens are accusing CCTV of repurposing footage from the movie “Top Gun” for use in a news story about an air force training exercise.

Wall Street Journal again reveals its startling inability to grasp the point when it says the incident may "further inflame Hollywood's frustrations with unauthorized reproduction of its intellectual property" (though I'm holding out hope that the writer was being very cheeky there). Here's a bit of advice, WSJ: you can see more of the world if you hold the mirror away from your rectum. Because I'm pretty sure if anything, Hollywood's laughing its ass off because THE GOVERNMENT OF A SUPERPOWER JUST BORROWED A CLIP FROM ONE OF ITS MOVIES AND TRIED TO PASS IT OFF AS ORIGINAL FOOTAGE.

Footage, mind you, ostensibly aimed at showing China's power in the form of military might.

This after high-level denunciations of fake news, by the way.

This, with the eyes of the world's media still on China because of President Hu's trip (google "Top Gun China" and see how many media outlets from near and far have picked up this story).

I am stunned and happy and so, so entertained.

There is something sublimely funny and revelatory about this incident. We all know or strongly suspect that there are scores of people within the Chinese government who are holdovers from a vastly different era, an upside-down world of anti-rightist campaigns in which ineptitude was rewarded and common sense massacred. But to see these nitwits smoke themselves out, inadvertently, using the tools of our digital age, well, it's almost enough to make me weep out of some strange mixture of joy and relief, as if: Okay, so naivete can survive, like a cockroach in nuclear winter, in the highest organs of statecraft. Somehow I see this as a validation of the human spirit, those pulpy and sentimental parts of us that are fallible and wistful and capable of expressing our love for a 1980s Hollywood blockbuster in truly the most spectacular and ingenious of fashions. May you never change, CCP. God bless you.

An environmental parable, revised

This post is otherwise known as your daily dose of cynicism.

An ancient Chinese fable from a compilation by K.L. Kiu, who also translated this (I've taken the liberty to correct the [sic]'s):

"The Art of Stealing"

The Guo family in the state of Qi was very rich while the Xiang family in the state of Song was very poor. Mr. Xiang went to Qi from Song to learn from Mr. Guo how to become wealthy.

"I am very good at stealing," said Mr. Guo. "After I became a thief, I managed to support myself after one year. In two years' time I was comfortably off. After three years I owned lots of land and my barns were all full. From then onwards I could afford to give to the needy and I helped many friends and neighbors."

Mr. Xiang was delighted. He took in Mr. Guo's remark about stealing without understanding how one should go about it. Therefore, he scaled walls and bore holes to get into houses. He took everything his eyes could see or his hands could reach. After a little while, he was convicted of theft and the inheritance left by his ancestors was confiscated.

Mr. Xiang was of the opinion that Mr. Guo had deceived him so he went to see Mr. Guo in order to put the blame on him.

"How did you steal?" asked Mr. Guo.

Mr. Xiang gave him an account of what he did.

"Oh dear!" said Mr. Guo. "You have totally missed the point of what I meant by stealing. I'll explain what I mean. I heard that Nature has seasonal changes and Earth produce fair crops. I steal from Nature's seasons and Earth's produce: clouds and rain give abundant moisture while hills and ponds supply other rich yields. With these I nurture my grain, plant my crops, put up my walls and build my houses. On land I steal birds and animals and at sea I steal fish and turtles. Everything is stolen, for grain, crops, earth, trees, birds, animals, fish and turtles are all products of Nature. Which of these belong to me? But when I steal from Nature, I do not get into trouble. Now precious stones, treasures, provisions, silks, money and goods are things that are amassed by men. They are not the gifts of Nature. If you steal such things and get convicted who can you blame?" --Liezi

Obviously this fable is out of date. Or somewhere along the line -- relatively recently, actually -- this innocuous act of "stealing" from nature turned into a widespread pillaging of it, and we now find ourselves in the unpalatable position of having to punish those who take from nature yet give nothing back.

The above is a Chinese fable, and certainly applies to China, but no Western country is exempt. The consumer society was set into motion half a century ago in the States and it's beginning to tear the country a new asshole. Jeffrey Sachs has a more eloquent description, in which he...

said America’s economic system had corrupted the soul of the country by engineering excess: over-eating, excessive television-watching and material consumption now dominated the lives of millions of Americans. “We designed a kind of society that is designed for addiction,” he said.

“We’re mean. Our politics is mean,” to the rest of the world and to America’s own poor, he said. “We’re an unhappy society amid wealth.”

Yes, when all you care about is the next consumer fix -- the video game, the double-bacon triple-cheeseburger, the candied cumshot of divertissement and dither -- it's tough to focus or think intelligently about the workings of government and media, and it's hard to work up a reasonable amount of anger for Bristol Palin on Dancing with the Stars. You just go with the flow and find yourself a little worse off the next day.

Sachs was talking specifically about happiness, but the relationship to the environment is all too obvious. A society hellbent on consuming because its identity is entwined with spending power and luxury is a country that will ride the environment like a two-bit mule till it collapses and farts on us all.

For more heady reading about the environment and US-China relations, see: US Department of Energy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My new hero, Yang Youde

Badass of the Week:

The big shot pompous assholes of SuperMechaCorp Developers offered Youde the Chinese monetary equivalent of about $19,000 for his land, which amounts to roughly one-fifth of what the farm is actually worth. When Youde brought this up in "negotiations", the developers told him that if he didn't agree to it they would send a couple dozen guys to beat the fuck out of him in the hopes that some massive head trauma would help him change his mind. Youde told them to hump a lawnmower.


On May 25, Yang Youde said that several dozen men came armed with shields and helmets behind bulldozers. This time, Yang Youde fired several shots. Before firing, he used a megaphone to declare aloud: "I kept mentioning Document 46 (2009) and the lack of an agreement about the land." At the same time, he yelled, "This is going to cause injuries on both sides." Yang Youde said that he was forced to open fire when the evictors continued to advance.

SMH headline: China farmer uses cannon to fight eviction

NTDTV: a video!

Inaugural Kro's Nest trivia: tonight

Jim and I will be at The Kro's Nest at 35 Xiaoyun Lu tonight (that's Thursday, just to clear up any confusion) from 8 pm onwards hosting Kro's first trivia night. It'll be our first time in action since the Super Quiz and, before that, October 26, at good ol' Souk Lounge (now defunct; the owner's moved to HLG Lounge in Solana; don't bother looking it up, you won't find it; it's in the basement of HLG Club (what?)). It seems like it's been forever since we last did this, but we're all fired up, not to mention fresh as the Steelers defense was in the first half vs. the Jets.

We've gotten some pretty good press recently, such as this endorsement from Kirby Carder on Jim Boyce's blog ("These guys know how to run a trivia contest"). I've put up an ad on the Beijinger and City Weekend with links to China Daily and Global Times' respective reviews of our gig. CD's Lauren Johnson was especially friendly when she described our quiz as "American-centered" (true) before dissing the other quizzes as "European-based, asking questions that deal with football and F1." Football and F1 -- how awful, truly. CW also threw in a nice little compliment when it made us an Editor's Pick:

Test your knowledge of American trivia at Beijing's best pizzeria. Teams of up to six compete for prizes during every round. During the quiz, buy any five beers for just ¥100, and indulge in a post-trivia happy hour that kicks off at 10:30pm.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Geez. That's a lot of self-promotion. I'm going to go scrub myself now.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Poor Freedur


Dear Sir/Madam,

As of 4pm, 26/01/2011, ETM +8, multiple Freedur VPN IPs were blocked in China, resulting in service outage for Freedur users usign the service from mainland China. We have begun the process of changing IP addresses and the servers will be updated as quickly as possible. We sincerely apologize for the service interruption for China users. Thank you very much for your patience and understanding.

Of course the government couldn't have people circumventing Internet restraints AND making political statements about freeing Darfur. Witopia is obviously the way to go.

HT: Robert H.

On state visits and wild boars

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

An unexpected source of enlightenment

This is probably a fake video -- and it was posted in June, so there really shouldn't be relevance here -- but this rated comment caught my attention:

"the only crime in china is being caught"

Video from this guy.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Traveling by train in China

You might sit (or stand) next to a migrant worker such as Chen Weiwei:

Photo (and story) from China Daily

It would make the trip worth it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The apparent assault at Shooters last Wednesday

As reported by Global Times:

According to the victim, the incident began in Shooters bar, at the north end of Sanlitun Back Street. The group arrived at approximately 1:30 am with friends, including five local and foreign-born Chinese women.

They entered the bar and another American with them, who also requested anonymity, went to dance with his Chinese girlfriend. He quickly was surrounded by a group of Chinese men, all of whom he estimated to be in their 20s.

When one of the men allegedly smashed a bottle on the victim's head and began to assault him, the women accompanying the group attempted to pull him away. The victim's friends then noticed the scuffle, reclaimed their friend and attempted to leave the bar.

PSAs aren't my thing, but here's my little bit of advice for anyone who just must tussle at Sanlitun: confront foreigners, not locals. Because locals will pull shit like surrounding a cab and smashing in windows with pipes. Meanwhile, you fight a foreigner and what's he going to do, call his embassy? I'd like to hear that conversation.

I'm being tongue-in-cheek, of course (actually, I'm being quite serious, because I understand alcohol + meatheads will balls + lack of sex = shit going down, but whatever). But on a serious note: don't get into fights with Chinese people at Sanlitun. Just don't be that stupid.

A couple friends and I, over the summer, sat outside Smugglers playing dice for two or three hours and saw about four fights. A hefty Chinese dude beat a white guy out of the bar and kept screaming, "This is not your country!" That about sums up the way I think the locals feel when they get drunk and see a bunch of white men doing things like, oh, flirting with their women. It's primeval but not unexpected. My friend and I helped break up one of the fights. And then we saw a Chinese man threaten to beat his Chinese girlfriend, but just as he put his hand up a foreigner went and intervened. That was nice of the foreigner, I think, but then the female goes into a rage and they're both beating on each other and there're hysterics all over, and I'm thinking, What the fuck, I just want to play dice in peace. (No, I wasn't thinking that, but I was playing dice.)

And there was this, of course, two years ago, which was my introduction to Sanlitun as I've come to know it. Kevin and I still think someone died that night.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weekend links

From CMP (below)

Where I give as many or as few links from this past week or before as I want:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Abattoir on wheels

Try for a moment to imagine my horror at seeing this last night:

Here's a closer look:

You can't imagine, can you? Because with rare exceptions, none of us have seen a moving murder scene before, or even evidence of a murder.

You can imagine this though: A young man and woman are arguing in a subway, who knows about what. The woman is shrieking hysterical. The man is embarrassed beyond words so he stonewalls her with his stare. And passersby are craning their heads, walking into walls looking at this couple. They make no judgments, they simply stare.

Back at their one-room flat in Shuangjing, just as they get in the door and she's calmed down somewhat, he rips a backhand across her face and says, "Don't you dare embarrass me like that in public." She is stunned momentarily, but she collects her bearings and picks herself up and coos very gently, "What are you going to do, you dickless excuse of a man?" Now this really sets him off. In a huff he's at the kitchen counter -- it's a small room, so he's there in two steps -- and picking up the first blade he sees, a vegetable knife. He pins her against the wall and he's looking at her with crazy eyes and trying his best to act menacing but something in her eyes takes him aback. He hesitates. Of course he has to say something -- his manhood has been challenged -- but suddenly he's lost his will. He offers: "I'm going to cut you, you bitch!"

She laughs at him. Only laughs, nothing more. And he can already feel his blood bubbling over the brim when she then points and laughs at him. So he says, "You think I won't do it? You think I won't?" The blade is right up against her throat now, he has her hand on her chin, and he notices two things just then: the way her eyes have become two-dimensional, all depth risen to the surface like the earliest amphibian testing its legs; and her neck, milky white and hot to the touch. He loses grip of her face. She folds her chin down onto the blade and her eyes go bloodshot.

You don't need me to describe what happens next. He's now the one who's hysterical. Blood's everywhere. Her eyes are still open. He chokes on his breath and can't do anything but scream and scream and scream.

An hour later -- or several hours, who knows anymore -- he collects himself. He wipes the blood from the door so that it doesn't arouse suspicion from passersby. That's what he's thinking: can't let people walking by my door know anything. He realizes what he needs to do: dispose the body.

So he carries her over his shoulder like a hunk of meat to his van and stuffs her in and just starts driving. Just driving. He isn't paying attention, he's just going. And he hits Third Ring Road and there's nasty traffic and he doesn't know why but he's already there, cars in front and behind and to both sides, and what can he do but breathe, just in and out, just stare ahead and breathe and keep driving down this immaculate, newfangled, latter-day city of sinners and saviors and strangers bathed in orange and white, and the smiling pedicab driver, the grizzled chuar dealer, the reptile-skinned canal cleaner, the spectacled office worker, the chubby bus conductor, the well-heeled nightwalker, the bright-eyed bar-hopper, they are all looking at him now, grinning or grimacing or not doing anything, just watching and waiting to see what he will do next because every possibility is open.

The accident on Third Ring Road that caused traffic to get backed up from Hujialou to Guanghua Lu, just south of Guomao. Traffic... sigh.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Amy Chua, this is your child

She's pointing the pious end of a Beretta in your face and probably gurgling in that cute and annoying baby voice of hers, "Eat shit, bitch!," and you know why? Because you seem to think your child is a dog, a thing you dress in a tutu and put on your lap at dinner parties, when in fact she is a perfectly emotional and free-thinking human being who is fully capable of deciding to stick the barrel of a gun in your smug, sanctimonious face.

Let me read back the opening sentence in your Wall Street Journal column:

A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids.

Do you understand the meaning of "stereotypical"? Consult. I think what you meant to say was:

A lot of people wonder about the stereotype that Chinese parents raise such successful kids.

Because, you see, that might be true. And that might be worthy of investigation in such a fine, tympan-and-daguerreotype paper like the Wall Street Journal. But you choose to set a bare-assed premise that Chinese kids are more "successful" than your white New Haven neighbors, and in doing so you gloss over, well, EVERY FUCKING THING.

Some questions I'm left wondering: do other successful minority groups have this tradition of tough parenting? (Of course not -- they have other stereotypes, don't they?) What are the factors that contribute to immigrant success in America? Are child "prodigies" happy? How does one define "happy"? Are you ashamed of being racist?

And something else: NO. No, people do not sit around thinking about why Asians are more "successful." In the real world -- not your ivory tower called Yale -- they are just as liable to think why David won't ask that girl he stares at all the time on a date, or why John eats alone in the cafeteria, or why Grace went from being a model high school Valedictorian to a raging college slut, and how an entire generation of Chinese Zhous (and Wangs) can do so well on tests but produce no innovative thinkers and why they're so prone to political manipulation.

(See what I did there? I just did what you did. Pretty goddamn awful, isn't it?)

I really hate to inform you of this, Ms. Chua, but the world is not so simple that Sophia playing in Carnegie Hall makes her an unqualified "success." She's good at what she does, I'm sure, but I somehow suspect she would have been fine even without your hormone-induced hissy-fits, or what I can only imagine is your banshee-like voice saying, "Get back to the piano now"; your facile, sort of dangerous worldviews; and your prattle. God, your prattle probably deserves its own fucking level in Hell. You must nag like the violent end of a hose trying to put out a fire. Not to get all nihilistic, but in the end your daughter's still just another piece of human flesh doing a job that will lead to death without 99.99% of the world giving a damn. It's really, really great that you've prepared her so well to face this reality!

And here's the thing, Amy Chua: the way you describe your treatment of your kids is heinous. It's just so mind-boggling that I'm at a loss for words, which is why I'll just quote you:

Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

• attend a sleepover

• have a playdate

• be in a school play

• complain about not being in a school play

• watch TV or play computer games

• choose their own extracurricular activities

• get any grade less than an A

• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama

• play any instrument other than the piano or violin

• not play the piano or violin.

Jesus William H. Macy Christ, the fucking piano and violin? I'm no criminal profiler, but when I find your body stabbed a hundred times by your daughter, I'm going to guess she's 5'4'', 115 pounds, petite, soft-spoken, straight-haired (shiny black) and single-lidded (thin eyes), has one dimple on her cheek, slightly hunchbacked, chalkboard-chested, likes Margaret Cho, likes reading Melissa De La Cruz, blogs on Xanga, works as a masseuse or someone equally skilled at rubbing one out, carries a kewpie-doll-keychain, is ambitious but understated, loyal but curious, shy but self-assured, and dates white men.

And finally, we get to your conclusion -- which, thankfully, I got to before popping a blood vessel (I probably wouldn't be able to say the same if I had picked up your book): "Western parents try to respect their children's individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions, supporting their choices, and providing positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment. By contrast, the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they're capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away."

Okay, here -- here, you poor excuse -- you once again do that thing that makes me so mad I have to get crude. (Quick interlude: to preempt any of you amateur psychologists out there who might be smirking at my emotional outburst, I'll put your suspicion to rest: my mom is the exact opposite of this woman, and I was raised in more or less the exact opposite way.) Do not EVER pretend you speak for "the Chinese," you crazy fucking Nazi. You are exactly everything that is wrong with Asian writers. You disgrace us. Please shut up -- and for some poor unborn soul's sake, don't have more children.

HT: Laura Fitch; UPDATE, 1/12, 12:50 pm: Also see: Elaine Chow's post in the Shanghaiist on Monday, and this story about Yin Jianli's book, A Good Mom is Better Than a Good Teacher.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Exposed titty in City Weekend

Because everyone loves these type of blog posts (don't pretend you don't!), I give to you this week's edition of City Weekend's Beijing Seen section. See if you can spot it (apologies for the pretty uneven scan job):

Zooming in ...

And a little more...



Er. Yeah. That was totally worth it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Municipal traffic administration to raise parking fees to 10 yuan starting April 1 in four areas around Third Ring Road

Sweet Almighty God All-Vengeful, Smite These Vile Corrupters At Last And Cleanse Us With Your Blood.


In other news, the Beijinger is currently running a contest to "solve the traffic nightmare" (lots of exclamation marks appended). Here's my entry:

I think driving is great. I love driving. Cars are an essential part of civilization, and we should not limit vehicle ownership or license registration if we expect China to be a GREAT COUNTRY. The government should subsidize fuel costs and bring back the tax subsidies for owners of small-engine vehicles, which really pollute less and can fit into tighter spaces so they don't really contribute to any traffic problems. Did you know the invention of the auto-mobile corresponds with the emergence of the awesome Western military-industrial complex? It is sort of like having a gun in your pants. (That is a metaphor.) Sometimes I go home at night and put my car inside my girlfriend. Yes, I have a girlfriend! I love my car.

^^^ …yeah, that needs to change.

Admin didn't understand. Saddy-face.

It did give me the chance -- possibly for the first time ever -- to use the :D emoticon though:

Macaronic gibberish

This is real:

I would love to hear the internal company discussion that led to the formation of that website. I really cannot fathom. It's like a cat named the thing.

Very interestingly enough, the URL is a dead link if your VPN is on. If it's OFF, however, the wonders of Chinese Internet gobble up that salmagundi and spit this out:

Still more interesting, that URL also doesn't work if you have a VPN on. Reverse Great Firewall? (I use a Mac and can't run China Channel, but if someone with that Firefox extension wants to turn on the VPN and turn on China Channel before trying to access the Pinsou link, I'd be very curious to know the results.)

If you were wondering, the site is for Beilecheng Children's Gym, located near Ditan Park (Temple of Earth).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

so much depends / upon / a red rain / coat

glazed with rain, etc.

My sincerest apologies to William Carlos Williams.

The big news out of China tonight -- and this is ALL over the motherfucking wires -- is that Chongqing's police are wearing colorful raincoats to "improve their often hard public image."

Like -- sarcasm alert -- in the photo here (below), an AP pic that ran on Yahoo, NPR, et al.

Uh, let's see, what's wrong here... a cop dressed in all black on a fancy, technologically advanced -- I daresay futuristic -- piece of equipment in a picture with a shallow depth of field with the blurred background image being -- well, what the fuck else? -- a portrait of Mao...


Great job, Western editor. Bravo. You've conflated "China" with "Chongqing" and in the same fell swoop brought authoritarian imagery to a story about RED FUCKING RAINCOATS. What's that, you're chuckling? Okay, I get it. You were being IRONIC.

You. Are. Such. A. LOUSE.

You know what, on second thought... William Carlos Williams would have given you a goddam standing ovation. Like fitting form to meaning, you've fit an image to the China narrative. Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Why censorship is detrimental, among other reasons

Backdated on January 6.

Because people might miss out on great reads such as these: from China Government Watch, review of Stefan Halper's book, The Beijing Consensus: How China's Authoritarian Model Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century; quite the discussion over at Peking Duck about "effeminate Asian men" -- question mark -- prompting this comment; well, most things on China Hush, but this line: "social trust will come to extinction down the line"; this bizarro from Danwei; blog that has just come to my attention: Fear of a Red Planet.

Apologies for backdating ... had to do it.

POSTSCRIPT: Sickening; "Villager's Death Ignites Fury in China" [NYT]. Lot of murders recently. Not sure why.