Tuesday, March 29, 2011


"... Mongols and Mongolians always looked down on the Chinese as a inferior race of rice-cultivating peasants."

Thus begins a series of weird comments from BAAGII on this Foreign Policy article about Mongolia. Did you know, according to another commenter, Aquarium, that...

The original and modern meaning of “Hya” is castrated male slave or eunuch, and stavkove kancelarie tad is plural. Therefore, China is called Republic of “castrated male slaves or eunuchs” in Mongolian. This term is still used to describe China and Chinese. For example, Mongolians often say that Hu jintao is the Chairman of the People’s Republic of China, and the Mongolian meaning’s literal translation is actually “Hu jintao is the Head Eunuch of the People’s Republic of castrated male slaves-eunuchs”, in Mongolian.

Great and awesome. Er, hmm.

Just started a Mongolia tag. May revisit this subject later.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Out of the dark ages?

China may have relaxed its Gmail restrictions, but that's no longer relevant. My VPN is working again after a small hiccup and all is well in Internet world. Thank you to Support Team.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Slow fire rescue

It would be an exaggeration to call this the world's slowest fire rescue, because I can easily imagine fire rescues being slower (hey, at least the traffic is moving!), but let's all agree that if you want to be rescued from the Central Business District, it's best not to have an accident at rush hour.

The below video was taken just a little after 5 pm on Thursday, with big plumes of dark smoke clearly visible against a pale blue sky:

The fire began in the "afternoon," according to Xinhua, and as you'll notice because of the timestamp in that linked article, it was still ongoing at 6 pm. A friend of mine who works near CBD said the fire went on for about two hours before any firetrucks got to it.

Beijing's roads could use more private cars to impede vehicles that actually need the road. Buy some more cars, fucktards.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Google accuses China of blocking its mail service

Because China is indeed doing it. I think I said enough last week on the subject of this country's censors.

NY Times excerpt

Google said that it was not having any technical problems with Google’s main Web site or Gmail service in China.

“There is no issue on our side; we have checked extensively,” Google said in a statement released Sunday. “This is a government blockage, carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail.”

Analysts who track Web developments say that the Chinese government may be intentionally disrupting access to Google and other Web services as part of a campaign to tighten Internet controls and censor material.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Global Times Flash Fried Fiction contest

I'm being more than a little self-indulgent in linking to this, but here's my entry in Global Times' fiction-writing contest.

As part of the competition, the Raffles Design Institute assigned some of its students to make posters related to each of the 12 finalists. The picture in the above link is the one that got the highest grade. Below is the poster I prefer:

Monday, March 14, 2011

On Charlie Sheen and Global Times (and al-Jazeera, et al.)

I didn't want to comment on this. I think satire's best left uncommented on, lest you become, unwittingly, the butt of the joke (see: Alessandro; Alessandro, fallout to; my friend's buzz thread; those in bullet points below). But now that Global Times' Charlie Sheen piece is out in the way-the-fuck open, I think it's time for me to throw in a couple cents.

But first allow me this detour: Charlie Sheen is an American hero. Can we all agree on that? Not because he lives the social liberal's dream life with three blond porn stars, but because he's been able to say, clearly and resoundingly, FUCK YOU to an establishment that includes prudish CNN and Wall Street Journal types, overly serious journalists trying to "make sense" of him, conservatives who are disgusted by him and anything resembling non-missionary-position sex, and amateur psychologists all the world over. Charlie Sheen is to be enjoyed while he's still with us (I don't say this with insensitivity) because he's the sort of one-in-a-million personality who, given the platform to communicate with wider audiences, eschews the phony in favor of brutal honesty and entertainment as if to say it actually is possible to be yourself and absolutely right-fucking okay ... okay to be interesting, okay to be funny, okay to have a laugh at everything staid and cliched. Because surely we must recognize how much of our lives are spent wading through the marshes of cliche, right? That we live trapped in houses within houses built by predecessors and ancestors and god-knows-whom, and that people like Charlie Sheen (and poets) open a window ever so slightly and allow us a whiff of freshness. Surely we must understand that the opportunity to diverge from our lockstep march toward death is an opportunity that deserves to be celebrated -- not crushed by loathsome words like "mental" and "unstable." Yes, I know Charlie Sheen is a tragedy wrapped in a comedy, but in all honesty, we have him to thank for giving that to us. Giving himself. America has allowed him to do that. He's the epitome of America in so many ways.

So any news media that uses Charlie Sheen (and they're all using them, those sluts -- worse than any of the porn stars Charlie's loved) in any way that is in the "Charlie Sheen spirit" is off to a good start. So Global Times deserves kudos off the bat here. Charlie Sheen as vehicle for satire. Charlie Sheen as net to catch the hypocrites, even long-time "China watchers" who really, really should know better.

Remember when I implied up top that the best satire ensnares as much as it incites laughter? Well, here is a compendious list of GT's victims:
  • Shanghaiist's Kenneth Tan
  • At least three people on my friend's buzz thread, linked above.
  • Al-Jazeera's Melissa Chan
  • At least he admitted to being "punk'd": Foreign Policy's Daniel Drezner
  • Richard, Peking Duck (disappointing...)
  • Snark, NICE! (I might have to spell it out for him: "nice" is in all-caps = sarcasm): former Chairman of the American Society of Magazine Editors Robert Stein, who, instead of admitting he didn't get the joke, replied: "Yeah, as I remember. Chairman Mao had us in stitches for years."

Here's the thing with all these people: they failed to get the joke even after it was explained to them by a Global Times editor (from Shanghaiist):

The answer is, it’s a spoof column, with full editorial connivance, and was intended to amuse as well as gull a few “Western” readers who’ll believe either a) any mad crap a Chinese commentator says or b) failing that, that the Chinese are incapable of humour or being “in on it” and therefore must be having a prank played on them. Either view is patronizing and/or offensive, I think you’d agree but - even if you don’t - in this case, you’re wrong.

Kenneth Tan's response to the above was essentially: we're just a blog, don't get mad at us.

But Kenneth, you're a blog of some repute, and even after the joke was explained, the best you could offer in reply was a defensive-sounding, "Yes, it didn't quite cross our minds that your bosses were in on the joke. But seriously, can you blame us for that? Have you read some of the jackshit that's published on the other pages of your paper?" You're not necessary wrong for not assuming the best in people, but your tone conveys a strange lack of awareness of who the enemy is -- if there is one.

The other things you say -- which I'll spare you the humiliation of re-reading on this blog -- sound even more defensive. You're the Shanghaiist. You probably blog out of an office -- unlike me, I'm blogging in my pajamas right now. You have influence. Act like it.

And here's al-Jazeera's Melissa Chan: "And so The Global Times editors signed off on a piece ostensibly about Charlie Sheen, probably believed there was some merit to the argument for Eastern values, recognised the reality of how business and mistresses are dealt with in China -- and in doing so, published a piece that was also mocking The Global Times itself."

I learned my lesson a while back with Alessandro: don't assume. In this case, don't assume that Chinese people don't "get the joke." And certainly don't conflate, as people are wont to do, the dispassionate and seemingly unbreakable veneer of the authoritarian government that controls China with the people who inhabit this country. It's one thing to say the government doesn't like joshing around -- though didn't Wikileaks show us the goal of international diplomacy for basically every country is to establish as elaborate a facade as possible? -- but it's another to say that the Chinese just don't "get" it.

Alas, I fear if we delve further, we're going to lose some readers. As Thomas Roche of Techyum puts it in a good but sorta roundabout piece: somehow we've reached the stage of "a hoax within a hoax within a hoax." And that's not a good place to be.

Try as I might, I can't really angry at any one person. But I'm going to use Melissa as an illustrative case here. The target of the satire was not the U.S. It wasn't China, really. It was ... you ready for this, Melissa Chan? ... YOU! (I'm channeling the spirit of Time, please excuse me.) YOU, Melissa Chan! I think balloons are falling from the rafters! Confetti is rocketing up to meet them in starbursts of color! The lights are flashing, Melissa, the lights, the hot lights of fame and glory!!! You are winning!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A friendly note to China's censors

You're fucking around with our VPNs now, are you, you slimy pouches of rat shit? I don't really know how to communicate with you right now. I want to take the nastiest, runtiest, cum-filled-est pair of screwdrivers and shove 'em in your eye sockets. I want to find the most oft-used and least-cleaned douches from the fattest, smelliest, foulest cunts -- basically your daughters' -- and jam 'em up your nostrils that have been cut open by a blunt Swiss army knife. I want to break a bottle of beer over your head and castrate what little of your dick I can find with a microscope and then jam that microscope so far up your ass that your poop reeks of the spirit of Robert Hooke, and then ...

...whoa, okay, I blacked out momentarily there ... hang on...

OK I'm back. I want to hit you in the back of the head with a baseball bat. Yes, I'm borrowing imagery from a Tarantino film, that's how mad I am. So how should we talk? Over tea, you maggot-brained lard-loving swill fuck?

My anger for you knows no bounds. I will kill you, motherfucker.

Friday, March 11, 2011

More satire than satire

(Paraphrasing Rob Zombie in the title, I think...)

From our favorite news site, People's Daily.

HT: Laura Fitch

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bigger space at Kro's Nest for trivia Thursdays

If you haven't checked it out yet -- or even if you have, because you haven't quite seen it like this -- trivia night at Kro's Nest is going to be better than ever tonight (Thursday) starting at 8 pm. Jim and I are in the back room, which is a much better layout. More teams, more fun.

If you happen to attend because you heard about it from here, do make sure to introduce yourself.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bye, YouTube

And gchat's been sporadic for many days now. VPN, I hang to you with the last fibers of my soul.

UPDATE, 3/11: Well, I think YouTube is back, but Witopia is gone ...

NOT. Witopia, of course, is much more agile than China's Net nannies. I was angry for a while. Then I decided to contact Witopia and get everything sorted out. There is a workaround for every China problem.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Welcome back, YouTube

Now if they'll unblock Blogger, my life will be complete slightly easier.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chinese police and Western media dance at Wangfujing

This is very cute. On one side, state police, like school girls wearing bonnets waiting for their young knights; on the other, Western media types, horny and hormonal and needing but a little punch to work up the nerve to approach. All to the backdrop of Wangfujing, where soirees are are often attended by the grand duchess herself.

There was no revolution, but you know this already. By now -- if you've been in China for any length of time -- you understand that no one cares about these sort of things, by and large. But the police showed up in force, because you can't be too careful in either sex or statecraft, and the Western media types lived up to their reputation. Consider the rabble roused. Perhaps next time ... smile?

The only losers here? As Adrienne Mong of MSN reports:

Ordinary Chinese were bewildered. “What’s going on? Why can’t we walk here?” they asked.

Some were more belligerent. One woman started shouting, “Why can’t I go down here? Why are you stopping me? Stop pushing.”

The consumers, who only wanted to spend a few hundred kuai and be on their way. But, again, you know this, too: consumers rule China.

Well done, everyone. Well fucking done.

Meanwhile, Chinese Internet buzzes over Richard Li and Isabella Leong.