Friday, October 28, 2011

There's a baseball game on right now

It's going to the 11th inning. You should probably watch.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back in the Beijinger

The magazine that held its 10-year-anniversary party recently published this on its blog. Disclaimer: it's got my picture in it. Blagh.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NYT journalist in DPRK

If Edward Wang got that crappy hat for three US dollars, he got ripped off. Same hat at Yashow in Beijing sells for $1.50. Less if you can bargain well.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cartoon about American politics

I've been a bit harsh on China Daily as of late, but Luo Jie does something good here:

Monday's cartoon

If nothing else, because there sure is a lot of bickering in the U.S., for the sake of bickering, I guess. Can't wait for that election season, huh.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Andre Vltchek or China Daily (again) misses the point

Got this from a China Daily article, so proceed with caution, but...

[Andre] Vltchek, who is also a novelist and political analyst, has been discovering places that are rarely covered by the mainstream Western media, and exposing disparities in today's world.

One of his articles, titled The West Perfecting its Techniques to Hurt China, was recently translated and published in People's Daily, a major Chinese newspaper.

"The West has absolutely no interest in human rights in China or anywhere else. How could it, considering that it is violating them on basically all continents, worldwide?" he wrote in the commentary posted a year ago on Znet, a website focusing on politics from a left-wing perspective.

I've said this in various ways on this blog before, but I'll say it again, this time in numbered points:

1. Whether "the West" (western governments) has violated human rights is immaterial to pretty much anything. It simply DOES NOT MATTER. If you're a tenant in rural China who gets relocated because some cadre wants to build a hotel (or if you're a tenant in the heart of Beijing...), whether or not America waterboarded prisoners has absolutely no relevance whatsoever.

Similarly, whether western governments care or don't care about China's human rights doesn't matter either. See above. The idealist thinks that perhaps a country like the U.S. could push China to [fill-in-the-blank], but that's about as likely as China convincing Obama to close Gitmo. In other words, if change happens, it won't be because of a foreign diplomat.

2. There are a lot of people in a lot of places who take governments to task for abuses of human rights. Why don't we talk about the efforts of these civilians instead of dancing around government press releases and diplomatic talk? Does anyone actually find government officials interesting? Their job is to maintain holding patterns, and if we expect anything else from them, we're really giving them too much credit. A more interesting and telling question is, proportionally, are there more or fewer human rights lobbyists in China than there are in, say, the U.S.? Granted, it's not that interesting a question, and we can go a lot deeper, but at least it's not the classic red herring that Chinese commentators seem so fond of: "Because the West is flawed, we're allowed to be flawed as well."

(By the way, I think this is why I took so much issue with China Daily's Chen Weihua in my previous post, who seems to think that the blanket argument "West is flawed" is JUSTIFICATION for China's misgivings (in this case, censorship of media). It's so juvenile: Mommy, but Jimmy's doing it too! To say nothing of the fact that Chen was wrong in his premise -- his premise, I think, being that the West doesn't care about the West's own problems; Westerners do care -- quite a lot, actually. And sometimes an individual who happens to live "over there" turns his or her eye to China, and all of a sudden the natives -- such as Weihua -- flip their shit.)

3. People's fixation -- by "people" I don't specifically mean Vltchek here, even though he wrote about it -- with what "the West" or, more generally, "non-Chinese people" think about China is stupid. It's, again, immaterial to anything. It leads to straw man arguments and non sequiturs and various other logical fallacies that we can generally label "stupid."

But, then again -- and you know this already -- it's part of the country's long process of maturation. China can build skyscrapers and luxury malls and turn a fishing village into a 10-million-strong metroplex within a couple of decades, but changing attitudes and mindsets, well -- no shortcut there.

Friday, October 7, 2011

China Daily insults collective intelligence of readership, itself, EVERY FUCKING PERSON

I'm quite late with this, but I just noticed this column from Chen Weihua titled, "US media blackout of protest is shameful," and I couldn't resist channeling some rancid anger. Excerpt:

While there are many videos of harsh police action on the Internet, I have witnessed how the formerly helpful police patrolling the streets have suddenly resorted to force in Zuccotti Park, also known as Liberty Plaza, in Lower Manhattan.

In one scene, several policemen jumped on one skinny man who was not acting violently. They pushed him down and handcuffed him. Just five minutes later, a policeman waved his fist at a man. That day, seven people were arrested, with one suffering a serious leg injury.

Wow. Pushing him down, handcuffing... sounds like some serious violations of human rights there.

Here's the thing: I understand China Daily's agenda. I know it secretly relishes the role of devil's advocate. I know there's nothing it loves more than using shoddy Western reporting tactics against the West. But what I absolutely don't know yet want to find out is whether their "columnists" (very poorly disguised government shills and general hacks) have any morsel of self-respect. The above-linked column isn't just pot calling the kettle black, it's Chappelle Show "black white supremacist"-level outrageousness. It's beyond "stupid," it's a sort of universal dark matter that is threatening to suck intelligence off the face of the knowable cosmos. A Chinese newspaper -- China Fucking Daily, which is FUCKING CENSORED BY THE FUCKING HIGHEST ORGAN OF STATE PROPAFUCKINGANDA -- calling out any country's media for not reporting on something, when at first there was nothing to report and later there was all this, all this, all this -- Jesus, just fucking google it, asshole -- not to mention this Krugman column, has to be the boldest, most bald-faced expression of "I'm China, and I just don't give a fuck" that anyone can slap down, short of:

China: "Traffic pretty bad, eh Los Angeles? SUCK ON A HERPES SORE, LOS ANGELES!"
Los Angeles: "Um, but Beijing has the worst traffic in the world..."
China: "I'm China, and I just don't give a fuck."

Well done, China Daily. Your quest for legitimacy, especially in those new offices in New York, is going swimmingly.

UPDATE: Article about this in Want China Times.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Beijing, please

The city has emptied its bowels of people, and suddenly the streets are cleaner, the skies bluer (mountain visible!), the traffic wardens friendlier. (A short old man engaged me in a one-way conversation at a crossing yesterday, details of which aren't important, but it made me appreciate, all over again, the wardens' stupid, stupid jobs.) We are in Golden Week, the country's monthlong celebration of itself, a time when those in the middle class pack their bags and take a leave. The result is a metropolis mercifully relieved of the pressures and stresses of the hoi polloi, the ruckus and racket of the multitude among ones. There are suddenly seats in the subway and bus (and at certain McDonald's). There is a much-needed calm, a great slowing down, leading to a sense that this way of life is the norm. Of course the illusion will be lifted in due time, as this reprieve is as temporary as the blue skies. They will all return, by choice, because to live in Beijing is a privilege and at this heart of the world we are all part and parcel of the rat-a-tat of scuttling feet and all that happens, all that traffic, all that drunkenness, all that fire and ardor, the conflagration and consolidation of hopes and goals. Our choice is clear: Beijing, please -- another. And one for my friend here.