View all five episodes (5) on the sidebar. DIRECTOR'S CHAIR
Uploaded by boycottyourmom on Apr 19, 2008
It is January 1954. The Korean War is over. Captured UN soldiers held in POW camps are free to return home. Those who refuse repatriation to their homeland are transferred to a neutral zone and given 90 days to reconsider their decision. Among them are 22 American soldiers who decide defiantly to stay in China. Back in the United States, McCarthyism is at its height. Many Americans believe these young men have been brainwashed by Chinese communists through a new form of thought control. But what really happened? Featuring never-before-seen footage from the Chinese camps as well as interviews with former POWs and their families, They Chose China tells the fascinating stories of these forgotten American dissidents. With the Cold War fading into memory, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Shuibo Wang (Sunrise Over Tiananmen Square) aims his camera on this astonishing story. In They Chose China, we meet and begin to understand a group of courageous men who fought for and then cut ties with the USA.
China revels in a UN report that found it has the highest smog levels in the world, a sure sign of China’s progress and prosperity.
More ar The Onion
translation by Victor H. Mair
Lu Xun1 (1881–1936) is generally regarded as the greatest Chinese writer of the twentieth century.
He never produced a novel, but he wrote numerous memorable short stories and countless essays and letters that had an enormous impact on modern China. Among his most celebrated works are "The True Story of Ah-Q" (A-Q zhengzhuan), "Diary of a Madman" (Kuangren riji), and "My Old Hometown" (Guxiang). Lu Xun was also a deeply learned chronicler and critic of Chinese literature; his Brief History of Chinese Fiction (Zhongguo xiaoshuo shilüe) remains authoritative to this day.
But Lu Xun was much more than an outstanding littérateur. He was also a trenchant social commentator whose impassioned pleas for reform were instrumental in guiding China's path toward progress — even for many decades after his death. He made bitterly honest comments on virtually all aspects of Chinese institutions, culture, and customs. Among the subjects that attracted Lu Xun's attention was the Chinese script. So deep were his feelings about the Chinese writing system that he was reported to have proclaimed shortly before his death, "Hanzi bu mie, Zhongguo bi wang" (If Chinese characters do not fade away, China will perish!). While this is admittedly a radical formulation of the problem posed by China's archaic script in the context of efforts to modernize the nation, Lu Xun was by no means the first Chinese scholar to blame the writing system for his nation's backwardness. Indeed, Lu Xun had been preceded by dozens of individuals from the late-Qing period onward who had devised simple and more efficient writing systems, including alphabets, for the various Chinese languages. And, as early as the Song dynasty, the renowned and erudite polymath Zheng Qiao (1104–1162) had noted some of the deficiencies of the Chinese script.
Lu Xun returned to the subject of the Chinese writing system on numerous occasions throughout his career, but his most sustained and probing examination of the characters is to be found in the remarkable text translated here. Because An Outsider's Chats about Written Language (Menwai wentan) is both enormously informative and richly entertaining, we have chosen to present the text in its entirety. It should be noted that the first word of the title, Menwai, is multivalent. Among its applicable meanings here are "outdoors" and — with han (man, fellow) understood at the end — "novice, layman, greenhorn." Since Lu Xun was deeply familiar with the script, its nature, and history, he was obviously being polite in styling himself a menwai(han).
Menwai wentan first appeared in the pages of the "Free Discussions" (Ziyou tan) supplement of the influential Shanghai newspaper Shen bao, from August 24 through September, 1934 under the pseudonym Hua Yu. This name may literally be rendered as "China's Prison," but it is also a perfect homophone for "China's Language," a pun that was almost surely in the back of Lu Xun's mind when he chose it for this particular work. — VHM
I'm told that the heat in Shanghai this year hasn't been equaled in the past sixty years. During the day, we'd go out to grub for a living, and, in the evening, we'd return with our heads hanging. In our rooms it would still be hot, and, on top of that, there were mosquitoes. At such times, paradise could only be found outdoors (menwai). Probably because [Shanghai is] next to the sea, there's always a breeze so you don't need to fan yourself. The neighbors who lived in the flats and garrets in the vicinity would also sit outside. Although we knew each other somewhat, we didn't often have a chance to meet. Some of them were shop clerks, others were proofreaders in publishing houses, and still others were accomplished draftsmen. Everybody would be totally exhausted and sighing over how hard life was. But at least this was a time when we were free, and so we would talk freely.
The limits of our conversations were actually quite broad. We talked about the drought, praying for rain,2 picking up girls,3 a three-inch shrunken mummy,4 foreign rice,5 naked gams,6 and we also talked about classical writing, vernacular language, and colloquial speech.7 Because I'd written several pieces in the vernacular language, when it came to such subjects as classical writing, they were particularly interested in hearing what I had to say, and, to oblige them, I did speak a great deal. In this way, we passed two or three nights before we were diverted by other topics and, at any rate, had exhausted the subject. Little did I expect that, a few days later, several of my neighbors would ask me to write out what I had said.
Among them, there were those who believed me because I had read some old books, others who believed me because I had read a few foreign books, and still others who believed me because I had read both old books and foreign books. But several of them, on the contrary, for these very reasons did not believe me and said that I was a "bat."8 When I touched upon classical writing, they would say with a smile, "You're not one of the eight great prose stylists9 of the Tang and Song periods. Can we believe you?" When I talked about colloquial speech, they again said with a smile, "You're not one of the toiling masses. What sort of big talk are you feeding us?"
Yet there is some truth to this. When we were discussing the drought, mention was made of an official who went to the countryside to inspect the drought conditions. He claimed that there were some places that really wouldn't have had to experience the drought but were now experiencing it because the peasants were lazy and had not manned the irrigation pails. But one newspaper carried a report about a sixty-year-old man who, because his son had died of exhaustion while manning the irrigation pails and, seeing that the drought continued as before, committed suicide since he had no other way out. The views of the official and the country-folk are so far apart as this! Such being the case, I'm afraid that ultimately my evening chats are no more than the idle words of an outsider in his leisure.
After the tropical storm passed, the weather became a bit cooler; but (sic) I finally fulfilled the wishes of those who had hoped that I would write out my opinions. What I have written is much simpler than the words I had spoken, but the overall import differs little and may be considered a copy for my peers to read. At the time, I simply relied on my memory to cite old books here and there. The spoken word, like the wind, rushes past the ear, and so it is not important if you make some mistakes. Committing it to paper made me hesitate, and, furthermore, I was stymied by not having the original texts to check. All I can do is ask my reader to correct my errors as he encounters them.
Written and inscribed on the night of August 16, 1934
Who invented the written word?
We are accustomed to hearing stories about how a certain thing was always invented by a sage of ancient times. Naturally, we would ask the same question about the written word. At once, there is an answer from some forgotten source: writing was invented by Cang Jie.10 This is what is advocated by most scholars, and naturally they have their sources for it. I have even seen a portrait of this Cang Jie. He was a monkish11 old man with four eyes. It would seem that, if one is going to create writing, he'd first off better have an unusual visage. Those of us who have just two eyes are not only insufficiently talented; even our features are unsuited for the task.
However, the author of the Book of Changes ([original note:] I don't know who he was) was rather more intelligent. He said, "In high antiquity, government was carried out with knotted cords12 [to make records]. The sages of subsequent ages substituted [written] documents and contracts for these." He does not mention Cang Jie but only says "the sages of subsequent ages."
And he does not mention "invented" but only speaks of an exchange. He was really being very cautious. Perhaps, without thinking about it, he did not believe that in antiquity there could have been a person who created a large number of graphs all by himself so he just gives us this one vague sentence.
But what sort of figure was responsible for replacing knotted cords with documents and contracts? Was he a writer? That's not a bad answer, judged from the current reality of the so-called "writers" who are most fond of flaunting their writing skills but utterly inept when their pens are snatched away from them. Indeed, one must first think of them, and, indeed, they ought to expend a bit of effort on behalf of their own bread-winning tool. Yet this is not true. Although people in prehistoric times sang songs when they worked and sang songs when they were wooing, by no means did they make drafts of their songs or keep manuscripts of them. This is because, even in their dreams, they wouldn't have been able to conceive of selling manuscripts of their poems or of compiling their collected works. Furthermore, in the society of that time, there were no newspaper publishers and bookstores, so writing was of no utility whatsoever. According to what some scholars tell us, it would appear that those who devoted their labors to script must have been the historians.
In primitive society, at first there were probably only mages13 [who were in charge of spiritual and ritual matters]. It was not until after a period of gradual evolution when things became complicated that there was a need to record such matters as sacrifice, hunting, war, and so forth. The mages were then forced to think of a way to make records in addition to carrying out their basic duty of "inviting the spirits to descend."14 This is the beginning of "the [professional] historian."15 Moreover, as we can tell from the phrase "[cause the exploits of the feudal lords to] rise up to Heaven,"16 another of their basic duties was to burn the booklets in which they had recorded the major events concerning their tribal chieftain and his administration so that god above could read them. Consequently, they likewise had to write compositions, although this was probably something that occurred subsequently. Still later, duties were divided up even more clearly, whereupon there came into being the historian, who specialized in keeping records of things. Script is an indispensable instrument for the historian. Some ancient has said, "Cang Jie was the Yellow Emperor's historian."17 We cannot trust the first part of the sentence, but the fact that it does point out the relationship between history and script is very interesting. As for the later "men of letters" who used script to write such fine lines as "Oh, my love! Ah, I am dying!" they were merely enjoying the fruits of others' labors and "do not merit consideration here."
According to the Book of Changes, before there were documents and contracts, there clearly were knotted cords. Whenever the country-folk where I'm from have something important they want to do the next day and are afraid of forgetting it, they often say, "Tie a knot in your belt!" Then did our ancient sages also use a long cord in which they tied a knot for everything? I'm afraid this wouldn't work. If there were only a few knots you could still remember [what they signified], but once there were many it would be hopeless. Or perhaps that was precisely something like the eight trigrams18 of Emperor Fuxi,19 with three cords in each unit. If all were unknotted that would be qian (male, Heaven), but if all three had a knot in the center that would be kun (female, Earth). I'm afraid this isn't right either. If there were only eight units, you still might be able [to get by], but if there were sixty-four units, it would be difficult to remember [what they all stood for], much less if there were 512 units!20 There still survives in Peru the quipu.21 It uses a horizontal cord and a number of vertical strings hanging from it which, pulled back and forth, are knotted [and unknotted]. Although it looks like a net without really being one, it seems as though it could actually be used to represent a relatively large amount of ideas. I suspect that the knotted cords of our prehistoric ancestors were like this. However, since they were replaced by documents and contracts and were not the direct ancestors of the latter, there's no harm setting them aside for the moment.
The oldest characters that we can see on genuine artifacts are the oracle-bone inscriptions and bronze inscriptions of the Shang dynasty.24 But these are already quite advanced, so it is virtually impossible to find a single primitive form. Occasionally, however, one can glimpse a small amount of realistic pictography, for example a deer or an elephant. From these pictographic shapes, one can discover clues related to script: the Chinese script is founded on pictography.
The buffalo painted in the Altamira Caves25 of Spain are famous remains of primitive man, and many art historians say that this is truly "art for art's sake," that primitive man painted them for amusement. But this explanation cannot escape from being overly "modern,"26 because primitive man did not have as much leisure as nineteenth-century 27 artists. He had a reason for painting each buffalo, something that had to do with buffalo, whether it was hunting the buffalo or casting a spell on them. Even now people gawk at the advertisements for cigarettes and movies [posted] on walls in Shanghai. One can imagine what a commotion such an extraordinary sight must have caused in unsophisticated, primitive society! As they looked at [the paintings], they would come to know that this thing [called] a buffalo could, after all, be drawn on a flat surface with lines. At the same time, it seems as though they came to recognize [the drawing as a graph representing the word] "buffalo." While admiring the artists' ability, nobody invited them to earn some money by writing their autobiography, so their names have passed into obscurity. However, there was more than one Cang Jie in [ancient] society. Some of them carved designs on sword hilts; others drew pictures on doors. [Such pictographic representations] made an impression and were passed on from mind to mind, from mouth to mouth. [In this fashion,] the number of characters increased [to the point that], once the scribes collected them, they could make do to record events. I suspect that the origins of Chinese writing are to be found within this sort of process.
Naturally, later on there must have been a continual increase in the number of characters, but this is something that the scribes could have managed by themselves. By inserting the new characters — which, moreover, were pictographic — among the familiar characters, others would have easily guessed what they signified.28 Even up to the present time, China is still producing new characters. However, if anyone is intent on being a new Cang Jie, they will surely fail. Zhu Yu29 of [the southern kingdom of] Wu and Wu Zetian30 of the Tang [dynasty] both created bizarre characters, but all their efforts were wasted.
Nowadays, it is Chinese chemists who are the best at creating characters. [The characters they come up with for] the names of many elements and compounds are very hard to recognize, and it is even difficult to read out their sounds. To tell the truth, whenever I see [such characters] I get a headache. I feel that it would be far better and more straightforward to use the Latin names current in all other nations. If you are incapable of recognizing the twenty-some letters [of the Roman alphabet] — please pardon me for speaking bluntly — then you probably won't be able to learn chemistry very well either.
Read more at Pinyin.info
LOOKING at US-China political-diplomatic-military maneuverings in East Asia in past months, it is logical to conclude that both are playing a subtle, yet deadly, power game to gain new areas of influence and enhance their socio-economic leverage. This global contest is taking place on many fronts, in particular:
(1) Intensified confrontations between South and North Korea.
(2) Claims over the Spratly and Paracel Islands.
(3) Control of the China Sea for "innocent passage" of commercial shipping.
(4) Non-proliferation and/or control of nuclear weapons.
(5) Defense of Taiwan.
(6) Contest for untapped oil/gas/energy resources.
(7) Access to seaports/logistics hubs in the Indian Ocean.
(8) Valuation of the yuan versus the US dollar.
(9) Disputes between China and India re nuclear capabilities, maritime security, and border confrontations where the US has vital interests.
(10) Market share of exports.
Pivotal roles of US and China
With the suspension of the "Six-Party Talks" on North Korea in which US and China play pivotal roles, the uncertainties (read deterioration) of Asia-Pacific stability and a final peaceful settlement on the Korean peninsula may be seen to have exacerbated.
Given the long-lasting, unsettled Korean conflicts as being within the top priorities of American, South/North Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian leaders (who are all represented in the "Six-Party Talks"), we are seeing at this time the moves of the US and China to strengthen their respective positions.
Of special significance to Asia-Pacific observers is the on-going visitations of high officials. In Beijing, President Hu Jintao was reported by Associated Press (09 September) as: "Trying to smooth over recently rocky relations before he visits Washington.
Read more at MB
They say humor is the hardest thing to understand when one learns a new language, but for Yao Ming there never has been much of a barrier. Yao was made available to a crush of news media in Houston yesterday, and when a photographer fell off a chair while trying to get a better angle the giant from China was quick with a question he has heard often.
"You won't miss any games, right?" Yao asked the photographer.
The man who holds the key to the Rockets' hopes this season also was insightful about the ankle injury that ended last season, saying he "locked himself in a room," wishing "some miracle would tell me it was just a mistake and your ankle is fine."
Going forward, the Houston Chronicle's description of the oft-injured Yao's routine makes it look like he's going to have more therapy than fullcourt practices. The newspaper says he will begin each day with 45 minutes of massage, followed by 45 minutes of strength and rehab work, then 15-30 minutes of warm up followed by 60-90 minutes of individual skill work.
Read more at USA Today
Thomas Friedman, the New York Times's maestro of mangled metaphors, on Sunday appeared on "Meet the Press," where he shared a fantasy with NBC's Andrea Mitchell:Friedman: I have fantasized--don't get me wrong--but that what if we could just be China for a day? I mean, just, just, just one day. You know, I mean, where we could actually, you know, authorize the right solutions, and I do think there is a sense of that, on, on everything from the economy to environment. I don't want to be China for a second, OK, I want my democracy to work with the same authority, focus and stick-to-itiveness. But right now we have a system that can only produce suboptimal solutions.Mitchell: And, in fact, Tom, you're absolutely right.
And in fact, Tom, your own paper gives us a taste of what it would be like to be Red China, in describing a pair of Chinese media interviews with Hillary Clinton and Timothy Geithner:In the first, where [Mrs. Clinton] appeared jointly with Mr. Geithner on Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV, the two were quizzed about child-rearing styles and movie-going habits.Among other topics covered: the T-shirts Mr. Geithner wore when he was a student in Beijing in 1981, the Sunday volleyball games played by Mrs. Clinton and her husband Bill Clinton when they were newlyweds in Fayetteville, Ark., and Mrs. Clinton's admiration for the treasury secretary's hair: "He always looks so good, you know. It's maddening."On the CCTV talk-show program "Dialogue," Mrs. Clinton was asked about how she balanced the demands of work and family and about the preparations for the wedding of her daughter, Chelsea.
A Chinese wire service got into the act as well, publishing a dispatch titled "Geithner Shows Benefit of Having Treasury Chief With Jump Shot":The seemingly shy, wonky Treasury secretary has been in China for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, where he was discussing issues that are more traditionally in his purview, such as the revaluation of the yuan and Europe's debt crisis."A lot of folks have underestimated Secretary Geithner in a lot of ways, and the basketball court's one place where he's been underestimated," said U.S. Representative Rick Larsen, 44, a Washington state Democrat who played with Geithner and President Barack Obama at an Oct. 8 game at the basketball court on the White House's South Lawn. He said he and Geithner covered one another during much of the game."He definitely is a credible basketball player, one that you would choose to have on your team," said Representative John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican who also played in the after-work contest. He has "good ball-handling skills" and he's fast on the court, Shimkus, 52, said in an interview.Representative Heath Shuler of North Carolina, 38, a Democrat and former professional football player who also was part of the basketball game, said he thought Geithner was "surprisingly" good.
Oh wait, this wasn't from a Chinese wire service, it was from Bloomberg, an American wire service.
Thomas Friedman got his wish! At least for today, America is China.
China announced that it will buy the state of Hawaii, pending adoption of an ad hoc amendment to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China.
If adopted, the amendment would permit immediate dispersal of funds to the United States from China's vast coffers. A special session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) is currently weighing the merits of the deal, terms of which have not been disclosed but rumored to be a small multiple of Hawaii's $50.1 billion Gross State Product (GSP).
According to a source inside the NPC, speaking on condition of anonymity because he did not want to be seen as speaking for China's highest organ of state power, it's a done deal. A straw poll of deputies to the NPC indicates that the amendment has more than the two-thirds majority required for adoption, he said.
Thanks to its biggest buying spree since last September, China, which bought a net $18 billion worth of U.S. Treasury bills, notes and bonds in March, has a world-leading Treasury hoard of $895 billion and a whopping $2.5 trillion in foreign reserves. It can easily afford Hawaii.
Hawaii, on its part, has not been an innocent bystander. They have been actively courting China, spending $1 million to draw Chinese attention to the Aloha State. Nearly half of that budget is to be part of the U.S. pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, the state's largest and most expensive single promotion ever for Hawaii in China. Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle visited China in November. China’s Hainan Airlines has already received approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to add service between Beijing and Honolulu.
"My dream is to travel to Hawaii," said our source. "Hawaii is in every Chinese textbook because Sun Yat-sen, the founder of modern China, went to Iolani School and because of movies and television shows such as 'Hawaii Five-O' and 'Magnum, P.I.'" He was last seen departing Beijing Capital International Airport wearing a shanzhai Hilo Hattie's Aloha shirt, board shorts and flip-flops.
The White House could not be reached for comment.
(Although Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and a host of Cabinet secretaries and agency chiefs have recently been spotted in Beijing.)
(The preceding blog post was written in jest, but it may as well be true.)
A foreign resident in Beijing decodes the process of hiring a car and dealing with dents in the bustling capital
FOR my road trip, I rented a Chinese-made Jeep Cherokee from a Beijing company called Capital Motors. It was a new industry; even five years earlier, almost nobody would have thought of renting a car for a weekend trip. But now the business had started to develop, and my local Capital Motors branch had a fleet of about 50 vehicles, mostly Chinese-made Volkswagen Santanas and Jettas.
They are small sedans, built on the same basic model as the VW Fox that was once sold in the US. At Capital Motors, I often rented Jettas for weekend trips, and there was an elaborate ritual to these transactions. First, I paid my $US25 ($41) a day and filled out a mountain of paperwork.
Next, the head mechanic opened the trunk to prove there was a spare tyre and a jack. Finally we toured the Jetta's exterior, recording dents and scratches on a diagram that represented the shape of a car. This often took a while; Beijing traffic is not gentle, and it was my responsibility to sketch every door ding and bumper dent. After we documented the prenuptial damage, the mechanic turned the ignition and showed me the gas gauge. Sometimes it was half full; sometimes there was a quarter tank. Occasionally he studied it and announced: "Three-eighths."
Read more at The AustralianThis is an edited extract from Country Driving: A Journey through China from Farm to Factory, by Peter Hessler (Text Publishing, $36.95).
WASHINGTON—According to a new report released Monday by a panel of top economists and social scientists, the People's Republic of China will overtake the United States as the world's dominant asshole by the year 2020.
The findings, published in the most recent issue of Foreign Affairs, support recent speculation that America's unquestioned reign as the leading super-prick may soon be drawing to a close, leaving China as the foremost shithead among all developed nations.
"We are seeing a changing of the asshole guard," said Andrew Freireich, noted economist and lead author of the article. "Although the U.S. will remain among the world's two or three biggest cocks through much of this century, we can now confidently project that China, with its soaring economic growth, ever-expanding cultural influence, and total disregard for basic human rights, will overtake America as King Prick Numero Uno within the next 10 years."
Added Freireich, "It's the dawning of a new huge bastard era."
Read more at The Onion
According to a new CIA report, China is expected to have as many as 100 long-range nuclear missiles aimed at the U.S. by 2015. What do you think?
Max Koenig Systems Analyst
"We don't need to worry about the Chinese using nukes. They'd first need to find an unpopulated area to test them."
Connie Vance Graduate Student
"Would it be culturally insensitive of me to say I hope they don't blast us to atoms? I don't want to offend anybody."
Dan Essen Plumber
"Maybe it's time to flood China with opium again. Failing that, flood me with opium."
Milt Odom Lawyer
"If only Sting had possessed the foresight to hope that the Chinese love their two government-allotted children, too."
Ken Yaeger Roofer
"We shouldn't worry. Judicious use of force is the traditional and typical of Chinese glorious history and cultural."
Sylvia Coombes Graphic Designer
"Doesn't China know that only the U.S. is responsible enough to have a nuclear arsenal?"
More at The Onion
Coupon was my last hope
As a long-time KFC Chinese customer, I have some confession to make: I passed over the warnings implied by Fast Food Nation, and accepted the way your suppliers treat those poor chicks; and ignored the fact that your employees liked to use dishwasher as bathtub after work...that's all because you always gave out coupons in a generious way.
Now that little shaky faith I held was totally gone as you ruthlessly refused to redeem the coupons of your most faithful customers, who had queued for over 3 hours in front of the counter expecting to have a taste of half-price Family Bucket.
But I want to say thank you to Colonel Sanders for "redeeming" my last excuse to continue my unhealthy junk food eating habit. I am planning to readjust myself to some Chinese-style fast food, anyway they offered to redeem my void coupons, maybe I will give it a try.
Got a little time on your hands? You're in luck. The Onion's Atlas Of The Planet Earth will provide you with countless enjoyable minutes while searching your favorite country and uncovering 'facts' about it that you never before knew.
Start with China. A couple of 'gut-busters' are discovered.
Atlas Of The Planet Earth
Peter Hessler singlehandedly ruined my life in China.I've never seen Hessler, author of the bestsellers Oracle Bones and River Town, but I eke out a bitter existence every day in his footsteps.
The trauma started when my sister landed in Beijing. Until then, everything had been great. Better than great, her visit would let me cash in on the most essential benefit of living in China - regaling audiences with China adventure stories.
The greatest consolation of straddling squatty potties and riding country buses that pass blindly around mountain corners is that it makes a great story. Best of all, you get to wrap yourself in the velvety illusion that you're the first to do it. Though my logical side knows other foreigners have been here and done that, I succumb to the sweet-scented myth like everyone else.
For weeks before her visit, I biked through Beijing's cold winter streets to my ancient Chinese classes every day. My mind was ablaze, cataloguing all the great China stories I could pretend to be reminded of when we saw sights in the capital.
I had it all worked out. I'd wait until we saw the sign at the West Train Station reminding passengers to beware of pickpockets, then I'd mention that I caught a thief with his hand in my pocket at a noodle stall in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
"Did I tell you about the time " I'd start off innocently as we entered the turnstiles at the station.
Read more at China Daily.
Blog Guy, can you please settle a bet with my girlfriend? Is there still an Emperor of China?
Absolutely. He lives in a grand palace, and travels in a regal sedan chair.
But other people in China still use sedan chairs. I’ve seen pictures.
Not like this one. It’s huge and royal blue, and has many rooms. It is hoisted and carried by the Emperor’s personal palace guards, with their distinctive yellow helmets.
As you can see in this photo above, ’tis a glorious sight to behold when the Emperor goes by.
Blog Guy, you’re a complete moron. That’s no sedan chair. The caption says these are migrant workers carrying a guardhouse to a construction site in Shanghai.
So that’s not the Emperor?
And that wouldn’t be the Forbidden City behind them, then?
Excuse me a moment please, I need to make some urgent changes on Wikipedia.
Japanese male readers eagerly awaiting the February 15 sales launch of a magazine named G-Za Besto Dynamite from KK Bestsellers will have to bite the bullet a little longer.
Certainly many publications appeal to real jerks, but Dynamite was about to stake claim as the world’s first magazine to incorporate its own onna hooru (synthetic vagina) and allow readers to peruse the lurid contents hands-on, so to speak.
The reason for the delay, reports Weekly Playboy (March 8) was that the entire consignment of 50,000 went up in smoke when a fire erupted in the factory in China’s Fujian Province.
Fujian is pronounced “Fukken” in Japanese; but rather than invoking this particular geographic pun, Weekly Playboy chose to put a more lowbrow spin on its headline by writing “５マンコ. . . が大炎上!!” (5 c**ts in huge conflagration). It seems that while “fifty thousand pieces” is pronounced goman ko, the male ear is wont to automatically alter the intonation to go manko — making for an entirely different nuance.
View Complete Article at Tokyo Reporter.
View the complete article at Sinosplice.
First off, I’d like to mention that China messes with your body. Especially when you first get here. Systems most notably affected include the digestive system and respiratory system. We’re talking serious diarrhea here, and dirty air. Get that? Bring immodium.
There are some seriously rank odors out there on the street. Rotting organic matter, urine, feces, stinky tofu…. But don’t worry, soon you’ll be gleefully playing “name that odor” with your Chinese friends!
So environmental protection has not exactly “caught on” yet in China. You might find this disturbing at first, and think about it a lot. Don’t worry, soon you’ll be wallowing in toxic apathy with the rest of us!
It also helps if you’re pretty healthy. Sure, they have “modern” medical facilities here, but the standards may not quite be up to what you have come to expect in the West. Solution? Don’t get sick, and don’t get hurt!
See more at Sinosplice.
When I left the house this morning, little did I know what wonders I'd uncover. Hidden in the middle of fast and modern downtown New York was one of the strangest, most puzzling places I had ever laid eyes upon. From the weird Chinese-like writing on the storefronts to the odd Chinese-looking people on the streets—I know this may sound crazy, but it was almost as if I'd stepped into some kind of "Chinese Town."
I don't know any other way to describe it.
At first, disoriented and confused, I tried asking those around me where I was. Unfortunately, most of the men and women who passed by seemed to speak only a bizarre Asian dialect unknown to me, and those who could communicate were more interested in selling me exotic cologne out of a duffel bag. I looked around for any sign of familiarity: a Best Buy, a Barnes & Noble, even a Banana Republic. But sadly all I found in this foreign place, this—well, I suppose I shall call it a "Mandarin or Szechuan Gathering Area"—was one unfamiliar wholesaler after another.
It was like something straight out of the Orient. Specifically, a municipal district out of the Orient. One more or less 12 to 15 city blocks across. In a large American city.
View complete article at The Onion
The Situation: You’re sitting at a bar in the middle of Nigeria China when you feel a rumble below your ribcage: the ominous tremors before the eruption. It’s the distant roar of a train coming down the intestinal tract. Ain’t nothing gonna stop it.
You look in your bag and see a cardboard tube that used to have white paper rolled around it, paper that suddenly seems to a have had a magical quality, paper that has been your friend and companion since you were a wee one, paper you learned how to use years ago, and which hasn’t been mentioned since.
But you’re a long way from Kansas and with no idea how people do it here sans paper. This is information that can be extremely hard to come by. It doesn’t come up at dinner. It’s about the last thing anyone wants to talk about at a bar. And it’s a little too weird to ask your host family about it. Besides, there wouldn’t be time for the conversation, even if you could figure out how to bring it up.
Now, of course, is the worst time to try to acquire this valuable bit of data. But now is when you usually start to think about it. Now is when you grasp the wonder of toilet paper. And now is when you realize you aren’t nearly as culturally immersed as you thought you were.
Now is when you wish you knew how to wipe like most people on the planet.
Background: Squatting is an ancient practice, but knowledge of it has recently been lost in the West. The flush toilet wasn’t even invented until 1596. And toilet paper didn’t become popular until the 1900s. According to the Toilet Paper Encyclopedia, pre-TP, humans used corn cobs, Sears Roebuck catalogs, mussel shells, newspaper, leaves, sand, hayballs, gompf sticks and the end of old anchor cables on ships. Ouch!
But the good folks at the TPE seem blissfully unaware that most of the world’s people still use neither toilet paper, nor western sit-down crappers. Nor do they use corn cobs, gompf sticks or anchor cables. Because, while most of us in North America and Europe sit, people on just about every other continent squat, using water and their left hand. In much of Africa and Asia you can be hard-pressed to find anything else besides the squatter.
Beginning Squatting: I called Doug Lansky, a traveler and travel writer who knows the hardships of squatting. “It’s difficult,” said Lansky, who edited a book called, There’s No Toilet Paper on the Road Less Traveled.
“There aren’t any helpful directions, like a seatback pocket, that show you how to use a squat toilet. You have to sort of find your own technique, whether you’re up more on the balls of your feet, or whether you get a little more comfortable and put your heels down. And if you get advanced, you can even bring the newspaper in with you. That’s sort of the double black diamond mogul run of squatting.”
World Hum travel advice guru and Vagabonding author Rolf Potts has also seen a few squatters in his day. “In places like India, and many parts of Asia,” he told me, “a bathroom won’t have toilet paper. It will have a little cup of water. Basically, after you’ve done your business, you take your left hand and wash the exit hole of fecal matter, then wash your hand. That’s why nobody shakes hands with their left hand in most of Asia and the Middle East, because that’s your ass-wiping hand.”
Dr. Jane Wilson-Howarth is probably the world’s foremost expert on excretion, a real Buddha of Bowel Movements, and she’s not afraid to get into the details. “My technique when I’m teaching volunteers about to go abroad,” said the author of How to Shit Around the World from her UK office, “is that when you’re learning, you need to take everything off below your waist: socks, shoes, pants, underwear. Then squat over the toilet. Pour water over your bum, and with your left hand, just whittle away with your fingers and try to dislodge any lumpy bits while pouring water. And that’s actually not too unaesthetic, because any mess that goes onto your fingers comes off in the water.”
Advanced Squatting: Do above. Read The Wall Street Journal Asia.
What to do: Most important: Cultivate the right mindset. Relax, pretend like you’ve been doing this for years. Remember, using your hand is (according Wilson-Howarth) actually more hygienic, not less, than using toilet paper. “You get good bacteriological cleaning with just rubbing your hands together with soap under running water four times,” she says, and cites a study which says you don’t even need soap. “It can be ash or mud, just rubbing your hands together under water with some kind of washing agent. Even dirt from the river bank will give you good bacteriological cleaning.”
In other words, the dirtiness is primarily in your mind, as Potts found out one day on the road. “I think it was when I was traveling through Southeast Asia that I eventually got caught out,” he told me, “and was forced into this mental power situation where I just willed myself to use the water. It was very strange. We’re not culturally conditioned to have that kind of intimacy with our butthole. So I just sort of had to—it’s sort of like riding a bike, or having sex for the first time—I just had to figure out what I was doing. Then, of course, I washed my hands extensively afterwards. But that’s when I realized it’s not that big of a deal.”
What not to do:
* Don’t ignore your pockets mid-squat. “Don’t lose your wallet, cell phone or passport,” cautioned Dean Visser, who has lived in Asia for more than 15 years. “If you do, chances are you’ll have to tell someone how it happened. I speak from hard-won experience, Little Grasshopper.”
* Don’t use glossy magazine pages. (See: Smearing)
* Don’t be afraid to ask questions. “It’s a difficult topic,” said Howarth-Wilson “Just because they’re embarrassed about it, people don’t even know where to have a shit sometimes, so they won’t ask where the right place is to defecate. They do a dump and run, then everyone is ending up encountering this stuff.”
* Don’t lean back too far.
* Don’t forget to pour a little water in, if it’s a porcelain/metal squatter, before you go, to help wash it all down afterward.
Preparation: It’s a good idea to get a few, er, dry runs in while still at home. Because with practice, you can get it down. After all, as Lanksy and others pointed out, we are biologically designed to squat. It’s the fine tuning we lack.
“The technique,” said Wilson-Howarth, “is to use a lot of water so you’re not actually scraping shit off your ass. What you’re doing is facilitating washing it off. But if you’re a learner at this, and you don’t take your bottoms off, it splashes onto your pants and you look as if you had an accident, and everyone laughs at you when you come out.”
Traveling benefits: Mastering the squatter will save you tons of heartache, stomachache, time, comfort and embarrassment. It works; it’s clean; and it will give you the fearlessness to travel anywhere.
Besides, you’ll never step out of the toilet in that Nigerian Chinese bar looking like you just stepped out of the shower.
Article at WorldHum
From praxislanguage - Learn Chinese poetry with Elvis.
I bumped into Sanmao about two three years ago while searching for stories on China that I might blog about. Since then, I've been to every bookstore, bazaar, antique shop and any gathering of more than three persons in hopes of finding an original copy, 1935 version, of Sanmao.
No luck, so far.
But I do own, now, several copies, reprints of this skinny, spunky little kid, who fought the Japanese, poverty and social ills that befell the Chinese during his lifetime.
Truly, he is a remarkable kid. One that you should take the time to learn a little about.
On my next trip to Guangzhou, I just may stay at the Sanmao Hotel. I bet you think I made that up.
Zhang Leping (simplified Chinese: 张乐平; traditional Chinese: 張樂平; pinyin: Zhāng Lèpíng, November 10, 1910 - September 27, 1992) was a comic artist born in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China. He played a key role in the development of modern manhua in China, and is mostly remembered for his work in Sanmao.
In 1924 Zhang lived in extreme poverty and was unable to continue his primary school education. In the fall of 1927 his area was attacked by the Northern Expedition army. By 1928 at the age of 18 years old, with the support of relatives, he was recommended by the teachers to re-enter school for formal a period of formal art education.
In a short time the January 28 Incident occurred in 1932 and his artistic skills became the highest demand. China would use comics in anti-Japanese advertising in publications. His comic career would officially begin in 1934. In just one year, he would become part of the anti-Japanese comic propaganda team.
When he initially created Sanmao in 1935 his main goal was to convey the hardships of the Second Sino-Japanese War war taking place in China through the eyes of the children, especially the orphans. He wanted to express his concern for the young victims, particularly the real orphans on the streets. And Sanmao became the symbol for those children.
Sanmao (Chinese: 三毛; pinyin: sān máo) is a manhua character created by Zhang Leping in 1935. He is one of the world's longest running cartoon characters and remains one of the most famous and beloved fictional characters in China today.
The name Sanmao means "three hairs" in Chinese. While the character has undergone a number of transitions over time, he has always been drawn with the trademark three strands of hair, which implies malnutrition as a result of poverty.
Most Chinese comic books prior to Sanmao featured adults and the Sanmao stories were also unusual in that they lacked dialogue. When Zhang Leping created the manhua comic series, his main goal was to dramatize the confusion brought about to society by the Second Sino-Japanese War war. He wanted to express his concern for the young victims of the war, particularly the orphans living on the streets. Most of the changes in the characters would come after WWII during the liberation in 1949.
Sanmao's image is now that of a healthy, normal 21st century student. The character has been portrayed as living through some of the most important periods in Chinese history and to futuristic space explorations.
The comic takes place mainly during the 1930s and early 1940s and is set in Old Shanghai in its "golden" era. Sanmao lived mostly in misery and stark poverty against a backdrop of war, colonization, and inflation.
The history of China is very long. Too, it is filled with names of dynasties that are difficult to remember. Which came first? Qin or Ming?
Do you find Chinese history confusing?
The incomparable Onion nailed it...
The Top Ten Stories Of The Past 4.5 Billion Years
Tip of the bowler to: Jottings from the Granite Studio
In one of the most important events in all of Asian history, either the Ming dynasty or the Yuan dynasty seized control of mainland China during the eighth, 12th, or maybe even the third century. "The rise of one of these two dynasties, at the turn of whatever time it was, ushered in a bold new age of either unity, feudal infighting, or perhaps both," said historian Robert Grossman, who has devoted his career to parsing out China's incredibly rich and convoluted history. "Not since the days of the Shang dynasty—unless I happen to be thinking of the Qin dynasty—had China undergone such radical change." According to Grossman, either the Ming or the Yuan dynasty is a perfect example of why the other failed to work.
December 14, 2009 | Issue 45•51