Tags: china


Wow, Steven Spielberg is a real hypocrite.

Please tell me I'm not the only one irked by his much ballyhooed decision to withdraw as artistic advisor for the Beijing Olympics because of China's then unwillingness to intervene in Sudan.

Maybe Spielberg believes his actions demonstrate altruistic sacrifice in the name of the greater good. From where I'm standing, however, all they demonstrate is that while Spielberg's "conscience will not allow [him] to continue with business as usual" when it comes to China's middling influence over Sudan, it was happy to do just that while China violates the rights of its own citizens.

In other words, Spielberg will intervene in a situation where China has no direct control over violations of human rights, but he's not brave enough to make a stand against a much more egregious violater who can offer him publicity (and perhaps product tie-ins and licensing fees), and whose abuse of its own citizens isn't currently considered sexy by TV news networks.

Way to strike a blow at the heart of human repression, Steve! Your ability to look the other way when there's great personal benefit to you is sure to strike fear into the hearts of wealthy, influential human rights-violating regimes the world over!

That will be all.

It *had been* shaping up to be a normal day...

...Six-thirty rolled around, and I headed to Chinese class as I do every week. Had a good class, drove home, and was greeted with stony silence from mes parents. O-kay. This ensued for 10 minutes or so, until I was confronted by my very blustery pere.

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And then the wind went out of his sails, although he blustered for a bit longer in a feeble attempt at recovery. So I had to produce assurances that in the future I would not attempt to "take the car and go somewhere" without informing mon pere in the event that such an urge ever did happen to strike me (it hasn't yet).

Mon pere: *visibly calmed* So how was class today?

AJK: Pretty good. I got a plate.

Mon pere: Huh?

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That will be all.

NYTimes Article on Chinese Antiquities + Picspam

I've archived the text version below, but here's a link to the online version with the photographs. Of course it's interesting in and of itself, but the cool thing about it is that I've been to one of the three recently renovated temples it mentions; in fact, I was there about one week after it opened to the public.

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As you can see, very cool stuff. And the best part was that we were the only two people there, because it wasn't in any of the guidebooks at that point.

That will be all.

Article Post

This time on Chinese fansubbers. I\'m particularly enamoured of the author\'s amazement at the amount of time the groups put into the subbing and that they--get ready for this--do it for (gasp) free! Other bits (like the hierarchies and rationalizations) should be old hat to anyone who\'s been online since the days of ratio mp3 sites.

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BO and Weird Bugs

Sorry, guys. I really suck at doing the Travel Post thing. I will attempt to get around to it one of these days, but until then, some weird musings and happenings for you.

I am now in Korea, after a hellacious trip from Beijing, courtesy of China Air. Seriously, Chinese airlines suck. Suck, suck, SUCK. How badly do they suck?

Let's just say that my flight has been delayed eight out of the eight times I've flown with a Chinese airline, and that today's delay, clocking in at just under three hours, was one of the SHORTEST.

Korea gave me serious Not Japan culture shock when I first visited two years ago, but coming here today was like being able to breathe again. I love China to death, but it's exhausting. The people there are just horrendously rude by Asian standards. Korea functions quite similarly to Japan, and so I was easily able to navigate the airport, find myself a hostel, and get there with minimum hassle, and more importantly, without anyone trying to sell me something or rip me off. I can also read quite a bit more than I was able to the last time I visited, and that certainly helps.

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Hurrah, here I am in Beijing again, starting the first leg of the Grand Tour. I really, really love the section of town where we're staying. It's got lots of cute little music, clothing, and most importantly, INSTRUMENT shops lining the street from the subway to the hostel. I am most enamoured of the qian (think unholy cross between a koto and a hammered dulcimer). I would just LOVE to take one of those puppies home and play Ir-Trad on it. And they're so beautiful! And they only cost $300 not counting the hundreds it would probably take to ship them home! We wants it, precious. At the very least, I probably am going to walk out of one of those shops with a pipa (think unholy cross between a biwa and a cittern). Or at the very least some more bamboo flutes.

Did the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. I'd intended to upload pictures today, but the Internet Cafe I'm using has the towers locked inside of these big glass cases. Thus, no USB port access for me. It also forbids you to dl stuff onto the HD. This is a problem, as I have a deadline coming up. >.<;;;

Later today, much shopping, and more importantly, The Dead Guy! W00t. I think my new goal in life is to see all of the dead guys before I die. I'll have two down by the end of this trip!

That will be all.


I brought about $2,000 US along with me for the China trip, exchanging one half of that at the airport in Osaka. The money was handed to me in sealed packets of ten 100 yuan bills - about $125 US.

Today at the Silk Market I opened one of those packets - one of the few remaining to me - and cleverly managed to rip the serial numbers off of the bills while I was at it. Counterfeiting is a huge problem in this country, and if one's 100 yuan bills are not in pristine condition, they won't be accepted.

I am now trying to sneak the ruined bills into larger purchases like the con artist they all think I am. Ahahaha.

That will be all.

You keep using that kanji...

...I do not think it means what I think it means.

The kanji for 'desk' in Japanese is most likely a verb of some sort in Chinese, and one that has to do with cars and airplanes to boot. And ah, China. Home of some very simplified kanji. It's interesting to try and decipher them as I flit about town - the kanji for 'east' and 'car' have become the same thing. It also appears to my jaundiced Japanese-reading eye that Chinese is entirely a language of concepts and little else. For instance, 'Caution, Wet Floor' becomes 'Small Heart Ground Slip' which has a certain charm to it, but is certainly odd looking to someone accustomed to grammatical markers. I'd like to buy some okurigana, please.

It's also taxing my non-Joyou kanji reading ability to the max, because kanji are the only clues available as to whether that menu item I'm pointing at is intestines or boneless chicken breast. As one might imagine, my gaffs lead to hilarity.

Case in point: our drinks come out at dinner tonight. Andy and I have ordered the 'Asian Hebal Beverage' (which turned out to be sugarcane juice), while Melissa ordered orange fanta. Our drinks were cold. Hers was not. Watch as I attempt to procure some ice for Melissa:

Me: //writes the kanji for 'ice' on the chopstick wrapper and shows it to the waitress//

Waitress: "Huh?"

Me: (echoed by Greek chorus of my friends) "Ice!"


Me: "Ice! Ice!"

The waitress looks over my shoulder. Melissa nods encouragingly, and points to her glass of orange fanta with a brilliant smile on her face.

All: "Ice!"

Waitress: "Yong?"

It is at this point that I realise that I have, in fact, written the kanji for 'eternity,' instead of the kanji for 'ice.' No wonder our poor waitress is confused. (If you're wonder why I realised this, it's because 'yong an li' is a stop on the Beijing Metro - that would be 'ei an ri' or 'Eternal Safe Village' in Japanese). It's amazing how that one little stroke will getcha.

I managed to order some very good food, but it also happened to be very, very spicy hot. I thus dredged up the kanji for 'coconut' (learned from a BL novel I'm currently reading) in order to order some coconut milk to help neutralise the spiciness. Melissa, unfortunately, cannot handle spice well, so my mission was now to get a menu to order new food.

I tried the Japanese compound for menu, with the full expectation that it would be nonsensical to our waitress, which it was. Much pointing, miming and grunting ensued before we were able to get the menu. It then occurred to me that of the three dishes I'd ordered, all were hot, right down to the vegetables, which had come loaded with black pepper. For all I knew, the regional cuisine we were eating was all very spicy.

So the time comes to pull out my kanji skills again. They can't wait to see what I'll come up with next. My game plan is to write 'bu' which means 'not,' and spicy. Unfortunately, the kanji for 'spicy,' 'bitter,' and 'happy' all differ from one another by a single measily stroke, and I'm not sure I remember which is which. I waffle back and forth a few times, not wanting to accidentally tell our poor waitress that I'm 'not happy' with the menu, but luckily get it right.

And thus dinner was completed - three main dishes, one fanta, two 'Asian Hebal Beverages' and three coconut milks - which cost us all of ten dollars in total.

And yeah, China: I've seen the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Old Summer Palace, Mutian'yu (which is a bit of the Great Wall) Ritan park, and several night markets. Unfortunately, the first three sucked, because they were all shrouded in green tarpaulin, thus destroying any opportunity to actually see them, and all the water was drained from the Palace garden, which sort of defeats the purpose there as well. My guess is that they're all undergoing renovations before the Olympics.

But the Great Wall rocked and rocked and rocked, and I've been to several sweet Buddhist temples as well. More on this later when I've got more time online.

That will be all.