Saturday, October 29, 2011

Excessive Entertainment

There was a great article in the Times about recent crackdowns in China on there own version of blogging. As many of you know Blogspot, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and pretty much any other social media tool from the US is already banned in China, but the Chinese have there own versions of many of them, often just thinly veiled copies of the American version. The communists have been less afraid of this since being based in China they can sensor them to their hearts content. By some estimates besides the most advanced filtering and blocking software around the Chinese employ tens of thousands of people to just go around taking down content that the government might not like or posting comments favorable to the government.

They also get many of the Chinese social media sights to heavily self police by holding the implicit threat that if too much undesirable content gets posted the whole thing will be shut down. This though has not stopped the internet from still being the freest place in China. Even with the governments restrictions the internet remains anonymous enough that people still posts things critical, or at least indirectly critical, of the government. Much of it gets taken down but the ideas still spread. This has lead the government in recent months to go on a much more through jihad against any form of free expression in media. The oddest part of this by far is the censoring of TV shows with no overt or implicit political content. To quote the NYT article

"The most striking instance occurred Tuesday, when the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television ordered 34 major satellite television stations to limit themselves to no more than two 90-minute entertainment shows each per week, and collectively 10 nationwide. They are also being ordered to broadcast two hours of state-approved news every evening and to disregard audience ratings in their programming decisions."

This comes as by far the most popular thing on TV is bizarre variety shows where people compete in singing dancing and the occasional terrible magic trick. For the government of China though this represents a deep and pervasive threat to there way of life. For all the talk about modernization there is still a strong sentiment in the government here that harkens back to the Cultural Revolutions vision of an all communist party media all the time. Instead of seeming like a terrifying group of thugs some days the communists just come across as the parents from Footloose, the original not the remake. The best part of the article though was that these crazy new regulations were aimed at getting rid of "excessive entertainment and vulgar tendencies." I have watched a fair bit of Chinese TV and I can tell you that they have yet to come up with a TV show in China that is "excessively" entertaining.

The sad part about this article was how many of the people commenting from the US were wholly in support of censoring TV. I guess people really are fed up with all that reality crap. You can find the article at

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Learning to Curse in Chinese

I've never had a huge interest in learning more Chinese than I really need to get around but recently I've started to learn some Chinese curse words. Now it's not that there are so many people I want to curse at in China, though there are definitely some, it's more that I think it will be a fun thing to learn. It's a more fun thing to discuss with my Chinese friends, and it's great how many Chinese people blanch when you use any Chinese curse word. Mostly thought I want to be able to use them when I'm back in the US. I think it would be great to be able to curse at people without them understanding. Last time I was back in the US I could barley stop myself from yelling at people who were blocking up the Metro, I think I'd be much happier jut cursing at them in Chinese as I passed. As for what the actual curse words are, I don't want to get into too many of them but a good simple one is "wu cao" that's "wu" in the third tone, falling then rising, and "cao" in the fourth tone, falling. Also for those who don't speak any Chinese the c in "cao" is pronounced with a ts sound. Wu cao is basically the Chinese version of fuck, though I don't know if it has the same literal meaning. The thing I really have to learn how to say in Chinese though is, "if you don't move faster and stop blocking the sidewalk I'm going to rip off your arm and beat you to death with it," though maybe it's better that I don't know how to say that.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Visa Victory

Well it's finally happened the whole family is coming to China. I've written about this before but my parents have spent the last several months in visa hell. Now they finally have word that they are actually getting their visa and are coming to China. On top of that my sister is still in Beijing and is even doing some teaching there. After getting such a long run around from the Chinese government I began to wonder if my parents ever would make it here. The weirdest part of all this for me though is the fact that I don't have a home to go back to in the US anymore, well technically I haven't had a home for a few months now, but now there's no hotel room with my parents either. It means I really have no idea if I'll be back in the US next summer of what I'll do for that matter. My mom is also doing a blog now Not by Occident, don't you just love pun titles for blogs, is over in the side bar with other friends blogs.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Are There Any Good Foreign Affairs People?

I'm pretty pissed at David, the foreign affairs guy at my school, for a number of reasons. The biggest has to do with my commute to work, but I'll post about that separately. But it's mostly that h just seems to never get anything done. My toilet still doesn't have a seat, I've been here a month. When I send him any message it's like it's going into a black hole, I have no idea if he even received it. I asked him about more water for my apartment, a pretty normal request, and I never heard back. Yes, no, maybe, tomorrow, anything would be better. I have a printer, but no idea if or where I can get ink for such an old machine. I have a refrigerator that doesn't keep anything particularly cool. It's also just frustrating to get an endless runaround for even the simplest issue. If I have to hear one more time that they can't find the right seat for the toilet I'm going to lose it. It's a toilet seat not a spaceship, pretty close is good enough. It's not just the guy at this school either. I've written before about how annoyed I was at various times with Ma Ming, Luca, and even Teddy, who was probably the best of the bunch. What makes it annoying is that it's not that there job seems especially hard. Pretty much all the problems I have could be resolved in one day with a couple of phone calls, and then for the rest of the time I don't really require anything at all from them. I spend a huge amount of time trying to get some really little problems, and the occasional big one, worked out. I just want to open my window and scream, "Why can't you people just be efficient and direct for one God damned day!" I'm sure my parents in there own private visa hell know how I feel.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Prison Toilet

My new apartment is pretty nice but there's one problem which they haven't fixed yet despite me being here for nearly a month. My toilet lacks a seat. I don't mean the cover I mean the part you sit on. If you've ever seen a prison movie it looks like one of the toilets you see in jail. I've asked David a couple of times about this but he just keeps on saying they can't find the right part. I'm starting to get pretty annoyed with that answer though as it's a toilet not a car it doesn't have to match exactly. I just need something to make it easier to sit there. It's not like I can't use the toilet as it is, it just sucks. There's little chance that they'll be able to fix it this week though since it's a holiday. At least I might actually be able to start classes next week, though I still don't have a schedule.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Finding a Place to Eat

One of the first important things when moving to a new area is finding some place good to eat. Since I don't cook much, besides making things like eggs or sandwiches, I've been looking for a good little restaurant near here. The school has a bunch of cafeterias but so far my impression is that they all stink. I don't think there are any other restaurants on campus so that leaves the main shopping area not far from here. If I walk out of the closest gate it takes me about 10 minutes to get to the shopping area. There are a ton of restaurants there. Some seem a little fancy, or I only see big groups of people, and while I'm glad there is a KFC and a McDonalds close by it's not really an every day sort of food. The best place I've found so far is a guy who sells really good baozi, a sort of bready steamed dumpling, even though he often out of the vegetable ones I like in the evening, baozi are primarily a morning food in China. There was also a Malatang place, where you pick stuff and the boil it in a big bowl, which was good, but I'm pretty sure they overcharged me. I guess I'll just have to keep looking.