A new thread

Have at it.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 69 Comments

Oh no, my deepest dread: what if they opened a thread and nobody came?

Let me just jumpstart it by pointing out a very interesting new comment to a very old post on our favorite topic, Tiananmen Square in 1989. It’s reader Bill’s fist comment, and what makes it unique is that he was actually there for much of the protest and offers a bird’s eye view of what it was like. He comes to the same conclusion as many others in China today – “What else could the government have done?” I think that’s a fair question, but I’m not sure the only option was opening fire with live ammunition.

October 26, 2005 @ 10:10 pm | Comment

Awfully quiet here…I just found this on Reuters:

Inmates in federal, state, local and other prisons totaled nearly 2.3 million at the end of last year.

China had the second-largest prison population with 1.5 million prisoners, according to statistics updated in April and cited by King’s College. The total U.S. population is about 296 million, while China’s is 1.3 billion.

Question: which country is the police state?

For comparison with similar societies, US has 726 prisoners per 100,000 population compared with 116 in Canada.

October 26, 2005 @ 10:14 pm | Comment

Sorry Richard, you slipped past me.

October 26, 2005 @ 10:15 pm | Comment

Pete, I suspect this is mainly thanks to our brilliant “War on Drugs,” right up there with our “War on Terror” in terms of being a miserable failure that exacerbates the problem rather than solving it. America’s a great country, but if I were a poor young black man I might well think of it as a police state. Except there are ways to move up the ladder and out of the ghetto, and success stories are many and varied. The tragedy is, Bush’s policies make it harder and harder to escape. As Medicaid benefits are slashed and affirmative action further dismantled, expect that prison population to swell even higher.

October 26, 2005 @ 10:21 pm | Comment

On Bill’s TM: I remember reading in Mike Chinoy’s China Live that the student leaders got all Animal Farm; to see them you had to show as many IDs as possible. Apparently his Blockbuster card helped.

On the U.S. prison population: don’t forget the racial skew of our prisons. Or the high rate of recidivism. Or draconian laws like the Rockefeller laws in New York. And check out this, which is at, of all places, the National Review.

Richard, is there any web stuff showing, say, Taiwanese reactions to the silly pageantry and propaganda surrounding the “60th anniversary”? Do they find it mind-boggling, or is there no Mainland silliness that surprises them any longer?

Also, if you need the thread to be more interesting, my challenge to ACB still stands.

October 26, 2005 @ 11:01 pm | Comment

Really, check out that NRO article. It’s about Florida prison wardens torturing a paraplegic who was jailed simply because he had alot of pain meds. Why did he have them? HE’S A PARAPLEGIC. Plus you get to see the NRO quote the NYT as telling the truth.

And how about these apples? HRW and Amnesty Intl did a joint study of Life without Parole for Child Offenders in the US. As Dave Chappelle said, we have some contradictory ideas about being 15. If you’re 15 and you shoot someone, you’re an adult. If you’re 15 and R Kelly pees on you, you’re an innocent child. And if you’re 15 and you can’t decide whether or not you want someone to pee on you… give up.

October 26, 2005 @ 11:09 pm | Comment

So now the obvious question: is a society that gives children life without parole for first offences like “felony murder” (where someone else commits the murder but the child happens to be standing in the area), imposes de facto death sentences on cripples seeking pain medication, and does this at a per capita ratio several times the rate of any other country on earth really qualified to lecture on human rights violations in China?

October 26, 2005 @ 11:46 pm | Comment

I’ve just returned from Pizza Hut and I have an earworm from the Chinglish circle of Hell:

Chinglish Muzak. AGGH! Obviously whoever those “vocalists” are, are daughters of Communists who spent years and stacks of money giving them “singing” lessons, and then they threaten some recording studio to give their useless daughters a recording contract, or else be sent to the Gulag for re-education.

How else can you explain, not just the ghastly voice and the tone-deafness, but also the butchered pronunciation in this Chinglish rendition of “As Time Goes By”, which they played over and over and over in the Pizza Hut. She was singing something like:

“Horse full of pissin, gee let’s see, in heat?
Woman is a mare, and mare mus’ have ‘er mate! Dat no one can deny……
Is still a semen story,
Fight fun love and gory,
A case of do you tie?
Da weird will always we come roughers
As Time Goes By…..”

October 26, 2005 @ 11:50 pm | Comment

Well, we do have rule of law here and due process and all that. But there’s no way around it – the stories Dave has linked to are inexcusable and horrifying. And inexplicable. What on earth are we thinking, locking up children for their entire lives for crimes committed before they could drive or vote? The site claims a greater percentage of children are sentenced to life without parole than adults – can that possibly be true? If so, shame on America.

Dave, about Taiwan’s reactions to the 60th aniversary, I have to admit I’ve been to busy with other stuff to follow it. I’m sure Taipei Times is huffing and puffing about it, but sometimes they’re little better than Epoch Times in their unhidden prejudice against China.

October 26, 2005 @ 11:54 pm | Comment

Ivan, we’re talking about serious stuff and you’re going on about Chinglish muzak. Get serious, dude.

October 26, 2005 @ 11:55 pm | Comment

So now the obvious question: is a society that gives children life without parole for first offences like “felony murder” etc. etc. etc. really qualified to lecture on human rights violations in China?

Well, Boo, I’d like to point out that I’m not a society. I’m a guy.

I’ve never met Richard, or any other commenter here, but I’m highly suspicious that any of them are in actuality a “society”. I believe they are singular individuals, with the exception of maybe a couple of our trolls, who seem to be 6 or 7 people all at once.

As for “societies”, by which I assume you mean “governments” criticizing each other, I figure governments can’t escape some level of hypocrisy when criticizing each other. Does this mean they should never speak about each others business? No, I don’t think so. Even if you think they should avoid it, obviously it’s not going to happen.

Also, by discussing these issues in public settings, there is a greater possibility of pinpointing what is wrong. The abuses in Florida state prisons do not automatically mean the entire US system is to be condemned. Likewise, the Taishi incident should not be used to condemn the entire Chinese system.

There are two significant differences between the US and Chinese system here: one is that our press and private organizations actually talk about these things, and our government doesn’t block them (Mainlanders, good luck reading HRW!). The second difference is that we do get the opportunity to fire the a**holes who do this stuff – even if, as a collective, we’re not very good at picking the good ones, we still get the chance every few years.

October 27, 2005 @ 12:00 am | Comment

I’m not sure that’s a fairly worded question, Boo. When you point to these things as emblematic of “American society” I get uncomfortable, because these things are unknown to most average citizens, affect a very tiny relative number of people and are not all that American society stands for. American society also lets a prosecutor question the nation’s highest leaders and demand that justice be applied to the richest and most powerful. So your question seems unfairly one-sided.

China, too, stands for more than its prison system or forced abortion policy, etc. Unfortunately, China is not a free society and there is no where to turn when injustices are committed; articles and web sites like the ones Dave has pointed out criticizing government policy so harshly would be banned in China and their creators jailed. So such comparisons are shaky and open to lots of argument.

October 27, 2005 @ 12:08 am | Comment

Damn – if I’d gotten your comment in time, I wouldn’t have had to write mine, Dave.

October 27, 2005 @ 12:09 am | Comment

Dave, about Taiwan’s reactions to the 60th aniversary, I have to admit I’ve been to busy with other stuff to follow it.

Richard, I think you just described Taiwan’s reaction to it perfectly :)

October 10th you get a day off: so everyone goes home and plays Mahjong with the folks (while ignoring any official events). October 25th no day off: so everyone just ignores it without getting to play Mahjong!

October 27, 2005 @ 12:34 am | Comment

David, I think you;re right.

Back to the US for a second: this is absolutely priceless, every single page. I was laughing out loud.

October 27, 2005 @ 1:04 am | Comment

davesgonechina, Richard,
I guess you’re both right. Back to the Chinglish Muzak!!

October 27, 2005 @ 2:11 am | Comment

This site draws all kinds of interesting creatures. Whatever you do, don’t miss the insightful post by one “rabbi stromberg” in the Prussian Blue thread below. Yikes.

October 27, 2005 @ 2:13 am | Comment

Somebody’s got to say this, so I guess I’ll be first: The new Google ads look really tacky and distracting on the top thread. I have to peer at the first post carefully to decide which is the “comment” link, and which is the ad I DON’T want to click.

Can’t you put them over in the side somewhere?

October 27, 2005 @ 2:53 am | Comment

Sam, how about if I just keep the open thread totally blank, so all it has are the ads? There’s no post to read, since the thread is just a string of comments. But my IT expert says if I don’t have the ads in the top box I will never become rich, and I have always yearned for wealth.

October 27, 2005 @ 3:12 am | Comment

I guess you gotta do what you gotta do, but I was spoiled by the pretty graphics! Hell, if you make more than $10.00 a month on them, let me know, I might even use them.

October 27, 2005 @ 4:07 am | Comment

I’ve had Google ads on my site since June and all I’ve accumulated so far is a whopping $30. But hey, that’s $30 I didn’t have and it’s also $30 I didn’t have to do any work for. hmmm..

October 27, 2005 @ 9:48 am | Comment

on crime:
many years ago when I lived in California it was well known that gangs would use “children” to commit heinous crimes becasue the consequences to the child would be minimal, in the criminal justice system.
The public reacted and hence, we have the draconian measures you see today in many states when it comes to juvenile crime.

October 27, 2005 @ 9:50 am | Comment

I don’t think the question, boo, should be phrased as a “which is bad, the U.S. or China” even though many people put the debate that way. The answer is they are both extremely messed up countries with a hankering for oppression, violence, anti-intellectualism, deep seated racism and institutionalised classism.

The America that I grew up in is not the America presented to the world. I don’t think Vermont and New Hampshire will ever become mainstream, so I think we’re looking at another 50 years of preachy, overly aggressive cowboys roaming our white house, until we have regressed so far that the world doesn’t have to take us seriously anymore.

China, on the other hand, I predict will have a brief glimpse at being the biggest until they figure out that their growth has been overly unsustainable, and it will descend back into total chaos.

Too much pride all around.

October 27, 2005 @ 5:21 pm | Comment

Has Martyn been sighted yet?

October 27, 2005 @ 11:54 pm | Comment

I think he has some issues he has to deal with. He’ll be back.

October 28, 2005 @ 12:14 am | Comment

Gordon, believe it or not I just put the Google stuff up two weeks ago (less? more? I forget) and already have earned more than $100. Unfortunately, the checks are being mailed to my home in the US where they’re sitting in a pile somewhere.

October 28, 2005 @ 2:45 am | Comment

Gents: Could someone tell me at approx what time the breakfast meeting at Jukes is scheduled for? Thanks…

October 28, 2005 @ 3:48 am | Comment

The breakfast club will meet at Jukes the first Saturday in November (and every month thereafter, holidays excepted) at 9:30 A.M. So don’t stay up too late on Friday!

October 28, 2005 @ 4:00 am | Comment

Damn Richard, maybe I should consider placing my Google ads in more visible spaces.

As a general courtesy towards fellow bloggers, I usually click on at least one of their site ads per day when visiting…do you think that could be considered unethical?

October 28, 2005 @ 9:05 am | Comment

I think if you do it a lot Google will get suspicious. But checking on the ads on your site now and then is fine I would think, as long as you aren’t obviously trying to deceptively pump up their hits.

October 28, 2005 @ 9:08 am | Comment

This just in: according to the New York Times, Scooter got scooted.

October 28, 2005 @ 11:11 am | Comment

Indeed. I wonder what will happen next. predictions anyone?

October 28, 2005 @ 11:44 am | Comment

predictions anyone?

The mountain will labor, and bring forth a very large mouse.

October 28, 2005 @ 7:12 pm | Comment

Sam, that’s the exact phrase InstaPuppet uses today! He must read the comments here. :-)

There’ll be a lot of rejoicing that they didn’t get Rove and they didn’t get anyone on espionage, “just perjury” (as though Libby’s alleged crimes, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, is akin to jaywalking). But the angst in DC is as grim today as it was last week, and Cheney may have to testify as a witrness in this trial along with many other luminaries like Tim Russert, Judy Miller (for sure) and others. So while the spin today, perfectly echoed by my friend Sam, is that it’s a big nothing, the worst may well be yet to come and the administration has a lot to be nervous about, simply because any trial of Libby will force them to air a lot of dirty laundry in public. Furthermore, if Fitz were through with Rove he could have simply said so; instead, the investigation is ongoing, and Fitz is famous for being relentless, fair and thorough. There’s more to come; maybe we won’t get Rove’s head on a platter, but the reverberations of this indictment will shake the foundations of the White House until Bush leaves. Remember, Libby is not small potatoes, he;s (was) chief of staff to the VP of the US, and they worked in lockstep 14 hours a day, and we all know Cheney knew what Libby was doing. That’s the elephant in the corner no one is acknowledging: there’s no way Cheney didn’t know, and he most likely was actively behind the monkey business and obfuscations. Just like there was no way Nixon didn’t know what his top aidesd Haldermann and Ehrlichman etc., were doing in 1972. Stay tuned.

October 28, 2005 @ 8:10 pm | Comment

It’s a good day! :-)

(…) there’s no way Cheney didn’t know, and he most likely was actively behind the monkey business and obfuscations. Just like there was no way Nixon didn’t know what his top aides Haldermann and Ehrlichman etc., were doing in 1972.

Seems to me highly unlikely they didn’t know (and if they really didn’t, they had no business holding positions of such high authority). The problem is it’s so hard to prove they knew.

Reminds me of a shameful term popularized during another indictment of another Republican administration: “plausible deniability” (for the younger ducklings, that would be Reagan’s Iran-Contra Affair, starring uber-patriot Oliver North).

Some very interesting testimony lies ahead – and maybe even the possibility of a few drops of that rare essence – accountability!

Better put a LOT more popcorn into the popper!

October 28, 2005 @ 8:40 pm | Comment

Does anyone know if typepad is now being blocked in China? I can’t get on any typepad blogs.. It would be extemely annoying for yet another blog service to be blocked..
Phil

October 28, 2005 @ 8:40 pm | Comment

Typepad has been blocked there for some time.

October 28, 2005 @ 9:10 pm | Comment

“just” perjury:

Spiro Agnew was pressured into resigning because of charges of tax evasion. Perjury is a hell of a lot worse than that.

October 28, 2005 @ 9:13 pm | Comment

Well this properly belongs in the earlier thread about the 2000 US dead milestone. But I’m putting here because it’s an open thread, and the other thread is a bit old now:

Some fools were saying “2000 dead is not so many; it’s a worthwhile sacrifice to make (well, for OTHERS to make) for the cause of democracy in the Middle East,” etc etc

Well. I’ve just been re-reading parts of Arthur Koestler’s “Darkness at Noon”, and I came across this passage, and it reminded me SO much of how the Neo-Cons rationalize how “2000 dead is not so many, the end justifies the means”….

…just like Leninist Communists rationalized what they did. And the Neo-Cons are direct intellectual descendants of the Bolsheviks.

Anyway, here’s the passage from “Darkness at Noon,” where a fanatical Bolshevik says:

“…this sudden revulsion against experimenting is rather naive. Every year several million people are killed quite pointlessly by epidemics and other natural catastrophes. AND WE SHOULD SHRINK FROM KILLING A FEW HUNDRED THOUSAND FOR THE MOST PROMISING EXPERIMENT IN HISTORY? (emphasis supplied) ….No one takes any notice of (people who die in accidents), but if we here shoot a few thousand objectively harmful people, the humanitarians all over the world foam at the mouth. Yes, we liquidated the parasitic part of the peasantry (cf, “Yes the war in Iraq killed lots of people”)…IT WAS A SURGICAL OPERATION (emphasis supplied)…Nature is generous in her senseless experiments on mankind.
Why should mankind not have the right to experiment on itself?”

Neo-Con reasoning, derived directly from Bolshevik reasoning: “The end justifies the means”: This is how they justify the 2000 American war dead. Just like Bolsheviks, just like the fanatical enemies of everything American democracy represents.

October 28, 2005 @ 11:45 pm | Comment

Re: the new hit show, “Scooter Goes to Jail,” the MSM is pretty much going nuts. I spent the day watching CNN and MSNBC. If you all in the PRC can access WaPo and NYT, it’s like Libby’s indictment is the stick in the hornet’s nest.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Fitzmas, and I don’t think this is going to go away any time soon…

October 29, 2005 @ 1:09 am | Comment

Good find, Ivan. The neo-cons: Lenin’s cousins.

Lisa, I wish I were there for the show. CNN International is far more restrained, and they talk with funny English accents. BBC coverage is relatively scant.

Did you read Andrew Sullivan, former Bush cheerleader and still an outspoken proponent of the Iraq invasion, today?

From the evidence we now have, it seems crystal clear to me that Libby knew he was out of line when he leaked the Plame name, and perjured himself to protect himself and the real source of the leak, Cheney. He gambled that the reporters wouldn’t squeal; and that he could cleverly spin his phone conversations so that the information seemed to come from reporters, not him. The question now is whether he will now turn against his colleagues and master to save his own skin. This story is just beginning. Ultimately, it’s about Cheney.

He goes on at considerable length to blast Assrocket’s “Only Libby” nonsense to shreds: this is in about Scooter Libby only in that he’s the one who can lead the prosecutors to Cheney. Our VP must be going totally apoplectic, and he’ll probably need a new pacemaker in a few days.

October 29, 2005 @ 1:42 am | Comment

Forgot the link to Sullivan, who further opines,

And it’s hard to believe that the indictment of Libby, and the continuance of the investigation into Rove, does not potentially lead to the highest potential source of this mess: the vice-president. Libby is now going to be pressured by the prosecutor to name others, as part of a plea agreement. (Who’s “Official A”?) The judge assigned to his case is known for hefty sentences, putting more pressure on Libby. The biggest aspen so far may be about to turn. Which other trees may fall? I’ll add one more thing: I don’t believe that five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury and lying by a major administration official are a “mouse,” or even a large rabbit. Not if you care about the integrity of government officials and the rule of law.

October 29, 2005 @ 1:43 am | Comment

Hm, I wonder, are any other Yanks here, old enough to remember Watergate?

I was just a boy then, but I remember SO well, how I was humilated (well, I really mean, just teased) for being the son of a Democratic politician in a 90 percent Republican community, in 1972, 1973…
…in 1972, my elementary school held a “mock election”, and I was the ONLY one who voted for McGovern.
All the other kids voted for Nixon, because all of their parents were Republicans.
(My Dad, at that time, held an elected state office, as a Democrat. He had great credibility even among “Conservatives” because he was a war veteran and a writer of many patriotic op-ed articles – but he also opposed the Viet Nam War.
And he published other articles supporting Civil Rights for Blacks, and other articles condeming Soviet Communism. He was one of those Conservative Democrats, the kind who supported JFK.)
And then when Nixon won, all the kids teased me: “HAHA! You lose! Your Dad is a Democrat! Nixon won!
HAHA!” (Kind of like in a South Park episode. Imagine Cartman in 1972.)
Ah, but THEN came year 1973! And in 1973, the other kids did not tease me so much for being a “Democrat.” (Meaning, the son of one.)
And THEN, oh it was so wonderful, in 1974.
I went back to Middle School (Sixth Grade) in September 1974, just one month after Nixon resigned. And on the first day of school, at lunch, I sat with my friends, and one of them – the son of a Republican politician – got fed up with me when I gloated about Nixon’s resignation, and he lost his temper and he shouted:

(He shouted my true name, but let’s pretend he called me by my TPD handle):

“IVAN! You think you’re SO COOL, just because you’re a Democrat!”

South Park in 1974. :-)

And he lost his temper with me, at the lunch table. And then, after lunch, and after school, all of the prettiest girls wanted to talk to me.
(Mind you, we were all around 11 years old then):

The prettiest girls all said:
“IVAN! You were RIGHT about Nixon!
Oh, OH, Ivan, you know SO much about politics! And please do your funny impersonation of Nixon! Oh Ivan, you know SO much”….. :-)

QED, Democrats get more Love than Republicans, in the long run. Cf Bill Clinton, the fourth greatest President in American history.
:-)

(The three greatest Presidents were Washington, Lincoln, and FDR. Clinton was number four. The reason? Because America’s prestige was highest under Washington – and Lincoln is a special case, not for prestige but for saving the country – and then America’s prestige reached its second highest level under FDR – and America reached its third highest level of prestige in history, under Clinton.)

PS, I would be very grateful if ANY Americans here, might have a copy of the LP record, “The Watergate Comedy Hour” (1973). My Dad bought it, but his copy was lost some years ago. I want to find another copy – or a copy of a copy – of the 1973 LP, “The Watergate Comedy Hour”, if any Yanks can help me with this. I remember, on the back cover of that record (which my Dad played over and over in 1973, and then again during his election campaign in 1974), there was an American flag, and the words:

“America will survive Watergate, and America will survive this record.”
:-)

October 29, 2005 @ 2:03 am | Comment

PS,

My memories of August 9, 1974, when Nixon resigned:

I was just a marginally adolescent boy then, 11 years old. But I do remember, how I felt troubled for the previous year or so, by knowing that my President Nixon was a criminal.

I grew up (as some of my friends here know) in one of the oldest parts of America, in a house which was built in 1770. And the man who built that house, where I grew up, was the owner of the local iron forge, and he supplied cannons to General Washington. So, I grew up, surrounded by stories of the American Revolution. And when I was a boy, I had a copy of the US Constitution on my bedroom wall.
And I knew that some of my ancestors had fought in the American Revolution.

But in 1973, 1974, I was very confused and upset, as a boy, because I knew that my President was a criminal. And mind you, my Father was a great patriot, who saw combat against Hitler’s Luftwaffe. And my father was a remote nephew of George Washington. So, I was taught to love America, when I was a boy. And so, it was a horrible time for me, in 1974, when my President was known to be a criminal.

But then, I remember, the day that Nixon resigned:

And I have two special memories of that day:

1. I watched Nixon resigning, on live TV. And one of my older sisters was with me. (On that afternoon, my Dad was away, doing some political work.) And my sister wept, she cried, and she said, “I feel sorry for him (for Nixon), I can see, he really loves his country. I respect Nixon now, because he resigned for the sake of America.”

2. And for the same reasons, I always have a LITTLE bit of love for Nixon. Nixon was a criminal, but in the end, he did the right thing. And Nixon truly did love America, even if he did it in foolish ways.
Quite unlike Bush and his people.

3. On the night of August 9, 1974, my Dad invited some other scholars – from various universities – to a picnic at our house. And they did not know that Nixon had resigned, until they arrived at our house, on that night.

And on that night, some of my Dad’s friends brought guitars, to play at the party at our house. And they found out that Nixon had resigned, on that night. And they sang, the old silly song,
“He’s (GOD has) got the whole world in his hands”…
…and I remember, one of them started a new verse:
“He’s got (GOD has) President Ford, in his hands, he’s got President Ford, in his hands….”
…that was on the day when Ford became the new President….
…and I remember, I was there, and THAT was the first time in my memory, when I truly felt proud to be an American.
On that night, I knew, that my country REALLY was true to all of its ideals.
And now, this week, I feel that way again.
When Fitz announced his first indictment, it took me back to August 9, 1974, the first time that I understood what it really means to be an American – the first time I understood what the Rule of Law means – on August 9, 1974.
Thank you, Fitz, for defending my country’s honour, just like we did in 1974. :-)

October 29, 2005 @ 2:35 am | Comment

I don’t have the Watergate comedy hour, Ivan, but I do have a copy of Orson Welles “The Begatting of the President” LP.

October 29, 2005 @ 3:54 am | Comment

davesgonechina,

Thanks, but it’s not quite a substitute.

One sketch, I remember from the “Watergate Comedy Hour” – which I imitated among my classmates when I was 11 years old:

Nixon (impersonated by Stiller, the father of the young comedian Stiller who played in “Meet The Parents”) went on his knees and prayed – as I wish GW would pray:

“My Fellow God….”

….and then Nixon went on and on, and he said, “I BELIEVE, in democracy. I BELIEVE, in a free press.” (and then he sang, a pop melody which anyone over 40 years old remembers):
“I….believe in Music, I believe in Love!”
And then “Nixon” laughed in a rough way, and he said,
“HAHA!….(long pause) I LAUGHED!
So you see, I’m a regular guy.”
And then, God spoke to Nixon, and God said, in a Yiddish accent:
“Oy….Richard, my Son….”
And Nixon said, “Yes, God?”
And God said, VELL, when you betrayed your country, it was not so bad. And when you betrayed your wife, Pat, I said, eh. But when you betrayed that nice Jewish boy, Sammy Davis Jr, THAT WAS TOO MUCH!”
….(and now I know I’m dating myself, because even 90 percent of Americans here, will not get the joke about Sammy Davis Jr……)

October 29, 2005 @ 4:11 am | Comment

Per a reader’s request, John Tierney’s bone-headed new column (Word file). He has even less right than Brooks or Kristof to be a NYT columnist.

Ivan, although I am only 21, I remember reading about Watergate in now-dusty textbooks. There are startling similarities to what we’re seeing today. If I recall correctly, Nixon didn’t go down for the break-in, only for the cover-up. All the president’s men…

October 29, 2005 @ 4:20 am | Comment

Richard,

I always assumed you were around 21 years old, ideally anyway. :-) About half a generation, or one generation younger than I. I can tell you a lot of stories about what America used to be like, in the times of JFK and just after.

Oh I can tell you MANY good old stories about the Banana Splits.
I won over my first girlfriend (in 1970, when she and I were in First Grade) – I won her favors, in competition with another handsome male, when I sang to her, the Banana Splits ballad:

“I enjoy, being a boy,
In love with you,
In love with you, girl,
Oh yeah….”

That Banana Splits song was my first attempt at being a Cavalier warrior-poet. And it worked, at the time.
My seven-year-old Lady gave me a kiss on the cheek, behind the trees, at recess, after I sang that to her.

Ah, Richard, you are only 21, so you cannot understand what it was like in the 60s…. :-)

Yes, I remember the 60s. How hard it was. Trying to tie my shoelaces….oh, Richard, you are too young, you will never understand what the 60s were like……oh God, Richard, you will never understand what the Frito Bandito did to my generation……

October 29, 2005 @ 4:36 am | Comment

I was joking about my age, Ivan. Actually, I’m 22.

October 29, 2005 @ 4:41 am | Comment

On a totally unrelated note, does this Chinese blogger keep a fulltime camera crew employed to follow him around everywhere?? (Warning: it takes a long time to open even with real broadband.) And I thought I was vain.

October 29, 2005 @ 4:43 am | Comment

Ivan, you mad young whippersnapper, you are not the only one who recalls Watergate. While you were in sixth grade learning about cigarettes, I was in Catholic high school learning about reefers. :-)

I clearly recall Nixon’s resignation. I was standing in my best friend’s front yard, his mother burst out the front door with the news, and my pal’s dad exclaimed, “God bless America!”

Who knows, maybe I’ll get to hear that again? Couldn’t happen to a more deserving leader.

October 29, 2005 @ 5:00 am | Comment

Richard, I don’t see whats so bad about Tierney’s article. He seems to spend most of his time grudgingly admitting, in his own way, that Fitz was right when he said “that talking point won’t fly”. It looks like Tierney carefully warning people not to pull a Kay Bailey.

And the fact is that the investigation has not turned up any charges outside the investigation itself. A great deal of damaging information that makes you wonder how the Bush White House can possibly continue to function the way it has for 3 more years? Yes. Grist for federal prosecution? No.

October 29, 2005 @ 5:17 am | Comment

Richard,
I think I know why Philip asked about typepad today. The thing is, it has been blocked for as long as I can remember, but….last week I forgot and clicked on a link without using a proxy and discovered that it was working. For about five days, up until 3am this morning in fact, I could get typepad unblocked. But Phil’s right, it’s gone again now.

Sigh. They just like playing with us, don’t they?

October 29, 2005 @ 5:28 am | Comment

What bugs me about it is Tierney’s returning to the old argument about journalists and their sources, and how this is so bad for journalists. I don;t think it’s true.He also prortrays it simply as Libby telling a lie, while ignoring the fact that there are huge implications to his lie – implications that I believe will keep this investigation alive. Tierney makes it sound open and shut, or at least that’s hw I read it. About the investigation turning up no charges outside the investigation itself – that really remains to be seen. Did you check the Andrew Sullivan links? He and many others disagree think this is the beginning, the place where Fitz can start, with Libby. Just as Watergate started with the relatively smaller fish.

October 29, 2005 @ 5:39 am | Comment

Dishuiguanyin, didn’t hear about Typepad being liberated. As usual, it was apparently short-lived, a sadistic game of cat and mouse.

October 29, 2005 @ 5:40 am | Comment

Sam, that’s the exact phrase InstaPuppet uses today! He must read the comments here. :-)

He gets a lot of his best material from me! I guess I’m just burnt out enough on political topics, that I can’t get excited, scared, or even more disgusted than usual.

I was a (so-called) adult during Watergate, and remember those times fairly well. Terrible times, really, for 2-3 years in a row, what with other global events at the time. We have some similar echoes now, but from what I remember, this is about half as intense. And I NEVER thought Nixon was any kind of patriot, actually, until some years later.

And yes, Nixon was brought down by the coverup, not the crime. I don’t mean it’s “nothing” going on now, because there’s dirty business going on. I just haven’t managed to put Scootergate into the “very important” slot, in the context of all the other stuff happening in the world.

October 29, 2005 @ 6:31 am | Comment

Bottom line: They tricked the people into supporting a war of immeasurable cost, human and financial. That’s what Scootergate is all about. Forget abot Plame and the espionage act. It’s all about Iraq. Their “evidence” was rotten to the core, and they would destroy anyone who might risk exposing them. So Scooter’s actions were just a symptom of a deeper and uglier disease of deception that had engulfed this administration. Outing Plame was a small thing, a tiny part of a much more serious thing, i.e., mass deception leading to thousands of deaths. It’s just that Plame is where they foolishly left themselves vulnerable. Nixon’s thugs were doing all kinds of bad stuff, but it was at Watergate that they got caught, and that opened the colossal can of worms.

October 29, 2005 @ 6:52 am | Comment

Actually, Typepad was working in Beijing just fine this past week. Its only today that I haven’t been able to get on..

October 29, 2005 @ 6:54 am | Comment

Just to elaborate on the Typepad issue, I’ve been checking Bill Bishop’s blog (www.bbb.typepad.com/billsdue) regularly for almost a year and never had a problem until today.. So I was quite surprised that folks are saying that its been blocked for quite a while..

October 29, 2005 @ 7:03 am | Comment

I don’t know if it’s the problem, but Typepad has been having serious problems recently – they’re in the process of moving servers (growing too fast!) and had all sorts of technical foul-ups plaguing them. See:
http://www.sixapart.com/about/corner/

Maybe it’s not the great firewall this time …

October 29, 2005 @ 7:20 am | Comment

Guess what? It’s that time again!!!

“The Strongest Weapon of the Terrorists is In the Hands of Americans”

The strongest weapon of the terrorists is actually in the hands of Americans. Perhaps terrorists saw that American weapon and used it against its owner.

Now you may ask, what is the weapon? Is the Boeing plane that was crashed into the WTC? No it’s not. The strongest weapon is the modern day media, which is based on high technological communication and computers, particularly America’s media, or the so-called “free media”. Terrorists can triumph using America’s media.

The death of 9/11 was about 2000-3000, it is a miniscule percentage of America’s population. If you look at this from the perspective of warfare, the terrorists only touched a piece of their enemy’s hair. During the World War 2, or the Chinese Civil War, a battle with 2000 casualties was considered a small battle, and has no effect on the outcome of the war.

Car accidents, cancer, murders, all these things amount to much much more deaths in America than the 9/11. Yet none of those things could seriously hurt a country. But 911 has the potential to seriously hurt America. Why? Because of the power of the media.

The public of America has a “spiritual need” for strange and exciting news. If a newstation only broadcasts peaceful news, it will go bankrupt very soon. Under the competition, the mission of a newsstation is to tell what the viewers want to see or hear, and viewers want excitement and stimulation. News need to make people feel very very happy or very very sad. And actually, being very very happy or very very sad is just a form of spiritual entertainment in life.

In an ancient society, if there’s a terrroist that has killed 1000 people. It probably would take a lot of time for this news to spread across the country. And in the process rumors will be injected. And at the end, it is nothing but a legend to the people and will have no effect on the direction of the country.

But today’s society is different. A piece of powerful news can very quickly spread to every home, and greatly affect a country’s policy, the public’s psychology, the direction of the society, it can even affect the GDP!. I believe this type of “chain-reaction of news” can lead to the destruction of society.

In socialist countries like China, it has a mechanism to control stimulating and distracting news. Even if the news is all true, it can still control its intensity and effect, and limit its effect to a small area. In other words, it can prevent “hyping”. Therefore, terrorism will not be effective against socialist countries.

Another way to look at this is that: if America is a person, then the terrorism is like a virus.

We know that in the SARS outbreak, children and seniors are less likely to die from it. Most deaths occured amongst middle-aged adults. Why? Because middle-aged adults have the strongest immune system: whenever a little bit of disturbance is present in the body, the immune system acts like crazy, it starts a fever, produces white blood cells, etc etc. But sometimes its not necessary to react like that. So in many cases, its the over-reaction of the immune system damaged the body, not the virus itself.

So America’s excessively-strong immune system, paradoxically, actually hurts America. In other words, the damage done to America is not from the terrorist act, but from the reaction of the security mechanism of the society. The terrorists need not even plan any attacks, they only need to make frequent fake declarations that they’ll attack, and that’ll put America in constant alert and tension, and if a human body’s immune system is on constant alert, then the person will only eventually die from it. No society can be stable and peaceful if it is made to be on constant tension and alert.

So how should America deal with terrorism? Well, it should not act so strongly and quickly to it, it’s actually good sometimes to act slower and more sluggishly. Mao used to say “No matter how strong the storm is, we ignore it and keep our leisurely pace.”. That quote I believe, should be the guiding hand for America in dealing with terrorism.

October 29, 2005 @ 11:22 am | Comment

Ivan, for Halloween are you going to dress up as Fleegle, or Snorky? ;-)

October 29, 2005 @ 8:32 pm | Comment

Yeah, that’s right Maths Fan. If we all censor the news and lie, we will all be better off. If we ignore problems they will go away. Just like the Qing dynasty did when the British warships turned up. China learns so much from its history, we should all take note

Richard, how are you getting on with the Mao book? any further comments? i will be interested by your take on it.

October 29, 2005 @ 10:13 pm | Comment

Richard: I didn’t mention anything because I thought I’d gone even more doolally than usual!
When I discovered that I could get in without a proxy, I decided that I must have forgotten which sites were being blocked and which weren’t, especially as nobody else said anything. But phil’s right, it’s definitely blocked now.
David: No, I don’t think it’s typepad’s problem. I can get in with a proxy, but not without. That’s a surefire sign of the Great Firewall.
Phil: It was available for a year in Beijing? Wish I’d clicked the link without a proxy earlier and found out when it started being available here.

October 30, 2005 @ 12:42 am | Comment

Math’s fan, it’s realy entertaining how you ridicule yourself. SARS is the best argument for a free press.
What about starting your own blog to publish your crude ideas and allegories that don’t work.

October 30, 2005 @ 1:35 am | Comment

S. Slim,

Neither. Every Halloween I dress up like Boris Badenough and I make beeg trouble for Squirrel and Moose!

October 30, 2005 @ 8:55 am | Comment

YASUKUNI

Did anyone seen this article from 15 June 2005, about Japanese rightists and police stopping Taiwanese aborigines from holding a ceremony to call back the spirits of their ancestors from Yasukuni?

It really is quite ugly when people try and pretend Yasukuni is somehow ‘innocuous’. It suggests that Yasukuni is not simply a memorial to the dead, it is a ‘prison of souls’.

http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/detail.asp?ID=63832&GRP=B

October 30, 2005 @ 10:17 pm | Comment

I dress up like Boris Badenough and I make beeg trouble for Squirrel and Moose!

Ivan, that cracked me up, because yesterday for the first time I had a RUSSIAN woman in one of my English classes. Previously I have had Korean and Japanese students in Shanghai, but this was a first.

Anyway, during class the term “secret agent” popped up, and I gave the question to her. All the while I was thinking of Boris and Natasha. :-D

Can anyone tell me (hello, Chinese posters): if a Russian is born in China to Russian parents who were also born in China (grandparents immigrated here), is this person a “zhongguoren” or a “waiguoren”???

October 31, 2005 @ 12:40 am | Comment

Closing it up; Shanghai, you may want to repeat the question in the new thread.

October 31, 2005 @ 1:47 am | Comment

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