Chinese New Year Thread

xishuangbanna.jpg
A street in Xishuangbanna

Richard heads for the airport in an hour, and from there on to Arizona for 9 days. Thank God for Eva Air’s relatively cheap Economy Deluxe class, a god-send for tall people like me.

Lisa and guest bloggers will be helping to keep things moving, and maybe I’ll have time to put something up next week. Until then, a heartfelt “Xin nian kuai le” to everyone who helps make this community what it is. That applies to everyone, even the lurkers (like my mother). Thanks.

______________

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: 81 Comments

And in the spirit of the New Year, I hope everyone can play nice for a while. I just ate a HUGE meal, cooked by a good friend who is originally from Jinan, and I am stuffed…and nasty comments are bad for my digestion…

January 28, 2006 @ 10:39 pm | Comment

Other Lisa: I hope all your New Year wishes come true.

Also: Hello Richard’s mother!

January 28, 2006 @ 10:44 pm | Comment

There are quite a few ‘mothers’ posting here.

January 28, 2006 @ 10:57 pm | Comment

I hope you’re not implying my mother falls into that category? :-)

January 28, 2006 @ 11:00 pm | Comment

Good heavens, NO!

January 28, 2006 @ 11:09 pm | Comment

I refer to the ‘mothers’ whose mothers won’t let them be ‘mothers’ on the mother of all blogs at a time when ‘mothers’ should be helping their mothers.

I hope that clears things up.

January 28, 2006 @ 11:12 pm | Comment

Dishuiguanyin, yourself as well!

January 28, 2006 @ 11:13 pm | Comment

Some Common Myths Regarding A Military Strike on Taiwan

This post wants to discuss some common “myth” about China attacking Taiwan. Of course it does not mean that China will attack Taiwan for sure, in fact, it’s entirely possible that there could be a peaceful reunification within the next 15 years.

First Myth: “If China wants to attack Taiwan, it must be sure that it can win, otherwise it should not attack Taiwan”.

In fact, it’s totally possible that China may lose to Taiwan, and may lose very shamefully. But winning and losing are both common in warfare, even if you lose, you should continue to fight. When the North fought the South in America’s Civil War, the North kept losing in the beginning, but Lincoln did not care and continued the war, and eventually the North won. In China’s Qing Dynasty, they lost the Opium War largely because they chose to give up when they lost some battles, instead of keep fighting and keep fighting until the other side gets tired. Even if the Western powers sunk every single one of China’s ships, it still should not surrender and sign a treaty, it should keep fighting with. As long as you refuse to surrender, then even if you lose all your battles, the other side will eventually have no choice but to give up.

Therefore, China should not avoid fighting Taiwan simply because it may lose. In fact, fighting a war with Taiwan is simply a way to accumulate real battle experiences for the Chinese army, and only when you have real battle experiences can you improve yourself. So even if China’s fleets and airplanes were all destroyed by the Taiwanese military, it should keep sending more fleets and more airplanes and keep making more fleets and more airplanes. I remember that there’s a “100-year-war” between England and France in ancient times, well I very much like the concept of “100-year-war”, and perhaps China should make it a “200-year-war” with Taiwan. That is, for the next 200 years, China should stay in military mode, keep making new airplanes, new ships, new missiles, and ask the entire Chinese population to become an army and encourage people to have 5 or 6 babies, so that every single day there’ll be waves and waves of attacks on Taiwan for 200 years, until Taiwan cannot take it anymore.

Second Myth: A War Will Make China’s Economy Fall Behind 20 Years.

How do we check if a country is “advanced” or “behind”? Well, all you need to look at is what “things” can this country make? Can it only make radios? Or can it make TV’s as well? Can it only make regular TV’s, or can it make “HDTV”‘s. Can it only make car engines, or can it make airplane engines as well? Can it make mainframe computers, or can it make supercomputers as well? The more “advanced stuff” a country can make, the more “advanced” that country is.

Now you may say “Math, you are wrong!, we should look at GDP per capita!”. Well, I thinkn GDP is totally meaningless. Some country has high GDP per capita because it has natural resources, like the Oil-rich nations in Middle East, can you say that those nations are “advanced”? I certainly do not think so.

The only measure for a nation’s advancedness is the technological productive force of that nation. If a nation can extract 300 tons of wheat from a square kilmeter of land, and another nation can extract 1000 tons from the same land, then the second nation is more advanced. Even if the second nation is bombed into ruins, but as long as it has that technological productive capability, it can quickly recover, and still be considered a modern nation. When WW2 ended, Germany and Japan and China are all in ruins. But those ruins are different. Even though Germany and Japan were in ruins, they had the knowledge of building advanced ships and weaponry and industrial infrastructure, so they quickly rose from the ruins and are still first-class nations today. But China back then could not even build a nail properly, not to mention any advanced stuff. So China was unable to catch up as quickly, and is still considered a “developing nation” today. So can you say that WW2 made Germany and Japan fall behind 20 years? Of course you cannot.

Third Myth: “War will cause deaths, and deaths are bad”

We know that if you want to achieve things, you need to make sacrifices, and deaths are common occurrences. The reason we think that deaths are bad is a result of Western thoughts. Westerners have difficulties breeding massively, and their populations are almost “shrinking”, so of course one dead person means one less person for them. But Asians and Blacks and Muslims can breed as massively as pigs, and population shrinking is not a concern. If you have 100 children every day, do you care if you lose a few, of course you do not. And sometimes there’s even population explosion, so perhaps sometimes famine and wars are good ways to prevent population explosions.

Chinese, especially, have large breeding powers, so death is not too big a deal.

If you look at ancient Civilizations, most of them have died, or almost died off. And the Chinese civilization is also slowly declining in the last hundreds of years. Why is that? Well, I think that as any civilization develops to a certain degree, there’ll exist a phenomenon of “gentleness and kindness”, and excessive kindness and gentleness will only cause that civilization be devoured by another less advanced civilization. In fact, almost all ancient civilizations died at the hands of a more ferocious and less developed civilization. When Christopher Columbus was writing his diary about Native Indians, he wrote “They were the most kind and gentle people on earth, and that is the reason they were so easily defeated.”

So if China wants to rise, it must not emphasize gentleness and kindness too much, but should instead always calculate its own interests, and to advance its interests, massive deaths is not a big deal at all.

Now you may ask, “What if everyone in China dies”? That of course is impossible. In fact, it’s more likely that wars may make everyone in the West die, because Caucasians’ breeding powers are very limited compared to the Chinese. Even if USA drops a nuclear bomb on China, China will still have many survivors. Even if they don’t survive, there’ll be Chinese descent from neighboring countries like Korea, Vietnam, Laos, etc, and those people will continue the civilization. Now, you may ask again, “What about Nuclear Winters!”. Well, I do not believe in Nuclear Winters, I think it is a strategic scare tactic by Americans. Well even if the nuclear winter theory is true, then the worst that can happen is that 99% of the people on earth will die, and 1% will survive. Given the breeding powers and population of Chinese on this earth, that 1% will contain many Chinese people, so they can start the human civilization on earth once again. It is like when I’m playing chess and I feel that I’m losing, I would often violently flip the whole board onto the ground, and force the opponent to start over, and maybe in the new game, I’ll win. If I’m losing again in the new game, I’ll flip the board again and wipe every piece to the ground again, and force him to start over the game again…

January 28, 2006 @ 11:19 pm | Comment

“because Caucasians’ breeding powers are very limited compared to the Chinese.”

Not when we’re in China.

January 28, 2006 @ 11:25 pm | Comment

What does it mean?

January 28, 2006 @ 11:26 pm | Comment

How old are you?

January 28, 2006 @ 11:31 pm | Comment

Thing is, biology classes in China lack detail and I don’t want to impart any information that might come as a shock.

January 28, 2006 @ 11:32 pm | Comment

“excessive kindness and gentleness will only cause that civilization be devoured by another less advanced civilization.”

Quite right. Just ask the Tibetans!

January 28, 2006 @ 11:42 pm | Comment

“How do we check if a country is “advanced” or “behind”?”

Find out if they ‘invented’ football.

January 28, 2006 @ 11:47 pm | Comment

Math

Myth 1: China doesn’t need foreign investment, and a war over Taiwan wouldn’t do all that much damage to China. Reading your comments, my heart bleeds for the Chinese people … you’ve done so well over the last 20 years … and you’d throw it all away over a meaningless grand gesture over Taiwan.

Myth 2: peaceful unification within 15 years?!?! Please tell me what drugs you’re using … I want some!

Myth 3: man … this is just too “cardboard cut out” nationalistic b*** ***t. In fact, it’s so wooden, I wonder if it’s even serious. It does resemble the kind of nonsense Madge would write, just to wind people up. Do we know if math is a real person?

January 29, 2006 @ 12:04 am | Comment

In response to a post in the last open thread concerning Fox News.

The person (I don’t recall who) said he/she feels that this website is too hard on Fox, etc.

Ideologically speaking, I’m more inclined in the direction Fox leans … but this does not make me lap up everything it says. Some aspects of it are quite annoying, and occasionally I’m reminded of WWII black and white newsreels, in their propagandistic tone. On the other side of the spectrum, I’m just amazed that people who are ideologically inclined towards the New York Times, for example, still can’t see that the paper is probably more titled in the left direction than Fox is in the right direction. Yet those self same people work themselves into a frothing hysteria about Fox. Hmmm … what were we saying on this blog about Chinese people who can’t see any other point of view, aside from their own?

January 29, 2006 @ 12:13 am | Comment

Oh, puhleese, NOT the “liberal media” meme…

Never mind. Too tired. Work to do. Play nice.

January 29, 2006 @ 12:26 am | Comment

Filthy Stinking No.9′s comparisons between Fox and the New York Times reminds me of how skewed a perspective some Americans have of political ideology.

“The New York Times … is probably more titled in the left direction than Fox is in the right direction.”

As a Brit familiar with both, I find the NYT — from a non-American point of view — to be fairly moderate and mainstream in its politics.

Only in a country like the USA, where the centre of political gravity is far to the right of virtually every nation in the world, could the NYT be dubbed “leftwing”.

As for Fox … it’s a rabidly rightwing piece of crap from every conceivable angle.

January 29, 2006 @ 12:30 am | Comment

Oh, okay. Briefly…

There is no way in hell that the New York Times is a “liberal” house organ the way that Fox News is part of the White House’s Mighty Wurlitzer. Fox News receives the RNC’s talking points every day. Literally. As for the supposedly “liberal” New York Times, Judith Miller, one of its star reporters, was allowed to spread disinformation – outright lies – about the supposed WMD program in Iraq, stories that were used to help pump up support for the war.

Yes, the NYT has some liberals on its editorial staff. Frank Rich & Paul Krugman, I think you could fairly label as liberals. They also have William Safire and David Brooks, who I think it’s safe to say could be labeled conservatives.

Now, their lead editorial today – for Sunday’s paper – is a full-frontal assault on Bush. A shotgun with both barrels. I take this as an indication of just how far out of the conservative mainstream many of Bush’s policies are. When you have an establishment paper like the NYT printing an editorial this scathing, things are seriously out of whack with America’s body politic. But when you have a White House that has declared itself above the law, reserves the right to spy on whomever it wants to, imprison without due process and torture whomever it would like, well, this is hardly politics as usual.

Okay, back to my novel writing. No low blows, and watch the rabbit punches.

January 29, 2006 @ 12:37 am | Comment

Have a great Year of the Dog everyone!

(I just downloa… um, listened to a great mp3, Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat”, which posters of a certain age may recall).

Dajia xin nian kuai le!

January 29, 2006 @ 1:42 am | Comment

“You’ve thrown away your chance, you’ve lost your ticket, so you have to stay on…”

Something like that, anyway!

January 29, 2006 @ 1:52 am | Comment

“On a morning from a Bogart movie, in a country where they turn back time, you go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre contemplating a crime.”

“On the Border” is better. :-)

Speaking of old music, I really think Chinese would really enjoy a lot of American music from the 50s and 60s, if they just got some exposure to it. There’s a lot more in the mine where “Yesterday Once More” came from, and we all know the legendary Chinese love for that song!

What Chinese person wouldn’t like, say, Patti Page’s “Old Cape Cod”? Or Patsy Cline’s “I go Crazy”? Perfect, complete with American cowgirl kitsch factor.

They all know about “Cat King” (Elvis) and (ugh!) John Denver, but few Chinese have heard of Petula Clark or Bobby Vinton. How about Frankie Avalon, Johnny Cash? Don’t they seem like naturals for a society of KTV crooners?

A couple of years ago there was a Spearmint gum ad here locally, featuring “Listen to the Rhythm of the Falling Rain” by the Everly Brothers. Students in more than one class remarked on this ad, lending more strength to my suspicion.

Any entertainment moguls or nightclub nabobs reading this? :-)

January 29, 2006 @ 2:42 am | Comment

FSN9, I was the one who made that comment about this site being unduly harsh on Fox News.

Note I said “unduly”, because Fox News deserves criticism. But not the dismissive ridicule it gets, please. Fox News presents news and viewpoints not available in others.

I’m with you on this one.

Fox News is tilted to being conservative, but NYT is not mainstream in the normal sense of the word. It is tilted to being liberal, and there is only one conservative regular columist left – David Brooks. The staffing of NYT mainly vote Democrat. Republicans rarely survive working in NYT. I can’t call that mainstream. There’s nothing wrong with being a liberal newspaper, but making itself out to be mainstream, when the staffing is not, is not being forthright with the readers.

A good example of mainstream newspaper is Chicago Tribune. This is the one to emulate.

Check it out – the Chicago Tribune.

January 29, 2006 @ 2:47 am | Comment

HI Other Lisa,

May I ask what novel you are writing?

January 29, 2006 @ 3:22 am | Comment

*******
So can you say that WW2 made Germany and Japan fall behind 20 years? Of course you cannot.
*****

Math, my man, as several economists have remarked, had Japan not stupidly invaded China and then attack the US, they would have reached parity with the US economiy in the 1960s instead of the 1980s.

Happy New Year to ya!

*****
On the other side of the spectrum, I’m just amazed that people who are ideologically inclined towards the New York Times, for example, still can’t see that the paper is probably more titled in the left direction than Fox is in the right direction.
******

On the other side of the spectrum, people who read actual Leftist stuff realize that the NYTimes is an Establishment Paper, which is not a left or a right paper. It serves Establishment interests, and on the impoverished left-right spectrum, it is a center-right paper. You are correct in saying that it is to the “left” of Fox, but that is because Fox is frothing mad fascist, whereas the NYT is merely courteously center-right. But that hardly begins to tell the whole story. Really, if you stop thinking in terms of “left” and “right” the world suddenly clarifies enormously.

Have a good time in Arizona, Richard!

Michael

January 29, 2006 @ 3:46 am | Comment

I would like to wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year. I couldn’t join you until now because of family commitment.

Just a quick comment on FSN9′s suggestion about Math’s identity and his possible relation to Madge. I showed some of Math’s writing to a group of friends of mine from China. Their opinion is that (1) Math is not Chinese because some of the mistakes that he made in his writings are not typical of mistakes made by a native speaker of Chinese; (2) no Chinese nationals, no matter how nationalistic they are, if he has some respect for himself and his country, would never post insane arguments such as those written by Math. Some of my friends even suggested that Math is taking a piss out of Chinese people, their history and their culture. I don’t know about you, but I’ve decided to ignore him.

January 29, 2006 @ 3:47 am | Comment

I’m trying to avoid Math, but one of his inanities requires a response:

“I do not believe in Nuclear Winter, I think it is a strategic scare tactic by the Americans.”

Ahhhh….isn’t America’s “strategic scare tactic” its vast nuclear arsenal?
If Nuclear Winter scares anyone into anything, it ought to be into nuclear disarmament.

Also, his thing about the “breeding powers” of various races: Well, cockroaches breed a million times faster than any Humans, so, they’ll be the ones to inherit the earth after a nuclear holocaust.

I take this extremely seriously, and I recommend the books (and articles) of Dr Helen Caldicott (Australian physician) author of “The New Nuclear Danger” – and her website is:
http://www.helencaldicott.com

January 29, 2006 @ 4:54 am | Comment

I assumed this Math geezer was on a wind-up (this being my first encounter with him).

But there’s no way he’s Madge. It doesn’t ring true.

January 29, 2006 @ 5:07 am | Comment

Right. And may I suggest that we all refrain from even mentioning that creep’s name here? He probably still lurks and he’d just love more attention…

January 29, 2006 @ 5:14 am | Comment

I’m sorry, I’ve had 3/4 of a bottle of wine this evening … and I usually don’t like to post less than sober … but PLEEEEASE. I’m talking about my New York times comment. Could you have proven me more right? I mean, really? Was there any kind of response you could have given me that would have gone even a little bit less towards confirming every word I said?

FChia … I, like you, can see plenty of faults with Fox … I always try to remember to consider the mote in my own eye, before I remove the speck from my neighbours … I wish, oh please, oh pretty pretty please, that fans of NY Times would attempt (not even succeed, but at least attempt) to do the same thing. Oh god. I don’t know whether to cry or to weep. Are you people really serious? Damn. I think 3/4 a bottle wasn’t enough. Lucky there’s another glass left.

January 29, 2006 @ 6:15 am | Comment

******
I’m sorry, I’ve had 3/4 of a bottle of wine this evening … and I usually don’t like to post less than sober … but PLEEEEASE. I’m talking about my New York times comment. Could you have proven me more right? I mean, really? Was there any kind of response you could have given me that would have gone even a little bit less towards confirming every word I said?
*******

Your comment was set up in such a way that any disagreement would confirm it in your eyes, because your understanding of “left” and “right” is so horribly wrong. F9, I doubt you’ve ever read a leftist paper in your life, or you’d know that the NYTimes is not on the Left at all. It is routinely hacked on by real leftists and progressives for its service to the Establishment. See some of the critiques on Kos or by Chomsky.

Michael

January 29, 2006 @ 6:27 am | Comment

Left and right are ‘relative’ to the viewer/reader, quite subjective.

January 29, 2006 @ 9:44 am | Comment

Literally, left and right change according to which way you’re facing.

January 29, 2006 @ 10:03 am | Comment

“Caucasians’ breeding powers are very limited compared to the Chinese”

Math, you are on crack. From your logic the world will be ruled by Latinos, and this may very well be true in the US after 2050. But any economist will tell you the number of kids each family has depends solely on the wealth of the nation, since the cost of raising them grows higher and you don’t need them to help in the fields anymore.

Wait, except for China where thugs grab women and force them to have abortions when they’re on kid number 2.

Rich, might be a bit late, but have a great trip.

January 29, 2006 @ 10:11 am | Comment

Yeah, but if “breeding powers” lead to world rulership, then maybe we’ll get lucky and be conquered by bunny rabbits.

Personally I wouldn’t mind putting Roger Rabbit in the White House for a while.

January 29, 2006 @ 10:32 am | Comment

“Personally I wouldn’t mind putting Roger Rabbit in the White House for a while.”

Oh, I disagree. Roger Rabbit was dead unstable.

I advocate Peter Rabbit, who learnt how ill-advised foreign adventures were after his debacle in Farmer Macgregor’s carrot patch.

January 29, 2006 @ 10:51 am | Comment

*Snort*! Glad to see the thread was in good hands while I slept…

Thanks for the tip on the Lunar New Year story, Michael. I’ll put up a post.

And about the novel, Xin, thanks for asking. It’s a little hard to explain, but part of it is set in China.

January 29, 2006 @ 12:29 pm | Comment

Stolichnaya Imperator Vodka: 500 RMB
Kahlua Liquer: 300 RMB
Vanilla Extract: 50 RMB
Heavy Cream: 100 RMB
Corn Syrup: 120 RMB
Ice Cream Machine: 200 RMB
…Creating Vodka Vanilla Ice cream, floating the ice cream in Kahlua for a Frozen Russian white, getting blitzed, getting laid, waking up with a pounding headache by the woman you love: PRICELESS

There are some things money can buy… for everything else, there are Chinese New Year expat parties in Pudong.

January 29, 2006 @ 12:49 pm | Comment

You paid 500rmb for Stolly? Wtf? And which shops do you go to? It’s like 100rmb at most. And the Kahlua is not 300rmb.
(Unless, of course, you bought 5 bottles, which would explain the headache…)

January 29, 2006 @ 9:09 pm | Comment

t_co,

I bought a big bottle of Kahlua at Carrefour for 88 rmb recently. See what you get for living in PuDong! :-)

On the other hand, where in the h*ll did you find vanilla extract?

And Sojourner, thank you for reminding us what can be learned from Peter Rabbit. I guess Dubya missed that one, probably he was still busy pondering over “Hungy Hungy Caterpillar”. Boy, was that a poor choice (undoubtedly selected by Cheney).

January 29, 2006 @ 9:49 pm | Comment

I must say Happy Spring Festival to all Chinese compatriots overseas! Which was your favorite program in the CCTV’s Spring Festival Celebration? I think it is the unique triple-style singing of “The Unfallen Sun Rises on The Prairie”. And I was very surprised that CCTV announced the name of the Pandas to Taiwan on the show! They Tuan Tuan Yuan Yuan! They are the number 1 voted name by 103 million cell phone messages from the entire China. And the comedy by our Taiwan compatriots was also very good! Hope those 2 lovely pandas will bridge the love between the people across the straits!

Hope all of our seniors more healthy! Hope all of our middle aged adults more development in careers while taking care of our seniors! Hope all of our teenagers and young adults work hard and study hard and find your romance! Hope all of our children grow healthily and be happy! Hope our country more harmony and more prosper!

January 29, 2006 @ 11:28 pm | Comment

I see the infamous unspeakable one now has more photos of himself and his nubile young maiden posted up on his freewebs site, including what looks like a cropped porn shot. The man has a hide tougher than a Rhino’s.

January 30, 2006 @ 12:36 am | Comment

Hong Xing, you crack me up!

Unique triple style singing, indeed…

January 30, 2006 @ 12:37 am | Comment

I really don’t understand the unspeakable one. Some of his travelogues are actually quite interesting and well written, and when you read them he sounds like quite a decent fellow. If it weren’t for his rantings on the China Daily, together with his preposterous attempts to have this fine site banned on the mainland, I would have actually endorsed his site as one worthy of a visit. It is well presented site, if anything, and his introduction is intelligently written. He is such an ambivalent character though. I wander what makes him tick?

January 30, 2006 @ 12:45 am | Comment

“I was very surprised that CCTV announced the name of the Pandas to Taiwan on the show!… Tuan Tuan Yuan Yuan! ”

I voted for ‘Send Send’ and ‘Back Back’

January 30, 2006 @ 1:04 am | Comment

“If it weren’t for his rantings on the China Daily”

I hate to ask, but what pseudonym does the great unmentionable use over there?

January 30, 2006 @ 1:08 am | Comment

Just in the way of qualifying my comment above, take the following passage from the unspeakable’s travelogue detailing his trip to Liannan:

“Before leaving, we slipped Tang Ming some money for his school texts, and bid all of our newfound friends a warm farewell. Despite their considerable poverty – the fact that they owned and ate very little – I found their cheerful enthusiasm for life to be infectious. At no time did I feel any real sense of saddness by what I saw, for I was inspired by their frugality, and by the dignity they were able to maintain in the face of so much adversity…

…Here in China, in places like this, there are countless thousands who barely manage to subsist. Food for the Ba Pai Yao who live on these slopes is not something that can be easily taken for granted. For people like Tang Ming and his grandmother, both meat and fruit are luxuries rarely enjoyed.”

He has the very annoying habit of selling China up on the pages of the China Daily, where I first encountered his claptrap, as though he were viewing the place through rose-coloured glasses, and yet on the pages of his travelogues he presents quite a different view. Take this passage for example, where he talks at length about China’s growing inequalities and social problems (taken from his travelogue on Guangxi):

“Most of the apartments here in Shenzhen have bars over the windows, even on the upper floors, and last year a bus that Gao Ying and I were travelling in on our way to Beijing was even hijacked by four knife-wielding robbers.

And let us not forget the thousands of women each year from the countryside here in China who end their own lives by swallowing pesticides to escape their misery, and beggars are just about everywhere – some (no, many) have evidently had their bones deliberately broken during early childhood, and their limbs bent and tied into hideous positions so as to permanently deform them – so that they can be sent out onto the streets to beg on behalf of greedy and merciless masters.

A place like Yangshuo might seem idyllic to many, and in many ways it is. But poverty exists here, alongside the new wealth that visitors bring, and the growing inequality and the social implications of this for a small town like Yangshuo speaks volumes about both the strengths and the limitations of human beings everywhere.

I left Fuli deeply touched by the warmth and generosity of that young family who managed the restaurant, a family clearly in need of money, whose clothes were a little tattered and dirty, and their hair in need of a good wash, a couple who will no doubt struggle to find the money needed to provide for their child a decent education in the years to come, and yet who were willing to offer two passing, much wealthier strangers like Gao Ying and myself, a meal at their expense.

I have been fortunate enough to have been the recipient of such generosity many times before since coming here to China, just as I have also been the victim of rip-off merchants and con-artists. As the American philosopher, Henry Rosemont Jr. recently wrote, “China always has been, is, and will continue to be a mirror reflecting the possibilities and limits of human beings, and it therefore behooves all human beings to look closely into the mirror.””

His writings on Shenzhen Kitsch II are even more damning of China.

This is why I simply can’t figure the fellow out. He is an enigma, his views ambivalent, always shifting, like sand. He is as fluid as water, to use the metaphor he chooses to base his entire blog on. As I recently said here on an earlier thread, he is the master of Orwellian doublespeak. One minute he seems decent and likable, the next he excites in you feelings of outrage and disgust.

January 30, 2006 @ 1:15 am | Comment

Stuart, he dares to write under the guise of his own full real name over at the China Daily. As I say, he has a hide tougher than a Rhino’s. Now he even dares to post cropped shots of himself in intimate poses with his nubile young maiden! What next I wonder? Uncropped ones, I hope (not!)

January 30, 2006 @ 1:20 am | Comment

I’ve just been reading some more. He really is quite damning of China in his rant about Shenzhen Kitsch II. Listen to this:

“What I also found interesting about the Pirate’s Legend show was the way that it distorted China’s sexual history, by presenting the past as though everybody had, in the 19th century, cherished the same sexual practices and morals that are now espoused by China’s mainstream today. The show made a big deal of the fact that Zheng Baozai married, that he was therefore not too far removed from society’s conventions. The fact that the woman he married was his boss, that it was a female pirate who led the entire Confederation, was simply left out of the presentation. The idea that a woman could be a leader, could wield so much power, just doesn’t sit very comfortably with the patriarchal attitudes of today’s business and financial leaders.

The inherent bisexuality of all human beings, if we accept Freud’s view, was also, perhaps not surprisingly, denied by the View Centre’s pirate legend. In ancient China, homosexuality was never regarded as a sin, and bisexuality was considered almost a norm. One thing which is rarely ever discussed by the Chinese today, is the fact that even the founder of the Chinese nation, China’s first Emperor, Qin Shihuang-di, had young male lovers. The scholar Pan Guangdan has even reached the conclusion that almost every emperor during the Han Dynasty had at least one male lover – a practice which was also common throughout the Song, Ming and Qing dynasties.”

And later:

“Even human sexuality it would seem, our own nature as human beings, has been derealised – substituted instead by a discourse that “naturalises” monogamous heterosexual relationships bound legally by marriage as the only “normal” practice of sexual behaviour and instinct – a discourse which is purely ideological and historical, but which is instead presented as being fundamentally inherent to our collective natures, and therefore unbroken by time. The simulacrum functions not only to entertain, but also to create and to maintain societal amnesia.”

And his concluding paragraph is particularly damning, and goes against the grain he normally pushes over on the pages of the China Daily:

“All of this hyperreality of course, imploded the moment we stepped back out onto the busy streets below, where we were confronted by the true reality of Shenzhen’s economic development, by all the inequalities it had produced, by the sight of the city’s nouve riche strolling along with shopping bags in hand, their clothes labelled with “brands” that signified their new power as consumers, elevating them to ever greater heights in social status. Wandering about from store to store, from “attraction” to “attraction”, these middle class slaves to fashion, with gods now reified as either money or things, inadvertently rubbed shoulders with the city’s beggars, with the city’s underclass – with people living out of rubbish bins, with people whose reality denied them access to such entertainment for distraction or denial, whose pockets were too empty to consume art for consolation, and whose life’s struggles they played out against the surreal backdrop that is Shenzhen kitsch.”

I like what he writes on his travel blog far more than the claptrap he peddles on the China Daily. His past interent behaviour here on this is what disappoints me the most though. As I keep saying, I just can’t figure this guy out. He puzzles me.

January 30, 2006 @ 1:53 am | Comment

I looked at the photos you mention and I must state that I consider his face to have grown noticeably fatter.

January 30, 2006 @ 3:40 am | Comment

The wanker’s back.

MAJ has stolen my Sojourner handle. My last comment was the Peter Rabbit one.

Read the last five “Sojourner” postings. It’s him.

Look, MAJ, taking other people’s handles is just plain nasty and unpleasant.

Get a fecking life!!!!

January 30, 2006 @ 4:19 am | Comment

REAL Sojourner, I truly am sorry to have stolen your name and email address, but I ain’t MAJ. Truth is, I occasionally do leave comments on this place, and I hadn’t noticed you before this. I figured you were indeed just a sojourner here, so I thought there would be no real harm in borrowing your name and address. I didn’t want to use my usual name because I wanted to get something off my chest that has been bugging me for some time now, and that’s how much this MAJ guy puzzles me. To do this I needed to mention his positive writings as well as his negatives ones and behaviours. Trouble with doing so here though, is that anyone who is seen to be saying anything postive about MAJ invites scorn and trouble for himself. Or is likely to anyway. I should have made up a name of my own I know, but new people here are also often looked upon with suspicion, specially if they mention MAJ. I really am sorry to have upset you though. It won’t happen again. I promise. I’ve said what I needed to say anyway. But I’m sorry to have stolen your identity. It was wrong of me.

January 30, 2006 @ 5:43 am | Comment

happy chinese new year to you all!

January 30, 2006 @ 5:57 am | Comment

Oh dear! MAJ must be lurking here though, cause he seems to have read my earlier comment where I say I hope he doesn’t post uncropped porn shots of himself with his girl. Cause guess what I just saw on his freewebs site. Yup! Unbelievable!

January 30, 2006 @ 6:10 am | Comment

FAKE Sojourner, Kurtz (Heart of Darkness) was known for eloquent speech, he also was an enigma.

January 30, 2006 @ 6:35 am | Comment

Other Lisa,

I may have to trouble you to exercise your moderator’s muscle and clean up the place a bit. A nasty skunk has just walked in and left some disguisting foul-smell behind.

January 30, 2006 @ 6:44 am | Comment

Trouble with doing so here though, is that anyone who is seen to be saying anything postive about MAJ invites scorn and trouble for himself.

Not half as much scorn as anyone will invoke for masquerading as someone else, for whatever reason!

.

January 30, 2006 @ 6:47 am | Comment

As I started scrolling down “Sojourner’s” comments where he began to cite long quotes from his own blog – which is absolutely against Richard’s policy here – I realised the creeep is back.

So, two things: First, a head’s up to Lisa to delete all of his comments and ban his IP.

And second, may I remind EVERYONE here to go right now to read Richard’s old thread, “Mark Anthony Jones, the Fantabulist”, which you can simply click on in the left hand column here under “The Emperor’s Jewels”

January 30, 2006 @ 7:21 am | Comment

Another reason why it’s obvious that the above “Sojourner” is Madge: Because he has read Madge’s unreadable shit at length, and nobody except Madge would have the stomach for that.

January 30, 2006 @ 7:27 am | Comment

Has ˆÂ–€“û been banned? It has been down for two days (at least where I am).

January 30, 2006 @ 7:53 am | Comment

I feel dirty and violated by what MAJ has done.

I was a little more indulgent about his pathological fantasising than were others.

But it’s one thing to to create personas, and it’s another to take someone else’s moniker in order to promote one’s own sad site.

MAJ, you are one sad sorry muther-f*ker.

January 30, 2006 @ 8:18 am | Comment

Soujourner,

I sent Lisa a head’s up about this. She’s on Pacific American time, so she probably won’t get to it for a few hours, but I’m sure she’ll clean up this thread, and then we’ll take further measures to keep it clean.

MEANWHILE, if you want to lighten up and have a laugh about MAJ, you can visit the OTHER Madge site, at:

flowingwaters.blog.com

That site tends to get more active whenever MAJ comes around here to cause disruption and harm to others.

January 30, 2006 @ 8:39 am | Comment

Cheers, Ivan.

Actually, I not only know the “Flowing Waters Stale” site, I was one of the more recent contributors (e.g., the Alice Through the Looking Glass pastiche). :)

January 30, 2006 @ 8:44 am | Comment

A couple of things.

I don’t know whether the comments alluded to above were from Madge or not. I am going to ask, however, that we not quote from his blog on my site or even bring up his name. It’s a dangerous topic and one that affects my personal and professional life. If you read my last long comment in the Fantabulist thread you will see what I mean. I appreciate that he deleted his latest posts about me from China Daily, and want to leave it at that. There is nothing healthy to be derived from quoting him here or alluding to him. So please, keep these comments Madge-free.

About the NY Times and Fox News. With all respect, FSN9, you really don’t know what you’re talking about here. I worked for the Times in the 80s, pre-Internet of course. I know it better than anyone else here. It is not a “liberal” newspaper. It is an Establishment newspaper that reflects its readership like most newspapers. That readership is well-educated, moderate-liberal and upper-middle class. No newspaper played a larger role in pushing for the invasion of Iraq than the NYT. Its top reporters Elisabeth Bumiller and Judy Miller are notorious for swallowing the White House talking points and regurgitating them on cue. They have liberal columnists (Herbert, Krugman, Rich), conservative (Safire, Tierney and Brfooks) and moderate (Dowd, Friedman and Kristof). Dowd was the loudest critic of Clinton in the 90s and was deafeningly shrill on the Monica issue. She is as hard on Bush as she was on Bill. You can point to Times articles that appear liberal or conservative, but it is by no means leftist. The Times frequently endorses Republican candidates and gives Republicans plenty of op-ed space. Those are facts.

Fox News is in no way conservative. It is Republican, and that is where there is literally no other mass media like it. It expresses open contempt for Democrats and is so biased in favor of the GOP that it’s embarrassing. I have posted examples time and again here; their “analysts” Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin and Dick Morris are all GOP drumbeaters, populist shit-stirrers and liars. Their counterparsts on the left like Michael Moore enjoy no similar news media that would allow them a platform to spread their poison. Fox is unique in this respect. Krugman is a liberal, for sure, but he is a qualified economist and makes his arguments rationally, even if we feel he is wrong. Just like David Brooks; he is, in my view, nearly always wrong, but like Krugman he is at lest responsible and rational. Nearly all the Fox pundits are irrational and extreme – Oliver North, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, etc. No other TV news service has a similarly stacked deck on the liberal side. Not even close. No other station launches inane crusades to compare to O’Reilly’s (like the “War on Christmas” bullshit). No other mass media is so partisan and irresponsible. None. Fox works in unison with Drudge, Malkin and Limbaugh to create a wall of Republican noise that has nothing to do with conservatism, and everything to do with pushing GOP talking points. If you want to compare the NYT, you had better be prepared to offer links and quotes. The war cry that the Times is leftist is pure nonsense, based on emotion and anecdotal evidence. As I said, you can find examples of liberal and conservative bias in the Times. In Fox, there is no such balance. To question Bush is not liberalism. Smart conservatives like George Will and Andrew Sullivan do it all the time, as does John Cole of Balloon Juice. Sadly, tragically, the Fox cabal (incl. Malkin and Rush) tar every dissenting voice as a traitorous one. It is fashioned in the mold of the best fascist propaganda instrument, and I can only marvel at its efficiency. And at its blatant, shameless deceitfulness and willingness to promote lies. There is no precedent and no comparison. Again, if you compare it to the Times, do so with links and quotes. This topic is a hot button for me, like when apologists praise the CCP blindly. I won’t tolerate ignorance like that. Be ready to argue your case and I’ll be all ears. Regurgitate blanket, mindless slogans and I’ll be very pissed.

Happy New Year to everyone.

January 30, 2006 @ 9:04 am | Comment

Richard,

No one is quoting from his site but himself. The only reason I mentioned him is because he was such a bloody insect to post under my handle.

As for your dissection of the NYT versus Fox … spot on.

January 30, 2006 @ 9:11 am | Comment

Oh, and …

KUNG HAI FAT CHOI to everyone!

January 30, 2006 @ 9:12 am | Comment

Sojourner, fully understood. Happy New Year.

January 30, 2006 @ 9:19 am | Comment

Ditto what Sojourner said. And Richard, with all respect, I’d like to point out that the only way to keep this thread “Madge-Free” will be to delete the above comments which quote at length from his own site.

Meanwhile, a hug for you on your safe arrival in America.

January 30, 2006 @ 9:20 am | Comment

Ivan, I know what you mean, but I’ll leave it as proof of what I have to deal with every day when I read the comments. If I delete it now, a lot of following comments will make no sense, and at least there’s no slander in what he wrote.

There really is no place like home, by the way. I love living in Asia, but I wish I could put into words just how comforting it is to lie down on your own bed in your own house,with the people and cats you love within reach….

January 30, 2006 @ 9:27 am | Comment

By the way Richard, if you want to give this thread a really thorough scrub and ALSO delete any of MY references to the insect, go ahead – I’d be happy to see that, actually.

January 30, 2006 @ 9:33 am | Comment

oops, sorry, cross-posted with your last comment Richard. Never mind.

Oh and yeah, I know what you mean about returning home after a long time abroad. (I get the same feeling in the UK and America equally, whenever I come back from wherever – although even Russia is more like home to me that China ever was) – and that’s actually one reason why I avoid doing it too much, lest I be tempted to stay at “home” forever….

January 30, 2006 @ 9:36 am | Comment

*yawn* – just settled down to my computer with a cup of coffee, got a cat on my lap, and…

What the heck?!

But I guess I’m leaving it alone….

January 30, 2006 @ 10:08 am | Comment

Hey Guys,

Can you recommend a good periodical business/news publication (weekly/monthly) that aids in learning Chinese, with Pinyin?

My chinese is decent for conversation but I can’t say stuff like “business process transformation” :)

Thanks

Ed

January 30, 2006 @ 11:44 am | Comment

Btw… regular stolichnaya is 100 a bottle. Imperator, the “premium” vodka (which I bought to show off to my colleagues) tastes much smoother and is five times as expensive. You can find it in the black labeled thin-necked bottles.

As for vanilla extract, I bought that in a Hualian supermarket 3 clicks down the street from my apartment.

January 31, 2006 @ 10:52 am | Comment

t_co, I was wondering if that was what it was, so you bought expensive vodka for your ice-cream for “face”. Fair enough. But how did you manage to spend 300rmb on the Kahlua? Do they make an expensive version of that as well?

February 1, 2006 @ 12:19 am | Comment

I’m having a brain fart. What’s the Chinese term for the 12 animal signs of the zodiac?

February 1, 2006 @ 1:03 am | Comment

t_co, you found vanilla extract at HuaLian? Wow, I can’t even find it at expensive markets that sell imported food! I will definitely check the nearest Hualian, thanks! :-)

February 1, 2006 @ 4:23 am | Comment

Other Lisa, it’s the same term as applies to the western zodiac: “hooey”.

You can use that one for fengshui, too. ;-)

February 1, 2006 @ 4:28 am | Comment

Best bottle of vodka I ever had was simply labelled, “Vodka” in a plain green bottle. (Old leftover from Soviet times, which my Russian landlady gave me.)
Second best: A brand called, “HaHaHa”, one dollar for a litre. (Didn’t drink it, but it was good for bribing workmen.)

February 1, 2006 @ 9:53 am | Comment

And on that note, I think it’s time for a new thread.

February 1, 2006 @ 10:26 am | Comment

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