Open Thread?

Let’s give it a try, for old time’s sake, even though the new Duck Pond is open.

The Discussion: 32 Comments

Thank You, Richard, For returning to the fray.
— ml Dum Luks

March 20, 2006 @ 7:51 pm | Comment

I’m proud that I used Firefox a good week before it was suggested here at tpd. BUT it’s useless with proxy servers and does my head in with the extra windows it sends just to ask if I want to open a file I wanted opened in the first place.
China bans weird baby names-

March 20, 2006 @ 8:45 pm | Comment

“China bans weird baby names?”

Ummm, how do they enforce this? If the baby has a weird name, does that mean the baby is banned?

Or do they just appoint a new name for the baby from their official list of “non-weird” names?

And can these decisions be challenged in court?
Like, lawsuits to defend an allegedly weird name?
Imagine the kind of expert testimony they would need.

Expert witness for the prosecution: “That name is WEIRD!”

Witness for the defense: “No it isn’t!”

March 21, 2006 @ 7:04 am | Comment

Banning people from using unusual Chinese characters for their children’s name – this is one of the weirdest thing I’ve heard lately – not that it’s totally beyond imagination, given the CCP’s authoritarian record. I take it that this is another attempt of the Chinese Government to show its people who their boss is. The justification seems to be that the computer can’t cope with all the unusual words. My understanding is that most Chinese word-processing packages nowadays will have the capability of generating new characters. Even I can manage to use this function and I’m pretty clumpsy when it cames to technology. So it really shouldn’t be that difficult or time consuming to accommodate a few unusual words in the database. But instead of making changes to the computer database, the Chinese government opts for limiting people’s choices. What a benevolent government it is. Well done, mate!!??

March 21, 2006 @ 8:02 am | Comment

Drudge headlines it but gives a false link. To read about the Japanese using Chinese organs ‘donated’ by some of the 10,000 executed p.a., read the Independent at
In the meantime, consider this quote:
“Ten days after contacting a Japanese broker in China two months ago, he was lying on an operating table in a Shanghai hospital receiving a new kidney. “It was so fast, I was scared,” he says. The “e-donor” was an executed man; the price: 6.8m yen (about £33,000).”
How ethical is it for a state to profit, make money, from killing its citizens?

March 21, 2006 @ 4:54 pm | Comment

Oh, I forgot: Apparently patients die within 2 years after leaving China from their operations.

March 21, 2006 @ 4:56 pm | Comment

Was reading on the New York Times other other day. Apparently a decade or so a go some Chinese guy put up a banner denouncing the CCP. He got put into a mental asylum for a decade or so and got deported to Europe, where two psychologists in the Netherlands said there was nothing wrong with him.

The NYT article is premium content, so I can’t copy and paste it. But apparently a lot of “dissidents” are processed in this manner to keep them out of the court system.

March 21, 2006 @ 11:02 pm | Comment

Since switching to the typekey sign-in, this blog has lost virtually all of its Chinese commenters in the mainland. Really sad. I hope they haven’t given up.

Skystreaker, please send me the link to the NYT article – I can access it and blog it. Thanks.

March 22, 2006 @ 1:22 am | Comment

You’ll appreciate this, Richard: A 41-year-old man is facing possible execution in Afghanistan for converting to Christianity.
“The US and other countries have complained, though not very vigorously for fear they may be accused of interfering with Afghanistan’s sovereignty (which they have been doing for years, of course).”

March 22, 2006 @ 5:13 am | Comment

Kei, I’m following this depressing story. So cool, how we liberated Afghanistan….

March 22, 2006 @ 7:19 pm | Comment

Maybe I have found my way in as above says “Now you can comment.”

March 24, 2006 @ 7:55 pm | Comment

Good, now I will try another thread. I do not know how I got this to work.

March 24, 2006 @ 7:56 pm | Comment

******Banning people from using unusual Chinese characters for their children’s name – this is one of the weirdest thing I’ve heard lately – not that it’s totally beyond imagination, given the CCP’s authoritarian record. I take it that this is another attempt of the Chinese Government to show its people who their boss is. The justification seems to be that the computer can’t cope with all the unusual words.*******

Don’t the French do the same thing — have an approved list of names? In a way that’s worse…


March 24, 2006 @ 8:13 pm | Comment

Spent horrible day in Chinese hospital. Girlfriend seriously ill and the whole day a comedy of errors that have left me emotionally drained from the ambulance forced to crawl through traffic to a hospital that’s located in the middle of a major road forcing you to wait ages to cross into the lot to wheelchairs missing parts, 2 of three lights in room not working, having to continually take her blood because she was naiive enough to say “But my blood type is AB, not A”, six lifts but only one ever seems to be working etc etc etc. And the constant trips to the cash counter! Do the Chinese know that we in the West (apart from the US) don’t pay for visits to the doctor? And she has to go under the knife Monday…

March 25, 2006 @ 6:13 am | Comment

Damn, I’m sorry to hear that horrible story, Keir. Let us know how it works out.

March 25, 2006 @ 7:21 am | Comment

My sympathies, Keir. Please give your girlfriend my best.

March 25, 2006 @ 11:12 am | Comment

The US is a bit uncivilized in that aspect. That sucks, Keir. Give her a kiss for me.


March 25, 2006 @ 7:24 pm | Comment

Banning people from using unusual Chinese characters for their children’s name – this is one of the weirdest thing I’ve heard lately – not that it’s totally beyond imagination, given the CCP’s authoritarian record. I take it that this is another attempt of the Chinese Government to show its people who their boss is. The justification seems to be that the computer can’t cope with all the unusual words

Are you serious? Japan has an officially approved list of about 400 Japanese Kanjii characters that can be used for names. (Note, it’s not that the Japanese language has only 400 kanji characters, there are about 30,000 – 40,000 of them, but that only 400 of them are picked by the gov’t to be on the list of approved names). The rest are not “unusual” characters. So if you are a Chinese citizen who wants to become a Japanese citizen and the characters in your Chinese name are not on Japan’s list of approved names (chances are they are not), then you got to get a handbook of name list from Japan’s “Ministry of Justice” and just pick one for yourself.

March 27, 2006 @ 10:17 am | Comment

I was almost killed tonight. I was walking along the side of the hospital to find a place to hide/park my bike. 2 seconds where I was a huge pane of glass fell; sounded like an explosion with glass flying everywhere… only 2 seconds from being seriously maimed or killed.
Trust me; after 3 days at Sino-Japanese ‘Friendship’ (hahahahaha) Hospital, it doesn’t really come as much of a surprise to me….

March 28, 2006 @ 5:41 am | Comment

Kier, you’re having a dreadful time at the moment. How is your girlfriend? Was the operation successful?

March 28, 2006 @ 9:56 pm | Comment

Keir you have my sympathies. I spent a few days at the Sino Japanese hospital last year and I thought it wasn’t that bad at first (though at the prices they were charging it should have been excellent). However, the cardiologist there prescribed the wrong medicine for me. I should know – I’m a pharmacist by training. The doctors always prescribe the most expensive medicines, presumably because they get a commission on them. The drug I actually needed was available for 5 kuai across the road at a pharmacy.
I had no faith in the medical system after that, and that’s why I left China. You can’t gamble with your health.

By the way, you do know that there is a special department for “gao ganbu” (high officials) on the top floor of the SJFH, don’t you. That’s where you go if you want to get decent service.

March 29, 2006 @ 5:55 am | Comment

First of all I wish to say how much I appreciate all the kind wishes for my girlfriend’s recovery. She’ll be coming home tomorrow and is her usual self again (positive and bubbly). As much as I was shocked by the Sino-Japanese Hospital (I mean, the building itself actually tried to kill me) she said she was very happy with the care provided and saw no need to go to a ‘Western’ hospital having sufficient faith in her country’s healthcare. (I don’t talk to her about my feelings about the state of the country after the last time a few months back).
Student went to the Press Club last night and brought back for me “Human Rights Record of the US in 2005” published by the “Information (sic) Office of the State Council etc etc etc”. Only 15% of women in the US is in government! (funnily enough, China doesn’t refer to any of the charges originally posed towards it, like the gaoling of the filmmaker here in Beijing since Feb.22 for “criminal acts” without bothering to say what these acts were or to offer any info to his family.
Oh yeah, guess where the Chinese regime gets its information from. Larry King, NYTimes, et al.. The hypocrisy…

March 30, 2006 @ 5:18 pm | Comment

By the way, I didn’t know that, Zhuanjia. But next time I go to Beijing United! I hear you can actually drive into the parking lot without cutting through the middle of traffic or navigate through speed bumps or wait in a line of cars.

March 30, 2006 @ 5:20 pm | Comment

Just to completely change the subject – has anyone read the excellent new book The Long March by Sun Shuyun? She is a UK based Chinese, who wrote the excellent “Ten Thousand Miles Without a Cloud” about the BUddhist pilgrim Xuanzang and his “Journey to the West”. Well, I just read a bit of her new book in Borders, and she confirms what Jung Chang wrote about the myth of the Battle of Luding Bridge. Sun interviewed not just locals, but provincial historians and looked up acocunts of the battle in the Sichiuan archives. She confirms that there was no major battle at the bridge. Interesting facoids:

1. The planks weren’t removed from the whole bridge, only the last few feet.
2. Far from seizing the bridge from a battalion of KMT troops, the Red Army actually fought a small squad of local militia men owing allegiance to a local warlord.
3. The local warlord had done a deal with the Zhu De to put up only token resistance at the bridge.
4. The militia were armed with old rifles that were accurate to onyl a few feet.
5. The Red Army then put the bridge out of action by cutting most of the chains.

Interesting comment from the provincial historian: “An engagement that lasts only two hours and involves only a hanful of casualties canot be considered a significant battle in the context of the Long March” (he reckoned a battle at the Tumen Gorge which occurred at the same time and involved casualties in ten thousands was more significant).

March 31, 2006 @ 9:31 pm | Comment

Hmmm….so who was in charge of leading the troops who fought at Tumen Gorge, I wonder?

I could look it up but I have a cat on my lap…

March 31, 2006 @ 10:14 pm | Comment

Was just reading about this on page 19 of this week’s Time Out where two books on the Long March are reviewed (well, not really reviewed but written about). But the interesting thing for me was both books (one written by the two men who had followed in the Marchers’ footsteps a couple of years back) say the battle of Dadu bridge did take place and “point out errors” in Jung Chang’s book. “She declined to comment to Time Out or any British newspapers comparing the three texts.”
By the way, also in Time Out it mentions how Ken Livingstone is visiting China in April. This is the same mayor of London who uses his position to call Jews ‘capos’, the American diplomatic staff ‘criminals’ and its country as fascist, who will not deign to meet with American representatives visiting his city like Condaleeza Rice now (nor is Sir Paul- good on him!) but is going out of his way to tour one the largest totalitarian regime on earth. Rather than a fact-finding visit to show off his noted concern for human rights, he’s simply visiting “to promote business links between the UK capital and China’s two most important cities.” As long as he, like all the other Western ‘leaders’, can continue to profit from such vile regimes, I would suggest the ‘Red’ in “Red Ken” is that of the Nazi flag….

April 1, 2006 @ 4:31 am | Comment

I hate to say it, it’s called realpolitik, and it’s not going to change. Ken’s just “doing what’s best for his constituents” and following the money.

April 1, 2006 @ 7:53 am | Comment

I wouldn’t say Ken was a Nazi. Look at this interview he did with a Jewish website. ( You could hardly call him anti semitic or even an enemy of Israel His comment to the reporter about concentration camp guards was quite justified: the paper’s owner was openly pro-Hitler and wrote articles like “Hurrah for the Blackshirts”. So should ken refuse to go to China? Maybe it’s realpolitik, but I’m looking forward to hearing what Ken says to his Chinese hosts.

April 1, 2006 @ 7:08 pm | Comment

You know, it’s the old debate about engagement versus isolating. I tend to favor engagements (maybe not in every case). Regimes that are isolated tend to get even weirder, I think. Look at China during the CR and N. Korea now.

Then within the policy of general engagement are a whole palette of gray areas and moral decisions to be made.

April 1, 2006 @ 7:41 pm | Comment

You all make valid points, but it makes his pronouncements against Israel and the US particularly galling. He appears only as another opportunist when I’d once supported him.

April 2, 2006 @ 7:08 am | Comment

Whoa, that sign-in is a doozie!

Sorry, was Red Ken supposed to be a humanitarian, or what? Did you forget he’s a politician?

Should I go to the pond? Haven’t tried it yet.

April 4, 2006 @ 10:28 pm | Comment

Well, it was he who invited the IRA to London during their continuing bombing campaigns, and if he’s going to stir things up with comments about allies while ignoring what his new friends are doing, it makes a mockery of his position as mayor and the views his position forces on us.

April 5, 2006 @ 4:15 pm | Comment

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