Full solar eclipse in Beijing

[Update: For the best photo and post about today’s storm, go here. Amazing.]

This morning as I went to work the sky was a yellow-gray with some hints of black, and there was a light drizzle. It was obvious there was a storm on the way, but what happened next amazed the entire city (it seemed nearly everyone was tweeting about it). Suddenly the sky went completely black and the street lights turned on automatically – at 11a.m. For several minutes Beijing was pounded with rain and lightning and it literally looked like midnight outside. Now we’re back to yellow-gray.

Check out these great photos to see what it was like here this morning. One sample.


Meanwhile, it looks like there may be a longer-lasting storm over this site, which is still blocked in China, even after switching IP addresses and being told it’s sitting on its own special server. Maybe I simply have to get used to it. I’m hoping that as the TAM posts are pushed off the home page the block will lift. Wishful thinking?

The Discussion: 32 Comments

Maybe a DNS change could do the trick, but that would mean to change the URL and notify in a post of the change.

Also obfuscate a little bit sensible words in the may page, or better turn them into images ‘a la captcha’ could help. An automated procedure could do the trick.
Most probably they are using an automated procedure, the moment they cant detect any sensitive word… presto.

But it may piss off the censors when they discover it.

June 16, 2009 @ 2:10 pm | Comment

Change the URL? What a disaster that would be! A lot of the traffic is generated from links from other sites, and a new URL would throw them all off. That would be strictly a last resort if the ban doesn’t life in a few days. I’m still hoping that as the controversial posts move off the home page the nanny will ease her grip.

June 16, 2009 @ 2:44 pm | Comment

I understand the difficulties. So just wait and see for the time being.

On the other hand. Are these censors aware of the negative PR effect of such blocking moves?

Right now quite a bit of people outside of CH, but with a interest in the country are aware of the blockade. What should they thinkl?

Among my coworkers I am one of the few, if any, with a tempered view of China, always trying to see both sides. I can tell you that the opinion of a great majority, if not all, about CH is pretty negative.

If I tell them what happened, how can I turn change minds and try to see a broader picture? A difficult task indeed.

These censors are shooting themselves on the foot… of their own country.

Strange ways to serve the (their) people indeed

June 16, 2009 @ 3:51 pm | Comment

On the other hand. Are these censors aware of the negative PR effect of such blocking moves?

I’ve been asking that question for years now.

June 16, 2009 @ 4:17 pm | Comment

Are these censors aware of the negative PR effect of such blocking moves?
They don’t care. China is great, great beyond your imagination and their powers of expression!

June 16, 2009 @ 5:47 pm | Comment

[…] probably not the pollution: Beijing turned black at midday during a freak storm. Photos here, here and […]

June 16, 2009 @ 6:58 pm | Pingback

According to this article (in Chinese) the lights didn’t come on automatically but were turned on by the relevant authorities. A meteorological expert also stated that actually this sort of thing happens every year in Beijing – just usually at times of the day (nightfall, evening etc) that people don’t notice it to the same extent. I certainly remember some wicked nighttime storms last year and the year before.

June 17, 2009 @ 10:00 am | Comment

I love a good storm; wish I’d been there to see it.

As for still being blocked, I assume (but can’t be sure because I’m in Australia at the moment) that I’m also behind the GFW. I don’t know how sharing a host affects this. Then again, Jeremiah hasn’t mentioned anything.

June 17, 2009 @ 12:06 pm | Comment

Heck …. even gladder cannot break this block …..

June 17, 2009 @ 12:07 pm | Comment

lights, it may happen every year, but if it happens at night, it doesn’t really “happen” – i.e., the thing that happened that was extraordinary was Beijing going pitch black atlunchtime. (The sky was at it’s blackest at about 11.40am).

Yokie – “gladder”? Is that a proxy?

Stuart, you’re still blocked. Congratulations.

June 17, 2009 @ 12:35 pm | Comment

Purchasing a VPN service (from companies like Witopia) is the best way to deal with the GFW.

However, you’ll leave China soon enough, so why bother…

June 17, 2009 @ 1:54 pm | Comment

“Stuart, you’re still blocked. Congratulations.”

Thanks. All my hard work vindicated. And I put up a lovely new post just now about Google and THAT anniversary. 1.3 billion are missing a real treat.

June 17, 2009 @ 2:38 pm | Comment

I am wondering why the mention of Singapore in your logo. I can understand that Beijing is the capital, Hong Kong now belongs to China, Taiwan is seen in some parts of the world that it belongs to China (although I beg to differ), but Singapore is definitely an independent country, a country of its own and in no way way related to China, except maybe for the fact that Chinese immigrants flocked the island country years ago.

There are many people that have this misconception that as long as we are Chinese, we belong to China. This is not the case. It is publications like these that lead to this misconception. I strongly advise and recommend that this be changed to avoid confusion and to relay the correct message.

June 18, 2009 @ 9:57 am | Comment

Hi Jeremy, nice to meet you. I was conspiring to spread misconceptions about Singapore’s relationship to China, and you caught me red-handed. Yes, sites like these consciously deceive and misinform the people about Singapore.

Or maybe there’s a simpler explanation. I used to live in Singapore. I wanted it shown on the map. My site legend was getting too long so I didn’t mention the word “Singapore” in it (Taiwan and HK and China were already stretching it out) but showed it on the map. What was I thinking?

June 18, 2009 @ 10:28 am | Comment

Now that explains it…Thanks! =)

June 18, 2009 @ 3:13 pm | Comment

Singapore is rarely, if ever, discussed here. We may be missing something important. Some say Singapore today is Mainland tomorrow.

June 18, 2009 @ 5:23 pm | Comment

I have very little to say about Singapore, honestly. I enjoyed living there for a while, but I didn’t feel very inspired while I was there. Part of the problem may have been my own health (I had two shoulder operations while I was there). It’s a great place to visit and the perfect place for an expat with kids. But I prefer an environment that’s a little more surprising and unpredictable.

June 18, 2009 @ 5:32 pm | Comment

Someone compared Singapore to Disneyworld but with the death penalty


June 18, 2009 @ 9:09 pm | Comment

The original article from Wired archive.


June 18, 2009 @ 9:13 pm | Comment

From wikipedia
“….He finds the selection in music stores and bookshops unrelentingly bland, musing whether this is partially attributable to the efforts of the Undesirable Propagation Unit (UPU), one of several state censorship agencies. Amidst the near total absence of bohemianism and counterculture, Gibson finds no trace of dissidence, an underground, slums or sex trade.[1][3] He deplores the absence of an authentic metropolitan feeling,[3] something which he blames for the “telling lack of creativity”.[1]”

Maybe things are not so bad in the Mainland after all, Serve….

June 18, 2009 @ 9:16 pm | Comment

Singapore – disneyland with death penalty ha ha (and caning??). I too ‘like’ Singapore but I ‘love’ China – it is quite an amazing country, despite and because of (in equal measures) CCP.

June 18, 2009 @ 10:13 pm | Comment

There is not a lot of bohemianism or counterculture in Mainland either. Music here is also pretty bland. The best you can do is probably Bob Marley. Sex trade is another matter though.

June 19, 2009 @ 11:12 am | Comment


What about Ai Weiwei?

Looks bohemian enough to me

And about creativity. The art market in CH, even during this bubble, had some impressive works.

June 19, 2009 @ 3:02 pm | Comment

“Sex trade is another matter though”

And there are also women that just want to get respect, and not treated as sexual objects by those with too much money or power in their hands.

Read the news lately?

June 19, 2009 @ 3:04 pm | Comment


Grandpa Wen looks somewhat bohemian to me too.

Before any fenquin missunderstood my opinion …., it is meant as a compliment.

June 19, 2009 @ 3:34 pm | Comment

Ai Weiwei Tweets like crazy, btw… @aiww

June 19, 2009 @ 4:22 pm | Comment

Ai Weiwei posted a naked photo of himself on his website. First it is not a pretty sight. More importantly it shows that he craves attention, not a person to be taken seriously.

June 19, 2009 @ 4:26 pm | Comment

According to some rumors,due to a recent(June 16) update of the GFW,it acquire the ability to decode filter rotate13 and base64 encoded data streams.
I won’t go into tech details here but I can say for sure it crippled many php proxies and make them incapable of penetrating the GFW.AND,yes,that includes gladder.

June 19, 2009 @ 8:49 pm | Comment

“Ai Weiwei posted a naked photo of himself on his website. ”
He was making a point. If you could not see it, nothing I can say would explain it to you.

“More importantly it shows that he craves attention, not a person to be taken seriously.”
Hhhhmm… That is a very CCPish answer. Do yo belong to the party?

June 19, 2009 @ 9:05 pm | Comment

I don’t think that’s a CCP answer- it’s a Chinese answer. Anyone who sticks out will have people tearing them down as 炒作. Even when Bai Ling was arrested for shoplifting everyone cried 炒作炒作炒作. It must be mentally exhausting to be Chinese, seeing “angles” to the exclusion of all other possibilities.

June 20, 2009 @ 3:42 am | Comment

Interesting answer.

June 20, 2009 @ 5:49 am | Comment

您还是习惯被封吧 我会看得更勤奋一点

June 22, 2009 @ 12:03 am | Comment

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