The demise of Chinglish in Beijing?

I swore I wouldn’t post today, as I have to make dinner for the relatives, but this is worth a quick mention.

CHINGLISH, the often funny mistranslation of Chinese into English, may soon be harder to find as Beijing prepares to standardise translations of thousands of Chinese dishes and public signs before the 2008 Olympic Games.

The city, determined to promote itself as modern and sophisticated, is planning to get rid of translations such as the Garden of Curled Poo in the capital’s ancient Ritan Park.

It will be the more accurate “information centre”. Foreigners will no longer be able to take snaps of themselves at the city’s Racist Park – the Ethnic Minorities Theme Park – and “Slippery when wet” will replace the “slippery are very crafty” warning for wet roads.

Also at risk are the literally correct translations such as Saliva Chicken, a cold dish of poached chicken in a peanut, garlic, ginger and green onion sauce – but no saliva – and pocked-face Ladies Tofu – mapo dofu, the chilli hot beancurd dish named after an old woman called Ma. Simple typos such as Pee Soup (pea soup) and Hot Crap (Spicy crab) will soon go the way of Beijing’s old hutong neighbourhoods, which are being replaced with anonymous high-rises that the Beijing authorities consider more appropriate for the capital of a nation of 1.3 billion people.

I guess it’s a good thing, though I know some will feel nostalgia for those funny signs and menu items – if, indeed, they can really wipe them out and correct them. The article says the “Beijing Speaks Foreign Languages Program,” made up of language experts at BCLU, has a web site listing hundreds of terms being considered for “reform.” If anyone can provide a link it will be appreciated.


Great Moments in Wing-nuttery

Now is the time of the year when we see a lot of “Top Ten” lists of all sorts. Here from Media Matters (via the Daou Report) are the Top Eleven (thanks to Ann Coulter) Most Outrageous Comments by right-wing commentators:

Right-wing rhetoric documented by Media Matters for America included the nonsensical (including Rush Limbaugh’s claim that America’s “obesity crisis” is caused by, among other things, our failure to “teach [the poor] how to butcher a — slaughter a cow to get the butter, we gave them the butter”), the offensive (such as right-wing pundit Debbie Schlussel’s question about “Barack Hussein Obama”: is he “a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?”), and the simply bizarre (such as William A. Donohue’s claim that some Hollywood stars would “sodomize their own mother in a movie”)

Given the stunning repudiation of the Republican agenda in the midterm elections, I’d like to hope these voices will be somewhat chastened in 2007 – but I’m not betting on it.

Okay, I have a ton of presents to wrap. Hope you and yours are enjoying the holidays, whatever you celebrate – I’m a Yuletide person myself…


Another shining moment for the US justice system

Stupid laws and sentences have been hot topics here lately, and the latest example of a 17-year-old parolee sentenced to life imprisonment for testing positive for marijuana use is even more appalling – and terrifying – than our earlier discussion of another 17-year-old given a 10-year sentence for receiving a consensual blowjob. The background in a nutshell

Brown, who pleaded guilty to his first and only offense at age 17, was given probation after a $2 armed robbery in which the victim wasn’t harmed and had his wallet returned. But months later, Brown violated his probation by testing positive for marijuana. In most cases of marijuana violations, Texas judges – and Dean – often recommend counseling and allow the defendant to remain on probation with a stiff warning.

In this case, however, without explanation, Brown was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Last month 20/20 exposed this aberration on national television and now it appears Brown will soon be released – after serving 16 years.

I believe the US justice system is deeply flawed, but considering what it’s up against, I also feel it’s amazing that it functions as well as it does. We are lucky to have a relatively free media that can bring at least some of these aberrations to light and expedite change. But I have no illusions: For every horror story like this that the media expose, there are probably hundreds if not thousands of similar stories that don’t get told, and where the victim is not so lucky. The wheels of the US justice system grind on, protecting us and punishing wrongdoers and making sure rule of law in America works as best it can. But God have mercy on the souls of the little people who get caught up in its cold, heartless machinery. Tragically but not at all surprisingly, the poorer they are, the more likely they are to get sucked into these legal black holes. In the US, and certainly in other countries we talk about here as well.


Chinese PhD’s urge nation to boycott Christmas

A must-read post from one of my very favorite blogs. The blogger’s take on this subject is witty and smart, and best of all, he makes two separate references to kaoya.

As an interesting accompaniment, I recommend you also watch this unusual video, in which Sexy Beijing asks Beijingers on the street their thoughts about Christmas. Some interesting comments – is it all good fun, or is it in questionable taste to put Chinese people on the spot about a topic they most likely know little about? (My own attitude is that the video was shot in the spirit of fun, not cruelty or condescension.)


Just because it’s soooo weird…

News out of China has been skimpy the past day or two and I haven’t felt too inspired to post, especially since I’m on vacation. To make up for the dearth in fresh material, and to give all of us a pre-Christmas laugh, allow me to quote from a blog I stumbled on earlier today, and hope never to stumble upon again.

May of the typcial anti-war types have been out shilling the economic miracle of the Market Economy Based Dengist Revisionist Reactionary Capitalist Roader Clique and it’s impact on Red China since the 1980 Party Congress, where they Deified Mao, and Moved On To MAKING MONEY!!!! Many of these advocates of “going china” are all excited about how the Chinese are Urbanizing and just creating new Million Plus Person Metropolitan Areas where they find the ground to plant the new Factories and build the Urban Sprawl Around it!!!!!

But has anyone really THOUGHT about what this sort of MetroSexual Revolution in China is all about????? HUM???? it is about creating the very sort of radicall Leftist Leaning Blue State Types Who HATE JESUS and want to DESTROY OUR WHITE CHRISTIAN AMERICA!!! Just like Nancy Pelosi and her Evil Sinisister and Satanic Voodoo Zombie Dust Bunnies Of Despair!!!!!

Can the WORLD allow this Heinous Rise in the Culture of Death and allow China to Fall to the Blue States???? NO!!!! I Say we must do our part to SAVE China from Falling to the Blue staters which would be the Fast Track To The Jack Booted Ironed Fist of China Falling To The Communist Red Hordes!!!! Something that the Satanic Nancy Pelosi and her Evil Sinisister and Satanic Voodoo Zombie Dust Bunnies Of Despair are at this very Moment CONSPIRING to make Happen!!!!!

So now more than EVER all TRUE Patriotically, and Theologically, Corrector Than Thou, must support the President and the Clear and Compelling Mandate to Rescue China From The Red Hordes Of Blue Stater-ism!!!! At most this would take a few thousand nuclear war heads selectively targetted at specific centers of Anti-Americanism and Anti-White-Christian-Americanism at that!!!! Then followed up by a token force of Holy Crusaders who would bring the True Gospel of the Great And Glorious White Christian American Way of life, and the Chinese People Would greet us with Open Arms and The Love that we had come to liberate them from the hiddeous and heinous onslaught of the Globalist Economy and their Sinister Blue Helmetted One Worlder UN governmenalist Excessive Regulaltionists!!! Who are all under the Secret Mind Control of Nancy Pelosi and her Evil Sinisister and Satanic Voodoo Zombie Dust Bunnies Of Despair!!!!!

All HAIL GREAT LEADER!!!! Because HE is keeping america amerian and free from the Dark Menace of the Blue Staters Culture Of Death!!!!

Ironically, it’s the Dems who are more likely to implement protectionist, populist Lou Dobbs-style legislation to punish China’s success, while the GOP’s big business wing goes out of its way to court China’s leaders. Well, I suppose it takes all kinds. I want to think the blogger is making a joke. Unfortunately, after perusing his site I have to conclude he really means it.

Again, I’m posting this only because it’s so odd and ridiculous and unintentionally hilarious, and because I’m a bit short on inspiration. It’s also incredibly ignorant and repellent, but hopefully all of us know that.


Michelle on “the year of perpetual rage”

Leave it to Ms. Maglalang to write a round-up on incidents of untethered rage in 2006 and focus only on the Muslims. No rage to speak of among us Christians and Jews. The irony, of course, is that her site, more than any other popular blog, thrives on one thing and one thing only: perpetual rage. Comb through the site at any time and feel the love. All it is is a non-stop shriek, a hysterical call to arms that eerily imitates those she seeks constantly to attack.

No other “big blog” can match Malkin for sneering outright at anyone urging compassion or anything less than brute force and violence. In one of her most truly deranged moments, she actually attacked a movement to discourage bullying in America’s schools; her “reasoning” is that we need tough, ready-to-fight thugs to go battle the jihadists. I am not exaggerating, and urge you to read this brilliant takedown of Malkin’s infamous bullying post. It makes it all so crystal clear: Malkin wants Americans to be as consumed with rage as possible, ready to react with violence against those jihadists she imagines hiding under your bed. Even if this means thugs terrorize gentler students at schools.

I consider the bullying post Malkin’s very most depraved moment and oh so telling about her vision for America: a vision of the Malkin Youth set loose on America, chomping at the bit to spill a little blood, crushing the nice kids who don’t want to fight in an orgy of unfettered rage. After all, how else can we beat the jihadists if we don’t gleefully kick in the faces of those pusillanimous weaklings in school, the ones who wear glasses?

Again, if any of you feel I’m harsh on Our Lady of the Concentration Camps, go read the above-referenced post. You’ll laugh out loud, but you’ll also see why I consider Malkin a dangerous lady. Shout Godwin’s all you want (first, you’d be wrong; second, I don’t care), but her vision of America is truly on a par with that of Ernst Roehm, whose brownshirts terrorized Jews and Communists and glorified brutality and perpetual rage,

Malkin defines rage, she is rage – she is a walking, talking blast furnace of white rage. Tragically, thanks to her loving army of thugs, this makes her a real menace and no laughing matter.

Don’t sell Malkinwald short – she was instrumental in nixing the museum on human rights at the site of the WTC and in forcing architects to redesign their plan for the memorial at the crash site of UA 93, all because Malkin and her goons thought they could see hints of a “red crescent” formed by the maple trees in the design. (See this Malkin-inspired post to see just how profoundly loony these people are. You won’t believe it, especially the part about the latitude/longitude lines pointing to Mecca!.) No, she’s definitely not just the butt of jokes, but an insidious force to be reckoned with.

Update: Oh well, what the hell? For old times sake:


And for anyone who wants to argue that this post shows I am as full of hate as Michelle, forget about it. I have never once urged my readers to pick up their pitchforks and attack anybody or anything as Michelle does regularly. I have never argued for internment of entire religions or races. Yeah, I hate Malkin and I admit it, just like I admit I hate all racists and all tyrants. But you have to work hard to earn my hate. For Michelle, all it takes is being a Muslim or a liberal. Or being gentle and kind.

Update 2: I see that Michelle’s kissin’ cousin today has taken anti-Muslim bigotry to shocking new heights (or new lows). Disgusting, despicable, vile and deranged. One of my very favorite bloggers appropriately rips Schlusel a new one.


Press conferences with Chinese characteristics

There’s really nothing quite like them. When I write my book, this will be tone of the chapters. Everyone who practices PR in China has a portfolio of press conference anecdotes, some of them very, very strange.


Want to adopt a baby in China? Better hurry.

I have three friends who’ve adopted Chinese baby girls. Now it seems the government’s worried there aren’t enough babies to go around, so they’ll be implementing new restrictions:

China plans to tighten rules on foreign adoptions, barring people who are single, obese, older than 50 or who fail to meet certain benchmarks in financial, physical or psychological health from adopting Chinese children, according to adoption agencies in the United States.

The restrictions are in response to an enormous spike in applications by foreigners, which has far exceeded the number of available babies, said leaders of American adoption agencies who were briefed by Chinese officials earlier this month.

The new regulations, which have not yet been formally announced by the government-run China Center of Adoption Affairs, or C.C.A.A., are expected to take effect on May 1, 2007, and have raised concern and anxiety among prospective adoptive parents in this country….

The guidelines include a requirement that applicants have a body-mass index of less than 40, no criminal record, a high school diploma and be free of certain health problems like AIDS and cancer. Couples must have been married for at least two years and have had no more than two divorces between them. If either spouse was previously divorced, the couple cannot apply until they have been married for at least five years.

In addition, adoptive parents must have a net worth of at least $80,000 and income of at least $10,000 per person in the household, including the prospective adoptive child.

I’m going to reserve judgment. According to the article, South Korea has even more stringent adoption requirements for foreigners, and many in the “adoption industry” say the new restrictions won’t make much of a diference. Still, it was sad reading the article’s interviews with mothers who have been rejected, one because she uses a wheelchair. One father was rejected because he takes the antidepressant Zoloft. There’s no question there need to be eligibility requirements, but some of these definitely seem rather random.


Damn, America sucks sometimes

Here’s the headline:

Ten Years in Prison for 17-Year-Old Who Had Consensual Oral Sex with 15-Year-Old

The blogger rightly finds this sentence too harsh. What an understatement. It’s frikkin’ insane. Isn’t it time to end all mandatory sentences? Isn’t it time to stop the insanity? We recently had an impassioned thread on the inanities of China’s laws. Looking at this story, I can only say we sacrifice the right to lecture all others when we allow such obscene perversions of justice to take place in America. This is just plain wrong and everyone with a minimal amount of grey matter knows it. Not just wrong, but wicked. Can you imagine, a 17-year-old sentenced to a decade in jail for…for…for nothing. Yeah, he shouldn’t have done it, but he’s still a fucking kid who committed an all but victimless crime with no malice or intent to hurt anybody. What’s wrong with us? What’s wrong with us? Ten years. A life ruined, and for what? God bless America.

Update: And if you have any doubt as to whether this is justice perverted or not, this blogger lays it out clearly. So clearly, you can cry with frustration.

Update 2: I’m having an interesting debate with another blogger about this. Needless to say, I am completely right.

Update 3: Here’s the young man’s website:; here’s his online petition.


What living in China can do to you

One bitterly cold morning in Beijing in 2003 I hit a moral low. I was waiting for a taxi outside of my Tuan Jie Hu apartment complex. Usually there’s a small fleet parked over there but on this day the cold was so brutal there were none – everyone was cabbing it. I finally managed to signal a free taxi that was driving by and as he stopped, an amazingly feisty older Chinese lady ran ahead of me and jumped in. The taxi sped off as I shivered helplessly. I decided to walk up the street to scout for other taxis when I saw a young Western couple standing by a parked taxi talking to the driver through his front window, probably asking if he knew how to get to their destination. Like a robot, without thinking and without feeling, I simply walked over, opened the back door, got in and told the driver to go.

This was a landmark for me, someone who is near-obsessive about zero tolerance for line-cutters and those who push ahead of others. I remember sitting there in the taxi feeling absolutely no remorse. I had done what had to be done and I felt eerily proud of myself. This was not a matter of morality, it was a matter of survival. Finally, I had become a true Beijinger, employing the methodology that others had long ago adopted to ensure their survival in a merciless environment where it’s every man for himself and me-first. That soft side of me that would normally be inclined to graciously let the others go first had been thoroughly subjugated, not as an act of consciousness but as part of my survival mechanism. It was kill or be killed, and I suddenly realized I could kill when necessary.

I am not proud of what I did. But I am not ashamed, either, because you really do have to alter your thinking if you want to survive in China. I wouldn’t think of walking across a busy street, going against a red light, in Taipei. In Beijing, it’s simply what you have to do. That was the worst I did; I never cut a line or cheated anybody or pushed anybody – my moral compass wasn’t altogether shut down. But I had employed a Machiavellian way of thinking; I saw an opportunity and I struck, and I kept my emotions out of it. I had done something I would have hitherto thought unimaginable. And I didn’t care.

James Fallows writes about just this phenomenon in his blog today (via ESWN), and I related to every syllable, especially about the fuckers who jump into the elevator and instantly start pushing the “close door” button. (I wrote an entire post about Chinese elevator etiquette a long time ago, before this blog even offered comments.) As Fallows says, it’s intriguing to look at a newbie in China and then watch them evolve over time, succumbing to their natural instinct for survival.

A friend has told me how he loves watching American visitors come into – and later go out from – the Shanghai or Beijing airports. On the way in, when finding they make no progress toward the immigration desk or in the taxi queue because of Chinese people cutting in front of them, they smile in appreciation of raw Chinese energy. On the way out, when someone tries to cut them off, they grab the interloper by the shoulder and fling him back.

That’s the person I am now. When I start hammering at the ‘Close’ button, I’ll know that my transformation is complete.

I think this happen to everyone who lives there, at least to some extent. There isn’t any choice. We all do what we have to do to get through the day, to survive.