What will the Beijing Olympics really be remembered for?


We’ve heard comments that next year’s sporting super-event will be marred by China’s terrible human rights situation, possible protests being suppressed in the full glare of the media, pollution crippling numerous athletes, etc.

But haven’t we forgot maybe the biggest problem of all when it comes to the Olympics? Read the following article from the BBC.

The fight against drugs in sport

Kelly Sotherton believes clean athletes will “definitely” lose out to drugs cheats at next year’s Olympics. The British heptathlete told BBC Radio 5 Live Sport that cheats get away with it and likened doping to stealing. She was reacting to a BBC Sport report that revealed the test for human growth hormone (HGH) was almost useless.

The article is littered with examples of cheats getting away with things until it’s all too late. That’s the thing. If people are caught before events, great. But it damages the credibility of the sport if they are able to compete and deny others of medals and places in finals. Some people will slip through the net, but do some countries try enough – do they prefer to turn a blind eye in the hope their athletes will get away with it? Or, indeed, do they encourage it?. We all remember China’s “Golden Flowers“, the female swimmers with bodies akin to those of the East German women’s team thanks to “a special Chinese diet” according to their coaches. Although countries will squeal that they can’t control the actions of coaches, anyone with half a brain would question why phyically scrawny women could ever gain so much muscle mass in such a short period of time – that or they deliberately didn’t ask the question.

Will Beijing be the time when clean athletes just ask “what’s the point” and decide to take drugs themselves? If the IOC and other sporting bodies continue to run events without sufficiently tight doping tests, what’s the point in staying clean? For those that want to win many (if not most) have to give up their jobs. Not winning means less income and having to spend more time working and less time training. That’s not a problem for rich countries who essentially give their sportsmen and women a wage, but even then athletes with potential but have not become top-ranked can lose out. How are poorer nations supposed to cope? In terms of the moral argument, if other athletes are taking drugs you’d only be levelling the playing field, wouldn’t you? There are health risks, but some people are willing to take the chance.

Perhaps the simple answer is that the sports governing bodies need to get tough. Impose harsher rules so that if you’re caught doping, your career is over. No second chances – one strike and you’re out, forever. If you’re innocent you can appeal, but cheats can’t expect to come back after a few years. Or wouldn’t it make a difference? I don’t know, but certainly these days the question on everyone’s lips when it comes to who wins the gold medal is “did he/she take drugs?” That’s really very sad.


There’s gold in those toilet bowls!

The Chinese really are the world’s most industrious people, able to spot golden opportunities in the most unlikely of places. Amazing.


The Bully

For those of you who wonder why I continuously bring up the malignancies of Michelle Malkin, I’d like to provide at least a partial answer (there’s more to it than I can tell in this post). It was when I read this post that I knew she would be my blood enemy forever. It was, of all things, a call for awareness of the misery that school bullies cause their victims, a call for respect for those weaker than ourselves, that drove Malkin to a new peak of odiousness.

The left-wing Kumbaya crowd is quietly grooming a generation of pushovers in the public schools. At a time of war, when young Americans should be educated about this nation’s resilience and steely resolve, educators are indoctrinating students with saccharine-sticky lessons on “non-violent conflict resolution” and “promoting constructive dialogues.”

Just what we need to combat throat-slitting, suicide plane-flying Islamists: young eunuchs swaying to moldy old folk music while their ‘Peace Place’ signs flap in the wind….Peaceniks are covering our kids from head to toe in emotional bubble wrap. They are creating a nation of namby-pambys.

It was when I saw this rebuttal of Malkin’s Mein Kamp-inspired article that I promptly blogrolled its authors, moving them immediately to the very top. If you really don’t understand why Malkin’s prescription is so depraved (and I choose the word carefully), be sure to check their deconstruction of it.

So why did this one post have such a deep effect on me? Because bullying is no laughing matter, and to condone it as an exercise of our “will” or “virility” or “toughness” is to condone brutality, torture. And I know.

Nearly every morning before getting up to go to school in 7th grade, I would lay in bed crying, afraid to move, afraid to talk to my parents, afraid someone would see the terror on my face. When I arrived at school, I knew that a brute named Arthur Lang would be waiting for me, waiting to push me down in the hall, waiting to kick my books across the hallway, waiting to call me a girl and a weakling. I had no idea why he did it. And I had no way out. I could only accept the humiliation and try to block out the laughter of my schoolmates. Once he pushed me off the schoolbus and I landed face-down in the snow, my nose bleeding. I remember the snow turning red, and my books and my homework soaked in slush, and trying to stand and pick everything up knowing others were watching and laughing, and walking home in a state of mortification and helplessness.

As I remember Arthur Lang now, this description of one of the characters in The Great Gatsby, Tom, rings in my ears:

Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body – he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing, and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage – a cruel body.

A cruel body…. Everything about Arthur Lang was cruel. The nightmare went on for three or four months. And then one day something very strange happened, In gym class, the teacher assigned Arthur Lang and me to be workout partners. I felt consumed by dread when the teacher pointed to me and then to Arthur. How was he going to torture me this time, I wondered. We had to help each other do sit-ups. I was struggling. And suddenly Arthur began to talk to me, for the very first time, like one human being to another. “It would be better if you did it this way,” he said, and he helped me. For about half an hour we worked together, while I waited the whole time for the monster I knew he was to strike again. It never did. And after that day, he never terrorized me again. I still don’t know exactly what happened. I can only guess he saw I was a human being.

But that wasn’t the end of my experience with bullies. In summer camp that year I was fair game because I brought my violin instead of my baseball mitt to the cabin, and I hated sports. One day I came into the cabin to find all the strings on my violin pulled out and the hairs on the bow snipped off. Worst of all, I found the most terrible solution to deal with the emotional torture, to convince myself I was strong, that I was valid: I found someone else weaker than me and I bullied him. Even now I can hear Freddie Cohen crying because I took one of his most beloved possessions (I cannot remember, no matter how hard i try, what it was) and I destroyed it. He lay there sobbing, and I taunted him some more. There was no excuse for what I did; I did it simply because I could. It is one of those moments where you think, if only I could go back and correct what I did and apologize. I would do anything, anything at all to go back and tell him how sorry I am, how I turned on him only because I had been turned on myself….

It all came to a stop when I was 15. Suddenly my tenor voice became a full deep bass and I was the star in my high school musical, I got confident, I got a girlfriend and I became “one of the popular kids.” Arthur Lang melted away, but any time I think about those three nightmare months, even today, I cringe; I feel physically sick.

The idea of one person forcing another through brute force to submit to his will, the idea of kicking and punching someone less powerful than you to show your own strength – the victim’s sense of humiliation can be pushed down, but it never fully goes away. Which is why I can be hyper-sensitive about the brutalities of the CCP, and why I always have to speak out when I see my government use raw, ugly force against perceived enemies, and when monsters like Malkin swoon, seeing this force as an example of virility and strength, as something good. As I read her insidious words confusing bullying with determination, a poem by Sylvia Plath came to mind:

Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

And Michelle is just that type of woman.

There is nothing more terrifying than being a frightened child who knows the bully is coming for you, about to push his boot in your face, and knowing you have nowhere to turn. The experience was probably pivotal in determining the kind of person I’d be, the kind of work I’d do, the attitude I’d take toward politics, toward people who cut lines, toward the little guy persecuted by a thuggish government.

Bullying is a disease, in every way a terrible thing. Malkin’s philosophy is that it’s alright until it reaches the point of being a jailable felony. She is wrong, of course, and it’s pretty clear she wasn’t bullied as a child. There’s nothing wrong with teaching children to respect one another and refrain from acts of sadism. Anyone who says otherwise is probably a bully herself.

Update: There is another splendid take-down of Michelle’s worldview over here:

I imagine that Michelle practices what she preaches, and when her children squabble, she has them fight it out with switchblades and Uzis, in order to prepare them to deal with suicide plane-flying Islamimists.


Yahoo settles out of court

(By Raj)

Yahoo settles its China lawsuit

Yahoo has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought against it on behalf of several Chinese dissidents, according to papers filed in a California court. No details have been given of the settlement but Yahoo will be covering legal costs.

The case alleged that Yahoo had provided information to the Chinese government that had then been used to prosecute the dissidents. Yahoo said it had to comply with Chinese laws to operate in the country. A statement released by the World Organization for Human Rights USA, which brought the case, said Yahoo had decided to settle the case following criticism at a US Congressional hearing on 6 November.

It’s clear that Yahoo’s weak excuse that it had to comply with whatever mysterious Chinese law was thrown at it, otherwise known as “some official told me to do X”, wouldn’t hold water in any reasonable court.

Did Yahoo even consider challenging whichever organisation filed the request for the information? Argue it didn’t have to give it under the Chinese Constitution? Demand a formal request from the relevant minister, or whatever? No, of course not. Can’t rock the boat. No obligation to the customers at all. China’s a place without law or due-process, so Yahoo’s blameless.

(Out of curiosity, did Yahoo even say what law they had to comply with? Or was it really a case of “I was told to do X by someone in authority, so I did it without question”?)

Michael Callahan, Yahoo’s executive vice-president and general counsel, then told a congressional panel in February 2006 that he did not know why the Chinese authorities wanted to trace Shi Tao.

At best Callahan made the Chinese wing of his company look like it’s run by a bunch of morons.

Guys, it’s called join the dots. What possible reason could there have been other than to throw him in jail – to give him a prize?! Anyone with a modicum of understanding of China would have known what they wanted to do with that poor guy. The Chinese government focuses its internet attention on finding out who potential “troublemakers” are so that it can silence them. It’s as simple as that.

If was in charge of HR at Yahoo I’d create a new opening to ensure this problem doesn’t occur again.

Job Description
Yahoo seeks advisor to help run its affairs in the People’s Republic of China. Applicants must demonstrate they do not have their head crammed up their backsides and are capable of rationally processing information brought to their attention.

Anyone up for it?

Yes, the only possible answer is that Yahoo (China) – or whoever they are – really don’t know what they’re doing. That, or Mr Callahan lied to Congress. You decide which it was.


Central Heating

It got turned on yesterday. And it makes all the difference in the world.


Why would anyone call her a racist?

Oh, I dunno…

Yes, I know, she’s just showing us a photo of a guy who may well be a rip-off artist. But here’s the thing: all the photos she ever includes of blacks and Muslims and Mexicans are intended to make us think they are either pimps, terrorists or animals, if not a little of each. Minorities are never portrayed in a positive light on her site, at least not minorities with dark skin.


Shanghai Love

I just got back from my eight-day business trip, which included a fascinating four days in Shanghai. Maybe in my earlier trips I hadn’t noticed just how glitzy and glamorous the scene there has become. This time – perhaps because I was there working on a fashion product – it really hit me: you can’t distinguish the people shopping on Rodeo Drive from those on Huaihailu.

Last Sunday morning I sat at a coffee house in the French Concession and began counting the number of passers-by using iPods, wearing designer sunglasses and knee-length Italian boots. It was a fashion show, and the Chinese yuppies seemed even more brand-conscious and willing to shell out vast sums for the latest trends than their expat counterparts (and a lot of the expats seemed quite brand-conscious as well). So, so different from Beijing. Sure, there are some pockets in the city like Sanlitun that are more brand-derangedconscious than others, but all in all Beijing seems to have far different priorities. Which is why I am glad I’m living here. (And it’s not like these are dazzling insightful observations – we all know the Shanghai-vs.-Beijing debates. It’s just that this trip drove home the differences more dramatically than before, and I was somewhat amazed.)

I am sleep-deprived and caught a cold yesterday, but I can’t shut down the PC until I put up this link to an absolutely must-read piece by Chinese author Mao Jian about Shanghai and how it has transformed and become glitzified, its priorities turned upside down compared to the 1980s.

My classmates and I look at one another, heavy with nostalgia. The ’80s swim in front of our eyes, yet we blink and find ourselves in a new century. In the ’80s, all was quiet by 8 p.m. The old man at his dumpling cart and the old lady selling eggs poached in green tea had quit their hawking. That’s what passed for nightlife. By 9 p.m., everyone was in bed. Now the fun starts at 9 p.m.

Shanghai is once again leading China. And in Shanghai, life gravitates toward the night; consumption follows not far behind. If you close before 10 p.m., you don’t qualify as a major establishment. Of course, there are plenty of places to go after 10 — cafes, bars, nightclubs. No wonder friends who returned after living overseas in the 1990s exclaimed, “Wow, look at how decadently you live!”

Before, we took our dates to a public park — entrance fee: a penny — and simply strolled the night away. Now the soiree extend from restaurant to movie theater to coffee shop, and you’d better be prepared to shell out $150. To be modern is the highest goal in life, and today’s interpretation of modernity means a Shanghai babe wearing Calvin Klein underwear. The whole of China follows in the footsteps of Shanghai. We’re giving our 5,000 years of history a facelift; time to lighten up and move on.

And be sure to read through to the end where Mao Jian writes about what the cash-oriented Shanghai psyche has done to the traditional concepts of love, when a woman seeking to get rich by sticking her claws into a foreigner was scorned and derided. 180 degrees. Now she’s put on a pedestal.

It’s a funny article that’s really quite sad. I love Shanghai for a weekend. I am really glad I chose not to live there. At this point in my life, that’s not the kind of place I belong. (In fact, I doubt there’s any point in my life at which I belonged in a place like Shanghai.) This trip made me appreciate Beijing more than ever before. Despite the torturous winter.



It’s 1am and I am still at the office in Shanghai, waiting for a client to approve a press release. So in my boredom, I just checked the stock market, and noticed that gold is now up 31 percent from when I recommended buying it in January. In that thread and especially in this thread, I took a lot of heat for daring to suggest the US dollar had no where to go but down and that gold would inevitably go up. “You are a fool” was one of the more memorable comments. At the time, commenter Kenzhu placed a bet with me that I was wrong when I said gold would be up ten percent within six months. And I lost that bet – it took eight months. And now, 10 months later, its up 31 percent.

As I said in those earlier threads, I am a dilettante and have no qualifications as an economist or fortune teller. But this wasn’t, in my eyes, a matter of economics, but simply of common sense in light of the collapse of our housing market coupled with a similar if less dramatic catastrophe in our auto industry, all further exacerbated by America’s insane involvement in two wars with no way to pay for them. Combine that with quietly creeping inflation and you have the perfect storm.

Gold isn’t the only way to go. Stocks (some of them, at least) will probably rise too, as the markets are flooded with liquidity as the Fed desperately drops interest rates. But for now, gold, precious metals and foreign currencies are where I am putting my money. Gold will be over a thousand within six months at the latest. But then, what do I know?


2008 US Presidential election update

For anyone with poor eye-sight, this was written by Raj – Richard is on blog-writing leave.

The Washington Post leads with the following article on the Democrat race.

Obama Criticizes Clinton’s Drive to Win

Sen. Barack Obama leveled a fresh round of criticism at Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday, accusing his rival for the Democratic nomination of following a campaign plan that prizes calculation over candor and that is aimed more at winning the election than uniting the country.

Obama used a speech in Spartanburg, S.C., to sharpen his differences with the Democratic front-runner and to frame the choices before voters a year ahead of the 2008 election. Calling the senator from New York “a colleague and a friend,” Obama nonetheless cast Clinton as representative of a style of politics that has been better for the politicians than the country.

I’ve read the “drive to win” criticism before. Is this a media invention, or what Clinton’s opponents have effectively accused her of? Because I’m not sure that’s a good slogan. Politicians want to win and will do whatever they can that thinks will gain them more votes than lose them. Of course you need to be consistent in your policies and believe in them, but accusing someone of wanting to win is daft. I’m not sure Obama used that term, but if the Post considers itself his supporter (not sure whether it does or doesn’t but the article is rather one-sided) it should not repeat it.

Anyway, whatever Clinton’s critics throw at her it doesn’t seem to work in turning the voters against her. The Times reports with this piece.

Clinton puts her war room on attack

One poll taken after last week’s debate showed Clinton extending her lead over Obama, which already averaged 45% to 22%. Her rivals are in a bind: every punch by Clinton proves her toughness, while every jab by them can be portrayed as a sign of their desperation to win.

Certainly reminding people of the (Bill) Clinton years isn’t terribly bright (which is what Obama did according to the Post article), given from what I understand a lot of Democrats see it as a good era economically, socially, foreign-policy wise, etc. This rather demonstrates Obama’s inexperience to me. Even if there is something negative from a previous administration, if it was generally thought of as good don’t bring it up – that’s a free tip for the senator from me.

Now we switch to the Republicans, with some interesting news from angus-reed.com.

Republicans 2008: Giuliani 31%, McCain 18%

Rudy Giuliani remains the top presidential contender for Republican Party supporters in the United States, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. 31 per cent of respondents would support the former New York City mayor in a 2008 primary.

Arizona senator John McCain is second with 18 per cent, followed by actor and former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson with 17 per cent, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney with nine per cent, and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee with eight per cent.

Although it is not surprising to see Giuliani at the front, it is interesting that McCain has just squeezed back into second (according to A-R at least). Does he have too much left to do, or could he still get the nomination? Certainly Thompson has not shown himself to be real presidential material – having a film-star profile does not equate to being seen as a great politician. As much as I love Patrick Stewart for his Shakespearian acting (plus as Captain Picard), I’m not sure I’d be happy to vote for him in an election. Giuliani is vulnerable in that he can’t use the 9/11 thing to win against someone like Clinton. Indeed that seems to be a part of McCain’s platform.

McCain charts Rudy’s inelectability on a map

Following on his analysis of next year’s general election, John McCain’s campaign has released this poll showing how he stacks up with Rudy Giuliani in a hypothetical general election race against Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Unlike his fake election article predicting victory over Clinton, his campaign’s own map shows him trailing her in enough key states to lose the election. But McCain’s argument is that he can compete with her better than Giuliani, winning in Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky and running closer in Minnesota, Michigan and Missouri.

Most Republicans, I’m sure, will be realistic in thinking they’ll have to face her rather than Obama or Edwards. Stephen Dinan points to a state like New Jersey where Giuliani could challenge Clinton, but I’m not sure he’d be able to win it.

Out of all the Republican candidates it appears McCain would do best against Clinton. He is the oldest candidate and some ultra-right Christians et al are unsure of his “conservative” values. But what do they want more – their views unequivacably supported, or seeing someone at least generally right-wing beat Clinton into the White House?

From what I’ve seen McCain could appeal to the undecided/wavering group of voters that may tip the balance in enough states. His candicacy bid may depend on what Republicans want more – a candidate they like and try to force on the rest of the country (Giuliani), or a candidate they’re unsure about but has more appeal to different types of voters (McCain). Sometimes, if you really want to win, you have to hold your nose whilst voting. The question is, are there enough nose-pegs to go around?


The Washington Post has published a poll that also shows McCain moving into second place behind Giuliani and ahead of Thompson.


Traveling for 10 days

It’s off to Shanghai and the suburbs of Guangzhou for what promises to be another sleep-deprived week of media activities. Will be in Shanghai through Thursday afternoon, then to Dongguan through the weekend. Sorry for the inevitable radio silence to come.