James Fallows on Rock Paper Tiger

This is nice.


It’s a mystery/action novel that pretty much pulls off something I would have thought improbable: combining an account of Iraq-war drama (the emphasis is on Abu Ghraib-type themes), with a portrayal of the urban China of these past few years, complete with overhyped art scene, dissident bloggers, lots of young expats, and constant uncertainty about what the government will permit or crack down on. Along the way, lots about the online gaming world that often seems the main passion of youthful Chinese, especially males.

It’s short; read it all.

The Discussion: 13 Comments


I have so much respect for James Fallows — this is particularly meaningful to me! (along with your review, in all seriousness)

June 14, 2010 @ 3:56 am | Comment

Good job guys 😀

June 14, 2010 @ 4:14 am | Comment

I Believe Life In North Korea Is Not Nearly As Miserable As the American Media Claims

I was watching this program on North Korea from CNN, describing the “brutality” and “dictatorship” of the Kim Jung Il “Regime”. If you say they are a brutal regime, then there must be some executions, some evidence on brutal torture such as “tiger seats”, “chilli pepper”, “bamboo nails”, “electrical penis”, or the American specialty “water boarding”. But when this program refers to torture in North Korea, it failed to give any direct evidence, and only used very vague descriptions like “very scary”, “very horrible”, “very very horrible”, “very very very horrible”, etc.

The American torture of Iraqis had pictures, videos, names. But this program only had some witnesses who fled from North Korea, and those witnesses of course were trying to describe their “horrible” experiences as strongly as they can. But I realize they could not give any concrete examples with any names, any pictures, any real places. For example, they could not say “I have this relative whose name was xxxx, this uncle whose name was xxx, and he was executed last year”. They could not produce these direct evidence. But can only give generalized and abstract descriptions and even with their faces and voices blurred. Why are you so naive as to easily believe those?

Even if it were true, does North Korea not have criminals, not have murderers. What if they are real murderes, say they murdered a family and raped their children, and then fled North Korea under the cover of “victims of the brutal regime of North Korea” and they know the American government, society, and especially the media loves those stories. Will a murderer who fled his country and wants to stay in another country do anything less than to describe his experience back home as hell? Will he say “No no no , you are wrong, I actually was very happy back home. No no no ,this is not the case, there was actually no famine, and my family was well-nourished. No no no, we actually have this and that freedom.” He must be crazy to say those things. Instead, he will of course ” Oh my god, do not send my home, my entire family were executed, and if you send me back I will be too. Oh my god, life back home was much worse than you think. Every week Kim Jung Il eats a baby picked from a family.” And a media like CNN, even if they know those North Koreans may be exaggerating or even completely lying, they would not care – they would still go ahead and conduct this interview and broadcast. Because it’s politically safe. NO one dares to question claims of North Korea being bad. There’s no way you can over-state the badness and be challenged, no one will be crazy enough to challenge you. And you can reinforce the negative image of your ideological enemy. So why not broadcast it?

Many people think the famine in North Korea means its a failed state, its government is evil, etc. Famine, if any, only means its food production was not ideal. North Korea is smaller in size than an average Chinese province. A Chinese province, during times of food shortage, can easily import food from other provinces to help itself. But can North Korea import food? No. Why? Because the US placed an embargo on it and has always been the US foreign policy to completely economically blockade North Korea. I believe if there are mass deaths happening in North Korea due to food shortage, it can be 100% blamed on the United States food embargo. In other words, it is the policy of the US to starve as many people to death in North Korea as possible. Is this not genocide?

Tomorrow, North Korea will definitely win, definitely.

June 15, 2010 @ 12:20 pm | Comment

Math, what would we do without you?

June 15, 2010 @ 1:17 pm | Comment

I wonder when “a Chinese province” will independently try to attain nuclear weapons, or sink a foreign country’s warship.

Oh, and North Korean refugees are “murderers”. Nice work, Math.

June 15, 2010 @ 2:02 pm | Comment

Burn in hell, math.

June 15, 2010 @ 6:52 pm | Comment

“Tomorrow, North Korea will definitely win, definitely.”

Puts the rest of your piece in question, doesn’t it? 😉

June 16, 2010 @ 6:10 am | Comment

Juche, Math. Juche.

June 16, 2010 @ 1:48 pm | Comment

This is not the thread I anticipated when I put up this post.

June 16, 2010 @ 2:24 pm | Comment

C’mon, Rich. Something new from Math.

I will make an effort to get hold of Lisa’s book when time and finance permit. If Fallows is to go by (a good chance) I think I’ll enjoy the read.

June 16, 2010 @ 3:04 pm | Comment

The first two chapters have been a blast to read. After having just finished and throughly enjoyed “Country Driving” and “Oracle Bones” Lisa’s novel is a wonderful change of style. Every page I read I find myself nodding about some similar experience I’ve had or observation I’ve made. I’m looking forward to finishing the novel in the next couple of days. Well done!

June 17, 2010 @ 1:54 am | Comment

Glad you’re enjoying, and thanks for the reminder — I have a B&N gift card and I really need to get Country Driving!

June 17, 2010 @ 2:28 am | Comment

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