December 24, 2007

Olympic Blogs, How to Avoid Harmonization?/奥运博客如何躲避和谐化?

Filed under: China,Internet,Politics — ricecracker @ 9:51 am

我上个周五 (2007.12.21) 在清华大学发了演讲。下面是演讲稿:

上个星期一,国际奥委会发布了新的规定说北京奥运会期间参加比赛的运动员可以开个人博客。 从奥运关注者的角度来看,这肯定是好事情,会让奥运的内容更丰富,更有趣。但是从运动员的角度来看,有一个危险之处:因为中国政府担心奥运博客有可能“导致不实谣言在互联网上蔓延和传播”,所以国际奥委会的官员说他们不反对对运动员的博客进行详细调查。

也就实说参加奥运比赛并想开个人博客的运动员需要深入考虑一道难题:什么样的博客内容会引起中央宣传部的关注?众所周知,中国是一个科学发展,饮食一流,重视环保的礼仪之邦。那么假设你在博客上写一片文章说你在北京遭遇了交通堵塞或者看到当地人随地吐谈,或者说你觉得空气质量不理想乃至不喜欢中国的菜,你是不是传播不实的谣言?你的博客会不会受到有关部门的调整?

很明显在北京写博客不一定能随心所欲。如果你象明星一样只是想把博客当作个人日记的话——告诉大家自己的电影,最喜欢的颜色等等--当然不成问题。但是如果你想以博客来传播你对社会问题的观点或者批评奥运会的某一个方面,那就是另外一种错综复杂的事情。

虽然许多第二种博客在中国都被关了—或者说被和谐了–但是运动员不用担心。有一名阅历比较深的专家,笔名叫寰平,已经把一个躲避和谐化的原则挖掘出来了,大家都可以学习一下。

寰平挖出的这个躲避和谐化的原则是四个字的原则?这四个字是:放烟雾弹。换一句话说,需要用各种各样的障眼法来掩饰博客的指向,从而逃脱有关部门的关注。

那应该放什么样的烟雾弹,用什么样的障眼法呢?寰平提出了好几个秘诀,其中最实用的有三个:1)讽刺和幽默;2)绕弯子;3)装傻。

(more…)

November 19, 2007

The dark side of Green China/绿色中国的阴暗面

Filed under: China,Environment — ricecracker @ 11:24 am

最近几天我一直在看老虎苗的 《西行笔记》,其中给我留下最深刻的影响的就是 ”石生活“ 的故事。让我反思的不单单是村里人遭遇的水污染问题,更是这一部分:

我们这里早先都是羊场,只养羊、牛、马、骡子,养了羊就钱也有了,肉也有了,连穿的盖的都出在羊身上。就说你盖的这床被子就装的是羊毛,铺的也是,羊毛比棉花便宜。现在不成了,退耕还林后,草场给封了,羊只能圈羊,圈养没有草咋办,就偷着夜里赶羊到沟沟里去吃点,平时白天羊就圈着,顶多在村子里转转,把墙角角的草都吃光了。不敢去草场上放呀,有林业局的草原警察查,查到了一只就罚30元,谁还敢放?

这样的情况并不是罕见的。2006年6月,我陪了一群北大环保科学院的研究生去内蒙古的啊拉善盟进行调查,其目的就是研究防止沙漠化蔓延的方式。离开校园时,我们似乎都赞成 “退耕还林” 这个政策,认为是势在必行的。但是到了啊拉善,采访了当地的牧民以后,我们的想法都有所 改动 改变。 我们所采访的牧民象老虎苗的石伯一样对退耕还林有怨言,说他们现在无法生存了。

为了保护环境,是不是要牺牲一部分老百姓的命?

不是。回北京以后,我采访了一位美国的环保专家,问上述的情况应该怎么处理,他说中国政府采取的这样一刀切的办法其实会使得啊拉善之类贫瘠地区的环境更 毁坏 退化。实际上,放牧对草原有一定的好处,就是必须采取符合当地条件的可持续方式。

问题是,当地政府愿意不愿意落实那么”复杂“的政策?

November 15, 2007

Rice Cracker 2.0/混血儿的新时期

Filed under: China — ricecracker @ 9:35 am

The decision has been made to resurrect this blog in another language. Starting today, Rice Cracker will appear exclusively in Chinese. The decision was made in light of two facts: 1) your correspondent already has an English-language blog elsewhere; and 2) your correspondent’s Chinese is in dire need of improvement. I don’t expect anyone to suffer through this with me, except my Chinese instructor, who is being paid to read what I write here. In the event you are masochistic or just plain bored enough to try to decipher my musings in Mandarin, please remember I’m only a half-breed.

《混血儿》死灰复燃了。从今天起,本网站要从名存实亡的英文博客向定期更新的中文博客转轨,其原因是:1)笔者已有另外一个英文博客;2)笔者的中文真的很糟糕, 需要多练习。除了没有选择的中文老师以外,我估计没有他人会愿意看我所写的中文文章。如果你愿意看的话,请你高抬贵手,毕竟我只是个混血儿…

July 20, 2006

From the state-run press, candor at last

Filed under: China,Travel — ricecracker @ 10:05 am

Following appeared today on the English website of the Party’s mouthpiece newspaper, People’s Daily:

Better not to piss in diaper in space, says China’s first spaceman

“Better not to piss in diaper,” said China’s first man in space, “Baby doesn’t like it, neither does an adult.”

Senior Colonel Yang Liwei of the Chinese astronaut brigade told a curious audience who questioned Yang about his experience in the country’s first space mission, Shenzhou-5, in October 2003.

So far, Yang and other two Chinese astronauts who flied the second space mission in October 2005, had never pissed in a diaper, though they all wore it at the time. There was a toilet in the spaceship, but it could not be used before the spaceship entered the orbit.

“Astronaut does a very hard job, but it is also a job that makes us feel very proud,” said Yang, at a seminar of the current 36th Committee on Space Research Scientific Assembly on Wednesday.

Full text of the article is here. The rest is just propaganda, although not without its amusements (To wit: “When the spaceship entered the outerspace, I saw my beautiful homeland,” he said to recall his first space mission, “I was shocked by the view”).

July 2, 2006

Qinghai-Tibet railway: botched protest, and an English timetable

Filed under: China,Politics,Travel — ricecracker @ 8:48 am

Much hype and media coverage right now surrounding the first ever Beijing-Lhasa train journey, which set out from Beijing yesterday. But the best story has so far nabbed only a sentence in Alexa Olesen’s story on the voyage for AP:

On Friday, three protesters from the United States, Canada and Britain were detained after unfurling a banner at Beijing’s main train station reading, “China’s Tibet Railway, Designed to Destroy.”

Never mind that the train left from a different station. According to a fellow journalist I talked to yesterday, the sign they displayed was in English, not Chinese. They apparently climbed to the top of the station to display it, but no one noticed them because they didn’t say anything. Just stood there silently. And when the calvary arrived—a single policeman, according to my source—they submitted with equal aplomb, quietly rolling up the banner and walking obediently behind the cop to be interrogated.

Real protests have been going on elsewhere, to which the government has responded predictably:

The official Xinhua News Agency lashed out at critics, calling them hypocrites who want Tibet to remain undeveloped and a “stereotyped cultural specimen for them to enjoy.”

Yet one detects just the slightest enjoyment of Tibet as a “stereotyped cultural specimen” in effusive coverage of the trip from the Chinese press. Take the the Beijing News (新京报). The once-rebellious but lately compliant paper led this morning with a front page photo of a 54-year-old Tibetan woman named Qiangba Dama (Chinese transliteration) riding the train in a full complement of traditional garb, smiling beatifically as she eats from a boxed lunch, so so happy to be on her “first ever” train ride!

For those who want to see for themselves what a happy minority are the Tibetans, Duncan Peattie has just produced a fine English translation of the train timetable with prices for major destinations. The less user-friendly Chinese original is here.

July 1, 2006

Back in action + Secrets of the GFW revealed

Filed under: China,Great Firewall,Politics — ricecracker @ 9:14 am

Rice Cracker managed to get itself blocked by the Great Firewall after only its first breath outside the womb. Not sure why or how, but the problem’s been fixed with a move to a new IP address.

While it probably doesn’t clear up the Rice Cracker story, some good firewall-related news out of England: Researchers at Cambridge have reportedly discovered how China accomplishes automatic blocking of web pages that contain counterrevolutionary keywords. Andrew Lih, a new media researcher at the University of Hong Kong, explains it in lay terms:

…the simple explanation is that the GFW sends a “TCP reset” packet to both the web server supplying the suspicious page and to the client (ie. your computer) loading it. It’s the equivalent of an “emergency stop” packet usually reserved for situations of bad connectivity so that both sides know to disconnect abruptly.

Lih goes onto to marvel at the system’s simplicity:

GFW operators could use off-the shelf Cisco (or whatever) routers with no modified firmware whatsoever, and just have a set of machines sit on the side detecting keywords, and sending out “TCP resets.” Simple, effective, and with a low impact for network engineering.

This raises the interesting possiblity that Cisco’s claims it hasn’t actively colluded with the CCP in choking off Chinese people’s information supply might actually true. Or more true, at any rate. [Although it doesn't get them off the hook for reaping profits out of the whole odious operation.]
More importantly, the use of TCP reset packets means that banned information gets through into China, all the way to the front porch of your browser, before your computer slams the door in its face. The solution, at least in theory, is as simple as the problem: tell your computer to be more hospitable (i.e., ignore TCP reset orders). Lih points out a catch: Both Web servers and client must be programmed to do this, so builders of major operating systems would have to get on board. Mabye unlikely, but still, score one against bad guys.

The reasearchers–Richard Clayton, Steven Murdoch and Robert Watson–go into more detail on their own blog (with a downloadable PDF of their original report).

May 28, 2006

On the Chinese factory beat

Filed under: China,Economy — ricecracker @ 10:46 pm

Fine a job as Isabel Hilton did a covering conditions in Chinese factories for Granta last year, The Onion appears to have one-upped her:

“Chinese Employers To Grant 15-Minute Maternity Break”

DONGGUAN, CHINA—In response to international criticism of Chinese workplace inequity and labor rights, China’s National Labor Committee agreed Monday to establish an unpaid 15-minute break during the regular 18-hour workday, to allow pregnant women to “expel the child from their body, adjust to being a new parent, wash their hands, and return to work.”

…Initial response among female workers has been positive, with most women preferring the new rule over the old one, which stipulated that the newborn child must remain where it lands on the floor until the woman’s shift ends.

“Even though this maternity break means I will lose three of my 12 cents for that hour, it will be worth it just to hold my baby in my arms for a few precious seconds,” said pregnant seamstress Yuen Yin, 19, just after her factory’s quitting whistle blew at 2:47 a.m

…The Labor Committee also instituted an incentive plan granting a 40-cent bonus to any employee expecting a daughter who opts to use her 15 minutes to receive an abortion in the factory’s storage closet.

The question is, will any of the Chinese press pick this up, like the Beijing Evening News did in 2002 with an Onion report that US Congress was planning to move to a new building in Memphis with a retractable roof and more concession stands?