December 24, 2007
我上个周五 (2007.12.21) 在清华大学发了演讲。下面是演讲稿：
November 19, 2007
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：
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。
November 15, 2007
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.
July 20, 2006
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
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
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
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?