Dracil’s BlogJournal

June 3, 2009

20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square and the Chinese censors are running amok



Those are the two main articles to look at.  The funny thing is, while trying to post these links on Xiaonei, I ran into some interesting censorship.

The link to the second URL, the google spreadsheet link inside it, a tinyurl link to the spreadsheet, and the words “tiananmen” and “中国网站维护日” all cause the following error to pop up:


Edit: Looks like even “June 4” and “20th” is blocked.

August 10, 2008

Gold medals

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dracil @ 1:33 am

As expected, the host country (China) has the lead in gold medals.  I’m guessing a lot of the host country advantage is due to not having to suffer from jet lag problems.

August 9, 2008

Olympics Opening Ceremony

Filed under: Controversy, events, News — Tags: , , , — dracil @ 1:51 am

Was actually really cool.  It also looked really really expensive, especially that gigantic rollable LCD screen.  Watching it made me want to watch some period pieces, because of the historical aspect.  Coordination was pretty impressive as well.

I had considered getting up at 5AM to watch it earlier, but decided against it, plus I knew I couldn’t really get up anyway at that time.  But NBC broadcasted it at the same time here so that’s what I watched.  The commercials at least were interesting.  I just watched until Taiwan’s team appeared in the march of nations and turned it off after that.

May 27, 2008

Welcome to 1984. Welcome to the 2008 Beijing Olympics

That’s right, your ticket to the 2008 Beijing Olympics now includes a free bonus gift!  A mandatory tour of George Orwell’s 1984!

Some of the many attractions of this brand new amusement park include:

  • “Tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies are embedded with a microchip containing the bearer’s photograph, passport details, addresses, e-mail and telephone numbers.”
  • “Thousands of closed-circuit TV cameras”
  • The very real possibility of identity theft
  • A cool game you can play with friends called, “Guess which ticket is whose?” with hilarious penalties like “Denied Admission” or “Standing in a huge long line”
  • If you’d prefer something with a bit more thrill, you can even play “Spot the undercover security officials”

Don’t lose or throw away your tickets either.  That’s a heckuva lot of information on them for random strangers to have.

Man, I can’t wait to go to the Olympics!  Oh, wait, I’m not going.  :(

April 29, 2008

The Han Man’s Burden

This thought came to me while I was thinking about some things I had read about Tibet and China recently.

It really feels that China is basically going through the same motions of European Imperialism a couple centuries ago, and they even make the same sort of White Man’s Burden-type arguments to justify their actions. Note here that I am not saying that Tibet is a colony. Though the implications of having something like a host-colony relationship while not actually being a host and colony is pretty damning in itself.

One of the arguments pro-Chinese people love to bring up is how much money their government has spent on Tibet in an effort to modernize it. Oh look, their economy is all better. That’s all great and wonderful from the outside, but how many of you have actually asked a Tibetan, is this what you want? I’d hazard to guess, probably none of you. No, this is a case of, we know what’s best for you, so you better damn well accept it. Pretty much the same thing all the colonial powers said to the countries they had taken over. Your religion is poo, ditch your false idol and worship the True God (or no god). Your ancient shrines and temples are blasphemous and a tie to the past, let’s destroy them (or make them tourist attractions). Your language is unworthy, learn OUR language! Oh stop complaining. Who cares about your self identity. You are [colonial power’s people] now! Oh, fine, you can keep your traditional dancing and singing so we can show the outside world a token bit of your culture, all nicely commercialized and boxed up for the tourists and cameras.

Sound familiar?

I’m actually reminded of the movie 300 now, as Xerxes unsuccessfully tries to get Leonidas to kneel before him. “All I want is some earth and water, as a token of your submission. Kneel to us, and all will be yours.” It’s the same thing. Denounce the Dalai Lama, accept you are Chinese (though a tiny, insignificant minority) and you will have a wonderful life.

Oh, I’m sure you can find some random anecdotes from happy Tibetans. The ones who had it bad and now have it good (isn’t that always the case? Though unfair, I’m reminded of Ephialtes). But what about the majority? Only they can truly answer this question. I’d actually be interested in an anonymous poll of all the Tibetans in Tibet (excluding all the non-Tibetans) asking their views on the Dalai Lama, modernization, the preservation/destruction of their culture, etc. Why anonymous? Because I doubt they’d be able to give their honest opinion if giving a negative opinion means they will be subject to “patriotic re-education.” Seriously, what other country in the world still does that now besides China and maybe some dictatorships and theocracies?

Another thing is how a lot of pro-China people like to say, oh we have 56 ethnic groups, and we’re all Chinese!!!! Um, yeah, that’s easy to say when you are part of the 92% Han majority. It’s stupid, dishonest, and embarrassing to pretend there aren’t problems unless the minorities agree there aren’t any problems. And by that, I mean they can say that without fear of reprisal. It’s not just the Tibetans either, take the Turkic Uighurs in Xinjiang for example. I like how the top political officer of Unit 150, who I assume is Han, said it was like the “American West”. I’m not sure that’s the comparison he really wanted to be making, as the result of the “American West” wasn’t pretty for the natives. As one Uighur put it when asked about the government, “I can’t tell you the truth. It would be illegal.”

The Chinese really need to stop copying all the mistakes made by Western countries.

April 23, 2008

Pecha Kucha Night San Francisco

Filed under: personal — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — dracil @ 11:33 pm

I first learned about this the other day when my coworkers were talking about it at lunch.  It was created by a couple people from Klein-Dytham Architecture in Tokyo.  The word itself is the sound of chatter in Japanese.

The idea is simple.  It begins at 20:20.  You have 20 slides.  You have 20 seconds each.  You must give your presentation on whatever topic you want that’s related to the night’s theme.  That’s it.  It’s basically a way to get through a lot of presentations in a very rapid manner.

Not sure about other Pecha Kucha’s but this particular one was held inside a bar.  So not my type of place.  Mainly ’cause I don’t drink.  Oh sure, one day I’ll poison myself with yeast piss, but tonight wasn’t the night.

Anyway, there were only five presentations tonight.  The theme was “Then” because last month’s theme was “If”.

The first presentation was by Lorenzo Hinojosa, and his presentation was basically about photographing people, and how the act of photography puts you outside the event, and how it also pulls the people you’re photographing outside the event too when they notice they’re being photographed.

The second was by Andy Proehl, whose presentation was on different maps.  His stuff is on flickr under the tag amproehlmaps,  Since a lot of my visitors seem to be interseted in the China/Tibet issue, you may want to see his piece, A Political Map of China & Tibet.  He also called it China Over Tibet.

The third presentation was by Alberto Villarreal, about his now-dead website, algorritmo.com.  I think he said it was “algorithms” and “rhythm” in Spanish.  There was a slide about it being Math+English, but basically there were a bunch of two word themes, like Time & Space, Grid/Organisms, Time * Digital, and people submitted art pieces representing the theme.  You can still see bits of the site on the Internet Archive and the search results from Google Images.  He also has another website over at zanicdesign.com

There was a water break here and I met up with my coworkers where we discussed geeky topics such as how to run a dating site (use a Stable Marriage algorithm) and chess AI and chess grandmasters.  You know, engineer talk.  :P

After that, it was presentation four, by Franxisco Poncé Jr, who had a narrative to go with drawings he made to cope with his grandfather’s death in 1990.

Finally, the last presentation was by Paul Jamtgaard, who talked about mass transit systems, from how bad monorails are to cars on rails systems.  His solution was what he called the “Beehive” which is based on the ability for planes to refuel each other in flight at 400mph.  The idea is there would be “Hive” vehicles on the freeways, and cars would be “Bees”.  A car/driver could figure out when the next Hive was going towards whatever direction they want, then time themselves to get on the freeway at the approximate time, then basically dock to the Hive using the same guidance systems planes use for fueling.  Since cars should be using electricities, you could either pay for your ride by allowing the Hive to draw “honey” (electricty) from your car that was charged from home, or you could pay with money.

All in all, it was a fun experience.  A couple of my coworkers will probably present next time too.

You can learn more about it at http://www.pecha-kucha.org/ or its wikipedia entry.

April 22, 2008

Chinese taxi refuses frenchmen and dogs

Filed under: Controversy — Tags: , , , , , , , — dracil @ 10:51 pm

Well done, China, well done.  Way to show the world your maturity.  Truly another case of Freedom Fries (did you guys not learn from the Americans that this sort of stuff is just silly?)

Anyway, since I’m on the topic, and people seem to be really interested in the Wang Qianyuan incident, there’s an article by her on the Washington Post called Caught in the Middle, Called a Traitor.

That’s the other thing.  It seems like the Chinese have started calling anyone with remotely dissenting opinions as traitors.  That is not a light claim to make.  In the US, being convicted of treason carries the death penalty, and this is true for a lot of countries.  Are you sure what she did really merits accusing her of a crime that if taken seriously would mean death?  Truly a witch hunt.

April 20, 2008

The witch hunt for Wang Qianyuan

Filed under: Controversy — Tags: , , , , — dracil @ 2:09 am

No sooner did I finish writing my last post, then I find out about Wang Qianyuan (王千源).

I think I’ll start with the Washington Post article since it’s the most readable so you can understand the basic gist of what’s going on.  Basically, a Chinese girl attends a Free Tibet Protest which leads to extreme harassment.  Forget the Washington Post’s “the comments about Wang are mostly unprintable.”  Go read them yourself at the Global Voices Online article or watch this video:

It’s a modern witch hunt.  The irony is that the things people are saying about her reflect much more badly on the Chinese people than anything she’s said or done.

BTW, here’s the interview she gave.

The more things change…

Filed under: Controversy — Tags: , , , — dracil @ 1:36 am

Reading all these Chinese people talk about Tibet/Western media bias is actually rather interesting.  In fact, it reminds me of the very reaction conservative Americans had when people criticized the US over Iraq not that long ago.

I mean, they’ve even gotten to the point where they’re calling for boycotts of Western products.  Remember Freedom Fries anyone?  Instead of cries of “Why do you hate America?” and “Get out of our country” we get “Why do you hate China?” and “Free Iraq/American Indians”

On the whole though, I think the Chinese aren’t as bad as the Americans were, or at least they’ve toned it down a little.  When it first started though, it was definitely incredibly racist and filled with emotions and defensiveness.  I think a lot of it was because they kept showing me the following video, somehow thinking it would convince me of their position:

It actually had the opposite effect.  All I could get from the video was how condescending and full of mistakes it had.  The liberal cussing in the video did not help either.

It wasn’t until I went to the Free Tibet Protest in SF that my views softened a little.  Ironically, the people I talked to that made me a little more accepting were not Chinese.  One was American.  One was originally from HK who emphatically said “It’s not my government” with regards to the CCP.  The Pro Tibet people weren’t as interested in a dialogue, and even tried to get these people to go away.  Not cool.

Since then it’s been back and forth.  I’ve had one friend asking people who didn’t support the Olympics to remove her from their contact list.  Another friend said she would always support the government (which I find an absurd position to take).  Both acts annoyed me, especially the first one.  On the other hand, I have seen some reasonable stuff.  In particular I was struck by the reactions the Chinese had on what Tibetan students were saying.

I think what I’m trying to say is, you guys have demonstrated that you are certainly capable of calm, rational discussions.  So lay off the nationalism, defensiveness, and especially the conspiracy theories.  They do nothing but hurt your position.

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