Singles' Day, or 光棍节, began as a joke holiday invented by some lonely Chinese college students, an anti-Valentine's Day on which singles could either revel in their singledom or double down on attempts to hook up. November 11th was chosen for the date because of a simple visual pun on the slang term for bachelor: a "bare stick," symbolized by the date 11/11. But in a few short years, this joke holiday has become the biggest retail sales day on Earth, surpassing Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. So, what do all the 'bare sticks' do on Singles' Day? It varies. Aside from eating four stick-shaped foods to symbolize the date, you could try one of these 11 ideas from Beijinger. Or watch this bizarre condom ad, featuring a compilation of animals having air sex.
"By figuratively sticking her foot in America’s front door and keeping it wedged there long enough for an anonymous band of war-tossed Mongols to navigate around daunting racial barriers, Countess Tolstoy not only became the architect of the Mongol “invasion” of New Jersey and the country’s first ethnic Mongolian community, she also served as the midwife for the birth of Tibetan Buddhism in America." -- tells the amazing story of how a small band of Kalmyk Mongols (all WWII Wehrmacht veterans) established Tibetan Buddhism in America, as told by David Urubshurow, who was one of them. Featuring Leo Tolstoy's youngest daughter, Cold War CIA and Ivy League intrigues, how the Dalai Lama came to America and why this was only possible under president Carter and more.
According to an article in the South China Morning Post, "fog" in Northern China is so bad that the government is finding it interferes with surveillance cameras. (via Quartz.com and mefi's own @ftrain)
Channel C WISC is a YouTube channel where UW-Madison undergrads from China talk about the experience of being Chinese at a big public American university, with the aim of both helping newly arrived international students understand what's going on around them, and helping American students have some sense of what's going on with their Chinese classmates. Videos include "Why Chinese Students Don't Party,", "Chinese Names,", "Pretty Chinese Women", "Who are the Chinese Second Generation Rich?", "Why Chinese Students Don't Speak English," and many more.
With 53 self-immolations since 2009, these Chinese villagers might bring to mind the self-immolation by Tibetans, but the Chinese villagers are highlighting a different issue. The rapid urbanization of China is having a number of impacts across the country, with rural communities being demolished to build new urban centers. While many people are moving from rural farms to cities to find more lucrative jobs, some are fighting back to keep their rural communities intact, or to retain their family farms. When other options are gone, desperate villagers turn to self-immolation (NPR). [more inside]
In a remote corner of the South China Sea, 105 nautical miles from the Philippines, lies a submerged reef the Filipinos call Ayungin. In most ways it resembles the hundreds of other reefs, islands, rock clusters and cays that collectively are called the Spratly Islands. But Ayungin is different. In the reef’s shallows there sits a forsaken ship, manned by eight Filipino troops whose job is to keep China in check... It was hard to imagine how such a forsaken place could become a flash point in a geopolitical power struggle. Jeff Himmelman (words) and Ashley Gilbertson (images). A Game of Shark and Minnow [SLNYTimes interactive, (calm) autoplaying audio]
Chinese Provinces and Indian States : "local leaders are increasingly running much of India and China, which are home to a third of all humanity, from the bottom up. That is affecting how both countries act in the world, which means that these countries need to be understood from the inside out"
"Putting the kids out front echoed the Chinese depiction of ethnic minorities, regularly represented—as in the 2008 Olympic opening ceremonies—as children. It created a familiar, comfortable world for the majority Han clientele, especially since the kids, unlike their parents, spoke fluent Mandarin. When the back door opened, I sometimes got a glimpse of another world; a cluster of Uighur men and one woman smoking, cooking, and joking in their own language, entirely isolated from the diners." -- James Palmer on the ethnic tensions between Han Chinese and Uighur in Xinjiang.
The RAND Corporation's National Security Research Division has released a 297-page report on the likely consequences of a collapse of the North Korean regime, within the Korean Peninsula, as well as to China, Japan, the US and others (PDF).
Thirteen years ago, about to enter fourth grade, Cheng Cheng was approached by her mother. “I’m not your real mother. I’m just providing for your education up until you finish university. After that, don’t count on my help anymore." [more inside]
Get lost in 75 forum pages full of amazing photography taken in China (Central North China chase Star Travels). The itinerary (You can also step through just the images from the itinerary link and avoid the forum posts. First link processed through Google Translate. This is not photography done by tourists. These guys are good.
Politico: "The U.S. government on Friday approved Shuanghui International Holding’s bid to buy iconic U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods in what would be the biggest Chinese takeover of a U.S. company to date." [more inside]
To a Chinese Scrap-Metal Hunter, America's Trash Is Treasure: Johnson Zeng is a Chinese trader who travels across the U.S. in search of scrap metal. By his estimate, there are at least 100 others like him driving from scrap yard to scrap yard, right now, in search of what Americans won’t or can’t be bothered to recycle. His favorite product: wires, cables, and other kinds of copper. His purchases, millions of pounds of metal worth millions of dollars, will eventually be shipped to China. [more inside]
This country (the Roman Empire) has more than four hundred smaller cities and towns. It extends several thousand li in all directions. The king has his capital (that is, the city of Rome) close to the mouth of a river (the Tiber). The outer walls of the city are made of stone. - A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265 CE, Quoted in zhuan 30 of the Sanguozhi. Published in 429 CE. Draft English translation
For Anting New City, China asked for an idealized theme park of a Teutonic village, but instead they got a modern Bauhaus inspired ghost town. Only about 1,000 people live in this Shanghai mega-suburb that was built to be home to 50,000 residents. (via)
The history of the hamburger could be a relatively short story, or one spanning centuries and continents, depending on how far you disassemble the modern hamburger. If you look for the origins of ground meat between two pieces of bread, that's something American, but where and when exactly is the question. But how did we get the ground meat patty? You can thank the Mongols and Kublai Khan, who brought their ground meat to Russia. Oh, and don't forget the fish sauce! [more inside]
Sometimes if the king of the jungle is not available, then use the next best animal
Ladies and gentleman, presenting the Watermelon Kids of China. That is all.
A Chinese professor, Zhang Lin, has spent years building an actual mountain on top of an apartment building in Beijing, without ever having received a permit for the construction. Ceilings are cracking in the apartments of his downstairs neighbors.
In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
As Harvey Weinstein decides American audiences aren't smart enough for Snowpiercer, Daily Grindhouse writer Ric Meyers takes a poke at The Weinstein Company's troubled history with Asian Cinema.
You've just purchased a meal at a restaurant that offers a salad bar, with the stipulation that you can only take items from it once. How do you get the most out of your one trip? Simple: build a salad tower. [more inside]
"Beijing-based music critic Wang Xiaofeng says that when he heard Lao Qiang for the first time about 18 years ago, it reminded him of heavy metal: very physical and somewhat operatic."
Xiaoou is a Norwegian artist who raps in Mandarin Chinese about income inequality in China, his love for Beijing, and going through a breakup.
For over five years, journalist and TV presenter Ding Yu headed up a massively popular Chinese TV talk show. Every week, She would sit down with convicted murderers and interview them about their life and crimes, before they were taken out and put to death by either firing squad or lethal injection. The show, "Interviews Before Execution", was taken off the air in March 2012. [more inside]
Chen Mingyuan has lived here all his life, but he still gets lost every time he drives into Wenzhou. “All the roads in this town were built by businessmen, so none of them make any sense,” Chen says as we back out of what we just discovered is a one-way street. For the last 30 years, private citizens in this southeastern China metropolis have largely taken over one of the least questioned prerogatives of governments the world over: infrastructure. Is Wenzhou, the richest city in China's richest province, a libertarian paradise?
Basil Pao (鲍皓昕) is a photographer, among other things. He's probably most famous for his involvement with Michael Palin's travel series. He was featured in the fifth episode of Michael Palin's Around the World in 80 Days*. After that, he became the stills photographer for subsequent series of Palin's travels (Pole to Pole, Full Circle, Sahara, Himalaya, New Europe and Brazil, so far). [more inside]
For the sixth year in a row, green algae have invaded the beaches of Quingdao, China (video). This year's algal bloom covers 28,900 km² (about the size of Massachussets or Albania), more than twice the 2008 record (13,000 km²). Bonus: two research papers (PDF) dealing with the identification of the species (Ulva prolifera) and the origin (possibly aquaculture ponds on land) of the 2008 bloom (5 years ago on MeFi).
In an interview with Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, claims that the US is "trying to bully the Hong Kong government" into extraditing him, and provides new documents which describe the NSA's routine hacking of targets in Hong Kong and mainland China since 2009, including regular access of large backbone networks. [more inside]
Nicaragua has awarded a Chinese company a 100-year concession to build an alternative to the Panama Canal. With uncertain costs and impact to the environment, the canal is expected to pass through Lake Nicaragua, and will accomodate ships of 250,000 metric tons- twice the size the Panama Canal will accomodate even after upgrades. This is not the first time a canal through Nicaragua has been attempted. [more inside]
One of the most striking features about daily life in China is how much of what one encounters has been appropriated from elsewhere. It’s not just the fake iPhones or luxury watches . . . . Above all are the physical spaces. . . . New architecture, when it is notable, is nearly always by foreigners or copying foreign styles, a tendency that has led Western architects to flood into China, often with second-rate projects for sale. . . . These are not just individual buildings but entire streetscapes, with cobblestone alleys, faux churches (often used as concert halls), towers, and landscaping designed to reproduce the feel of European and North American cities. The city of Huizhou features a replica of the Austrian village of Hallstatt; while Hangzhou, a city famous for its own waterfront culture, now includes a “Venice Water Town” that has Italian-style buildings, canals, and gondolas. Other cities in China now feature Dutch colonial-style townhouses, German row houses, and Spanish-style developments.Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China from the NYRB blog.
"...For China’s animal welfare advocates, the victory signaled the growing clout of a movement that is frequently derided as bourgeois, frivolous or worse. Its most vociferous opponents paint animal advocates as foreign-financed traitors who would do away with such hallowed Chinese traditions as dog meat hot pot, ivory carving and dried deer penis, consumed to increase virility." - Folk Remedy Extracted From Captive Bears Stirs Furor in China (SL NYTIMES) [more inside]
The WeiboScope - Displays the most widely reposted posts on Weibo with pictures within a 10K user sample with 10,000 or more followers. Combine it with Google Translate and you get an insight into what's being talked about on Weibo! (from the good people at University of Hong Kong's Journalism & Media Studies Centre)
"My intentions here are simple: avoid discussions about what exactly constitutes Chinese photography, evade overwhelming information, and instead visually examine the role that such photographs play in shaping China’s image" (English, French, Chinese). Some whimsical — Alain Delorme Totems, others moving — Song Chao Miners, Migrant workers and Hold.
We've read about Florentijn Hofman's giant rubber duck before (previously), and it made it's way earlier this week to Hong Kong to spread joy :D
Well, unfortunately, the duck was also viciously murdered (warning: may be graphic to younger viewers), and many already blame chinese mainlanders for it. [more inside]
Well, unfortunately, the duck was also viciously murdered (warning: may be graphic to younger viewers), and many already blame chinese mainlanders for it. [more inside]
How Censorship in China Allows Government Criticism but Silences Collective Expression Researchers at Harvard University (Gary King, Jennifer Pan, and Margaret Roberts) have conducted the first large scale analysis of internet censorship in China. Their findings? Criticism of the state is not censored. What is censored, however, are any comments that support collective action or social mobilization. [more inside]
"The Human Rights Record of the U.S. in 2012 is hereby prepared to reveal the true human rights situation of the U.S. to people across the world by simply laying down some facts." Chinadaily.com, among others, has the full text of the report published by The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China. Last year's report on MeFi.
Chako Paul City is a women-only city in the north of Sweden, established in 1820 by a wealthy widow. It is "a place that is respectful of women's love, but with a rule that men cannot enter"; the few who have tried have found themselves beaten half to death by the formidable Amazonian sentries at its gates. It has a castle, and its main industry is forestry, with a sideline in lesbian tourism. Of the 25,000 women, from all over Europe, living in Chako Paul City, those wishing to seek male company are allowed to leave, but may only reenter after having bathed and undertaken several other measures to avoid negatively affecting the mental state of the other residents. [more inside]
Is China covering up another flu pandemic -- or getting it right this time? A long article from Foreign Policy regarding the recent outbreak of H7N9 flu. [readability link]
What makes a sweet street treat even better? Awesome artists. From Southern China, Sugar Painting makes elaborate, edible toffee masterpieces by carefully draping hot sugar onto cool marble. In Chongqing they make super floral sugar floss in a rainbow of colours. This artist from Xian blows hot sugar as if it were glass. From Istanbul, Tarihi Osmanlı Macunu (aka Traditional Ottoman Candy) is made with five different flavors of thick taffy spiraled deftly around a stick, creating a delicious lollipop. Dragon Beard Candy from Thailand is not only tasty but a great way to learn about geometric progression. And while a Thai banana pancake may seem pretty straightforward, there are always ways to jazz it up. [more inside]
"For Ms. Yang, Joy City is not so much a consumer mecca as an urban Serengeti that she prowls for potential wives for some of China’s richest bachelors." [more inside]
North Korea has warned foreign embassies in Pyongyang that it cannot guarantee their safety from the threat of conflict after 10 April, and has advised them to consider pulling their staff out of the capital. This follows North Korea blocking South Korean Workers from the Kaesong industrial complex - a sign that this might be more material than the usual posturing, warning that a 'moment of explosion' is nearing and moving missiles with "considerable range" to its east coast. Though the US is playing down the threat and the UK and Russia have no plans of moving their diplomats the possibility of an accident or miscalculation leading to war looms. North Korea has earned the reprobation of Russia and Fidel Castro in recent days and even longtime supporter China is beginning to lose patience with it - something some say is not before time.
The latest meme to overtake the internet in China? "Gou gou chuan siwa" (狗狗穿丝袜), or in English, "Dogs wearing pantyhose". (NSFW? I really don't know.) [more inside]
"Chinese citizens can file petitions about their grievance with so-called letters and visits offices of various levels of government organs and courts, a mechanism set up in the 1950s. Under the current system, the number of petitions filed during an official's tenure is used as a yardstick for performance evaluation, prompting local governments to use every means possible to stop petitioners and shuffle them home. It has become an open secret that local governments hire "black guards" in the capital to stop petitioners from filing a grievance, thus reducing the number of petitions that are recorded." -- A day in the life of a Beijing "black guard".
Is this a pandemic being born? [Google cache] The H7N9 (Bird) Flu Virus May Have Adapted To Mammals. The WHO is investigating. Four new human cases were identified late Tuesday.
The Forces Of The Next 30 Years - SF author and Mefi's Own Charles Stross talks to students at Olin College about sci-fi, fiction, speculation, the limits of computation, thermodynamics, Moore's Law, the history of travel, employment, automation, free trade, demographics, the developing world, privacy, and climate change in trying to answer the question What Does The World Of 2043 Look Like? (Youtube 56:43)
Leaving the Witness. "In one of the most restrictive, totalitarian countries in the world, for the first time in my life, I had the freedom to think." [more inside]