Blogger BirdAboard discovers not one, but three fake Apple stores in Kunming, China.
Agony and Ivory. "Highly emotional and completely guileless, elephants mourn their dead—and across Africa, they are grieving daily as demand from China’s 'suddenly wealthy' has driven the price of ivory to $700 a pound or more. With tens of thousands of elephants being slaughtered each year for their tusks, raising the specter of an 'extinction vortex,' Alex Shoumatoff travels from Kenya to Seattle to Guangzhou, China, to expose those who are guilty in the massacre—and recognize those who are determined to stop it."
Le Figaro has a great article with photographs of the journey of human hair obtained as offerings to the gods by pilgrims in Tirupati to the beauty salons of New York and the heads of such as Lady Gaga and Beyonce. Since its in French, here's Mother Jones covering the same in English. A Spaniard in London does a photo essay while exporters show you a flowchart of the entire process. Highly valued and in short supply, remy hair, as it is known, is very different from the stuff you find being used in pesticides, pizza base and deer repellent (warning: Fox News link).
[Michelangelo Antonioni's Chung Kuo] as a documentary film was one which was draped with fascination for both filmmakers as well as an audience, rather than championing anti-whatever sentiments from either side of the world. Not having seen many movies, either features, shorts or documentaries made during the Cultural Revolution era or about that era in question (propaganda included), I think this Antonioni film has more than made its mark as a definitive documentary that anyone curious about the life of the time, would find it a gem to sit through.
"But it is the worry that the key source of corporate profitability — Chinese labor — may no longer be docile and cheap for much longer that mainly nags at the country's corporate guests as well as its rising capitalist class. And many fear that the very ruthlessness that Zizek talks about — the iron fist that the Chinese state has deployed over the last three decades in order to achieve the unbeatable 'China price' — has become a central part of the problem."
There are precious few 7-footers that can turn into a jump hook while chewing gum at the same time, much less make a living out of it on the pro level. Yet, there Yao was. And he would have been there, even if he was 6 inches shorter than his 7-6 frame. Maybe if it weren't for those extra 6 inches, he and his Rockets would have played into the conference finals last spring. Yao Ming Retires from the NBA. [more inside]
The £20,000 Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction has been won by Mao’s Great Famine by Frank Dikötter. Mao's quest to transform China through rapid industrialisation and the collectivisation of agriculture in the "Great Leap Forward" left up to 45 million people dead.
Fast food in South India is fast | in Thailand iced tea is really cool | in Sri Lanka tea is cooled with dramatic effect | in Delhi the bread is made fast too | in Calcutta it puffs up magically | tea serenely | singly | or two at a time | in China tea is served with a long spout, acrobatically. [more inside]
Although the past 12 years have seen the warmest 10 years on record, temperatures have remained fairly steady, even while CO2 emissions grew by nearly a third. Temperatures should have been increasing during this period, rather 1998 was tied with 2010 for hottest on record. Now a study suggests why (pdf): sulfur emissions from Asian coal plants (China mostly) are so high they mimic the effects of a volcano which can cause short term cooling by reflecting light back into space. Insidiously, the long-term warming caused by CO2 (coal) has been masked by short-term cooling of sulfur (coal).
What does a post-American world look like? NPR interviews Fareed Zakaria on America's future role in world events.
Chi-Com Comeback? July 1st is the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (Official English website). Since 1979, China has been on a course of economic reform, first initiated by Deng Xiaoping, who climbed from disgrace during the Cultural Revolution to lead China away from a communist economy. Now, however, with the anniversary of the Party coming up, at least in Chongqing, the fastest growing city on the planet which 32 million people call home, the East may once again be Red. [more inside]
Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists presents Fifty Years of Space Nuclear Power "A plutonium fueled RTG that was deployed in 1965 by the CIA not in space but on a mountaintop in the Himalayas (to help monitor Chinese nuclear tests) continues to generate anxiety, not electricity, more than four decades after it was lost in place. See, most recently, "River Deep Mountain High" by Vinod K. Jose, The Caravan magazine, December 1, 2010." (MeFi previously)
From steroid-spiked pork to glow-in-the-dark meat to recycled cooking oil collected from sewers: China wrestles with food safety problems. 'China's food scandals are becoming increasingly frequent and bizarre': 'In May, a Shanghai woman who had left uncooked pork on her kitchen table woke up in the middle of the night and noticed that the meat was emitting a blue light, like something out of a science fiction movie.' 'Farmers in eastern Jiangsu province complained to state media last month that their watermelons had exploded "like landmines" after they mistakenly applied too much growth hormone in hopes of increasing their size.' 'Until recently, directions were circulating on the Internet about how to make fake eggs out of a gelatinous compound comprised mostly of sodium alginate, which is then poured into a shell made out of calcium carbonate. Companies marketing the kits promised that you could make a fake egg for one-quarter the price of a real one.' [more inside]
Be it resolved: The 21st Century Will Belong to China. At tonight's Munk Debates, Niall Ferguson and David Daokui Li debate Henry Kissinger and Fareed Zakaria [more inside]
China’s capital is restricting car numbers and pumping money into trains. Is it headed for a less congested future – or already a city beyond help?
"Over the past few decades, 160 million women have vanished from East and South Asia — or, to be more accurate, they were never born at all. Throughout the region, the practice of sex selection — prenatal sex screening followed by selective termination of pregnancies — has yielded a generation packed with boys. From a normal level of 105 boys to 100 girls, the ratio has shifted to 120, 150, and, in some cases, nearly 200 boys born for every 100 girls. In some countries, like South Korea, ratios spiked and are now returning to normal. But sex selection is on the rise in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East." American journalist Mara Hvistendahl's new book: "Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men," examines and tries to predict the actual and potential effects of unequal sex ratios on men, women and the social economies of the affected regions, including the recent spike in sex trafficking and bride-buying across Asia. More. [more inside]
Larry Gonick is a veteran American cartoonist best known for his delightful comic-book guides to science and history, many of which have previews online. Chief among them is his long-running Cartoon History of the Universe (later The Cartoon History of the Modern World), a sprawling multi-volume opus documenting everything from the Big Bang to the Bush administration. Published over the course of three decades, it takes a truly global view -- its time-traveling Professor thoroughly explores not only familiar topics like Rome and World War II but the oft-neglected stories of Asia and Africa, blending caricature and myth with careful scholarship (cited by fun illustrated bibliographies) and tackling even the most obscure events with intelligence and wit. This savvy satire carried over to Gonick's Zinn-by-way-of-Pogo chronicle The Cartoon History of the United States, along with a bevy of Cartoon Guides to other topics, including Genetics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, The Environment, and (yes!) Sex. Gonick has also maintained a few sideprojects, such as a webcomic look at Chinese invention, assorted math comics (previously), the Muse magazine mainstay Kokopelli & Co. (featuring the shenanigans of his "New Muses"), and more. See also these lengthy interview snippets, linked previously. Want more? Amazon links to the complete oeuvre inside! [more inside]
The Rise of Chinese anti-semitism and contemporary support for Hitler as a display of Chinese nationalism.
Here is an article from the Asia Times. that discusses the fact that "a rumor is spreading virally throughout the Middle Kingdom that asserts that Austrian-born Hitler was raised by a family of Chinese expats living in Vienna." Apparently "as the rumor spreads throughout the Chinese social web, admiration for Hitler is growing stronger and stronger. Blog posts with titles like 'Why I like Hitler' are popping up every day, and an increasingly greater share of young Chinese are choosing to express their nationalism by voicing support for Hitler."
British food-writer and Sichuan cuisine expert Fuchsia Dunlop introduces cheese to a group of chefs from Shaoxing, China,"the Chinese headquarters of 'stinking and fermented' delicacies" for the first time. How does the Stilton fare against stinky tofu?
Prison administrators in China have found a new use for forced prison labour: gold-farming operations, in which prisoners play multiplayer games for hours on end, handing over the gold they acquire to the guards, who sell it online for real money.
Further proof that China is indeed the up and coming (sorry, I couldn't resist the childish pun) new global economic force. Why do I have a sneaking suspicion that this may turn up at one of my local adult toy stores?
Warfare: An advancing front - "The US is engaged in increasingly sophisticated warfare, fusing intelligence services and military specialists" [more inside]
Made in America: small businesses buck the offshoring trend - "For US manufacturing to make sense, factories must make extensive use of automation. That's getting easier, given that the cost of robots with comparable capabilities has decreased precipitously in the past two decades." [more inside]
Bob Dylan turns 70 next Tuesday. Why not start the party early by listening to 2ser's annual Bob Dylan Birthday Marathon on Saturday? It's streaming online from 7pm, Sydney time. Dylan has recently denied that China censored his shows, an allegation levelled against him by Maureen Dowd but opposed by Sean Wilentz.
"The handover to a new president and premier has generated plenty of speculation in the press, about who the leaders are and what is will all mean, but sometimes it’s useful to go back and fill in the very basics, since China has a unique and in some ways quite confusing political system." A Primer on China's Leadership Transition. [via]
The Honeymoon From Hell. Stefan and Erika Svanstrom had planned a long trip that would start in Singapore in early December and end in China four months later. But things didn't go exactly as planned. They encountered floods, fires, tsunamis and earthquakes along the way.
Current TV previously & previously, the media company founded by Al Gore after the 2000 election, has picked up the kinds of in depth long form journalism being rapidly dropped by major networks, but has been tantalizingly unavailable for those without cable; until now. They have been putting their Vanguard episodes up on their website and on YouTube. [more inside]
'These children don’t recognize the flags of their home countries, but they can all sing "Jesus Loves Me."'
700 kids in rural Chongqing dance to Michael Jackson's "Dangerous". Direct link. Photos. Chongqing, China.
Recently, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton released the 35th annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, covering the legal status of human rights in more than 190 countries and territories around the world. This year, Clinton had tough words for China, amid crackdowns on dissent. In response, China provides a profile of the US, pointing out actions related to Wikileaks, civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the prisoner abuse scandals related to counterterrorism initiatives. [more inside]
A Euro Scam That Unfolded at a Snail's Pace “It wasn’t so unusual to get coins from China,” said Susanne Kreutzer, a Bundesbank spokesman. “That is a business model for some people.”
As words of a Jasmine Revolution started circulating online, several Chinese dissidents were disappeared, including the activist and lawyer Teng Biao. Today, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was detained, along with several of his staff.
According to a new study from the UK's national science academy, the Royal Society, China is on course to outstrip US scientific output as earlier as two years from now. [SLBBC]
Francis Fukuyama on China's political (r)evolution: Will the protests that have swept the Middle East inspire a similar movement in China, or is that country's middle class more interested in the material than the political? [more inside]
The official "StreetView" map of China is eerily reminiscent of SimCity, rendered in perfect isometric perspective without a pixel out of place: Shanghai, the Forbidden City, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. That hasn't stopped companies from trying to create a more true-to-life photographic alternative: there is coverage of Hong Kong and Macau in Google Street View; sanction to cover the rest of China appears to have been given to City8, which covers 40 cities. (The latter site is in Chinese, but Chrome or language plugins do a decent job of translating the content). [more inside]
Zhuangzi as Philosopher Essay by Brook Ziporyn made available (there's also some other prefatory matter there) at the website of the publishers of his translation of the Zhuangzi, one of the seminal texts of Daoism, putatively authored by Zhuang Zhou in the fourth century BCE. Via, where there's plenty of other informed discussion on Zhuangzi, Daoism and other ancient Chinese thought.
Plasticize Me: Will recent advances in human tissue preservation change the way we think about bodies, death, God… and China? [Previously, Via]
The Global Times gives us the Chinese Communist Party's take on the Charlie Sheen saga [more inside]
Have you ever wished Tom (of Tom and Jerry) was more like Dirty Harry? Maybe just shoot Jerry once in a while? Then you're in luck! 黑猫警长 (Hei Mao Jing Zhang, literally Black Cat Police Chief, more commonly translated as Black Cat Detective) was a hugely popular children's cartoon that ran from 1984 to 1987 in mainland China. Episodes featured the eponymous police chief taking down criminals any way he could, whether it's shooting fleeing mice in the back, burning locusts with exploding arrows, or administering beatdowns with shock batons. Beyond the police brutality, children also got to see baby animals eaten by giant eagles and learn about sexual cannibalism in praying mantises. And it's on Youtube! [more inside]
This is a pretty amazing video of a Chinese magician doing magic tricks with goldfish on the BBC spanish website. Extended video and discussion (along with possible spoilers) can be found on youtube. It's been picked up by some English-language sites (here and here). Real controversy, or just hype to drum up publicity? Either way, the magician is refusing to divulge his secrets (but insists that no fish were harmed in the trick).
Recreate a part of history in High Tea, a game where you trade Indian opium in China to supply tea to England. Part of the High Society exhibit at Wellcome Collection. [more inside]
Macho Chinese men need purses. To hold their fat wads of cash, of course.
We Chinese - street portraits and interviews about China and its future [via mefi projects] "In 2010, I traveled to major urban centers in eastern China stopping people on the street to ask the same two questions about their country and their future." [more inside]
On China realtime report (WSJ blogs): while China celebrates the upcoming year of the rabbit, an intensely violent satirical animation has gone viral. [more inside]