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The origins of that stereotypical Chinese nine-note riff

Kat Chow, with NPR's Code Switch, put together a short piece on the history and the prevalence of the well-known nine note "stereotypical Asian theme." As described in a 2005 Straight Dope forum question: You know, the one that goes dee dee dee dee duh duh dee dee duh. Featured heavily in braindead Hollywood flicks made by clueless directors who want to give a scene an "oriental" feel. Also a variation of it can be heard in David Bowie's "China Girl." [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 28, 2014 - 44 comments

The Internet sees censorship as data, and feeds on it

In a scientific study of Chinese online state censorship, Harvard researchers not only gathered large amounts of social media in real time from within the country but created a large amount themselves to see what got through and what was removed. Through this method, they reverse-engineered what they describe as "the largest selective suppression of human communication in the recorded history of any country". The results, to use a popular term, will surprise you. [more inside]
posted by Devonian on Aug 28, 2014 - 31 comments

Southern China's diverse karst landscape of mountains and caves

In the southern portion of China there is an expansive karst landscape, formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. The region is home to the South China Karst UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is actually seven different notable features, as well as the visually impressive Moon Hill, some of China's supercaves, and Xiaozhai Tiankeng, the world's deepest sinkhole. You can climb Moon Hill, but it's best to plan ahead. You can also explore China's great caves, but it is necessary to explore between October-November and February-March to avoid the monsoon seasons, and getting down Xiaozhai Tiankeng requires a lot of gear. You can read more about the Tiankengs (giant dolines or sinkholes) in the karst of China (PDF).
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 26, 2014 - 6 comments

Kenji in Asia

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, managing culinary director at food blog Serious Eats, recently took an extended trip to China and southeast Asia with his wife, Adri, after driving across the country during a move from New York to San Francisco. He documented his Asia trip on a personal blog set up to elude Chinese censors. [more inside]
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe on Aug 1, 2014 - 14 comments

Veto bunnies

Who uses their veto in the UN Security Council the most, and what for?
posted by tavegyl on Jul 31, 2014 - 16 comments

Ten Landmarks of the Chinese Cryosphere

“The Price of Cold”— the story of my recent adventures exploring China’s artificial cryosphere — is now online in The New York Times Magazine. In it, I visit the world’s first and only frozen dumpling billionaire, hang out with the chef leading a one-man refrigeration resistance movement, and visit refrigerated warehouses and R&D labs across the country. Meanwhile, for those of you for whom that is not enough refrigeration for one weekend, I compiled this list: ten stand-out destinations for the armchair Chinese cryotourist, based on my own travels while reporting the story.

posted by infini on Jul 26, 2014 - 15 comments

We use tortoise diplomacy ... like the Chinese use panda diplomacy

"...With China’s growing economic weight, disposable income and willingness to engage internationally, its ability to radically transform the fortunes of small countries has seen many governments re-orientate their diplomatic endeavors away from traditional bases in the West.
"But with so few resources available to them, and so little political capital to bank on, these lonely diplomats face a struggle against limited budgets as they scrap for crumbs from the giant’s table."

posted by frimble on Jul 22, 2014 - 2 comments

When it comes to China stories, people will believe almost anything.

Westerners are so convinced China is a dystopian hellscape they’ll share anything that confirms it. [more inside]
posted by gemutlichkeit on Jul 9, 2014 - 44 comments

Squueee....wheeeeeeeeeeee

Pandas on a slide (SLYT).
posted by arcticseal on Jul 8, 2014 - 30 comments

Risky Business

The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States (PDF); prospectus (PDF); press coverage (YT) - "The signature effects of human-induced climate change—rising seas, increased damage from storm surge, more frequent bouts of extreme heat—all have specific, measurable impacts on our nation's current assets and ongoing economic activity. [The report] uses a standard risk-assessment approach to determine the range of potential consequences for each region of the U.S.—as well as for selected sectors of the economy—if we continue on our current path..." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 24, 2014 - 34 comments

National Greatness

Francis Fukuyama on 'The End of History?' twenty-five years later: "liberal democracy still doesn't have any real competitors," but to get there... [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 15, 2014 - 29 comments

halcyon; ephemeral; timeless

Beautiful, hopeful newfound photos of the protests at Tiananmen Square
posted by Mistress on Jun 7, 2014 - 52 comments

they cannot soar into the air and fly away so quickly

Liao Yiwu, poet, author of Bullets and Opium and former political prisoner, writes on the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre.
My father died in the fall of 2002. At the last hour, he couldn’t speak any more, but he would fix his eyes on me, his son, the political prisoner. The police had searched me and taken me away in front of him many times. He died worried about me. Maybe in his last moments, when he couldn’t speak anymore, he still wanted to tell me not to provoke the Communist Party. Tank Man vanished into thin air—another proof my father was right.

posted by frimble on Jun 4, 2014 - 29 comments

Chinese Lianhuanhua: A Century of Pirated Movies

Before bootleg DVDs, western movies were adapted into Lianhuanhua: linked picture books that could be bought or rented. While many stories were told, and many movies were "pirated" in this way, one of particular interest is Star Wars. [more inside]
posted by nubs on May 27, 2014 - 26 comments

With reference to the recently leaked NYT memo

How Naspers CEO Koos Bekker beat the New York Times at its own game by Michael Moritz [more inside]
posted by infini on May 26, 2014 - 12 comments

Inside the giant panda research centre

Photographer Ami Vitale was allowed exclusive access into the Wolong National Nature Reserve managed by the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda as it trains pandas to be released into the wild. [more inside]
posted by latkes on Apr 23, 2014 - 6 comments

Sad Panda No More

After being separated from her long time companion, who was sent to another zoo in China, Sijia the panda started showing worrying signs of depression. So the staff at Yunnan Safari Park decided to make things a bit more fun for her, and built an amusement park in her enclosure, including a plasma television showing her feeds from other pandas around the world. [more inside]
posted by quin on Apr 20, 2014 - 13 comments

Short sci-fi film about a meteor heading to Hong Kong, blocked by China

香港將於33年後毀滅 (Hong Kong will be destroyed after 33 years) is a near-future sci-fi short film about a fictional meteor that is headed for Hong Kong and expected to impact in 2047, but the public at large does nothing to address this impending doom. It might seem like an innocuous enough film, but China thought there was more to the story than that, and State Council Information Office requested that websites immediately remove video, text, etc. that advocates the short sci-fi film about Hong Kongers “saving themselves” titled Hong Kong Will Be Destroyed in 33 Years. The Diplomat has a bit more information about the film's not entirely coincidental use of the year 2047, the year in which China's Special Administrative Region (SAR) agreement with Hong Kong is set to expire, possibly bringing an end to one country, two systems.
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 13, 2014 - 8 comments

"It looks like a ... "Dragon,” I say. "Artichoke,” says a colleague."

The Most Trafficked Mammal You've Never Heard Of [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 9, 2014 - 60 comments

Abyssmal odds

The depth of the problem - this WaPo infographic hints at the immense challenges that Australian and Chinese search teams will face in recovering the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 black box from its suspected location at the bottom of the Indian Ocean
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 8, 2014 - 188 comments

How Reader's Digest Became a Chinese Stooge

How Reader's Digest Became a Chinese Stooge Larkin was delighted when Reader's Digest said it would take her work for one of its anthologies of condensed novels. Thirst would reach a global audience and – who knows? – take off. Reader's Digest promised "to ensure that neither the purpose nor the opinion of the author is distorted or misrepresented", and all seemed well. [more inside]
posted by modernnomad on Mar 30, 2014 - 38 comments

"smart, rich, and very cunning"

Scan the shelves in any bookstore in China and you are likely to find best-selling self-help books based on Jewish knowledge. Most focus on how to make cash. Titles range from 101 Money Earning Secrets From Jews’ Notebooks to Learn To Make Money With the Jews. The Chinese Believe That the Jews Control America. Is That a Good Thing?
posted by timshel on Mar 27, 2014 - 87 comments

Students take over Taiwan's Legislature amid China trade pact protests

Students take over Taiwan's Legislature amid massive protests against a trade bill with China. Student protesters stormed Taiwan's Legislative Yuan last week, overwhelming police, and have occupied it since as protests grew outside. Last night, another group of students stormed the Executive Yuan, but were removed, sometimes violently, by riot police. The Presidential Office is surrounded by barricades and police checkpoints. The protests began after the ruling party, the Kuomintang, declared a review of a China trade pact to be concluded after months of wrangling between it and the opposition in the Legislature. The students originally wanted the review to continue, but they're now demanding that it be scrapped altogether.
posted by Poagao on Mar 23, 2014 - 22 comments

Chinese human rights activist Cao Shunli dies in captivity

Cao Shunli died while incarcerated recently for advocating the right of ordinary Chinese citizens to have input into China's entry in the UN's Universal Periodic Review, a new set of human rights reports for every UN member state. She died because she was denied medical care. Her family has not been allowed to see the body. [more inside]
posted by Jacob Knitig on Mar 19, 2014 - 8 comments

it really is a very large pig

Elderly man rides giant pig through town. I don't think there's any need to say more than that, except that there are pictures.
posted by moonmilk on Mar 18, 2014 - 47 comments

All in all, this isn't bad.

China's air pollution is now so bad it "resembles nuclear winter", say Chinese scientists. The pollution is impeding photosynthesis and potentially wreaking havoc on the country's food supply. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Mar 3, 2014 - 53 comments

Documentaries and talks from the USC US-China Center

The University of Southern California's US-China Institute has a huge number of videos on YouTube regarding China, Taiwan, history, global diplomacy, etc. [more inside]
posted by jiawen on Feb 22, 2014 - 2 comments

to climb the Shanghai Tower

Vadim Makhorov and Vitaliy Raskalov climb the 632 meter Shanghai Tower, the second tallest building in the world after the Burj Khalifa. The video of their climb, Shanghai Tower (650 meters), is riveting.
posted by gen on Feb 12, 2014 - 40 comments

Tencent Maps, China's Answer to Google Streetview

Tencent Maps - Look at some of the remotest parts of China. While some of the off-the-beaten-path images on Tencent Maps are actually static panoramas, other more quirky routes offer full coverage for mile after mile, as seen on the Li river in Guangxi province where you can cruise on a boat amidst the famous karst peaks that don’t look like any other hill or mountain range you’ve ever seen before. [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Feb 11, 2014 - 14 comments

A wild Ball Lightning appears!

A natural occurence of the rare and mysterious weather phenomenon known as ball lightning has been captured on video by researchers in China. [more inside]
posted by prize bull octorok on Jan 24, 2014 - 33 comments

Sina 2013 Centigrade Photojournalism Contest

Sina, one of the biggest websites in China, is hosting its annual photojournalism contest. The subjects range from: urban pollution, a SARS patient 10 years on, construction & destruction, the biggest fur market in China (warning: somewhat graphic), "The World" amusement park, erstwhile beggars, incense makers, more workers, and a school on the Loess.
My favorite two: hermits and mothers who pump.
posted by of strange foe on Jan 24, 2014 - 2 comments

Most Favorited Post of Metafilter

The Chen Guangbiao Business-Card Generator. Now you can have a card fit for a Chinese billionaire.
posted by moorooka on Jan 17, 2014 - 35 comments

I Have a Chinese Banknote That Everyone in China Is Scared Of

In China, there are certain "bad notes" that frighten people and are refused as legal tender. Why?
posted by reenum on Jan 16, 2014 - 77 comments

Yank of the Yalu

The First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) was notable for having the first confrontation between ironclad ships with modern weaponry, at the Battle of the Yalu River. And the presence of foreign advisors among the Chinese fleet, like German Captain von Hannecken and American Captain Philo Norton McGiffin [same text with some embellishment, Google Books links to Collier's article and Real Soldiers of Fortune], who later wrote The Battle of the Yalu for Century Magazine. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 8, 2014 - 5 comments

Taoist tea house

You have to really want this tea.
posted by curious nu on Jan 7, 2014 - 90 comments

30c3

While Jacob Appelbaum grabbed headlines with his NSA revelations at this year's Chaos Communication Congress, other presentations provided equally fascinating insight into how the world works. Learn how data mining is bringing perpetrators of genocide to justice (alt), how an artist uses different concepts of secrecy landscapes (alt) to keep tabs on clandestine activities, and how India's surveillance state continues to grow (alt). previously [more inside]
posted by antonymous on Jan 4, 2014 - 23 comments

Shenzen spins around me, wowing sporadically.

In the Kingdom of Mao Bell Neal Stephenson for WIRED, Feb 1994. via
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 23, 2013 - 10 comments

Pandamonium!

A scientist radio-tracking pandas in the Chinese wilderness frolics with an inquisitive cub who was left in his care by its mother: Dajun and the wild baby panda. [more inside]
posted by Westringia F. on Dec 23, 2013 - 8 comments

Liftoff for the Chinese Dream

China’s Space Program Is Taking Off — "Its engineers have caught up with Europe when Europe was 20 years behind the space-racing superpowers. But by 2020 or a little thereafter, when the International Space Station (ISS) may be on its last legs, Chinese space managers expect to have a Mir-class space station in orbit. ... As was the case with the Cold War space powers, China's leaders are using human spaceflight to signal the world—and the long-suffering Chinese people—that Beijing's state-capitalism approach has won modern superpower status for their ancient society." From Aviation Week & Space Technology, November 25, 2013.
posted by cenoxo on Dec 15, 2013 - 45 comments

Lest We Grow Too Fond of It

The Great War’s Ominous Echoes — "It is tempting — and sobering — to compare today’s relationship between China and America to that between Germany and England a century ago. Lulling ourselves into a false sense of safety, we say that countries that have McDonald’s will never fight one another. Yet the extraordinary growth in trade and investment between China and the United States since the 1980s has not served to allay mutual suspicions. At a time when the two countries are competing for markets, resources and influence from the Caribbean to Central Asia, China has become increasingly ready to translate its economic strength into military power." By Margaret MacMillan, New York Times, December 13, 2013.
posted by cenoxo on Dec 14, 2013 - 74 comments

China reaches for the Moon

This Saturday, the Jade Rabbit will meet with Chang’e when China attempts its first landing of an unmanned spacecraft on the Moon. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Dec 13, 2013 - 66 comments

Bridging design techniques

Beijing and Amsterdam-based studio NEXT architects have won first place in a bridge design competition for Meixi Lake near the Changsha capital in Hunan, China. The shape was inspired by the Mobius Strip and Chinese knotting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Nov 14, 2013 - 17 comments

Prosperous Suzhou

Prosperous Suzhou (20,353 × 546 pixel JPEG) is a 1757 scroll painting by Xu Yang illustrating the everyday life of the city, including more than 4,600 figures and 400 boats. It combines Western perspective with traditional Chinese style, and is currently on display at the Masterpieces of Chinese Painting exhibition at the London V&A.
posted by TheophileEscargot on Nov 13, 2013 - 25 comments

China in Motion 2013

Stunning timelapse video of cities and countryside in China. (SL Vimeo)
posted by Wet Spot on Nov 11, 2013 - 13 comments

Bare Sticks, Unite!

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.
posted by showbiz_liz on Nov 11, 2013 - 34 comments

The 1952 Mongol "invasion" of New Jersey

"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.
posted by MartinWisse on Nov 8, 2013 - 15 comments

The true cost of pollution

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)
posted by maryr on Nov 6, 2013 - 33 comments

Chinese students at UW-Madison speak out

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.
posted by escabeche on Nov 1, 2013 - 31 comments

Razing and burning: the costs of rapid urbanization in China

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]
posted by filthy light thief on Oct 28, 2013 - 4 comments

With the tropical sun blasting down on it, the ship was ravaged by rust.

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]
posted by Chutzler on Oct 25, 2013 - 21 comments

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