Tiangong 1, [the] latest demonstration of Beijing's otherworldly ambitions comes in a year when the US has wound down its space shuttle fleet and its partners have said the International Space Station (previously) should be buried at sea in 2020. Perhaps in its honor, [s]trains of the famed American patriotic tune (America the Beautiful) rang out following the launch of the Tiang Gong-1 experimental space station module late Thursday night. [more inside]
The hacker group Anonymous has ventured into new territory today with the launch of Anonymous Analytics, a site specifically targeted at corporate fraud. Their first report [PDF] is a caustic, entertaining evisceration of Chaoda, a Hong Kong agricultural company which has seen a wave of smaller scandals over the past year. Their stock is not looking good [more inside]
Red Song King Hao Di (Good Brother) sings "Without the Communist Party There Would Be No New China" (traditional recording), "The Words of Chairman Mao are Memorized by Heart” (info and lyrics), "Lake Water". [more inside]
An unauthorized Angry Birds theme park has opened in China. There is also a Blizzard-themed park called Joyland.
How Fast Can China Go? On June 30, China had the first official run of a $32 billion high-speed train line between Shanghai and Beijing. "Faster (820 miles in 288 minutes) and sleeker than any other, the needle-nosed CRH380A symbolizes China’s accelerating pace, even as it faces questions about safety, and taps into an ancient rivalry with Japan." On page four, the article discusses what happened less than a month afterwards on July 23rd: the country's first accident involving a bullet train that killed 40 people near Wenzhou. As a result, 54 high speed trains were recalled, train speeds were reduced and an overhaul of the high-speed rail system was launched by Chinese authorities. [more inside]
For China, yesterday marked the Mid-Autumn Festival, when Chinese at home and abroad gather to worship the Moon Rabbit, carry paper lanterns, and eat mooncakes. From its humble beginning as an agitprop-stuffed pastry, the mooncake has become a strong futures commodity in the People's Republic. Accordingly, authorities are stepping in; apparently everyone wants a piece of the
Shanghai singles are using IKEA to find love. Yes, IKEA has become a semi-public social space in Beijing and elsewhere in China (previously), but now one Shanghai IKEA is twice-weekly "taken over by a swarm of locals between the ages of 45 and 65 who come to seek out new love over free cups of coffee — a perk offered to holders of the Ikea Family membership card — and boxed lunches brought from home."
Which countries match the GDP and population of ● Brazil's States? ● China's Provinces? ● India's States and Territories? [more inside]
Hey, remember the ISS, that space station the Space Shuttle helped build before the shuttle was retired? Turns out humans might have to vacate that nifty space station for a bit. [more inside]
When Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was released from government custody it was with several conditions. Ai was slapped with a travel ban, was not to speak to the media about his detention and was banned from using social media. Since his release he has returned to Twitter, joined Google+, given an interview to a Party-run newspaper and on August 28 he published a piece in Newsweek that calls Beijing "a constant nightmare". [more inside]
Songs by Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Katy Perry are among those newly banned by China's culture ministry. Chinese Internet sites must remove them by 15 September in the interests of "national cultural security". Last May China banned a Mongolian protest song and arrested the student who made it, while Tibetan singer Tashi Dhondup was sentanced to one year and seven months’ imprisonment for producing a music album with “subversive songs”. Funnily enough, they also banned 'Guns'n'Roses' long awaited Chinese Democracy. No word yet on China Crisis.
The 808 Car Keys Micro Camera is a cheap, poorly made, difficult to use miniature DV camera that is nevertheless embraced by model RC pilots, experimenters, hobbyists, and adventurers. If you want to hack or mod your own, start with Chuck Lohr's vast 808 Car Keys Micro Camera Review page.
Enter the Cyber-dragon. "Hackers have attacked America’s defense establishment, as well as companies from Google to Morgan Stanley to security giant RSA, and fingers point to China as the culprit. The author gets an exclusive look at the raging cyber-war—Operation Aurora! Operation Shady rat!—and learns why Washington has been slow to fight back. Related: Michael Joseph Gross goes inside Operation Shady Rat."
"No way! Thieves are in the open, and a moral person must sneak around, this is turning things upside down! I don't care what others do, I must correct the meter. Please help me find a way." (via reddit)
As a teenager, Zhang Xin was a factory worker in the sweatshops of Hong Kong. She saved enough to fly to England and at 27, graduated with a Master’s Degree in Development Economics from Cambridge University. At 30, she and her husband started what is now Beijing's largest real estate developer. She is quite candid about China's challenges. Here Charlie Rose interviews the billionaire CEO of Soho China.
Evan Osnos joins a tour group from China as they traverse Europe. In the front row of the bus, Li stood facing the group with a microphone in hand, a posture he would retain for most of our waking hours in the days ahead. In the life of a Chinese tourist, guides play an especially prominent role—translator, raconteur, and field marshal—and Li projected a calm, seasoned air. He often referred to himself in the third person—Guide Li—and he prided himself on efficiency. “Everyone, our watches should be synchronized,” he said. “It is now 7:16 P.M.” He implored us to be five minutes early for every departure. “We flew all the way here,” he said. “Let’s make the most of it.” [more inside]
Two Chinese bullet trains have collided with two coaches falling off a bridge after a lightning strike disabled the first train and signaling failed to alert the second in time. A few months previously the railways ministry expressed and subsequently retracted concerns that builders had ignored safety standards to complete construction more quickly. [more inside]
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]