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]
Electronics companies all over the world are increasingly reliant on certain rare metals, most of which are mined in China, which controls 97 per cent of the global supply. The Chinese government has promised to slash export quotas to ensure future sustainability of the world's supply of rare metals. China will drop its quota by 35 per cent in the first half of this year as compared with the same time last year. But despite its escalating consumption of rare metals and the need for future sustainability, the West's electronics industry is mistrustful of China's motives and claims that the move has more to do with the mainland's desire to dominate electronics manufacturing than ensuring the future sustainability of the world's supply of rare metals. ~ Greening conscience or resource checkmate? The rare earth trilogy covers eWaste harvesting, restarting interest in mines and dithering around trade regulations, all in one neat package. [more inside]
China is planning to merge the nine cities around the Pearl River Delta, producing the worlds largest city.
Peking Opera :: The Chinese :: Dream Shocks :: Four Beauties :: Under The Sun :: Revolution :: Uniform Series (click to enlarge, nsfw)
Chen Sah is an unlikely good samaritan, a gruff man who cajoles would be jumpers into the Yangtze River to rethink their plans of suicide. [more inside]
Star-crossed lovers are of course a trope as old as storytelling itself, but Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, the Butterfly Lovers of Chinese mythology may be new to many. Also encompassing tropes such as Sweet Polly Oliver, the legend tells of the tragic love between two students in the Jin dynasty, one a girl disguised as a boy so she could attend school. [more inside]
Hu Jintao, premier of China, is in the middle of his first state visit to the US, whose pomp and circumstance reflects China's growing economic stature and role in world affairs. Due to the linguistic and political differences between the US and China, few Americans know very much about Hu. Many of them will have had their first real look at him during an extended and surprisngly candid joint press conference held with President Obama and lasting well over an hour - something which never happens in China. Fears (or possibly hopes) of a trade war between the US and China a year ago have faded, and instead a trade deal involving $45 billion of American exports was announced, to mixed reactions. He was received less kindly by Congress, whose members expressed disquiet about everything from trade deficits to human rights and whose leaders declined to discuss matters over dinner - perhaps because they did not wish to be lost in the high-powered crowd of attendees. [more inside]
According to official Chinese stats, make of them what you will, there are now 457 million internet users in China. They are said to include 450m who have broadband, and 303m who use mobile internet. 304m play online games, 140m use online banking, and 63m microblog. These users are estimated to spend an average of 18 hours a week online. As a benchmark, the current US population is estimated at 312m.
The other places are like kindergartens compared with this. It smells so incredibly evil! I didn't think such a place existed except in my own imagination. It has a ghastly familiarity like a half-remembered dream. *Anything* could happen here... any moment... Pauline Kael called it "hilariously, awesomely terrible". Others consider it "a forgotten gem of a film that set the gold standard for noir films to come". It was Josef von Sternberg's last major film - The Shanghai Gesture (1941). (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
Tolls and toll roads are a fact of modern life. If you run past the booth without paying for any reason, you must pay a fine. A Chinese man has been sentenced to life in prison for not paying tolls.
Shanghaiist reports that the Chinese authorities have followed through on their promise to tear down Ai Weiwei's studio. (previously). The artist is under house arrest in Beijing. [more inside]
China is eating our lunch, says one columnist. Obama called it a "Sputnik moment." When a Philadelphia football game was delayed because of snow, the governor of Pennsylvania said we had become a nation of wussies, and said, "The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything. If this was in China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down." Not so fast there, says a guest writer to the Seattle Times: "To be sure, our 14th-to-25th ranking in the Program for International Student Assessment is no cause for complacency. Neither is China eating our lunch, or any meal — at least not yet." Which brings up the hokou system, which guarantees that the Chinese students measured for the test are the richest, best of the best in the country, and not the working poor of Shanghai. Some have called the system, which separates "urban" from "rural" workers, "China's apartheid."
The first pictures of China's "5th generation" fighter prototype were leaked this week. The aircraft, believed to be the J-20, is expected to have its first flight in early 2011. [more inside]
Wikileaks may have been the big news, but there were numerous other data breaches in 2010. [more inside]
The History of Monuments (slight artistic nudity) is a 42 meter long mural by Wang Qingsong. Before clicking "more inside" try to guess what materials he used to make the work... [more inside]