Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hairman Bernanke

Clipped from MSNBC's live feed of Ben Bernanke correcting Ron Paul's economic history.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Nate Silver Creates Map of Racist Backwaters

Nate Silver (of 538 fame) made this map highlighting congressional districts in which the 2008 presidential party vote was greater than 9% different than in 2004. But what shows up is a bright red map of those places Americans overseas like to talk about least... and Arizona.

Oh yeah, and their were Riots in Tibet the other day. The only reason I noticed was because the was blocked for five minutes and I checked BBC to figure out what was going on.

I'm Fat

Or at least that's what the folks in charge of sizing underwear around here say. I was at Carrefour looking for some suspiciously hard-to-find size 'M' undies, when it dawned on me that there sure were a lot of 'XXL' and '3XL' options, and absolutely no 'S.' Rather than try to make sense of the numbers that followed each size (not metric, some other weird system) I found some loose pairs and determined that I had walked right into a different cultural norm. I am presently wearing some comfortably snug 3XL boxers.

But what's interesting isn't what you would expect--we all know Chinese folk tend to the slightly smaller-on-average frame. Rather, it was that the most common sizes (based on shelf-space) were 'XL' and 'XXL.' Now I know this happens quite frequently in America, but there is no obesity epidemic here. These are definitely smaller sizes. Perhaps it's an element of hip-hop culture (the NBA and Rap are up-and-up scenes, with their plethora of 'X's), or maybe it's just subconscious compensation, but I don't think I've ever felt quite so large.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

L'Hopital's Rule

Well, I haven't gone yet, but a surprising number of my friends urged me to go to the hospital yesterday. It seems the Wolf Mary was not as trustworthy a steed as she at first appeared, and after a serious technological failure, I, and my sack of groceries, were thrown over the handlebars and somersaulting through the air. Yippee.

But what is remarkable is the readiness in which the word Hospital came out of their mouths. I've done this sort of thing before (twice in fact, both times featuring more blood), but never in America has anyone blurted out "hey! you should go to the Hospital!" Perhaps I am just in a "In America, we ..." state of mind, but I am drawn to the comparison because the willingness to go to a doctor has significant influence over the quality of one's health care, and I cannot help but wonder to what extent an entire generation of Americans has been subtly taught that health care is outside of their reach.

While I'm almost certain my ankle is just sprained, I don't know, and can't know until a doctor looks at it. And since seeing a doctor here costs all of 3kuai (less than 50cents), there's absolutely no need to. In the U.S., I could pay a couple hundred at the hospital (yes, with insurance), or save money by making an appointment with my primary care physician. Of course I'd have to wait a week.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A good summary of Net Neutrality issues.

I guess I'm a little single-track-minded tonight, but here's yet another link to NetNeutrality stuff. Google's released a tool that will tell you if you're ISP commits bandwith banditry.

Google Got Blocked

Earlier today, Google was blocked. The outage was brief, though I'm not sure on the total duration. I tried posting, but couldn't get it to work, and in true Chinese fashion, distracted myself with material concerns. Here's the text of the attempted post:

The big one. This means google search, gmail, and even blogger (yes, this humble blog) cannot be accessed in China. Painful, to say the least; like losing your right arm (wikipedia was the left). If you're wondering how I'm posting this, it's through the use of a subscription VPN service, but one which strips JScript and Flash content from pages (so no fun stuff).

What could have brought on such wrath? Perhaps it was this, but I like to think it was my persistently subversive blog posts and Chinese research. After all, anyone trying to translate "Rush Limbaugh deals ecstasy" into Chinese is clearly up to no good.

At least Wikipedia is back...

Had it been longer, I might have started a democratic revolution....

Better Than Any Horror Movie

On any given day, the live-feed global log of deteriorating rights via electronic networks that is the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Deeplinks Blog provides a serious chill down one's spine. From Australia's soon-to-be-implemented country-wide internet content filter, to Ireland's capitulation to the Irish Recorded Music Association's demands that it can, without review, demand that certain websites be blocked, the blog demonstrates the absolute worldwide incompetence of legislators in handling digital media.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Once Rush Hour is Over... you ever wonder who'll come out on top? I fully expect Rush will be around a lot longer than he may want to be, but once this bloody-wreck of an opposition leader is finally scrubbed off the tarmac, the Republican Party will need to be able to communicate its message, and it's my bet the person doing the talking won't be any of the ones you see now. Ten Cents says it's this guy.

Okay, I'm not going all in on this one, but it's at least worth thinking about. George faded-away, rather than burning out, which it turns out was probably in his best interest, considering some of the more unbecoming and egregious things he might have otherwise been associated with.

And unlike Mitt, Bobby, or Mike, George has been pleasantly silent for the last couple of Republican-damning years. He's been the guy at the Party politely socializing and making new friends, while the 'rising stars' are playing beer pong, shouting chants, and knocking over your furniture (if you're wondering who Rush Limbaugh is, he's the guy that brought all the ecstasy, and you last saw him getting far too close to someone far too young).

As the now-infamous Interstate Monkey Transport ban (not to mention the $3.6 Trillion budget, and insolvent banking industry) demonstrates, there is a role for an opposition party, just not the one we have.

Tell Rush I'll call the cops on him. I fucking mean it.

Updates: Youtube is back, Wikipedia is blocked, and trying to access the Huffington Post gets my connection shut down for about a minute.

Oh, and it turns out "Bicycle Bike" belongs to my roommate.

The "Compete" Coalition

I suppose that the election of Barack Obama has had a direct stimulus in at least one, distinct sector: people who are payed to come up with pseudonyms on behalf of corporate interests whose names have been blighted by decades of corporate malfeasance. The latest product of this brave, bold, and distinctly American industry is the "Compete Coalition," your coalition of choice if you strongly identify with the abstract concept of 'competition'...

...or, if you happen to be an electricity producer, or large-scale consumer (retail chains; that's you), and your corporate structure has no mechanism to quantify--and thus consider in any meaningful way--the disastrous effects of burning coal 'til there ain't none left.

The Compete Coalition is all about competition. Raw, unhindered competition. In fact, they'd prefer if it were in-the-dark, not-talked about competition. Because the precise results of their policy 'ideas' (preventing the Obama administration from mandating a quantified amount of wind and solar electricity generation or enacting a cap-and-trade market for carbon credits) would literally destroy the world.

Thankfully, the President doesn't seem like he's second guessing his objectives any time soon. But at least there's plenty of new marketing, PR, and web design jobs being created.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Beijing Bicycle

That's the name of a movie, which I've heard was good, but have not seen, and brings reminiscences of "The Bicycle Thief," a real bike classic. Good plot, too.

The following are pictures of my new bicycle, which I have dubbed "The Wolf Mary."


Top view (note Brian's now-exceedingly-international shoes):

Advanced Dutch Security System:


Though I am a little jealous of this guy's "Bicycle Bike":

I payed a solid 100 kuai ($14.61) for this bad-boy, though those in the know said I should have payed half that. I got ripped off because I'm 外国人.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Africans.

There are several large groups in the liuxueshung (foreign student) dormitory. There is a big group from Holland, and another big group from France. Both are here for one term, on exchange with their home universities (the Dutch from Rotterdam, I believe). But the other big group is from Africa. For the most part, these are students here to study civil engineering, and then return to from whence they came. My friend Davis comes from Zambia. Peterson, who lives downstairs, comes from the Congo. He has not been home for over a year, and it will be at least another before he can return. But he's coming back to Beijing to get his Master's.

Though they are not all from one National group, the Africans are an equally tight-knit social clique. They speak Chinese or English with each other, when they do not know each others' languages. And they will build the future infrastructure of Africa.

The Chinese government provides a significant amount of scholarship money for foreign students. So much so that I wish I had applied for one to bring down the cost of this already-incredibly-cheap education (RMB8300/term, $1200, EUR970). Indeed, I met a Brent, who it turns out grew up in Flatbush. He did two terms at John Jay before deciding to come study engineering in China.

I suppose the point to all of this is the sudden realization that a future, developed Africa will be populated by a middle, technical class with a fond, familiar notion of China, and only a remote, mediated notion of the United States.

In other news, China blocked youtube today, significantly impacting my ability to watch Limbaugh CPAC rants.