Most people know better than to eat street malatang, which -- if you don't know -- basically consists of pieces of veggie and tofu and fish balls and squid and other indecipherable foodstuff stabbed on sticks and boiled/drowned in oil and spices. It's disgusting and no one likes it. But sometimes, because you're drunk or too prideful to say no to a dare, you do eat, and your stomach dies a little.
HBO's Game of Thrones arrived in China last week, but the fit-for-CCTV broadcast was so rigorously edited to conform to some "public morality" that one netizen hilariously called it "a medieval European castle documentary." But amid all the articles about this development, we may have lost sight of a more amazing fact: Game of Thrones -- a show about political wrangling, skulduggery, sabotage, dissolution, sex, etc. -- was allowed to air on Chinese TV. It took two whole days before we got this Ishaan Tharoor post on the Washington Post, titled:
When Chinese video streaming sites pulled down all episodes of The Big Bang Theory on orders from China's official censors, it angered fans across the country -- and also, it turns out, the show's creator, Chuck Lorre. The following is what Lorre wrote on one of his "vanity cards" that appeared at the end of Big Bang's May 1 episode (as noticed by the Wall Street Journal):
A new North Korea travel app hit the stores today. Creator Chad O’Carroll, who runs the indispensable NK News website, told CNN that the app “is designed for armchair travelers as well as people who are actively interested in visiting.” Niche? For sure (though not as niche as targeting fans of Playboy who literally do “buy it for the articles.”) But does it have wider applications?
Take note: if you go on a slashing rampage in public, you'll be shot and treated like a rabid dog, held down by metal poles. Take a look at the video, which shows police manhandling a knife-wielding suspect who wounded six passersby yesterday at Guangzhou Railway Station.
The best search engine for finding random bars is Where the Fuck Should I Go for Drinks, which China watcher and delightful alcoholic Ray Kwong helpfully notes "even works in China." But how well does it work? We gave it a try, and results included:
Six people were injured by knife-wielding attackers around 11:30 am today on the plaza in front of Guangzhou Railway Station. They've been sent to the hospital, but their conditions are unknown. A People's Daily tweet from 12:54 pm claims there were four attackers. State media reports that police fired shots at the attackers, hitting at least one of them.
Peter Harmsen of the excellent China in WW2 blog has a great write-up of Ernest Hemingway and his then-wife, war correspondent Martha Gellhorn, traveling to Chongqing in 1941. You may have heard this story before -- the couple's distaste of the country and Hemingway's dabbling in espionage, among other things -- but there are a few anecdotes I'd like to highlight from Harmsen's piece, titled "For Whom the Gongs Toll."
There really isn't much to say about these pictures, which were taken on May 3 on a beach in Sanya, Hainan province and tweeted out by China Daily Show just now ("Who says China lacks innovation?"). Excerpt, perhaps, "Why?" A couple more pictures follow. They might not be appropriate for office gawking.
Liu Xia, who has never been charged with a crime, has been imprisoned in her home since 2010 because her husband happens to be a Nobel Peace Prize recipient currently serving an 11-year sentence for "subversion of state power." That she clearly needs medical attention for worsening mental health makes no difference to the authorities, who insist on punishing her for the perceived sins of Liu Xiaobo.
China's one-child policy, enacted in 1979, has undoubtedly changed Chinese society. Whether for better -- curbing population growth in a country with dire resource limitations -- or for worse -- creating a generation of "Little Emperors" who are doted on by two generations of extended family -- remains a debate that may never been settled. Of course, there are places where this debate can both be stimulating and appropriate. In the context of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is not one of those places.
We publicized a Kickstarter on April 1 of a 10-minute dystopian sci-fi film set in Beijing by TED Talks director Jason Wishnow that was advertised as "starring" Ai Weiwei. It blew past its $33,000 goal in no time, probably thanks to the attention that Ai Weiwei -- China's most visible artist -- garners around the world. But now the Kickstarter has been removed and the preview for the movie, The Sandstorm, is only available on YouTube. What gives?
Data from Spreadsheets, a mobile app that tracks sex stats such as number of thrusts, average duration and volume level (gamifying performance in bed, if you will), has revealed that while Americans unsurprisingly have the most sex, Australian men last the longest, coming at 4 minutes, 3 seconds. What about China, you ask?
People's Daily deserves not our scorn but our patience and understanding. I make the comparison with autism with absolutely no intention of being insulting to autistic people or their family and friends, and please accept my apologies if this still sounds offensive. But maybe the proper response to People's Daily -- which has underdeveloped communication skills (despite being the official mouthpiece of the government), difficulty grasping abstract concepts, and fantasies that are simply untenable in the real world -- should be with tolerance, composure, and encouragement?
Here's a map unlike any you've likely seen. A Chinese artist, using water and ink, has reimagined Chinese provinces as dually simple and abstruse classical paintings. As posted on the website Portal (Chuansongmen), these are hand-drawn outlines of provinces and special administrative regions that are then filled in with splashes of watercolor. We don't quite know what to make of it -- neither does Beyond Chinatown, which has translated the province names. Maybe that's for the better: let these depictions defy easy classification.
People's Daily has had an eventful week. Last Monday it called the New York Times "circling vultures" for an article on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370; on Friday it sought "immediate rectification" from a parody Twitter account, @relevantorgans; then, somehow, it got a guest editorial out of Bill Gates. But PD truly tops itself with this next thing, because these are words that someone actually wrote. Via Reuters:
Sometimes, when life throws you an obstacle, simply call on a dozen people to move said obstacle out of the way. In Tianjin on Sunday morning, a van parked in front of a building blocked a coach bus from leaving the enclosed lot via the only road out. That bus happened to be carrying more than two dozen Beijing Ultimate Frisbee players who were in town for a tournament. They had an idea.