Archive for March, 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cao Nima and the Smurfatar

This story tells how Mr Cao used the Smurfatar machine to enter the real world »

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Censorship: a “Double-Win”

It’s not that Google or Yahoo were opposed against all kinds of restrictions on internet content, writes the Telegraph. But information filtering as advocated by the Australian government – and scheduled to be passed as law by parliament this year – is raising concerns even at government level. “Our main message of course is that we remain committed to advancing the free flow of information which we view as vital to economic prosperity and preserving open societies globally,” the paper quotes Michael Tran, US State Department spokesman.

Only few people would probably contest that child pornography or bestiality need to be off-limits as internet content. But when filtering kicks in on contents such as “details on how to carry out criminal activity”, the problems that will arise are apparent. It’s hard to see how a filtering system should be more intelligent than a search machine – whose search results won’t usually hit the bull’s-eye either.

The filter also faces practical problems, with many considering it to be technologically unworkable and a waste of resources, writes the Telegraph. And a waste of resources it is. It has become conventional wisdom that in every project, the focus should be on avoiding flaws in good time, rather than to clean up their aftermath. The Philippine’s UNESCO National Commission chairwoman Rosario Manalo observes that

… past educational goals focused on economic skills, materials demands and the transfer of cognitive content. Today’s objectives give priority to arts, civics, history and values education around which new attitudes should be developed.

And she feels that

… civics education should be strenghtened. Civics teaches the student to understand his human rights and corresponding responsibilities. She notes that civics education programs described in different UNESCO handbooks are political in their orientation. The idea of responsibility for all aspects of tangible heritage – national and global, cultural and natural – must be emphasized, for this is required of the twenty-first century world citizen. In short, there should be a balance between the emphasis on the philosophies of political science and the concerns of heritage conservation.

The political framework (which critics may view as a “world government” ambition) may be dubious. But while there should be no misunderstanding about human rights, which apply even when individuals act irresponsibly, I still do like the link between rights and duties. In the long run, I can only expect others to respect my own rights, when I respect the rights of others myself. Manalo uses a beautifully old-fashinoned term: nobleness of heart. Noone with some nobleness of heart will be interested in consuming the kind of internet content the Australian government claims to worry about. There has been a lot of talk about “information literacy” or Medienkompetenz in Germany’s education system during the past decade or so. It usually (and conveniently) seems to amount to the use of the internet in the first place.

But many students know the internet better than their teachers. Computer literacy should be an aspect of information literacy indeed – but it’s the easiest skill to implement. A lot more needs to count here.

Every packaging is a medium. It suggests high value when there is consumer electronics inside. And when I’m opening a pack of cat food, the sound of it will make the cats come in from anywhere. Consumption is lit by the package. Or, as Wayne Millage told Der Spiegel years ago, 70 percent of all purchases [in America were or still] are made on impulse. The package must speak to consumers all over the world, and does it in a split second.

That’s what information is doing to us – constantly. And nobody recommends filters in a supermarket to protect the poor consumption monkeys from their own impulse. “People must decide what is good for them.” Those of them who understand how this kind of information works can do that. But for those of them who don’t, the result of the trick is constant disappointment – and an odd desire for more of the same.

Reasonable purchasing behavior, and reasonable use of the “new media” alike, don’t require censorship. They require practical education. But given that private enterprise is frequently “advising” the school bureaucracy, chances for such training may turn out to be dim.

We’d rather raise information junkies first, and then sell them mandatory filtering software. That constitutes double-win – for the supply side.

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Related
CRI: Google in the Mirror of Colonial History, March 22, 2010
Information Literacy, different view, Feb 24, 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring is Here

It’s spring when the rain in the small hours sounds like it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Happy Birthday, MKL

Happy Birthday, MKL – or should it be “Happy Birtday“? (Take a close look at the Taipei 101 photos over there) »

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tung Chee-hwa: Inextricable Implications

Tung Chee Hwa, In his private capacity

Tung Chee Hwa, in his private capacity

Former Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa (董建華) has been staying in Taiwan as an ordinary traveller since March 27, and is scheduled to leave on April 1. CNA quotes him as saying that he will see relatives and friends – former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) being one of the latter category. Tung stepped down in 2005 as Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, but remains active as vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (台湾陆委会) also emphasizes that Tung’s visit is no official call, but Chen Yi-hsin (陳一新), member of the Friends of Hong Kong and Macau Association in Taiwan‘s (中华港澳之友协会顾问委员会) advisory board and Tamkang University’s (淡江大学) professor at the Institute of American Studies, believes that given Tung’s function as a vice chairman of the Political Consultative Conference, political implications (政治意涵) are inextricable (摆脱不了). But Chen also points out that Tung’s task in Taiwan still didn’t need to amount to a political one, because the main aspects of development between Hong Kong and Taiwan were about trade and tourism.

Tung’s younger sister Tung Xiaoping (董小萍) is married with a Taiwanese, Peng Yin Gang (彭荫刚), who took charge of running the Tung family’s Orient Overseas Shipping Line (OOCL, 东方海外航运公司) after Tung had become Hong Kong’s Chief Executive.

Update: most info based on this story »

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Related
Red Flag Review Car, Wo Buy Ni, Oct 24, 2009
Charter 08 and Greater China, Dec 13, 2008
Double-Ten, HK Delegation, October 9, 2008

Monday, March 29, 2010

JR serves the People: Strongly Supportive

The following is a rough translation of a questionnaire from the Beijing Communication University. On the other hand, according to Reporters without Borders (RSF), it’s in fact a suspicious questionnaire prepared at the behest of the government department responsible for overseas Chinese.

Either way, JR is sure that all overseas Chinese will wish to rally around the Central Committee and send their assessments, positions, and esteemed suggestions to the authors of the questionnaire, whoever those authors may be. Its three pages can be downloaded from the RSF page linked above.

And in case that you are third- or x-generation overseas Chinese, or ethnic Chinese with foreign citizenship, you will certainly want to participate, too. You can’t read a single word in Chinese? Don’t worry. JR’s (somewhat frowzy) translation will help you to fill everything in correctly anyway.

Print the questionnaires from the RSF page, make tons of copies, fill in our personal copy and start surveying your neighborhood with the other copies. And then send it all to

Communication University of China
地址:北京朝阳区定福庄东街一号    邮编:100024
Tel: 0086-010-65779319 Fax: 0086-010-65779134,

or c/o  your local Confucius Institute.

Here goes:

=====================================

Dear Sir or Madam,

we are researchers from the Beijing Communication University, and are currently conducting a survey on Overseas Chinese and ethnic Chinese people’s (华侨 华人) views on the Tibet question. Many thanks for the time you are taking to fill in our questionnaire. It will take you about five minutes. Your answers won’t be divided into right or wrong, it is academic research, and will be strictly confidential. Please express your real opinions. Your esteemed opinion is really important for us, many thanks for your support and cooperation!

1 Your understanding of Tibet

Q1: Have you been to Tibet? (Y/N)

Q2: From which kind of the following media do you find out about Tibet and the Tibet question?
(1) International mainstream media
(2) From local Chinese media
(3) Other local media
(4) Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwanese media
(5) Mainland Chinese media

Q3: From the media you have chosen under Q2, from which of them do you mainly understand Tibet and the Tibet question? Please evaluate the credibility of those media. (“1″ stands for very low credibility, “5″ stands for very high credibility – the higher the number, the more credibility it expresses.)

Not credible at all Not very credible Hard to tell Rather credible Very credible
1. newspaper 1 2 3 4 5
2. magazine 1 2 3 4 5
3. radio broadcast 1 2 3 4 5
4. television 1 2 3 4 5
5. Internet or other media 1 2 3 4 5

Q4: Below, there are some sayings about Tibet. Please rate them according to the degree you agree with them. (“1″ stands for not agreeing at all, “5″ stands for absolutely agreeing – the higher the number, the more agreement it expresses.)

don’t agree at all don’t really agree Hard to tell I quite agree I absolutely agree
1. The dgree to which you believe one must see Tibet by oneself 1 2 3 4 5
2. Your degree of interest in Tibet question 1 2 3 4 5
3. Degree of your practical concern about Tibet 1 2 3 4 5

- end of sheet one, original here »

understand under

stand

Under

stand

under

stand

Under

stand

under

stand

1. The degree of your understanding of Tibet 1 2 3 4 5
2. The degree of your understanding of the Chinese government’s position on the Tibet question 1 2 3 4 5
3. Your  degree of understanding of the 3.14 incident 1 2 3 4 5

Q6: Which factors do you think are influencing Tibet’s development? (maximum three choices)
1. natural conditions; 2. social and economic conditions; 3. scientific and cultural levels; 4. religious factors; 5. historical factors; 6. national policies; 7. independence forces; 8. others.

Q7: Do you agree with the saying “Tibet has from the old times been an unseparable part of Chinese territory”?
1. absolutely not; 2. not really; 3. not sure; 4. rather yes; 5. absolutely.

Q8: Your position concerning 2008′s Lhasa 3.14 incident:
1. absolutely against it; 2. rather against it; 3. don’t care; 4. rather supportive; 5. strongly supportive.

Q9: Are you taking part in Chinese associations?
1. Yes; 2. No

Q 10: Your association’s reaction after the 3.14 incident
1. issuing a condemning statement; 2. organizing a protest demonstration; 3. strongly condemning it on a meeting; 4. issuing a signed protest statement against those Western media who didn’t report truthfully; 5. others (please write down actual reaction) ___________; 6. no reaction.

Q11: Did you join any activities organized by your association?
1. Yes; 2. No.

Q12: You believe the Dalai is
1. a splittist element of state or nation; 2. a speaker of Tibetan nationalism; 3. religious leader; 4. other (please note here) ________.

Q13: You believe the Dalai’s connection with 3.14 is
1. masterminding it; 2. just a participant in it; 3. hard to tell; 4. no connection.

Q14: Your understanding of the Dalai’s position is
1. not understanding at all; 2. don’t understand it really; 3. normal; 4. some understanding; 5. very understanding.

Q15: The Dalai’s political position which left the deepest impression on you
1. not acknowledging that Tibet has long been part of China, saying that on the PLA’s entry into Tibet in 1949, it was a completely independent country, and still being an illegally occupied independent country.
2. Scheming a non-existing historical “Greater Tibet” (referring to all of Tibet, much of Qinghai, Gansu’s Gannan Autonomous Region, [certain territories in Sichuan and Yunnan, (...)] together constituting a quarter of the PRC’s territory).
3. under the name of a high degree of autonomy, denying to be overthrowing the existing social and political order in Tibet. Saying that except for diplomacy and defense, all other policies, economics, culture, education, religion etc. should be administered by “Tibetans”.
4. Demanding the central government should withdraw the PLA from “Greater Tibet’s” territory, i. e. from a quarter of the country’s territory.
5. [unclear]
6. Others (please note) ______.

Q16: [unclear]

Q17: Which from the following positions do you support? (“1″ means opposing it, “5″ means absolutely supporting it – the higher the number, the more affirmation and support it expresses.)

- end of sheet two, original here »

strongly against dissatisfied don’t care Rather supportive Very supportive
1. your position on Parisian mayor giving honorary citizenship to Dalai is: 1 2 3 4 5
2. The French government’s position on the Dalai problem and its handling is: 1 2 3 4 5
3. [reprint of line 2] 1 2 3 4 5

Q18: Your position on the current relations between China and France:
1. very pessimistic; 2. rather pessimistic; 3. don’t know; 4. rather optimistic; 5. very optimistic.

2. Basic Information

Q19: Your sex is:
1. male; 2. female.

Q20: Your age is
1. 15 – 19; 2. 20 – 29; 3. 30 – 39;  4. 40 – 49; 5. 50 – 59; 6. 60 plus.

Q21: how long have you lived abroad?
1. 1 – 2 years; 2. 3 – 5 years; 3. 5 – 10 years; 4. more than ten years.

Q22: Your highest current educational level is
1. less than elementary or early middle school; 2. College; 3. Polytech; 4. diploma; 5. doctorate.

Q23: what is your current occupation?
1. expert, technician or similar;
2. government official or similar;
3. business administration;
4. ordinary company employee
5. farming, .., forestry, fishery, pig breeding;
6. worker in production, transport, logistics etc.
7. Not fitting into these categories

To add to overseas Chinese peoples’ understanding of the Tibet problem, your suggestions are:

__________________.

Once again, thank you for your support and participation, wishing you success with your work!

- end of sheet three, original here »

=====================================

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rio Tinto Employees jailed

Shanghai Number One Intermediate People’s Court has sentenced Stern Hu to 12 years in prison (of which he is to serve ten), Wang Yong, Liu Caikui and Ge Minqiang will serve between seven and 14 years in prison, reports the Telegraph.

Any appeal would need to be lodged in the next ten days.

A media release by Rio Tinto quotes its iron ore CEO Sam Walsh as saying that evidence in court had shown  beyond doubt that the four convicted employees had accepted bribes. By doing this they engaged in deplorable behaviour that is totally at odds with our strong ethical culture. In accordance with our policies we will terminate their employment.

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Related
Tag: Rio Tinto »

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tomb Sweeping: the Need to be there

He sacrificed to the dead, as if they were present. He sacrificed to the spirits, as if the spirits were present. The Master said, “I consider my not being present at the sacrifice, as if I did not sacrifice.”
The Analects

Guangzhou’s Yinhe Cemetary (银河园), next to Guangzhou Crematorium, has seen the first peak of worshippers this weekend. About 20,000 people gave their respects to their ancestors, more than a week ahead of the official tomb sweeping day (清明节), which is on April 5 this year, reports Southern Metropolis Daily (南方都市报). Bringing forward the visits to the cemetary helped to “see” ones ancestors somewhat earlier, and to avoid the rush expected on and around Tomb Sweeping Day itself.

The Guangzhou crematorium added 200 jì bài tái (祭拜台, shines or benches for burning incense) this year, and with more such benches, worship becomes more efficient, Southern Metropolis writes with some discomfort. If it was up to the cemetary’s management, ancestral tablets rather than the ashes of the dead would be the object of worship, but the public doesn’t seem to approve of the idea. Southern Metropolis quotes visitors as saying that only when they see the ashes of their loved ones, their mind is at ease. It’s worth taking the trouble of coming to the cemetary, they say.

The paper writes that the actual issue isn’t efficiency, but the funeral industry’s profits, and quotes China National Radio (CNR) as reporting on Sunday that funeral-related articles and services such as cinerary caskets at a wholesale price of 260 Yuan are sold to mourners at astronomical 16,000 Yuan in the Beijing-Tianjin area.

The bereaved are often facing a “deal-or-no-deal” situation, as the funeral company’s are mostly state-owned. As the relatives of the deceased are frequently facing a monopolist crematorium, their refusal to  agree to its services and price list can lead to a rather undignified treatment for the dead, writes Southern Metropolis.

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Related

汶川震后首个清明节, sina.com.cn, April 4, 2009
Rising Cost of Dying, Financial Times, April 28, 2009
Ba Yi, The Analects, Chinese Text Project

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