Posts tagged ‘spring’

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 in Review (1): The Imperfect Photograph

« see second photo there


Spring festival at home.

I went out every day, and took a photograph of Grandma there. This is the one I like most, although, unfortunately, it’s blurred.

Grandma doesn’t smile easily, in line with the restraint of the older generation in the old families. She didn’t want me to take photos of her, but I kept insisting. As I lifted my camera over and over again and asked her to smile, she’d smile as if she couldn’t help it – she seemed to smile in a quizzical way, amused by my stubbornness.

I like her smile on this portrait best. It’s a slight smile of someone who has read the state of human affairs very closely.

We moved here twenty-four years ago. The wall behind her seems to want to match her age. For two years, hearsay has been that there will be demolitions here. I certainly hate the idea of having to part.

Hu Cheng (胡成), photographer and freelance writer.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The “Great Leap Forward”, Frank Dikötter, and a Blogging Break

It’s time for a few days’ break from blogging, unless Jiang Zemin passes away, Yang Rui gets uncovered as a spy for the CIA, or if similarly sensational news should break. I will be back to blogging by this coming Friday.

Less than an hour before midnight (daylight saving time), June 23, 2012

Less than an hour before midnight (daylight saving time), June 23, 2012

This season involves a lot of work, and what remains of the day should be devoted to family, friends, and contemplation of the midnight sun. It’s not quite that in this region, but the northern fringes of the skies never turn completely dark. You may not see the road at certain times of the night, but you’ll see the light between the treetops.

* * * * * * * *

I have some reservations when it comes to the work of sinologists like Frank Dikötter or Thomas Weyrauch. Weyrauch is German, but when I read one of his books (and I’ve read only one by Weyrauch), it seemed to be a sample of how – old-school – Chinese Republicans abroad are ticking these days.

A lot has been made of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation‘s co-sponsorship of Dikötter’s Mao’s Great Famine project. It wasn’t serious academics who took issue, as far as I can see, but many fenqings and CCP apologists did. After all, only the victorious must author China’s history. That’s tradition. At court, the good historian praises the powers that be, and denounces defeated previous dynasties. (It may be unthinkable for CCP fans that a funding organization may not necessarily determine the outcome of a project.)

Richard (The Peking Duck) embedded a documentary movie about the Great Leap Forward in one of his most recent posts. It seems to base its message basically on the takes of two academics, Yang Jisheng (杨继绳) and Frank Dikötter (and exclusively on Dikötter when it comes to statistics):

It was the Great Leap Forward. But the crazy dream became a nightmare, and dragged 650 million Chinese people into hell. The country sank into economic chaos, which caused an unprecedented famine. The terrible death toll was around 45 million.

People like Dikötter – and Weyrauch – play an important role, as they question a narrative or historiography which is to an unreasonable extent influenced by the CCP, even among foreign sinologists. But they, in turn, need to be questioned, too. A good article or review to that end, it seems to me, is a piece written by Cormac Ó Gráda, in 2011, on Dikötter’s Mao’s Great Famine.

A commenter thread on the Peking Duck‘s post starts here. For the dynamics of such threads as I see them, I would recommend to use such threads as some kind of quarry. Different commenters will gain from different chains of discussion within; and the Peking Duck’s threads are famous for starting with lively debates, and descending into dogged exchanges of more or less argumentative broadsides after the first one, two, or three dozens of comments.

In their own way, they are samples of what an anonymous or semi-anonymous discourse (as the late Mark Anthony Jones might have termed it) between CCP critics, apologists and the critics’ angry critics will usually look like.



» Mao’s Great Famine, documentary movie synopsis, 2011


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Another Year of the Cats

And after all the politics in the previous posts, it’s time for something nice. Let’s take a look at what’s going on in the “K” family these days.

Kittens and mouse.


This basket is too big for all of us…


… but let’s meet somewhere else.

Obviously, cats aren’t always cute, but that picture I took outdoors of the (probable) remains of a hunting scene is too ugly to be posted on a blog that might be read without parental guidance.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Easter Approaches, Hence Slowing Output

Reading offline and spring refurbishing duties might slow my blogging activities down for a few days. But JR will be back – promised. I’m still in love with blogging, just as that cat is still in love with the old gift basket.

Cat in Circles

Now a big tomcat, but there's nothing as homely as this childhood basket

Meantime, Beijing Cream, a frequently-updated blog, might keep you informed, or entertained, or both. (I have no idea who’s blogging there, but it seems they only went online in February this year.)

Or you might want to read that story where all your questions about Gu Kailai, the deranged Red Queen of Chongqing, will be answered. King Tubby, the deranged blogger from Australia, is full of rumors, of course, but he was kind enough to mention my blog there – he just was too much at odds with his computer to link here.

And anyone who is interested in the battle between Fang Zhouzi and Han Han should read this post by Huo Long, and engage in a debate, if there’s something to add.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Valentine’s Day in Washington, D.C.

Yaxue Cao describes a day in the American capital, with Xi Jinping, Geng He, and – in a way – Chen Guangcheng.



» Human Rights and the Isolation Factor, July 5, 2008


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Blogging between the Seasons

This has been a mild winter so far – it felt like fall in November and December, and spring has been in the air for much of this month. It still is, despite the first snow of this winter that fell last week. Most of it melted away, before it started freezing again, yesterday afternoon. After two unusually cold and snowy winters in 2009/10 and 2010/11, I’ve heard nobody complain about too little snow yet, not even around Christmas. In normal years, complaints of that kind would be essential bits of smalltalk.

Between the seasons

Between the seasons

I’m spending no less time at blogging than before, but I’m taking more input than usual – reading, exchanging e-mails, and writing offline to prepare posts. The good thing is that I’ve translated about two thirds of the CCP central committee’s “cultural document” so far, so there’s land ahoy in that field.

Anyway, my posting frequency will remain somewhat lower than usual, during the coming weeks.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Train No. K-904: a Spring Festival Carol

A China National Radio (中国广播网, CNR) story, but in JR‘s own words).

Main Link:

The train in question left from Xiamen (Fujian Province), with the destination of Taiyuan (Shanxi Province). And when a girl named Zhang Yaya (张娅娅), a Hubei Normal University student on her way home to Jincheng, southeastern Shanxi Province, suddenly didn’t find her suitcase anymore, a suitcase with a notebook and lots of relevant academic papers in it. A young man had left the train earlier and in a haste, other passengers said, and had apparently mistaken her suitcase for his own, as the two pieces of luggage looked very similar to each other. With help from other passengers, who had seen the young man leave the train, and a People’s Policeman’s cumbersome travels of four days and three nights through three provinces (Shanxi, Henan, and Hubei), the two suitcases were restored to their actual owners, who felt unspeakable relief (感叹“不可思议”), and felt the warmth of travelling home all the more (更是感受到了回家路上的温暖).

To address the reservations an insignificant minority of mean-hearted readers might have about this story, People’s Police inspector Li Hao (李浩) informs us that the young man’s suitcase contained some good stuff, too, and that if he had meant to steal Ms Zhang’s suitcase, he’d have placed an empty suitcase next to hers. The left suitcase’s contents also helped the police to find its owner, in Shiyan (十堰市), Hubei Province.

All the lucky travellers knew was that the policeman’s surname was Li, because he had only said that he was from the People’s Police, and that his family name was Li.

Fortunately, the press took care of the missing information, i. e. Mr. Li’s given name, Li Hao). Young people can be so careless these days (just JR’s personal opinion).



» Dragon (Zodiac), Wikipedia (as of Jan 19, 2012)
» Everything they possess, ChinaHush, Jan 12, 2012
» In Praise of the Times and the People, Nov 14, 2011


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rain at Last / Blogging

Weather Report

Rainpipe - Home while it Lasted

Rainpipe - Home while it Lasted

I prefer warm and dry days to rainy and cold ones. But after a spring like this one, it’s a relief to see that it’s raining, and that the rain has become continuous.

It feels good, too. When I was caught by a squally shower a few days ago, on my way home by bike, even that felt good. Some farmers may look at it as a bad joke, but it’s surprising how much of the crops still seems to recover, even if the first silage of the year was very poor.


All in all, the English-language, China-related blogosphere seems to have become much calmer than what it used to be – here, too. Probably for a number of reasons, but not least for these commenting rules, readers may think carefully before commenting on these blogposts, and that’s a good thing. But across the board, or where I’m reading, anyway, comment activites have slowed down. One might attribute that to a decrease of interest in China, at least among newsreaders, even if not in terms of business or investment. But the opportunities to read about China, including translations from Chinese-language sources, have broadened a lot.

Danwei has drawn its own conclusions:

So we have decided to change our focus. We’re relaunching on We will publish periodic issues based around a theme, rather than daily news updates.

That said, Justrecently’s Beautiful Blog has never been about daily news updates. I merely focus on topics that interest me, and see this blog as, well, part of the internet. I may miss out on important trends or even big single events, and I take this opportunity to recommend every blog or website I’ve linked to at my blogroll to the right, underneath the comment section and the Three Represents (Net Nanny / Hermit / Good Ganbu). Besides, when looking at this blog’s statistics on a month-to-month basis, from 2011 back to 2008, “visits” have risen every year so far. So there seem to be some interested readers, and ClustrMaps (according to who the numbers would be much smaller than what the WordPress stats suggest) shows hits from all over the globe, including China.

So I’ll happily muddle on. No Facebook account, no YouTube channel (although I’ve given that some thought more recently – still pondering the idea), and no Twitter. A blog appears to be the ideal platform to write (publicly) what I want to write.

%d bloggers like this: