Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Blogspot is almost always blocked at its regular IP address. However, most of us foreigners are usually able to access it easily enough via an alternate IP address we've plugged into our Firefox browser. At the 'second level' of censorship arsiness, that gets blocked too.
The 'third level' is blocking even via robust proxy services like Anonymouse. We had that for a while a couple of weeks ago; but mercifully, the Kafka Boys aren't quite that pissed off with us at the moment.
I imagine blocking a multi-server proxy like that must be quite a complex undertaking. So, sometimes the chaps down at Kafka Central will just skip straight to the next level - which appears to be blocking the Net access of individual computers (an IT boffin I know didn't think this was possible, or at least had never heard of it being done - but I've now encountered two other foreigners who suffered from this, as I did, the other week).
The 'fifth level' - one step more extreme than that, but rather easier to implement - would be cutting off your home Internet connection entirely. (Although I suppose these days most people are using wi-fi a lot of the time; that would explain the appeal of blocking computers rather than connections. Maybe blocking a specific computer should actually be regarded as a higher level of obstructiveness.)
And the 'sixth level' would be being taken into custody. I would imagine that only native 'dissidents' would be in danger of that. We irreverent, super-critical laowai will simply be told - if we make one unsuitable joke too many - that our visas or our tax records are out of order, and be asked to leave the country at a few hours' notice.
But I think I'd be a lot less vexed if I knew that this was going to be the situation from here on and I could steel myself to embrace these irksome adaptations to my online life as permanent. The chopping and changing of the censorship regime every few days adds salt to the wounds, even when it's a change for the better.
This endless vacillating makes the Chinese government look even more buffoonish (buffoonish and goonish - not a good combination!) than usual. It makes it look as if they just can't decide what to block and why. It makes it look as if consistency in policy is quite beyond them. It makes it look (and I suspect there is some truth in this) as though the Internet censorship apparatus is so intricate that they're not really fully in control of it ("Ooops, what does this switch do?").
Also, of course, it fuels panicky speculation about the ongoing civil unrest. "They're tightening up on the Net censorship again! Did something really bad just happen out west??"
Trying to censor the Internet like this is just a really, really, really dumbass thing to do. But this is China. The country is run by a bunch of insecure assclowns.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Headache, cough, and runny eyes -
The air in Beijing!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Favourite Posts, October-December 2007
1) Mooncakes are SHITE - 2nd October
2) Hush - 5th October
3) Reading the traffic - 7th October
4) Fighting the good fight, Chinglish-style - 16th October
5) A teaching dream - 17th October
6) Another thwarted romance haiku - 19th October
7) Return of The Anti-30 League - 20th October
8) Today's hilarity in the studio - 23rd October
9) Why we love the Internet - 24th October
10) The Chinese DO have a sense of humour - 1st November
11) Things that are SHITE - Employers - 2nd November
12) Important announcement - safety regulations for Chinese air travel - 3rd November
13) Great moments in cinema history - 4th November
14) Dangerous freedom - 8th November
15) Chinese people LOVE me! (3) - 12th November
16) No. 038871 - 26th November
17) My brilliant website ideas - 29th November
18) Jobs I nearly had - 1st December
19) A haunting image - 2nd December
20) A different kind of haunting - 2nd December
24) Chinese people LOVE me! (9) - 4th December
25) My fantasy girlfriend - Rhapsody Angel - 8th December
26) In praise of cautious fear - 10th December
27) His Left Foot - 10th December
28) Messy break-ups - 14th December
29) The 'Evil Bastard Employers' - a case study - 15th December
30) A new poem - 18th December
31) I am a Penguin - 20th December
32) Addiction - 22nd December
33) Chinese people LOVE me! (12) - 22nd December
34) Token schmaltzy moment - 24th December
35) Music & Lyrics - 26th December
36) An illustrated haiku for the year's end - 28th December
37) 421!! - 29th December
38) The Year-End Roundup - 10 Favourite Moments Of 2007 - 30th December
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
My friend Sarah, The Life Coach, is going back to the UK to see her family in May, and will put on one of her "sort your life out, find a job you'd be happier in" seminars while she's there.
I'd be very tempted to go myself (god knows I need the help!) if I were in the country then. It's going to be a great weekend retreat in a lovely traditional inn (thatched roof and all) called the Royal Oak, in the Exmoor village of Winsford (ah, twinge of nostalgia - I regularly used to go there during my summer holidays as a kid). Do check out this link, and pass it on to anyone you know who you think might be interested.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Of course, the device has its limitations. Everyone starts off with piggy eyes, a button nose, and impossibly low-set ears; and although you can ameliorate these oddities - and the inevitable goofy overbite, of course - the range of customizations available is really pretty small (and some of them don't work at all: you're supposed to be able to use a slider control to vary hair and clothes colour, but....).
And just to get really freaky on you, here is me as a chick. You know how I love to stay in touch with "my feminine side"!
Thanks to Leah for alerting us all to this wonderful timewaster!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
"How much is that jacket?"
Friday, March 21, 2008
Then pulls plugs (or half of them).
The cat and its mouse.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
(First of what could become a long series....)
Actually, this could apply to most Chinese people, since they all too commonly share the hidebound thinking and inept techniques of argumentation propagated by their rulers and their state-controlled media.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
"Of course, you realise this means WAR?"
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
OK, I confess I am rather peeved to discover that the 'reading levels' of Froogville and Barstool Blues are supposedly only:
But the most astounding aberration of all from this rating system is that my old friend 'Keith Tolstoy' and his oddball potpourri of Internet beachcombings is the only site I can find to be rated as:
I tipped him off about this, and he has proudly bragged of the accolade and added it to his sidebar. Now, 'Tolstoy', dear mad 'Tolstoy', is indeed a gargantuan intellect - but there's little in his blog to reveal this: it is almost devoid of text. The mystery deepens.
I begin to suspect that this so-called Readability Test is largely or wholly based on the ratio of hotlinks (and/or embedded videos) to text..... which would actually make it a very poor measure of 'readability'. I imagine there might also be some sort of weighting for the kind of sites you link to (after all, I include a pretty high proportion of links myself, but mostly to other posts of my own, or to other blogs; whereas 'Tolstoy' links to a lot of highbrow newspapers), but it seems odd, inappropriate to gauge a site's 'readability' by reference to things outside the site itself.
I did ponder conducting a series of experiments to see if I could bump up my rating (more hotlinks, numbered footnotes, bibliographies, using words like 'esoteric' and 'eclectic' and 'effulgent' more often?), but...... really, what is the point? Most of the things that ought to count towards a higher 'reading level' - long sentences and paragraphs, correct grammar/punctuation/spelling, low use of slang and profanity, high use of Latin- or Greek-derived vocabulary, extended quotations, quotations in other languages, poetry - I can already claim, and it hasn't done me any good.
I'm not really bitter, honestly. I'm just a little irritated that it's such a ridiculously bogus test.
I was full of good intentions of heading out for a long run this morning - but not in these conditions. I think I'm going to cower at home all day, with all the doors and windows tightly shut. Indeed, I may try to stay inside all week - or until it clears up enough for me to be able to once again see those buildings 400 or 500 yards away.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Monica Baldwin (1893-1975) - a niece of the British Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, who spent 28 years in a nunnery.... and then came out to write a book about it, I Leap Over The Wall.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
All through that summer at ease we lay,
And daily from the turret wall
We watched the mowers in the hay
And the enemy half a mile away;
They seemed no threat to us at all.
For what, we thought, had we to fear
With our arms and provender, load on load,
Our towering battlements, tier on tier,
And friendly allies drawing near
On every leafy summer road.
Our gates were strong, our walls were thick,
So smooth and high, no man could win
A foothold there. No clever trick
Could take us, have us dead or quick.
Only a bird could have got in.
What could they offer us for bait?
Our captain was brave and we were true....
There was a little private gate,
A little wicked wicket gate.
The wizened warder let them through.
Oh, then our maze of tunneled stone
Grew thin and treacherous as air.
The cause was lost without a groan,
The famous citadel overthrown,
And all its secret galleries bare.
How can this shameful tale be told?
I will maintain until my death
We could do nothing, being sold;
Our only enemy was gold,
And we had no arms to fight it with.
Edwin Muir (1887-1959)
Saturday, March 15, 2008
And I was, of course, utterly smitten with the female protagonist, the spirited young Englishwoman Elizabeth Russell. There's something about lacy white blouses and straw hats..... and perhaps the suggestion of tension between the exterior primness and restraint and the passionate nature concealed within (I always maintain that Picnic At Hanging Rock is the most erotic film I've ever seen - don't laugh: I am quite serious!).
And, talking of colonial oppression..... I had wanted to look on YouTube to see if there were some clips from the fantastic cricket match finale I could add to this post...... but we have no YouTube in China at the moment (and, the way things are going, I fear we might never get it back). Dag nabbit!
Friday, March 14, 2008
Don't complain that you never learn anything from this blog.