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2011 in review

January 21, 2012 Leave a comment

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Show Me The Way to Go Home

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Christmas has come and gone, and Chinese men, women and children have celebrated this most western of festivals by doing what they do best – eating a lot and buying stuff. Christmas is especially popular in the cities of China, mostly because Chinese city-dwellers like to show off how cosmopolitan they are, and, essentially, that Chinese people are always fascinated by something that they’ve never seen before – a virgin.

The Chinese, being Chinese, have cherry picked the bits that they like best from this most western of tradition and turned into something that they can grasp and understand fully: taking the gift-giving and turning it into another excuse to go shopping. Thankfully, I’m not around to see this desecration of a holy tradition, and like many other, my thoughts turn to heading back home to spend time with the family. Unfortunately, since I’d been away from home for over 2 years (preceeded by a three and a half year absence) the re-entry shock hit me pretty hard.

One of of the things about progress is that you don’t really notice it. Things sneak up on you, and before you know it, it’s normal. Big Things happen when they happen overnight and general elections, but by and large, nothing worth noticing happens fast – language learning, weight loss (two of my favorites) and, of course, the swing in changes from one year to another in your home country that you haven’t visited for a while. In my case, almost two years. People don’t really know how to treat me, it’s kinda like having come out of a coma without the horrific head injuries or cool scars to show the girls.

To whit, here’s a brief rundown of what the UK is all about:

  • Everything must be cheap. People still think that the British economy is on the brink of destruction that will cause tea supplies to falter, cats and dogs to live together in harmony and the thunder of the hooves of the four horsemen to be heard galloping down the high street as the apocalypse approaches.
  • Everything must be low fat. I have the unenviable position of being able to watch infinite amounts of daytime TV, which is punctuated by almost infinite amounts of daytime TV advertising, and the general trend is that it’s alright to sell something that can kill you so long as it’s low in fat and can aid weight loss as a part of a low calorie breakfast.
  • Everyone is suing each other. Half the traders at Zhong Guan Cun would be out of business if mis-selling something was grounds for taking someone to court. Right now, the big thing seems to be PPI, the mis-selling thereof. I can’t actually tell you what PPI means or why you should care about it because the moment that I type in “mis-sold PPI” into Google, I’m inundated with ads, pumped-up click-through links and other nonsensica that I have to plough through in order to tell you what PPI means, and I’m just not that interested in it.
  • Good British TV ended around the time I was 13. It’s sad, but true. Digital TV, and, indeed digital radio has permeated even the remote village that I call home, and since there are 37 channels to choose from now, there are approximately 13,755 reruns of shows to choose from. I was 13 and we had four channels to choose from, and most of those consisted of re-runs and the occasional good show on ITV on Sunday night starting at 9pm.  The good news is that most of these shows are on on the new digital channels around 1:30 in the afternoon, so I can catch up with the just after I get up, and start my day with a good Poirot mystery or a even get treated to a Cheers/Scrubs double-bill at around 3pm.
  • Everyone talks about minor events in major terms. Eloquence seems to be a thing of the past, and expressing yourself in terms of getting drunk and yelling a lot is the norm.

Sounds a lot like China.

While I’m not really lamenting the dumbing down of the British media (I was doing that long before I left for China), I am lamenting how similar it’s become to Chinese TV, which given the quality of Chinese TV, is a particularly damning statement to make. It’s kinda sca..it’s f*cking terrifying to think that if my Chinese was good enough, what I watch on UK TV would be almost the same dross that I see when I turn on the box here (I’m looking in your direction China’s Got Talent).

I’ve been contemplating leaving China on a permanent basis, mostly because learning Chinese and teaching English are pretty much the only skills that I have, and at any one day of the week, I get sick and tire of one of them, but after being involved in a road rage incident a mere 20 minutes after leaving Manchester Airport car park, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be staying in the Middle Kindgom for a long time to come yet.

Sorry about that.

Categories: Commentary, Travel

China’s Censorship: A Year in Review

January 2, 2012 Leave a comment

William Farris is running a good retrospective on what gets censored in China complete with screenshots from major search engines from throughout the year