Tourists are freaks. (For context: I work in Times Square.) Tourists are unnatural to the environment into which they insert themselves; they walk funny; they talk wrong. David Foster Wallace wrote (in a footnote) that to be a tourist “is to spoil, by way of sheer ontology, the very unspoiledness you are there to experience. It is to impose yourself on places that in all noneconomic ways would be better, realer, without you.” Something similar might also be said of journalists, who also insert themselves awkwardly on someone else’s turf. But the journalist, if we’re being high-minded about it, serves some civic or artistic purpose; the presence of the tourist [...]
Today begins the 15-day celebration of the Chinese New Year. According to the Chinese zodiac, we are saying goodbye to the year of the snake (get outta here, snake!) and welcoming the year of the horse. More specifically: each year is also assigned an interaction with one of the Chinese elementals that make up the universe, so this year is the year of the Wooden Horse, which may not have the undertones of Grecian subterfuge in China that it has here.
Those born in the year of each of the 12 animals are said to share personality traits with the animal in the year of which they are born. [...]
July 26th brought news items reporting two separate incidents of curious holiday gastronomy. First, tourists in the Paracel Islands posted pictures of a meal of Tridacna gigas—endangered giant clams. At the same time, vacationers in Greece snapped photos of themselves hoisting an extraordinarily rare "hexapus," only the second ever recorded, just before killing it and frying it in a nearby pub. Yet only one of these stories was largely used as evidence to feed an expansive and growing set of opinions about an entire nationality and culture.
Of all China's frighteningly fast advances, international travel is, in light of history, maybe its most stunning. Two decades [...]
"Chinese authorities said they found more than 3,300 dead pigs in a river that supplies water to Shanghai, a stark illustration of China's problems with environmental pollution." On the other hand, the opportunities to make jokes are off the charts.
"Chinese TV extra Shi Zhongpeng, 26… appeared as a member of the Japanese forces more than 200 times last year, the Qianjiang Evening News reported, sometimes dying on set eight times in a single day."
The world runs a little bit more smoothly without troublesome humans mucking up the works. Consider the least sexy sex scandal of all time, 60-year-old David Patraeus and his various middle-aged twin Florida gal pals and wives and shirtless old FBI agents trying to figure out this whole "sexting" business. Why not just have drones do the war fightin', right? OH WAIT THIS IS OBAMA'S PLAN.
Meanwhile, in China, there is trouble at the factories that produce our beloved iPhones and iPads and those iDevices currently manufactured in a compromise size between that of the iPhone and the iPad. The workers want the jobs, because of the [...]
Dozens called foul in Flushing, Queens on Saturday, unable to cross Main Street due to a parade of nearly 1,000 Falun Gong practitioners protesting persecution in China.
Police refused to allow onlookers to cut across the rally, saying only they might be held for up to 45 minutes.
“I had to be somewhere at 12:30,” cried one lady.
“The combination of a Horse year and a 'yang wood' year, which comes round every 60 years, has a record of regional warfare. The last such year was 1954, which witnessed the Battle of Dien Bien Phu that ended with the defeat of France by the Vietnamese. The previous such year was 1894, which marked the start of the first Sino-Japanese war. Alion Yeo, another Hong Kong feng shui practitioner, predicted extra turbulence in February, May and August.” —2014 was relatively good, for 28 days at least.
In addition, Minter is appearing tonight, November 13th, at 6 p.m. at the New School.
It's a book one might call “a lifetime in the making.” For the last dozen years, Adam Minter has lived in Shanghai, writing about the global scrap industry, the fortunes it created, the lives and environments it's ruined and how its fortunes paralleled those of the pre- and post-crash global economy. The result is Junkyard Planet, [...]
A spot about a father suffering from Alzheimer's is the most popular of a new series of ads that has young people on China's social networks talking—or better put, it has them talking about crying. "Every time I see it I cry," writes one Weibo user. Hers is a typical reaction. Filial piety might seem a laughable topic for a public-service campaign in the west, but in China, it's the basis for a campaign aimed to guilt kids into thinking about the elderly. Making China's youth cry is not enough, though; China needs the new generation to act on that guilt, to buy into the Confucian ideal [...]
Of all it has embraced, the booming artisanal movement has so far passed over one largely extinct 19th-century practice: opium smoking in the old manner.
But in a book out last year, one collector of antique opium-smoking paraphernalia documents how his fascination with a lost era's artifacts led to an attempt to recreate and live in a lost era of chandu, resulting in an opium addiction of "the traditional manner" that reached a peak of thirty pipes a day. I spoke with author Steven Martin about his book, Opium Fiend: A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addiction, his Opium Museum project, and the cultural legacy of [...]
"Cock wire Mike Sui!" yelled one of the young men in the crowd. "Cock wire Sui is awesome!" The kimono robe and mirrored sunglasses, like some kind of last-minute frat-boy Halloween costume, that Mike Sui was wearing when he leapt onto the stage, had been shed, and Sui now prowled the stage in cargo shorts and a Nike t-shirt.
Before April, a slim few, if any, in this Shanghai crowd would have known Sui's name. And before April, NetEase, one of China's largest Internet companies, certainly would not have asked Sui to emcee its stage at China Joy, the nation's largest gaming and digital entertainment exhibition. But now it was [...]
"An online survey has projected that almost 39.8% of male internet users in China and 38.7% of female users are obese. Almost half of the remaining internet users surveyed have persistently gained weight over the past five years, reports the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily…. The weight Chinese put on over the past decade is almost equivalent to the weight westerners gained over the past 30 years, said experts."
"China successfully launched a lunar probe into space Monday morning, on a two-week journey to deliver a robotic rover to the surface of the moon. The mission marks China's first attempt at soft-landing a spacecraft on an extra-terrestrial body, and could benefit future plans to land Chinese astronauts on the moon." —Dear China,
Please cut yourself some slack on this one and just go for the hard landing. Do not worry about hurting the moon, just RAM THAT ROBOTIC ROVER INTO ITS STUPID SATELLITE CRUST UNTIL WE CAN HEAR THE SCREAMS OF MOON PAIN FROM SPACE. I mean, whatever, do what you feel like, but, you know, if [...]
"H7N9 bird flu is considered a low pathogenic strain that cannot easily be contracted by humans," the AP reports from Beijing. Well that would be very comforting for humans (if not for birds), except for the sad fact that the wire story is about the first two humans known to be killed by H7N9. Another infected human is in critical condition.
But it's supposedly a low-level virus and not the SARS kind of crazy—that virus jumped to humans from a weird kind of wildcat cruelly captured and then kept in cages to sell to bad people at markets. SARS eventually killed 775 of the 8,000 infected during that [...]
"Half of all pigs live in China – and well over half of them eat feed laced with antibiotic 'growth promoters'. Now Chinese and US researchers have found that this practice is spawning a tide of antibiotic-resistant bacteria."
One of the links passed around Twitter by China watchers yesterday was a photo gallery of "little warriors playing the game 'Defend the Diaoyu Islands.'" (The Islands being the disputed territory that sparked the nation's recent anti-Japan protests.) Armed with plastic assault rifles and (adorable!) berets, the children completed boot camp-like obstacle courses such as shimmying under razor wire (kidding; just string) while gripping tiny Chinese flags in their mouths (not kidding).
It's been two-and-a-half years since we first wrote about the Red Dawn reboot after coming across an early script. Then, the film's original 2010 release date was postponed; in the interim, the army invading America was [...]