Summer holiday 2015

Summer holiday 2015
JISHOU, HUNAN — Classes and exams ended over a week ago, but I was obliged to stay in town until the Public Security Bureau returned my passport, complete with a new residence permit. I was luckier than Ai WeiWei. I only had to wait three weeks to get my passport back. He waited four years, for entirely different reasons, of course. In the meantime, I booked my tickets to, around and from the USA, got invited to a wedding this Saturday, and settled where I’d go between the wedding and my departure for the US on Aug. 3. Xi’an. I’ve been talking about visiting Xi’an and the Terracotta Soldiers for a few years now, but till now hadn’t gotten around to going. It’s about time, I guess. So, here’s my itinerary for the next few weeks. July 24 (Friday): Zhangjiajie, Hunan, to attend a wedding party July 26: Changsha, Hunan, overnight stay July 27: High speed rail to Xi’an,Sha’anxi (travel time 6 hours) July 31: High speed rail to Hengyang, Hunan, to visit a friend (travel time 7 hours) Aug. 2: Return to Changsha, overnight stay Aug. 3: fly to Shanghai, onward to Chicago and Cedar Rapids Aug. 13: Amtrak ...

Dissident artist Ai WeiWei gets his passport back after 4 years

Dissident artist Ai WeiWei gets his passport back after 4 years
Chinese authorities returned artist Ai WeiWei’s passport this week, four years after they confiscated it for unspecified reasons. Ai is an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, which has responded by harassing him in various ways. In April 2011 authorities seized the passport as Ai was on his way to Hong Kong, and detained him for 81 days for alleged tax evasion and financial misconduct. He was released on probation for those charges, then later was charged with trafficking in pornography after exhibiting photographs of himself in the nude. Security police also closely monitor his movements within Beijing, where he is essentially under house arrest. Plus, his studios outside Shanghai were bulldozed down, supposedly because he had failed to get proper permits and pay taxes on the property. This week, also for unspecified reasons, authorities gave him a new passport. Ai posted a photo of it in his Instagram account @aww. This is China. More details at CNN.

Chinese entrepreneurs create Uniqlo sex video T-shirts

Chinese entrepreneurs create Uniqlo sex video T-shirts
In a move sure to upset both Uniqlo’s PR department and China’s overanxious censors, several entrepreneurs are selling T-shirts commemorating the now-famous Uniqlo sex video. The video, which was shot by a young couple in a Beijing clothing store fitting room, hit the Internet last week and has sent China’s censors scrambling to wipe it off the Internet and Uniqlo spokesmen to deny the company had any part in the activity. Beijing police have arrested five people, including the couple, they say were involved in the video. The couple are both university students, although it remains to be seen how long that status will last. Following up on something I read in The Guardian, I visited www.taobao.com and found several merchants marketing T-shirts ranging in price from 28.80 RMB ($4.60) — shown at left — to a princely 85.00 RMB ($13.78) for one with a hand drawn picture. Here’s a selection. This one omits the racy photograph and merely says: “Tonight, I’m in SanLiTun [shopping district] Uniqlo, waiting for you. PS: You’re not allowed to bring your cellphone!” Also 28.80 RMB. This one is 78.80 RMB ($12.50) and just plain ugly. I’m not sure if the man is hairy or ...

Beijing police arrest five people in connection with Uniqlo sex video

Note: Google AdSense required me to remove the image that accompanied this post. UPDATE: I missed the CNN International report from Hong Kong yesterday. I’ve added details from that below. China’s censors are not amused at all by the video of a young couple having sex in a Uniqlo fitting room. Beijing police have arrested five people in connection with the video, which went viral on Chinese social media last week. The five include the couple and three others, all but one unnamed by officials. Police have identified the bespectacled man in the video a 19-year-old university student, surnamed Sun. This report (in Chinese), identifies the couple as two students at Beijing Art University, complete with their Sina Weibo handles, but not their real names. The couple apparently made the video in April at a Beijing Uniqlo store, and shared it with their friends. One of the friends then shared it on Tencent’s WeChat, and it quickly went viral before censors pulled it off. Police are also looking for the person who uploaded the video, and state authorities are admonishing officials of China’s two social media giants, Tencent and Sina, for allowing the video online, as well as investigating whether ...

Beijing couple’s changing room sex video goes viral, censors busy

Beijing couple's changing room sex video goes viral, censors busy
JISHOU, HUNAN — An adventurous Beijing couple (at left) filmed themselves Tuesday making love in a Uniqlo clothing store changing room, and posted the video to their social media accounts. You can predict what happened next. It went viral. And China’s censors have been working overtime trying to keep the 1m20s video off the Internet. Now that it’s on the BitTorrent network (where I found it), they have no hope of stamping it out. The government has condemned the video as being contrary to “core socialist values,” which apparently preclude having sex in changing rooms, or posting sex videos, or something. Meanwhile, Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing brand, has denied it played any role in promoting the video as a marketing ploy. It has raised its, um, visibility in the market, though. More details at The Guardian.

#PlutoTime in Jishou, China

#PlutoTime in Jishou, China
As you’ve probably heard by now, the New Horizons probe swung past Pluto yesterday, taking the first close-up photos of the most distant planet (now classified a dwarf planet) in the solar system. Pluto is almost 32 times further from the Sun than Earth is, so midday on the surface of Pluto is going to be a lot dimmer than it is here. But how much dimmer? Well, as it turns out, there’s enough light to read a book, though standing outside near a lake of frozen nitrogen is probably not a wise choice. Better bring a blanket. NASA has a web app, called Pluto Time, to give you an idea of the lighting conditions on Pluto’s surface. Find your location on a map of the Earth and it will tell you the time when the ambient light on Earth approximates the conditions on Pluto, minus the starry skies and frozen lakes of nitrogen that your feet have just melted into. Generally speaking, #PlutoTime on Earth is in twilight, either before sunrise or after sunset. For Jishou today, it was 7:44 pm. So after dinner, I went to the top of my apartment building and took five shots of the ...

On-again, off-again superskyscraper in Changsha is on again

On-again, off-again superskyscraper in Changsha is on again
JISHOU, HUNAN — Two years ago, I wrote about Sky City, a skyscraper proposed for the city of Changsha that would be the world’s tallest building. It was also supposed to be the world’s first prefabricated skyscraper. Well, that didn’t quite come off as planned. Instead of 202 floors, there are only 57. In effect, this more modest Mini Sky City serves as a working proof of concept for the original plan, which the builders, Broad Sustainable Building, have not abandoned at all. In 2013, I expressed surprise that builders had gotten permission for such an audacious project — a super-skyscraper in Changsha, which is, after all, only a provincial capital and not world-famous like Shanghai or Beijing. I figured government mucky-mucks would object to Changsha stealing thunder from the country’s metropolises. Indeed, last year, one of my friends in Changsha told me Sky City had failed to get the necessary building permits, and construction had been halted. Well, it turns out the main problem was its colossal height. A 202-story Sky City would poke its head right into flight paths around Huanghua International Airport, and aviation authorities nixed that idea. Sky City was in fact completed this February, but ...

BBC photo-essay captures the changes in my area of China

BBC photo-essay captures the changes in my area of China
JISHOU, HUNAN — The BBC Magazine today has an excellent photo-essay describing how the urbanization of China has affected one family profoundly. Although the farming village in question is not in Hunan, it’s not very far from where I live, about 350 km as the crow flies. (See map, above. I’ve circled major cities and the Three Gorges Dam to help in reading this Bing.com map.) Much of what BBC reporter Carrie Gracie says has happened to the family of Xiao Zhang has happened to countless families all across China. I teach some of their children here at Jishou University, students who in many cases are the first in their village to attend university, whose grandparents are barely literate, and whose parents left the village to work in the big cities. To cope with the hundreds of millions of rural people flooding into the big cities to find work, China’s has undertaken huge modernization projects — wiping out entire rural villages and building small cities on top of them. From one perspective, it’s a terrible loss of an age-old way of life. The villagers really did not have much choice in the matter, as previous BBC reports detailed. But from ...

In memoriam: Carla Wu

In memoriam: Carla Wu

RIP Carla Wu 吴双 1

RIP Carla Wu 吴双
It is with great sorrow I report the passing of my dear friend and student, Carla Wu (吴双 Wu Shuang), on June 10, at the tender age of 25. Carla was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the summer of 2013, after feeling sharp pains in her left thigh. She underwent surgery and had chemotherapy over several months, and was feeling well enough to get married in January this year. But the pain in her leg came back, and soon she was complaining of lower back pain as well, by late February. Doctors said the cancer had spread to her kidneys. Because she was pregnant, they postponed any aggressive treatment, hoping the baby could be born first. Sadly, she lost the baby (a boy) in April, and subsequent chemotherapy proved to be ineffective. She died peacefully surrounded by her family just a few days ago. Her husband told me the news tonight. I am of course very sad. Shuang Shuang (her nickname) was one of the first students I had in China; she entered Jishou University in 2008 as an English education major. A shy girl, she was not very confident of her speaking ability in English, and so we had few ...

The class trip to Chongqing

The class trip to Chongqing
CHONGQING– It’s a little late in coming, but here’s a rundown on the trip in late April with the junior class. Each year, students are expected to go on a “practical experience” trip, which is essentially the equivalent of an American spring break trip, but with a couple of teachers along. In the past, students could choose from several destinations, such as Hainan, Guilin/Yangshuo, Beihai, Chongqing, Beijing, and even Fenghuang for those pressed for cash. This year, however, all 150 or so juniors for the College of International Communications went together on a three-day trip to Chongqing. The journey included visits to two factories, one in Jishou and the other in Chongqing. I suppose the national education bureau wants these “practical experiences” to have some kind of relationship to the students’ major and just not be a frivolous trip. As before, though, the students have to write reports on their experiences, so no matter what, the trips were still part of the curriculum. Good thing none of us Americans are required to report on our spring break junkets. Hoo boy! We left on Monday morning (April 2) on three chartered buses. Our first stop was a manganese processing facility about ...

The Yangtze River boat disaster

The Yangtze River boat disaster
JISHOU, HUNAN — I’m sure you’ve heard or seen reports of the recent cruise boat disaster in the Yangtze River (also called ChangJiang 长江). The Eastern Star suddenly capsized in severe weather near Jianli, Hubei province, claiming more than 300 lives. Hubei is the province just north of Hunan province, where I live. (See map, above.) The “hu” part of their names refers to Dongting Lake (dongting hu 洞庭湖), which is part of the Yangtze River system. Bei 北 means north and nan 南 means south. Jianli County is across the river from Yueyang, Hunan, where some of the victim’s bodies washed up on shore, some 50 km (30 miles) from the accident. We’ve had heavy rains and storms on and off these past two weeks here. The Yangtze is about a mile or two wide near Yueyang and Jianli, and storms can do some pretty weird things over open bodies of water. On the night of the disaster, some ships put to shore to ride out a heavy thunderstorm, but the Eastern Star continued on its way upriver to Chongqing. Survivors reported heavy winds — perhaps a cyclone or tornado — and the ship suddenly listing to one side, ...
Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com