The randomness of inaccessibility

UPDATE 28/7/2010 11:25 am: And now everything is back to “normal.” But Firefox went south on me, Winamp got trapped in a loop somehow, and even taskmgr couldn’t kill it. After I shut down the computer, and restarted, the “blocked” sites listed below were accessible again. So I laid blame on the Great Firewall, but maybe it was my laptop or Vista Home edition.

JISHOU, HUNAN — Yesterday, I could access a whole slew of my favorite websites. Today, I can’t. I blame the Great Firewall of China.

In fact, my own website (this one) is now blocked. I am using the Ultrasurf proxy to climb the Great Firewall just to post this.

And to aggravate me even more, Wikipedia seems also to be blocked, just as I was beginning the last phase of a long term project to edit Wiki entries about locations in Hunan, using my students’ research papers as the sources. I managed to edit the Jishou entry two days ago. Now, I’ll have to use the proxy to continue.

Here’s a partial list of what I could access yesterday, but cannot today.

And here’s what seems so far to be unaffected.

It’s not the end of the world, since I can still access them. But it’s a nuisance, and there seems to be no pattern to the blocking. Why block the NY Times and not the WaPo? Why block a non-political webcomic? Or Yahoo’s mail service? Or my own site?

On the other hand, maybe the university’s DNS servers have taken a short summer vacation, but that would still not explain the randomness of inaccessibility. (Hmm, good book title. Remember everyone: I have copyright! It just became the title of this post.)

Chinese netizens were all a-twitter about the sudden accessibility of porn sites several weeks. The ostensible reason for China’s tight control of the Internet has been to clamp down on online pornography. When porn came online again, it just revealed what everyone already knows — China’s net nannies want to restrict website access for political reasons.

The Associated Press (always quick on the uptake) only ran a piece about it four days ago. Now the sites mentioned in the AP article are blocked again. Apparently, someone in China reads the AP wire.

WordPress, the platform I use for this blog, allows me to email plaintext posts to a secret email address. I may resort to using that feature if Ultrasurf stops working, as the Tor proxy network did earlier this year.

Plus ça change, plus la meme chose.

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