He is a most peculiar man

JISHOU, HUNAN — In the strange virtual society that is the Internet, there are celebrities, both major and minor. Some are famous people in the “meat world” — George Takei, for instance — and others have carved out a niche mostly in the virtual world. Take for example, the blogger, Charles C. “Chuck” Johnson, proprietor and main instigator of a “news” website and a seemingly never-ending stream of tweets that range from self-congratulatory paeans to his many godlike attributes to cheap antagonistic slams of victims of various crimes like rape or murder. To get a taste of Johnson’s prodigious output, take a look at my Tweet-based Dossier on him. I started the dossier mostly to record his assertions of Supreme Godhood, but it’s nearly become obsolete, as several other websites, including The New York Times, have picked up on the infamous Mr Johnson and some of the more, um, colorful escapades of his 26 years on this Earth. The storm surge that breached the levee was Johnson’s attempt to besmirch “Jackie,” the pseudonymous subject of a Rolling Stone article about her rape while a student at the University of Virginia. Johnson’s apparent raison d’etre is to ruin the credibility of ...

A peek at a Chinese couple in Zhangjiajie

A peek at a Chinese couple in Zhangjiajie
JISHOU, HUNAN — Many couples in China choose scenic spots for their wedding photos. Few, however, choose to pose nude while doing it. This couple, who may or may not be participating in a publicity stunt for the Zhangjiajie tourism industry, has got tongues wagging here in China. They’re blue as a nod to the movie Avatar. Director James Cameron supposedly saw the rugged terrain in the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and was inspired to recreate the terrain for the movie’s planet, Pandora. Whether that’s true or not, the Zhangjiajie tourist board is running with it. One of the peaks in the park was renamed “Hallelujah Mountain” shortly after the movie came out. You can see more photos here (Chinese language) and here (English language). The photos are SFW, because the couples’ “naughty bits” have been pixelated or concealed to satisfy strict censorship regulations in China. On the other hand, saturation levels have been Photoshopped. Zhangjiajie is beautiful, but the colors there are not that vivid.

Cool SF short features Rosetta comet mission

Sometime in the far future, humans develop the power to build worlds. Game of Thrones fans will recognize Aiden Gillen as the teacher. His apprentice is played by Aisling Franciosi. The Rosetta orbiter is still following Comet 67P on its way around the Sun. The Philae lander has an electrical starvation problem. It successfully landed on the sunny spot chosen as its best location, but it bounced off the surface of the comet twice and landed in a shady area that gets only 1.5 hours of sunlight every Earth day. That’s not enough sunlight to recharge Philae’s batteries, so the washing-machine-sized probe ran through its primary scientific tasks as quickly as possible before it went dark. Philae was able to drill into the surface and analyze the composition of the sample. It relayed that data to Rosetta, which then forwarded it to Earth. Planetary scientists are intensely interested in the results, as it could provide clues about the formation of the solar system and Earth. For its part, Rosetta has discovered that comets stink. Literally.

The first trailer of my ‘big’ movie debut 2

The first trailer of my 'big' movie debut
JISHOU, HUNAN — Back in September, I was called upon to play the part of a foreign visitor to Xiangxi Prefecture in a movie, 《一次性爱上2》 (Yi Ci Xing Ai Shang 2 — Love at First Sight 2)*. The first trailer for this “micro-movie,” a 45-minute web-only production, has just been released. Unfortunately, there’s no embedding options, so here’s the LINK. The link will take you a Chinese video sharing site. Hopefully, you’ll be able to see it with no troubles. Meanwhile, I’ll try to download it and see if I can host from my own site or post it on YouTube. There are no English subtitles yet, but there’s not much dialogue in the trailer, anyway. It’s a movie about romance, drama, spectacular scenery and the love of music. ——— * Interestingly enough, the Chinese phrase 一次性爱上 can be translated as “Love at First Sight,” but it can also be used to describe a one-night stand or a sexual escapade. This second possibility led to some interesting comments from my Chinese Internet friends. I had to assure them I was not acting in a porn movie, which, by the way, are illegal in China. So, I figure they were not ...

In which Chuck C. Johnson discovers my “tweet-sourced dossier” on him

JISHOU, HUNAN — Some explanation is needed here, if you’re to understand the following exchange. Charles C. “Chuck” Johnson is a self-described “award-winning journalist,” who has been burning up Twitter and his own “news” website (gotnews.com) recently with ebola hysteria. He has published the home addresses of American ebola victims — and their relatives — and waged a one-man smear campaign against nurses Nina Pham and Kaci Hickox. Over at Little Green Footballs, which is run by another Charles Johnson (absolutely no relation!), Chuck C. Johnson is alternately a subject of horror and ridicule. Since CCJ’s self-referential tweets are so amusing, I took it upon myself to use them to compile a “tweet-sourced dossier” on the prolific blogger. You can view it by clicking the preceding link, or finding in my Pages index at right. Anyway, Chuck found the dossier and tweeted about it yesterday. I’ve captured the exchange using Storify. [View the story “Obsessed and wrong? You be the judge.” on ] At this point, the conversation ended. [NOTE: It’s quite long. If you just see a handful of tweets, you’ll need to visit the Storify link.

I have Western TV again!

I have Western TV again!
JISHOU, HUNAN — China would not be at the top of anyone’s list of entertaining television. The Chinese government strictly limits consumer access to Chinese cable and satellite TV channels, which offer a staid variety of historical dramas, reality shows, moralistic soapies and news programs — all of which must pass inspection by government censors. Foreign channels, like the BBC, CNN or HBO, are usually only available at big-city hotels that cater to foreigners. Police patrol residential areas to ensure no one has an illegal satellite dish pointing in the wrong direction. For an expat, this situation meant your only access to Western TV was through the computer, either by downloading programs or catching the rare streaming website that doesn’t black out China. (I’m looking at you, Hulu!) But, as of last month, this expat now has access to more than 200 international TV channels, because I bought an Internet settop box marketed by A2SATV. The provider also offers several hundred free TV channels from all over the world. The box with a year’s subscription to the premium package cost about $145, and subscription renewals are about $50 a year. The box runs Android, and comes with two USB ports, ...

It’s a wrap (for me, at least) 1

It's a wrap (for me, at least)
JISHOU, HUNAN — My first brush with Chinese film making has ended. Now I’m waiting to see the results, like everyone else. My services were needed for only three days. I’ve already related the first two days’ events. The last day was Tuesday, coincidentally the last day before a week-long break for the National Holiday. First off, consider that my schedule that day began with four hours of classes, and ended with four hours of classes. Sandwiched between these sessions of Oral English was that day’s filming in Aizhai and Dehang and a very late lunch at 3 pm. A really long day. Along the way, I got a better idea of my role in the movie. One scene on Tuesday had me in hiking clothes in Dehang, coming across a local woman drumming in the local Miao style in a canyon. This scene happened some years in the past. At the time, my character, Jason, was moved to the point of tears and wanted to meet this woman, but she refused to see me. I left disheartened. My other scene filmed on Tuesday was in the Ford used earlier. Jason is in the back seat looking at the video ...

Slideshow of protesters and police in Hong Kong

This is one photo in the slideshow at Yahoo.com To see more, go to Yahoo News.

Someday, kid, you’re gonna be a star!

Someday, kid, you're gonna be a star!
JISHOU, HUNAN — So, I’ve been a little busy these last three weeks. Classes started just two days after I arrived, then the freshmen started two weeks later, doubling my class hours. Oh, and then I was asked to act in a movie. Before you all get too excited, this is probably not a movie you’ll see in America, on TV, the theaters or DVD. It’s what they call in China a “micro-movie” — a 45-minute teleplay for the web only. In fact, it’s half a promotion for the local tourism scene and half a comedy-romance. Two weeks ago, my foreign affairs officer Cyril Hu called me to ask if I had time to appear in a movie about Xiangxi, the prefecture of which Jishou is the capital. I agreed, figuring it would be a one-day TV thing, no big deal. Then I met the director, 陈晓曦 Chen XiaoXi, and a few members of his crew, all from Beijing. His assistant, Xiao Hong, and one of my seniors, Li Dongling, served as interpreters. I was to be a foreigner who comes here looking for the “empress of Xiangxi.” It would not be a speaking part, and I would have to ...

Correcting a Facebook post: the drummer girl is from Taiwan, not S Korea

The video in question: JISHOU, HUNAN — So, while I was noodling on Facebook last month in the USA, I came across this video of a young street performer playing a mean drum cover. I was impressed, so I shared it on my timeline. The originator of the post said she’s Korean, which I found out today is wrong. The drummer is Luo ShiRu 罗仕茹, who goes by the stage name S. White (小白 xiao bai). She’s from Taipei, Taiwan, not South Korea. Here’s her Facebook page. Here she is performing another cover. S. White sometimes performs with another Taipei drumming talent, Vela Blue, the stage name of Chen Manqing 陈曼青, outside the Ximen metro station in Taipei, sharing the same drum kit. Vela Blue, 26, also has some good chops on the drums. Here’s her Facebook page, and a sample of her work. I notice both Xiao Bai and Vela Blue have the same right hand drumstick twirl.

Context is important, but not to Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft

Wheat-Dogg’s Law: Given the content of any article posted at The Gateway Pundit blog, we can assume the exact opposite meaning is true. JISHOU, HUNAN — Keeping this truism in mind, I had to wonder about this headline today at TGP: WH Lauds Sudanese Christian’s Release But Does Not Mention ‘Christianity’ in Statement Outrageous! It must be more of the anti-Christian propaganda coming out the White House these days. Obama is the Anti-Christ! No, wait, he’s secretly a Muslim! No, wait, he’s both! Two mints in one! Could it be true that the White House failed to mention that Sudanese refugee Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag was Christian? Ishag had been on trial in her native country for apostasy — specifically converting from Islam to Christianity — and had been sentenced to death. Instead, Ishag and her family were released, and she arrived yesterday in Rome. The only transcript I could find of the statement by National Security Advisor Susan Rice, besides the text on The Gateway Pundit, was at a site called Don411.com, which publishes press releases verbatim. I had no success finding the transcript at the White House website. In fact, Hoft is literally correct: the statement does not ...

Control? Open Channel C!*

JISHOU, HUNAN — There are almost a quarter million Chinese studying in the USA now, and many more who want to study in the States if they had the chance — my students among them. But a Chinese (or really any international) student coming to the USA faces a lot of challenges: the language barrier, the writing barrier, cultural differences, different attitudes about dating and sex. I do my best to explain the differences, but my experience as a college student was three decades ago. So, my information is perhaps somewhat out of date. A few months ago, I stumbled upon Channel C. Three Chinese students studying at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Pan Fangdi 潘芳迪, Niu Muge 牛牧歌 and Cecilia Miao 缪思 (Miao Si), began the project in an effort to bridge the cultural gaps between Chinese students and their non-Chinese classmates. They have their own YouTube channel and also one on YouKu, the Chinese version of YouTube. Although the three are now in different cities in the US and China, they still manage with the help of team members Ye Du 叶杜 and Stephanie Sykes to produce cogent and interesting videos about career advice, dating advice, language learning, EDM ...
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