Making a scale model of the solar system (video)

Some of my American students may recall our attempt at drawing the solar system to scale along Broadway in front of SFHS. It’s not easy to get both the size of the planets and the distances between them to scale. This video explores that question.

BBC travel correspondent visits Fenghuang (video)

JISHOU, HUNAN — I get excited when I see familiar scenes from my “neighborhood” on the Internet. Fenghuang is about 45 minutes from here, and has become a very popular stop for tourists looking for picturesque views of ancient China. Here’s the link to the page in case the video isn’t working. The young lady he’s talking to, Wu Ling, is dressed in the traditional wedding garb of the Miao minority. It’s for tourism reasons. Miao girls don’t ordinarily walk around with five pounds of silver on their heads.

How China’s “harmonizing” of the Internet works

How China's
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY — The Huffington Post media mavens did this hilarious mashup of Donald Trump saying the word “China” over and over again. He really seems to be obsessed with it. CHI-NA! It’s HUUUGGE! Anyway, I thought I’d share the video with friends in China. So I grabbed the video off YouTube and uploaded it to Youku.com, China’s homegrown version of YouTube. The upload was successful, but it was not made public. Here’s the message that comes up on my user page. Has been shielded, according to the provisions of audio-visual management 已屏蔽,根据视听管理规定处理 Putting it more bluntly, “Your video was too political and we nuked it.” In China, this is euphemistically called “being harmonized,” a reference to the previous president’s deeply held wish that Chinese people live in a “harmonious society.” Or, in other words, in a society where people don’t make waves. My timing was probably off, as the current leadership prepares for a gala celebration of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Japanese Occupation. China’s net nannies typically go into full swing before any major national event, including holidays and anniversaries they’d prefer to forget, like the June 4, 1989, suppression of Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests. ...

Chinese entrepreneurs create Uniqlo sex video T-shirts

Chinese entrepreneurs create Uniqlo sex video T-shirts
[UPDATE Dec. 5, 2016: Google AdSense flagged the images I included in this report as violations of AdSense policy, though none of them are particularly objectionable as they have appeared on a Chinese shopping site. Whatever. I’ve removed the photos but left the links up. Click at your own peril.] T-shirt 1 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. ...

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

Beijing couple's changing room video goes viral, censors busy
Speaking of censors, Google AdSense has requested the photograph which had accompanied this post be removed. So, I have complied. You can see a different version offsite here, however. JISHOU, HUNAN — An adventurous Beijing couple 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.

Video: The power of pele — Hawai’i’s Kilauea volcano

It’s just about six minutes long, but this video will give you an idea of the power of the Earth underneath our feet. And rather fittingly, today is the birthday of my cousin Ernie, who lives in Oahu. Happy Birthday!

A week-long roller coaster for China’s viral anti-pollution video

A week-long roller coaster for China's viral anti-pollution video
Last weekend, just before an important national party congress meeting, former state media newscaster Chai Jing released her environmental video, 穹顶之下 (qióng dǐng zhī xià, or Under the Dome). By midweek, it had been viewed online more than 15 million times, and by Friday, hundreds of millions of times. Then it disappeared from China’s video streaming websites. Any residual links just give an error message saying the video is no longer available. Although Chai had obtained permission to share the self-produced video from government officials, it seems the widespread popularity of the film caught them off-guard. Discussion of the film is still being permitted online for now. Comments critical of the central government are being deleted, however. Although the movie first appeared with Chinese subtitles, common in China with scores of local languages, there were no complete English subtitles until Friday. Organized by a Chinese 12th grader and an expat, an international team translated the one hour and forty minutes of Chinese subtitles into English. The result can be seen on YouTube. Clicking the subtitles/CC button to the left of the gear icon will turn on the English subs. The future of the film, which Chai spent a year researching, ...

A peek at a possible future in space

Using real images taken by space probes and telescopes, Erik Wernquist created this awesome short video, showing what humanity’s future might be like if we don’t kill ourselves off in the interim. Around 1:50 you’ll see a Martian sunset image similar to the one I use as the banner here. They were taken by the NASA/JPL Opportunity probe. The narration is by the late Carl Sagan, Cornell astronomer, author, and co-creator of the first Cosmos series. One wonders what Megan Fox, the creationist homeschooler, would say about this film short.

Correcting a Facebook post: the drummer girl is from Taiwan, not S Korea 12

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 羅小白 Luó xiǎo bái, who goes by the stage name S. White (小白 xiǎo bái), 20. She’s from Taipei, Taiwan, not South Korea. Here’s her Facebook page. [ADDENDUM. Hold the phone, Al! Commenter Jim Shreve has pointed out that both the original poster of this video and I probably have misidentified this drummer. First of all, I had her Chinese name wrong — now corrected — and worse yet, now I am pretty sure Jim is right and the drummer is not S. White, but her buddy, Vela Blue, the stage name of Chén MànQīng 陈曼青.] Here the same drummer performing another cover. The OP identifies her as S. White, but now I think she’s really Vela Blue. This one is definitely S.White performing. S. White and Vela Blue (who now has blue hair) sometimes perform together. Vela ...

And on a lighter note, a trailer for the next holiday blockbuster

SNACKPOCALYPSE with Chloe Grace Moretz, Tyler Posey, and First Lady Michelle Obama from Funny Or Die It helps if you’ve watched Divergent and The Hunger Games before watching this video. Oh, the heroine played Hitgirl. Yeah, I watch a lot of movies.

In an animated video, a student explains, “Why did I study physics?”

In an animated video, a student explains,
Linky: The Atlantic

Protesters in Guangzhou demand greater freedom of press in China

JISHOU, HUNAN — Government censorship of the Guangzhou newspaper Southern Weekend prompted a walk-out and public protest by the newspaper’s staff, a rare event in China. Even more remarkable: the police didn’t shut it down. Two journalists from The Economist’s China desk explain what’s going on in Guangzhou, and talk about civil rights matters in China. (The video will play automatically once you open the complete post. My efforts to stop autoplay failed.)
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