B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘China’ tag

Family version I Ching – Richard Wilhelm translation

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I Ching, Family version of Richard Wilhelm translation

This is the inscription on the hardback version of the I Ching I have, and have carried around for most of my adult life.1 Originally printed in 1966, Bollingen Series. There is a lot of subtext here, but I won’t bore you with a description.

The Chinese characters below my name are the transliteration of my last name, as assigned to me when I studied Beijing Hua at UT-Austin. An De Sen. Quiet Virtuous Forest, as my first Chinese teacher told me. The other character is “sheng” which translates into “born”. Again, there is subtext out the yin-yang, but I won’t bore you with a delineation of it. If you really want to know, bring me a couple of bottles of red wine, and drink them with me: I’ll tell you more than you want to hear.

This edition of the I Ching has a forward by Carl Jung, oft read, oft quoted. I suspect that more modern translations of the I Ching might speak to us more clearly, but that doesn’t matter. My Chinese was never proficient enough to make my own translations.

For over ten years, I kept a dedicated journal where I wrote down the questions and answers related to throwing the coins: my last entry was years ago, but I keep my spidery prose on my shelf. Just in case. Has it helped me? Probably. Part of the charm/mystique of the I Ching is the oblique meaning of the text. One can interpret meaning as it applies to one’s own life; sometimes even accurately.

I am an atheist, and have been as long as I was sentient, but the I Ching isn’t religion, it is aided contemplation. Part of the procedure of throwing the I Ching coins is thinking deeply and seriously about whatever the question of the moment is. I consider the I Ching results as tapping into the subconscious mind, that part of the brain which is active while sleeping, or otherwise occupied. Do you ever wake up in the morning with a perfect answer to a problem you’ve faced? This is that.

Footnotes:
  1. I’ve moved it a dozen times or more, because I’ve moved seemingly a gazillion times []

Written by swanksalot

October 17th, 2010 at 9:24 pm

PBR 1844

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PBR_1844.jpg

Ok, if you’re doing the math at home, 300 RMB is about $44 US, or looking at this from another angle, about $43 dollars more than a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon should cost, no matter where you are.

1844 was the year that the Pabst Brewing Company was established in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the US, the beer’s lack of pretension led to a recent upswing in popularity among hipsters.

With 1844, the brand seems to be targeting a different demographic in the Chinese market.

The ad copy (on the facing page) begins with comparisons to the finest of alcohols:

It’s not just Scotch that’s put into wooden casks. There’s also Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer 1844

Many world-famous spirits Are matured in precious wooden casks Scotch whisky, French brandy, Bordeaux wine… They all spend long days inside wooden casks

It goes on to describe how the premium wood and craftsmanship of the casks creates the beer’s wondrous color and flavor, and ends by calling Pabst “truly a treasure among beers.”

Does Pabst Blue Ribbon 1844 truly merit such comparisons? It’ll cost you around 300 RMB to try a bottle for yourself, according to a Beijing Youth Daily article from last November, when the product was launched.

The article quoted Ni Chunlin, head of Blue Ribbon Beer, which produced Pabst in China:

“China’s beer market has an annual sales volume of 40 million tons. So why is the price of beer always around 5 or 10 yuan?” … Ni Chunlin said that the release of Blue Ribbon 1844 is aimed at changing consumers’ ideas about beer. “The high-end market is occupied by baijiu and wine. Chinese people can afford to drink baijiu that costs tens of thousands, and I believe that a 300-yuan beer won’t be a problem either.”

(click to continue reading A blue-collar beer goes upmarket.)

Pabst Theater

Written by Seth Anderson

July 19th, 2010 at 9:53 am

Starbury in China

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Notorious locker-room cancer and intern-boinker Stephon Marbury, aka Starbury, has apparently accepted a contract to play for a basketball team in China, Taiyuan Shanxi Zhongyu, currently ranked 15th out of 17 teams.

Hoops from Yesteryear

Li Fei, a 21-year-old college student, said that with Mr. Marbury on the team “it injects more excitement into the game.”

“I’ve always been his fan.” Mr. Li said. “I know he’s a selfish player, and he doesn’t like to pass, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a great player. It’s beautiful to watch.”

It’s hard to say how this marriage will work out.

Taiyuan is the capital of China’s northern Shanxi province and the center of China’s coal-mining industry. The whole city is covered in a thin layer of coal dust, including Zhongyu’s Binhe Sports Stadium, which seats about 4,500 people. It has less than a fourth the capacity of New York’s Madison Square Garden where Mr. Marbury played from 2004 to 2008. Courtside seats in the arena, which run about $1,464 a season, are a collection of worn red sofas and lounge chairs.

The Binhe Stadium looks like an abandoned building in the daytime while the team is practicing, its gates held closed with bicycle locks. About two hours before each game, security guards set up temporary metal detectors in front of each entrance to the stadium.

[Click to continue reading NBA’s Marbury Takes His Game to China – WSJ.com]
[Non-WSJ subscribers use this link to read the full article]

For a guy who always thinks he is the best player in the league, despite contrary evidence, perhaps this will be a good experience. If he lasts the season…

Taiyuan is markedly less tourist-friendly, internationalized and cosmopolitan than bustling cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. It’s hard to find a bank ATM that will accept foreign credit cards.

“If he lasts 10 days, I’ll be amazed,” says Bruce O’Neil, president of the U.S. Basketball Academy, which trains young American players to be drafted by Chinese teams. “The culture shock is tremendous.”

Mr. Marbury, though, isn’t playing in China for the money. He’s here to promote his shoe and apparel brand, called “Starbury” after his nickname, featuring low-cost sneakers for $15. The market is potentially huge: The NBA estimates that 300 million people play basketball in China. Mr. Marbury has the Starbury logo tattooed on the side of his shaved head.

His new employer, Zhongyu-owner Wang Xingjiang, is an iron and steel magnate and basketball fanatic who made the Forbes “400 Richest Chinese” list in 2008. At the time, his net worth was estimated to be $260 million.

Written by Seth Anderson

January 28th, 2010 at 12:00 am

Posted in Sports

Tagged with , , ,

Ginger and Garlic Blues

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Organic onions

Oh great, so every meal I eat out has been with contaminated garlic and/or ginger (seemingly a staple of my diet). Where’s the FDA been anyway? Wouldn’t you like to read a headline about how the FDA protected consumers before an event, not after? In fact, the FDA isn’t even mentioned in this story. What agency is taking the lead in protecting American food from poison?1

China Curbs Garlic, Ginger Exports to U.S. – WSJ.com:
China in recent weeks has sharply restricted the exportation of garlic and ginger to the U.S., a huge importer of the crops, amid continuing concerns about the safety of Chinese exports.

The Chinese government has ordered numerous facilities in Shandong province, a hub for the nation’s agricultural exports, to stop shipping the foods until they can abide by tougher safety standards, according to several U.S. companies that import the products from China. The move has curtailed the supply of garlic and ginger in the U.S., resulting in higher prices as buyers shift to alternative sources.

China’s action follows a host of import-safety incidents in the U.S., including a July recall of fresh ginger, tainted with an illegal insecticide, that was imported from China by a California company and sold in at least two dozen supermarkets.

China is a major supplier of garlic and ginger to the U.S., which is finicky about the Chinese-grown produce it allows into its borders. China accounts for more than 80% of garlic imported into the U.S., according to the U.S. government. Hawaii is the only source of ginger farmed in the U.S., so the country depends heavily on exports from China. In the wake of China’s action, California garlic growers are enjoying increased demand, as are Brazilian ginger growers, according to U.S. buyers.

garlic

Apparently still a problem in 2009:

At Whole Foods, for example, labels that read “USDA inspected” are stuck to produce imported from abroad. According to “Behind the Bean,” a recent study by Wisconsin’s Cornucopia Institute, the USDA’s record with food imported from China is fraught with irregularities.

“(USDA) found multiple non-compliances of the federal organic standards, (including) the failure of one certifying agent to hire Chinese inspectors that are adequately familiar with the USDA organic standards, and the failure by another organic certifying agent to provide a written and translated copy of the USDA organic standards to all clients applying for certification.

This raises serious concerns about whether foods grown organically in China follow the same USDA organic standards with which we require American farmers to comply.”

A stand at my local farmers’ market has a sign that says “Boycott Chinese Garlic.” China currently supplies 75 percent of the garlic sold in the United States, for an average price of 50 cents a pound. Two years ago, it was 25 cents a pound.

Even with the price of garlic up from 25 to 50 cents a pound, garlic-growing regions like Gilroy, Calif., are hurting. Gilroy once was known as the nation’s garlic capital.

In addition to garlic cultivation, a retail empire was built on value-added products made with garlic. Now, Gilroy is just a garlic-processing capital, as most of its supply comes fromChina.

[From US: Organic goes down a slippery road]

When are there going to be some change in the US Food agribusiness/FDA? Can’t arrive soon enough

Footnotes:
  1. repost from my old blog circa 2007 []

Written by swanksalot

July 28th, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Nigh-Gah Nigh-Gah Nigh-Gah All In Your Face

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Or something like that, whatever Chuck D was saying.

那个1

look for a moment at China through the eyes of young [American] athletes on their first visit, and China can feel, once again, like a new frontier.

Take, for example, Mandarin’s most unfortunate homonym. The English word “that,” when used as an adjective to indicate something as in “that glove,” is translated as neige and pronounced “nay-ga.” It also is used routinely as a space-filler akin to “umm” in English. But as American visitors frequently attest, neige can sound uncomfortably close to the n-word.

“We spent the whole first week thinking, ‘What?'” said one U.S. boxer.

The confusion is hardly unique to the team. Robert Davis, a fluent Mandarin speaker who heads China programs for the Chicago Public Schools, has escorted more than 150 Chicago principals and administers to China in the past eight years, many of whom are African-American, he said. He discovered long ago that he should feature a discussion of the word neige in his pretrip orientation.
[From U.S. Olympic team learns to roll with the punches on trip to China — chicagotribune.com]

Usage here, dictionary definition here

Footnotes:
  1. a repost from my old blog []

Written by Seth Anderson

July 28th, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Posted in humor

Tagged with , ,

Vast Spy System Loots Computers

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Amazing, but not that surprising. The full 53-page report is available here, if you are interested in the details1.

Computer Consultants

A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.

In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.

The researchers, who are based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, had been asked by the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader whom China regularly denounces, to examine its computers for signs of malicious software, or malware.

Their sleuthing opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than two years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York.

The researchers, who have a record of detecting computer espionage, said they believed that in addition to the spying on the Dalai Lama, the system, which they called GhostNet, was focused on the governments of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.

Intelligence analysts say many governments, including those of China, Russia and the United States, and other parties use sophisticated computer programs to covertly gather information.

[Click to read more of Vast Spy System Loots Computers in 103 Countries – NYTimes.com]

Amusing that this front page article doesn’t once mention the operating system the target computers ran. Did Microsoft agree to purchase full page advertisements in the Sunday New York Times for the next ten years in order to keep Windows and Outlook from being mentioned in the story? Why do governments use Windows in sensitive networks anyway? Even if they didn’t use Macs, perhaps they could use Linux machines instead.

Apple Logos

Kim Zetter of Wired adds:

Infected computers include the ministries of foreign affairs of Iran, Bangladesh, Latvia, Indonesia, and the Philippines and embassies of India, South Korea, Germany, Pakistan and Taiwan. Thirty percent of the infected computers could be considered “high-value” diplomatic, political, economic and military targets, the researchers say.

The largest number of infected computers in a single country were in Taiwan (148), followed by Vietnam (130) and the U.S. (113). Seventy-nine computers were infected at the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA). One computer at Deloite & Touche in New York was among those infected in the U.S.

The earliest infection the researchers found occurred May 22, 2007; the most recent infection at the time they wrote their report was March 12, 2009. Each computer was infected for various amounts of days, with the average being about 145 days. There were significant spikes in the number of systems infected in December 2007 (113 of 320 infections in December occurred at TAITRA in Taiwan) and August 2008.

The researchers found the network after examining computers at the Dalai Lama’s office and found that the system had gained control of mail servers for the Dalai Lama’s offices, allowing the spies to intercept all correspondence.

The computers were infected either after workers clicked on an e-mail attachment containing malware or clicked on a URL that took them to a rogue web site where the malware downloaded to their computer. The spy network continues to infect about a dozen new computers in various places each week, according to the researchers, who are based at the University of Toronto’s Munk Center for International Studies.

The malware includes a feature for turning on the web camera and microphone on a computer in order to secretly record conversation and activity in a room.

They write that e-mails that OHHDL workers received that contained the infected attachments appeared to come from Tibetan co-workers. In some cases, monks received infected e-mails that appeared to come from other monks. The attackers seemed to target their infected correspondence at key people in the OHHDL office, including network administrators. In this way, the attackers likely gained login credentials for the mail server. Once they had control of the mail server, they were able to infect more computers by intercepting legitimate e-mail in transit and replace clean attachments with infected .doc and .pdf attachments that installed rootkits on the recipient’s computer that gave the attacker full control over the computer.

One monk reported that he was looking at his screen when his Outlook Express program launched on its own and began sending out e-mails with infected attachments.

[Click to continue reading Electronic Spy Network Focused on Dalai Lama and Embassies | Threat Level from Wired.com]

Fascinating stuff. China is very serious about keeping Tibet under their thumb.

Footnotes:
  1. unfortunately, to download the document as a PDF, you have to give up an email account, and other personal data []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 29th, 2009 at 8:34 am

Resident wonders why holes must be dug, filled every day

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Who says the Iron Rice Bowl1 is a thing of the past! Austin, Texas has ensured that all road construction projects last much, much longer than they need to by spending half of the day digging and covering the same patch of dirt.

Not all the work has felt like progress, however. For the past two weeks, the contractor, Oscar Renda Contracting, has excavated a hole 20 feet long, 20 feet wide and 20 feet deep every morning to reach the sewer lines. Then, at the end of each day, crews have refilled the pit and covered it with a temporary asphalt cap so Monroe Street could be reopened at night.

Since the work started about Sept. 20, at least half of each 12-hour workday has been devoted to digging and refilling the same pit to comply with a city policy that stresses keeping city streets open to traffic as much as possible, said Chris Williams, an employee of Oscar Renda. The size and depth of the holes make using metal cover plates unsafe.

[From Resident wonders why holes must be dug, filled every day]

A modern day Sisyphus, in other words.

Footnotes:
  1. 铁饭碗 tiě fàn wǎan was the Chinese phrase for an occupation that was guaranteed for life, regardless of changing circumstances. Wiki entry explains its origin []

Written by Seth Anderson

October 10th, 2008 at 10:11 am

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , ,

Putin and His Puppy Named Bush

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Dr. Alterman speculates what the media frenzy might be like if a Democrat “lost China”, err, Georgia1

Does anyone doubt that if the President of the United States were a Democrat who tied us down in a costly, counterproductive war based on lies and forged documents and destroyed the respect and sympathy enjoyed by this country in every civilized nation in the world — or even if he did none of those things, but was merely a Democrat — that this column by proud New York Times pundit William Kristol and this editorial by the editors of The Wall Street Journal would have included vicious attacks on that same Democratic president for weakness and incompetence bordering on the criminal — and thereby blame him for inviting Russia to invade its democratic neighbor without having to worry about the opinion of the no-longer-respected-nor-feared United States of America? Now, imagine that said Democratic president had informed the press that he had looked into the invader’s soul and decided he was a good guy because the old KGB hand said he believed in God. (If God really existed, and took an interest in the day-to-day doings of those of us on Earth, he’d let me play poker with a chump like that.) OMG, even the Georgian troops were in Iraq. Putin to Bush: “Go away, silly little boy.” (Bush to Putin: “Thank you, sir, may I have another?)

[From Media Matters – We’re so sorry, Uncle Vladimir …]

Seems as if our President is more interested in attending the Olympics2 than actually doing anything productive. I guess that’s actually a good thing: less Bush incompetence is better for the country, but couldn’t he at least fake being President with as much diligence as he has since 2001?

David Corn writes:

The opening ceremony was rather impressive. Talk about organization and competence: two thousand and eight Tai Chi practitioners forming a perfect circle and maintaining it through a series of elaborate moves.

That was some counterpoint to George W. Bush. Later that night, during the parade of nations, he was practically slumped in his seat, toting a small American flag–was it made in China?–with a bored expression on his face. Prior to the games, there was a debate over whether he should attend and further legitimize the repressive Chinese regime. But as he sat there, that debate no longer seemed so relevant, for he looked irrelevant. There was no one next to him but his wife. And the question was, didn’t he have anything better to do with his time? The apparent answer: no.

This all raised the question in my mind: what does Bush want to get done before the W. years are over. Not much, it seems. He has not pushed a major domestic issue since his Social Security flop. He has not addressed the climate change crisis. He has not taken any decisive steps regarding the sliding-into-a-quagmire war in Afghanistan. He has taken no significant moves regarding health care. It’s as if he is not merely a lame duck but the clockwatcher-in-chief. And is it possible that the last major overseas action of the president who during his second inaugural address said that the mission of the United States was to stand with “democratic reformers” against their “oppressors” will be waving a mini-Stars and Stripes at the Chinese games? How harmonious, as the Chinese say.

Footnotes:
  1. South Ossetia and Abkhazia, to be more precise []
  2. and apparently being bored at the same time []

Written by Seth Anderson

August 11th, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Chertoff Misleads on Laptop Searches

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Surprising nobody, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff mouthed statements that could be considered misleading in polite company, or out and out lies here in the Big Potato. Senator Russ Feingold calls Chertoff on Chertoff’s bs.

Pip and his MBA

[Pip investigates a laptop]

Secretary Chertoff’s description of the newly published DHS policy on laptop searches was not just misleading – it was flat-out wrong. In an interview with Wired.com, the Secretary stated that “[w]e only do [laptop searches] when we put you into secondary [screening] and we only put you into secondary [screening] … when there is a reason to suspect something.”

But the actual policy that DHS published says the exact opposite. It does not even mention secondary screening, let alone limit laptop searches to those cases, and it expressly states that Americans’ laptops may be searched “absent individualized suspicion.”

Secretary Chertoff’s blatant mischaracterization of the DHS policy contradicts his claim to be engaging in greater “openness and transparency” on this important issue. His statements make it clearer than ever that as we work to protect our national security, Congress must also act to protect law-abiding Americans against highly intrusive searches.

[From Chertoff Misleads on Laptop Searches, Feingold Charges | Threat Level from Wired.com]

I’m glad Senator Feingold didn’t run for President – he wouldn’t have won, and instead he can concentrate on doing good in the Senate.

bonus, and totally unrelated, except in a vague sort of totalitarian way:

How to properly pronounce the Chinese capital, Beijing.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GE4dkpOdPw

Written by Seth Anderson

August 8th, 2008 at 8:52 am

Posted in government

Tagged with , , , ,

Dog Meat is Hot

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Dog Food

I’ve never had the urge to sample dog meat, probably for the same reason that I am mostly a vegetarian. I’ve lived on a farm, so I have an inkling of an idea where meat comes from: pig meat, cow meat, even chicken flesh all originates from the body of a friendly critter. In the US anyway, most of our meat comes from factory farms.

THOSE who hope to taste dog meat when they visit Beijing for this summer’s Olympics may be disappointed. The Beijing Catering Trade Association has ordered all 112 designated Olympic restaurants to take dog off the menu, and has strongly advised other establishments to stop serving it until September. Waiters have been urged to “patiently” suggest alternative dishes to customers who ask for dog. It’s all part of a wider campaign to avoid offending foreigners during the Games. (Beijingers have also been told to line up nicely, to stop spitting and even to avoid asking tourists questions about their ages, salaries and love lives.)

The order is not likely to bother many residents. Though dogs have been raised for food in China for thousands of years, you have to hunt around to find the meat on modern menus. Certain regions, like Hunan and Guizhou Provinces, are known for their canine predilections — but even in these places, dog is a relative rarity. And in Beijing itself, you hardly find it except in a few Korean and regional Chinese restaurants.

Dog eating, in any case, tends to be a seasonal pursuit. According to Chinese folk dietetics, which classify every food according to its heating and cooling properties, dog is one of the “hottest” meats around, best eaten in midwinter, when you need warmth and vital energy, not in sultry August.

That eating dog is seen as an issue says more about Western preoccupations than Chinese habits. Since time immemorial, Westerners have had a morbid fascination with the weird fringes of the Chinese diet. Marco Polo noted with distaste that the Chinese liked eating snake and dog; modern Western journalists just love to get their teeth into a juicy story about some revolting delicacy like the assorted animal penises served at the Guolizhuang restaurant in Beijing. And for gung-ho foreign tourists, a skewerful of deep-fried scorpions in the night market in central Beijing has become a rite of passage.

[From In Beijing, It’s Too Hot for Dog on the Menu – Fuchsia Dunlop – NYTimes.com]

Spectators in Ketchikan

Speaking on that topic, there’s a show dedicated to such conspicuous consumption of oddities called Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmer (blog here). We watched several one day, an oddly fascinating travel show.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 4th, 2008 at 8:14 am

Posted in Food and Drink

Tagged with ,

China Bags

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The Pope gets bagged

Interesting development, especially since most of the plastic bags issued by US retailers are manufactured in China.

The Chinese government says it is banning shops from handing out free plastic bags from June this year, in a bid to curb pollution.
Production of ultra-thin plastic bags will also be banned, the State Council said in a statement.

Instead, people will be encouraged to use baskets or reusable cloth bags for their shopping, the council said.

[snip]
The council also called for greater recycling efforts from rubbish collectors, and suggested financial authorities should consider higher taxes on the production and sale of plastic bags. [From BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | China announces plastic bag ban]

If China does in fact start taxing the bag manufacturers, will this encourage more US retailers to consider other options, like cloth bags? Hemp bags?

Written by Seth Anderson

January 15th, 2008 at 11:10 pm

Posted in environment

Tagged with , ,