Andy Madison

Internet Controls

In Uncategorized on 22/06/2009 at 8:39 pm

I apologize for the lapse in my blogging; the site I’ve been using to bypass the great firewall in order to reach  has been blocked for the past two weeks or so.  Others have not gotten me through.  Today, because what the hell, I tried it again, and it worked!

I’ll share the following observations about the CPC’s internet censorship:

It is surprisingly flexible on politics.  You can read plenty of news items that would embarass the goernment. Examples include videos on the onion and accounts of Wen Jiabao’s speech to the annual party assembly being stolen by hackers and published on-line before he delivered it.

It’s highly inflexible on pornography: the only way to watch it is to search through Chinese search engines using a delicate coded lexicon.  This stands in some contrast to the country’s thriving in-person sex industry.

Sometimes, they’ll block a site for a seemingly arbitrary reason.  Then they’ll lift the block, and block some other seemingly illogical thing.

It seems that their intention is not to shut out all information when they don’t need to, but rather to make seeking criticisms enough of a pain in the ass that a sufficient majority doesn’t grow curious.


Baojia and hall monitors

In dangerously simplistic history on 08/06/2009 at 9:17 pm

Today before classes began, I was at the entrance of a local gradeschool, distributing flyers to drum up business for the new branch my boss will open in the coming weeks.  

From time to time a security guard — and this at a suburban grade school; china has an absurd number of security guards — would approach me waving his arms saying stern things that I could only guess meant “Move back to the sidewalk.”  I’d move, he’d go back toward the school, and as more children left I’d drift back in that direction until he again saw fit come back and defend the children, until eventually there were so many young people hurrying toward so many grandparents that he stopped bothering with me.

Around then, when I was furiously handing out leaflets I could not read to ten year olds who could, that I strayed onto a narrow, well-trodden strip of grass, and a girl in a red sash found me and pointed at me, and said the same thing several times over in a squeaking crescendo.  It turned out that she didn’t want a leaflet at all, but that I was standing on the grass she’d been enlisted to keep clear, and (its abjection notwithstanding) damned if it wasn’t going to be kept clear while she wass watching it.  As we were leaving that school for our own, my boss remarked to me that she would undoubtedly be a party member when she grew up.

My run-ins with security guard and the little girl exemplify the way in which Chinese society is structured; that is that citizens, since around the same time as the Norman Invasion, have lived their lives under a many-tiered system of common scrutiny known as baojia, and that Chinese sustain this system by training some of its citizens in the art of bossing others around from a very young age.

For all the Chinese have survived under these conditions, and for all their recent prosperity and relative openness, the little girl with the sash pointed out to me that their future can only become manifest as a continuation (for better or worse) of their past.  And that I should keep off her grass.

A county with no dogs

In Uncategorized on 07/06/2009 at 8:39 pm

This must be seen.  County authorities in Shaanxi have adopted the mass execution of dogs as a public health strategy.  I have nothing really to add, but it is simply too crazy not to re-post.

Incidentally, Chinasmack is the best China blog I’ve seen yet.