The website of Michael Anti, one of China’s most provocative bloggers, have apparently been shut by MSN Spaces, following posts on a series of posts on the walkout by reporters at Beijing News and after Chinese blog service provider Bokee ran a column suggesting that authorities pay attention to Anti. Via ESWN.:
The Anti Blog Is Gone Upon information and belief, the Anti blog has been removed by MSN Spaces. For much of today, the message is that: “Space not available. This space is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.” I have tried other MSN Spaces, but this is the only one not available. Similarly, Anti’s English blog is not available either.
I see two precipitating factors. The first relates to the three most recent posts at the blog. The oldest one was an announcement of the removal of the three senior editorial members of Beijing News. The next one urges Beijing News subscribers to call in and cancel their subscriptions (see copy in Chinese). The latest one tells current Beijing News workers to walk out of their jobs as a moral imperative (see copy in Chinese). At this time, the name Beijing News (=Xinjingbao) is banned from Chinese forums (i.e. you cannot bring up the subject and you cannot comment on it).
The second precipitating factor is most unfortunate, and it is described in detail in this post Good And Bad Things Happened To Mr. Anti. The Bokee columnist wrote that the government’s Internet supervisory department should be paying attention to Anti’s blog as well as MSN Spaces. Well, they did. Whether this is the true reason or not (and we will never know for sure), Bokee is going to go down in Internet history as calling in the Internet police to crack down on a blogger for exercising his constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and the police did just that, and the motivation of Bokee was commercial in nature (that is, they want to use the government’s security apparatus to damage MSN Spaces as a competitor). I know that this is one columnist’s opinion, but Bokee had better make it very clear that they did not support that opinion AND also they do not support the disappearance of the Anti blog.
Andrea notes that Anti’s English blog has also vanished.
Technorati Tags: asia, china, east asia, anti, censorship
Kimchi sales have jumped in the US on reports that it can cure avian flu.:
Ho Jin Lee, president of Kim Chee Pride Inc. of Maspeth, N.Y., which supplies kimchi on the East Coast, said sales jumped 20 percent this year.
A sudden new joie d’epice in the American diet?
Try avian flu.
Blame it on the Internet, the anxiety of life in the 21st century, or a volatile combination of the two, but publication of a minor study by a South Korean academic last spring has apparently triggered a minor run on kimchi, a daily staple of the Korean diet that the bland-of-palate are likely to avoid like a global pandemic.
Which presents a potentially difficult choice given the work of Kang Sa-Ouk of Seoul National University, who took 13 chickens infected with avian flu virus and a couple of other diseases, fed them kimchi juice and found that 11 of the birds recovered.
Word of the study has been circulating on the Internet. As fears about bird flu have grown in the recent months, Yoon and operators of other ethnic groceries have gotten more phone calls about kimchi.
Kimchi was also said to prevent SARS, plus as Kimchi.or.kr notes “rich Korean history intensifies the depth in the taste of kimchi.”
(Via Avian Flu Blog)
Technorati Tags: asia, bird flu, east asia, kimchi, korea, south korea
Bloody hell Bleeding heck! Is there any industry that doesn’t have a severe overcapacity problem in China, Will, in a nice essay on China’s latest anti-corruption campaign notes:
The article comes to a truly bizarre, only-in-China climax:
In the following year, China will scale up its anti-corruption campaign through incorporating it into the country’s social and economic development plan, said Liu.
Liu said more than 67,000 new songs with anti-corruption themes were composed and over 24,000 singing concerts held in the past year to educate key officials about self-discipline.
Cracking good work, everybody. The nation is clearly well on-target to meet the anti-corruption song target laid out in the tenth five-year plan. With cadres bombarded with anti-corruption songs at this rate, completely clean government will be just around the corner.
In order to store 67,000 anti-corruption songs a person would need four 60 GB iPods and one 30 GB iPod. At about US$400 for a 60 GB and US$300 for a 30 GB, that would total about US$1,900, well above the national per capita income (off the top of my head, about $1,400). Although China has massive overcapacity in cheap MP3 players, none of these have significant storage capacity.
If a propaganda song is sung in an overcrowded market, does anybody care?
Technorati Tags: asia, corruption, northeast asia, puppy
Did China invade Tibet to reclaim a part of historic China, easily grab territory from a bunch of wimpy Buddhists or did they want to seize the alien technologies? The truth is out there.:
Chinese Roswell: some thoughts …
Ever heard of Roswell?
It is a place in Nevada (AP: New Mexico), which has made itself famous by having an uninvited UFO crash-landing back in 1947 (?) Ever since then its desert landmark is no longer boring enough to be ignored and Roswell turns to a name for an UFO encounter.
As fascinating as it sounds, Roswell includes a disc-alike space ship, two ETs, and a convincing small crater caused by that crash-landing space ship.
By an apparent awkward cover-up by US government, it made Roswell even hot, filled with mystery.
Well, there is one in China too, fascinated by its amazing on-site artifacts: stone discs. Yeah, discs again but stone disc this time.
The site was found by a Chinese archeologist in 1938 around the east border area of Tibet. Inside a few caves there were 716 stone discs that were found.
Those circular stone discs are about 6 to 8 inches in diameter and an half inch in thickness, with a hole in the center of disc. Irregular shapes of grooves are found on the surface of discs. The grooves on the stone discs turn out to be a continuous story, which was later figured out as a story board telling about how a space ship had crash-landing there.
It is also found the discs were made about 10000 to 12000 years ago when there was no recorded civilization at all or any such elegant artifacts in existence.
If the stone discs have stated a true story, we had from outer space visitors, who apparently had further down the road than we humans did in the civilization. It certainly makes this bit of cold universe a little warmer, knowing some creatures accompany us all along.
Technorati Tags: asia, china, east asia, northeast asia, roswell, aliens
Imee R. Marcos is the eldest daughter of the Republic of the Philippines’ 10th President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos and First Lady Madame Imelda Romualdez Marcos. Highly intelligent and well-educated, she has proven her worth as a strong leader, a wise lawmaker and a powerful voice in Philippine politics and society. Her ideals and principles and her courage to stand by them are highly admirable. As a dedicated mother and a multi-faceted career woman endowed with beauty, charisma and a strong character, she has been a great inspiration to many. Like her parents and siblings, Bong Bong and Irene, she is also well-loved by so many of her countrymen.
As an avid admirer, I have created this website to express, through songs and poems, my personal feelings and admiration for her. I have had a B-I-G CRUSH on her since her Kabataang Barangay* days.
(via Walk this Way )
Technorati Tags: asia, philippines, imee marcos, puppy
Because filtering is not enough, China will from next year increase its surveillance of internet users.:
BEIJING, Dec. 29 (Xinhuanet) — The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) announced here Thursday that China is to carry out new Internet regulation starting from March 1, 2006 to prevent computer virus spreading, harmful junk e-mails and organized bawdry online activities.
The regulation specifies that Internet service-providers are liable to safeguard the Internet security and the police should supervise all providers.
A series of Internet-based technologies including monitoring computer systems and recording such information as the logon time and the browsed websites are standardized according to the regulation.
The regulation also states that any online safeguarding technique should not be used to infringe upon the individuals’ freedom and privacy and at least two members of the police should be at scene when inspecting suspects.
China’s Internet-based safeguarding technologies is somewhat backward and are not implemented properly, with no more than 25 percent of the existing safeguarding methods applied by Internet users, said Wu Heping, spokesman with the MPS, at a news briefing on a nationwide campaign of cracking down on-line porn.
AsiaPundit is pleased that the state will be careful not to infringe upon his privacy when it spies on him.
Technorati Tags: asia, censorship, china, east asia, internet, northeast asia
How bad are things in North Korea?
Soviet dictator Josef Stalin used to send dissidents and political prisoners to slave labor camps in Siberia as punishment. Today, North Koreans think being sent to a slave labor camp in Siberia would be a dream job. Bryan Caplan interprets an LA Times article.:
The key to this story is that despite everything, working abroad is considered a good deal. It’s one of the few ways to save some money to help their families back home. And only the “most loyal” North Koreans qualify, with their families left behind as hostages:
By far the largest number of North Koreans working outside their country are in Russia, where they do mostly logging and construction in military-style camps run by the North Korean government. When the camps were set up in the early 1970s, the workers were North Korean prisoners. But as the North Korean economy disintegrated in the late 1980s, doing hard labor in Siberia came to be seen as a reward because at least it meant getting adequate food.
It follows, then, that as wretched as the lives of North Koreans working in Russia or the Czech Republic are, life in North Korea is far worse. In short, it’s pretty bad even by the standards of other Communist regimes.
Technorati Tags: asia, east asia, korea, north korea, northeast asia
Roland, largely in reaction to anti-Mao birthday messages posted here, at Simon World and the Peking “Mao sucked the brains out of his people’s skulls” Duck, posts a translation revealing the source of much of the nostalgia felt toward Mao Zedong.:
In today’s China, we must say that it is much more open than that bygone era. Society has progressed, people have greater freedom and life is more prosperous. There are tall buildings everywhere, there are neon lights everywhere and there are the sounds of music everywhere. Compared to that bygone era, this seems to be a different world. Most people now live differently from back then, so why are people still nostalgic about that era?
Someone gave me an apt analogy as the answer: “When there are too many rats, people naturally think about the cat.”
The rat is one of the “Four Pests” in China. Today, there are “Four New Pests” in China, and they are respectively:
1. Public security/procuratorate/court of law
2. National and local taxation
4. Organized criminals
Actually, while the organized criminals are bad, their damage is much less than that from the preceding three groups.
In that bygone era, “public security/procuratorate/court of law” and “national and local taxation” were both imperfect, but they did not persecute people. In fact, public security was even a very respected occupation. Today, “public security/procuratorate/court of law” and “national and local taxation” are disaster areas for corruption.
In that bygone era, “doctors and teachers” once assumed the role of victims. The synopsis of that era may be “If you have to work with a knife, you are better off being a butcher than a surgeon; if you have to manage a herd, you are better being a sheep shepherd than a school teacher.” But today, even city workers cannot afford to send their children to university, as education expenses have become a huge family burden. If you are sick, you won’t dare visit a hospital because it isn’t big news if a few days of stay cost you a few hundred thousand yuan.
Someone said that in the Mao era, people lived in relative poverty. However, the social order and security situations were extraordinarily good. Everything was simple and people lived in a relaxed fashion. Nowadays, things are more complicated. People feel bored and oppressed. A counter-argument was that since everybody was so poor back then, there was nothing to steal or rob. “Sameness” was obviously a characteristic of that era, but the severe inequality of wealth today has affected social stability in China.
Actually, no matter how people argue about the pros and cons of the person Mao Zedong or the era of Mao Zedong, the fact is that Mao has returned to Chinese society, whether it is on the altar of a peasant home or by the city taxi driver’s seat. Mao images proliferate among the people. Yet, there is a difference. In Mao’s era, we treated him as the Absolute God. Later on, we determined that he was a person who could make mistakes. Today people are looking at Mao as a god who could provide peace and security.
This is a fairly common line of reasoning among contemporary Chinese, and it is worth noting for other reasons than sociology. While it is true that many Chinese do want more freedom, prosperity and a representative government, there are others that would like to see a return to the ’security’ that was offered by the Mao era. And there are, of course, people who will claim to want both. There’s no opinion polling here so how large each of the respective groups are would be guesswork.
But those who do want to see a downfall of the CCP should keep that in mind. There is no guarantee that the contemporary CCP would be replaced by the liberal forces.
Technorati Tags: asia, china, east asia, economy, mao zedong, northeast asia
Michael Turton, quite correctly in AsiaPundit’s view, notes that Taiwan’s democracy and developing adoption of liberal principals are a deterrent against Mainland Chinese military action against the island.:
China’s foot-dragging on giving Hong Kong democracy provides a good indication of what Taiwan can expect if it is annexed by China.
"But just as in any country and any region democratic development is a gradual historical process, Hong Kong’s democratic development must also be pushed forward in a stable, sure-handed and systematic way," state media quoted Hu as saying.
Despite mass protests and widespread calls for democracy in Hong Kong, China has been unwilling to let the territory decide for itself when it can elect top leaders.
Except, of course, that we in Taiwan already have democracy. This raises a very interesting issue: if the island is annexed by Beijing, how can China exist half-free and half-slave? China will either be required to crush the island’s democracy — which might have grave international and internal repercussions — or else it will have to live with "one country, two systems." And when ordinary Chinese visit Taiwan and see how much different things are here than there…
Be careful what you wish for, eh? Perhaps our democracy here is a better insurance against annexation than we think. Perhaps that is why China fulminates against it, and exhorts the local pro-China parties to take steps to curtail it. Because not only does every democratic election establish Taiwan as an independent state, but the deeper democracy entrenches, the thornier the problem it presents for the occupation planning.
AP’s view, which is much more optimistic than Michael’s, has been that Mainland China will not attempt an invasion unless it was assured victory or if some idiotic notion of saving face (ie, reacting against a formal independence declaration) was involved. Victory would not just mean taking the island, which cannot be guaranteed, but also subduing the population.
Taiwan’s rambunctious democracy makes it unlikely that the island could be easily forced back into an authoritarian system. Plus, it strengthens the resolve of allies to come to its defense.
And AP commends Michael for the Lincoln reference, which is also well used as a tag line by another of his favorite Asian blogs.
Technorati Tags: asia, china, east asia, northeast asia, taiwan
AsiaPundit still cannot find humor in this year’s natural disasters*, especially as the anniversary of the tsunami was only days ago. Nevertheless, here are the Asia-related items from the Onion’s 2005 top-10 stories:
#2 Asian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, Kashmir Earthquake Battle for Natural Disasty Award
LOS ANGELES—In a night destined to provide "major upsets in the natural order," three of the biggest stars of the weather, pestilence or general phenomenon community will battle it out Friday for the title of Best Disaster of 2005. "Even though Katrina’s casualty count wasn’t as high as the South Asian tsunami, it possibly spelled the demise of an entire American city," said Rolling Stone writer and cultural commentator Touré. "And since it appears that the Kashmir earthquake’s strategy of playing to critics late in the season backfired, it looks like the hurricane definitely has the edge to win the Disasty." Touré added that Kashmir’s earthquake had a virtual lock on the Lifetaking Achievement Award.
# 4 North Korea Nukes Self in Desperate Plea for Attention:
PYONGYANG—Frustrated that its megalomaniacal outbursts no longer inspire fear and panic in the international community, the nation of North Korea detonated all six of its nuclear warheads early Thursday morning, killing 32 million in what international observers are calling "a pathetic bid for attention."
"This is very typical and melodramatic," South Korean President Roo Moo-hyun said yesterday. "North Korea has been ‘acting out’ for years—decorating its country with provocative posters, never leaving its borders, and getting aggressive with those closest to it. It has been this way ever since it was grounded from the national stage." UN officials are advising nations who feel self-destructive to speak to allies or counselors.
*AsiaPundit, obviously a sick man, can still find humor in fictional democide and North Korean nuclear activities.
Technorati Tags: asia, east asia, india, north korea, northeast asia, pakistan, south korea
Like the Foreigner, AsiaPundit isn’t yet sure how much of a big deal this is, and is awaiting some indication of numbers and rank.:
It seems that not even KMT stalwarts believe the excuses that the party offers for its blocking of the special arms procurement bill, because an number of Taiwanese military officers have written a letter announcing that they’re taking leave of the party over the issue.
It’s a little difficult to gauge how big this story is because the number of defecting party members is unspecified. The chairman of Taiwan’s largest pro-communist party, Ma Ying-jeou, takes it seriously though, saying that:
the KMT sincerely hopes to communicate with those service members who wrote to the defense ministry in order to talk to them about their position on stalled arms procurement bill.
American readers should note that Ma also said that the KMT was opposed to the special arms bill because it is a “cash-for-friendship” purchase plan. In essence, he claims that George Bush’s armament offer is nothing more than a great, big mafioso protection racket. Now, if I’m not mistaken, Taiwan was the one that requested these weapons, Mr. Bush was the only leader in the world good enough to offer those weapons, and now Ma and the pro-communists spurn the weapons - and slap Bush in the face to boot!
Good luck with your next weapons request, Taiwan. You’re gonna need it.
AsiaPundit does object to referring to the Kuomintang as pro-communist though, if only because the Chinese Communist Party are ‘communist’ in name only and now rely far more on nationalism for support. The KMT has not turned hard-left, the CCP has turned hard-right.
Technorati Tags: asia, china, east asia, northeast asia, taiwan
As mentioned in the previous item, Reader’s Digest has tagged Singapore as the most laid back and tolerant country in East Asia. AsiaPundit is therefore glad that we have a tolerant Singaporean selected as Asia’s best blogger.
XiaXue can represent the region’s best face to the world. Plus, Singapore is known as a bridge between East and West and Wendy certainly represents that. She blends the elegant vanity of the high-consuming developed Asian states with the yobbishness and xenophobia of a Cronulla Beach thug.:
So yes: I don’t like our foreign workers, and like I said, I most certainly won’t like to dance with them in a club.
Ask any other Singaporean girl and I bet the answer will be a loud, loud unison.
Racist? I have not even BEGIN to complain about our dear foreign workers.
WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY ALL DOING IN ORCHARD ROAD ON CHRISTMAS EVE? I wasn’t stupid enough to go to Orchard this year, but I’ve been there enough times to know what goes on there. . .
These years, I don’t even go to crowded areas (excluding clubs) anymore because I know for sure the presence of these foreign workers.
Why are they allowed? They don’t contribute to our shopping centre’s sales… They terrorise our girls, spoiling everyone’s fun.
In time to come, people will all smarten up. Because of the presence of these molesters, girls will cease going to Orchard at all. When chicks don’t go, our Singaporean guys won’t go as well.
All you see in Orchard will be…
Man, that would be so fun. Imagine all the companies putting up parties and special performances… Only foreign workers will participate. Yay!
I say, either make sure these people don’t play play, or ban them entirely from Orchard road. They want to have fun, go have fun somewhere else. Sorry, if you can’t behave, that’s the way it is.
Unfortunately the above photo is of white Australians abusing a man of Arab descent, who is also quite likely Australian. I couldn’t find any photos of Singaporeans abusing foreign workers as Wendy would likely prefer. However Wendy can be pleased that the courts in Singapore don’t mind it so much when foreign workers are abused, so if she maintains her prejudice at a later date she can kill her maid without much fear of penalty.
Technorati Tags: asia, east asia, racism, singapore, southeast asia
In a blow to its self-idealized kiasu culture, a Reader’s Digest survey has found that Singaporeans are the most laid back people in East Asia.:
The magazine surveyed 3,600 people across Asia, with respondents in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia and South Korea asked to Indonesia and South Korea asked to rate 20 annoyances such as bad drivers and queue jumpers on a scale ranging from “extremely irritating” to “not irritating at all”.
The survey results showed that Singaporeans get most irritated by, in descending order: Spitting in public, queue jumpers, bad drivers and poor personal hygiene. The survey also found that Singaporeans were the most tolerant and Thais the most irritable.
Several Singaporeans that Today spoke to found the results bewildering. Ms Jody Lim, a 29-year-old marketing assistant, said: “It’s a bit bizarre. I was always sure we were an island of complainers.”.
Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser, from the National University of Singapore’s Department of Sociology, suggested a possible explanation: “Internally, we tend to think of Singaporeans as easily annoyed. But in relative terms we may not be so bad. We tend to judge ourselves more harshly than we judge other people.”…
Another associate professor from the same department, Ms Paulin Straughan, suggested the response may be due to the possibility that Singaporeans face fewer irritations. She said: “We have campaigns educating the public on social graces, such as the Keep Singapore Clean campaign. It may well be that these campaigns have worked.”
For respondent Jonathan Siow, many questions simply did not apply to Singapore.
“Ask how irritated I get when I meet the lift-user who lets the lift door shut in my face even as I wave my arms like a drowning rat. This must have happened five times this month. Ask me how irritated I get when Chinese New Year songs start playing everywhere next month.”
For respondent Jonathan Siow, many questions simply did not apply to Singapore.
“The survey just asked the wrong questions. Public spitting doesn’t irritate me because I don’t see it,” the 24-year-old student said.
Image swiped from the website of state-sponsored Singapore Kindness Movement, sponsor of the 2004 Wedding Punctuality Campaign.
(via Double Yellow)
Technorati Tags: asia, east asia, singapore, southeast asia
Simon Patkin hails the end of Hong Kong’s old commission system for stock trades, reporting that that small Hong Kong brokerages are feeling the pinch of competition but small retail investors are feeling relief.:
It appears that smaller Hong Kong stock brokers are now complaining that they are not getting the kind of 20 month bonuses they were getting before the abolition of the minimum commissions they were guaranteed under the old commission system. Today fees are as low as 0.15% of the trade and smaller brokers are getting a half month commission at the end of the year. Most big arbitrage deals are being done through larger brokerage houses, so they are getting the bigger year end bonuses.Via
Of course, a person can buy HSBC shares in the US with a commission of $US20 through ETrade, although there might be other taxes to consider (e.g. the US has a capital gains tax and taxes dividents)
The old commission system in Hong Kong (where small brokers paid out 20 month bonuses at year end) unfairly protected smaller brokers by FORCING the buyers to accept a minimum commission or go overseas to buy shares in foreign countries. Kind of like rice buyers in Korea being forced to buy rice from inefficient Korean farmers.
Kind of, but AsiaPundit has never seen financial sector employees riot. Well, not often.
Technorati Tags: asia, east asia, economy, hong kong, korea, northeast asia, south korea
The 2005 Human Security Report has listed the top 10 ‘Warmongers; (as Harry describes them) since the end of World War Two and and two Asian nations make the top 10:
Peacefully rising China and gentle Thailand fall into a crowded seventh place with six international armed conflicts each.
In other sections, Burma solidly beats India for the country with the highest number of conflict years - with Ethopia, the Philippines and Israel rounding out the top five.
But it’s generally good news for east Asia, which hasn’t had a major inter-state conflict since the 1970s.
Technorati Tags: asia, cambodia, china, india, myanmar, vietnam, south asia, southeast asia, thailand
A new study by the International Labor Organization. summarized by the IHT, reveals that Korea has plenty of room to grow its economy. If only because the staggeringly low worker productivity levels give the land of the morning calm a lot of room for improvement.:
It’s the sort of distinction that leaves you wondering whether to offer praise or pity: South Koreans worked longer hours last year than anyone else on the planet, 30 percent more than Americans and 65 percent longer than the French.
Workers in South Korea put in an average of 2,380 hours in 2004 - about 48 hours a week with a two-week vacation….
France is the world’s most productive country on an hourly basis, according to the KILM. But measured on the basis of each employee, America is leagues ahead of every other country. In other words, when the French work, they are extremely efficient. But since an employee takes five weeks of vacation or more, he or she produces less for a company over the course of a year than a worker in the United States. …(France is still relatively competitive on a per-employee basis, however, coming in fifth place.) Measured annually, each employee in the United States last year produced an average of $63,617 worth of goods and services, calculated in 1990 dollars. This is 37 percent more productive than in Britain, 17 percent more than France, 45 percent more than Germany, and 40 percent more than Japan…
As for South Koreans, they could easily cut back on their long hours if they raised their productivity, which on an hourly basis stands at just over one-third the level of the French.
Technorati Tags: asia, east asia, economy, korea, northeast asia, south korea
AsiaPundit has long admired animal photographers and nature documentarians and has occasionally wished that he were in a more adventurous line of work. Of course, that’s a naive view. Nature photography and documentaries, I have been assured, involve a lot of rather mundane waiting for a perfect shot. For instance, you may have to sit in the sun for hours or days waiting for a lion to attack a gazelle, and chances are you won’t get a kill shot.
Still, killing a few hours in the plains of the Serengeti would no doubt be a much cooler assignment than waiting for hours on a rainy Xiamen curbside. Though it seems you can still get great photos by doing the latter).
A photographer has come under fire in China for his pictures of a man falling off a bicycle.
The man came a spectacular cropper in Xiamen city after his bike hit a pot-hole submerged in rainwater.
But photographer Liu Tao was accused of lying in wait to take his pictures instead of warning people of the danger.
Readers of the Beijing Youth Daily, which published the shots, wrote in to express their feelings.
One wrote: “The pictures are well shot, but the person who shot this is disgusting. He knew there was a pit, but was waiting there for someone to fall over.”
Liu defended himself, saying: “I just knew that the city government has paved the pit, and without my pictures, the pit would not be noticed by the government, and there would perhaps be more people falling over.”
(via Boing Boing, Gordon)
Technorati Tags: asia, china, east asia, media, northeast asia
Ancient rice festival has reputation smeared by ‘therapeutic’ facial cream claims
MSN-Mainichi— A Fukuoka festival dating back to ancient times is growing increasingly popular with Japan’s adult movie fans because it involves smearing gooey, white liquid all over the faces of participants…
…the Oshiroi Festival held every December at the Oyamazumi Shrine in the Fukuoka Prefecture town of Haki…,men draw out handfuls of the gooey mess from the containers they’re carrying and smear it all over the face of all those taking part in the banquet, whether they like it or not, with results closely resembling what the adult video world refers to as a gansha, or facial shot.
Oshiroi is said to have a therapeutic effect on the skin, which has attracted a growing number of young women to the festival in recent years…more…
Ok, ok, here’s the rest of the story. The Oshiroi Matsuri involves most old men smearing ‘therapeutic’ facials on the faces of each other in a thanksgiving festival for abundant crops. The local tourist board obliquely mentions that everyone involved is drunk out of their skulls when they report: “It is comical to see the celebrants weaving their way home after the ritual.”
Watch the Japanese the news video here おしろい祭り—Oshiroi Matsuri (Windows Media, 110 seconds).
Technorati Tags: asia, east asia, japan, northeast asia
Due to new laws restricting political parties from owning broadcasting interests, Taiwan’s nationalist Kuomintang has sold its broadcasting interests for a not too shabby chunk of change. But Jason says no changes in content should be expected.:
I guess Day-After-Christmas sales are no longer a solely American phenomenon: the KMT has reportedly sold its shares in the anachronistically-named China Television (中視), China Broadcasting (中廣), and the Central Motion Picture Corporation (中影) to the China Times Group (中國時報團隊) for a cool US$264 million, just as the National Broadcasting Law’s Dec. 26 deadline for political parties to sell their stakes in media companies arrived.
KMT Deputy Secretary Zhang Zhe-chen officially announced the deal Monday afternoon after the KMT’s Chung-hsia Company handed over its stake in the so-called “3 Chungs (Zhongs)” including a 33.94% stake in China TV, a whoppin’ 97% share in China Broadcasting, and a 50% part in the Central Motion Picture Corporation ) for around US$264 million cash (NT$9 billion). The China Times Group is also taking over US$147 million (NT$5 billion) in debt as part of the deal.
But as with most other deals involving the KMT and large amounts of money, someone ended up getting the shit end of the stick. Just as Zhang had announced the deal, he was chased back into his office by employees of the Central Motion Picture Corporation , who were not a little bit pissed off that KMT HQ hadn’t given them advance notice of the sale. After Zhang had, uh, retired to safety, scuffles reportedly broke out among the legion of journalists present covering the story.
Technorati Tags: asia, east asia, northeast asia, taiwan
AsiaPundit closely tracks the activities of the evil mouthless one from Sanrio and files entries under the category “Hello Kitty watch.” Because of that, AP is linked on the frontpage of Google for searches looking for a . AP is happy to report that those who accidently end up on this page from Google will no longer have come here in vain. Sanrio is now trying to bankrupt fans of the evil mouthless one with overpriced diamond-studded watches.
Though Christmas was only a day or two ago, here is something you can start saving up for next year.
The models in this lineup of Hello Kitty diamond watches are available for about $1,500 each.
Technorati Tags: asia, east asia, hello kitty, japan, northeast asia
Gaurav at Vantage Point discovers a reason behind the spread of AIDs in India, government-sponsored STD booths.:
When I spotted the first one, I put it down to jetlag. But then, I kept seeing an “STD Booth” every few metres. I asked my driver to stop the car near one and I realised that the “booth” which was a small yellow kiosk, actually boasted of being “Government Approved”.
There are Government Approved STD Booths all over India, and we are wondering why AIDS is spreading so fast.
As I reached my hotel, I was greeted by an official from the Health Ministry. I immediately asked him to explain to me why there were STD booths all over the place. For some reason, he beamed, and said,
“Oh yes, that is one of your greatest achievements!”
“Excuse me? Achievements?”
“Yes. You see what happened is, our late great Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi, in 84, realised that STD was there only in the big cities, and there too, only with rich folks. Rajeev Gandhi felt this was not fair. He wanted every Indian to have STD.”
“What? Are you serious?”
“Yes, Rajeevji was a great visionary. He wanted even the poorest to be able to have STD. So he called an expert from abroad, a NonResident Indian called Sam Pitroda. Pitroda was asked to suggest how all Indians could have STD in their homes. That time, India had very low rate of STD penetration. Mr. Pitroda travelled far and wide, and suggested that the way to spread STD amongst the masses was simple. It may not be possible for everyone to get STD at home. So he suggested that he would come up with a revolutionary new method to spread STD. That was to set up STD booths so that common people, poor people, everywhere could get STD at a nominal fee.”
“I am shocked!”
(Via Amit Varma)
Technorati Tags: asia, india, south asia
ESWN’s Roland Soong is profiled by Andres Gentry, who has resurrected his blogger profiles after an extended hiatus.:
17. Zhao Ziyang recently died. Non-Chinese seemed to have much greater interest in this story than Chinese. Is this observation correct? Whether true or false, why?
How many Americans or Europeans know who Zhao Ziyang is? You must be joking!!! Like 0.00001%! This question must refer not to general populations, but only to those who actually speak up. I once published an academic paper on the theory of the “Spiral of Silence” of Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann about the common fallacy to take the distribution of opinions of those who speak out as the same for the general population. This is a dangerous, because it was exactly how the Nazis created the impression that they represented the majority in Germany. On the matter of Zhao Ziyang, the distribution of opinions should not be based upon only those who are willing to speak out at this time.
Inside China, I would have liked to run an anonymous public opinion survey to ascertain how people feel, but that won’t happen, of course. So all is left to speculation. I would say that it is a function of one’s age and personal history. For the younger Chinese, it is likely that they have no idea who this person was. After all, they were 5 or 10 years old in 1989 and the subjects of Zhao Ziyang and the June 4 ‘incident’ have been excluded from the public discourse. As for those who were old enough in 1989 to know what went on, I can’t get a reading. For the majority of the country who are mostly rural peasants, they did not hear about Zhao Ziyang or the June 4 ‘incident’ back then, and it would have no material effect on them now. For those who were involved or paid attention at the time, I have no way to gauge the preponderance of opinions — a very tiny fraction have gone into exile and written a voluminous amount of protest materials; perhaps some are still despondent and angry; perhaps some have settled down in middle-class comfort; or perhaps others have even accept that what happened was necessary. I have no evidence about the distribution of these opinions.
Technorati Tags: asia, blogs, china, hong kong, northeast asia
The backlash against continues, with the Indian government now .:
The Indian Government is in the news recently as it expressed its concern over the highly detailed images available via Google Earth and having decided to constitute an expert group to suggest ways to safeguard the country’s interests ()……While Indian Government should follow-up on the recommendations of the expert group, it should also be proactive and assume that the information that it is trying to protect is already available to its enemies. It should put in place a system of security measure that changes frequently and camouflage them (as it did during the Pokhran tests).
Technorati Tags: asia, india, , south asia
Via the Mises Economics Blog, an NYT item that reflects on the bursting of Japan’s property bubble and lessons that the US can learn from the experience.:
Mr. Nakashima, a Tokyo city government employee who was then 36, took out a loan for almost the entire $400,000 price of a cramped four-bedroom apartment. With property values rising at double-digit rates, he would easily earn back the loan and then some when he decided to sell.
Or so he thought. Not long after he bought the apartment, Japan’s property market collapsed. Today, the apartment is worth half what he paid. He said he would like to move closer to the city but cannot: the sale price would not cover the $300,000 he still owes the bank.
With housing prices in the United States looking wobbly after years of spectacular gains, it may be helpful to look at the last major economy to have a real estate bubble pop: Japan. What Americans see may scare them, but they may also learn ways to ease the pain.
To be sure, there are several major differences between Japan in the 1980’s and the United States today. One is the fact that property prices rose much faster and more steeply in Japan, partly because speculators used paper profits from a booming stock market to invest in property, insupportably leveraging the prices of both higher and higher.
AsiaPundit recommends that readers outside the US, for instance Australia and Shanghai residents, also take note.
Technorati Tags: asia, east asia, economy, japan, northeast asia, housing bubble
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Mao: The Unknown Story - by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday:
A controversial and damning biography of the Helmsman.
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