18 December, 2005

counter-surveillance headdress

AP has slipped in his promise to deliver 10 Asian-inspired Christmas gift ideas, in part due to the TypePad outage, so AP will try harder tomorrow. Today, AsiaPundit is happy to endorse the counter-surveillance headdress.

AsiaPundit likes the design of the counter-surveillance headdress, although he agrees that it lacks a needed degree of utilitarianism. Surely having a laser beam attached to one’s head would make a person the subject of more scrutiny and suspicion rather than less.

Headdress-Picture SmallThe purpose of the “Counter-Surveillance Headdress” is to empower the wearer by allowing him/her to claim a moment of privacy.

The design of the headdress borrows from Islamic and Hindu fashion. The reason behind this is to comment on the racial profiling of Arab and Arab-looking citizens that occurred post-9/11. Unfortunately the fear of terrorism led to the targeting of those of non-western decent. Therefore in its design my headdress is a contradiction; meaning although it’s goal is to hide the wearer it would make the wearer a target of heightened surveillance.

The “Counter-Surveillance Headdress” is a laser tikka (forehead ornament) attached to a hooded vest and reflective shawl. The laser is activated by pressing a button enclosed in the left shoulder area of the vest. When pointed directly into a camera lens, the laser creates a burst of light masking the wearer’s face. Additionally the wearer can use the reflective cloth to cover the face and head. The aluminized material protects the wearer by reflecting any infrared radiation and also disguises the wearer by visually reflecting the surroundings, rendering the wearer’s identity anonymous.

In spite of the downsides of this innovation, this is deserves an endorsement. Seriously, a laser beam attached to the head… how frickin’ cool is that?

AP would love to incorporate a few laser-beam devices into his own wardrobe. If anyone knows where to buy, say, counter-surveillance cufflinks do leave a comment (Mrs AsiaPundit needs hints for stocking stuffers).

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by @ 11:50 pm. Filed under Asia, South Asia, Web/Tech

damn you homeland security

AsiaPundit has immense gratitude for the US armed forces for defending liberty, maintaining Asian regional stability and - on a more personal level - for providing AP with black market access to hard-to-find items such as cheese in Korea and, especially, liquor in Kuwait.

This is disturbing.:

Thanks to a homeland security based computer program, big brother is watching you:

Computer codes once developed to predict terrorist activities and illegal stock market trades have been adapted to identify people who buy popular black market items at the 12 commissaries throughout South Korea, U.S. Forces Korea officials say. The technology is so precise that it can spot the shopper who occasionally buys one or two packages of hot dogs but never remembers the buns. It can find the childless person who routinely buys baby food and formula. It can pick out the retired officer who just happens to cash out in the same checkout lane — manned by the same cashier — during every shopping excursion.

I can already see how this could inconvenience some people just by one of the examples listed above. Almost every time we go grocery shopping, we buy two to three packages of hot dogs without the buns but that’s because my wife uses the hot dogs when she makes budaechigae or kimchi chigae. And I pity the poor single guy who has a crush on one of the cashiers in one of the commissaries and goes to her checkout lane every time he shops. All in all, I find this a bit Orwellian, don’t you?

Since moving abroad, Shanghai is the first city AP has lived in where there has not been access to goods from a US Forces commissary (even though that Navy base is Singapore was, technically, not a US base). During this period, Shanghai is also the first city AP has lived in where he wasn’t living next-door to a chicken farm.

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by @ 10:38 pm. Filed under South Korea, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

contents: 21 percent kim

Via DPRK studies, an item about the ROK and its surnames. The three most common surnames - Kim (21 percent) Lee (15) and Park (9) - accounted for a full 45 percent of the population in 2000.:


… a lot of interesting information on Korean names is found at Wikipedia… Kims, Lees, and Parks, oh my! They also have a page that lists Korean surnames in alphabetical order, along with the Hanja and how many people have that name as of 2000 (South Korea only). I see that my Mother-in-law has a relatively uncommon surname: 가 (‘Ka’ or ‘Kah’), and that she is one of about 9,000 others.

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by @ 10:17 pm. Filed under South Korea, Asia, East Asia, North Korea

more on china censorship

Salon reports on internet censorship in China and the complicity of US companies. There’s not a lot of new information in it, but it’s nice to see that the topic is still interesting to Western media. Reproduced in full by Howard French.:

YahooAbout once a month executives from China’s Internet news sites gather in a small meeting room on the first floor of Beijing’s Information Office, where a government official tells them what not to report. China’s Internet giants all send representatives, as does the China branch of one of America’s best-known icons: Yahoo. The visitors take notes and ask few questions.

On especially sensitive days, the speaker is the office’s director, Wang Hui, a woman whom an attendee of the meetings describes as pleasant and informal, with her hair cut short in the classic style of a Chinese bureaucrat. "Her demeanor is friendly," says the attendee, who requested anonymity because describing the meetings could lead to arrest. "We have known each other for a long time, and our companies are very cooperative."

The meetings are part of a system of Internet censorship that combines technological filters, human monitors and threats of detention to systematically suppress political speech. With more than 100 million regular Internet users, China is second only to the United States in terms of potential customers. But the Chinese government holds Web sites responsible for the content they and their users provide. Although much of the censorship gets carried out by the state, the authorities also rely heavily on the private sector.

To conduct business in China, popular Internet companies Yahoo, Microsoft and Google have had to accommodate a regime that forbids free speech, bars political parties and jails journalists. This means filtering searches on their sites, censoring news and providing evidence in the trials of political dissidents — or risk having their sites blocked in China. Forced to choose between ignoring the world’s hottest market or implicitly endorsing a system of censorship that a recent Harvard study called "the most sophisticated effort of its kind in the world," the companies have decided to cooperate.

"Business is business," Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba.com, which controls Yahoo China, told the Financial Times. "It’s not politics."

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by @ 6:12 pm. Filed under Blogs, China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Censorship

dongzhou cover up

As a central government investigation descends, Andrea at T-Salon notes rumors that authorities in Dongzhou have been falsifying evidence as well as :

Dongzhou villagers mourning in white. This is a photo that a Chinese friend has shared privately (aka in a access controlled area) over the internet.


NYT: “Local officials are talking to families that had relatives killed in the incident, telling them that if they tell higher officials and outsiders that they died by accident, by explosives, while confronting the police, they must make it sound convincing,” said one resident of the besieged town in an interview. “If the family members speak this way they are being promised 50,000 yuan ($6,193), and if not, they will be beaten and get nothing out of it.”

The most disguisting part, which was not reported in the New York Times, but elsewhere on overseas Chinese news websites, was that the authorities bombed the bodies they found and kept, so that they have “evidence” on hand to show that villagers died by explosives.

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by @ 3:23 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Censorship

ms liu hezhen

(Via CDT) China’s netizens are still discussing the Dongzhou massacre, in spite of a widely reported crackdown on the media and online expression. The Washington Post reports.:

“In Memory of Ms. Liu Hezhen,” which Lu Xun wrote in 1926 after warlord forces opened fire on protesters in Beijing and killed one of his students, is a classic of Chinese literature. But why did thousands of people read or post notes in an online forum devoted to the essay last week?

A close look suggests an answer that China’s governing Communist Party might find disturbing: They were using Lu’s essay about the 1926 massacre as a pretext to discuss a more current and politically sensitive event — the Dec. 6 police shooting of rural protesters in the southern town of Dongzhou in Guangdong province.

In the 10 days since the shooting, which witnesses said resulted in the deaths of as many as 20 farmers protesting land seizures, the Chinese government has tried to maintain a blackout on the news, barring almost all newspapers and broadcasters from reporting it and ordering major Internet sites to censor any mention of it. Most Chinese still know nothing of the incident.

But it is also clear that many Chinese have already learned about the violence and are finding ways to spread and discuss the news on the Internet, circumventing state controls with e-mail and instant messaging, blogs and bulletin board forums.

The government maintains enough control over the flow of information to prevent an event like the Dongzhou shooting from causing a major public backlash or triggering more demonstrations. But the Internet appears to be weakening a key pillar of the party’s rule — its ability to control news and public opinion.

“I learned about it on the 7th,” one bulletin board user wrote Monday of the Dongzhou shooting. “Some day, I believe, this incident will be exposed and condemned. Let us pay tribute to the villagers . . . and silently mourn the dead.”

At Kdnet, a large bulletin board site based in Hainan province, users flooded forums with more than 30,000 messages of protest and sorrow in the days after the shooting. The site deleted almost all of the messages Sunday night, but a top editor felt compelled to post a note pleading for forgiveness.

“Please understand, what other Web sites cannot do, Kdnet also cannot do,” he wrote to the site’s users, promising to convey their anger over the shooting to “the authorities in charge.”

The party relies on private Internet firms to monitor and censor their own sites, and can shut down those that don’t. But officials at these companies often look the other way or drag their feet when they think they can get away with it, because they know customers are drawn to Web sites with less censorship.

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by @ 2:54 am. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Web/Tech, Censorship

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