Interesting article about how internet censorship works in China. The article is now 3 years old, which is a long time on the internet, but it's worth reading.
Chinese newspaper asks if the Jews really control America and answers the question with an optimistic yes.
Yay for Nicole Cooke!
I wasn’t particularly excited about the Olympics, this year, but I just caught the last 15 or 20 minutes of the women’s road cycling race to see Nicole Cooke narrowly win our first gold medal in the middle of a downpour, and got completely caught up in it.
It’s magic. Never fails.
Opening ceremony debrief
As I’ve said before, although I’m a supporter of London hosting the Olympics, my big worry is that we will come up with a feeble, amateurish opening ceremony. So I watched the Chinese version with interest.
We knew they were keen to impress: well, consider me impressed. There is no way London is going to match that in terms of sheer scale and organised manpower. The Chinese put on a world class display of making-patterns-out-of-groups-of-people. So I hope we don’t even try to compete with that.
On the other hand I didn’t actually enjoy it that much. The two best bits were the spectacular opening with the massed ranks of glowing drums, and the lighting of the flame, which was a great touch of theatre. Most of the rest of it, impressive as it was, seemed a bit forgettable.
And these ceremonies always seem a bit ponderous. I appreciate that it’s physically difficult to make these huge-scale things happen quickly, and that given the amount of time and money that has gone into them they want to do them justice, but it would be great to see someone do an opening ceremony that really rattled along. Instead of an hour-long show with a great effect every four minutes, I want to see a half-hour show with a wow moment every thirty seconds. Like a finely-honed theatrical performance: if you went to the theatre to see a non-verbal performance, a dance/clowning/physical comedy type show, you would expect something to be happening all the time. I would love to see an opening ceremony that had that kind of pace to it. How do you do that for a whole stadium full of people? I don’t know.
In fact the whole ceremony could usefully be done more quickly. It’s hard to see how you could speed up the parade of the athletes, short of having them come in both ends of the stadium at once, but all the ceremony at the end — the speeches, the taking of the oaths of the athletes and judges, the carrying of the Olympic flag into the stadium, the Olympic hymn — if you could find ways to make that happen faster, without breaking with tradition too much, it would be a vast improvement. Perhaps they could carry in the Olympic flag while the speeches are going on, for example. The one part of that whole rigmarole which is a great moment is the entry of the Olympic flame; most of the rest of it is dull.
I would love the London opening ceremony to aim for exciting and fun, rather than impressive and grand. And not just because any attempt to do grand is going to look second rate compared to Beijing. London is a city of theatres: let’s put on a show. Something creative, surprising, and above all dynamic.
» Photo credit: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images. Taken from the official website.
‘A laboratory study has found that food pathogens survive being eaten by protozoa living on spinach and lettuce. The temporary asylum might help bacteria stick onto leafy greens or resist efforts to kill them before packaging.’
‘A spectacularly preserved new Chinese fossil called Eoconfuciusornis is a missing link between Archaeopteryx and more advanced birds that have been discovered in China.’ That is one amazingly well-preversed fossil.
Testing sewage to see what drugs people have been taking.
China hoist by their own petard
“Thirty-five arrests have been made after clashes between pro-Tibet protesters and police as the Olympic torch made its way through London.
Of course, in the parallel world of the Chinese official news machine, the only thing interfering with the movement of the torch was a sprinkling of snow. Actually, to be fair, there is an article about ‘the attempt by some “pro-Tibet independence” activists to sabotage the torch relay’. It’s not exactly hard hitting journalism, but at least they don’t completely pretend that nothing happened.
It’s not part of the traditions of the Olympics to send the torch all the way around the world on the way to the host country: they did it in 2004 because the games were being held in Greece and the trip from Olympia to Athens was a bit too short. But China had to make it as high-profile as possible, and have, as a result, created a three-month long opportunity for protests and bad publicity. By the time the Games come round, far more people will be able to recognise the Tibetan flag that ever could have before.
Personally, I think the focus being Tibet all the time is slightly missing the point: for me, China’s human rights record as it applies to the other 99.8% of the population is rather more important than Tibet, if only because of sheer numbers. But Tibet is a much simpler, more photogenic issue with a charismatic spokesman, so perhaps it’s not surprising it attracts all the attention.
» Photo credit: olympic torch-19 found on Flickr and © suburbia2050.