Skip to content

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Updating my CV

“Collections of fables translated in the late third century by K’ang Seng-hui (d. 280) [who was probably Sogdian, going by the surname] describe Mu-lien’s previous incarnations as a king, a cygnet, an otter, a serpent, a minister of state, and an ascetic.” (Stephen F. Teiser, The Ghost Festival in Medieval China, p. 120.)

Trans-Cultural Yuppieism and the Big Gulp

I don’t know if you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting Ikea in China — on weekends, especially, it’s like a theme park (FurnitureLand?) where people flop around on the demo units, test out lamps by flicking them on and off repeatedly, and blow off steam by waiting in half-hour lines for two-kuai hotdogs. In […]

The Tonsorial Theory of Development

Hu Jintao is in the US, and as usual Jamie is asking the questions nobody else has the courage to ask. From a comment I left on that post: I’ve often wondered if there is a hair dye (or possibly shoe polish) factory somewhere on the outskirts of Beijing that produces dye for the sole […]

More Great Firewall weirdness

Caution: geekiness. So I have found recently that there are certain places where certain blocked sites — Facebook and Twitter yes; Blogspot no — are still inaccessible even when I’m logged in through my VPN. This seems to happen most consistently when I’m connecting from cafes in the Jiaodaokou and Jinbao Jie neighborhoods of Beijing, […]

Winter is Icumen In

Winter is Icumen in, Lhude sing Goddamm. Raineth drop and staineth slop, And how the wind doth ramm! Sing: Goddamm. Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us, An ague hath my ham. Freezeth river, turneth liver, Damm you; Sing: Goddamm. — Ezra Pound, noted Sinologist

Morning, October 1

Last night’s dismal attempt at rain — whether artificial or manmade — doesn’t seem to have done much: the sky is distinctly overcast, though the air at least doesn’t seem to have the velvety quality it did yesterday. I’m guessing that right now there are a lot of people a couple of blocks south of […]

[Help], [Help], [Help] the Police!

In response to the recent New York Times article about Hip-hop in China¬†(and partly inspired by the execrable Jay Chou/Song Zuying performance on last night’s CCTV gala), I present to you a video that perfectly sums up, for me, everything that’s wrong with foreign attitudes to allegedly underground Chinese music. A minor digression first: that […]

John DeFrancis, 1911-2009: You Can't Do That Anymore

The Sinologist John DeFrancis died recently at the age of 97. You can read more about him elsewhere – in the NYTimes obituary or on the memorial site set up for him – but I thought I’d write something, as a student of Chinese, about what he meant to me. I first heard of John […]

After the Olympics: What's Next?

Now that the Olympics are over (and how about those closing ceremonies? Those of you who found my comments on the Opening Ceremonies distasteful should count yourselves lucky I didn’t blog the closing ceremonies) everyone is asking what will be next. It’s a good question: I first came here about a week and a half […]

T+12 – Opening Ceremonies

8:00 – Liveblogging ACTIVATE. Set phasers to MAXIMUM SNARK! Boy, Jiang Zemin looks old. Sweet-ass fireworks at the beginning. Flying apsaras escorting an Olympic logo. Well, that’s tacky, but if that’s the worst of it then — Hey, time for the singing minority children gathered around the Chinese flag. For fuck’s sake. And now it’s […]