It’s been a while since I’ve done a Linktastic entry (though a bunch of other posts have started to pollute the category). Anyway, I’ve a few sites/stories I’ve run across lately that deserve mention, but I can’t seem to muster the words/time for an entire post about each one.
- A victory for Wangs the world over: As I’ve mentioned previously, now that we’re married Maggie and I have decided to change our surnames based on language. So, her English name has become Maggie McLaughlin (she could totally be a superhero with that alliterated moniker) and my Chinese name is now Wáng Ruìān.
Well, according to the Ministry of Public Security’s recent tally of the national household registration system, Wang has surpassed Li as the most common Chinese surname. The name is used by about 7.25% of the population, or roughly 94.3 million people – three times the population of Canada. It’s still not enough to allow me to blend in.
- Sinofoetophagophilia? “East Eats Fetus Meat” Meets Defeat: Josh – despite his wife’s protests – does a great job of further dispelling the myth of Chinese baby eaters. Using some rather in-depth rationale, the peer-see (PRC, get it? I didn’t…sigh) post goes the long way to explain how the whole thing is just net-nurtured nonsense.
- Enemy of the State – The complicated life of an idealist: I was tipped to this excellent New Yorker article by Jeremiah at The Granite Studio. On the surface it is a sister’s retelling of her jailed brother’s life. Zha Jianguo is nearing the end of a nine year sentence for being one of the two founding members of the CDP (if you don’t know what CDP is, look it up, my site was blocked for a few hours after initially writing this because I mentioned it). He was arrested for trying to register and run against the current party.
His sister, Zha Jianying, does an amazing job of weaving her brother’s somewhat tragic story and ideals into an article that tells the complexity of China. It challenges the easy solutions that are so quick out of armchair pundits mouths and shows that as much of a cop-out the “slow change” slogan seems to be, it does have a lot of weight. She quotes Li Zehou and Liu Zaifu, authors of Farewell, Revolution:
Looking back upon the past century of Chinese history, Li and Liu observed that attempts to bring about radical change had always resulted either in disaster or in tyranny. China was too big, its problems too numerous and complex, for any quick fix. Incremental reform, not revolution, was the right approach. In a separate article, Li also laid out four successive phases of development – economic progress, personal freedom, social justice, political democracy – that stood between China and full modernity. In other words, achieving real democracy wasn’t a matter of throwing a switch.
- When did American become a nation of frightened wimps?: This is the question Steve Olsen asked in his post by the same name. In the wake of last week’s killings at Virgina-Tech, he raises some poignant questions about the American fear factor.
I think we crossed the line somewhere between 1984 and 1988, around the time we outlawed lawn darts and every mini van in America had a ‘baby-on-board’ sign. While lawn darts and baby on board signs may seem trivial, they were warning signs of a mass shift in American values – a shift away from freedom and liberty as predominant values to health and safety as predominant values. There will be no end to the loss of freedom if we believe being healthy and safe trumps all else.
- 1.3 Billion Reasons Not To Travel During May Holiday: A quick Lost Laowai post showing a few photos from May holiday past. If you’re average picture is worth a thousand words, than these four photos offer you 2,000 reasons to say “stay home!“. Thanks to Dezza for the original photo link.
- Photojournalist Benjamin Krain: And speaking of photos that make your pupils dilate, Krain’s photography is amazing. I hopped by the site in prep for some work I’m going to be doing for a friend, and got sucked into waiting for every damn photo on the site to load. It’s all flash, so a bit slow, but well worth the wait.
- Liu Qi on civic responsibility: Ok, I’m adding this one after the fact because it’s damn good. Liu Qi is a Beijing columnist, and someone who’s earned my respect for allowing Danwei to translate his column and post it for us laowai. He displays a vulnerability and honesty in the column that is, sadly, all-too-rare in the rather overly nationalistic mass media. Danwei’s got a knack for showcasing cool Chinese that would otherwise be out of reach to us non-fluent residents.
Ok, another – but last one, I promise…
- Free Advice for the Free Tibet Crowd: Dave at the Mutant Palm has a good critique of why Westerns have the whole free Tibet movement all wrong. He does a great job of summing up why both sides of the issue fail to really be taking any steps forward, but rather seem quite content in their stalemate. All the while good-intentioned, ill-informed sign-holding protesters forget until the last minute that maybe Chinese characters on signs held in China are a smart idea.
Dave’s follow up – Engaging Chinese People: A Quick and Dirty Primer – is also a great read.