Monday, March 31, 2008

A week in Tibet: journalistic scoops, “cat’s paws” and BBC blunders by Beijing Newspeak:

He has managed to cling onto sanity by creating an alternative Beijing life governed by episodes of Eastenders and Grange Hill.

I know at least one person like this.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I was working on a translation in the textarea field of one of my weblogs when Baidu's MP3 preview app in another tab caused Firefox to crash. One "Restore Previous Session" later, and the entire post is still in the form field exactly as I had typed it at the time of the crash.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

If you know me personally, you've probably heard too many times about how I want to leave Pudong for Puxi as soon as possible. But you may also have heard that living in the SMIC apartments is not as bad as I thought it would be. First off, the SMIC has a sense of community that none of the apartment complexes we've lived in before have had. For example, a week ago a bilingual announcement appeared on the lobby bulletin board saying that there would be a flea market today. Sure enough, by the time we grabbed some left-over sticker booklets that Jodi had lying around, the market was buzzing with buyers and sellers:





Another good thing about our apartment complex is that it has the best playground we've ever seen outside of a school in Shanghai. And this is right at the time when Charlotte is just starting to enjoy those things:




So overall, as we scrimp and save towards our own apartment in Hongkou or Putuo, in some ways we're pretty happy where we are.




Thursday, March 20, 2008

It's no secret that the BBS dominates as the main forum (hah) for socialization on the present Chinese internet. If you're a long-term China resident, speak Chinese, and want to understand the Chinese web, it's a good idea to get familiar with the BBSs that you might/should use in your daily life. In this post I introduce a few of mine to get you started.

In the morning, I wake up and get ready for work. Since I'm going to take the metro to school, I might check a couple of forums run by Shanghai subway fans like Ditiezu and Metrofans.

At work, I work of course, but also might distract myself occasionally on the general discussion forums like Shanghai Hotline, or one populated by tech fans but still with many topics like PC Home, or one more directed at stylish white-collars like Metroer. When I'm at work, I actually work, which could involve checking my school's BBS SMIC Voice, or if I was at a Chinese school an education-related BBS in Chinese like the China Education Resources and Services Platform.

I finish work and return to the neighborhood where I live, in Zhangjiang High-Tech Park. If I have any questions about my neighborhood or want to organize some activity, I can find my neighbors reading the Zhangjiang Jiayuan BBS, or if I want a BBS specifically tailored to my specific apartment complex I can look on the SouFun Community-BBS site.

If I'm looking for something very particular about my neighborhood or city and don't have the patience to wait for another BBS poster to answer, I browse to Baidu Zhidao, like Yahoo Answers for China. If it's something that a foreign resident of Shanghai would know better, I could go to a true forum at Shanghai Expat to ask or just to relax in some chatty threads.

In the evening I relax at home and make dinner. Many of the general BBSs have a forum specifically devoted to food where people posts recipes, pictures and tutorials. If I'm looking for more expert advice, I can go to the Betty's Kitchen BBS. After dinner we like to sit on the couch and watch a little Channel Young on TV complemented by a catch-up on the Shanghai Media Group BBS, where fans gossip about their favorite hosts or post the contact details for shops and restaurants featured on shows that night.

We can't relax too much because being a parent is a 24-hour job. When Charlotte is busy with her toys, however, Jodi finds some time to jump onto the very active Parenting sub-forum of the Liba BBS (along with PC Home, supposedly one of Shanghai's biggest) or write a few words on her Yu'er Wang weblog, a weblog community site that also has a small BBS.

Finally, if we're able to find a baby-sitter we might go out for the night. How do we choose our destination? Hop on the net, where the kids on Smart Shanghai and Shanghaining are trading info on what clubs are hot.

Really, I've only scratched the surface so far. There's plenty of other popular forums for other hobbies and interests: pets (hi Poopy), cars (not while we're living in Shanghai), urban exploring (someday)... There's a million of them!

So that's pretty much all of the forums I've found interesting so far. Like I said there's a million of them and they're not all great but with so many I'm sure there will be one or two that might be useful to you.

Just to make it official or whatever, Jodi is pregnant with our second child. She went to the doctor last week for a 2.5 month check-up and did a 3-D ultrasound which the technician lady burned to a CD on the spot. Nifty:

A note, to avoid some confusion that happened last time. Maybe people who haven't had a kid yet don't realize this but it's not like you wake up one day and realize "oh, I'm pregnant!" and then go tell all of your friends. Not only do you run through a battery of home pregnancy kits, visits to the doctor and "sick" days, you also have to wait a couple months until a sort of hazy deadline where the statistics about miscarriage say you're past the danger zone. Soooo, if you're wondering why you first heard about this on my weblog and not in real life (or if you'd already guessed), we've been letting clues slip (hey, we're excited), and letting people in on the "secret" gradually in the haze of uncertainty surrounding the pregnancy, and apologize if we left you out of the loop or you feel like we had been holding off on telling you.

Eric Abrahamsen of the Beijing English-language literary weblog Paper Republic is attending the Sino-British Literary Translation course at Moganshan, near Shanghai:

And then… we translate. Together. Line by consensual line. Given the crotchety personalities of the translators I know, it sounds highly dubious, but this is the model they use at the British Center for Literary Translation, and they say it works. At the very least we should get some lively arguments out of it, and there are enough fascinating people around to ensure a worthwhile week.

I'm enjoying his series of posts on the topic. So far he has written about Day 1 and Day 2.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

看一看 is an interesting website. Their business is magazine and newspaper subscriptions. You can order anything from the 日本经济新闻 (Japan Economic News) for ¥15300.00 a year to 贝太厨房 (Betty's Kitchen, a foodie magazine) for ¥66.00 a year. They service Shanghai, and their list of top subscriptions sold (on the site's front page) looks like this:


  1. 新民晚报 (Xinmin Evening Post)
  2. 新闻晨报 (Shanghai Morning Post)
  3. 新闻晚报 (Shanghai Evening Post)
  4. 报刊文摘 (Newspaper and Magazine Digest)
  5. 第一财经日报 (First Financial Daily)
  6. 21世纪经济报道 (21st Century Business Herald)
  7. 申江服务导报 (Shanghai Times)
  8. 参考消息 (Reference News)
  9. 东方早报 (Oriental Morning Post)
  10. 青年报 (Youth Daily)

I guess that means I'm typical since I tend to buy the Shanghai Morning Post by default for the morning commute (not so much lately, since no more commute) or the free Metro Express; and in the afternoons at about 3 or 4 I begin to scan the newsstands for early copies of the Xinmin Evening Post, my runaway favorite. Or sometimes if I'm inspired by St Martinsen I'll pick up something I haven't read before, like a 武侠 monthly or 科幻世界 (if I can find it).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

When I ran across a Youtube video of the recent Nanjing East Rd flash mob on Shanghaiist, I favorited it for the fun weirdness of it. Today I realized that it was recorded by Shanghaimat, and that it got huge traffic from a site called CNbeta. I think I've heard of it before so I surfed on over.

Turns out CNbeta is like a Chinese Slashdot with some general news headlines thrown in and a few other features besides just tech news and comments. Shanghaimat's video was included in a post on the "freeze" flash mob which got the usual snarky BBS comments from posters, a few of the more interesting of which I'll translate here:

I saw this abroad before.
Foreigners sure like to play, organizing something like this on a rainy Shanghai day.
Where were the urban control officers?
Gonna burn you to death with a lighter!
You tube 强!
Youtube's cool!
What a buncha boors with nothing better to do.
I gotta wonder, if this had been a buncha Chinese would those police have held back? (警察叔叔)
Shanghai welcome's foreign talent and migrant workers, but wannabe "new Shanghainese" get the fuck out.
A perfect illustration of "got money and nothing better to do".
This is a kind of humor-loving lifestyle. Chinese living in the pressure cooker that is China today just can't understand. (in reply to the "boooring" comment)
看不到了吗?和,蟹 了吗?
Why can't I see the videos? Have they been "crabbed"?
No hot girls, or else you could jump in and get a hug out of it, haha.
What's the point of the people taking photos. They're standing still!
老外是有钱就想生活慢节奏,所以有时frozen;天朝是没钱恨不得一分钟当120秒用,走得象跑的,赶着整点钱,哪有那闲工夫整这个啊 .
Foreigners have money and like to live life in the slow lane, so they've got time to play "frozen"; us Chinese can't even take a minute to smell the daisies, we walk like we're running, squeezing the cents out of every minute, where would we get the time to pull these things off?
The urban control officers are off playing Street Fighter. (in response to "where's the chengguan?")
The Chinese will copy this in a second, just like Meizu.
In the video I caught a glimpse of a sign saying "Creativity is the spirit of advancement for the people" (a classic Nanjing East Road landmark). However, I betcha in a few days we'll see "freeze" mob imitators popping up in Beijing, Tianjin, Nanjing...
No Chinese or dogs allowed to freeze mob

Haha, funny. But not as good reading as another article I read on CNbeta, supposedly written by Jack Ma's wife and titled "Son addicted to online games, Jack Ma swears not to invest a cent in the industry". It goes on to describe how Jack and his wife made millions at Alibaba, neglecting their son and almost losing him to the net cafe. A good example of parental responsibility in the end.

Monday, March 10, 2008

James Fallows at the SILF, on China:

Fallows sees his current "assignment" as explaining to the USA how to understand, accept and deal with (in the most inoffensive sense) the rise of China as a new economic, military, social power. There are four main challenges in explaining this to an English-speaking readership, trying to explain:

  1. The nature of internal controls in China. Chinese don't live under an East German regime. Controls are of a mixed nature, strong in some areas, virtually non-existent in others.
  2. The novelty of the Chinese "model". The Chinese as an economic power will have consequences for the rest of the world, some disruptive, others easier to accept.
  3. Irrelevance of US images of China. Example: is China democratizing? This has analogues in China (inner-party democracy, civil participation), but doesn't really apply.
  4. Absorbing a rising economic power. This challenge is unique to the US. China's rise is real, but no need to panic. Difficult for US-ians who like to "ignore a place or fear it."

Pics on Flickr tonight. Good to see NM and AC there.

Friday, March 07, 2008

SMIC Private School

As you probably already know, I teach math and science at SMIC Private School, a growing private international school in Shanghai. Right now we are in the middle of our recruiting process for the 2008-2009 schoolyear, which means we are looking for inspired, science-minded people to come and teach at our school. Our openings are mostly teaching general science at the middle school level but we are willing to seriously consider any candidate with a solid background in science and passion for being an educator. A one-year minimum commitment is required, but we weigh long-term, stable teachers heavily in our hiring decisions. Our salaries are covered by an NDA (SMIC stands for Semiconductor Manufacturing Int'l Company so do the guesswork) so I'll just say that while the pay is lower than at other int'l schools in Shanghai we definitely pay more than local schools, and provide some interesting benefits due to our unique affiliation with SMIC company. We recruit in Shanghai and from abroad, so wherever you are reading this from you are welcome to apply! E-mail me for a more detailed picture of the school, or send me a resume if you are interested from the get-go. (Interest in other departments besides science is welcome too, but I can't be sure that they are still recruiting.)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Yesterday at lunch I made a mistake, which turned into serendipitous discovery.

My intention had been to go to the China Telecom office here in Zhangjiang Park to transfer our telephone and internet service to the new apartment. Due to a mix-up on my part, I picked up a piece of paper with the China Mobile address on it and handed it to the taxi driver (I was in a hurry). When we arrived I realized my mistake, but the correct address was back at school so there was not much I could do. The drive hadn't been far so I decided to walk back to school. On the way back I ran across two notable things.

First was the 华东师范大学张江实验中学, the East China Normal University Zhangjiang Experimental Middle High School. Actually I walked behind the school, where the soccer field is located. It's got this amazing, half-stadium with what looks like administrators' offices overlooking the soccer field sorta like clubhouses at modern American baseball stadiums. Really impressive for a high school. I can't find any pictures online, I'll take my camera next time.

The second thing is that I ran across a little mini water-town, like Zhouzhuang only with more trees, no boats, more little foot-bridges across the water, and less touristy. Actually from a couple other walks that I've taken through the eastern edge of Zhangjiang High Tech Park, in what used to be Zhangjiang Village, I get the feeling that a lot the countryside around here used to be that way. When the weather gets nicer it'll be worth taking a walk down there with the family and looking for a snack near the shady water.

I like the banner for the BabelZilla project, in a heretical sorta way.

If you're interested in translation and tech it's an impressive project, by the way.

Monday, March 03, 2008

It's pound-head-against-wall time again. That's right, I'm up at 1AM on a Sunday/Monday night doing a rough draft of our school's 2008-2009 calendar. This is when the vagaries of Chinese-style scheduling rise up and strike me in full force with facts like the following:


According to the changes made in "Regulation on Public Holidays for National Annual Festivals and Memorial Days", a one-day holiday will be declared on three of China's traditional holidays: Tomb-Sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival, and Mid-Autumn Festival. However, as some netizens have pointed out, cases exist like 2009 where there will be two months of May on the lunar calendar, with Dragon Boat Festivals on both May 28 and May2 27. The State Council's decision regarding "Regulation on Public Holidays" does not delineate how to settle this situation.

The USA doesn't have problems like this and we only have 200 years of history. ARgh. You'd think this country had gone through some massive social and political upheaval that required a rethinking of its culture and rewriting of all of its laws.