Archive for December, 2011

The Chat Show Format

December 28, 2011

During the Xmas and Western New Year, most bloggers and commenters turn their attention to serious gluttony, old friends, new digital toys and the nagging thought that they should makeover their blog to shore up flagging readership stats.

As nothing extraordinary has taken placed other than multiple bombing atrocities by Islamo-fascists in Nigeria, I’m adopting a lightweight chat show format, touching on everything possible minus all depth and detail. You may therefore reasonably conclude that KT is no Thought Leader, with the notable exception of my cinematic and musical judgements.

Serious reportage over this period was monopolised by Al Jazeera and their coverage was realised by a small army of excellent reporters, including a number of women from various Middle Eastern countries. The latter is a tremendous development, when combined with female activism in the Islamic world. CNN and similar garbage media organisations must be feeling accounting pressures as an increasing number of national media outlets sign up for Al Jazeera news feeds.

I have a particular loathing of CNN after being restricted to its offerings when in Korea in 2000 during another one of those Lebanon crises.

Strangle Anderson Cooper and free the world.

My favourite Al Jazeera Xmas piece was on Libya’s tourist potential, friendly people and its abundance of Roman ruins. The standup report was done in front of a souk with a background ambience of pulsating reggae. Aside from their cultural attachment to celebratory gunfire, the choice of tourist friendly reggae riddims has to be applauded. My kind of Uprising.

The Department of Guidance.

Undoubtedly, the best development in a generally same old, same old Sino-blog world has been Adam Cathcart’s decision to open a new site dealing exclusively with the Sino-DPROK relationship HERE. This addresses the schizophrenic qualities evident on his older site HERE.. SINO-NK is being staffed as I write, and has got off to tremendous start assisted by Adam’s furious tweeting campaign. Check it out.

Writing of Twitter, I recently signed up to follow five heavy-hitters. However, after spruiking Victor Shih for years, I am totally disappointed by his serial contributions on this social media platform. I suspect his wife bought him a Iphone recently, and he is still dazzled by its instant out-there qualities.
Must admit that my Twitter campaign to amass followers has been a complete failure. To date, one sign up and it was a common garden variety pervert.

The best end-of-2011 post has to be Sinostands China on the brink? – An infographic HERE. Excellent writing, but with few comments since I suspect most commenters are plumb tuckered out after a hard year acquiring keyboard RSI.

The next logical progression is to reduce the Nine Brink Points to one or two probabilities.

I’m getting rid of Brink Point No. 3 dealing with Excess Bachelors/70% of single Chinese women say home ownership is a prerequisite for marriage. Think about the fact that around 5% of China’s total GDP derives from its massive sex industry. A dysfunctional solution to be sure, but it nicely intersects with traditional Sino-customs and practices.

The Department of Plagiarisation

The Wall Street Journal today posted a light piece on the standup comedian Cui Baoyin titled Chinese corruption gets comedian’s kick HERE.

“But Cui saves some of his sharpest wit for the private sector. In one bit, he tells of a Chinese container-ship captain captured by Somali pirates who inform him that he and his vessel will be ransomed for $3 million.

“I can get you the $3 million,” the Chinese captain says, “but I will need you to give me a receipt for $7 million.”

God, this is fucking lame. I posted a far wittier version of this Somali joke on China-Divide a few years ago. Impossible to substantiate my claim as CD now only exists in a truncated state of limbo HERE. Chinadivide has to have been the best site of its kind to grace the virtual world, and it is sorely missed for its broad church and very muscular commenting policy. No precious stay- on-topic moderation policy and Kai Pan is similarly missed.

KTs Military Affairs Desk.

The Desk ran a piece titled Why the Pacific will turn Red!!!! in June on my old site HERE, built around an article by David Axe. When I reposted the piece on ChinaGeeks a few months ago, it led to a shit storm of commentary and, incidentally provided this site with it all-time three numeral click record (but no comments).

Today, Wired HERE publishes (maybe republished) another piece by Axe in the same vein: China’s Noisy Subs Get Busier — And Easier to Track.

It’s definitely worth a read, especially it you have concerns about the PLA-N encroaching on your backyard swimming pool.

Survive the New Year. Stick to ginger beer and don’t make any outrageous resolutions, okay.

China Plans a Cat Killing Spree for Xmas….Hoax?

December 19, 2011

BBC reports that Kim Jong-il is dead, but just to make sure Im flying to DPROK post-haste to drive a silver stake through his heart.

Pre-flight Update.

Following my earlier pieces on football in China, I was pleased to pick up my copy of the Economist at the airport and read this comprehensive and quite long article

Why China fails at football
Little red card
The telling reasons why, at least in football, China is unlikely to rule the world in the near future

In brief, it argues that the endemic corruption in Chinese football is simply a reflection of the larger societal context, and it makes this point in excruciating detail.

And surprise, surprise. The first comment leading off discussion is Maitreya Bhakal one of the stalwarts from the Hidden Harmonies Blog. And how does he address the issue? Well, we get an India/China comparison, which as you know is SOP for HH crowd.


I was planning a Xmas post full of goodwill towards fellow bloggers/commenters, etc. A sort of cleansing process before the New Year, which includes burying old grievances and putting a cordon sanitaire around my dark side. Goodwill stuff towards all Comrades and fellow Keyboard Gunslingers, but had my breakfast totally ruined by China Daily and the Global Times, PRCs window to the world.

The Global Times reports HERE that Online groups plan Xmas cat-killing spree.

Animal lovers are condemning and trying to halt an alleged organized attempt to abuse and kill over 1,000 cats on Christmas Eve.

Some Web users reportedly plan to kill 1,314 cats on December 24 in cities all over China, to pay tribute to the founder of an “Abuse and kill cats” online chat group, according to an animal protection activist in Beijing, who identified herself as Lynn.

The QQ chat group was uncovered by some animal protection activists who went online “undercover.”
……….
Discover China. Discover the World

The public mood is surly and brittle this Yuletide Season – insert your own contradictions here – but the China Daily soldiers on dispensing nonsense and intimations of this large and unruly Kingdoms’ future directions.

Nonsense first HERE. “Beijing reaches annual ‘blue sky days’ target”. Beijings Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau use a concept of evidence quiet at odds with normal usage, but what the heck, I don’t live there.

As of Sunday, Beijing has enjoyed 274 days of “blue sky” in 2011, fulfilling its annual target ahead of schedule, an official with Beijing’s Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau said Sunday.

Future directions HERE. Well, this says it all once you get rid of the bs spin. China to upgrade detention houses.

SHANGHAI – China plans to spend 46.3 billion yuan ($7.2 billion) upgrading police-run detention houses in the coming five years, an official with the Ministry of Public Security said Saturday.

Enough of this social formation and its unpleasant system of government.
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Some perfectly formed sounds and where better to start than with my/KTs theme song recorded four decades ago, and still luminescent for a number of reasons.

King Tubby analogue Master Mixer with Augustus Pablo on melodica (an instrument on step up from the recorder).

Another piece by this pathbreaking duo with killer brass lines. Note: if there is one musical genre where the trombone has found a home, it is in ska, vintage reggae and dub.

And if you like to be close proximity to power ie live in Beijing, this is for you. Even while you choke on the atmosphere, the intro here should raise a laugh.

For my recent guest music correspondent, some key Garage Sounds.

The Litter a late sixties garage band from Minneapolis released one brilliant LP Distortions (mostly of covers) with this perfect example of power pop opening their vinyl treasure. Try their version of Buffy St Marie’s Codiene, one of many garage versions found on youtube.

Tell me that this aint the perfect track!

Texas may have spawned the Bush clan, but it also pioneered this mix of surf fuzz and psychedelia. The Undertakers take on Unchain My Heart

The multi-volume series High in the Mid-Sixties has pride of place in my soundscape, and no more so than The Sharpels Dare I Weep, Dare I Mourn.

I’m beginning a global petition to bring back the Farfisa organ….sign up here.

Finally, the late great jazz crooner Charles Brown with Merry Xmas Baby

And Dear Reader, go easy on the plum duff, don’t unwrap all your presents at once, and catch you in the digital world again when there is more news from China that fits.

Wukan… Comments can be made here on Previous Post and its Updates

December 16, 2011

I’ve added a few updates which I regard as important, some of which may have not been covered by other weblords.

Pls comment on previous thread here since, after changing my title I seem to have closed the comment section.

I bloody hate those overly precious sites who put up a piece and simply shutdown the comment section. Usually folk who like to parade their incomplete academic credentials. Two guesses.

Update. Wukan village ups the ante HERE. Planned march to retrieve Xue’s body and the problem for the govt is the presence of so many western cameras.

Latest Google plus HERE by Rachel Betairie who had a very good blog sometime ago.

Wukan, Malcolm Mooore and Custer’s ChinaGeeks..plus Updates.

December 14, 2011

Shanwei County. This particular land grab. Its all about location, location and location.

Dear Reader. If like me, you will be entranced by the reporting by Malcolm Moore of The Telegraph and Custer’s ChinaGeeks on the rapidly unfolding story on the self-government movement in Wukan, Quangdong Province.

Rather than rehash the whole thing here, go to Moore’s latest report HERE and then hop over to Custer’s site HERE.

This is reporting and blogging at its very best. The only thing I can add to this business is the background on how Moore gained entry to Wukan HERE.

Off you go, Dear Reader. This is where its at in the media world today.

Very Grouchy Update.

Moore as reporter, Custer (and to a lesser extent PD and the Shanghaiist) report on one of the most important developments in China for ages, and there is virtual silence or at best marginal commentary by the chatterati. Custers Two Parts had 20 entries last I looked.

F…..insane. I seen trivial op pieces on slow news weeks on these mainstream sites getting close to 200 comments per thread. (As cross site addicts are aware, Thought Leader Pugster and I rightfully got the boot from ChinaGeeks last week for continually breaching the comment guidelines, and it was a good call on Custer’s part.)

The way this movement in Wukan has unfolded in a very organised manner – solidarity and the creation of their own de facto local government – also puts paid to a long-held view of mine, that any village resistance such as this would involve bloodshed and the use of sharpened farm implements on hated cadres. How wrong my theorising was!

Are blogs an elevating, educational medium.

I have serious doubts.

China Daily HERE just in. Love the last sentence.

Custer has just uploaded Part 111 of this unfolding story and it is rivetting.

Latest Updates.

Govt uses divide and conquer strategy HERE

BBC interview with a villager about the snatch and torture thugs used by local govt HERE.

You can read Malcolm Moore’s recent tweets Tweets HERE and he has posted some photos.

How about this for a statistic on land sales, the carbuncle behind most rural unrest. And as local govts have to service massive loans, expect this figure to rise in the near future.

“Land confiscations have been the leading trigger for protest in recent years as local governments try to fill their coffers with real estate deals. Local governments last year took in $470 billion from land deals, up from $70 million in 1989, according to the Ministry of Land and Resources”.

Above from Barbara Demick LATimes HERE.

The Silly Season

December 13, 2011

Having changed computers and lost a bank of favourites, lets go with some trivia.

The Telegraph reports that:

“Shang Erqiang, 40, a restaurant operator based in Tokyo and originally from China, is accused of attempting to sell the endangered species (ie another bloody Panda) for nearly £25,000 (3 million yen).

The stuffed animal was displayed in his home in a bamboo-decorated glass cage and was described as “80 per cent real panda”, with its head and ears appearing to belong to another type of animal.

“An acquaintance of mine just left [the panda] with me. I didn’t intend to sell it,” Erqiang was quoted as telling the police in the Daily Yomiuri newspaper.

WTF….

Now if you are planning to buy a luxury off-the-plan apartment at the Versailles Residentiel de Luxe La Grand Maison located next to a polluted river in the third-tier coastal city of Wenzhou, you must also consider a major ancillary expense after bimbos, a yacht and expensive motors.

(No thanks to the FT’s pay wall, and the above was from an article containing yet another of Andy Xie’s doomsday property predictions.)

The SMH reports that:

ENGLISH butlers, synonymous with Reginald Jeeves in the novels of P. G. Wodehouse, are answering more calls from super-rich Chinese and Russian clients as wealth shifts from East to West.

The Guild of Professional English Butlers has trained 20 per cent more butlers this year than last, placing them with clients as soon as they are ready, according to Robert Watson.
….
Butlers undergo a month-long training program that includes instruction on food and wine service and ”second guessing” what their employer wants, Mr Watson said.

The Department of ‘Can I powder your balls, Sir’.

If butlers are onto a right little earner in the Middle Kingdom, aging soccer players are really cleaning up. As the Dear Reader is aware HERE, Nicholas Anelka

….is not the first player lured by the mega-riches available in the Chinese league, with his weekly wages reportedly in the region of 200,000 pounds (around $300,000) — although Shenhua dispute the figure.

In July, little-known Argentine Dario Conca smashed the Chinese record when he signed a $10 million contract for Guangzhou Evergrande, who also splashed out $7.5 million on Brazilian forwards Cleo and Muriqui.

Chinese real estate companies are not undertaking these high-priced signings in a spirit of philanthropy however.

“The nation’s top leadership has ordered large-scale development for football, they have asked each company to invest at least 200 million yuan ($32 million),” Titan quoted an unnamed real estate mogul as saying.

Here is an opportunity for Chelsea to get rid of Fernando Torres and Man City could also piss of Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli. The latter would provide a bundle of laughs in the Middle Kingdom.

However, the Middle Kingdom is not an easy gig. Long bus trips with little leg room, stone-aged coaching methods and eccentric management.

Time reports HERE that the:

Chinese online-gaming mogul Zhu Jun is used to winning big. After all, he made his fortune in part by being the first to nab China distribution rights for the World of Warcraft franchise. But the soccer team that he bought with his millions, Shanghai Shenhua, has broken his lucky streak. Last season the Blue Devils finished in 11th place (out of 16 teams) in the Chinese Super League. What’s more, he’s had a patchy record as owner. He once made the coach pick him for a friendly against Liverpool in Amsterdam (he only lasted five minutes). Zhu’s merging of the club with rivals Shanghai United understandably upset supporters and he’s even threatened to relocate the team to Wuhu, in Anhui.

And there is a salutary lesson, if we look at the previous Sino adventures of Paul Gascoigne:

Hannah Beech Intrepid Time’s Reporter continues:

“There’s also the issue of how foreign players adapt to life in China, both on the pitch and off. In 2003, I followed England’s Paul Gascoigne — who had it not been for injuries might have been one of the greatest midfielders of his generation — when he washed up in China playing for the Gansu Agricultural Land Reclamation Flying Horses, a second-division team based in one of China’s most polluted cities. (The team was even worse than its name makes it sound—and it no longer exists.) Gazza lasted only a couple months and scored just a couple of goals for the Flying Horses. His fade on the field seemed matched only by his lassitude at team breakfasts where he was confounded by bowls of noodles, rice gruel and pickled vegetables”.

You can read Ms Beech’s full report on Gazza in China HERE.

It’s a hoot.

Yet a third contribution towards understanding Sport and Leisure in China.

Slow Week………so lets clear the desk.

December 10, 2011

Where better to start than the China Daily and this piece of reportage – China fully committed to democracy

Dong Yunhu, vice-minister of the State Council Information Office, delivered a speech at the fourth Bali Democracy Forum on Thursday.

Read his speech HERE and then look up the word disconnect in the OED

If you follow the China Media Project and Justrecentlys recent translations of Beijing’s new media and cultural directions, you will have developed the stamina to get thru Dong’s drivel. I persevered to the very last sentence simply because I’m attracted to S @ M.

If you can deal with the pay wall, the Financial Times today reports that China’s love affair with blogging wanes.

Drawing on CMP distinctions between traditional ‘public opinion guidance’ and recent calls for ‘public opinion channeling/spin’ the FTs explanation revolves around neither. Instead good old-fashioned technical methods (plus a bit of rerouting trickery) are being employed to manage undesirable content and tweeting. The old script given another lease of life.

Fight the FTs pay wall as it is a good read. Couldn’t link as I’ve exhausted my weekly click limit.

Referencing Op pieces and Comments.

I was reminded of this issue when reading recent commenter Lorin’s mission statement on his site. Other site lords have also canvassed this issue. So I am asking what are the minimal acceptable standards for blog writing which has scholarly pretensions (which is not this site)?

I’m old-school in this regard and expect full academic citations which are checkable. As a person who rarely buys books anymore, and having lost my library thru water damage, and therefore depend on a number of good-to-excellent public libraries, I’m torn between getting my point off quickly and delay until I have the necessary tome next to the keyboard.

Your thoughts Dear Reader, and keep in mind that most folk have pretty well migrated to online reading. Obviously, I’m simplying issues here, simply because I want to discuss the main menu which was prompted by a few throwaway lines on Custers site earlier this morning involving a favourite movie and writer.

Nightmare Alley and Nick Tosches which came together HERE. If you lack the necessary noir and carny culture references, try this film synopsis HERE.

How one particular scene of pure lust/unbridled passion got beyond the Hayes Office is beyond me?

Rereleased on DVD. Make sure your copy has the director's commentary


Carny Culture in the Colonel Tom Parker Tradition


Mister, I was born for it.

As already noted, Nick Tosches is one of my favourite writers and I recommend his website HERE.

Okay, all writers like to indulge in a few questionable pretensions, but this guy really delivers. I love Cut Numbers (which I believe has been made into an excretable movie), Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams, but was not so taken with Trinities

To my mind, his standout is Hellfire, his biography on Jerry Lee Lewis, and whom I had the pleasure of seeing at Festival Hall. Pure Southern Gothic and I don’t want any comments about JLLs penchant for 13 year old brides, okay.

To pinch an excellent overview from Amazon:

Born in Louisiana to a family legacy of great courage and greater madness, Jerry Lee was torn throughout his life between a harsh Pentecostal God and the Devil of alcohol, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. At twenty-one, he recorded “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”, which propelled him to stardom. Almost immediately, news of his marriage to his thirteen-year-old cousin all but destroyed his career. Over the next twenty years, Jerry Lee, ever indomitable and ever wild, would rise again as a country star, and then lose it all again to his own inner demons. “Hellfire” is a brilliant, audacious journey into the soul of a rock ‘n’ roll legend, and into the soul of rock ‘n’ roll itself.

And for any music aficionados, it would seem that my favourite guitarist Roy Buchanan shared the same contradictory struggle between God and the Devil, except that Buchanan hung himself in Virginia jail.

I prefer the Ferriday Killer when he was young and Adonis.


Enjoy the links, companeros.

Afghanistan, some Sneering and Jeering.

December 7, 2011

When confronted by that internal scribbling contradiction between maintaining blog gravitas and the need to indulge in a bit NOTW populism, letting the beast off its leash has its own reward.

I was planning to go straight into a piece centred on Rodric Braithwaite’s very recent book on the Soviet Union’s misadventures in Afghanistan, that manure pile which has laid empires low, but feel the need to comment on the state of the blogosphere and Beijing’s recent weather. The latter is fully justified given my latest tweet.

ChinaGeeks and Peking Duck are lost forums of late. Predictable trench warfare involving semantic interpretation, grudges and repetitions by the usual suspects. Half-arsed calls for moderation, backsliding, plus a bit of ineffective name calling, built on news items (re)circulating on a number of similar forums.

Adam Cathcarts and Justrecently’s sites, possibly because they continue to adhere to their original non-populist mission statements, continue to attract a loyal readership (speaking for myself) In fact, they downright sparkle at times, and this is in spite of their stricter commenting guidelines.

Sinostand and Seeing Red in China can be viewed as bookends. Both share a common characteristic in that they appear to have a clearly laid out scribbling plan, focussing on different aspects of expat life in China in a very systematic manner. I opt for the former even though it appears to attract little comment activity. The latter reads like a calculated attempt to provide a 101 PRC Primer and, annoyingly, a significant number of commenters conjure up images of a Greek praise chorus. Nonetheless, both are worth a regular visit

Isidor’s Fugue is a sea of serenity after this cacophony with its consistently great photos. I suggest a visit when you want to take time out for a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit.

Late entry in the Sino-juvenile humour department. The China Daily Show HERE Always good for a giggle since warlord Yan Xishan HERE died of exhaustion on his giant kang surrounded by his favourite concubines.

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Now to smoggy-foggy Beijing. Even my cat is aware of the ‘crazy bad’ or ‘off the index’ pollution being experienced by this uber power metropolis in the last few days. Undoubtedly, the best photos of this chemical soup are to be found on Chinasmack HERE, plus some pointed comments by Chinese netizens about the politics of asphyxiation. For the novice, background can be read HERE and HERE. And all are aware of the air cons which filter out PM2.5 particles installed in the offices and homes of senior govt cadres. 10,000 flights were cancelled, 4 major highways were closed and food prices took a hike.

When you consider deforestation, salinization, seriously depleted aquifers and the spoliation of agricultural land (10%), China’s aspirations to be an equal to the US/West are but a faint hope. At this rate of environmental attrition, there will be a lemming-like exodus in rubber ducks in a decade or so. Toxic Avenger by Sino-Troma Productions. The same folks who brought you Surf Nazis must Die.

Troma Productions

Back to the plot, the Global Times reports that Beijing is to get an online water quality index:

Citizens in Beijing will be able to check the quality of the water they use every day by accessing an online checking system, set to be established by 2012, the Beijing Times reported on Tuesday.

The system will be launched by Beijing Health Inspection Institute, which also plans to build 20 water quality monitoring centers in the city, the report says.

So far, Beijing has built a number of monitoring centers to check on potable water, however, it does not mean tap water at home is safe to drink.

The water, despite being safe when it comes from the pumping station, could get contaminated on the way to people’s homes,” said Zhang Junfeng, founder of the non-government water resource watchdog Happy Water Journeys.

“Broken pipes, sand deposits in the pipes and aging storage tanks in residential communities may deteriorate water quality,” Zhang noted.

Although the water index can be provided, many still believe that the system will not be good enough to judge water quality.

“It’s good to have this system, but I’ll still have to see myself if there’s limescale residue in my kettle,” said Li Jie, who lives in Shuangjing.

Note the caveats and Mrs Li’s concern about limescale and die laughing. Also keep in mind that Beijing’s water supply is piped in from hard scrabble farmland 150km plus away. You can bet the farm that rural-urban conflict over diminishing water resources will rise to the fore in the near future. And here I refer to a previous POST.

………………………………………………

You have only to read Lenin’s margin comments on documents which passed his desk to know that he was a thorough bastard of the first order (pace historian Richard Pipes). Being a total Philistine in regard to music, literature and opera, Lenin spent a lot of time gazing at a map of the world and thinking:

all that British Empire Pink and administered by exactly 21,000 officers employed by the Foreign Office. Why are my Bolsheviks such a talentless bunch?”.

Now it you plan to travel one of the Old Silk Roads from Kashgar to Herat, your first task is to buy a copy of The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk. You get to revel in tales of derring-do and the annihilation of the 16,000 officers, other ranks and camp followers who retreated from the British Residency in Kabul in 1842.

Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars provides an excellent but one-sided account of US-ISI-Mujahadin machinations to lay low the Russian Bear in Afghanistan – from the takeover by the Afgan Communist Party in April 1978 to the castration of Najibullah in the UN compound in September 1996.

Rodric Braithwaite is an up-there historian of the very first order, fluent in Russian with a military background, plus long stints in the Foreign Office working in the British Embassy in Moscow during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

AFGANTSY: The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-89 Profile Books 2011 is a comprehensive and sympathetic account of this venture which began on a very indecisive, but well-intentioned note, and ended in general humiliation. After reading this extremely well documented tome, one comes away with two lessons.

The Russians supported the Afghan Communist parties for the best of intentions – the emancipation of women, the provision of general education and much-need infrastructure construction – in contrast to US counter-measures centred around cynicism and Great Empire real politick. Secondly, the wash up after the withdrawal of Soviet troops, helps explain the rise of Putinism and his Great Fatherland autocracy. This is not to gloss over the routine atrocities performed by both the Russians and Mujahedin which Braithwaite outlines in documented detail.

The Soviet Union’s army was a broken instrument even before entering the Central Asian crossroad which is Afghanistan. Yet it continued to muddle on, and for an insight into the mentality of the Russian rank and file soldier, who was hazed, shorted on food, equipment etc, I also recommend Nicolai Lilin’s Free Fall on the butchery in Chechnya HERE.

Finally, a concluding factoid.

When he was a communist party youth activist, Najibullah hit visiting dignitary George Bush Senior with a rotten tomato during an anti-US demo in Kabul. Both went on to become presidents of their respective countries, and this is a fact not mentioned by Braithwaite.

An Art House Turkey and Pink Floyd

December 3, 2011

In 1966 Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni made Blow-Up, which was set in swinging London and which made a bundle, in addition to getting a lot of subsequent attention by proto post-modernists academic scribblers writing in cutesy journals like Cahiers du Cinena. Interrogating the nature of reality sort of stuff.

Four years later, after two years in the making and a budget which would buy you an average-sized middle European country, he produced Zabriskie Point.


Young, in lust and ready to off some Pigs. And it was a maximum turkey from day one, with possibly its only redeeming factor being its setting in Death Valley.

Zabriskie Point in Death Valley.


You can read the liner notes on the recently released two CD soundtrack of the movie HERE, and they are well worth the effort. Long and detailed account with some nice trivia.

Mark Frechette our wannabe campus cop killer got a little too much into his character, went on to bank robbery and ended up in the Big House for an extended period. The acting career of his female associate, the hottie Daria Halprin’s film career died on the vine, so she then made a questionable career choice and married Dennis Hopper. The great Australian actor Rod Taylor turned in credible performance as a real estate tycoon (ie fascist representative of the Establishment and the epitome of all that the Weathermen found objectionable in late sixties AmeriKa). No doubt Taylor put his considerable fee to good use and spent it on booze.

This brings me to the recently released sound track with a bonus CD of outtakes containing a ton of Pink Floyd (just after Syd Barret was replaced by David Gilmore), Jerry Garcia, Kaleidoscope, white bread sweetheart Patti Page, The Youngbloods and the founder of Takoma Records and all round composer-guitarist brilliance John Fahey.

Good stuff to revisit (last night in fact) especially after my original vinyl copy was lost eons ago in some hippie commune. And Mike will be pleased to know that I am revising my Pink Floyd views, but only in relation to this particular period of the band’s evolution. Queen however will never enjoy such a dispensation, even it they had provided the sound track for Citizen Kane.

China’s Economic Exceptionalism….an oxymoron in the making

December 2, 2011

Try these three reads cherry picked without much due diligence from Google Reader.

From First Post by Venky Vembu HERE. Who can resist with a name like that.

From the Huffington Post by Sheldon Filger HERE, and I don’t approve of the hat.

From Reuters HERE on Ordos which has already received a ton of attention.

The money quote:

More worrisome, the property market, which contributes about 10 percent of Chinese growth and drives activity in 50 other sectors, could drag the real economy to a hard landing.

And the high school biol analogy. The Chinese economy is bit like a big frog in a container of water which is slowly being heated. The ability to jump free and into a new policy direction is simply not possible.

Since it is the weekend and we have laboured mightily during the past week to put bread on the table (and we need to clean up our favourites):

Free entry to virgins at China park HERE

According to a tourism official quoted by Global Times, they’re going with the honour system.

“We are simply trusting in their honesty,” the official said.

An oldie, I know.

And while on this subject, Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council has just found a connection between women driving and the loss of virginity.

Where do these misogynistic theological beards get off!!

We pioneered this state of affairs in Oz decades ago, when we invented the panel van and the drive-in theatre.

So there.

Don't laugh. Your daughter could be inside.

Enjoy the weekend, companeros.