Archive for January 5th, 2012

DEFCON2….Reds Invade the Waves

January 5, 2012

I was supposed to be taking a break, but the daily news feed has moved the TDF (tubbyland Defense Forces) onto the second highest state of military alert, and you called it correctly. Once again the PRC is the bad element in the global woodpile. I shall attempt to deal with this situation in visual terms, but that does not lessen the fear.

The Great Southern Land is noted for thongs (flip flops to you aliens), casual sex, weapons grade ganga, cricket, rapid uptake of digital technologies and gormless politicians, but most of all for its Endless Summer surfing culture.


Margaret River WA

And, as you would expect, this culture supports a healthy artisanal industry of board designers, shapers, manufacturers and boutique surf shops.

Personal preferred board

Today Bloomberg reported that Paradise Lost for Aussie Surfboard Makers Amid China Imports

From Bells Beach to Brisbane, Australia’s board builders are facing a choice: close down, or try to preserve local designs and branding by applying them to products made abroad.

“Surfing is almost our national pastime,” Blauw (Spokesdude for the Oz Surfboard Manufacturers) said of the birthplace of the three-finned “thruster” surfboard in 1981, which changed maneuverability and revolutionized the sport. “But small manufacturers like ourselves are shutting down left, right and center.”

And this is the culprit. Sedition surfboards, retailing for $A230, in part due to an unfavourable exchange rate

Okay, lets give the xenophobia a rest and look at a positive development on the beachscape. Is surfing still the preserve of white dudes and dudesses (I worry about the latter), but we are experiencing a national emergency here.

Brief answer, no.

IQ Test. Which Asian nation is making a major imprint on the Oz surf scene: DPROK, Formosa, Cambodia or Japan.

And no holiday to the Caribbean if you selected Japan.

Japanese tourists and long-stays are now a commonplace in the waves and rapidly gaining a presence in competitions. Fearless on big waves and deft in the pipeline, and probably successful with Oz beach babes to boot.

Sixteen year old Hiroto Arai

And the really hot dude to watch is 16 year old Hiroto Arai, originally from Chiba Japan, who still retains his Japanese good manners – “I’m so happy to win here in Queensland. All surfers are fantastic here and I feel honoured to take out the event,” he said – after winning the Rip Curl Grom Search at Coolum Beach reported Surfing NSW.

HERE is a link to the best surf websites around incl French (Teahupoo) and Japanese sites.

You will note that I linked the the seminal Oz surf movie Endless Summer above. Well, here is a bit of Japanese reverse engineering.

No caption required, and you can google for more information.

And how better to finish this piece. Aliens, eat your hearts out.

Back Link on more Surf Culture:
Nov 20 2011
Manifest Destiny meets the Pacific.

KTs Juvenile Thoughts on the Soft Power Discussion

January 5, 2012

The non-virtual version with accompanying peanut gallery

As you are aware, Dear Reader, the chatterati are presently involved in a drag-em-down full-on Texas Cage Death Match. As I previously noted, Justrecently defined the PRCs new conceptual parameters in no uncertain terms. Chinageeks has successfully ditched most of its old school comment base of trolls (incl myself), and reinvented itself with a new generation of interesting posters. Peking Duck, is as you would expect, steady at the helm. Seeing Red in China goes for the long historical sweep, but ignores the role played by the Mongols in developing and systematizing the Old Silk Road(s). Note: There was more than one trade conduit to Medieval Europe. Adam Cathcart’s main site piles on, and the following comes out of exchanges which took place there.

To cite from wiki:

The primary currencies of soft power are an actor’s values, culture, policies and institutions—and the extent to which these “primary currencies”, as Nye calls them, are able to attract or repel other actors to “want what you want.”

Now, I’m going out on a limb and arguing that Nye’s concept of soft power primarily appeals to Western scribblers as it gives them a free kick when it comes to China and how it is presently governed by the CCP. If anything, contemporary China suffers from an excess/a full spectrum of negative charisma outside its borders, and that in part includes it contiguous East Asian neighbours.

Second point. It is an all-encompassing globalising concept, appealing in its simplicity with its attraction/repulsion continuum.
Many may be attracted to aspects of Chinese culture, yet loathe and detest CCP policies and some of its government institution. Forget about bending other global actors/nation states to your will, and think about these lesser issues.

In fact, Nye may have had a passing interest in S @ M, what with his coupling of dominant/subordinate instances of cultural soft power, bending and being bent to the will of others national interests.

One.
Do Japan and South Korea exercise soft power on the global stage, and forget about various US military relationships with these two countries? That is all about pragmatic self-interest. The answer is that they don’t need to worry about their soft power global ratings, since any power they exercise is acquired though the technological excellence of their brands. Western consumers have already voted with their wallets, and are relatively indifferent to these cultures and their institutions of government. That neither repel or attract, while fully satisfying Western materialist wants and desires.

Two
Lady Ga Ga’s massive imprint on Chinese popular youth culture. Okay, Hu would have us believe that this is a low moral instance of US cultural imperialism. A deformation of true/authentic Han culture, of which the CCP is the arbiter. Well, this is hogswash.

All Ms Ga Ga does is provide is a toolkit for outrageous dress sensibilities, plus a most welcome take on sexual identity/identification which is at odds with dominant Sino heterosexual patriarchy. (Not to forget her most welcome AIDS awareness bit.)

She (and I couldn’t name one of her songs if my life depended on it) simply provides a window of personal possibility, kitsch though it is, for young folk. Lowbrow instance of western cultural imperialism/slaves of the West. You have to be joking. Chinese youth simply appropriate aspects of her style to suit their own personal needs and desires. If anything, China is well and truly ready for its own healthy sexual revolution.

To be sure, what I have written above is co-joined with the trash money orientated Super Girl-type TV culture, which I jeer at and which also pisses off Mr Hu, but that can be taken up at a later date.

Three
To recycle, music is one of the perfect conveyor or transmission belts on how we feel about cultures Other than our own. And here I am not talking about, for example, how Korean pop is embraced by diaspora Korean communities outside Seoul. That’s a given.

Despite the fact they have broken, totally crap systems and institutions of governance, think about the disproportionate musical influence exercised by countries like Jamaica, Nigeria, Senegal and poor land-locked Mali. (Even a snake pit like Somalia produces killer sounds.) These countries sell records by the ton thru independent distributorships to honkies like myself.

Uncounted in terms of sales, but majorly influential in the world of popular musical culture. Here in tubbyland I can count on about 30 hours per week of “roots’ music on govt funded radio stations per week, and could spend a year on the road trucking from one global music festival to another. To be sure, Nye’s definition of soft power need not concern itself with the nation state minnows I’ve mentioned, but these small fish punch above their weight in the cultural export department. Unlike China.

Rant over. And don’t ask for a discography. Talk to your personal trainer.