Unhappy/Crimethink

This is coming slightly late, but here’s an excerpt from a news article about September 11th. The article was from CCTV’s website (China Central Television, the national television broadcaster, technically an organ of the central government and Party), and was entitled the “Western Countries Have a New ‘Year’s End’”. It was about how America, Britain, and recently Germany, where a terrorist plot was foiled last week, step up their domestic anti-terror efforts when 9/11 rolls around. (Translator’s note: I don’t really understand the use of Year’s End here, it might be something colloquial I’m not getting.)

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Every September 11, the United States maintains a high degree of wariness towards any sort of suspicious behavior, and now this type of “year’s end” pressure has already reached other western countries like England and Germany.

“9/11” has come again, and the Western nation’s anti-terrorist nerves have really begun to tense. One can say without any exaggeration, that in regard to these few countries, this arrival of this day brings the same suffering that a comes with passing a “year’s end”. On September 8, Al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden made an appearance in a recording, giving a thicker flavor to the “year’s end”. On the same day, U.S. President Bush was present at the APEC meeting in Sydney, and upon hearing of this news, immediately reminded everyone at the meeting that “we live in a dangerous world.”
<p>America: The Grieving Mentality of Year’s End
</p><p>Every year for the past six years Americans have commemorated “9/11”. This year, even though many Americans express the wish to “remember by forgetting”, the harder they try to let it fade from memory, the more painful it becomes to recollect. Because for Americans, six years ago the terror and grief of that great catastrophe was etched into their bones and seared into their minds. And every day it is commemorated is a “psychological year’s end” that is difficult to move past.</p><p>In the past few days, Washington D.C. police have clearly increased their precautions, and more police cars can be seen on streets along Congress and other government buildings, as well as at every major intersection. The airports are even more strictly carrying out safety inspections, every person has to remove their shoes and is subjected to a body search. On the 6th, America’s Department of Homeland Security head also reminded the people that terrorist organizations “have note given up their desire to subjugate us”, and asked that everyone be on guard.
</p> <p>According to the government, nearly every disaster comes from “9/11”. If there hadn’t been a “9/11”, then there wouldn’t have been a Guantanamo, there wouldn’t be any CIA “black-sites”, and there wouldn’t have been the loud uproar over wiretapping policies. If there hadn’t been a “9/11” tragedy, then there probably would be no Iraq war, no war in Afghanistan. The government has done all of this in the name of preventing another reenactment of “9/11” (Translator: I feel like the poetic flavor of the last two sentences is more evident in Chinese, because the word for tragedy,悲剧,actually has the character for “play” in it. But that might just be me.)
</p> <p>The U.S. Government has used all its power to fight anti-terrorism, and especially since “9/11” its stare has been focused dead on in the direction of Al-Quaeda. This includes the plot in Germany from the 4th, which was discovered with America’s help. But after six years, 80% of Americans still believe that within the next decade, another terrorist attack on the scale of “9/11” may occur.</p>=-=-=-=-=-=

Now, I don't think my present feelings about 9/11 accurately reflect this article's description of every American's present day state of mind. Honestly I hadn't thought of 9/11 in the past couple weeks, and I woke up yesterday morning thinking "oh, it's Wednesday" and didn't even link the date to 2001 until I read this article that evening. Of course I find it terribly sad, thinking about what happened six years ago. I am sometimes surprised at how swiftly the recollection of it still brings tears to my eyes, this long afterwards. I imagine it might strum that same sad chord in me for the rest of my life. But it's just a particularly powerful memory and sorrow, that's all it is. It doesn't tear at me and I don't live in fright, and I can say that I largely have forgotten it, in the positive sense. I can't speak for everybody, but most of the Americans I know go about their regular lives without 9/11 registering the tiniest of blips on their radar. It really seems like we have moved past it, because that's how the majority of people react to traumatic events--there's suffering, and then eventually they get over it. And that "eventually" hardly ever lasts for years and years, especially when the tragedy doesn't affect a person directly.

But the emotional remnants left over can be powerful if they're evoked and developed. And that's what the government does when it wants people to react to them making policy, it reminds them about 9/11 and lets our personal feelings work on their behalf. This isn't always a bad thing. People forget fast, and that can be a problem when you're working on timescales longer than what's going on this weekend. As is the case with everything though, it sometimes is a bad thing, and it becomes nothing more than illicit manipulation. The best part is that you don't know when it's bad and when it isn't.

Nobody knows what's going on in the Middle East, in the sense of knowing the resources and plans of all the 10,000 different parties involved. People know even less than


Sorry, I don’t know at which point I lost track of my point and started the rant. It’s developed much farther in my head but I’ll spare my readers, because it’s nothing nobody hasn’t heard before (triple negative!).

I wanted to say just this:
- 9/11 sucked hard.
- We’re pretty much over it.
- American government: compel us with results, not emotional propaganda from the past.
- Chinese government: I understand your distaste for our Iraq war, but I am glad that you support our anti-terror efforts and I hope that everything goes well with your own Uighur separatists evil terrorists out west.

Sorry, I momentarily forgot about the Chinese Ministry of Propaganda’s post-9/11 naming conventions. I mean, I ungoodwise thinked that crimethink. I wonder if George Orwell would find it funny that 新华 (xin1hua2), which among other things refers to the national press agency in China, which reports directly to the the Public Information Department of the Communist Party, could be punned with 新话 (xin1hua4), literally “new speak”! Haha, who cares if he would, I think it’s funny!

Random note:
I’m going to start using member as a verb. It’s what you do when you make a memory that you can later remember. So if you’re paying attention to something you’re membering it. Member also means to put something together, as opposed to dismembering something. You could say things like “Give me a second, I want to member how to member this puzzle.”

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The Input Method From Hell

Otherwise known as 五笔字型输入法 (wu3bi2zi4xing2shu1ru4fa2), which can be translated as “five stroke character model input method”. Most people call it 五笔.

Now, if you are in any way familiar with the Chinese language, and have used a computer to type characters, then you’ve probably met the pinyin input system. Type in the pinyin of the syllable/word/phrase you’re looking for, pick it out from a list of possibilities that pops up, and like magic it’s there on your computer.

In short, inputting characters in 五笔 is based on the structural components of characters (roots, they’re called), rather than the sound. There are several advantages to this, listed here and elsewhere, all of which I think far outweigh the following disadvantage.

Instead of getting to close my eyes and imagine this:

I must close my eyes and imagine this:


It’s slow going.

Now it’s actually a very rational, if at times quirky system, and it’s just a matter of repetition and gradually memorizing what goes where. There are some typing programs out which help you do this, but I don’t feel like spending any money or downloading any malware. I’m also lazy. So I am learning it with the basics from this website (very helpful) and from inputting every single Chinese character I must using this method.

At first this was extremely frustrating, but once the locations of the roots settle in your head it gets easier. The challenging part isn’t even that, it’s figuring out exactly how a character is pieced together. Sometimes it’s like beating your head against a wall trying to do a problem set, followed by the euphoric rush that comes after you figure it all out. I’m not using an unnecessary chain metaphor here, I really used to beat my head against the wall doing problem sets.

So my typing speed is at least 1 character per minute now. When I’m on fire.

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Wii Ming

So I’ve moved on from buying my daily 10-cent newspaper, which I can never even put a dent in anyway, and I’ve gone and joined everyone else in the 21st century! I now make great use of Google Desktop’s newsreader, which provides me with all the random news I need. I get everything from picture series of bikini contests down in Hainan to chengyu-laden articles on obscure historical happenings.

So yesterday I saw this picture (I know my last blog had that bit about needing authors’ permissions, but I didn’t say I was going to stop doing it, I’m just not going to do it as much. Huge difference!) on Xinhua’s site. It’s Yao Ming in Taiwan, volunteering to help these children out with their PR work:



Best part was the caption:

9月8日,姚明(左)和一名当地小学生一起玩电脑游戏。新华社/法新

September 8, Yao Ming (left) and a local elementary school student play computer games together. (Xinhua Press/Fa Xin)


Just in case you weren’t sure who was who!

On a more personal note, it bothers me that they captioned this as a “computer game” rather than a “video game”, and didn’t even bother to mention that it was a Wii! It’s probably because China didn’t want to draw notice to the embarrassing fact that Taiwan has one and the mainland still doesn’t.

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Reformatting

So I am going to shift gears and change lanes with this blog.

My original intention had been to keep it a translation exercise for myself, and source of news for readers. After a steady three weeks of this practice I’ve allayed my fears that this was just a passing phase, and I recently began doing more research concerning the ins and outs of blogging, blog design, blog maintenance, and popularization/dissemination.

My goal here, is to acquire a solid reader base, to get some web traffic coming in, and to make some money.

But after some thought, I decided that the current format of translating an article or so a day is not going to cut it. I want to personalize the blog articles, expand/get more in depth into what I’m interests me, and generally explore other options. For instance the ins and outs of working on my Mandarin, of happenings here in Beijing, and in the future perhaps the trials and tribulations of becoming a translator.

And if I stick to translating articles from newspapers, that’s technically a violation of copyright laws, since I’m doing it without any permission. Granted this blog is blocked in China anyway, and at this point I doubt they would care at all about some two-bit kid translating their work. In addition, most of the articles, being about international affairs, can be found from any regular English news source, so I’m not bringing anything special into play. So in the end I feel that it will be better to branch out.

Of course, now I’m saddled with the burden of having to make up original content!

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Hey, Stop By the Store On Your Way, Okay?

From the 2007-09-04 print of the Beijing Paper (新京报)in the International News–Headlines section on page A23. From the Xinhua Press, article (three parts) by Zhang Le.

In this week’s episode…President Bush Stops By Iraq Before Making His Way to Australia! Bush Now Understands the Situation! Brits Say Bye-Bye Basra!

I find it difficult to believe that any political leaders who “visit a war zone” come away with a better understanding of the situation. They’re not really surprise visits where they get into all the nitty-gritty, they’re just trips made with armed escorts to cordoned off areas in heavily secured places. Followed and/or preceded by meetings with military commanders and officials that are no different from those in Washington, in which they rehash information that would be no different than what they would get back at home (well, that last point might come under contention). It doesn’t bother me that he’s doing this because it’s requisite for good PR. What bothers me is that it’s PR because people actually believe that it would be this visit that made him rethink policy or that he “had a better idea of the situation” because he visited.

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Bush “Very Periodically” Makes Surprise Visits to Iraq”

- Next week’s report on Iraq presents a problem to Congress, they will have to decide the next stage of the Iraqi strategy.

On August 3, U.S. President Bush made an unannounced visit to Iraq. This visit comes a week before the much heralded Iraq report is released. So outside commentators tie this visit to the September 15 report.

- Inspecting the “Model” Province of Anbar

On the 3rd the American media reported that Bush had secretly left Washington in Air Force 1 on the evening of the 2nd, and after an 11 hour flight reached Iraq’s Al Anbar Governate on the 3rd.

Bush is made this surprise visit before continuing on to attend the Australian held Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation’s leaders’ unofficial meeting. This visit was held under high secrecy for security reasons, and Bush planned to spend less than 24 hours in Iraq before flying on to Australia.

The White House said that Bush reached the Al-Asad Air Force Base in Anbar province, which lies west of Baghdad. He was accompanied by Secretary of State Rice, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and the Head of the Department of Defense Robert Gates. Gates actually reached Iraq shortly before Bush, and met with American Embassy personnel to make arrangements for the President’s visit.

The American media believes that Bush is visiting to carry out an “on the ground estimate” of the Iraqi situation. Bush will look at Anbar province as a model for the new progress made in Iraq, especially in terms of security. Because control of public safety has already been completely given to Iraqi security forces, Bush has come here to do on the spot observation and get a sense of the political situation.

- The Iraq Report Will Stir Up a Big Debate

This is Bush’s third visit to Iraq since he became President, and all three of them have been surprise visits. November 27, 2003 and June 13, 2006 were the dates of the two previous times, and not long after the second the U.S. military killed Al-Qaeda head Zarqawi in an airstrike.

Outside observers have taken notice that on August 31, three days before this visit to Iraq, he met with high-level Pentagon officials, who expressed worry about the soldiers stationed in Iraq and their dependents. The Joint Chiefs of Staff members and other high ranking military officers exhaustively explored the Iraq problem. After the meeting Bush said, “Currently the risk level in Iraq is very high, and as for our security, the situation also looks grim.”

And next week, Petraeus, the highest U.S. commanding officer in Iraq, and Clark, the U.S. Ambassador in Iraq, will hand over an Iraq report to Congress, elaborating recent changes in Iraq’s domestic situation and the successes and failures of the U.S. military policy in Iraq. The American media predicts that this report will decide the next phase of the government’s policy towards Iraq, and it will inevitably set off intense debates between the two parties.

(Picture accompanies article, the caption reads: “On the 3rd, in Iraq Bush meets with American soldiers at the Al-Asad Air Force Base in Anbar province.”)

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Under the section heading “Related News”:

The British Military Pulls Out of Basra in the Dark of Night

- The responsibility for security will be handed over to Iraqi authorities.

On the evening of the 2nd, local time, the British military began to pull out of the Basra Palace Base in Basra, Iraq’s second larget city, for the British Air Force Base outside the city.

With the extraction finished on the 3rd, it signified the conclusion of the British military’s presence in Basra since 2003, when the Saddam regime was toppled. The move is part of England’s plan to hand over security responsibilities to local authorities in Iraq.

Previously, the British military had a total of 500 men stationed in the Basra Palace Base, which was hit daily with at least 60 rocket and mortar attacks. Supply troops under armed escort went so far as to call it the “nighttime suicide run”.

After leaving Basra they joined the 5500 strong British force stationed at the Air Force Base outside the city. According to the British military, the pull out from Basra Palace does not signify that the British are leaving Iraq, rather, as the battlefield situation allows, they will remain in Iraq in a “guardian” role, and will also continue training the Iraqi military and police.

Basra province is the last place the English military has soldiers stationed in Iraq. It stands at a key junction in U.S. military supply lines, is an important Iraqi oil city, and is also one of the areas with violent religious conflicts.

(Image accompanies section, the caption reads: “The British military lowers the flag at Basra. The pull out signifies the end of the British presence in Basra since 2003.”)

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Under the section heading “News Analysis”:

The Iraq Visit Is Thick With the Flavor of Public Relations

- People’s University Professor Shi Yinhong analyzes Bush’s Surprise Visit

People’s University specialist on American problems, Professor Shi Yinhong, believes that Bush’s visit clearly has a “public relations” flavor to it. This is a response to recent pressure, and it is very probable that after this visit, there will be a few amendments to the Iraq strategy, which prior to this had been supported all along. But substantially this move is unlikely to make any breakthroughs.

Shi Yinhong said that Bush’s surprise visit to Iraq has two main objectives. The first is to respond to pressure in America. The Democrats oppose his Iraq strategy, especially his decision to not only not withdraw any troops but to actually increase the number of troops, and they want a clear explanation. Bush will use this visit to make it known that he is taking Iraq seriously, thereby hopefully appeasing his opponents.

The second objective is to do “on the ground observations”, and acquire some first hand information about the actual situation in Iraq. It is probable that they will provide a resource for future alterations to the Iraq strategy, and he will also get an inkling of the severity of religious conflict in Anbar province. This is the visit’s most essential significance. But even if Bush does change his Iraq st rategy, it will be very difficult to make any substantial breakthroughs.




Translator’s notes:
- It should be September 3rd, but they printed an 8 instead of a 9. Where’s the copy editor???
- Did you know advisor can be spelled adviser or advisor? If they’d have done that with doctor I could wouldn’t have been eliminated from that spelling bee in third grade! Boo.
- I think the corresponding English idiom for the title of the “News Analysis” would be ‘Stinks of Public Relations’.
- I don’t know how to translate that “specialist on American problems” without it sounding weird, but that’s what it says.

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Rule #1: No Conversation or Eye Contact at Urinals

This is from the 2007-09-03 print of the Beijing Paper (新京报), in the International News–Middle East, Americas, and Africa section. No author listed, and it’s from the Xinhua Press.

Well, this turned out to be today’s only article about America! I hadn’t really been following the story, I knew that it had happened, I just didn’t know what had happened. I suggest you google it if you don’t know what happened. I looked on Wikipedia and now I’m much more knowledgeable about cottaging!

I’m also not too familiar with homosexuality in China, and all that I know comes from Wikipedia. Apparently everything I know comes from Wikipedia, crap. But sodomy was decriminialized in 1997 and in April of 2001 it was removed from the government’s official list of mental disorders! Yay, progress! Or regress, if you’re of that orientation.

So without further ado….

Oh wait, here’s the links for the man of the hour and Barely Legal Content.

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American Senator Suspected of Soliciting Homosexuals Resigns

- Craig was the fourth-ranking member in the Senate’s Republican leadership.

On the 1st, U.S. Senator Larry Craig, who was involved in the “Bathroom Scandal”, said that he would resign his senatorial post on August 30.

Constantly Faced Pressure to Resign

On June 11 of this year, Craig was detained by the police in Minnesota’s Minneapolis Airport for being suspected of attempting to solicit sex from a plainclothes police officer in a men’s restroom. Because incidents of homosexual sex in this airport’s men’s restrooms occur frequently, the local police had begun an investigation which involved the placement of “bait”. Craig was lured and caught by the police in this manner, and was subsequently detained. On August 8, Craig pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly misconduct. After this, he faced constant pressure to resign. On the 1st the Republican senator announced in his home state of Idaho that he will leave office on September 30.

“I want to express my apologies to the people of Idaho, to my staff, to my colleagues in the Senate, and most importantly to my wife and family for having set off this disturbance; I am very sorry,” said Craig in a press release.

The Governor Will Select a Successor

White House spokesperson Scott Stanzel said that after Craig announced the schedule for his resignation, President Bush gave him a telephone call, “For himself, for his family, for his constituents and the U.S. Senate, Craig has made the right decision”.

This year Craig is 62, and the next year would have concluded his third term as a Senator. From 1996 to 2002 he served as the chairman for the Senate Policy Committee, and was the fourth ranking personage in the Republican leadership. In 2002 he took up the post of the Senate Majority Leader (Republican), and was in the secondary position of the Republican leadership.

According to legal regulations, after Craig resigns, Idaho Governor C.L. Otter will choose a successor to serve the remainder of Craig’s senatorial term. According to Reuters, Otter is promising to select a Republican, thereby maintaining the division of power between the parties in the Senate.

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There was also a photo of Craig surrounded by the media, captioned: On August 1, when Craig issued his apology in Idaho, he was “besieged” by the media.


Translator’s notes:
- He was the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.
- Okay, c’mon this is funny. Idaho Governor C.L. Otter’s nickname is Butch, and his first wife’s name was Gay. On a less funny note, in January of this year the governor sanctioned his approval for hunting gray wolves, which recently recovered their population in Idaho to about 1,000, until there are about a hundred left, pending their removal from the endangered species list.

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