And now for something completely different. If you're a fan of industrial subcultures, and, moreover, industrial subcultures based around logistics, you'll love this long deep dive into the world of palletts.
As a bonus, it contains this immortal line:
“You’re too old, Bob. You’re finished,” one of them allegedly told Moore, according to a court filing. “You will never work in this supply chain again.”
Speaking as a man who has worked a pump truck or two in his time, I find that poignant.
But that was all before late September, when a young woman, whom the two sources separately identified as Ling Lisha, made copies in a commercial photocopy shop of materials that touched on the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong. Her purpose was to inform and educate others, the sources said.
...But what Ms. Ling apparently did not know — or remember — was that many commercial photocopy shops in Beijing are linked by computer to the police, who can scan their business for just such activities, especially in times of political tension, said the two sources. Spotting the Occupy Central content, they said, the police pounced.
This has resulted in a wave of detentions among a group of people doing grassroots education work, who were already under some pressure from the authorities, basically just for being involved in civil society activities without official approval.
I suspect the software that notified the cops that someone was copying material about Occupy Central might be the same keyword recognition stuff used to block or flag up material online for the censors, presumably when the details of the fapiao were entered. The interesting thing here is that having established control of online information flows, the authorities are now backfilling to prevent dissemination of information by more traditional means, removing the option to go offline.
Anyway, a few years back stuff like this would have just gone below the radar, even though China has been building this kind of capacity for years now. The system was basically geared to detecting opposition, not disrupting horizontal communication between individuals. These days you have a seamless infirmation management system that flags up the reproduction of forbidden material and makes a target of people whose independent civic activity already brought them under suspicion. They are now being held while the cops select a charge to apply to them.
“We wanted to do something for our society. But we didn’t anticipate this danger and fear. And we still don’t choose it. I feel like I’ve been ‘oppositioned,’ ” she said, meaning cast as an opposition force she is not.
Being 'oppositioned' . A 'crime' for the age of Xi. Well, no doubt there are targets to meet these days. And it's more than a cop's job is worth if he is thought to be just going through the motions.
With themes like, "Joy to All", "Shine, Give, Share" and "Simple Gifts", the holiday customs celebrated by the Obama family in the White House have centered around reflecting on our many blessings as Americans, rejoicing in the pleasure of spending time with family and friends, and renewing commitments to one another and to the causes that we believe in. One of the First Lady's most cherished traditions are the trees that honor the service of our armed forces, which have pride of place in the East Landing and the Blue Room each year. And visitors during the holiday season have been enchanted by the representations of the First Dog, Bo Obama, who has been recreated using pipe cleaners, trash bags, buttons, pompoms and even chocolate.
Still not blogging, but if you like theWar on Christmas and the Christmas Truce, you'll love the Christmas Cold War:
The Christmas tower had long been seen as a tool of South Korean psychological warfare by the North Korean regime which accused South Korea of using the steel Christmas tower (which resembled a Christmas tree) as a tool of religious propaganda.
As a result of its skepticism toward the tower, North Korea over the years repeatedly threatened to destroy the tower with an artillery strike. This week, the South Korean Defense Ministry confirmed that it would allow a Christian group, the Christian Council of Korea, to build a similar 30-foot tower shaped like a Christmas tree to replace the old one that was scrapped in October.
Giant Steel Christmas Towers pointing northwards across the DMZ. Both pre- and post- Ballardian.
I'll be blogging properly again soon, maybe, but in the meanwhile enjoy this:
In the run-up to the London Olympics, which cost the taxpayer $40 billion he doesn’t have and, in the curious metric of government accounting, was accordingly dubbed a “success,” Mr. Shrimpton, who has peculiar friends in highish places, got wind of a plot to sail a redundant German submarine carrying a second-hand nuclear weapon up one of the rivers in the southeast of England and then to detonate it during the opening ceremony.
The protesters were very on-message for Fusion’s event, a gathering of young activists from around the world under the “Rise Up” brand the cable channel — a joint-venture between Disney-owned ABC and Spanish-language broadcaster Univision — has been attaching to its coverage of protest movements around the world. They raised signs saying “Millennials think you’re a war hawk” — a nod to Fusion’s self-declared target demographic — while one yelled “we’re here to rise up.”
Samantha Power, welcome to the world you made. And who will Russell's Brand be sponsored by?
I take it you've all heard the latest example of China's vibrant popular culture, which is the most inane novelty record you ever heard by someone deep into methamphetamines. Anyway, give it a listen. You'll stop crying eventually.
It's by established Mandopop star Wang Rong, who seems have become 'Wang Rong Rollin' in Western accounts. My guess here is that she decided to give herself the English name Rollin Wang and that the whole name got transliterated in the Chinese style, with surname first and given name last. So Rollin Wang Rong became Wang Rong Rollin. Some background on her here.
Of course the first thing that occurs to you is that this ditty hardly conforms to Comrade Xi's instructions to cultural and art workers. She does something to human souls in that song, but I don't think it qualifies as engineering.
But last year she did a patriotic novelty anthem about the eternal justice of China's claim to the Daioyu/Senkaku islands, so I think she's covered. Feel your heart swell as you listen to it over here. Maybe China and Japan could sort this whole East China Sea thing with a Kawaii-off.
Section chief is the lowest position of authority in the Chinese official system; the lance-corporals of Chinese communism. Which adds mystery to the current corruption scandal wowing China:
Even with seemingly intense competition, though, one lowly official appears to be in a class of his own. If state news reports are to be believed, investigators found 120 million renminbi, or $19.6 million, in cash in his home. As well as 37 kilograms, or 81.6 pounds, of gold. And ownership documents for 68 homes.
Thus did Ma Chaoqun furnish his modest abode in Hebei province, apparently with the illicit takings available to a very junior manager in the Urban Management bureau of the city of Qinhuangdao. There is much speculation about how he managed to make that sort of money, with some of it focusing on Ma's role in supplying water to the top leaders resort compound at Beidaihe.
It seems to me that the obvious answer here is that Ma is in fact a professional criminal who operated under cover of a no-show job with the local authority, in the manner of Henry Hill of Wiseguy fame. So the official corruption nexis here maybe concerns how he managed to wangle that.
Beijing probably hoped that post 1997 would produce a local version of Lee Kwan-yew, a pro-business authoritarian capable of forging a genuinely strong corporate identity for the city. In the current protest environment it could use a Nixon manqué, working to forge a populist conservative backlash against the demonstrators. What it has in CY Leung and friends is a sort of Cantonese Yanukovych-lite, too greedy and stupid to keep the show on the road.
Me over at New Left Project; just in case your appetite for Umbrella movement related chin stroking is not yet sated.