Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hugo Chavez: Show me the video of the night they took me away

Two independent filmmakers were inside the presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela on April 11, 2002, when president Hugo Chávez was forcibly removed from office. The Irish film crew were also present 48 hours later when, remarkably, Chávez returned to power amid cheering aides.

It's gripping stuff:

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (75 min)

The NTSCMP Affair: Apple Daily

Thoughful opinion piece by Insider about Not the South China Morning Post, PCCW's Netvigator, and Hutchison Global Communications: Apple Daily

For English translation: EastSouthWestNorth

Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215 - 2006)

The US already has its own gulag in the tropics (Guantanamo Bay). Now, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzales et al have further adjusted the legal code to deal with anyone designated враг народа (that's pronounced: vrag naroda), aka "Enemy of the People".

No more habeas corpus.

Who'd have thought it?

Molly Ivins: Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215-2006)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Hong Kong: water buffalo

(Thanks for photo, Barb!)

Middle of this week a half a dozen or so water buffalo at Pui O, South Lantau were rounded up, immobilised with tranquiliser darts, and had their legs tied together. The water buffalo were then lifted onto a lorry, after which the lorry took off for parts unknown. It is believed the water buffalo are to be turned into pet food and glue.

The "cull", for that is how it is explained, was all done officially. Apparently, the herd has too many buffalo. Oh, yeah?

Some at Pui O would like to get rid of all the water buffalo. Fortunately, there are more enlightened spirits who are determined to save these amiable animals: Lantau Buffalo Association

Lots of locals and visitors love the water buffalo, too. Check out Google blog search: water buffalo Lantau

Hong Kong: National Day

Ready, steady, go . . . the weekend starts here. And as National Day -- 1 October -- this year falls on Sunday, Monday is a public holiday.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The NTSCMP Affair: Hong Kong Internet Society

A couple of days ago Mister Bijou made a post which included a link to a technical report on Charles Mok's blog. The report (in Chinese and English) by Hong Kong Internet Society professionals and technical experts contains their findings on The report is followed by several comments, including one by Mr Mok that includes:
2. We used "telnet 80" to test from a Netvigator connection, and we can connect to the site for a very short moment, and then the connection was closed gracefully. So it is most possible that the end site ( accepts and then closes the connection.
3. Normally, such situation of a connection being caused to terminate gracefully is due to the end site trying to block certain IP addresses from accessing it, most usually because they know they are from hackers or their messages may contain viruses. (But we cannot say definitively that this is the case here.)
4. We were not blocked from accessing the end site (because it did connect momentarily), so it is definitive that Netvigator did not block the end site's IP address from its end (i.e. firewall blocking).
5. On reading tcpdump log from the connection to, we found that the instruction to close the connection was a "FIN" packet that was issued from somewhere every time we made a connection to
6. Such a "FIN" packet can be issued by any privileged user from any of the segments between and Netvigator (or HGC). The only way to find out would be for us to be able to put a sniffer on first and then on possible each segment in better Netvigator (or HGC) and But, since is in the U.S., and we do not have any way to actually put a sniffer on the network segment, we are unable to try to identify the source of the "FIN" packet.
"FIN", presumably means "Finish". Yes? That's to say, when you point and click your browser (A) you send a "GET" command to (B) -- but somewhere on the return trip between (or at) B and A a "FIN" command is issued and closes the connection, hence the blank screen. Yes?

But why is the return trip "FIN" command at or before B only seeming to kick in after a "GET" command from A, that A being Netvigator and Hutchison Global Communications IP addresses? Why isn't the return trip "FIN" command at or before B kicking in after a "GET" command from other IP addresses elsewhere on the planet? That isn't happening.

That puzzles me. Can anyone clarify for this semi-educated online user why "FIN" kicks in for some IP addresses but not for others?

And, given that for every problem. . . people say. . . there is a solution. . . can what has been "done" with FIN be "undone"? Can we, in a manner of speaking, finish with FIN?

Thank you. Mister Bijou salutes you.

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival: 6 October, 2006

Book your seats for the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, aka Moon Festival, aka Lantern Festival:

(click on image to enlarge)

Times of moonrise, transit and moonset:

On Thursday, 5 October
Moonrise at 4.51 pm
Transit at 10.53 pm
(Elevation 64 degrees)
Moonset at 5.02 am (next morning)

On Friday, 6 October (Mid-Autumn Festival)
Moonrise at 5.30 pm
Transit at 11.45 pm
(Elevation 71 degrees)
Moonset at 6.06 am (next morning)

On Saturday, 7 October
Full Moon at 11.13 am
(below the horizon of HK)
Moonrise at 6.09 pm
Transit at 0.37 am (next morning)
(Elevation 79 degrees)
Moonset at 7.12 am (next morning)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bill Clinton on Fox News (aka Faux News)

The Chris Wallace interview with Bill Clinton shown on Fox News on Sunday? Before the pre-recorded programme was broadcast, the right-wing Fox spin had already begun and was picked up by mainstream mass media: "Clinton gets very upset. Clinton finger wags. Clinton goes ballistic. Clinton is angry. Clinton is confrontational." This was before they had seen the interview.

Watch Clinton and make up your own mind: youtube

After which, there is the consistently funny The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: youtube

Monday, September 25, 2006

The NTSCMP Affair.

Did Richard Li's PCCW Netvigator and papa Li Ka-shing's Hutchison Global Communications block with malicious intent the English-language satirical website Not the South China Morning Post ( There is/was a prima facie case, after all. For details see previous posts.

Or, has some other commercial enterprise with another sort of malicious intent either hi-jacked or compromised in some way the IP address of -- [reverse DNS -]. In that case, so as to launch the occasional phishing expedition and other forms of online fraud?

Based on some suberb detective work by EastSouthWestNorth, Mister B suspects the latter is looking increasingly likely. For why that is, please visit: EastSouthWestNorth or ESWN

Other than the evidence presented there, ESWN also has a report furnished by well-known IT expert Charles Mok. The report will be of interest to those of a technical bent: report.

What else? Having read a translation of the report in the Chinese-language mainstream media Apple Daily -- no friend of the Li family commercial empire -- on 22 September, one was waiting with some excitement to reading some more in the English-language newspapers South China Morning Post (paid subscription; no link) or Hong Kong's The Standard.

Nothing yet, though.

All we have is this, according to NTSCMP (via proxy server):
". . .South China Morning Post reacted to the NTSCMP censorship story by booting it quickly downhill to a columnist in the Business department who then got instructions to spike it."
Would that be SCMP's Lai See column?

As for The Standard:
"The Standard's local news team on the other hand seems to be a man, his girlfriend and a bicycle these days."
Erh, discuss.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Hong Kong: Internet censorship (VIII)

The NTSCMP Affair.

DNS Query Results:

; <<>> DiG 9.3.1 <<>> any
;; global options: printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 15162 ;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 4, AUTHORITY: 3, ADDITIONAL: 3


;; ANSWER SECTION: 86383 IN A 86383 IN NS 86383 IN NS 86383 IN NS

;; AUTHORITY SECTION: 86383 IN NS 86383 IN NS 86383 IN NS

;; ADDITIONAL SECTION: 110847 IN A 27487 IN A 110847 IN A

;; Query time: 2 msec
;; WHEN: Sat Sep 23 11:42:39 2006
;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 204

Results courtesy of Kify DNS Query Tool

Hong Kong: Internet censorship (VII)

The NTSCMP Affair. Does anyone know how to interpret: "probable bogus rDNS: no DNS"

09/23/06 12:43:17 Fast traceroute

Trace ( ...
1 21ms 22ms 25ms TTL: 0 ( ok)
2 21ms 21ms 25ms TTL: 0 ( ok)
3 25ms 162ms 25ms TTL: 0 ( ok)
4 23ms 18ms 24ms TTL: 0 ( ok)
5 22ms 27ms 25ms TTL: 0 ( probable bogus rDNS: No DNS)
6 192ms 187ms 185ms TTL: 0 ( probable bogus rDNS: No DNS)
7 188ms 247ms 184ms TTL: 0 ( probable bogus rDNS: No DNS)
8 293ms 334ms 194ms TTL: 0 ( probable bogus rDNS: No DNS)
9 223ms 227ms 275ms TTL: 0 ( probable bogus rDNS: No DNS)
10 223ms 227ms 229ms TTL: 0 ( probable bogus rDNS: No DNS)
11 241ms 237ms 236ms TTL: 0 ( probable bogus rDNS: No DNS)
12 249ms 256ms 254ms TTL: 0 ( probable bogus rDNS: No DNS)
13 * 257ms 257ms TTL: 0 ( probable bogus rDNS: No DNS)
14 256ms * * TTL: 0 ( probable bogus rDNS: No DNS)
15 No Response * * *
16 No Response * * *
17 No Response * * *
18 No Response * * *
19 No Response * * *
20 No Response * * *

Traceroute done using Sam Spade

For further news about The NTSCMP Affair: EastSouthWestNorth snd ESWN

Update: see also Hong Kong: Internet censorship (II)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Looking through a lens

One 9/11 picture, thousands of words: Rorschach of meanings.
. . . their simplistic reading of the image, however mistaken in the view of those in it, is more naïve than malicious. Their translation is not absurd and can be supported by elements in the image. The meanings of photographs are inherently unstable. Without captions to nail down who, what, why, where, when, they tend to drift away into the inscrutable oblivion--one reason the medium was so beloved by the surrealists.
By Richard B Woodward: Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong: Internet censorship (VI)

Apple Daily, Hong Kong's Chinese-language, mass circulation newspaper, covers The NTSCMP Affair:
Tycoon Li Ka-shing and his second son Richard Li may not coordinate with each too well in business, but they are unified against outside insults. A website critical of the Li's appears to have been blocked by Li Ka-shing's Hutchison Global Communications and Richard Li's Netvigator.
Read: Apple Daily

Read an English translation: EastSouthWestNorth

Thanks, Roland!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hong Kong: Internet censorship (V)

Update: EastSouthWestNorth has dubbed it "The NTSCMP Affair".

But who knows how Apply Daily, Hong Kong's mass circulation Chinese-language newspaper, will headline it? Should know soon enough. Mister B has it on good authority -- an email from an impeccable source -- that Hong Kong's Apple Daily will run a story about The NTSCMP Affair on Friday, 22 September 2006.

Well, Apply Daily says it will. Time will tell.

The NTSCMP Affair: the inability of Hong Kong's PCCW ISP Netvigator and HGC Broadband customers to access the satirical, English-language website Not the South China Morning Post:

Mister B confesses he is not a regular online reader of NTSCMP. But if, and it is if, if two of Hong Kong's largest ISPs are blocking a website such a blockage sets a dangerous precedent. And if that is the case, it is the thin edge of the wedge. After this one, who's next?

And me I thought GFW only applied on the other side of the border: Great Firewall of China

Oh, regarding the words in the photo accompanying the previous post, they are:
"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
Thank you.

Hong Kong: Internet censorship (IV)

Concerning the apparent blocking of satirical website by PCCW's ISP Netvigator, Mister B sent an email last week to Netvigator's Technical Support. Other than the auto-reply to acknowledge receipt, Netvigator has not yet responded in any meaningful way.

On 18 September 2006, Mister B emailed Hong Kong's Office of the Telecommunications Authority. The email address, by the way, is:

Tuesday, 19 September 2006, Mister B received the following from OFTA:
Mr [Bijou],

Thank you for your email below.
We are now looking into the matter you raised and will reply to you as soon as possible.
Should you have any enquiries about our handling of your case, please feel free to contact Mr Danny xxxx at 2961 xxxx (and then press 3 for English, follow by 7, 2, and wait for the voice instruction to enter the first 7 digits of your case reference number)
(Miss xxxx xxxx)
for Director-General of Telecommunications
The content of Mister B's email to OFTA was adapted from that published on ntscmp. The satirical (Not the South China Morning Post) continues to be inaccessible to this Netvigator subscriber.

You may have better luck:
No good? Try this proxy: browesatcollege
You can also find ntscmp's letter: here

What else? The very excellent Roland Soong (ESWN) today reports that he finds himself in the middle of an "internet storm in which I do not possess precise informatin." (sic) Further on, he has some very pertinent questions. According to ESWN, the "NTSCMP Affair" has now also been picked up by the very active local Chinese-speaking online community on various forums and blogs. Highly recommended read: EastSouthWestNorth

Maybe Richard Li's PCCW Netvigator and his dad Li-Kashing's HGC Broadband are stricken by some sort of technical problem. Mister B would be alarmed if this is something more sinister: the extension of the techniques of the GFW (Great Firewall of China) to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. If that is the case, paramount leader and bridge player Deng Xiaoping, he of "One country, two systems", will have reason to spin in his grave.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Thailand: uniform pr0n

(click on image to enlarge)
Pix: 2bangkok

The Man on Horseback: The Role of the Military in Politics

Military coup in Thailand? It wouldn"t be the first time.

Currently, things are somewhat in flux. The English-language online Bangkok Post is either too busy or someone has pulled the plug (doesn't prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra own the telecoms in Thailand?).

Still, it's a bit late in the day for Thaksin to read a 1960s classic about the role of the military in politics, by Samuel Finer: questa

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bob Dylan: Modern Times

Who’s This Guy Dylan Who’s Borrowing Lines From Henry Timrod? (registration-free link): NYT

The Ballad of Henry Timrod, by Suzanne Vega (registration-free link): NYT

Here, Suzanne, here. Modern Times lyrics and annotations

Hong Kong: Internet censorship (part III)

Notwithstanding traceroute reports that stall in North America -- see previous post and EastSouthWestNorth -- I have it on good authority that Not the South China Morning Post remains accessible from outside Hong Kong.

Inside Hong Kong is another matter. Here, the website continues inaccessible for web-users who use the services of Hong Kong ISPs PCCW and HGC Broadband.

Testing, testing, testing. . . one, two, three: ntscmp
See? Blank page? Use this: browseatcollege

Are you inside or outside Hong Kong? Is Not the South China Morning Post accessible or not? It would be mighty useful to know more. How about leaving a yes or no report and where you are located (country will do) in the Comment box? Go on, please. Thank you.

Hong Kong: Internet censorship (part II)

Yesterday's post has now been picked up by Raymond Roland Soong of the mass circulation blog EastSouthWestNorth. First as a link, and then as a full post. Worth a read, highly recommended. Thanks, EastSouthWestNorth!

Included in EastSouthWestNorth's post is a tracert that suggests something is happening in North America.

Mister B, inspired by EastSouthWestNorth's example, has now also run several traceroutes. Here are two. The first is from UCLA Berkley to

(click on image to enlarge)

The second traceroute is from Hong Kong's HGC (Hutchison Global Communications) to
(click on image to enlarge)

As you can see, both traceroutes putter to a halt in North America. What gives? Anyone have any ideas? Yet one is still able to access -- whose webserver is in Fort Lauderdale, Florida -- by using a proxy server: browseatcollege


One last thing, EastSouthWestNorth is a lot more circumspect in reporting than has been Mister B. Perhaps Mister B has been hasty. But when it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck, et cetera. . . As they say elsewhere, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

Fair and balanced? Stay tuned.

Oh, for traceroute aficianados: bgp4

Monday, September 18, 2006

Hong Kong: Internet censorship

[Update: It looks like] Hong Kong's largest telecommunications company PCCW sometime last week took the decision to deny its ISP Netvigator customers access to the website Not the South China Morning Post: ntscmp

Alarm bells! Alarm bells!

NTSCMP's website operates from a webserver in Florida, however, and is still accessble from non-Netvigator accounts in Hong Kong as well as by web users outside Hong Kong: ntscmp

PCCW (and the ISP Netvigator) is owned by Richard Li, son of Li Ka-shing. It has now emerged that HGC Broadband has also blocked its customers from accessing NTSCMP. HGC Broadband is owned by Richard Li's father. Li Ka-shing.

The Li family, father and son. Are we beginning to see a pattern here?

One is accustomed to reading about websites being blocked by the authorities in China. It is therefore very alarming to discover identical tactics are now employed in Hong Kong. If the agency is different, the result is the same: Internet censorship.

Try it yourself, but Netvigator account users will just bring up a white screen: ntscmp Netvigator customers' access to ntscmp via proxy server: browseatcollege

Mister B emailed Netvigator last Friday, but has yet to receive a meaningful explanation.

Here is something else. A suggested letter to Hong Kong's Office of the Telecommunications Authority:
I am a subscriber of PCCW's Netvigator service.
Recently, I have attempted to access the website but was unable to.
At first, I thought the website was down. But then it came to my attention that the website was still running, but it had been blocked by PCCW. I was prevented by PCCW from accessing from my Netvigator account. I confirmed this by accessing the website at work, and found it to be working normally.
The administrator of claims the site is being purposely blocked by PCCW. HGC have also blocked the site.
I am very upset that PCCW has decided to censor what I may access on the internet. I am a paying subscriber and I am entitled to access any internet site I wish. I cannot easily switch to another service provider, as I live in Causeway Bay and there are few others.
Please do something about this at once. I believe PCCW may be in violations of its licence conditions.

Netvigator users and HGC Broadband subscribers and other readers to adapt this letter and send an e-mailed copy to: as soon as possible. Thank you.

Please read updates: Part II and Part III and Part IV and Part V and Part VI and Part VII and Part VIII, and finally (?) The NTSCMP Affair: Hong Kong Internet Society.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Pete McCarthy: travellin' man

This will be of interest to those who knew M and Barb when they lived on a little island in the South China Sea, and met their friend Pete McCarthy when he used to visit them. Brighton & Hove: Pete McCarthy Thanks, Barb!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hong Kong: earthquake epicentre

Update: for information about the earthquake in late December 2006 which disrupted telecommunications in Hong Kong and much else of East Asia, please click on "earthquake" in Labels (below, scroll down). Thank you.

(click on image to enlarge)

According to Hong Kong Observatory, the epicentre of the earth tremor was in the region of Dangan Island (Dangan Dao), south-southeast of Hong Kong.

Looking around, an abstract published in December 1997 in International Union of Geological Sciences says Dangan Island is on a major fault zone and "is inferred to have the possibility of generating destructive earthquakes". IUGS

Oh, yeah? Mister B will take his chance. However, now that we know, if there is another violent shake of Mother Earth, Mister B, who spent some time in Los Angeles some years ago, will go into San Andreas Fault Earthquake Drill Mode: if the earth begins to tremble, grab yr shoes and a flashlight and crouch in a doorway.

Hong Kong: earthquake

A few minutes before eight this evening my building shook, me within it. Had we been rammed by a big bulldozer? A big and silent bulldozer? I swear the building shuddered an inch one way and then sprang back to its regular position as CDs rattled on the shelves. Then everything went back to normal, whatever that is.

Now, here's a press release from Hong Kong Observatory:
A minor earth tremor was recorded by the Hong Kong Observatory at 7:53 p.m. today (Thursday, 14 September 2006).
A number of local residents from various part of the territory reported to have felt this tremor, the duration of which was a few seconds. According to these reports, the intensity of the tremor was estimated to be iv (four) on the modified Mercalli Scale of xii (twelve).
Preliminary analysis placed the epicentre of this earth tremor over the sea near Dangan Island, about 36 kilometres south-southeast of Hong Kong. The magnitude was estimated to be 3.5 on the Richter Scale.
Three point five? Shake and shudder.

Head above the parapet

No need for alarm. Got whacked out what with one thing and another. Head now back above the parapet.

Friday, September 08, 2006

9/11 in a Movie-Made World

We knew it was coming. Not, as conspiracy theorists imagine, just a few top officials among us, but all of us -- and not for weeks or months, but for more than half a century before September 11, 2001.
By Tom Engelhardt: TomDispatch

Roy's people

Roy's people? That's Roy Orbison, he of the dark shades, thick mane of hair, and Only the Lonely, Runnin' Scared, In Dreams. His people?
The Shenandoah is not a bar. It's not a tavern. It's a beer joint. The kind that does cash-only business and scratches hard for every nickel it turns. And lately, it is about the only place in my life slowed down and dumbed down enough to honestly relax. It takes a couple of hours. Nearly everyone here on this Sunday morning lives or grew up within blocks of the place and feels most at home here -- which is not unlike myself, who used to sell newspapers on the corner here at age 12 and who, if the light is right, can imagine that pale, scruffy youngster shouting Paaaaaapers! NoozPaaaaaapers! Such nostalgia eases the frustrated wildness in old men.
By the terrific Joe Bageant: counterpunch

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts

Something for the weekend? Acts I and II of Spike Lee's documentary When the Levee Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts covers the before, during and after of hurricane Katrina; the subsequent collapse of New Orleans' levee system; and the terrible flooding and devastation of the city. Some of the newsreel clips will be familiar to anyone who followed those events on TV or online. To view youtube installements of Acts I and II, please go via Lenin's Tomb

During an American TV donation telethon five days after the hurricane, rapper Kanye West abandoned what was rolling down his teleprompter and gave a somewhat disjointed but passionate speech that ended: "George Bush don't care about black people."

Kanye West telling it like it is, next to a puppet named Mike Myers (who's he?): youtube

Not just black people, Kanye. Not as evidenced in Acts III and IV, which have some truly jaw-dropping moments documenting the year since and what has happened in New Orleans. And what hasn't happened. A sample: youtube
To view all the youtubes for Acts III and IV, please go via Lenin's Tomb

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Hong Kong: Latin dance finale

Cha cha ching! The plaintiff, HSBC Private Bank Asia Regional Chief Executive Officer Monica Wong, 61, and the defendants, Latin Dance teachers Mirko Saccani, 31, and his wife, Gaynor Fairweather, 49, appeared before Hong Kong's High Court in mid-June.

Now the High Court has finallly spoken: the defendants to repay the plaintiff the money she paid upfront in 2004: HK$62,000,000. That, plus interest.

Whether the defendants still have the money is not clear. Full report: Hong Kong Standard

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

New view of a little island in the South China Sea

Google Map has updated the satellite image of a little island in the South China Sea. Zoom in and, among other things, you can now see the swimming pontoons and shark prevention nets on Tung Wan and Kwun Yam beaches. (Oh, that circular thing between the two beaches is the heli-pad for the air ambulance). Awesome!

The image is awesome, that is, not the shark prevention nets. The shark nets are completely unnecessary. They were installed because along the inshore eastern waters of Hong Kong a shark (or sharks), some years ago, took to grabbing the occasional early morning Chinese takeaway.

As there would have been an outcry (putting the public at risk!) if the nets were not installed at all public beaches, the nets were therefore installed everywhere. Nevermind that at swimming bays on the western side of Hong Kong no shark had ever been seen, let alone registered as causing any fatality.

Why the occurence of sharks in the clear eastern waters but their absence in the soupy waters of the west? As far as I can tell, sharks value their health, and the health of their offspring, and would not swim in waters which were thick with the particulates gushing out of the nearby Pearl River estuary. Sigh. . .

Google Map

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Guardian: now you see it, now you don't

Monday, The Guardian carried an op-ed by Shimon Peres, Israel's deputy prime minister. Based on the first paragraph, the deputy prime minister needs to promptly see his doctor so as to change his medication.

For reason's best known to itself, The Guardian placed the Peres op-ed in the Comment is Free section. And comments there were, plenty of comments. More than two hundred and fifty, until The Guardian closed and 'disappeared' the Peres op-ed and the comments it generated from CIF as well as from the Most Active table.

Perhaps the disappearance had to do with phone calls from an angry Israeli Embassy? Who knows.

For the time being, however, Peres + Comments is still accessible, if you dig around: CIF

Sleazy, Humiliated, Despised

Ross McKibbin on New Labour’s terminal decline: London Review of Books

Monday, September 04, 2006

Attack of the killer ray

Current management principles for stingray injuries: NSW Sea Kayak Club

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Step this way, please

Ten spectacular sporting entrances: Observer/Guardian
Thanks, Mick S!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Where’s Mao? Chinese revise history books

Mao's almost out. . . a lot of other changes too, many of them fresh and surprising (registration-free link): NYT

In praise of the pomegranate

This weekend on a little island in the South China Sea, Mister B's fruit and veg lady is selling pomegranates. Retail? HK$8.00.

They come, so I am told, from Guangdong province.

A quick search online reveals, however, that the 'best' pomegranates in China come from Shandong province.

Shandong, you will recall, is the home of Tsingtao Beer -- a beverage first brewed in 1903 by some thirsty Germans in the city of the same name in what was then a German concession. Pomegranates, on the other hand, originated in the country formerly known as Persia.

Be all that as it may, Mister B's relatively locally-grown pomegranate is very good, although a little sharp (like grapefruit). It also has lots of antioxidant whatnot and other healthy properties: wikipedia

Other facts unearthed thanks to an online search: (a) the city of Granada in Andalusia, Spain, derives its name from the Moorish word for the pomegranate, gárnata; (b) likewise the hand grenade because it looks like one.

Plus, the pomegranate has all sorts of sacred meanings, medicinal, and heraldic uses, according to the British Medical Association Journal (scroll down): bmj

Not bad for eight dollars Hong Kong, eh?

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts

Spike Lee documentary.
Acts I and II.
(In youtube installments, who knows how long they will be up)
via Lenin's Tomb

Friday, September 01, 2006

20th-century music: 25 reasons to reconsider

Tim Page offers 25 recordings of classical music of the 20th century: Washington Post
via aworks

Food politics, the omnivore's dilemma

Once upon a time, so long ago, Mister B sauntered into a supermarket in Crouch End, London. So far, so good. But then he crashed to a halt. It was an arresting experience: one of the supermarket's shelves had a long row of blue tins that were, verily, rhythmically pulsing a day-glo bright blue colour.

Perhaps that had something to do with the hallucinogenic he had ingested an hour or two earlier.

But those eight-ounce tins of Heinz Baked Beans. . . identical, innumerable. . . temporarily neon-light bright. . . where did they come from? And inside the tins, what kind of beans were they? Where did they, you know, grow?

Thus began an alchemical quest to discover the true nature of things. It lasted a couple of weeks, until another distraction interfered. That might have been psilocybin or a girl named Lesley. Or, psilocybin and Lesley. Who knows? It's a long time ago. Anyway, it was only later, much later, that the truth about baked beans became known: baked beans

Elsewhere, a cornucopia of new books tells us where our food comes from. By Tom Philpott, good read: grist