stuff i read and even bookmarked in the last week

Bookmarked, that is, so I could blah on loudly here about it, in lieu of dragging myself through the warm 37 degree afternoon to the nearest bookshop to buy something edifying.

Off to Shenzhen first where the Cultural Revolution has resurfaced, minus the dunces hats and bullets in the back of the neck but still high on public humiliation and incarceration without trial. But once the black-uniformed law enforcers had finished their campaign for moral purity and smashing prostitutes, they in turn got roundly and publicly shafted on the internet for brutal violation of human rights.

Shaanxi, in the opposite end of China is home to some of the last remaining women who had their feet bound. It’s a bit of a filler story, but I often experience a sense of vertigo reading about people who have lived through the length of the previous century, to quantify the unimaginable changes of this period into a single person’s life.

And to remind ourselves repeatedly that despite the impending Olympic trough of slovenly avarice and all the Shanghai rising dragon hubris, China is still a third world impoverished dictatorship full of rural peasants who barely survive on what amounts to small change in the west, and campaigning for filial piety is an obnoxious refusal to provide a proper health, education and welfare system which unlike a dazzling urban skyline is the true measure of a country’s wealth.

Maybe the filial piety line is why a Guangdong school integrates Confucian classics and traditional Chinese cultural practices into a modern elementary school curriculum, or maybe it’s that rote learning and recital is not actually an education, and “creativity and critical thinking” in whatever form is.

Veering off into other old dead writers for a bit, Dream of the Red Mansions gets a literary rewrite or a backstabbing hackjob. Either way it sounds better in Chinese: 红楼梦.

Back to misery. Fancy protesting about your land getting stolen, getting shot for your efforts and if you’re still alive after going to jail? It’s the anniversary of the Dongzhou village killings in Guangdong.

Speaking of extra-judicial killings when peasants get uppity about losing their land to the families that rule, Chen Tao was executed for his part in the protests against the Pubugou dam in Sichuan. His father found out when the police told him to pay the 50 yuan “bullet fee”. It’s all getting a bit depressing actually.

Getting out of China and Asia in one quick go, it’s the 9th Asian History Carnival over at kotaji 거타지. Get your fix.

Queer stuff for a bit. When I first landed in Guangzhou it was decidedly un-queer and I met many guys who were certainly not cock-suckers because they were married ergo not … Then earlier this year it was as if you were nobody if you hadn’t pashed on with your best same-sex friend. So what’s going on? Nothing much?

The New York Times deals gender identity, and all that yucky stuff in a couple of pieces that came out around the time of the New York City’s Board of Health proposal that would have allowed transsexuals to change the gender on their birth certificates even if they hadn’t had “the op”. Seems like everyone got a bit freaked out thinking about bodies with the wrong nasty smelly bits. What if It’s (Sort of) a Boy and (Sort of) a Girl? or how about ‘disorders of sex development’ cos we’re all fucking freaks. Oh well, a lazy “I shit on ya” from me and moving on…

Rolling around to slagging off Australia, How many fucking David Hicks’s can fit on the head of a pin, Prime Minister?, and Phillip Ruddock on illegal detention in immigration jails, “”Look, I won’t detain you long,” he began. Pause. Wry grin. “My wife keeps telling me I shouldn’t say that.”” Reasons You Will Hate Me replies, Die you vicious cunt.

Going all intellectual: “Yes, I agree that the theory cannot be improved. It is simply false”. Philosophers insulting each other. It’s like So Bad—It. Really. Sucks? University Professors insulting their, like, liguistics students, y’know? The question of defamation enters the issue of arts criticism on the blogosphere, Melbourne thespians engage in open and frank discussions.

That’s about it, It’s 40 degrees, windy and smokey. I’m going climbing.