Global Voices Summit – Budapest

Some of my favourite and also most inspiring bloggers, writers, wonderful computer and internet people are all in Budapest for the Global Voices Summit. In no particular order, Ethan Zuckerman, Rebecca Mackinnon, John Kennedy (alway Feng37 to me), Isaac Mao, Oiwan Lam and so many more, all of whom have had a profound effect on me in how I use the internet and computers, how I read blogs, and most importantly, how I think about and live in the world.

There is no other single website and group of people who have so profoundly shaped my reading habits over the last few years, and many of the blogs I read I came across directly from one of their writers. Also, much, if not most of my ability to understand the technical aspects of internet anonymity, computer security, getting around annoying things, all comes from people whom I have in some way found on or via Global Voices.

Yes, they are blogging everything.

friday atheist re-blogging

Being the day when a carpenter who has fantastically scant evidence for ever having existed in the first place was hung up on the objects of his trade and encouraged to die, I thought I start my erratic wasting a couple of hours by mocking god-botherers.

Pharyngula mostly writes about biology and has dead sexy aquatic porn, like photos of Hagfish embryos. Quite regularly though he likes to ridicule, and laugh at creationists, believers, all the usual vacuousness of faith, especially if it comes from a scientist.

In a lazy Friday destruction of Dr Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, he says, “I would suggest that this argument by Collins would be better answered by supporting the divinity of Julius Caesar. His existence is far better supported than that of Jesus; we even have examples of his writings preserved, with monuments and first hand personal accounts of his life. He allowed himself to be called a god — Deo Invicto, no less — and his successor built temples to the Divus Julius. It’s awfully silly that Collins thinks the argument that either Caesar or Jesus was a god generates uncertainty, that he resolves in one direction for one of the pair, and in the other direction for the other.”

Far more important though, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month if you live in the United States. I doubt a month will make much difference though, but I would like to see all my friends who have complete assholes for partners stop making excuses and choose April as the month to take out the garbage.

Back to China.

The Chongqing Nailhouse suddenly became news if you spoke English. The New York Times had a piece, and I was sitting at Orange a couple of days ago and saw it in The Age too. Hamish McDonald used to be the Beijing correspondent replaced a while ago by Mary-Ann Toy, but there’s no change in the approach to China coverage from either The Age or Sydney Morning Herald. Admittedly I read a lot of blogs and news coverage coming out of China, but these papers are consistently a week or two behind, provide inadequate and cursory appraisal, and largely seem to get their news from a small subset of China blogs. If that’s all it takes to get a gig at The Age, I wanna be in the Guangzhou office. (I’ll just read 在桥下流 and put my name to whatever Feng37 blogs about.)

One of those news sources is the excellent Global Voices Online, founded by Rebecca Mackinnon. Writer 杨恒均 Yang Hengjun talks about how he kept on finding himself drawn into encounters with the various writers from the website (ESWN translates the Boxun article), again Feng37 turns up, translating Yang’s novel 致命弱点 Fatal Weakness.

Oh, and don’t drink the water in Guangzhou, how many times do I have to say that? “It contains high levels of ammonia, fluoride, faecal coliform bacteria and heavy metals.”

Meanwhile even in China people said, 哀悼。。。 and 难受… when they heard about 鲍德里亚 I mean Jean Baudrillard dying.

Another Global Voices person is Ethan Zuckerman, who has been in Doha, Qatar for the Third Annual Al Jazeera Annual Forum. He’s been covering it in a series of posts I’ve been devouring each day. Together they constitute an incisive look at Al Jazeera and the media in Qatar, the Middle-East and globally. Read them all or pick one at random: Things to do in Doha when you’re dead tired, Seymour Hersh kicks things off at the Al Jazeera Forum, International news: pack a parachute?, “Politics, media and misinformation” – a panel that contained all three…, Falling down on the job, A new era? Al Jazeera’s cautious embrace of citizen media, Al Jazeera English. I want it., Lessig: “Help us in the US to remember these ideals. Help us by living them yourselves.”, Al-Jazeera panel on the rights and safety of journalists, Media in the Middle East: bridges or walls, or the need for a cigarette, Last post from Doha: Five Stories.

Mainstream Media and the dereliction of Theatre. Both Nicholas Pickard and Alison Croggin from different incidents come to the same point about their respective city’s papers attenuated interest in performing arts, which is pretty similar to their coverage of China, viz. the nailhouse above. Over the other side of the world, New York Times previews Becky, Jodi and John that opened a couple of days ago.

Of course I have to finish with trannys, what do you think I am?

The title is sheer class: I was born a boy, but even my fella never guessed. The article illustrates that with a supportive family being transsexual is no big deal.

Another sublime one-liner dressed in a lurid font, Meghan Chevalier’s Confessions of a Transsexual Porn Star, who is the rather famous subject to whom the title refers. I sometimes wonder about my social standing when I seem to have quite a familiarity with the world of shemale porn…

it’s all about 冯三七 … i mean feng37 … i mean john

A couple of weeks ago, John Kennedy – also known as contemporary Chinese poetry translator Feng37 – thought that getting all the bloggers in the Chinese blogistan together for translating stuff from Chinese to English would be a good idea. Lots of other bloggers agreed, including Roland Soong of EastSouthNorthWest, who has been causing respectable news agencies much anxiety with his endless translations for a few years now.

The Open Source Translation Blogging Project/Great Hall of the Bloggers/Chinese Content is one of the coolest thing to come out of China blogging in quite a while, and many of the old bloggers who I’ve admired since before I started myself are involved, including Rebecca MacKinnon, all of whom individually constitute a profound and ongoing contribution to all things China.

As for John, he’s become my number #1! Canto-blogger since he started 在桥下流 after his old blog Feng37 expired. Still translating poetry, and now keeping a running commentary on the crime-ridden mean streets of G-town, he’s even been interviewed by 中国青年报 China Youth Daily. Waah! 牛b!

失业者 The Unemployed
周云蓬 Zhou Yunpeng

我们活在租来的房子里, We live in rented rooms,
我们活在公共汽车里, We live in public buses,
我们活在蒙着灰尘的书里, We live in dust-covered books,
我们活在电视的荧光屏里。 We live in fluorescent TV screens,
我们活在电话的号码里, We live in telephone numbers,
我们活在商店的橱窗里, We live in shop windows,
我们活在制造幸福的车间里, We live in fortune-making auto plants,
我们活在蜗牛的储蓄盒里。 We live in deposit boxes the size of snails.
一旦有一天看到了蓝天, One day soon we’ll see the blue sky,
我们就成了无助的失业者, And we’ll become helplessly unemployed,
一旦有一天嗅到了春天, One day soon we’ll smell spring,
我们就成了陌生的局外人。 And become strangers outside the system.

我们不属于工人阶级, We don’t belong to the working class,
我们也不是农民兄弟, And we’re not peasant buddies,
我们不是公务员老师知识分子, We’re not civil servants, teachers or intellectuals,
我们不是老板职员中产阶级。 We’re not bosses’ assistants or even middle class.
因为我们看到过蓝天, Because we’ve seen the blue sky,
我们就成了无助的失业者, We’ve become the hopelessly unemployed,
因为我们嗅到过春天, Because we’ve smelled spring,
我们就成了陌生的局外人。 We’ve become strangers outside the system.

— 在桥下流 – John Kennedy