Author Archives: Robespierre

Natural beauty [parental guidance]

Botanical types tend to get pretty excited about photographing plants and flowers that bear a fierce vaginal resemblance.  Can only imagine what they made of this amazing rural Xi’an find – a remarkably shaped mushroom-like plant.

Even the village elder who is over 80 years old said he had not seen such a plant before.  Poor village elder 😦

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University officials inflamed by grad snap

they shouldn't have left xiao wang alone in the chemistry labs

University staff at the Dalian University of Technology said they were disappointed that students went ahead with the traditional square hat fling graduation photo while a campus warehouse fire blazed in the background.  Though when I studied at the University I was lit up by the warmth of the teachers and students alike.

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Mean streets of Xi’an

+’s

  •  less crowded than the bus, can catch up with a friend, can grab some chuanr

-‘s

  • this might happen:

Once my friend fell down a  road work hole on a Chinese university campus – only to be told by a passer-by “You’re not allowed to stand in that hole.”

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Born under a bad sign

As if life wasn’t awful enough, an English language training company recently posted a job advert at a Wuhan University that precluded Scorpios and Virgos from applying.  The “moody and critical” zodiacal outcasts were deemed unsuitable for the roles as teachers and clerks.

Full story on the Telegraph.

On the plus, these very characteristics should surely make them top candidates for other types of employment – for example if the nearby Nanjing Forestry University is still recruiting “Red Armbands” to curb inappropriate displays of intimacy on campus.

we were only neckin miss

Here at Brushduck we are firm believers in equal opportunities, but if anything favour contributions from predatory arthropods and virgins.

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Changsha Gaga

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Bawtry dog-meat scandal – wait, am I being stereotyped?

Zhang Lijia’s Guardian piece ‘Dog meat at a Chinese restaurant inYorkshire’ – why do such myths spread? was prompted by the story of a Chinese restaurant that has been put in financial difficulty by a local rumour of a diner choking on retired racing greyhound’s microchip.

While I have sympathy for a business that suffers due to vindictive rumour mongering, the article presents a number of strands of criticism that don’t really tie up.  Zhang takes the opportunity to comment generally on the fascination of westerners with the oddities of Chinese cuisine, calling our obsession a form of racism.    To my mind, she throws out the “R” word too freely.

I understand her frustration, for example, that UK prime time television documentaries on China are more likely to end up with a donkey penis feast than a serious social discourse.  However it is hard to deny that examining the eating habits in other countries can be educational and entertaining.  And for those who are interested, programs on China’s social, economic and political issues are also common (recently, BBC Four’s excellent Storyville series Law of the Dragon).

Always an alternative

But I was most surprised by Zhang’s claim that although “China has a fabulous and sophisticated cuisine, westerners always focus on the tiny percentage of what we eat that is weird”.  This seems factually unsound.

Chinese food is one of the globe’s “3 Grand Cuisines”, a feature of every UK high street and a major draw for visitors to China (and perhaps part of the reason some stay).  However it is reproduced, Chinese food is hugely popular worldwide, and not for being weird.

But secondly, since she brings it up, there is no way that it is only a “tiny percentage” of what is eaten in China that people in the UK might consider weird.  You can eat dog.  Generally, many more parts of many more animals feature on menus.  When living in Dalian I saw the phrase 天上龙肉 地上驴肉 (In heaven dragon meat, on earth donkey meat) adorning restaurant exteriors.  But nobody’s going to force you to eat anything you don’t want (note: that is not true).

Some elements of Chinese, or any other, cuisine may not be to everyone’s taste.  But Zhang doesn’t seem to acknowledge that the majority take an interest in aspects of cultural diversity for making the world a more interesting place.

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Ēggel hazâhâḇ flak at “Best Village in China”

Not since Aaron’s notorious idol misjudgement on Mount Sinai has a life-size aureate bovine caused quite such a stir.  Jiangsu Party guy Wu Renbao’s decision to install a £31m solid gold statue of an ox on the 60th floor of rural Huaxi’s new 1,076ft supertower has been branded a gross extravagance by some, particularly as many of the farmers who live in its shadow earn low wages.

you COW!

Villagers have reportedly started a helicopter business to give visitors a better view of the tower – which could be seen as indicative of the sort of Wu-instilled entrepreneurial zeal that has made Huaxi one of the richest villages in China and led to him to be decorated as a “Top National Contributor to Poverty-Alleviation”.  However I am not convinced of the long term economic rewards of skyscraper one-upmanship.

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Lang Lang helps soothe Camden’s sorrow

Nobody was saying it, but it still felt like a big piece of Camden was missing this warm July evening.  Could Lang from Shenyang, the only classical performer at this year’s iTunes Festival at the Roundhouse, be the one to bring some solace?

First onstage were rad Croatian duo 2 Cellos.  Pop-Classical crossovers necessarily involve pained expressions and excessive swaying, and both reached their terrifying pinnacle during a yearning rendition of With or Without You, the worst song ever penned.  By the time they reached Highway to Hell I was seriously considering trying to eat my own head, but looking around I realised that I was in the minority; 2 Cellos had the crowd eating out of the palms of their hands.

郎朗

Then from behind far too much dry ice came the young maestro proclaiming “We will do a Liszt together!”  As his fingers danced over the soapy-white chunklets and their slimmer ebony brothers it was as if a spell had been cast over the room.  Anyone who has visited the Liaoning capital will know that the most pressing question is how to get away, and for Lang Lang the vehicle was a grand piano.  And as the first bleary eyed teenage fans, apparently overcome by the depth of emotion, began stumbling clumsily from the auditorium at around the song three mark, the sound of discarded plastic beer cups being crunched underfoot mixing with the elegant arrangements of Chopin and Schuman, I for one was glad he found that vehicle.

The 2011 iTunes Festival continues with Magnetic Man on 26 July at the Roundhouse

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CCP celebrates 90 years

The Associated Press call in their most irritating reporter

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Dalian: where you can hide a huge boat

Officer’s of the General Staff have admitted that they have been working on the construction of China’s first aircraft carrier in Dalian for the last ten years.

Undercover! President Hu Jintao personally oversees the Varyag's safe passage through the Bosphorus

The rusting hull from Ukraine cost them $20 million (or half a Shevchenko).

Vid: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13684013


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