You’re not Mr. Purple. Some guy on some other job is Mr. Purple: Mei Zhou Dao Part 2

Christ this has taken me ages to finish.

Here is the original post, this is part 2.  I was telling a story about the bizarre trip I took to Mei Zhou island last month. I’ll finish this partpromptly and try to avoid excessive rambling. I do have Mei Zhou Doubts that I can manage this though. Haha. Ha……ha. (Credit to Alex for the amazing pun).

By the end of the last post we had found our way to the relative sanctuary of, what I will call, ‘The Stanrey Hotel’ in order to drink warm beer and consider our options after we had scrambled our way through the web of misfortune and incompetence of the previous hours.

Image

After we finished up, we headed back outside. Creepily enough Mr. Purple who dropped us off was still waiting. It was a fair bet we’d want to go somewhere else afterwards but still, this was a little weird. Also it served as another indication that we were the only non-locals here, he’d obviously decided it was the best use of his time to wait around on the off chance we needed him.

Well we did. We required accommodation and hoped for some signal that there was entertainment to be found. Mr Purple decided he was to be our guy for the trip. He would sort us out.  We told him we wanted somewhere to stay, somewhere cheap. His response was ‘How cheap?’. Oh god.

Mr Purple drove us down from the farmland into the town proper, which turned out to be, essentially, the Chinese Royston Vasey. He attempted to raise our spirits by playing terrible Chinese pop music. It actually worked brilliantly. We turned, suddenly, off the main drag onto a bumpy dirt road heading towards what kind of looked like a mixture between an abandoned soviet prison and a contemporary art museum. Here we were, our hostel. That certainly killed the mood.

Mr Purple, upon entering, immediately sits down with the owner to drink tea. This is a bad sign. It’s clearly his mate who owns this place, we may have been conned. We decided to check out the rooms.

I’ve honestly never seen a place which is ostensibly serving as accommodation be so terrible. It was being actively reclaimed by nature and the guy who owned the spot clearly hadn’t noticed or was unconcerned by this fact. He probably spent most of his time worrying about the fact that all his teeth were rotting into one turgid gum shield. The walls were covered in mold, mildew and moss. All you could hear was the bleating of the two goats tied up outside and the tide. Both great reminders that we’re completely stuck on this island until the ferry next morning. It’s all a bit Jurassic Park, except that the dinosaur was demanding money from us. We tried to express, in the nicest possibly way, the extent to which he could shove his hostel rooms and left.

Mr Purple then led us to another hostel, literally 2 minutes away. We were met by a humanoid this time, actually quite a nice humanoid who was very helpful. What was baffling was that this place was infinitely nicer and the same price yet Mr Purple had led us to his buddies den of pestilence first. He seemed unembarrassed by this fact, as if we would have been likely to genuinely consider the first place.

Never mind. Let us not anger Mr Purple. We were clearly in the physical manifestation of a Victorian gothic horror novel. The next stage of this novel would involve antagonising the locals in some way, which would escalate the situation further. So we tried very hard not to antagonise the locals. Least of all Mr Purple. After all, he had eventually provided us with some not-horrific accommodation.

I’m in the room unpacking when I hear Mike scream from the toilet, “Oh. My. God.”. He runs out. “There’s a fucking facehugger in there!”. Christ. I go and have a look. Sure enough, the biggest spider I’ve ever seen is ambling along on the bathroom floor. I reacted in a similar way to Mike. I’m not usually too bad with bugs, I anticipate their presence in a tropical country and try to take the encounters in my stride. But this was big. Like, big enough that it visibly bobbed when it walked.

Screw. That.

We both decide to categorically fail to deal with the situation and get Alex to help us. He grabs a nearby slipper.

“I got this.”

He heads into the bathroom and closes the door. Are you mad!? We hear a thump. Then silence. Then another thump. Oh God. It was definitely a two-thump spider, maybe more. Sure enough, the third blow is dealt. It took three hits but it’s down. We’re saved! Now we just need Ian Holm to come and dissect it…

Image

At this point we decided to check out the temple, the main reason we had come here, and, to be entirely fair, it was stunning.

Image

It was a fairly typical Buddhist temple in design, you get used to seeing a lot of them here. But the scale and location of it made it something really special. It was vast, split into 3 main sections. The photo above shows the main courtyard high above the bay. The weather was, unfortunately, bleak but it still looked incredible and I can imagine, on a clear day, it would really be something to behold.

Image

The visit served to take the edge of the mess that preceded it. But the worst was yet to come.

We needed some food and asked the helpful humanoid in the not-horrific hostel for some advice. She had two recommendations, a ‘western food’ restaurant and a noodle place. We went to check out the ‘western food’ restaurant, which turned out to sell dodgy burgers, before heading to the noodle spot. Better the devil they know. The Chinese are much more likely to make decent noodles than decent burgers. That was the idea anyway…

Less News from Anywhere

I feel like I ought to apologise to every conspiracy theorist I’ve taken the piss out of in the past. Not because they’re right, but because maybe their absolute unwavering cynicism and conviction that every layer of bureaucracy and government serves, in some way, to undermine our freedoms/rights might not actually be as stupid as I thought. It’s usually not a rational process they use, or an analytical one, but it seems like, through some shoddy grasping of the nature of power, they’re going to have a lot of ‘I told you so’ moments in the future.

The news is making for miserable reading at the moment. The layers of misinformation are growing so thick and fast I can’t even begin to try and parse what is being described. I read articles, statements, comments and it feels like I’m no more informed than I was before. Not in any meaningful way, I know plenty of stuff that people want me to think I know.

This morning Facebook, Yahoo and Google all denied any knowledge of the ‘Prism’ surveillance program that Obama recently confirmed has been running in the US for some time.  The original document that was leaked by the Guardian states that Prism runs with “assistance of communications providers in the US”.

These statements are what we have to work with. All we know is that these people have said these things and these documents have been reported on. From here we can, reasonably, conclude one, or more, of the following options:

  1. Facebook, Yahoo etc are lying, they know about and are complicit in Prism.
  2. The document is false, but this seems unlikely given that Obama has admitted the programs existence. Of course, Obama is left in the position of having to either say these CEOs are lying or admit that his program is accessing this data unapproved. So he just doesn’t approach the issue.
  3. These CEOs genuinely aren’t aware of the program and their companies have some kind of strange pseudo-department that deal with this sort of thing and don’t tell the board. Hurrah for more layers of secrecy.
  4. To hell with it. There’s no way to interpret these events and speeches and arguments and counter-arguments in any way that helps clarify anything approaching ‘the truth’, or as I prefer to call it, what is actually going on. I’m going for a drink.

So am I any more informed? Hell no. I have no idea what’s actually going on, I just know more about the narrative that certain people wish to thread.

Part of the White House’s response to this Prism issue goes as follows; it actually made me physically angry to read this.

“Now, the thing that I want to make clear is that the top priority of the president of the United States is the national security of the United States and protecting this homeland.  And we need to make sure that we have the tools we need to confront the threat posed by terrorists, to disrupt plots that may exist, and to otherwise protect the homeland.  The President is committed to that.  That is his top priority.

But what we need to do is we need to balance that priority with the need to protect the civil liberties and constitutional rights of the American people.  And that is the subject of a worthy debate — that there are people who have a genuine interest in protecting the United States and protecting constitutional liberties — constitutional rights and civil liberties that may disagree about how to strike this balance.  We welcome that debate.  The President has spent a lot of time thinking about this.  I think that was evident in his speech and I think that’s evident from the way these programs have been conducted.”

This made me so angry it ruined my day. This, right here, is disingenuousness condensed into some kind of self-serving singularity. If press-releases were people this one would mug old ladies to pay for its all-consuming addiction to snorting powdered children’s tears.

Maybe he welcomes a debate NOW, after he’s fucking implemented everything he wants anyway sans any kind of debate. It’s like saying “I know I just murdered that guy but I wholeheartedly welcome the debate on the respective positive and negatives aspects of homicide.”

It also appears he has no idea what a debate is. Making statements defending your use of absurd levels of surveillance, after the fact, and with no intention of ever changing your stance is not participating in a debate. Nothing will change, this has already happened. Our level of participation in this ‘debate’ has been defined from the outset at a big round 0.

Mr Obama welcomes a debate, one that involves you and your friends or family around the dinner table for a few days until it’s all forgotten about and the media has decided on some other issue to focus on. One that is, unfortunately, of no consequence because it does not appear that ‘the public’ are involved in these issues at all.

Dichotomies like this seem to appear all over the place at the moment. Relating to this, it was only last week that, at a security conference in Singapore, the US defence secretary claimed that the US government was highly concerned about “the growing threat of cyberintrusions, some of which appear to be tied to the Chinese government and military”. Yeah well, that seems pretty rich now doesn’t it.

The administration is not embarrassed or ashamed, nor will this blatant and rampant hypocrisy undergo any real investigation or discussion. Or debate. And I HATE that I can say that and mean it.

I welcome the debate on what can be done about governments just doing whatever they please.

Chinglish: Feb – May

“Chinglish refers to spoken or written English language that is influenced by the Chinese language.[1] The term “Chinglish” is commonly applied to ungrammatical or nonsensical English in Chinese contexts, and may have pejorative or deprecating connotations”

Chinglish is, unsurprisingly, rampant in China. It is also often hysterically funny. I’ve been trying to remember both the examples I have seen and the examples people have told me about but the list is starting to get pretty big so I’ll document some of the weirdest of them here for posterity!

In no particular order:

1. Seen on a t-shirt:

If annoying was music

YOU

would have a

BRASS BAND

If annoying was music, what would YOU have? Something to think about.

2. Another t-shirt (this will be a theme):

Bulimic Crack Whore

Not sure what to say to that.

3. A great sign on Mei Zhou Dao:

Image

I wouldn’t dream of climding at will for stimulation, never mind chase or gambol!

4. Seen on a sign in a primary school:

DO NOT APPLY ARBITRARILY!

In case the sign was confusing it helpfully contained a picture of two hands with a big red cross through it. I don’t even….

5. I need to take a photo of this one, it really is brilliant:

Another t-shirt, shows 3 hands coming into the middle of the t-shirt showing the standard Rock, Paper, Scissors signals.

Text reads:

The Wanking Game

Just fantastic.

6. Yet another tshirt:

Black, text reads:

The Revolution is Always Truculent

I have no idea how they come up with this stuff.

More to come…