Month: September 2011

Great Ming Amalgamated Map

This is the oldest world map that has been well preserved in one piece in China, dating back to 14th century, early Ming dynasty. Africa, Europe, Arabia are disproportionally represented in the west part of the map.

More details: See Da Ming Hun Yi Tu in wikipedia

P.S. I will be on a trip away for a week. The blogging progress has been significantly slowed down these days. I have so many unfinished drafts for the time being, and will definitely finish them after I get back.

The deserted Great Wall of China in Hebei

The great Islamic confederation of Turkey

The current tough tones and political drama Turkey has presented are sending a strong signal to the world: “Showtime for our Turks again”. As I have talked about it in a previous post, Turkey always has the desire to retrieve what belonged to them back in the glorious days of the Ottoman Empire. Now they seem more confident than ever.

Is it? Let’s check out what was going on in the past few days: We saw Turkey downplayed relation with Israel dramatically due to some radical leftist suicidal mission. Turkey hates Israel now? Nah, it just wants to whitewash its image in front of all its Muslim brothers in the Middle East, especially after the demise of effective pro-West secular authoritarian polity in the region. This is a nice first step. Those inbred Arabs (such as those mobs who stormed Israel Embassy in Cairo) are easy to fool anyway. So then Erdogan was greeted like a hero when he visited Egypt, Libya, and even Tunisia later. I have to say Turks definitely outsmart their Arab counterparts. Erdogan didn’t make the suicidal move to visit Gaza after all, a move even considered unbearable by its Western babysitters.

Usually it’s fine to appeal to those newly empowered groups in those countries, many Western countries are exactly doing the same, paying a visit and offering large sum of bribery aid etc. It’s their leftist propaganda, at least that’s the show they have to play to appeal to their own leftists-hijacking society to win the votes, not that there will be any consolidating outcomes in those poor countries. Since when did Western interventionism create anything good for the locals anyway? Well, nobody really gives a rat about those sandy tribes anyway, and I don’t think Turkey all of sudden feels super compassionate to look after their Muslim brothers, either. But the difference between Turkey and the West in maneuvering in that region is that the West could only appeal to the people in power with money. As much as the chaos was initiated by facebook and “so-called liberal” youth, there is always a substantial resentment against the West among the populace in the middle east. This is ideological irreconcilability, there’s nothing the West can do to change their hostile attitude. Meanwhile, Turkey is much better off in this race. They could easily appear appealing to the inbred angry young men with the costume of Islam. Whenever there’s a social turmoil and rioting against the dictatorship in Muslim world, Islam is always the biggest winner in the end, the Iran Revolution, the Iraqi War, and recently what happened in Yemen and Egypt. Smart politician of course notices the pattern. Western liberals could only try their best to ineffectively discourage this happening, which is due to happen anyway. Turks are happy about this trend, for it makes much easier for them to appeal to the Arabs. Simply by decrying some tough lines again the Jews, Erdogan came to Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, treated like a hero, and then started to publicly pray together to the Allah, televised of course. This simple almost-cost-nothing step is way more powerful than any hardcore Western aids in 10 years. The local just dig Turkey more than the West. Then he brought his business crew, signing this contract, providing that project, to show the Arabs “hey I am not only on your side, but I could offer you money and prosperity, too!”. In comparison, I don’t think any western leaders dare to make such religious connections, not even to their Christian brothers in deep trouble in the middle east (the only bluffing sign they did was to visit some lame church in Beijing to the Chinese who are natural immune to religion anyway).

Easy victory for the Turks. Ostensibly they are gaining more allies and momentum in the middle east, together with a much louder croaking. Now the croak is directly towards their babysitter’s face, the West as well. When the heat of Turk’s heroic visit in the middle east still remains, Turkey posed a very hostile position against the EU and the Cyprus. The Turks threaten to snip all ties with EU if Cyprus became the EU rotating president next year. Almost instantaneously, Turkey vowed to send their navy to Northern Cyprus coast to escort the gas exploration signed by Turkey and its vassal state that no one else recognizes. Two aggressive croaking coincide with the decry against Israel and Erdogan’s show trip in Middle East and North Africa. Perfect timing! I bet they planned that way ahead of days. Indeed EU has so much to lose from losing Turkey but Turkey is not really that strong enough to withstand the isolation from the West either (at least Turks think they have larger bargaining power now). In the end of day, it’s just some pointless political croaking. Turkey is not really going to freeze its relations with EU, but probably would send couple of destroyers off the Northern Cyprus coast. But it is a clear sign that Turkey would continue escalate its voice with its boosting confidence in the region. It’s a discernible annoyance and potential alert to Europe.

(BIG poster) We are Germany, but why not say we are all Germans?

Not just croaking on the regional politics, Turkey also becomes more blatantly involved in interfering European domestic politics, with its large number of Turk immigrants in Europe of course, especially the core engine of EU: Germany. It’s nothing new to hear what a big headache is to deal with the Turk problem for the Germans, but it is relatively fresh to hear Turkish politicians are also getting involved in this heated debate directly from Turkey. The recently established BIG (Bündnis für Innovation und Gerechtigkeit, meaning Alliance for Innovation and Justice) party in the German politics, with members and candidates being exclusively Turks and strong affiliation with the ruling islamic AKP party in Turkey, is disguising itself with the promotion of multiculturalism to stride in the German mainstream politics. Meanwhile, on a recent visit to Germany, Turkish President, a symbolic title with no actual political power, Abdullah Gul denounced Germany’s attempt to impose compulsory German class on Turks in Germany as a violation of human rights. What’s matter with that? There will be more Turks and less Germans in Germany. Turks now collide with the hardcore leftists, which are gaining momentum in German politics nowadays (the gay Green party for example). And most importantly, Turkey is seeking high profile presence in backing its Turk population in the heart of Europe. See how powerful this is?

Turkey is going to be a major challenger to the EU imperialism, for the Turks want to be the regional big brother again. Everything appears promising to the Turks but only one real threat to the Turk’s regional domination plan: the Americans.

They owe a lot to the Americans, without US Turkey wouldn’t be so smooth in invading Cyprus back in 1974, without US Turkey won’t have the F-16 to bomb the PKK in Iraq, without US Turkey wouldn’t get so much aid money to grow itself. Like Saudis, Turkey is still an America’s spoiled kid. As much as Turkey croaks around, no way the Turks would turn their back to the Uncle Sam, at least it’s not the time yet. But this subordination won’t last for long. US influence is receding worldwide and Turkey is gaining confidence region-wide. It’s a matter of time to see some obvious signals for the split between the estranged foster-father-son relation.

See from Turkish Hacker's Patriotism

Look at the poster Turkish hackers put on some Palestinian websites (they mistook Palestinian websites for Israeli ones). They want to F Israel, they want to F Greece, they want to F Armenia, and they want to F PKK. But there’s no condemnation for the Americans, yet. There is just some implicit annoyance for the US in the poster. However, it wouldn’t take long for them to upgrade their slogans against the Nazis Germans and Sneaky Americans.

Turks hate their neighbors, but their neighbors hate them even more. Tell me one neighbor that doesn’t explicitly hate the Turks (not to forget the Kurds are in Turkey as well). For Turks, there’s still hope that Syria could embrace Turkey after the downfall of Al-Assad like what happened in Egypt. But even if it happens, the Turk-Arab marriage won’t last long. I don’t think Arabs like Turks genuinely. They just got a much bigger enemy: Israel and the Western shadow. Remember the Lawrence of Arabia, a Brit homosexual who ignited Arab nationalism against the Turks? There’s only pan-Arabism. The Arabs don’t want the Turks in just as much as how they disdain the Persians.

The bombing in Ankara yesterday should also remind them out of their daydream, that they are far from being the supreme regional leader. However, Turkey seems to be on the ascending trend. This is rather disturbing and alerting to Europe. Since the The Battle of Manzikert, Turks have never hesitated to exert its hostility against Europe whenever they can. They are never friends to Europe.

Personally I am fine with Turkics,  a big fan of Tengriism by the way. But since I too have ideological irreconcilability with Islam, I don’t think I would be be happy to see a Islamic great confederation of Turkey in the near east in the future.

Free Syria?

Syria opposition vows protests until regime ousted.

Let’s just take it as some piece of serious news. Then take a closer look to those appealing pictures they showed on how those innocent and good people are fighting for freedom in Syria:

The first picture shows “the determination” of “Syrian people” to strive for freedom, and the ouster of Al-Assad. They are learning fast and getting more pro on the PR (assisted by AFP of course). Bringing a clueless kid on the street with a “Free Syria” sign in English to be pictured by AFP is a brilliant trick (special effect: the red stripe painting dripping down…). Somehow it just reminds me of those images in many Western leftist protests… When people see a kid shouting “Free Syria”, we do feel immediately emotionally connected and overwhelmed. We get your message: Kids + Protest = Always the good side.

This picture probably depicts a much more accurate of what’s really going down there than the previous one. Oddly, the thing that was set ablaze was not the picture of Al-Assad or Syrian Flag. According to the picture’s subtitle in that news article, they were ferociously torching a Russian national flag. Looking at the guy who was valiantly waving the Syrian flag near the fire, it must be quite a show. They should really just storm into Russian Embassy and tear down the concrete wall as well, I am sure they got enough talent to make that happen.

Let’s call it Arab Spring Revolution, for freedom, justice, and most importantly, democracy. Raging Fire.

Free Syria?

Free Syria!

Stereotype in retrospect

Stereotype, most of them, are able to stand the test of time. The basic contention here is: the validation of stereotype is like the accuracy of the stereotype itself, 8 out of 10 times in your personal experience those stereotypes could be cast upon the people who could associate with them.

However, stereotype nowadays is usually perceived as a negative term, a term that usually associated with ignorance, prejudice, and bigotry. It is definitely not something that counts politically correct, but most of times, statistically correct. There is an axiom underlined from this argument: everything is bell-curved from biology. If you wouldn’t agree with that, there’s no need to read what I wrote afterwards, since you would most likely turn emotionally to a dead end of reasoning.

For those who share a slice of sense of respect for the mother nature, stereotype, as far as I concern, not only validates in most cases but more importantly helps us to cope with unfamiliar individuals in the beginning. People are intimidated by things we don’t know. The first thing we do when we meet a complete stranger is to figure out at least some of his/her behavior, background, or manners, to match with some well-established stereotype identities, e.g. a well-mannered businessman, a beer-loving German, or a scarfed conservative Muslim woman. As soon as we link the stranger with certain type of stereotypes (a person could fit into different stereotypes at the same time), we would 1. react to the unfamiliar individual based on the image of stereotypes we keep in mind and 2. seek to evaluate more subtle patterns of his/her behavior, background, and manners to the stereotypes created earlier.

In many times stereotypes do apply in general and help people cope with unknown situations. I’d say it’s a valuable experience accumulated over generations. Based on my cosmopolitan experience, I always happen to validate a lot of stereotypes on the people I met in different parts of the world. Everywhere I go, the stereotype image could always find itself a majority status in the people associated with that certain characteristics. Things that are even a bit edgy, like the incoherence with Islamic community and secular society, the behavior and intelligence difference between different ethnic groups, are proven to be valid one by one not only in a holistic statistical sense, but from my personal experience as well.

At the same time, as I mentioned, exception and irregularity do exist too, though in a much lower frequency. Like in the Bell Curve, there are always statistical outliers that would not fit into the stereotypes. Those individual cases, statistically speaking, is still accepted as the stereotype only aims to cover the majority of the group of people it particularly associates with. People with exceptions could not really change the stereotypes or invalidate them most of the time.

I use myself as an example here. People who know me personally and from this blog probably sense that I am very heretic as a Chinese. I mostly indulge myself in the Western atmosphere and could only find a sense of belonging to the Classic China. I am social, outgoing, athletic, and most importantly, appearing to be the biggest Chinese reactionary among all the Chinese I know (quoted from my friend: A Chinese dissent who doesn’t go with Western mainstream either). Though I was raised in China with heavy Classic Chinese influence, people always mistakenly thought I was raised in the West. I don’t really fit into the Chinese stereotype (math nerd or lab guy, whatever your stereotype is) that is prevalent around the globe. Yet everywhere I go, I always have to make double efforts to appeal to others to dissociate myself from their Chinese stereotypes on me (since most Chinese stereotypes ain’t pretty, and neither do most of fellow countrymen anyway). Am I upset every time I was easily labelled as “Chinese”? Of course, many times. For quite a while I held a sharp aversion against other stereotyped Chinese in and out of China, for their presence help consolidating those unwanted stereotypes everywhere (Chinese are everywhere nowadays). People always come with the pre-assumption of the nerdy or coy Chinese dude they met previously or saw on TV to meet me the first time. In the old time I was determined to whitewash those negative Chinese stereotypes from my own example. After a while it turned out people just associate me with a unique category, whereas their perception towards the Chinese remains. After all, those perceptions towards Chinese are most likely to true in most of cases and are repeatedly drilled frequently nowadays. Over the time I just began to accept the fact of being a statistical outlier who has to make double efforts on everything everywhere I go.

What does this say? It says a unique experience of a person who fails to fulfill generalized expectations. But what does it do to the generalization in the first place? Not much. Unless China has 1.3 million people instead of 1.3 billion people, I might put up with delusion that every Chinese is as cool as me. But that’s not the case. Though I sometimes consider myself a victim of stereotypes, I have to say they are most of the time still valid. To me, to others, nothing is fair and some has to try harder than the others. At least I am glad I could have the luck to be aware of all these in an early stage of my life. In the end of the day, to devise a personalized plan to achieve whatever we want is the most sensible thing in everyone’s life.

A real wise guy would recognize the stereotype while be open-minded about the statistical outliers that he/she may encounter in real life.Let’s say you meet a black guy for a job interview. Though you know the odds of meeting a smart black fella is way slimmer than meeting a random white guy, you still construct your own assessment based on the personal evaluation of that particular individual being. Maybe you could have the luck to meet a very smart black guy (I claim that I have met two that are not really interested in dancing and aggression all the time but science and technology instead). Of course when the person fits most of the criteria of the stereotype you should immediately pull out from your sympathetic and guilty emotion to review him/her with the help of stereotype description. This is not discrimination but merely recognizing the difference among people.

Egalitarianism doesn’t really work in reality, noble concept though. The great Chinese philosopher Confucius once said “Education should be tailor-made in order to fit different individuals (因材施教)”, the denial that says all humans are the same and should be treated equally could pose fundamental social and political adverse consequences if it were assimilated in the societal governing guideline. That’s where most of social problems in the modern civilization stems from – leftism.

Then what about coarse discrimination? They are stereotypes too. I call that the prole comprehension of natural differences. Discrimination happens when the stereotypes combine with strong emotional attachment and evolves into a sort of absolute slogan that is universal to all regardless of individual variance. Together with discrimination, misconception always tends to exist among stereotypes, too. Nothing is perfect. But a smart person knows how to adjust the his/her stereotype image based on updating data.

The validation of stereotype is like the accuracy of the stereotype itself, not all are valid, but the majority of them are.

Who is who?

I am trying to clarify several identified groups observed since the social turmoil in Egypt:

First you heard (the most) those young people who long for democracy and freedom in Egypt and rally for the ouster of Mubarak. Set M1

Then in the middle of the rally one blonde female CBS news reporter got assaulted on the street in the middle of a hot sunny Cairo day. The mob who attacked her accused her being a Jew spy in their rally for freedom. Set M2

After the country turned brief anarchy and the military took over. Vacuum in the local regions emerged nevertheless. Then you heard of (Muslims) Egyptians raided Copt churches. Set M3

Not long after that, we saw furious Egyptians stormed into the Israeli Embassy in Cairo. Their fury literally scared off all the diplomats in the building and tore down a thick concrete wall with bare hands. Set M4

The same night a Russian female correspondent (presumably blonde too) was once again accused of being an accomplice of the Jewry by the mobs. She was much luckier than the previous female journalist in Cairo though. Set M5

Not to say every protester is a mob in Egypt, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a  large part of those people are simply angry mobs. Democracy for Egypt? Don’t see it happening. Sharia theocracy? Great tendency from the populace. Junta authoritarian? Possibly the best solution for the West and Egyptians themselves.

Good for you!

Runaway train

Some interesting news for a little entertainment for us to forget about the gloomy economic environment for a minute:

An Indian train found lost its direction after hundred kilometers on the wrong way

Pure magic. Reminds me of the song “Runaway Train“:

Runaway train never going back 
Wrong way on a one way track 
Seems like I should be getting somewhere 
Somehow I’m neither here nor there 

The train first took the wrong direction in some intersection after the operator mistakenly issued a different destination code. Starting from the Southern Indian city Tirupati, the train was supposed to head towards Eastern city Bhubaneswar. Instead, the train mystically traveled over hundreds of kilometers on the wrong track to Central Indian city Warangal, 980KM away from its supposed destination.

“The express train had managed to cross three of India’s railway divisions and travel hundreds of miles without anyone noticing it had lost its way.”

It was those overloading passengers who first discovered the oddness when they found the landscapes along the railway weirdly unfamiliar. Check here to see the itinerary of the accidental adventure.

It’s difficult for me to understand how this could happen and remain undiscovered for so long in the Indian railway system. It’s even miraculous to see that the “runaway train” actually manged to make its way safe and sound after traveling for days in the wrong track without hitting any other trains in India’s old and overloading railway system.

Speculation: first, the train operators probably still use the colonial style train operation system with handwritten cards and telegraph for information exchange, the only reason why this peculiar incident could happen in the first place (when at the same time not a single staff is familiar with the route). And secondly, it’s a really lucky train in a country that train accidents aren’t something that rare…

If India is ever going to fully embrace modernity, and I am not talking about how many engineers, scientists, or billionaires India has produced, if India wants to be developed wholly as a country, then they have to focus their major energy on improving its sketchy ageing infrastructure system first. Nothing else, just the darn infrastructure.

What we consider epic, they deem bland

Daylight bandits

Sotheby’s London to host exhibition of Fine Archaic Chinese Bronzes from Compton Verney

The goddamn thieves.

All I can picture is some scumbag greedy Chinese peasants exploding some cultural relics in China and smuggled the precious pieces away and sold to the Western relic mongers. Goddamn shame!

China should never dismiss the death penalty charge for relic smugglers. China would be a bit better without those lowly peasants.

 

 

 

 

 

Ottoman’s ghost

In recent years, especially after the rise of their beloved PM Erdogan with his Pro-Islam AK Party in the Turkish politics, there has been an evident change in the long pro-West political momentum in Turkey. 100 years after Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk decided to abandon its moribund shell and embrace westernized and secular modernization, Ottoman’s ghost made a clear comeback. The next thing you know: Erdogan was deploring Chinese genocide against the Uighur in a riot that it’s exactly the other way around in Urumqi; Erdogan was denouncing Germany to stop those blunt assimilation attempt to infiltrate his Turkish brothers in Germany; Edrogan was pressing hard on Syria and publicly condemning al-Assad amid his protest repression; Edrogan claimed Turkey ought to be the role model for all Muslim states when massive chaos broke out in the middle east; Edrogan made a strong political decry against Israel and even plan to visit Gaza to support Hamas.

It takes a fool to figure out what Turkey is aiming for. I am sure all Turks are overwhelmed in their mighty glory of the great Ottoman Empire. They are tired of modern Turkey. If one keeps sticking his face to someone’s butt for a long time he would definitely get sick of it. It’s natural that Turks get frustrated with the West and retrieved their old Ottoman spirit. It’s just a matter of time. The Ottoman ghost has always been there. It just needs a good timing to release in rapt. The secularization process was never thorough enough to switch people’s mentality for modern civilization. Islam may be covered with Turkish nationalism in domestic politics, but it has been always the sole guidance for the majority of the clannish Turkish population. Germany made a miscalculation by importing the Turk labors 50 years ago. Look what kind of troubles they got themselves into? Let’s not forget not long ago, the definition of Turk, through the legendary Millet System in the Ottoman Empire, was merely the people who believe in Islam. With hundreds of years of tradition in mixing religious identity and ethnic identity, would it not be called naive to wish to whitewash the old religious image away in a short time of period? Even in countries full of radical communists in the past, religious tradition would revive right away after the downfall of communism.

Apostasy was never an option for Turkey. Still, its statesmen are trying hard to maneuver in between modernity and tradition for years. In the old time Turkey would always pretend to be an inveterate allay of the West, thanks to the political intervention from Turkish military juntas. Now that they got a powerful political party and a skillful politician, juntas are no longer in power. The strong affiliation with tradition emerged under the water after years of hiding. When the west are badly battered by their own social and economic problems, Middle eastern long-lasting dictating regimes start to rumble in front of massive social turmoil, the Russians are still deeply trapped in post-Soviet trauma, it’s showtime for the Ottoman Turks.

Is it? Everything seems so right, except that the modern Turkey is no longer the great Ottoman Empire. The benefit of a move to side with the Islamist is still too immature to outweigh the adverse risk of pissing off the West. Turkey is not strong enough to go blatantly against the West at the moment, as long as US still views Turkey as a pawn in Middle East front-line, and Kurds are still restlessly harassing the Turkish rule in Southeastern Anatolian mountains. On the other side, the Muslim world was never really a true friend of the Turks either. I don’t think either Persians or the Arabs would be happy to embrace the leadership of the Turks, the foreign steppe people from the east as far as they perceive. Persians are heretic Shi’a and Arabs would never be subject to a Turk dominion once again. Nowadays Arabs in the middle east needs an extra allay to counter-balance Western’s influence. It should not be difficult for Turks to figure out their Muslim brothers are just using them for the time being. Their alliance is expendable with an expiration date. The space for Turks to maneuver is actually still very limited at the moment. Any drastic move would only serve Turkey the opposite of what it is intended to exert. It’s better to keep the Ottoman’s ghost in the closet a big longer I say.

What would Suleiman The Magnificent do when he was still alive?