Category Archives: USA

Translating “Linsanity” into Chinese

All sorts of wonderful (All-Star caliber work from Victor Mair, starting shooting guard of the Language Log linguistics team, on translating “Linsanity” into Chinese“):

Línrè 林热 (“Lin craze”) (663,000 ghits, though I can’t guarantee that all of these are about Jeremy Lin)  The problem is that this focuses on the rage and hoopla over Lin, while Linsanity includes his abandoned, exuberant style of play.

Lín shì xuànfēng 林氏旋风 (“Mr. Lin cyclone”) (10,300 ghits)  This expression is popular among certain circles in Taiwan, but it doesn’t capture the flavor of Linsanity with regard to the wildness surrounding Jeremy Lin.

Lín shì fēngkuáng 林氏疯狂 (“Mr. Lin insanity”) (2,200 ghits) dud

Lín shì fēng 林氏疯 (“Mr. Lin crazy”)  (7,490 ghits) sub-dud; a considerable proportion of these ghits include bào 暴 (“storm”) at the end, hence Lín shì fēngbào 林氏疯暴 (“Mr. Lin crazy storm”)

Lín shì kuáng 林氏狂 (“Mr. Lin mad”) (1,280 ghits) sub-sub-dud

For nearly a week, I was in despair.  Such a fantastic phenomenon as “Linsanity”, yet such an unsatisfying rendering of that into Chinese as Línfēngkuáng 林疯狂!

Finally, however, a new translation of “Linsanity” surfaced, namely, Línláifēng 林来疯.  Brilliant!!  I fell in love with this rendering as soon as I encountered it.  Not only does it capture the spontaneity of Jeremy Lin’s moves and the thrills they evoke in the crowds who watch him, it is constructed in accordance with the rules for Chinese word formation.  Moreover, like “Linsanity”, which is modified from an actual English word, Línláifēng 林来疯 is transformed from a real Chinese expression:  rénláifēng 人来疯 (“get hyped up in front of an audience”).  Perfect!

I was particularly pleased and enormously gratified when I noticed that the number of ghits for Línláifēng 林来疯 had soared from 155,000 two days ago to 683,000 today!  This shows that, when an excellent, idiomatic translation is made, people recognize it and approve of it enthusiastically.  So the problem of how to translate Línláifēng 林来疯 into Chinese has been solved, and beautifully so.

About Twitter and Google censorship: another Waging Nonviolence article

Wrote up a short article for Nathan and Eric’s blog again, this time on Google and Twitter’s recent announcements that they would begin restricting content more tightly in foreign countries.

Nathan pointed me to a very astute comment by Thomas Clark Wilson on WNV’s Facebook page, which I thought was worth reprinting here:

The actual details of what they’re doing will make it easier to circumvent censorship than it is just now. Tweeters in, say, Egypt, don’t just rely on tweets within their own country to organise, but also RTs and such from foreign accounts. Before this policy; censor a tweet in Egypt and nobody can see it. After this policy; censor a tweet in Egypt and some American can still see it, quote it, and send it back into the fray.

Besides, the contention in this article that ‘they might bend to shady censorship requests even though they say they’ll play nice’ has *always* been a danger, this policy hasn’t changed that fact. Yeah it would be super swell if they took a stand an said no to any censorship, but twitter’s a business not a revolutionary tech collective. Recognise it as a tool, an use it wisely.

My response, just for posterity’s sake:

That’s a great point Thomas. Indeed, this isn’t some sort of smoking gun revelation, merely an acknowledgment and reminder from Twitter that they are a business and not some sort of utopia maker.

As for circumvention methods, other ways potentially include setting your home country to say the U.S. so you don’t have restrictions. But we have to assume that Twitter and any governments that would want to utilize Twitter’s restrictions are obviously aware of these limitations that would make the whole thing pointless and would implement things like IP detection. Also, floods of foreign retweets might make it too hard to stomp out every one, but for smaller, budding movements these tools do allow governments to snuff out incohate organizing. And even if a few foreign retweets get out, location shouldn’t matter. They would in all likelihood also be blocked because they would bear the same illegal content as the original local one. This would just be the first step of potential cat and mouse games, with governments likely requesting that Twitter move faster to remove such posts and with Twitter employing more active monitoring–once something has been blocked in a country and it knows the government wants future instances of such content blocked, it could employ some kind of flagging system to warn employees that this is another potentially illegal post and give them a chance to take instant action when requested.

But if none of this comes to be, then Twitter is the good guy, and we have no major reason to expect them to bend over backwards to regimes and governments whose values are so antithetical to those of the Internet’s. But one has to look at the trajectory here–this is a step in the other direction from an open Internet. And wouldn’t it be foolish for Twitter to take such a PR hit without following through on actually providing a credible oand functional option to regulate content in countries? Why make yourself look so bad and buddy up to censorship regimes when you know you’re only going to half heartedly enforce these sorts of things.

But your points are well taken. In the short-term Twitter should still be safe and useful, but this announcement definitely makes the future of Twitter as a revolutionary tool cloudier.

That’s all I got for now. Still working mightily on Blockedonweibo (now reachable via which I hope to start sharing more publicly in the next week or two (once I finish writing up a short summary for Nathan and Eric at WNV), so things will probably once again go quiet here for a bit.

Waging Nonviolence

Waging Nonviolence is an incredibly thoughtful blog about nonviolent movements around the world. A few short articles of mine were posted there yesterday, one about Han Han and internet protests in China, a draft of which I’d posted here previously, and another about parallels between the Zuccotti Park cleanup and Tiananmen. If I can find time in the coming months, hopefully I’ll be able to contribute a few more going forward. Thanks to Nathan for the encouragement to get this started.

Millionaire immigrants: NBA players cross the border to the CBA

With the NBA locked out (though maybe not for much longer?), unrestricted free agent basketball players have dispersed around the world, with more than a handful ending up in China because of the healthy salaries (six-figures to the $2 million+ that Kenyon Martin is earning) that CBA owners have been throwing at foreign talent. It’s always amusing to read about NBA players “coping” with moving to China and doing without the perks accustomed to not just being an NBA player, but also living in a first world country. Heroic stuff, crossing borders to work in a place where you don’t speak the language fluently or at all, leaving behind your loved ones, hoping your employers and host nation don’t capriciously lock you up, take your assets, and deport you. Oh wait…

I’ve been meaning to compile a definitive list of all the NBA signings to the Chinese Basketball Association, but it looks like Guan Weijia at Chris Sheridan’s site has already done it. It looks pretty up to date, reflecting Earl Clark’s decision to come back stateside and the recent signing of Cartier Martin. Until I make any changes or add substantially new information (eg include the non-NBA foreign players), I’d just say go there to check out. Going forward, I’ll try to follow some of my favorites, including Quincy Douby (Rutgers!), K-Mart (can’t wait for the first time a Chinese players accidentally swings an elbow into his chest…), and of course, everyone’s favorite soul-baring Coney Island’s greatest, Stephon Marbury.*

*One of the best pieces of sportswriting from last year was this Deadspin article by Anthony Tao; the Wells Tower GQ article from this year is good too, but there was something electric about Tao’s report, which was one of the first extensive ones about the Marbury in China experiment. At the time it came out, Marbury was (and still is) an absolute wildcard, in the “Tyson Zone” as Bill Simmons would put it, having posted a series of bizarre videos the summer before.

Austerity backlash: Gary Locke has too much integrity

If you’re already familiar with The Locke Affair,* you can skip down to this quote I dug up from Richard McGregor’s The Party about Wang Xiaofang’s Director of the Beijing Office (also known as The Chief of the Beijing Office Liaison and a couple other names).

With all the recent to-do about the Chinese media backlash against new U.S. ambassador to China, Gary Locke–he of buyer-of-own-coffee, carrier-of-own-luggage, wanderer-of-hutongs, rider-of-(gasp)-economy-class fame–most of the U.S. stories seem to direct reader’s ire at the easily manipulated Chinese news industry (Chinese media take aim at ‘showy’ U.S. ambassador”). Which is interesting when one thinks about who China is attacking here (besides Locke for being a show-off of course and for America for nefariously planting him here): that’s right, an easily manipulated Chinese news media. From notorious CCTV host Rui Chengang’s Weibo:

“His public behaviors, from using a backpack to buying coffee, from taking a van (instead of a car) to taking economy class, are all accurately received, photographed, spread and discussed. He knows how the media works because he used to run for governor.” (in Chinese)

And from the Global Times editorial, which along with the Guangming Daily editorial(were those really the only two sources of criticism?!) caused the firestorm:

Media that actively sensationalize Locke should show restraint. There are too many occasions and angles to criticize the corruption and bureaucracy in Chinese official circles. It is not suitable to overly praise a foreign ambassador, particularly when his task in China is rather complicated. Chinese media should be calm and rational when discussing the private lives of people like Locke.

But what’s actually at play here is more than just Gary Locke playing the media like a fiddle (or just being himself as the case may be) and the Chinese media/netizenry lapping it up, but also, like most things, about politics (which is hinted at in the Global Times editorial with the reference to Chinese corruption). CSM and others astutely pointed out that:

The attention Locke has garnered is freighted with political significance, says Mr. Yao. “None of the things written about him are really about him at all,” explains Yao. “They are just painting a picture to contrast with Chinese officials; it is all meant as ironic commentary.”

Indeed, this is a common tack, to criticize the ills of Chinese society by highlighting success elsewhere. And in fact, there’s even a recent precedent of this same exact story: an official full of integrity making his fellow colleagues look bad and the backlash against him–except in fiction. Here are some quotes from Richard McGregor’s fascinating book about the CCP, The Party, which has a brief passage on Wang Xiaofang’s bestselling 2007 novel, Director of the Beijing Office.

The belief that you cannot be successful without being corrupt is commonplace enough to have been the theme of a best-selling novel in 2007, called Director of the Beijing Representative Office. The book, part of a series about the Beijing-based lobbyist for an unnamed city government in north-eastern China, pits a clean official against a corrupt one. . . In Wang’s novel, the first official, Li Weimin, is an upright and principled cadre who cares deeply about the community he is serving. Parachuted into the municipal government, he bristles with integrity and makes sure his family members do not exploit his position for personal gain. Far from endearing himself to his colleagues, Li’s austere lifestyle infuriates them. Drivers and secretaries do not like working for him, colleagues feel embarrassed by his decision to live in an old residential building instead of moving into the gleaming new official compound where they are housed, rightly sending that he has made them look bad in front of ordinary people. And he spurns sumptuous government banquets, opting instead for a simple meal at his desk [BIDEN NOODLES!–ed], forcing his colleagues to follow suit. His behavior, the narrator says, makes him seem ‘an unreasonable man who has no sympathies for his colleagues.’ (pg 95)

The NYTimes had a pretty good rundown of the cultural issues at play in the development of Locke’s hero status and CFR has a quick summary of The Locke Affair.

*I am guaranteeing that something will happen during the next year and this’ll get coined [currently, only 28 hits on Google for it]–it’s just sounds too good not to be used. And of course, there will be the requisite movie starring Matt Damon as Locke, the first Asian American ambassador to the dictatorial empire of Shyna, who battles evil doers with impeccable integrity and an AK. There’ll also be a dramatic sequence in the middle where he buys a cup of coffee at the Starbucks in Pundong airport. The shop vendor hands him the coffee and Damon walks away without paying, casually tossing his backpack over his shoulder, his back muscles rippling, practically escaping from his tasteful (but not designer!) suit. He takes three steps, then slowly turns. “You know why I didn’t pay for this cup? [beat] Because freedom is priceless.” The puzzled shop vendor stares at Damon and then he is enlightened. He begins a slow clap as Damon strides out the sliding doors to board a private, single-engine Cessna.

As he takes off, the airport explodes below him. We see him grimace and sip from his coffee. “Too weak,” he says. “Shoulda made it myself.” THE END.

Buddy Roemer and Death by China

I don’t watch much TV these days,* but when I do, it’s C-SPAN…2.

Well, not by choice, but I got home the other day and was in the mood for distraction. We don’t have many channels here over the air, but C-SPAN is one of the few that doesn’t make me feel like I’m purposely churning my brain into mush, but I might have to question that assumption after watching about forty minutes of Buddy Roemer rant about China, the sleeping bear that has come to steal our American honey.

As you know (jk), Buddy Roemer is a fringe presidential candidate whose claim to fame (according to him) is that he served as both a governor and as a Congressman. He’s also pushing hard for campaign finance reform, a laudable goal surely, and has promised to limit all contributions to $100–something easier said and done when you don’t have donors banging down your door to give you money.

That said, he seems like a decent guy with a modicum of integrity, even if he plays the usual GOP-blame-the-prez-populist shtick though. He’s no wacko, but he sure as hell isn’t electable at all–he’s just too small town. But more interestingly, he confronts straight on the contradiction that is China–for a Republican, what is one to do? Wave the American flag and decry the baddies across the ocean for stealing our jobs? Or be the Good Friedmanite and applaud free market for doing what they’re supposed to. What to do?!?!

Roemer goes for door number 2 and it is not pretty. The arguments are specious to say the least, but rather than outline them, you can watch them below in the full, edited 2 hour speech and Q&A session he provides in front of a few reporters (wow, New Zealand, you guys have some kind of foreign reporting corps!) and a Falun Gong protester.

Ha, just kidding, you’re not going to actually watch it, it’s a 2 hour rant by a politician who has less name recognition than most celebrities’ pets. But some quick notes:

  • including Japan with China and India as places that exploit workers with unfair wages? I hope that was a brain fart and not actually something he believes, because if not, then we have some serious questioning of what kind of ethical standards he expects from nations.
  • Fair trade adjustment… uh, what’s the difference between that and a tariff?
  • He kinda ducks that question about labor practices in the US pretty well huh?

And finally, while doing this googling for the past hour, stumbled on the provocatively named Death By China, a blog that is all over the place with regards to indicting China for unfair trade (leading to impending world doom). After reading the over-the-top book description, let’s just say I was a bit surprised to realize that the authors of the book (though not the blog, that’s written by the co-author) is a seemingly well-respected Econ and busines school professor at that neoconservative hotbed (joke) UC Irvine. Though I do admit the description of the book on his personal website is tempered down quite a bit, so maybe the book is less of a polemic than it appears to be. But then again, there’s this hilariously un-nuanced video by the other co-author:

Our trading partner is preparing to kill us!

Hai Death by China gaiz, vid needs more slow zoom in on nukes! And blood. K, thx!

*Because of this stack of books that I have sitting here on my nightstand. I can hear them accusing me each night before I sleep, “You don’t know anything yet you dolt. You haven’t even read me!” And then I sleep fitfully, their voices growing louder and louder until I wake up in a panicked start, crack open one at random, and glaze over the words before drifting off again.

I should just burn them. That’d shut them up.