Monday, 7 February 2005

Year of the Male Chicken

You might think, as I did, that you could never grow tired of fireworks. Remember those quaint little light shows at some lake that your parents took you to see where they played Beethoven's 9th and blew up exactly 36 pretty little crackers, and you wished they were bigger and they'd go on for ever.

Perhaps it was just me. (They had some kind of musical fountain too, but I was sour because they didn't want to buy the Meccano set, so I didn't pay attention.)

Well, the year of the rooster (I refuse to capitalize some things on humanitarian grounds) kicks off on 9 Feb. That's 5 days away. As I write this there's enough ordnance in the sky to blow 7 shuttles into orbit, and probably light my cigarette as well. They do tag-team demolition: when one volley dies down another takes over, further down the street within less than a minute.

It's been going on for three nights, and you'd think they'd start to disable their car alarms after a while. Gangs of wild children roam freely in the streets, armed with BB guns and a few kilo's of high-explosives. People sneak onto rooftops for a guilty little pop. Everywhere in the streets little tables have sprung up, laden with fireworks that would make Gandalf's eyes water.

Outside it is simply war. Every foreigner for himself. It sounds like Saving Private Ryan, from dusk till dawn.

Tomorrow I am retaliating.

Brilliant lot, these zhongguoren. Google is rigged like this: there's this long list of words you are not allowed to search for, from adult oriented (15%) to freedom-related and names of dissidents, as well as absurdities like "hypermart" and "incest". (For S: that means when you marry your sister - eeeuw.)

When you search for these you get 404'd immediately, but the clever bit is: Google shuts down on that one PC for exactly 1 minute. Timed it today. How'd they do that? Ok, I know how, but can that affect my email? What if there's a perfectly innocent Afrikaans word that contains bits of a banned word? Could this explain the general trouble I have with getting online?

Oh, the most dangerous word here is "falungong", and if you can't see it please let me know. Also, see if they have a recent web-page. I want to print it out and stick it in people's mailboxes. Maybe I'll be deported for free.

Going on holiday 7 to 14 Feb to Lanzhou, Xining and Qinhai-hu, north-west China. Minus 10 average. Going to rough it: yup, hitchhiking from Lanzhou to Xining. Only 400km, but in winter. Sky is blue up there. Hopefully the Chinese all go south.

Btw, if you register a domain name in the Cook Islands, you get

Year of the Rooster indeed.

Au voir.

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