Monday, September 25, 2006

View from Jian Feng Shan

Last weekend I again hiked up Jian Feng Shan, this time with several others from the university. It was a bit hazy/cloudy, but the view was still quite good. Afterwards we had a BBQ lunch. Yum!
BBQ at Jian Feng Shan

Friday, September 15, 2006

9-11 retrospectives

Global Voices has an excellent roundup of worldwide commentary on the 9-11 anniversary. [via el oso]

The people here, like many places around the world, are certainly interested in the U.S., generally more than other English-speaking nations. Many people respect or admire aspects of American culture, and the rest have a strong enough sense of hospitality to still be friendly, but we're not exactly liked. It's important to understand why.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Originally uploaded by serapio.
I have posted a few more photos of the area, starring the local geographical landmark, Jian-Feng Shan. This mountain is about two miles north of the campus, and on most days it is clearly visible even through the fog. Its means Pointy-Peak Mountain, and that pretty accurately describes it. It rises about 1000ft in less than a mile of trail, and the top is just big enough for a couple small picnicking parties. I hiked up the trail the day after I took this picture, and it is necessary to take many rests on the way up. It has been raining or sprinkling 24hrs a day for much of the last week, so everything is fairly wet, but temperatures are pleasant.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Great Firewall

As you may have noticed, I have been able to access * and from beyond the firewall. I can also visit flickr, youtube, and bloglines, all of which I thought might be blocked. However, there are a few things I've noticed are being blocked, and I'm having trouble figuring out their rationale.


This one is particularly annoying, because everyone links to it everywhere, and so at least once a day, I'll try to load a wikipedia page. My first hypothesis was that the powers that be want to protect people from polluting their brains with all the mundane trivia available there. However, everything available at wikipedia is also mirrored at many other sites across the web. I think the difference is that though people can go look up snakes on planes, Pirates versus Ninjas, Tencent QQ, Salars, or Jingjing and Chacha, they are protected from wasting their time arguing on the Wikipedia talk pages.

Many news sites

Some of the foreign news sites are blocked, but not all. Earlier, I'm pretty sure that CNN and BBC were blocked, but right now CNN seems fully accessible, and it looks like is accessible, but is not. VOA News is also blocked. (I wouldn't have noticed except their overly articulated broadcasts are nice for English learners.) Also, the dynamic part of the wall seems particularly sensitive to words that appear in the news. You can load once, but reloading it is likely to be interrupted. (This dynamic part might have been what was affecting my efforts to load CNN and BBC pages earlier.)


This one makes a lot of sense. This is just one of many blogs I occasionally read, but it's often critical of the government here. The curious thing from my perspective is that several other blogs, especially Global Voices >> China and the blogs that feed into it, are not blocked. GV has a much wider repertiore than HRIC, but also contains similar content.


Again this is a question of why single this one out. Blogspot is accessible, Typepad is accessible, Livejournal and Xanga are accessible. But Wordpress is not. Dunno.

Google cache

Google is only occasionally unaccessible, likely when too many bad words appear in the results summaries. But Google cache, both from and from, is always unavailable.

Stanford graduate application

And finally, the graduate application for Stanford University is blocked. Frankly I'm stumped on this one. I thought at first the host itself was down, but I can reach it fine if I go through SDSU computers. The application won't be available until the 15th, but it could be a slow process if I have to go through the SDSU computers or a proxy. Perhaps this is just the internet overlords' way of telling me I shouldn't go there.

I'm also surprised they aren't blocking youtube. There's some serious spiritual polution there, like Ask a Ninja, Angry German Kid vs. Numa Numa Boy, Bush covering U2, Hannes Coetzee playing spoon slide guitar, and the Snakes on a Plane music video.

(Okay, the Hannes Coetzee clip doesn't count.)