Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Revivification: Johnnie To

Weekly post-rate here finally leveled out to zero, so here's a brief set of ramblings

1. Exhausted Diligence has been battered by Chinese-language link posts in comments, which is simultaneously awesome and discouraging. In my very brief entertaining of the comparative structure of spam-botting, it does seem marginally better than some English counterparts, though (a) differences in labor structures could mean human spambots are cost effective, or (b) that grammatical ellision actually makes Chinese spam easier and perhaps French spam least believable or that (c) sheer numbers of native Chinese language spammers and users means that the evolutionary learning curve of the programs (which iterate themselves, at times, and obviously, are iterated by spam progenitors) has been more steep than the English. An easy answer is also that my English is superbly better than my Chinese.
2. Tumblr has been eating my online life, as a primary goal of this whole thing had been to more effectively bookmark my own readings and give a little structure to my Asia-web wandering. But that turned out to be so much better with a bookmarklet!

3. There has been a major Johnnie To kick in my household(s). And Johnnie To is producing Jia Zhang-ke's next film -- his first big-budget piece -- which both terrifies and intrigues me. But more importantly
via Paper Republic here is an old FBI guide by one agent Fritz Chang to Canto gang slang.
4. Two fantasy lives of intrigue -- photographer Jing Quek is looking for a production assistant, Imagine living the world he tags Jingapore (below), and getting coffee for it.

5. One of the articles that has stuck in my mind -- this is not arts -- is a recent piece by Steve Walt in Foreign Policy -- "China's New Strategy." I'm repelled in many ways by realism (rational-choice applied to IR, positing nation-states as black-boxes motivated solely by their "interests"), but the arguments he lays out rattled me. As he puts it

"On one side are realists who believe that if China continues to increase its economic power, then significant security competition between the two countries is virtually inevitable. On the other side are those (mostly liberal) theorists who believe that the potential for trouble will be muted by economic interdependence and the socializing effects of China's growing participation in various international institutions. (This was Bill Clinton's rationale for getting China into the World Trade Organization, for example). And if China were to make a gradual transition to democracy, so the argument runs, then democratic peace theory will kick in and there's nothing to worry about.

On Saturday, the New York Times published an important story supporting the realist view. It described the rapid expansion of China's naval capabilities (a classic manifestation of great power status), as well as the more ambitious new strategy that this growing capacity is designed to serve. Briefly, as China's economic power and dependence on overseas raw materials (e.g., oil) has grown, it is seeking to acquire the ability to protect its access. In practice, China's new strategy of "far sea defense" means acquiring the ability to project naval power into key ocean areas (including the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf), while denying other naval powers the ability to operate with impunity in areas close to China."