China defends screening software

June 9, 2009

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The Great Firewall of China just got an upgrade…
– FlashAddict

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By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

China has defended the use of new screening software that has to be installed on all computers.

Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the software would filter out pornographic or violent material.

Critics have complained that it could also be used to stop Chinese internet users searching for politically sensitive information.

But Mr Qin, speaking at a regular press briefing, said China promoted the healthy development of the internet.

All computers sold in China – even those that are imported – will have to be pre-installed with the “Green Dam Youth Escort” software.

‘Poisoned minds’

The news came in a directive from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and the new regulations will come into force on 1 July.

The directive says the newest version of the software has to be pre-installed on Chinese-made computers before they leave the factory.

Imported computers must contain the software before they are sold.

The aim is to build a healthy and harmonious online environment that does not poison young people’s minds, according to the directive.

Mr Qin defended the move on Tuesday: “The purpose of this is to effectively manage harmful material for the public and prevent it from being spread,” he said.

“The Chinese government pushes forward the healthy development of the internet. But it lawfully manages the internet,” he added.

The Chinese government regularly restricts access to certain internet sites and information it deems sensitive.

The BBC’s Chinese language website and video sharing website Youtube are currently inaccessible in Beijing.

Critics fear this new software could be used by the government to enhance its internet censorship system, known as the Great Firewall of China.

But a spokesman for one of the companies that developed the software, Jinhui Computer System Engineering, rejected this accusation.

“It’s a sheer commercial activity, having nothing to do with the government,” Zhang Chenmin, the company’s general manager, told the state-approved Global Times newspaper.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8091044.stm


Road to riches ends for 20 million Chinese poor

February 20, 2009

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If you thought that the economy was bad here, look at what is happening in China…imagine 2/3 of the population of Canada suddenly unemployed?
– FlashAddict

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By Tomas Etzler and Jaime FlorCruz
CNN

JING SHI, China (CNN) — Tang Hui and his family prospered as migrant workers during China’s economic boom, earning $10,000 a year: enough to build a house, send a cousin to school and pay for his grandmother’s medical bills.

Tang Hui lost his manufacturing job in October just days after getting married.

Tang Hui lost his manufacturing job in October just days after getting married.

But those good days are over. The family’s cash earnings have evaporated, snatched away by a manufacturing crash cascading across China caused by falling global demand for its goods.

The nine people in the Tang family are facing an income of zero; their best hope to survive is to grow rice and raise pigs at home in the Sichuan Mountains.

“Farming is really hard. It needs a lot of hard labor,” says 22-year-old Tang Hui, who lost his manufacturing job four months ago. “None of the young people want to farm nowadays. The income is extremely low.” See photos of the hard-scrabble life of Tang Hui »

A Chinese proverb says: “Going on the road to Sichuan is as hard as going to heaven.” Isolated and mountainous, Sichuan is China’s third most populous province; 60 percent of its 87 million residents are poor and live in the countryside, authorities say.

It became the nation’s biggest source of the 130 million farmers who migrated into Chinese cities, especially in the south, to provide cheap labor for factories that churned out products, mainly for export to the United States. The province was also rocked last May by a massive earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people.

Five years ago, Tang Hui left for southern Guangdong province to work in a factory producing handbags and backpacks. He had to drop out of high school because his family was so poor.

There, he earned enough to stash away savings for his wedding. But last October, just days after he got married, his factory abruptly closed down. It was receiving no more orders from its American clients. Watch Tang Hui walk muddy roads to get home »

“I hope the government can help us during this crisis,” he says. “I hope it won’t be like this for too long. Now, there is not even enough money to celebrate the holidays.”

At least he was able to spend the most important Chinese holiday of the year, the Spring Festival, at home in Qingbadong village.

The road uphill to the village was muddy and slippery. The winter rice fields were brown; the slopes were covered in winter fog. “In two, three months,” Tang Hui says, “everything will be green and blooming.”

And the festive mood — the first time in six years the whole family celebrated the holiday together — was short-lived.

Reality is never far away. Many of the villagers are unemployed. The Tang’s next-door neighbors, a married couple, lost their jobs in a Guangdong shoe factory after working there for 16 years.

“A few months without jobs would be disastrous for us,” Tang Hui frets.

Before they ventured out as migrants, the Tangs lived in a wooden shack. Now, they live in a two-story brick house, with 10 rooms, concrete floors, an open fire pit for cooking. Still, it has no running water and one outdoor latrine.  See where Sichuan province is located »

In the past months, about 70,000 factories nationwide have closed. Beijing official Chen Xiwen estimates about 20 million migrant workers have lost jobs. Tens of thousands of villages in the countryside depend on migrant workers’ income.

China analysts say the spike in unemployment has caught China off guard. “The central government is now telling local governments to provide help and job training, re-employment,” says Wenran Jiang, a political science professor and China expert at Canada’s University of Alberta.

Vice Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei says China is offering “a one-off subsidy of 100-150 yuan ($15 to $22) to 74 million low-income people … for temporary relief.” Still, it will take some time before such measures make a difference.  Watch few job hopes for Beijing grads »

Some analysts have suggested that a “rural revolution” is imminent amid the economic turmoil. However, Wenran Jiang says such talk is premature. But he also says the central government must do more in the coming months.

“Many migrant workers have lived a very hard and simple life,” he says. “They have some savings for a rainy day like this, so in the short-term they may be able to cope — but if eight or 12 months later things continue to deteriorate, it could turn volatile.”

Most farmers like the Tangs do not get social security. So villagers who lost factory jobs have few choices except go back to farming. But it is not easy.

Farming feeds people but brings little cash. Millions of the jobless are second-generation migrant workers, young people who grew up in cities.

“It would be very hard,” says Tang Hui. “I have never farmed. I don’t know how to do it.”

To cope, China is creating training programs in the countryside. One of the pilot centers is in Chongqing municipality. Some 30,000 workers have so far taken classes in farming, farming machinery repairs, tailoring and other vocational skills. The trainees got a one-time incentive of about $45.

But the Tangs have never heard about such programs. When asked about the central government’s plan to invest billions of dollars in countryside infrastructure as a part of a huge stimulus package, they expressed anger.

“The central government has good ideas and intentions, but the local officials often ignore them. The road in our village was built by the local government but we had to pay for it. Every family had to pay $100 or more. We get nothing from the government,” says Hui’s father, Tang Zhong Min.

In the evening, the family huddles around an open wood stove. The stove and a small portable electric heater are the only sources of warmth during the cold winter nights. A flickering fluorescent lightbulb barely lights the room.

Tang Hui’s wife, Li Xiaochun, is 21 years old. She used to cut leather in a textile factory, and will soon head back to Guangdong with her husband to search for work.

“I think to be at home is better. I didn’t get used to living outside. I didn’t get used to Guangdong. It is better at home,” she says.

Tang Hui then interrupts. “Of course, I also like it at home, but it is better in other places. Coming home is only good during the Spring Festival,” he says.

Despite the uncertainty, they remain optimistic.

“We are young. There must be some factories still open out there. We should be OK to go out and do something,” Li Xiaochun says.

But Tang Hui’s mother is not so convinced. “Of course I am worried. How can they live without jobs, with no money so far away from home?” asks 46-year-old Hu Xiaoju. “But I will definitely go, too.”

For the Tangs and millions of others in China, the road to Guangdong and employment may prove even more difficult then the proverbial road to Sichuan.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/02/20/china.economy.family/index.html


Edward Burtynsky: An Uneasy Beauty – Photographs of Western Canada

February 8, 2009

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I went to view the exhibition yesterday and the images were incredible – take the time to go out to Surrey and check out Burtynsky’s work.
– FlashAddict

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Nickel Tailings No. 34, Sudbury, Ontario 1996

Nickel Tailings No. 34, Sudbury, Ontario 1996

Nickel Tailings No. 35, Sudbury, Ontario 1996

Nickel Tailings No. 35, Sudbury, Ontario 1996

Surrey Art Gallery
p. 604.501.5566
f.  604.501.5581
or email


13750 – 88 Avenue, 1 block east of King George Hwy.
in Bear Creek Park

Surrey, BC Canada V3W 3L

Exhibition reception: January 24, 2 – 4pm
Film Screening: February 1, 2:30pm
Artist Talk: February 12, 7pm

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Considered one of Canada’s most important living photographers, Edward Burtynsky creates photographs that are “reflecting pools of our time,” dramatically recording the impact of industrial progress and human development. This exhibition features large format photographs, many never previously exhibited in British Columbia. They show both the vast wilderness and impressive landscapes of western Canada, and the monumental scale of the resource Industries that underlie the Canadian economy.

Presented by Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad.

http://www.surrey.ca/Living+in+Surrey/Arts/Surrey+Art+Gallery/Exhibitions/Exhibitions+-+Current.htm

http://www.edwardburtynsky.com/

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MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES is a feature length documentary on the world and work of renowned artist Edward Burtynsky. Burtynsky makes large-scale photographs of ‘manufactured landscapes’ – quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines, dams. He photographs civilization’s materials and debris, but in a way people describe as “stunning” or “beautiful,” and so raises all kinds of questions about ethics and aesthetics without trying to easily answer them.

The film follows Burtynsky to China as he travels the country photographing the evidence and effects of that country’s massive industrial revolution. Sites such as the Three Gorges Dam, which is bigger by 50% than any other dam in the world and displaced over a million people, factory floors over a kilometre long, and the breathtaking scale of Shanghai’s urban renewal are subjects for his lens and our motion picture camera.

Shot in Super-16mm film, Manufactured Landscapes extends the narrative streams of Burtynsky’s photographs, allowing us to meditate on our profound impact on the planet and witness both the epicentres of industrial endeavour and the dumping grounds of its waste. What makes the photographs so powerful is his refusal in them to be didactic. We are all implicated here, they tell us: there are no easy answers. The film continues this approach of presenting complexity, without trying to reach simplistic judgements or reductive resolutions. In the process, it tries to shift our consciousness about the world and the way we live in it.

2006, Canada, 90 mins.

http://www.mongrelmedia.com/films/ManufacturedLandscapes.html


Wednesday’s DIVA 200 class

October 10, 2008

Sorry that I have been lax in updating my blog, but I got food poisoning last Friday, which morphed into a lovely bouquet of influenza due to my immune system being shot to hell, so I have been a little under the weather of late.

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TROIKA + GLOWLAB

the cloud

tetris + knight rider on office building windows

– starbucks has the largest wireless cloud in the world – they are now an entertainment channel
– doing the same with internet connection as they did with music cds
– war chalking / war driving
– hobo culture / signs / graffity to communicate and warn one another
– marks on buildings to let people know where free internet access is around the city
– notion of privacy of how much of your life is public and how much is private
– google is keeping track of every single search that we do
– web crawler and cyber squatters flipping internet domains

drift.relay in san jose by glowlab
“information wants to be free” = guiding moto of open source movement
book called “The Long Tale” – by Chris Anderson who is the editor of Wired Magazine
– digital content (sitting on a hard drive) versus brick and mortar inventory in a store
– there will be a market for my work
– eventually you will be able to buy the license to a piece of content that you have already paid for (cd, dvd, blue-ray, next gen…)
– digital has transformed everything
– google is the single largest data mining enterprise in the world – save every search until 2038

– google knol – is this the precursor of the CIC (Central Intelligence Corporation – Snow Crash)?
– knol = unit of knowledge – go and get information and if you want more, you can pay for it
– Google is giving you information that they THINK you may want
– civil liberties = main concern: aggregation of personal data in commercial databases
– government databases are subject to privacy act
– commercial databases fall outside of privacy act, and the use of contractors has transformed law enforcement
– ChoicePoint or Seisint, aggregate data from commercial transactions with public records (prescriptions, groceries, travel plans, criminal records)

– potential for abuse
– concentrated target for hackers, identty thieves and authorities otherwise constrained by privacy act
– Seisint compiled a list of 120,000 based of a “terrorist quotient”, a profile they created including ethnicity and religious beliefs and handed it over to law enforcement
– Florida relied on ChoicePoint to identify convicted felons registered to vote – as many as 1 in 7 were wrongfully expunged from the voters list (voter margin in 2000 was 537 votes)

RFID – Radio Frequency Identification
– shock bracelets with EMD Technology (Electro-Muscular Disruption)

Privacy and Social Networks
Google’s Value Proposition – “is to figure out what people want, but to read our minds, they need to know a lot about us”
– will pull ads containing certain keywords, but will not state what those keywords are
– handed over user-records of Orkut to Brazilian government for an investigation
(orkut is a social networking service which is run by Google and named after its creator, an employee of Google – Orkut Büyükkökten. The service states that it was designed to help users meet new friends and maintain existing relationships.)
– censored and constrained its Chinese search-engine to gain access to that market
– the Chinese government is in the process of saving SKYPE messages that pass through mainland China and now SKYPE has ended their relationship with their Chinese affiliate

Google Streets – recorded some random kid who saw the Google van drive by and he ended up wiping out on his bike
“Don’t Be Evil”

Second Life Lawsuit
http://blogs.pcworld.com/staffblog/archives/005816.html

The Worst of Real Made Virtual
– the covenant of Extropia
– A Declaration of the Rights of Avatars – by Ralph Koster

189 Satellites that don’t officially exist (spy satellites CIA, KGB)
iridium satellite flashes – search when the satellite will flash on the web
– Russian town had 400 people show up in yellow raincoats and stood in the town square when the google satellite went overhead


Hero – Trailer

September 22, 2008

Another great film by Chinese Director Zhang Yimou – starring Jet Li.


Curse of the Golden Flower – Trailer

September 22, 2008

Originally saw this last year, but it was on Movie Channel over the weekend and I watched it again – as my Design One instructor would say to describe this movie, “It was visually delicious!”

Great cinematography, incredible set design and locations to wow the senses and allow the eyes to feast.