Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Taking it all in

Taken from the Wikipedia article on the air pollution index:

API index level.

0 - 25 Low Health risks: Not expected.

26 - 50 Medium Health risks: Not expected for the general population.

51 - 100 High Health risks: Acute health effects are not expected but chronic effects may be observed if one is persistently exposed to such levels.

101 - 200 Very HighHealth risks: People with existing heart or respiratory illnesses may notice mild aggravation of their health conditions. Generally healthy individuals may also notice some discomfort.

201 - 500 Severe Health risks: People with existing heart or respiratory illnesses may experience significant aggravation of their symptoms. There may also be widespread symptoms in the healthy population (e.g. eye irritation, wheezing, coughing, phlegm and sore throats).

Well, this year has seen levels over 300 here in Beijing. Frequently it's between 100 and 200, though today it's very good having had rain for many hours yesterday.

On a point of health out here (and incidentally more than half a million people die in China every year from pollution related illnesses) I went to visit a friend in hospital on Sunday who has appendicitis. It was a pretty shocking experience. Beds and chairs all packed together in old corridors and rooms, people wheezing and coughing all over the place with the humid stench of sweat, disease and pollution in the air. Pale men and women sitting glassy eyed with UVs in their arms and families washing their relatives in full view of everyone else. There are clearly problems in the British health system too and in fact several Chinese people I met looked down on the NHS a great deal when they came to Britain, but I left the hospital feeling angry and frustrated. We had called my friend who was sat in the chair waiting to see a doctor to see if he wanted anything and he said that all he wanted was for us to bring him some water.

One thing which is hugely frustrating in China is that there are so many people working in restaurants and cafes (often the high numbers are government imposed), on building sites and on the roads (service is always very very fast) yet the bottle necks where experience and education is required seem to be a long way from being eased. I'm sure that my one view of Chinese hospitals isn't always the case, but the department I went into looked to be near critical mass.

A note on pollution which I'm in two minds about: From the 7th to the 20th of this month a million cars will be taken off Beijing's roads to see how the pollution is affected. At the same time some of the coal burning power stations will be turned off. We are now at one year to go until the Olympics and this is a trial run.

It's great that Beijing may have a couple of weeks of lower pollution levels. The world is supposed to see and rejoice that Beijing is a truly developed, modern society, after which the city will return to its normal choking state and the population will continue to die in their thousands. The problems of Face continue to plague my views of China.

I took this from atop one of the tallest buildings in my neighbourhood. Note that even on one of the days when we appear to have perfect blue skies, if you look across at the horizon, the layer of smog is still clearly visible:

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Schools Kill Creativity

Another TED talk link.

My set response to people who claim to be terrible at maths is to point out that different people learn in very different ways and it may well be that given a teaching style more appropriate to them they would have 'got' maths, or physics or whatever subject they failed to enjoy.

I know that the subjects that failed to click with me (or vice versa) didn't click simply because I never understood the reason the subject was important and the dry facts as they were presented never stuck with me. These were generally the subjects where knowledge over understanding was needed to excel in the exams, history being the prime example. These were the subjects that I had trouble visualising, the sciences I could always visualise with relative ease.

Though it would be easy to claim that it was spoon feeding, the things that did stick with me from history were generally those lessons presented simply through watching movies (strangely, that and a lesson on the satirical works of William Hogarth). Anyway, since the very dry lessons on the taxes of the 1500s and how to make a piece of paper look old I have become more interested in the subject and have read a little more than I had back then. I still find historical dates (unconnected to physics) stick for only a short time but I'm slowly building more of a structured understanding of how we've arrived at where we are today.

Anyway, I'm talking tangentially. I really want to talk about the fact that although we have an idea that it's important for all school kids to get a basic grounding in a range of 'important' subjects and that idea seems natural and wholesome, a video from the TED talks gives an interesting counter to this statement. Sir Ken Robinson is also a truly great storyteller in my opinion.

I have to admit that when I started watching this movie the scientist in me with the reactionary opinion that everyone can be good at maths and science if it's explained in the right way jumped to the forefront. By the end I realised that there's a lot more to the question than such a simple response.

I was really motivated to write about this subject because I found myself repeating the anecdote from this video about the 'troublesome child' to several people whose eyes lit up at this powerful tale of the right way and the wrong way to deal with someone who doesn't want to concentrate on the classical subjects at school. A perfect example of how one's gut reaction can be tragically wrong.

Anyway, the core of the argument is that we channel kids through a very narrow pathway of learning which probably sees a huge number of children excluded simply because they learn in different ways. We don't all find the same things natural to pick up and if we want to open the true creative capacities of the young then we need to rethink education in a big way.

The British Government seem to excel in rethinking education by changing the syllabus and exam system year on year. Sadly all they manage by doing this is to create chaos and devalue true learning over getting as many heads to university as possible.

I believe that the teaching of many subjects in schools in England needs to be rethought, but perhaps there are even more rotten foundations in our educational system which should be deconstructed and reconstructed first.

Anyway, watch the movie and tell me what you think

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Trial II

Man knocks on my door at 7.30 am and tells me I need to pay the gas bill right now, but I need the receipt. (see earlier post for context).

Receipt is in the office. Take 2 minutes to get ready and run to the office with man following on bike. Get receipt.

Take out 300 kuai from my wallet for the 286.80 kuai bill. Man (no longer on bike):'sorry no change'.

Run to hotel: not enough change for 100.

Run to hairdressers: Not open.

Run to baozi stand: 'Two pork baozi please, and can I please pay the 1.40 with a 100 note and, um can you give me change in 50s 20s 10s 5s 1s 0.5s and 0.1s?'

Get to office, tired and sweaty a little before 8 and start the day.

Later in the morning I returned to the visa office (third time in two days) with all the correct paraphernalia to order my visa. The queue was laughably big this time. Wait for an hour and a half watching people get turned away in hordes. Finally get to front desk and after some haggling over dates I get my ticket to return next week to pick up the visa. After this I will have to go to the police station to get a third residency permit. I may then simply leave the country through shear frustration.

That's not true, I have plans to take a proper two week vacation in October to go and see some of the country I've missed out on so far. This will be the first proper vacation where I've left the work behind since last August, so I feel both in need of it and duty bound to try and see some more of this amazingly beautiful, diverse country. I'll write about plans and seek advice soon.

Anyway, despite all this I've made some progress on one of the current projects today, finally having some possible physical insight into our solutions. Better get back to it...

Scaled Composites Explosion and the future of spaceflight

While Scaled Composites may not ring a bell, its most famous product SpaceShipOne is likely to.

A piece of very sad news today: there has been a large explosion in the Mojave desert at the Scaled Composites lab. Two people have been killed and more injured. More news can be found here, here and here.

Scaled Composites really does seem to be not only cutting edge in terms of its R&D but a real force for pushing our dreams of making space travel a viable option for more than a select few.

While his style grates with me a little, I do think that what Burt Rutan is trying to do is inspirational. There's a lot of fascinating information in this TED talk's video about why the space race has stalled and what can be done to restart it.

Fingers crossed for those injured in the blast.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Visa woes

It's been such a spectacularly useless day that I've given up on getting anything of worth done with the rest of it. Having spent the day drowning in bureaucracy I'm absolutely exhausted.

I don't spend much of my time wanting to shout at people, or banging my head against tables. I managed to avoid the former but did actually make contact between pate and tabletop at one point today.

The day started well with another great talk by James Glazier on embryonic development. Things went downhill fast after that. I was attempting to renew my visa, which should set off alarm bells in anyone who has spent any time in China.

10.30 get in a taxi to go to the visa office to renew my visa which has a week left on it.

11.00 After waiting in traffic I arrive, with slightly baited breath knowing what may be in store but feeling mildly positive. Steps:

a) Read the instructions which tell me to 1) request an application form.
b) Spend 20 minutes trying to find where an application form can be requested from, finding a small instruction in a tiny corner of the room that they can be requested from desk number 31.
c) Realise I haven't got my extra photos. Stand in line for photos. Get photos taken.
d) Go to desk to hand in ticket photos to get ticket to retrieve photos.
e) Take photo retrieval ticket to other desk to get photos.
f) Fill in form, including my name and address in poorly written Chinese characters.

11.30 Stand in queue to hand in application form.
12.15 Still standing, in roughly the same spot.
12.30 Get to end of queue. Greeted by smile from the man at the desk (possible evil tinge to smile).

12.35 Find out that although everything else is fine I need a stamp from my department on the recently filled in form (a duplicate stamp to the one which is on the letter from my department claiming that they have invited me here).

12.40 Get in cab back to the department.
13.10 Back at department, blood is a little warmer but still relatively calm. This was in the game plan all along. Get stamp.
13.15 Back in taxi to visa office.
13.45 Arrive back at visa office. Traffic stupidity has been getting to me a little more especially the truck which had to skid to stop before hitting us as we blocked two lanes attempting to cut across the traffic. The old grunting up a big gob of spit trick which is expelled outside the open door was performed at varying velocities.

13.50 Back in queue. A little shorter but still tedious
14.10 At front of queue.
14.12 Chinese man jumps the queue and goes to the desk I was waiting at. It seems he has an unusual request and therefore doesn't need to queue. Woman at desk goes away to consult with those on high. Due to unusual nature of request this takes longer than usual.
14.20 Woman gives me a smile (I see a hint of a fang).
14.25 It seems that though the form is perfect and the stamp is fine, my out of date residency permit may not be.

"But" I tell her "I used exactly the same out of date residency permit last time and there was no problem."

"Ah" she chuckles "the rules changed at the beginning of July and now you must renew it first."

(This is the point at which my head hits the table, briefly, but a definite head-table contact).

14.30 back in taxi, blood beginning to boil, partly due to lack of breakfast or lunch. Haven't eaten for 20 hours. Feeling quite hungry.

15.00 Buy some baozi, go back to the office and try and calm down. Eat baozi.

15.30 Go to police station to renew my residency permit.
15.35 Permit renewed but with date of current visa expiry. It transpires that I must then get my visa, return to the police station and renew the residency permit...again!

Visa saga over for the day.

15.55 At the bank to pay gas bill.
The following conversation is in Chinese:
Me: Hello, I'd like to pay this please.
Bank teller: OK...but there's a problem. Today is the 26th, and here it says the 23rd.
Me: I'm sorry, I don't read Chinese very well, I didn't know what that meant (This was notably feeble of me, I could have worked it out with a few seconds thought, but things have been too busy).
BT: It means 'something I don't understand in Chinese'
Me: very embarrassing but I don't know what that means.
BT: 'something I don't understand in Chinese' repeated louder.
Me: No, sorry, I don't understand these words. Don't worry I will speak with a friend.
BT: Repeats the same thing, slower and louder several more times. (I haven't had this happen to me before in China though it's the stereotypical British response to the foreigner who is clearly too deaf to understand English.)

I retreat to see if I can find someone in the bank who can explain it.

After some misunderstandings they tell me that I must go to the gas company to have the overdue bill stamped after which I can return to the bank and pay the bill.

16.30 Back at the office, feeling utterly exhausted and having managed to achieve almost nothing.

In fact, on a side note the authorities are currently cracking down on visas in China at the moment. It's very hard now to get more than a three month business visa which is a pretty useless amount of time. I'm told by various people that this is due to a crack down before the Olympics. This will apparently deter terrorism, or so the hearsay goes.

Anyway, having seen the looks on other people's faces in the visa building I'm sure that my story is a relatively simple one, but the fact that it's now only half way through and I'm going to have to return at least twice more to renew the visa (once to hand in the form and once to collect the visa) and once more to the police office, once to the gas company and once to the bank does not make me terribly enthused.

In a total of 6 hours today I've managed to get one thing done, and that could have been done in ten minutes if I'd known in advance what was in store.

Today, physics is on hold until my blood stops seething and I can see properly.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Space race

Things are just a bit crazy at the moment and I've little time to blog, consequently there are many things I'd like to blog about but have no time. I'm still thoroughly enjoying the lectures at the complex systems summer school particularly those this week by James Glazier on computational modelling of embryonic development. Ideas of cellular automata are racing around and I'd love time to play, but current research won't allow. Still, it's great to get some perspective on such diverse fields.

I was going to give a full review of Transformers but I'm afraid it doesn't deserve such time or effort. There are some fun effects but most of the fighting between big robots was so fast that it was all a blur (perhaps I'm just getting too old). Anyway, the robot sentiments were cringe worthy as were the mistakes regarding the Beagle 2 mission to Mars, the two lead human actors and...well, that's enough for me not to have enjoyed any more than the first 20 minutes or so. Every time it was mentioned that China may have been to blame for the strange goings on the sound was turned off which did amuse me but that was perhaps the biggest smile I got from the whole thing.

Anyway, I noticed this today which is worth a look, a set of photographs of humans in funny clothes orbiting the Earth. Some stunning views of true isolation, though with Big Brother - if not Mother - Earth looming behind, the perspective is a strange one.

I continue to share the blog and news stories of note every day in the widget at the top left of the screen so keep checking back for stories about science, China, travel, food and more when you are looking for a quick bite of something interesting.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hot footing it...

Sometimes I fear that my concentration on the scientific disciplines has left me with strong abstract analytical skills but little in the way of common sense. I'm to be seen hobbling around the department today having been for a lovely walk in the warm afternoon sun earlier. Having spent the afternoon shivering in an air conditioned office I took off my shoes and reveled in the powerful heat of the tarmac. I greeted the burning pain with a smile of satisfaction as the rest of my body heated up. Back in the office as I put my flip flops back on and started to walk around the welts started swelling and I now can not let my feet touch the ground.

Anyway, apart from a mild loss of any dignity I may once have had, today has been superb as I've been attending the Complex Systems Summer School. A lecture this morning on the mathematics of genetic algorithms got my mind racing through ideas from topology and the possible studies one could do of the properties of a manifold mapped out as a system evolves through an evolutionary algorithm (the species are defined in terms of a real vector space). It made me realise the power of such interdisciplinary collaborations. I'm sure that I wasn't thinking anything very new but with enough time spent talking with other researchers in other areas, I'm sure that a lot can be achieved.

A second talk about the logarithmic relationship between metabolic rates of animals and their mass which holds over around 15 orders of magnitude of mass was also very interesting. If you measure for instance the heartbeat of animals as a function of their body mass, the data lie on a straight line to incredibly high accuracy over a huge range of animal sizes. What this allows is then the understanding of the differences between animals by finding the subtle deviations from these logarithmic scalings.

By dimensional arguments and studying the behaviour of the cardiovascular system in a relatively simplified model, the observations can be explained very well.

A third lecture on symbolic dynamics and measure theory was also very interesting, though having missed the first lecture I failed to understand the application.

Lots more interesting talks to come. See the Wiki linked from the previous post to read some of the slides from the talks, all very interesting.

I'm spending the rest of my time, apart from trying to finish writing a paper, reading through two very impressive papers: Exploring improved holographic theories for QCD, parts I and II, by Gursoy, Kiritsis and Nitti. I'll be giving a talk on these next week and the 110+ pages have a lot of detail to get through. Some great work though and vital reading if you are interested in AdS/QCD.

I'll leave you with another view of my favourite puzzling Chinese sculpture outside the Zhongguancun book building.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Random computations

There's an amazing looking summer school going on here at the moment. Run by Chaotic Soliloquy's Dave Feldman, the Complex Systems Summer School is about as diverse as any I've ever seen. Though I'm not officially attending I'll try and pop along to some of the lectures. There are lectures on genetic algorithms, the origins of life, Chinese characters, anthropology, molecular biology and lots more. I'll report when I've been to some, hopefully beginning tomorrow.

For now I'll leave you with Nicholas Negroponte's 'One Laptop per Child' talk from TED 2006:

and a photo I took a couple of days back of perhaps the most blatantly dubbed concert I've ever come across. I was just passing and didn't stay for the bad Chinese pop which I could feel was about to descend:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Wudaokou deluge

I know Britain is having a pretty hard time of it at the moment with so much rain, but, at least from the point of being drenched, if not flooded, I can sympathise. I took this photo while sheltering under a bridge in Wudaokou. We're having hot, muggy days (often about 90% humidity) at the moment with frequent rain or storms in the afternoon. The storms can be a lot of fun but the rain is just getting tedious.
Wudaokout rain

Snail revenge

If you believed that snails were harmless, gooey gastropods which taste good with garlic and occasionally slime your carpet, then think again:

From a comment on Slashdot.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Kubrick continues

Watching Dr Strangelove in a bar in Beijing last night was one of those very special evenings. The twists of satire and irony will stay with me for a long time.

Next week:
Wednesday - 2001 A Space Odyssey
Thursday - A Clockwork Orange

Some interesting looking music on over the next couple of days, too.

I saw Elliott Sharp at D22 a couple of months back and promised to write a review. It's been bugging me ever since because, to be honest, I still don't know what I thought. I enjoy experimental music on the whole, the creative electricity of it can be exciting and the dynamics of the musicians is always fascinating to watch. I spent most of the Elliott Sharp concert with a big grin on my face. I enjoyed it, without a doubt, but I don't know whether I was smiling because of the genius of it or the chaotic self-delusion.
Elliott Sharp
It was noise, there's no other way to describe it. It was disharmonies on guitar caused by random bits of metal grating against strings. It was flutes straight out of Star Wars warbling in different rhythms and different keys (there were no keys) with tuba accompaniment. It was expressions of deepest concentration making music that clashed in ways unimaginable before the evening.

A few people walked out within the first minute. Many stayed and enjoyed it, but I'm not sure what they, or at least I enjoyed. It was, without a doubt fun, and perhaps that's enough. Maybe I just don't understand the depths of musicality which went into it. It took explanation from educated friends and a lot of listening to appreciate a live jazz concert, which I do now, hugely. I can see the dynamics of the musicians as the tune is juggled and manipulated and I love the journey you can be taken on if you follow where they're going. I don't know if I need to know more about where Elliott Sharp was taking us or if I just need some chemical additives to fully appreciate his music. I'd almost certainly see him again because, as I said, it was a lot of fun to listen to and watch.

If anyone else is an aficionado of this sort of experimental music then please tell me what I should be listening for. If you think this is absolutely emperor's new clothes played loud, then I'd like to know your opinion, too.

In a random aside I was highly amused to hear about the klezmer-metal fusion band: Black Shabbat. This I've gotta hear. (from Charmaine X, a creative, amusing Beijing blog I recently stumbled upon).

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Summer storms

Where best to be during a spectacular summer storm but on the roof of a 30 story building. For a couple of hours last night the sky to the North West of Beijing was alive with sheet lightning dancing in the clouds. The sky directly above me was clear and for once we could see a few stars. It's taken me almost two years to realise that one of the most stunning views in the city can be found from the building just next to mine. I sneaked in at about 10 pm, went up to the 28th floor and then took the stairs to the roof where students hang their clothes and do calisthenic exercises. The storm continued to bubble silently so I quickly shot about 300 photos, desperately trying to get the lightning, trying everything from many half second exposures to a few at 15 seconds plus. Getting back I had many photos of the lights of North West Beijing but few of the lightning itself. The one I did capture below (click for larger) was, I believe, a 5 second exposure. I'll be experimenting more over the summer:
Storms over Beijing
and a few more of the view from the top:
Including the centre for microgravitational research:

Monday, July 09, 2007

More from Houhai

A lazy post as I'm still struggling to think anything other than cotton wool surrounded thoughts today - the summer cold is winning.

These photos are from a week ago at Houhai. Well worth a visit at sunset:

Click on the photos for more details.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Inspiration from TED Talks

I was going to blog about this later, but I can't wait. I'm currently sitting at home nursing a horrible air-conditioning induced cold, but watching these 20 minute videos online, I'm absolutely mesmerised.

The TED conference (Technology. Entertainment. Design), held every year in Monterey California, gets together the real global innovators in so many areas, from experts in computing, consciousness, architecture, global poverty, future problems and solutions for humanity, ageing, slowness, happiness, and much, much more to talk about where we are today and where we will be in one, five, ten, fifty years down the line.

Many, many videos are online and almost every one I've seen so far has made me excited by the prospects in so many disciplines. A lot of it is speculation, but it's speculation from world experts who have already made a difference. It's inspiring and it's hugely exciting.

The first talk I watched is currently featured on the home page of SciTalks which I spoke about here, and I was immediately hooked.

I should be resting properly and although watching these videos isn't exactly stressful it is really motivating me to get up and get things done, anything, important things, to be a part of all this.

Below I've embedded some of the videos I've watched so far which have impressed me most but please if you find other videos which you are inspired by tell me.

Hans Rosling: New insights on poverty: No more boring data.

Neil Gershenfeld on Fablabs and personal empowerment for individual driven technological developments:

Aubrey De Grey on the future of longevity and the possibilities of living to 1000:

Burt Rutan on the future of space flight:

Blaise Aguera y Arcas on Photosynth and the future of imagery on the web:

Dan Dennet on dangerous Memes:

Jeff Hawkins on how brain science will change computing:

I don't know if you can view my profile but I will continue to update my favourites as I watch more which I think are worth a viewing here.

Although I've embedded these by linking to the Youtube videos you can watch them directly from the TED site (link above).

Quantum Shock

I'm in the midsts of some new calculations right now as well as writing up a paper I've been working on for a few months, so no detailed blogging today. I did want to quickly add a little self-deprecating self-promotion if that isn't a complete oxymoron.

Having appeared on TV here in front of 200 million (I still haven't seen the broadcast, though that's probably a good thing) and now being the voice to unknown thousands or possibly millions of school kids wishing to learn British English I felt that it was about time to make an impact in print. Well, actually I didn't decide, but I was contacted by the editors of 'Beijing city weekender', firstly in relation to my photos and then once they found out I was a scientist, purely in relation to my life here.

BCW is a free biweekly publication, mostly for the English speaking expat community. Every issue they have a 'Day in the life of' article, where they see what people in various professions get up to in a normal working day. They hadn't had a scientist in before so asked if I was interested. This would involve me writing about an average day and coming in for a photo shoot.

The writing was fine, the photo shoot was very strange. The editor, a photographer and his assistant and I stood in the photo studio. I took a look around the place and eyed up the cameras. They also have a sister publication all about cooking and so I took a sneak peek in the well fitted-out kitchen where they create the dishes to photograph.

I was put on the spot, literally, as they started taking snaps. I stood there, looking slightly awkward having never had attention quite like this directed at me. I just stood in the most natural pose I could muster until they said:

'OK, you can, you know, do stuff now, you know, like poses'

'like what, sorry?'

'You know, make some poses'

I go between bouts of thinking myself reasonably confident and bouts of returning to the fact that I'm a gangly guy who was always pretty nervous at school. The call to 'make some poses' didn't help and I found myself standing there making perhaps the most unnatural poses they'd ever seen. They managed not to laugh and continued to shoot as I stood there feeling rather bewildered.

Well, they got their shots and then took some snaps of the three things from my day I had brought along: my laptop, a copy of Polchinski and my camera.

I headed off, bemused at what it would all turn out like. Well, I am bemused no longer (that's a lie, I spend most of my time in a state of slight bemusement), but for the purposes of this post I now know that they chose an only moderately awful pose (believe me, it could have been a lot worse!):

Welcome to the world of Quantum Shock (Note that they didn't go for the obvious Doc Shock jokes):


Wednesday, July 04, 2007


An infuriating look at the situation with Beijing tap water can be found here. There are no cities within China where the tap water can be drunk directly. Personally, I will only use it for making tea if I have no bottled water left and all the shops have shut (I'm an Englishman - sometimes I really need that cup of tea!). The tap water leaves suspicious residues around the sink and in the saucepan. Sometimes it smells strange coming out of the tap and when boiled.

So, it seems like good news that finally the news arrives that Beijing's tap water has passed all 106 international safety standards and is safe to drink. Sadly not, this is not the whole picture. The news goes that Beijing has done an amazing job, getting the water to international standards five years ahead of time. However, if you are not lucky enough to live within or just next to the water treatment plants then forget it. The pollutants within the piping system is just as bad as ever and dealing with the many thousands of kilometers of pipeline running under the city would be a truly monumental task. The water which actually comes out of our taps is still not drinkable. It's just that this isn't what they choose to call tap water. They have a nice shiny tap at the treatment facility and that seems to be as good a tap as any.

So, though the headlines are all lightness and joy, in fact for the vast majority of Beijing this is simply a vacuous, infuriating piece of news.


On a more positive note it seems that the transport infrastructure may finally become usable, if only the Beijing drivers follow a few simple rules. Clearly, as Kevin points out we just need a bit more honking and everything will turn out nice.

From The Onion.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Poetry in motion

I went for dinner at the revolving restaurant at the top of the CCTV tower yesterday evening. The food is pretty disastrous but you get a wonderful view of the city and it's well worth the trip, just don't expect a top-notch meal.

I was reminded of my favourite piece of Chinglish (which is in the tower) by Shelley's recent tour of the Oareyant.

Anyway, this is true poetry in Chinglish:
Favourite Chinglish
Click for larger.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Kubrick at D22

This month is Kubrick month at D22 in Wudaokou. Come by on a Wednesday and Thursday to see the free screenings. On the site it says 7 pm start but don't be surprised if it's rather later than that.

This Wednesday is Killer's Kiss.
This Thursday is Paths of Glory.

I've seen neither of the above but enjoy most of Kubrick's work, and D22 is a great place to come for a relaxed evening with a glass of Spanish wine.

After the films there will be live punk on Wednesday and experimental music from Japan on Thursday.

Moon snaps

As promised to a Beijing friend, even though I see you got your own, rather better version :-)

Taken just outside Wudaokou station. My 17-85 mm lens isn't really up to the job of astrophotography, but for now this will have to do.