Category Archives: Computers and Internet

Double Speak

8 September 2009

I just saw this quote attributed to a Chinese Internet Monitor: 


"[certain phenomena] may be true if you take a local perspective, but if you take the perspective of the whole, it is not true. For example, riots occur locally, it is true. But if you take the perspective of the whole country, [the society] is stable and peaceful; therefore to say our country has riots is not true. "


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Free Speech? Not Really. 小心!

2 April 2009

Every government intercepts electronic transmissions.  Don’t forget that!  The only thing we’re aware of is whether the bars on our individual cages are transparent or not. 

I really enjoy my friendships with people from other cultures, but there is one area which I don’t usually engage in conversation.  I don’t usually engage in any discussions with them online which I think might pose the slightest risk in terms of causing problems for them in their own country.  I have broken my own rule from time to time, sometimes inadvertently. 

One time, for example, a chat popped up on my screen.  I don’t usually chat online, but my friend and I started "talking" online, and the conversation drifted to some things I had been told might not be a good idea to talk about.  So I told him, "we shouldn’t talk about these things."  He replied there was no need to fear, because things had improved in his country and there was now more tolerance.  He typed, "things are different now".    I replied with six words:  "You still don’t have free speech." 

No sooner had I typed the words and hit the "send" button, than my internet connection went dead . . . .  Dead as a doornail! 

The phone company said there was nothing wrong with my connection.  They said that my computer must have malfunctioned.  I tried everything.  First of all, I had done nothing to change anything about my computer prior to the disconnection.  Second, I even got an IT guy to look at it.  There was nothing wrong with my computer.  The phone company insisted it wasn’t them.  A week or so later, my internet connection mysteriously started working again. 

I got the message.  Whomever it was that was monitoring my computer — the person who had been reading that chat in real time —  had slapped my hand by shutting off my connection.  What was ironic was that they cut off my internet because of the fact that I told someone they didn’t have free speech!  The point proved itself! 

Well, apparently it’s not just emails and chats that are being intercepted.  Entire computer systems are being mined for information.  Not just this, but there’s active listening going on, too.  Computer worms are now being used to turn computers into spy machines.  The headlines for the web site Democracy Now reported on 30 March 2009:

A team of Canadian researchers have uncovered a vast electronic spy network that infiltrated the offices of the [DL], the Asian Development Bank, the Associated Press and many foreign embassies. Researchers linked the spy operation to servers in China but cautioned that there is no direct evidence implicating the Chinese government. Intelligence analysts say many governments, including those of China, Russia and the United States, use sophisticated computer programs to covertly gather information. The spy network known as Gh*stN*t infiltrated nearly 1,300 computers in 100 countries. Once a computer is infected, the spies gain the ability to turn on the camera and audio-recording functions of the computer, enabling monitors to see and hear what goes on in a room. The spy network also gained control of mail servers for the [DL’s], allowing the spies to intercept all correspondence.

Hmm.  I wonder if my virus and firewall protection is good against this?  Somehow, I doubt it.  I think that the countries specifically named in this report have especially sophisticated monitoring systems.  Other countries aren’t quite as advanced — we hope — or, are they?  We never know until it’s too late.  I would be especially concerned for my friends in countries that are known for harsh punishment of those who speak their minds. 

My father had a saying, that "sometimes discretion is the better part of valor".  Sometimes, it’s better to avoid the fight than to engage in a losing battle.  I think of years wasted in prison or house arrest, as well as years in exile, would probably be better spent working quietly as agents for good in one’s community.  There are many ways of being effective.  All things in good time. 

As for me, if someone were to monitor the camera on my computer, I’m afraid it wouldn’t be very interesting at all.  My computer is in the room where I do laundry; so they’d get a big eyeful of unwashed clothing.  Once in awhile, they’d get the thrill of seeing one of us do some ironing.  Wow.  Now that’s some big stuff. 


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Three Years of Blogging!

I just realized it has been three years since I started my blog!  To date, it has had about 19,000 cumulative hits.  Since I am no longer living in China, I am at a crossroads.  I have plenty to talk about concerning my life in China, my reflections on that, and even lately I’ve been thinking about how my experience changed me as a person.  I also have about 30,000 pictures, a fraction of which are actually decent.  Or, I could shift my focus on my blog to what I’m currentl doing in life.  Or, I could try to draw a balance.  I think I’ll just keep trying to balance for awhile.  If my focus changes entirely, I think it will be time to shift to a new blog.  In the meantime, I think I’m still mentally engaged in my China experience and things Chinese that I have plenty to write about for quite awhile.  Indeed, I find myself being shocked at some things back in the USA, and I think my Chinese friends would find certain aspects of my culture here as amazing or exotic as I found their culture when I first went to China. 

So ….  I’ll keep on blogging, for now at least. 

Here is my very first entry, from January 2006.  By the time I wrote this, we had been in China about 18 months so I had my feet on the ground just a bit.  I still love Hong Kong, and I still have the photo album on my blog.  I even add to it from time to time. 



Talking about Quiet Day

   2006 01 28
Pretty much just a chillin’ out day.  It was sunny with dappled clouds in the sky, pretty sunset.  Cold for here, high maybe around 20 C / 65 F?  Dunno.  We were more comfortable running the heaters in the rooms we were in.  Tomorrow going to Hong Kong.  The picture for this entry is David and me on the train to Hong Kong.  It’s a pleasant two hour train ride from here.  Plus you add an hour for getting to the train station and going through immigration and customs. 
Hong Kong is such a beautiful city that I have a whole photo album devoted to it. 

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