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China: Cameras, drunks and forced website closures

Kimbo Hu/Hu Defu, a well-known Taiwanese aboriginal folk musician gave a performance at a small bar in Beijing this past weekeknd. In attendance were many prominent bloggers, and here is Ycul blogger Reading Storeroom‘s account of the show, along with the problems he sees as more and more Chinese purchase digital cameras:

相机

Cameras

今天晚上去看话剧《琥珀》。邻座两个小女孩,手机就像两个永不熄灭的小手电筒,不是拍照,就是发短信,也许是拍照后即时上传维护自己的博客?我估计她们大概没看进去多少戏,晃得我也大受干扰。

Tonight I went to see the play Amber. Sitting next to me were two little girls. Their cell phones were like two ever-lasting little flashlights. If they weren't taking photos, they were sending messages. Maybe after they took the photos they posted them straight to their blogs? I imagine they didn't get too much into the play, and ticked me off with their flashing.

拍照真的那么重要吗?数码时代的到来,使得拍照片变成没有任何金钱门槛和技术门槛的事儿,谁都可以为自己留下海量的数码图片。我也曾经对自己刚到手的数码相机爱不释手,走到哪儿拍到哪儿。但很快发现,大部分的照片,也就是起到占据电脑硬盘空间的作用,别说没多少人有兴趣来分享,就连自己也根本看不过来,同时还有新照片不断地涌进来。曾经发过多少次宏愿,要整理一下这些图片,但都知难而退,慢慢的,连相机也蒙上了一层灰尘。

Is taking photos really that important? With the arrival of the digital age, there are no more financial or technological barriers to taking photos. Anybody can make for themselves a sea of digital pictures. When I first bought my own digital camera, I couldn't stop playing with it either. Everywhere I went I'd take a picture. But I quickly noticed that most of my photos just ended up taking up space in my computer hard drive. Not many people were interested in me sharing with them; even I didn't have time to look through them all. At the same time, there was an endless flood of new photos still pouring in. Where I once had ambitions to sort through all the photos, I eventually gave up and, slowly, even the camera is now covered in a layer of dust.

某天,小弟通过QQ,传来几张我的童年照片,是朋友扫描处理好的旧照片。照片上的父亲还没有现在的我年龄大,唏嘘不已之余,也觉出了留影的价值。但这种想法很快被一个喜得贵子的朋友给冲淡了。他的宝贝儿子不到一周岁,50G的硬盘就已经不够用了,他已经为儿子留下了大约几万张照片和上百小时的视频,且还像中国的GDP一样在高速增长着。我说,你儿子长大后,可能压根就没时间去上课学习,看您留的这些就够他下半辈子折腾的了。

One day my little brother sent me some of my childhood photos on QQ, old photos a friend of his had scanned in and fixed up. In the photos, my parents aren't even as old as I am now. Sighing and then some, I felt the worth of photos as memory keepsakes. But this thinking was quickly washed away by one friend's love for his son. Before his precious boy was even a year old, a 50G hard drive had already been filled by several tens of thousands of photos and over a hundred hours of footage of his son, rapidly increasing just like China's GDP. I said to him, when your son grows up he might not even have time to start schooling; going through all your photos will take him half his life.

我们迅速由新技术的掌握者变成了为新技术所掌握。我们老以为自己在保留历史,结果却没有时间来品味现在。就像我们的出门旅行,拍照总是成为第一要务,仿佛只有“拍下来了”,才表示到此一游,相机的镜头代替了自己的眼睛,还有多少心情去领略那些美景呢?

Those of us who rush to grasp the latest technologies have now become grasped by these new technologies themselves. We always figure we're recording history, but the result is we don't have time to enjoy the present. Just like when we go out for travelling, taking photos always becomes the first priority. As though the trip only exists if it is caught on film. When the camera lens replaces our eyes, how much mood is there to go and enjoy the scenery?

我的这种感觉在胡德夫的演唱会时达到了顶点。7月19日夜,这位台湾老歌手在北京的愚公移山酒吧举行了一个小型的演唱会,三四百人把小小的酒吧挤得满满的。胡老先生一上台,闪光灯就亮如白昼,有人怒喝“别晃了人家的眼睛”,但完全无济于事。拍照的行为艺术一直持续到演出结束,我怀疑那些摄影家根本就没听几句歌。

These feelings reached their peak at the Hu Defu concert. On the evening of July 19, This old Taiwanese singer put on a small concert at Beijing's Yugong Yishan bar, packed tight by three to four hundred people. The second old Mr. Hu came on stage, all the flashes turned night into day. Someone angrily screamed out, “don't flash people in the eyes,” but it didn't help. The photography as performance art kept up straight until the end of the show. I suspect that those photographers didn't listen to that many songs.

我的朋友咣咣也在现场。他是个摄影发烧友,整天背着十几斤重的装备跑来颠去。但演出现场的他,手里举着的只有音乐和啤酒。这小子已经high得不行了。第二天晚些时候,在SMN上碰到他,原来他当天夜里在“水色盛开”酒吧睡了一宿。后半夜,朋友们陆续散去,结果胡德夫、陈永龙等人被公路带到了这里。咣咣,傻人有傻福的咣咣,居然陪胡德夫老师一起看了什刹海的日出,然后,老人赶赴机场。
我嫉妒得近乎发狂,就酸溜溜地问,你丫就顾拍照了吧?
他说,没有。
然后,我在他的博客上看到了这样一段话,算作这篇文章的结尾吧:“天亮的时候,我知道我看见了什么,但我没拿相机,始终没有。我知道,最打动我的画面,不在相机里、电脑中、照片上,她们只在并且只能在我的心中。”

My friend Guangguang was there. He's a rabid photographer, every day packs several dozens of kilograms of equipment on his back all day. But at the show, the only things raised in his hands were the music and beer. This little guy was high enough as it was. The next day I bumped into him on MSN. Turns out that he spent the night in Shuise Shengkai bar. After midnight, friends started taking off one-by-one, leaving Hu Defu and Chen Yonglong those guys with nowhere to go. Stupid Guangguang with his stupid luck, actually watched the sun come up over Shenshahai, and then the old guy had to hustle to the airport.

Envious almost to the point of going crazy, I bitterly asked: ‘So, did you get a picture?’
‘No,’ he said.
Later, I saw this bit up on his blog, which makes a good end for this piece: “When dawn came, I knew what I was seeing, but I hadn't brought my camera. I know, the sights that moved me the most, and they're not in my camera, in my computer or in a photo. They're in, and can only be in, my heart.

With a bit of citizen reporting from Guangzhou—a Southern Chinese city known for its crime levels—Donews blogger Noise, cameras also play a small part:

有压力,未解决

有个朋友住在华景新城,去做客两次,两次回家都遭遇险情。

I have a friend who lives in Huajing New City. I've been to visit him twice, and both times coming back I've come across danger.

上一次是坐178路公交车行至五羊新城,靠站落客的短短瞬间,眼前突然数人抱做一团厮打。我坐在最靠下车门的位置,拳脚呼呼的气流甚至掠过睫毛。直至五六人迅速从厮打中抽身而逃,我才反应过来,刚刚经历了一场抢劫未遂案件:五六个烂仔偷不成手机改用暴力强夺。未料事主强力反抗而未遂。所幸,抢劫者未动用器械,而事主在群殴中也没伤及筋骨。

Last time was on the #178 bus to Wuyang New City. In just the few brief seconds when passengers get off, I suddenly saw a group fight. I was sitting closest to the rear exit door, just an eyelash length away from the punching and kicking. About five or six people quickly fled from the fight, and then I realized that I had just witnessed a unsuccessful robbery attempt. Five or six punks, unable to steal a cell phone, changed tactics and took it by force. They didn't expect the victim to strongly fight back and beat them. Luckily, the robbers didn't use any weapons, and the victim wasn't seriously hurt in the group attack.

这次,昨晚,遭遇醉鬼闹事,又是178路公交车。车至岗顶,4名拎着工具袋的工友,吵嚷着上车。其中一名裤带里插着只白酒,上车就呼呼嚷嚷赶跑一个坐在车门附近的男人,醉醺醺的还差点一屁股坐在旁边另一位女乘客的身上。司机自然呵斥醉酒者下车,结果醉工友抽出酒瓶就扑向司机,好彩被另两名工友拦住。

This time, last night, it was a drunk making trouble, again on the #178 bus. When it got to Gangding, four workers and their equipment got on the bus and started making a racket. One of them had a bottle of baijiu tucked in his pocket. After he got on he started hollering at one guy sitting near the door, telling him to get lost. Plastered and hardly able to keep his pants up, he then went and sat on one woman's lap. Naturally, the driver yelled at the drunk to get off. He pulled out the bottle and jumped at the driver, but was luckily held back by two of his worker buddies.

Taken at the scene

后面的故事,基本没脱离一般醉鬼闹事的规律。但110赶到现场后,醉鬼还拦着车不走,110也没采取什么强制措施,任其拦着车絮絮叨叨地胡言乱语。乘客们只好统统下车等着换乘另一部,其间,有几个细节:
1、司机愤愤不平:一个烂工地的,也敢在车上借酒闹事——醉鬼也不服气:一个臭开车的,有什么好威风;
2、司机报110后,醉鬼的3个同伴工友有两个悄悄拎袋走了,只剩下一个陪着醉鬼,不断指责司机态度恶劣;
3、被骚扰过的男乘客和女乘客很爽快地答应110回所里录口供。

The story ended like most drunk troublemaker stories do. But after the police arrived at the scene, the drunk refused to get off the bus. The cops didn't use any forceful tactics, just let him hold up the bus with his drunken antics. The passengers could only get off the bus and wait for the next one. In the meantime, here's what happened:
1. The driver was furious: a bloody construction worker dares to get drunk and make trouble on the bus. The drunk didn't care: what right does a stinking driver have?
2. After the driver called the cops, two of the drunk's three companions stole off with their bag, leaving just one to stay with the drunk, who kept on accusing the driver of bad attitude.
3. The male and female passengers who had been harassed quickly agreed with the cops to go back to the station to make a statement.

Expanding on the negative news, a post from fellow Guangzhou-based journalist-blogger Wen Yunchao shows that as of yesterday, Century China, one of the largest leading liberal forum websites in China has been shut down:

CC编辑:最后一日

Century China Editor: The Last Day

这是《世纪·中国》网站和“世纪·论坛”的最后一日。午夜24点前后会全部关闭。

This is Century China website and Century Forum‘s last day. As of midnight they'll both be closed down.

是谁,根据什么,凭借什么,通过什么样的程序来做这样的决定,采取这样的行动?没有任何公开的听证或申辩,一切都是武断的命令。

Who, on what basis, with what right, in accordance with what procedure, made this decision, took this kind of action? There was no open hearing or chance to argue the case. It was all just an arbitrary order.

它的正当性如何?它是否违宪?这是公众可以追问的!这是历史会追问的!

What right does he have? Has he violated the constitution? This is a question the public can ask! This is a question history will ask!

到那一天,如果有人说,“我只是在服从命令”而已,“我只是一架庞大机器上的螺丝钉”。
那么对不起,我们不接受这样的借口,这样的托词!

When the day comes, if someone says, “I'm just following orders,” “I'm just a screw in a huge machine.”
Well sorry, we're not going to accept this kind of excuse, this kind of pretext!

每一个行动都是具体的人做出的,而行动者必须为此担负个人的责任!

Every single action is carried out by particular people, but the actors themselves must take responsilibity for this!

From the Century China forum website:

尊敬的朋友们:

Dear friends,

现在是2006年7月25日的21点45分。

It is now 9:45 p.m. on July 25, 2006

我们在还不知道网站关闭的确切时间——因为没有人愿意执行“自行关闭”。是的,没有人愿意将一次“枪毙”事件装扮的像一场“自杀”那样“体面”。现在,我们等待下达指令的人来亲自执行枪决!

We still don't know the exact time the website will be shut down, because nobody is willing to carry out a ‘voluntary closure.’ That's right, nobody is willing to pass off the ‘execution’ as a graceful ‘suicide’. Now, we're just waiting for the person who sent down the order to pull the trigger!

这可能发生在下一分钟,也可能是明天上午……。总之不会太久了。

It might be in the next minute, or it might be tomorrow morning…… But it won't be very long now.

从创立之日起,《世纪中国》及其论坛的宗旨,是建设一个理性而开放的言论公共空间。六年以来我们秉持这一宗旨。因为我们相信,这样的公共领域对于养育平等、自由、理性和积极的公民文化是有建设性意义的,对于中国的学术建设和文化发展是会有所贡献的。在六年之中,虽然我们历经无数外人所不知的艰辛困苦,我们学习在坚持中妥协,在妥协中坚持,曾渡过了许多危机的关头。但今天,仍然劫数难逃。

Since the day it was founded, Century China and especially its forum, have built a rational and open public space for free speech. For six years we've maintained this objective. Because we believe that this kind of public domain plays a significant and constructive role in fostering equality, freedom, rationality and a positive civic culture, in contributing towards construction of China's scientific and cultural development. In these six years, although we've been through countless trials and tribulations unbeknown to outsiders, in learning to compromise in our persistence and to persist in our compromising, we've gotten through many moments of crisis. But today, we cannot escape our doomed fate.

多少让人宽慰的是,《世纪中国》在中国当代“公共领域”的建设史上留下了独特的、不会被人遗忘的业绩。所有获得的成就,固然有编辑、版主和技术人员团队的付诸的辛苦与努力,但最终是依靠成千上万热情的网友们!是你们的支持与参与才成就了《世纪中国》的业绩!在这个时刻,请允许我代表《世纪中国》的工作团队,向所有的读者与网友表达由衷的感谢!谢谢你们的一路陪伴,谢谢你们守候在这最后的时刻。

Somewhat comforting, Century China in the history of building contemporary China's ‘public domain’, has left behind achievements that are inimitable cannot be erased. Through all the accomplishments that have been achieved, there of course have been a group of editors, webmasters and tech staff suffering and working hard. But in the end it all still depended on the hundreds of thousands of netizens! It was through your support and participation that Century China‘s accomplishments were achieved! At this time, please allow me to represent Century China‘s work group in expressing to all the readers and net friends our sincerest thanks! Thank you for sticking with us all along, and thank you for being here for the last minutes.

同时,我们也要为自己工作中的失误向诸位致歉。在论坛的自由讨论中,有时由于争论激烈,导致人身攻击,版主不得不进行干预、做出裁决;有时因为言论的尺度限制,版主不能不删贴。虽然,我们的原则是理性与公正,但在实际操作中,完全有可能使得某些网友遭受不公正的待遇。在这最后的时刻,有网友指出我们管理中存在的弊端,无论言辞多么激烈,这不只应该是完全可以理解的,也是我们应当感激的临别赠言。如果我们真诚地信奉我们所珍视的原则,我们需要聆听这些逆耳忠言,不断反省自己。但遗憾的是,在这个论坛上,我们已经没有机会改进了。在此,恳请那些遭受不公待遇的朋友们谅解。

At the same time, we'd also like to you apologize for any faults in our work. In the free speech of the forum, when passionate debates sometimes led to personal attacks, the webmasters couldn't help but intervene and make rulings; sometimes due to restrictions on free speech, the webmasters had no choice but to delete posts. Although our principles are reasonable and just, in practical operations, it's completely possible that some net friends were met with unjust treatment, also parting words of advice for which we should be thankful. If we are to honestly live up to our cherished principles, we need to pay heed to these unpleasant words of advice, and incessantly question ourselves. It's just a pity that we won't have an opportunity to improve upon this forum. That said, I urge those friends who received unfair treatment to forgive us.

《世纪中国》即将终结。但《世纪中国》的文章、读者和网友仍然传播着她的故事与历史,传播着世纪中国为之奋斗并为之骄傲的精神。《世纪中国》死了,让我们活下去,并怀着希望——祈愿一个美好而文明的未来!

Century China is about to end. But Century China‘s articles, readers and net friends will nonetheless spread her story and history, spread Century China‘s struggle and high-headed spirits. Century China is dead, so that we can live, in the hopes, and let's keep our fingers crossed, of a beautiful and civilized future!

——《世纪中国》主编

Editor,
Century China

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