He was permanent secretary at the Department of Transport when, on September 11 2001, Jo Moore, an aide to Stephen Byers, then secretary of state, told officials in an email that it would be "a very good day" to "get out anything we want to bury". A few months later, in February 2002, Ms Moore and Martin Sixsmith, the department's director of communications, allegedly discussed whether the day of Princess Margaret's funeral would be a good time to release potentially damaging figures about the state of the railways.

It was subsequently announced that both Ms Moore and Mr Sixsmith had resigned. Mr Sixsmith denied this, and Mr Byers, who did later resign, gave a confusing account in the Commons about what had gone on. Sir Richard put it more succinctly. He is said to have told a colleague: "We're all fucked. I'm fucked. You're fucked. The whole department's fucked. It's been the biggest cock-up ever and we're all completely fucked."

All the same, Sir Richard Mottram is now the top security and intelligence adviser.  This is democracy for you, because you need the best people working for you to influence public opinion.  Nothing else matters, really.

"Instead of marching I decided to try to get an accurate count of the parade participants last Saturday. I stationed myself at the corner of H and 15th Streets, facing north. Standing with the police line blocking off the right turn off H Street so that marchers would continue on to the east on H Street, the designated parade route. My vigil started at 1:00 PM, before any marchers had arrived. The first marchers passed my line of vision at 1:15 PM and continued passing my line of vision until 4:45 PM, when the last ones passed by.

"It was my first try at crowd estimation but with extensive early experience in construction estimating, I had adequate, common-sense approximating skills to bring to bare. Using several different approximation techniques Saturday evening, I came up early on with several different figures as follows: 255,000, 216,000, 205,000, 193,000. Back home after a day to let it settle, I went back over the numbers and the whole procedure, and established for myself the most likely set of approximations to make allowances for the fact that some times there were only 5-6 marchers per second crossing my view. At other times, including marchers on the sidewalks there were 24-26 marchers per second.

"Allowing for only 5-6 marchers per second passing my line of vision for 1/10th of the time, 22 marchers per second passing my line of vision for 4/10ths of the times, and 14 marchers per second passing my line of vision for the remaining 5/10ths of the time, I arrived at what for me feels most comfortable: 210,000 marchers. [Interestingly enough, as I read this over now, I've just averaged the four first preliminary approximations; the average of the four is 217,000+." 

"I heard that [on the campaign bus, Bush communications director] Karen Hughes accused me of lying. And so I called Karen and asked her why she was saying this, and she had this almost Orwellian rap that she laid on me about how things she'd heard -- that I watched her hear -- she in fact had never heard, and she'd never heard Bush use profanity ever. It was insane.  I've obviously been lied to a lot by campaign operatives, but the striking thing about the way she lied was she knew I knew she was lying, and she did it anyway. There is no word in English that captures that. It almost crosses over from bravado into mental illness. They get carried away, consultants do, in the heat of the campaign, they're really invested in this. A lot of times they really like the candidate. That's all conventional. But on some level, you think, there's a hint of recognition that there is reality -- even if they don't recognize reality exists -- there is an objective truth. With Karen you didn't get that sense at all."

Readers's contribution: Perhaps George Orwell had the clearest explanation for both the need and the art of pathological lying: "To tell lies and simultaneously sincerely believe in them; to forget all that when conveniently you don’t want to remember and, soon, when it returns to be necessary, to remove it from the forgetfulness only by the time that is advisable; to deny the existence of the objective reality without even for a moment letting to know that refused reality exists… all this is indispensable."

Man: What are we having for dinner tonight?
Lady: What do you expect with such a small shopping budget?
Man: Come on, we've got such a wide variety of inexpensive foods in Hong Kong. You can buy these oranges, for example, at a lower price here than in most parts of the world.
Lady: Really?
Man: Yes, because the goods enter Hong Kong without tariffs. If they didn't, our shopping bill would be higher.
Lady: I didn't realize ... ...
Man: So now you know.

After listening/watching the video, I translated the last three sentences as follows.

Man: Yes, because the goods enter Hong Kong without tariffs. If they didn't, our shopping bill would be higher.  (pause)  Or else how are you able to save so much private funds?
Lady: I haven't!
Man: More like you are not saving just a wee bit!

So this is about gender relationships in Hong Kong.  Traditionally, the husband is the principal wage earner and he gives the wife some money each month for housekeeping expenses.  Very often, the wife would secretly save some of the money for herself.  Why?  The economic power is unbalanced.  If and when the husband leaves the wife, she will be financially distressed.  So a smart woman will build up her own nestegg.  This cuts right to the inequality in marriages.

This WTO MC6 website is intended for residents and visitors.  It would not do to give the English-only users any ideas about imperfect gender relationships in Hong Kong.  Solution: Hit the delete key and make up something innocuous.  Question: At what point did they realize that they had such a problem?  Why was this not rejected at the concept stage?

Taiwanese writer-turned-legislator Li Ao again failed to raise sensitive political topics yesterday as he chatted online on the sixth day of his mainland tour.  Asked about his toned-down address to Tsinghua University on Friday, Mr Li evaded the question with an off-colour joke.  "Someone said you went from hard to soft in your speeches at Peking University and Tsinghua University," a reporter noted.  "He must be describing one of my organs," Mr Li said.

You come away with no idea what Li Ao actually said.  That is a pity, because he said some interesting things.  So I'll translate his characterization of Internet culture during the online chat (via Phoenix TV):

When I was a reserve army officer, the army bathrooms were filthy because the partition doors and walls had plenty of complaints written on them.  You can't bring them up normally, so you can only write them in the bathroom.  These days, people don't write them on bathroom doors; they write on the Internet instead.

In Kansu province out in the western hinterlands, a farmer faced a dilemma.  This year, he has earned only 1,000 RMB.  He has two children, and their school fees will be 860 RMB each.  So he took two pieces of paper out, told his children that one had 'yes' and the other was blank, crumbled them and put them on the table for the children.  The daughter picked a blank paper, so her brother got to go to school.  Afterwards, the daughter made a meal for her brother, went out into the fields to work a bit and then she got up a cliff from which she jumped off.  Her words: "I won't be able to study anymore.  My only path out is closed.  I don't regret doing this."

The whole story was infinitely darker than that.  Everything above was accurate, but I have omitted something of critical importance.  Let me translate the details for you (Nanfang Metropolitan News via QQ):

At around noon on August 24, the family came back from work.  The father held two crumpled pieces of paper in his hands and told the children, "I don't have enough money.  One of you will go to school.  Whoever gets the one with the word will go.  The other one will have to wait until we harvest the potato crop."  But they all knew that "paying tuition later" means never.

The brother said that he refused to play.  If her sister has to drop out, so will he.  The sister told the father to pay the brother's tuition first and then hers will be owed to the school  She has seen several students in that situation.

But the parents had made up their minds to let the son go to school.  If both children refused to play, their plan would not succeed.  So the father told the children: "You go ahead and pick one anyway, just for fun."  He leaned over to the daughter, but he knew that both pieces of paper were blank.  At her father's insistence, the daughter picked one and found a blank.  She was stunned and her mind went blank.  The father picked up the paper, looked at it, said "There's nothing on it" and left the room with his wife.

The mother spoke to the reporter after the suicide attempt (note: the girl survived the fall).  "For rural villagers, boys are more important.  With better education, they can get out of the village.  But girls will always be married off to some other family."

I am at a loss for words.

Year %Satisfied %Not satisfied %Not sure
2002 21% 72% 7%
2003 24% 71% 5%
2004 39% 53% 8%
2005 65% 29% 6%
Issue Middle-class respondent score Total sample respondent score
No matter one's position or background, everyone can participate in policy development 24.7 52.1
The government is willing to listen to critical comments 29.9 54.9
The government policy development process is transparent 30.5 51.2
The ministers are willing to shoulder responsibilities for policy blunders 31.2 50.7
The government grasps the needs of society as a whole 36.3 53.0

But before you run away with the spinning, Sing Tao also published the technical details.  The 505 respondents in a general survey was obtained from a telephone sample.  This is not an unreasonable approach (assuming that it was executed properly).  The 225 middle-class professionals came from an Internet survey.  In other words, those results are virtually useless because this is a self-selected sample.  My conjecture: Only malcontents will show up in that web survey, and that is why the scores are so low.  This can be checked by comparing their scores within the middle-class professionals within the telephone sample.

Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday [31 August], three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.

In fact, Governor Blanco had already declared a state of emergency for the state of Louisiana eight days earlier (26 August). It should take about about ten seconds to check that on Google.  The Washington Post later issued a correction to their article, noting that "A Sept. 4 article on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina incorrectly said that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) had not declared a state of emergency. She declared an emergency on Aug. 26."  

Why didn't the Washington Post blow a source who lied to them?  Here is Spencer Hsu's explanation through Howard Kurtz:

Post National Editor Michael Abramowitz calls the incident "a bad mistake" that happened right on deadline. "We all feel bad about that," he says. "We should not have printed the information as background information, and it should have been checked. We fell down on the desk."

Spencer Hsu, the article's co-author, says he "tried to make clear that the source came from the administration, and that he was blaming the locals, which I believe our story made clear and broke ground in explaining by uncovering the National Guard dispute."

Should the paper identify the source who provided bad information? "We don't blow sources, period, especially if we don't have reason to believe the source in this case actually lied deliberately," Hsu says.


The emotionally charged battle between green-vs-blue, unification-vs-independent and Taiwanese-vs-Chinese-origin have ended in the people misplacing or intentionally misdirecting their focus on democratic oversight.  When an election comes around, the voters only care about the political position (green-vs-blue) of the political party or the politician.  They don't care anything about monitoring the governing ability of the parties and they don't care about the ability and conduct of the politicians.  Even when there is no election, the people still judge things on the basis of their political affiliation, and they don't care about the right-vs-wrong of anything.  How can anyone living in such a society not feel despondent?

If and when unification with China is completed, it will not only revive the economy in Taiwan, but it will greatly reduce the political chaos in Taiwan.  Anyone who wants to enter politics must now show that they are clean and that they have concrete and detailed ideas about improving people's lives.  The voters will not cast their votes solely on the basis of green-vs-blue, unification-vs-independent and Taiwanese-vs-Chinese-origin anymore.  Instead, the voters can examine the performances of the politicians and their conduct.  When that time comes, there will be less government-business collusion, secretly channeled special favors and "black gold" politics.

Now unification may or may not the answer, and there are bound to be other ways of getting out of the rut.  What the 'horse fart' incidents show is that on a question such as "Is the President doing the right thing?", one can predict that 90% (or some such high number) of the blues will say NO and 90% of the greens will say YES.  And that is without even having described the specific event.  Obviously, it is automatic reflex in operation and objective reality is not factored in.

If Taiwan democracy was derived from American democracy, then it has certainly inherited this attribute faithfully.  Instead of green-vs-blue in Taiwan, they have red-vs-blue in the United States.  On a question such as "Is the President doing the right thing?", one can predict that 90% (or some such high number) of Democrats will say NO and 90% of Republicans will say YES.  And you can check all the public opinion polls with party identification on subjects ranging from the war in Iraq to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.  In concrete terms, Skippy asked: If the Democratic candidate John Kerry had won the 2004 presidential election instead of George W. Bush, would people like Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Michael Savage and others have praised Kerry efforts if he had behaved identically in the same Katrina situation?  Every word that they use right now will be put in the negative instead.
(Pew Research Report)  
Question: In handling relief effort, President Bush
- Did all he could: Republicans: 53%, Democrats: 12%, Independents: 25%
- Could have done more: Republicans: 40%, Democrats: 85%, Independents: 71%
Question: Response of federal government
- Excellent/good: Republicans: 63%, Democrats: 22%, Independents: 34%
- Only fair/poor: Republicans: 32%, Democrats: 76%, Independents: 64%

Headline: What is so good about free trade?
Female: Wow, such high quality!  It must make me look pretty!
Male: Really very pretty!
Female: I can keep an eye on him.
Male: But I can turn the mobile phone off!
Female: What!
Male: What?
Female: This one is so good, but that one is so cheap.  How can I decide?
Male: You have many models to choose from, and anything from anywhere can come in and out of Hong Kong.
Female:  You help me to decide!
Male:  Too many choices.  Don't know how to choose!  I want to choose that one, but I can't decide.
Female: What do you want to choose?
Headline: What is so good about free trade?  You can choose whatever you want.
Male: The World Trade Organization conference will be held in Hong Kong at the end of the year.  Let us support it together!

I dare you to tell me on the basis of this clip what WTO MC6 is about!  This is the power as well as the fatal flaw of the 30-second television commercial.  Great for brand image, but totally shallow.  So why are 10,000 Korean rice farmers coming here to protest ... ?
P.S.  Here is official Real Media version with translation.

Robert Kissel's father William "Bill" Kissel said that the eldest daughter and the second eldest daughter now know how to get on the Internet to look for information pertaining to this case: "They can type in the words Nancy or Robert Kissel on Google and they can easily find the reports on this case. 

It is precisely for that reason that I have only either just carried the news or else limited my comments to technical aspects (e.g. jury decision-making).  There are contradictory stories out there, I just don't know and I won't speculate.  If you are looking for discussions, you can find them at SimonWorld.

Chinese tourist Zhao Yan suffered only minor injuries when she was subdued by a Homeland Security officer at the Rainbow Bridge last year, a medical expert for the defense testified on Tuesday.  Dr. Eric A. Davis also suggested that the injuries suffered by Zhao were not consistent with her claim that she was slammed face first into the pavement by Robert Rhodes, the officer who is accused of attacking her.  "We're talking about minor trauma," said Davis, who reviewed Zhao's medical records after a confrontation at the bridge that led to Rhodes' indictment. "She did not have any broken bones."  Zhao did not suffer a concussion, bleeding to the brain, severe cuts or spinal injuries, Davis said. He said none of Zhao's injuries should have required her to use a wheelchair, as she did when she announced plans for a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the U.S. government a few days after the incident.

You got all that?  Here is the quick cross-examination by a prosecutor:

But under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison P. Gioia, Davis admitted that he was only interpreting medical records and had never met, treated nor examined Zhao. 

You are most likely not a medical expert, but you might be called to serve on a jury some day.  What will you trust?  The medical expert or your own lyin' eyes?

In response to the request from Ching Cheong's wife Mary Lau about procuring a lawyer, the mainland security apparatus has supposedly responded as such: "According to Article 96 in the Law for Criminal Prosecution, your request has been rejected."  The media has been quite confused about what that means, so we offer this explanation: "According to Article 96, from the time of the first interrogation of the suspect by the investigating agency or by any other forced procedure, a lawyer may be procured for legal advice with respect to any complaint or charge.  Upon arrest, the hired lawyer may attempt to seek bail.  For any matter relating to national security, the lawyer procured by the suspect must be approved by the investigating agency.  The procured lawyer has the right to understand the charges against the suspect, to interview the suspect and to understand the circumstances.  When the lawyer interviews the suspect, there may be investigative agents present.  On matters pertaining to national security, the interview may be subjected to the approval of the investigative agency."

That is nice and clean, except none of that has happened in the Ching Cheong case.  He has the right to procure the service of a lawyer, but he has not been allowed so.  His wife has requested to procure a lawyer, but that request has been turned down. 
The article then goes on to a bunch of other legal arguments.  With due respect, I am getting a headache from reading more of that.  As far as I am concerned, this should be very simple.  A man was arrested in China.  It is commonsense that anyone in such a situation should get legal counsel.  Why wasn't he permitted to do so?  Call me simple and naïve, but I just don't get it.

In the very last note of Minima Moralia, Adorno suggests that the only responsible philosophical answer to despair is "to contemplate all things as they would present themselves from the standpoint of redemption." ...

"For whom then does one write," Edward Said asks, "if it is difficult to specify the audience with any sort of precision?"  The answer is that one writes for the audience one needs, the audience who must be there if we are not to despair.  "The idea of an imagined community," Said continues, "has suddenly acquired a very literal, if virtual, dimension," and it is through our participation in this community, our willingness to imagine it into reality, that we can best serve those "less powerful interests threatened with frustrations, silence, incorporation, or extinction by the powerful."  If music for Adorno is a "silent witness to the inhumanity all around," then for Said the intellectual is the unsilenced translator, the person who lends voice to the unvoiced and half-voiced needs of the oppressed.  He points out too that "film and photography, along with all the arts of writing, can be aspects of this activity."

At this time, what struck us most is the comparison between the American and Chinese military.  To my mind, there is no doubt that the Chinese military was more effective.  The People's Liberation Army and the Militia Police were more timely and courageous in the various Chinese floods.  The American military did not show up on time here and they were not effective.

Some Chinese people are not happy with this outcome ... This debate reveals the shortcomings of those people.  They raise the flag of Americanized democracy and will not permit any criticism of the American government.  As some netizens said, even the American government has acknowleged its mistakes, so why are you defending them?  But those people go into a tirade instead, and that is quite disappointing.

This is not the first time that these double standards have appeared.  One can only say that the more this happens, the less trustworthy these people become and the more resentful others become.  In practice, this has a negative impact for demanding an American-style demcoracy. 

Here is the strange thing.  In China, the people can see what is going on in New Orleans.  In this instance, there is not even any need for propaganda work, because the actual conditions are horrible enough.  As this commentator suggested, anyone who thinks American democracy is the best thing since apple pie must be drinking too much Kool-aid.  Strangely enough, there are people inside America who thinks everything is going very well according to plan.  Which flavor of Kool-aid do they drink? 

In my private opinion, Sohu.com is hoping to use this column to promote positive interaction among new media, traditional media and the audience, with the hope of more amity and less controversy; it will be exciting, but it won't be hostile ...

Like all reading, the reading of newspapers is a misreading and the only difference is the degree and level of misreading.  The citizens must have the proper spirit of the game in order to participate.  When a publication is distributed to the public, the only thing that counts is what the public says.  It is not up to the publisher at all, and all publishers must respect these rules of the game.  In all commentary, including commentary about the media, it is less important to pursue the absolute truth than to exercise the universal right of everybody to express their own thoughts, which may or may not (and cannot all ) be the absolute truth.  Being right or wrong does not matter, being accurate or not does not matter, and only being free to speak matters.  In order to prevent people from using the name of truth for ulterior motives, we must defend the right of everybody to freely express their own opinions of public affairs.

Therefore, you should not expect me to tell you the truth.  At most, I can only say what I want to say.  I will accept responsibility for everything that I say, but this does not prove that what I say is correct.  I hope that my ideas are interesting, meaningful and persuasive.  Of course, I hope that you will agree with my ideas.  But it is alright if you honestly don't agree and you can follow up with your own comments ...

It is a powerful thing for everyone to be able to speak freely.  You don't have to own power; but if you don't even have the right to speak freely, then you might as well be dead.  Therefore, protecting freedom of speech is the responsibility of everyone.

Here is a curious question: Was Cheng Yichong reading Harold Bloom's A Map of Misreading when he came up this explanation?  Or is this 'truth' universal?

Full fathom five thy father lies:
Of his bones are coral made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange. 

A sea change is a profound transformation that takes place gradually over time.  Seas rise, even if only at the rate of inches per century, but they do rise inexorablly to change everything.  In the Deutsche Welle interview with Chinese blogger Michael Anti (see Blogging in China: The Michael Anti Interview), there is above all a sense of the sea change that is happening inside China on account of the Internet.  Specifically, within the field of journalism, there is a sea change which cannot be tied down to any specific incident or person.  Instead, with the presence of Internet BBS's (bulletin board systems) such as Xici Hutong's Reporter's Home and bloggers such Michael Anti, a new and different set of professional standards have gradually emerged among journalists.  There is no specific cataclysmic event but instead we are seeing Internet-only reports such as Internet-only reporter field notes such as The Shengyou Reporter's Field Notes and The Shalan Flash Flood - Part 4 that describe not only the censored report but the process of censorhip itself.  Reporters also know that a report such as The Ruzhou Coal Mine Disasters will lead to a sterling professional reputation among the peers.  Conversely, an ass-kissing article will generate universal contempt.  Since such BBS/blogger comments are below the detection horizon of Internet censors, the culture of journalism is thus undergoing this sea change inexorably.  Was there anything like this twenty or even ten years ago?

How can the digital revolution enhance the world's knowledge of China? It's so important for China to get it right — the smooth transformation, the sustainable development, the peaceful emergence to the global community. One important measure for how China can get it right is, can the world get China right? It is such a diverse and immense place, and it has a history of isolation so that the world knows relatively little about the society, the history, the culture.

There's a huge amount of filtering going on about China, both to the world and to ordinary Chinese. The Internet becomes a very significant player to open up that kind of closed circle of information. There are far more points of view and raw data and information that everyone is able to tap into to gain new perspectives and understanding of the issues in China. It's very important to extending our knowledge of China and Chinese society.

It is for this reason that EastSouthWestNorth v.2.0 exists.  Once upon a time, EastSouthWestNorth v.1.0 existed solely for the self-education of its author.  In time, the author realized just what a filtered vision an English-reading-only person must have about this place known as China and the people known as the Chinese.  EastSouthWestNorth v.2.0 came into existence largely as a 'translation blog' that highlights views from inside Greater China.  The author (and anyone else, for that matter) does not necessarily know the true and accurate representation, but he knows that the Chinese do not live according to the version presented in the English-language media.  Fortunately, the Internet enables EastSouthWestNorth v.2.0 to reach a large audience, with a lot of help from referrers such as Xiao Qiang's China Digital Times.
In the long run, no one has a definitive project plan.  However, we can probably say with certainty from this brief comment and the one on top about Michael Anti that we will be seeing a brave new world that cannot possibly be stopped.