The photos in this story are pretty amazing (see link below). However, something struck me yesterday as I was talking about this mess with Critter. Isn’t sad and disappointing that, when it comes to helping others in need, humans tend to take the path of most profit?
Local villagers were doing brisk business selling instant noodles, boxed lunches and snacks, weaving between the parked trucks on bicycles.
Though there were no reports of road rage violence, drivers complained about price-gouging by villagers who were their only source of food and water. A bottle of water that normally costs 1 yuan (15 cents) was selling for 10 yuan ($1.50), while the price of a 3 yuan- (45 cent-) cup of instant noodles had more than tripled, media reports said.
“A boxed lunch is 10 yuan ($1.50), and one box isn’t enough for me,” China National Radio cited a driver surnamed Lu as saying. “I’m spending up to 50 yuan (about $7.50) a day on food. It’s more expensive than eating in a restaurant.”
If these people were starving and dying from a massive natural disaster or something like that, you might see more genuine help being offered. But they’re people with money on hand, trapped in this stupid situation, which means the local villagers are charging as much as they can get away with for food and water. The same thing happens in the U.S. when, say, a town becomes flooded and people have to flee their homes. That same day you’ll see nearby grocery stores hike their prices up 300%. Is it unreasonable or unrealistic to be disgusted by this, or is it just business as usual?
Back to the traffic jam. I’m wondering what will happen when these people start running out of money in a few days. Will they be denied food because they can’t pay triple the usual amount for a cup of noodles? I’d like to think that humans are essentially good, but we’re also greedy, and that’s when things get ugly.
Holy fuckin’ shitballs. I thought today’s glacially slow bus commute (almost an hour, normally 10 minutes) was irritating, but now I feel soooo much better. In China there is a traffic jam which is currently entering its 9th day. NINE GODDAMN DAYS! And 60+ miles.
I wonder how much of the area around the rural bits of the freeway can be driven on. Are people breaking out of line and just plowing along on the grass? After a few hours I’d be giving that a shot…unless, of course, they had the military out there riddling stray cars with bullets. It could happen!
Traffic authorities were still struggling to cope with days-long congestion on a major national expressway, nine days after traffic slowed to a snail’s pace, and nearby residents are profiting on the latest traffic snarl by overcharging drivers for food.
Since August 14, thousands of Beijing-bound trucks have jammed the expressway again, and traffic has stretched for more than 100 kilometers between Beijing and Huai’an in Heibei Province, and Jining in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China National Radio (CNR) reported Sunday.
The churchies are seeing red (ha, get it?) because Chinese officials have confiscated 300 Bibles from a group which was planning to distribute them. You know, I could go either way on this one. On one hand, these people simply can’t go anywhere or do anything without trying to suck people into their religion, and it’s amusing that they’re shocked — shocked! — when something like this happens. On the other hand, this is China we’re talking about, folks. Freedom of speech/religion and human rights are not high on the Chinese government’s To Do list. Kinda like here in the U.S. And in the UK…boy are those people screwed. Anyway. I’ll bet these guys knew exactly what would happen if they brought 300 Bibles into the country, though — sounds like a good way to get it in the news so they could point and yell “Religious persecution!” Maybe it worked?
In other non-Olympic-sports-related news, according to a post over on Boing-Boing, Olympic cops are walking around the various facilities taping over logos for any products not associated with an Olympic sponsor. It’s true that the sports world is all about money and marketing, but this one surprises even me! It’s official: these people are fuckin’ crazy.
Wow, the Chinese Olympics folks are trying as hard as they can to make things look more perfecter than ever!
The opening ceremony appears to have been more than meets the eye. First we heard about how some of the fireworks were faked for television, supposedly because they didn’t want to shoot real fireworks up around the circling helicopters. I guess I can accept that, especially if they looked good. Which they supposedly did (I haven’t watched it yet).
Now we’re hearing that the little girl singing in the opening ceremony wasn’t singing at all…it was a far-less-cute girl backstage, a girl who had everything going for her except her face so she was shoved aside just before showtime:
…The show’s musical designer felt forced to set the record straight. He gave an interview to Beijing radio saying the real singer was a seven-year-old girl who had won a gruelling competition to perform the anthem, a patriotic song called “Hymn to the Motherland”.
At the last moment a member of the Chinese politburo who was watching a rehearsal pronounced that the winner, a girl called Yang Peiyi, might have a perfect voice but was unsuited to the lead role because of her buck teeth.
So, on the night, while a pre-recording of Yang Peiyi singing was played, Lin Miaoke, who has already featured in television advertisements, was seen but not heard.
You can just hear the Chinese government loudspeakers: ALL MUST BE PERFECT AND BEAUTIFUL FOR OLYMPIC TEEVEE SHOW! PAY NO ATTENTION TO FAKE THIS OR UGLY THAT! ALL IS WELL AND GOOD AND CITY IS CLEAN AND AIR IS NICE AND WATER IS NOT GREEN AND UGLY HOUSES ARE NOT SEEN AND FIREWORKS ARE REAL!
I haven’t watched the Olympics for years, mostly because I’m just not a sports-watchin’ kinda guy. Well, except maybe for a few minutes of gymnastics, wrestling, or diving…hey, I can’t deny my homoness. Otherwise, I don’t feel drawn to it in the least.
Having them hosted in Beijing this year, however, makes things a lot more interesting. Of course the control-freak Chinese government is censoring reporters and humanitarian websites, bugging taxi cabs, displacing citizens to make room for stadiums and such, walling off homes and businesses to make things prettier, and making dissidents “disappear” to quell any anti-government voices. And yet, their official Olympics website boldly claims “One World, One Dream.” Sure, one dream…as long as it passes through those government filters.
A major player in the Beijing Olympics is Nature: ocean-clogging green algae blooms (check out this fascinating photo gallery), sweltering heat, and uncooperative weather are mixing it up a bit, leading the government to such desperate measures as cloud-seeding. Well, you can’t say they’re aren’t creative.
And let’s not forget the horrific, lung-destroying air pollution (I mean “mist”, as China officials called it) causing many triathletes to resort to wearing masks to protect themselves while they’re running around out in the stuff. It’s hilarious to watch their officials feed us bullshit about how the pollution really isn’t that bad. But just imagine how much worse it would be if they hadn’t pulled a million cars off the road and shut down dozens of factories around the city! They are getting a lot of praise for their efforts, and you’d think they would take this as a sign that they need to clean up their act, but the air will be back to its green, soupy self immediately after the games end. Nothing will change.
Oh dear! China’s President Hu was heckled during his speech at the White House today. And sure as shit, the guards came up and dragged her away. Of course this happens at any speech involving Bush: people speak up, he shuts them up. Evidently he was only showing President Hu some good ol’ Western ass-kissing by making sure nobody voiced a dissenting word.
According to the Drudge Report she was charged with disorderly conduct, but I suppose she got off lightly considering what would have been done had she shouted those things at him in China. Interestingly, Drudge also has a few extra details about the incident that CNN’s story is mysteriously lacking:
On China TV: As Hu was speaking when yells of protesters became audible, the screen went black. When the feed came back the screen once again went black when woman was again heard. During CNN International’s post-speech commentary, at mention of south lawn heckler, the screen also went black again. The CNN feed returned when the incident ended.
Mmmm, censorship. What they don’t see won’t hurt them, right?