Tag Archives: blocked sites

Burnt offerings 2014

The return of Qingming.

Nothing kills of the anticipation of a long weekend like a pile of exam papers, and once again this year, there are piles to be marked in the after­math of the mocks this week. I’m already a little ahead on the marking, having dispatched the A2s’ reading papers in a day, although that’s not quite the feat that it appears to be. I also made deep inroads into AS1’s reading, and that is a feat because there are five texts, and the paper is a bulky, clumsy thing to handle.

The exam this time has also been different because we included a writing paper. Normally, to spare ourselves a good deal of bother, we set some recent text type as the writing so that we can mark it beforehand. Although I like splitting things in this way, such exercises are only partial tests of the students’ ability to produce the text type correctly because they’re only dealing with a single type and don’t have to do it under exam conditions.

Although I told the classes to focus on the topics which we have covered in class (Health and Cultural Diversity), A2(2) mostly chose the Cultural Diversity topic or the Science and Technology one. The popularity of the latter was because the text type was blog/diary entry, which is no doubt regarded as an easy option because of its supposedly amorphous nature. A2(1&3) split themselves roughly evenly across four of the text types, but had the brains to avoid Leisure, which was a pamphlet giving advice and thus something akin to guidelines or instructions.

AS1 favoured the nature vs. nurture question about homosexuality; the blog entry reacting to newspaper reports alleging that Justin Bieber is gay; and the review topic (“review the film of the book”, meaning To Kill a Mockingbird; answers – anything but). The other two topics got a smatter­ing of attention.

A musical interlude.

When I saw that the exchange rate had improved in my favour, I went on a music-buying spree.

  1. Garden of Early Delights (Pamela Thorby and Andrew Lawrence-King; Linn Records) – this is an album of early Baroque music which includes some fairly familiar pieces (in fact, the only name I don’t know is Johann Schop), and combines the recorder with the harp.
  2. The Nightingale and the Butterfly (Pamela Thorby and Elizabeth Kenny; Linn Records) – Thorby unites with a lutenist on an album of French pieces from the late 17th and early 18th centuries. This is mostly new music from composers who I have previously not heard of (e.g. Charles Dieupart, Louis Caix d’Hervelois) or who were only slightly known to me (e.g. Robert de Visée).
  3. Locatelli, Concerti Grossi, Op. 1 (The Raglan Baroque Players; Hyperion Records) – I don’t often go to Hyperion because they charge VAT regardless of your point of origin, but the exchange rate was a little more benign than it has been. I had previously had a single example of Locatelli’s output prior to this and bought several albums all at once.
  4. Locatelli, L’Arte del Violino (The Raglan Baroque Players; Hyperion Records) – This is Locatelli’s Op. 3, which is the composer showing off his technical skills with the violin. It is not, though, one of those works of this nature in which all sense of musical quality is abandoned in favour of some clever screechy sound which very few violinists – apart from Locatelli – could achieve.
  5. Locatelli’s Op. 4 (The Raglan Baroque Players; Hyperion Records) – This is a combination of six Introduttioni Teatrali which, according to the accom­p­anying booklet, have an obscure history. The remaining six Concerti are just as obscure with no clear reason why they were included in this publication.
  6. Locatelli, 10 Sonatas Op. 8 (The Locatelli Trio; Hyperion Records) – Like Op. 4, this is a mixed bag, being a combination of ten violin and trio sonatas which, as the notes say, was contrary to the usual practice of six or twelve pieces of the same genre.
  7. Marin Marais, Pièces de Viole du Second Livre (Markku Luolajan-Mikkola et al.; BIS Records) – Having quite liked Marais’ Pièces de Caractère, I thought it was worth trying some more music from him and filling in a gap in my musical arsenal.
  8. Marin Marais, Pièces de Viole du Cinquième Livre (Wieland Kuijken et al.; Accent) – This album includes a piece which was inspired by the oper­ation in which Marais’ gallbladder was removed (Le Tableau de l’Oper­ation de la Taille). I was listening to the album when I heard what sound­ed like someone speaking French. I thought it was coming from outside, but it was commentary accompanying the music.
  9. Rameau, Pièces de clavecin en concerts (London Baroque; BIS Records) – This is an album of six concerts which are largely character pieces, although it’s often impossible to tell who in Rameau’s circle they refer to. The first concert is probably a tombeau, a genre of which the French seemed to be particularly fond. There is some overlap with Rameau, Complete Works for Harpsichord (Trevor Pinnock; crd).
  10. Italian Lute Music G.G. Kapsberger – A. Piccinini (Konrad Junghänal; Accent) – Lute music always gives me a sense of warm summer afternoons when the sun is setting, the light is just so, and the world is quiet and comfortable.
  11. Telemann, The twelve Fantasias for Transverse Flute without Bass (Bart­hold Kuijken; Accent) – This is another album in which “fantasia” has been misspelt in the file name. Probably it’s just a typo, but it smacks of a lack of attention.
  12. Telemann, Trios & Quartets (Epoca Barocca; CPO) – What is says on the box. Unfortunately, the accompanying booklet (an occasional inclusion from CPO) is cut off at the end of the first page of the German section, which means there. The CPO website is barely any more enlightening. This seems to be chamber music for the musically inclined burgers of Hamburg to bash out of an evening.
  13. Telemann, III Trietti metodichi e III Scherzi (Parnassi musici; CPO) – These are light pieces which Telemann published in 1731. The CPO website says they are “full of dancy swing”. CPO must’ve been on a budget because the cover for this album is the same as the cover of Telemann’s Complete Violin Concertos Vol. 4.
  14. Hotteterre, Complete Chamber Music Vol. 1 Suites Op. 2 (Camerata Köln; CPO) – This is a very recent release from CPO and marks the first in a series of four CDs from Camerata Köln. I haven’t listened to the album properly yet, but it is very chamber music in style.

My attempt to acquire Boismortier, Flute and Harpsichord Sonatas Op. 91 has been unsuccessful. I downloaded an album from Presto Classical, but what I got sounded late 18th century. I then had a listen to samples of the album on line, which confirmed that what I had was probably something by Haydn. I’m waiting for Presto Classical to let me know when the actual album will be ready for download.

The Sekkereterry of Stayte for Edgercayshun.

Last year when the PISA report came out, much was made of the results which showed that Asian school children were geniuses and British school children were barely able to hold a pencil without stabbing one other person (including themselves). As was observed at the time, the quality of life for Asian children is generally dreadful and, in the case of China, the results were based on children in Shanghai. Michael Gove wants GSCEs pegged to results in China and other successful economies from 2017.

As I’ve observed in the past, Chinese school children are good at anything a computer could do, but rarely good at anything else. Maths – tick that box; Physics – tick that box; Chemistry – tick with less certainty; Biology – don’t tick it at all because the language is beyond them. Arts and Humanities subjects? Not likely.

Even the dimmest students here can still do maths with a reasonable degree of competence, but only a few of them are capable of doing Further Maths according to the Head of the Maths Department at school. While they may be good at maths, that doesn’t make them intellectual giants. Anything requiring imagination and creativity is beyond all of them unless they’ve been taught some sort of procedure for mimicking something just as they are taught procedures for writing TOEFL and SAT essays.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Gove’s favourite sci-fi characters are the Borg from Star Trek and the Cybermen from Dr Who, both races of soulless cyborgs who can solve maths problems in the blink of an eye, but haven’t got a milligramme of creativity or joie de vivre among the lot of them. The man seems to want Borg school children rather than human beings.

Bloody China Mobile.

I’m regretting the recent switch to China Mobile. The latest wheeze is that all .co.uk websites have been blocked. I’d been on Presto Classical the other morning, but couldn’t get on it in the afternoon without Astrill. The same block (or, impediment) seemed to be affecting music sites in general, but I found, for example, that The Register was also out of bounds. .org.uk sites seemed to be partly affected. At school, which I assume goes through China Telecom, there were no problems with any of these sites. Great­fire.org claims no blocking, either. I suspect this may be some sort of filter­ing cockup. Something to do with a DNS update?

But at the end of the day…

I need to get on with some marking.


The blockheads strike again

Don’t let a good story get in the way of paranoia.

In baffling news, the Shanghaiist reported that The Guardian has been blocked – at least the desktop version has. Why? No one knows.

Although there have been quite a few China stories in paper over the past few months, there had been nothing recently which might justify the block­ing of the site. It is possible that the block was a mistake, but that seems unlikely. It’s possible that the imperial government got wind of some (al­legedly sensitive) story and wanted to spike The Guardian’s guns, but there have been no revelatory stories so far. It’s possible that The Guardian is being punished for the activities of its journalists in China.

On that final point, foreign journalists have been having problems getting their visas renewed (The Shanghaiist).

The irony (though not a new irony in cases like these) is that the mobile version of The Guardian is still accessible at the time of writing. How long will the desktop site be out? I don’t know. It may be quietly unblocked soon rather than later; but even if it isn’t, my little darlings should still expect to see more articles from The Guardian in the future.

[21.01.14. The Guardian is now visible again, but I don’t know when access was restored. In a bout of contrariness, we were unable to access any search engines from school this afternoon, including that imperial lapdog, Baidu. It’s not unusual for Google to be inaccessible from school, but there’s no rhyme or reason to it.]

[22.01.14. Well, it seems that the block was probably a warning shot from the imperial government because this morning [still currently visible] is China’s princelings storing riches in Caribbean offshore haven. It’s an article about a report on the colossal amount of wealth a tiny number of people in China have. Will this lead to The Guardian being blocked for good? On the one hand, this isn’t exactly news; on the other, it is a little embarrassing for the emperor and his drive against corruption. I won’t be surprised if imperial peevishness prevails.

Later. Imperial peevishness has indeed prevailed. The Guardian is blocked again – completely. Even the mobile version is unavailable this time.

The strange disappearance of Baidu and other search engines yesterday may be due to an alleged hacking attack, which directed Chinese users to some website run by the people behind Freegate. (China blames hackers for internet outage that re-routed users to US site. The Guardian – the emperor’s favourite foreign rag.)]

Bravely defending the Empire from baroque trumpeters

Alison Balsom, where is thy website?

When I was chatting to Mum and Dad on Skype yesterday, Dad mentioned a baroque trumpeter, Alison someone-or-other. I knew who he meant, but couldn’t remember her name.

I did a search for her just before and quickly tracked her down, but when I tried to get onto her official website, I found it was blocked. Since the host for the site isn’t mentioned, I can’t immediately see why the local Philistines should impede access to it, but can only guess that the host is the problem.

And yet to compound the irony, on her Facebook page is a picture of a billboard for a concert in Shanghai at the end of September.

I predict, though, that Balsom’s site will be viewable tomorrow. Probably. Wouldn’t be the first time something like this has happened.

::: A Short History of UK Place Names :::

::: A Short History of UK Place Names :::.

That sound you can hear is me scratching my head as I wonder why the imperial reactionaries have blocked the site above. Is it laden with anti-Empire propaganda? Not that I can see. In fact, the author seems to show no interest in the Chinese Empire at all. How dare he pay no fealty to this most glorious of realms where the air is ever so clean, the water so clear, the citizens ever so civilised and polite, and the government ever so tolerant.

I have a good mind to write to The Guardian about it.

The 20th century of Green Bamboo

The Modern Age.

I’m now in my 20th century of blog posts. The boys at WordPress have obviously been fiddling about so that in recent days, whenever I post a new entry, I’m told what number it is. This should be the 1902nd. It would be nice for the 2000th post to coincide with the 6th anniversary of Green Bamboo in November, but that post won’t be happening much before December by my reckoning. [27.09.14. Having trashed so many pointless blog posts over the summer, I’ve sent the blog back to the 18th century.]

I wonder which personal blog has the highest number of entries in the world. I know. Let’s ask Google. Oh, hang on a mo’. Since Google+ appeared, Google has been neutered beyond the first page of results.

Yes, I was expecting that Google+ would be blocked (which is why I didn’t even bother trying the service; apparently, it was live briefly before the imperial zombies panicked as usual and had to ask the nurse to fetch their especially absorbent underpants to deal with all that zombie diarrhoea which comes squirting out the moment there might be the slightest hint of an opportunity for independent thought), but that seems to have buggered up Google the search engine. (Currently gmail seems not to be working, but I assume that’s one of those mysterious service failures.) [27.09.14. I don’t see much point in G+. I’d perhaps see some point to it if it was populated by people I know, but it isn’t, and I have no real interest in it.]

Of course, things could be worse because this could be Iran where even having a little harmless fun ist verboten. (Iranian youths arrested for public water pistol fight in Tehran.) Mind you, I wouldn’t be surprised if the imperial government issued the some fatwa against having fun with water pistols to university students here. Iran and the Empire are like joy vampires, sucking the happiness out of life. [27.09.14. There was another, similar case just recently of a group of young people who have been prosecuted for dancing together; and the case of some British-Iranian wo­man who is in trouble for watching a volleyball match. There is some saying about getting the government you deserve, but I don’t think the Iranians deserve this.]

Remember the accident I mentioned the other day where one moron on an electric scooter crashed into another one? Well, today as I was heading from Baoli to 远东百贸, I was following someone on an electric scooter who turned right onto 中山路. Meanwhile, Mr Blinkers starts walking out across the road without even looking. Scooter Man skirts round in front of him, and even although I was right behind Scooter Man, Mr Blinkers kept walking. There was no accident, but Mr Blinkers is one of those brain-dead morons who deserves to win a Darwin Award.

Over on Sinosplice, there’s a report about a poll on some Chinese website which asked the question What can save this country? The most popular answer by quite some way was “There’s no hope; don’t want to save it”. Oddly enough that might just about be right. Let the Empire revert to the way it was during the Warring States Period (or the 19th century), but without the warring; let it be what it ought to be and has tried to be for large periods of its history: a collection of disparate nations inhabited by a Sprachbund. But at the moment, the Empire remains a megalomaniac’s idea of a country.

6:11 out

2:45 in.

I bought myself a stopwatch the other day because I was curious how long it takes me to get from one place to another round here so that I can then calculate my average speed. From outside this building, it took me 6:11 to get to the 红豆 Building, including stops (two sets of lights) and various impediments. From the 红豆 Building, it took me 2:45 to get back to the lane to the side gate because I wasn’t delayed crossing the road and because I’m able to go through the intersections on the return leg without needing to worry about the lights.

That’s about 915m, which means I was doing an average of 5.54m/sec (about 20kph), which is a little slow for me.

I see the lane that runs between the 红豆 Building and the Knightsbridge Department Store is called 道长巷 (Dào Cháng Xiàng) and the one it intersects, where the Provençal restaurant is, is called 永定巷 (Yǒng Dìng Xiàng). There’s an old building there next to the Knightsbridge Department Store, which has somehow survived. Where it faces onto 县前街, there are shops, but round behind there’s a door in a wall. I’d guess from the names of the alleys (the former means “the Way [is] long”, and the latter means “eternal calm”) that it is (or was) a Daoist temple.

I’ve also learnt something else. I’ve seen the character 定 a fair few times, but because of it’s similarity to 走 (zǒu) “walk, go follow”, I’ve assumed that it had something to do with walking and was probably pronounced in the same way. Of course, it’s more proof (which I don’t need) that Chinese characters are utterly opaque.

Thus I conclude that buying a stopwatch is ultimately educational because I’ve learnt of the existence (I think) of an old Daoist temple and the actual meaning and pronunciation of a character I’ve long assumed to have guessed the meaning of.

Not all learning is good, though. I’ve learnt that you can search WordPress to a point (it sometimes does odd things), but you can’t even get onto the Tags page. I wonder which bunch of drooling halfwits I can blame for always finding some way ruining the Internet just that little bit more and making life in this prison even worse. Bastards.

“I bet I’m playing the part of the kindly old uncle.”

London Boulevard.

Mitchell gets out of prison after a stretch for GBH and keen not to get sucked back into London’s criminal underworld. It’s not that easy, though, especially when Bob, the psychotic gay gangster, wants him to be part of the gang.

At the same time, Mitchell gets a job minding some celeb being stalked by the paparazzi. They fall in love, but Bob is also a rather insistent suitor, and it all ends in violence.

Just as Mitchell thinks he’s out, he’s unexpectedly stabbed. The end.

Let’s see. Bad film? No, not really. Plausible chemistry between Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley? None that I could see. Audible groan to see Ray Winstone playing another gangster? Yes. Inexplicable bits of storyline? Yes.

And that was the thing. Why did David Thewlis whack the corrupt policeman? How did Mitchell find out about the gruesome end of the failed doctor in whose house he was living? (Had a scene been deleted from the copy I watched?) Who was the photographer lurking outside Keira Knightley’s house when Mitchell first went there and how was he significant? (It seems he should’ve been.)

London Boulevard looks like a film of scenes from the book strung together, but not quite forming a coherent narrative. As I said, it’s not bad, but it is flawed.

Involuntary demodularisation.

Well, my iGoogle page appears, but none of the modules do. Gmail does appear when I go directly to it, which is some small compensation, but when I tried to download an attachment just now, the page got blocked, and when I tried to reverse through my history, I got lots of white space and no content. Who’s buggering things up this time? Well, my second attempt to download the aforementioned attachment crashed and burnt again.

The weather. Again.

Very grey with a hint of dampness this morning. I did go to Carrefour yesterday afternoon, but I really did need to be wearing full-dress uniform. What did I learn? I need to keep the pockets of my over-trousers zipped up because they’re not waterproof inside. What else did I learn (that I knew already)? The sectioning off of the sides of 县前街 is not just annoying because it limits the amount of available space, but also because that’s where all the rainwater accumulates so that you’re at risk of being sprayed by the rear wheel of the person in front of you, or forced to go through some rather deep puddles or both at once.

Anyway, I need to go and have lunch.

Yesterday, one part per billion

Today, one billion per part.

The air was rather clear yesterday; in fact, clear enough for me to see the hill to the east. But such days are rare, and today, in the past hour, the city has become smothered in a disgusting, heavy grey-brown blanket of haze. qq claims that we’re going to have rain, but if that’s true, then not till later, and like last weekend, it’s meant to rain again this weekend. Damn! This has just turned into a weather blog again.

In technology news, I can get onto my iGoogle page, but not a single module is loading. I wasn’t quite having that problem at school, but I had to go to full gmail to see mail messages. The Google time/date module has also been revamped. I also discovered when I started qq at school this morning that that has been updated. While we’re talking about the Internet, I see I have an IPv6 address. I was nosing around the other day because Top Gear was being streamed very slowly from Tudou and I wanted to see whether the speed of my connection was being affected by, er, something. I didn’t even know I’d made the jump to IPv6.

In further Internet news, there is still a tendency for some sites to appear blocked, but then appear on a second attempt. WordPress currently heads the list, but, for example, one moment Autoblog UK has mysteriously vanished, and the next, it’s back. I’ve given up thinking that the sites have been blocked and merely try again. That also reminds me that the ROA has actually been taken offline for maintenance for an indefinite period.

In a weather news update, it’s started raining, heavily, and there’s some thunder to go with it. It seems that qq was right. Bah! Looks like I’ll be wearing full-dress uniform if I have to… Damn! I need to go to Carrefour. Damn! Damn! Damn! I’m hoping that the Sturm und Drang will be short-lived, but I’m looking out of the window at a monsoon carried along by the wind in visible sheets. I fear this won’t be easing any time soon.

Vile, thy name is Weather

Something for the weekend, sir?

By this morning it was clear that it’d been drizzling overnight, but it was dry as I went to school. After that, things went downhill again with a brief respite at lunchtime before the descent into the realm of ghastliness continued. If qq is to be trusted, it’s going to be foul all weekend.

What’s happened to the Rutgers Optimality Archive? First I thought it’d been inexplicably blocked and now I’m confronted with an error message from the server. Technical difficulties by the sound of it.

Mr Bamboo comes clean

I admit it. I’m a fake lesbian.

It seems that the latest Internet wheeze is to admit to being a fake lesbian blogger. Not only has Amina Abdullah Araf turned out to be a man based in Scotland, but the person running some site called LezGetReal is also a man. (Second lesbian blogger exposed as a man.) Apparently, there was flirting between them. Which side of the gay fence should these two perhaps be on?

More quakes in Christchurch in New Zealand, and more damage. I’m half expecting to hear that the entire city has sunk into the marshes on which it was built or slid into the sea. There was one fatality according to the report in the New Zealand Herald, quite a lot of liquefaction, but no really major disruption. However, two more sizeable earthquakes won’t, I think, be instilling confidence in the locals or soothing their fraught nerves.

Has the Rutgers Optimality Archive crashed, died or what? I can’t access it from home or school, yet I can’t believe that it’d be blocked. The no-graphics version of the home page, which I found via Google, is also inaccessible (no saving throw). I can’t say whether this is the usual imperial paranoia or it’s a problem on their side of the fence. Might be down for maintenance or refurbishment. Nonetheless, this is a puzzle.

I’ve unbookmarked [sic!] the alt.version of Danwei since it’s ceased to be of any interest at all. Even a selection of front pages from state-authorised newspapers was too much for the imperial government, it seems. I wouldn’t be surprised if Danwei got nobbled on a legal technicality such as not being a licensed distributor of news. This will be another instance of the Empire upholding the law to suit itself where it ignores the law at the expense of others.