Tuesday 26 January 2010

Modern Heavyweight Boxing Sucks

The conclusion of one sedentary sports fan on the heavyweight-hitters of today:

I have always thought that the Klitchkos get bad press, in the main, because they're intelligent, educated, good-looking Ukrainians who carry around Phd.s and world championship belts, winning a lot of fights simply by being better than the other guy.

This is, I feel, certainly a valid point.They are, however, the first fighters I saw to use the tactic of hitting their opponent's lead arm so as to nullify the jab. Sure; they look for the right through the middle to follow, but this makes for a lot of pawing and a spectacle not unlike two 6 year old girls having a mild tiff.

Sunday 10 January 2010

Where is Hu Jintao's laojia?

[a picture of the Taizhou Tower, not representative of an otherwise beautiful city]

Of all the idiotic political movements of 2009, none was more silly than the 'Birther' movement which erupted in the US following the election of Barack Obama, son of a Kenya-born father and a Kansan mother. Whatever doubts people might legitimately have held about Barack Obama's eligibility to fulfil the role of president have been fully laid to rest by the Obama campaign's release of his birth certificate, yet the movement persists, and may have even grown, at least until the obviously-barmy Orly Taitz reared her air-filled head.

But suppose we had no real idea of where Barack Obama was actually born and different parts of America competed to be his home? Wouldn't this be a conspiracy theorists paradise? But this is what appears to have happened with the current president of China, Hu Jintao.

First, let us see what the official biography on the People's Daily website says:

Hu Jintao, a native of Jixi, Anhui Province, was born in December 1942. He joined the Communist Party of China (CPC) in April 1964 and began to work in July 1965 after he graduated from the Water Conservancy Engineering Department of Tsinghua University, where he had a major in the study of hub hydropower stations.

Jixi, of course, is one of the poorer counties of Anhui, which is one of the poorer provinces of China. A very proletarian upbringing then - but wait, there's more - here's what the government of Taizhou, Jiangsu province says to say about the man they claim as their own:

This great man, one of the most influential in the world, is one of China’s most known faces. Currently, Hu Jintao is the Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China, holding the titles of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China since 2002, President of the People's Republic of China since 2003, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission since 2004.

Born in Anhui province, 1942, Hu Jintao moved to Taizhou, Jiangsu Province, during his early years. At this time, he moved into the home of close relatives and studied. Schools of Taizhou, where Hu Jintao once studied, ate, read, played, and became the great man he is today are open to visitation.

So, Hu was born in Anhui but grew up in Taizhou - a city close to my heart ever since I visited it back in 2004 on a day trip, trying to make a bit of money on the side whilst I studied Chinese in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province. I had been told that all they wanted was for me to have my photo taken in front of a school as proof that they had foreign teachers working there (a source of pride in Chinese schools even now). Instead, on showing up at the school (Taizhou Community College if I remember correctly) I was welcomed by a large crowd, with banners proudly welcoming the English "professor" who had come to visit - that being me! I then had to give an off-the-cuff speech to a crowd of hundreds, getting a standing applause when I praised the somewhat-ugly Taizhou tower. Sitting down to dinner latter my hosts proudly proclaimed that Taizhou was the laojia of Hu Jintao, the then newly-appointed President. Laojia is often translated as 'hometown', but its meaning is somewhat deeper than that which most English speakers would attach to that term, as it includes an allegiance to the place which can be passed on to the children of people born in that place even if born and raised elsewhere.

I exclaimed surprise, saying that I though he came from Anhui province, but my hosts said that Taizhou was his real home and place of birth, pointing to the rumour that Hu had secretly visited the city to take part in his father's funeral, and that he only claimed to come from Jixi because it was a poorer place, granting a kind of proletarian cool which Taizhou could not deliver. So is Taizhou his home then? Not so fast - here's what the anti-government China Affairs website has to say:


With an ancestral home and place of residence surprisingly similar to Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, of Anhui extraction, was born in Decemeber 1942 in Shanghai and grew up in Taizhou, Jiangsu province

Of course, there's no knowing what China Affairs' source is for that, but this website makes the same claim. Similarly, there is no knowing who it was who wrote on Hu Jintao's Wikipedia page that he was born in Shangyan, Taishan, Shandong province and where they got that information from. So where was Hu Jintao born? Perhaps someone should check his birth certificate?