Sunday, 19 June 2011


"I hate Facebook", there we go I have said it. I may have just ostracised myself from 50% of the worlds population, but I couldn't hold it in any longer.

"I HATE FACEBOOK" it was easier the 2nd time of saying.

Many of my 'friends' already know this as its something I do not keep quiet about for long, when asked "can I find you on Facebook - maybe we can 'connect'?" they usually leave with a flea in their ear and a bloody nose. Its not that Facebook is bad, or that the people on it are all bad, in fact I think as a device for sharing photos, memories, thoughts and news its quite good - a bit like email, er without the privacy or personalisation, which is why I HATE FACEBOOK.

You see the application itself is fine, the concept is fine (and much copied) the majority of people who use it are fine, as with everything its the few (in this case millions) who take the concept of 'sharing' a little too far. For example these are a few actual posts that litter my wifes Facebook account (not posted by her I have to say, as she is more of a Facebook voyeur than a practitioner).

Example Number 1

"Happy Birthday/Anniversary (delete as appropriate) to my darling husband/wife/child (delete as appropriate)"


What's wrong with this post? Well consider this - THE PERSON YOU ARE ADRESSING IS SITTING NEXT TO YOU!!! Why would anyone want to wish the most important person in their life a happy whatever over a public broadcast system rather than talking to them? Or if they have already wished them a happy whatever - WHY ARE YOU REPEATING IT ON FACEBOOK? Is it to remind all of your 'friends' that it is their birthday / your anniversary? Surely if they loved you enough they would already know and would have sent well wishes, phoned, visited, sent a carrier pigeon? and if they didn't - perhaps they didn't care in the first place, and being reminded on Facebook isn't going to change that! Do you really want friends that only remember your birthday/anniversary when you broadcast it to the world? and do you really care that they didnt remember.

Example Number 2

"Where are you?", "Upstairs, where are you?", "Downstairs, what you doing?", "Nothing, bored", "Yeah, me too".

I don't think I really need to explain why this is just wrong on so many levels - if I do need to explain to you, please send me an email and I will enlighten you to a world beyond the rooms in your house and Facebook!

Example Number 3

"Just been to a party with x,y and z", "had a great dinner with a and b"

Who cares? Tell the people you went with how much you enjoyed it, not the people you didn't. Its like saying to your 'friends' "I have a great life, and yours is shit", "I am the centre of the world and your a troll", "I am so popular, and your NOT!'.

Example Number 4

This is not so much as a post, more of a plague - Facebook games, or more specifically the invitation to "eat in an online restaurant", "feed an animal on an online Farm", or "become a neighbour in a virtual town"

Surely not, surely you want to keep the fact that you spend your life playing an online game in a virtual world a secret from the rest of society? Do you really want all of your friends to know that you were up at 3 in the morning because the virtual bread your were baking, in the virtual oven, in a virtual kitchen, in a virtual cafe has just become ready to feed the virtual patrons in your virtual world? Read that sentence again - 5 years ago people were put into mental institutions for the same behaviour.

Of course all of these examples are based on my own opinion, and I am sure that most people would disagree with my observations/comments. But lets look at the evidence gathered against Facebook by independent organisations.
Facebook is now the single largest reason for divorce in America - FACT, well sort of, of course you cant blame Facebook for screwing your wifes friends brother, whilst you were knocking off your aunts gardeners cat. But it can be cited as the reason you got caught!

Affairs have always gone on, mostly they occurred in a real world, or in peoples heads. (I always remember a college lecturer telling me that 90% of sex is 'Safe' as it occurs in the mind) but more recently they tend to occur in the virtual world, started by innocuous friends of friends introductions, or people searching for long 'lost' school chums that meant so much to them, that they lost contact with them 4 seconds after the final bell went 10 years ago, just to tell them how good your life is and how theirs sucks. All of this opportunity for opposite sexes to interrelate and communicate was going to lead to trouble. It used to be that men were the ones not to be trusted, think about it - even when behind bars with 2000 other men they find ways to be unfaithful, this hasn't changed but I think women are catching up fast and the opportunities Facebook opens up for people to 'play with fire' are vast, and unfortunately the old saying "where theres smoke theres fire" creates a generation of people using their partners activity on Facebook to believe that they must be arsonists.

You may have also read that this week that a Women has been sent to prison for 8 months for chatting to a defendant on Facebook about the court case she had been a juror in, again Facebook as a porthole should not be blamed directly. If someone who had been warned several times that she was under oath not to divulge any of the confidential discussions in the Jury room, was not only too stupid to ignore the warnings, but also to post the conversations on a public internet service, then perhaps prison is the safest place for her - before she eats her own head. Of course this could have happened without the use of Facebook, but as this blog is about how much I HATE FACEBOOK, it gets the blame for allowing someone so dumb, the facility to track down the defendants and converse with them all with only an IQ of 4 (of course you have to ask how this women ever got selected as a Juror in a £6million court case in the first place).

Any Google search on the matter reveals millions of incidents of people being harassed, conned, plagiarised, bullied, intimidated, exposed, alienated, duped and basically being naughty on Facebook. As a medium it has become more popular than the newspapers and broadcast news, the world has changed because of Facebook and apart from the ability to boast to long lost acquaintances, flirt with your grandmothers, uncles tennis coach's hamster and spend money buying nothing, from shops that don't exist to put in a home that doesn't exist either - I don't think its changed for the better. As a device for people separated by distance to share holiday and birthday snaps, along with some general updates and maybe a quick chat it works brilliantly. Posting the fact that you've "just put the kettle on", "Ordered a Big Mac", or the "dogs has flees" to the person sitting next to you or in the house around the corner its not. If you want to do this, try sending an sms, tweeting, perhaps talking to the person, or maybe even keeping it to yourself?

I guess as with everything that becomes so popular, so quickly there will always be those that knock it, don't understand it or simply just 'don't get it'. But according to recent news Facebook lost 6 million users during May in the USA alone, and another 100,000 in the UK. Is it losing its appeal? I doubt it, when you have 700million accounts I guess fluctuations of a few million up or down is just the 'natural variation' of such a large number, and I am sure it will continue to grow and grow up until the point it becomes unfashionable and the next big thing takes over - either way i will always HATE FACEBOOK.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, 11 June 2011


Summer has arrived in Shanghai, how do I know this? Because it's hot, frigging hot! Various other signs also tell me summer has arrived.  

Firstly all the female population forget their clothes in the morning, not that i am complaining, but "daisy dukes" should be renamed "Xiangs Wangs" or similar, as they have become the Chinese national dress for the summer. Shorts so short that you don't need to remove them to go to the bathroom! If women across the world dressed the same as Chinese women in the summer, there would be a lot more traffic accidents - but not in China, despite wearing handkerchiefs around each buttock, or a see-through lace napkin dress with black underwear - nobody looks twice or blinks an eyelid, the men are all too busy rolling up their shirts just under their 'moobs' (This is called ‘Bang Ye’ which directly translates as ‘exposing grandfathers’).

Any doctors reading this please take note it you have a patient who is suffering from overheating, just roll his shirt up to just under his nipples - he will be as right as rain in an instant!

Secondly, the temperature means that the locals are sleeping more. Someone once told me that stamp collecting (philately) is the most popular hobby in China, it is in fact sleeping.  If you ask someone what they did on their day off, they will say "Just rested”, “Had a quiet day" or "Not much" what they mean is they slept for 18 hours.  The Chinese will take any opportunity to sleep, and go to sleep wherever they can. I will always remember at the MG factory in Nanjing the line workers used to remove the parts from the stores racking and sleep on the metal framework, it looked like a Chinese concentration camp with tier after tier of skinny Chinese worker piled on top of each other. Most factories will turn to a 2 hour lunch break from the beginning of June, this gives the workers 3 minutes for food (another favourite hobby) and 117 minutes of sleep, even the office workers get in on the act, but at least they have a desk to fall forward onto.

Thirdly, the sun wakes you up at 4.00am.  For a reason beyond any that I can work out, the powers that be decided that China wouldn't follow the rest of the world and adjust the time for the summer,  it would also ignore the fact that there is some 5500 km from North to South, 5000 km from East to West, it covers a latitude range of between 18° to 53° N,  longitude from about 74° to 135° E, and crosses 5 separate international time zones, however it would keep to just one time zone centred on Beijing time.  This all leads to Shanghai being at least 2 hours away from where it should be - in the summer dawn is at 4.00am and dusk around 7pm, which all makes for sleep deprivation in the morning and crap summer evenings - although it’s too bloody hot to stand in a garden, beer garden or not.

Finally and here is the only good news.  The 'ExPrats' leave Shanghai, and journey back to Wisconsin, Seoul, and Abergavenny or wherever they call home.  In a mass exodus they leave their pampered pouch with the ayi, and have their abused drivers carry them to Pudong airport.  As soon as little Johnny and Mildred have finished school they pack up and 'summer' out of China, citing the heat as a good reason for their departure.  I love it; the restaurants are devoid of fake everything; tans, blonde hair and Gucci sunglasses, the roads are clear of blue/silver Buick's and the streets are spared of lanky kids bouncing basketballs against my head for 8 hours a day when I’m trying to get a Sunday afternoon nap - SHUTUP!

Citing the weather is as good a reason as any to leave China, so I am not going to deride them for this, however despite the obvious, I never really understood why it felt so hot in Shanghai, was it the latitude? Its location on the coast? The pollution? but before I go into explaining why it feels so hot, I thought I would try and explain how it feels.  If you imagine how you might dress on a freezing winters day, snuggled in your favourite woolly jumper, along with a thick coat, thermal socks, gloves, scarf and a hat,  and then put yourself in a sauna set on max, pour some more water onto the glowing coals and lock the door. The humidity causes paper and people to droop, flowers and any animal not already dead to wilt. The air is so damp in a previous office I had a portable air conditioner in a room of about 15-20 sqm, it drained the moisture it extracted from the air into a 10litre bucket, which I need to empty every 2 hours.  In the morning I open the front door to get to my car, a distance of probably 9 feet, by the 2nd step i feel like I have hit a wall of water, by the time I sit in the car I may have well gone swimming in my clothes, and that’s how it is for the best part of 4 months. Your clothes are permanently stuck to your skin, which is probably why so many decide not to bother with them.

So why does it feel like swimming in hot soup every time you escape the comfort or air-conditioning.  Well I guess Shanghai's same latitude position as Marrakech and Alexandria may give it some clues. But that’s only half the story, it’s on the coast so were enjoying moisture from the sea, and probably the main reason is that we are trapped under our very own greenhouse made of pollution.  As I understand it the 20-25million inhabitants and our associated cars, need for cheap electricity generated by coal fired power stations, and smoking ;), are basically creating a Shanghai micro-climate, something called an ‘Urban Heat Island’, which due to the lack of vegetation, the abundance of tall concrete buildings trapping short wave radiation from the sun, which can get in, but can’t get out – (that’s as technical as this blog gets), basically we are all living in a microwave - with a big bowl of water to add some steam, so no wonder its frigging hot!

Sunday, 5 June 2011


I came across a report in an American journal proclaiming "The Top 10 Most Interesting Things you didn't know about China" a while ago, it was full of completely biased anti China rhetoric. So I thought I would have my own attempt and removed those facts that were so obviously catered for the American audience the report served – when I say this I don’t mean that American media outlets are the only ones to slant the news in favour of government policy, fuel common misrepresentation or pander to racism and protectionism, most countries media outlets do the same, Christ I am living with a media industry so strangled by government intervention and control, that its radio and TV Show's go out with a 10 second delay (even the ‘live’ shows) so that the media Gestapo can pull the plug if they hear something even mildly subversive.
The key is having the ability to recognise that you are being herded like sheep into an alley of deceit and conformism.

Strengthening misconceptions and reinforcing outdated stereotypes are how governments keep us all in line, scared and sedate. I remember being asked to join a BBC radio 4 interview about the rise, and rise of China, naively I said “Yes”, as I thought it may be a light hearted review of the incredible successes and growth China has seen over recent years – to my surprise the commentators seemed more interested in discussing the potential threat China posed to ‘World Peace’ (whatever that is) due to it having the worlds largest army, and fastest growing navy and air force, they intimated that its global financial and physical dominance will soon grind us all into a pulp. I was shocked I have to admit, and whilst I have no doubt at all that China will soon become the most powerful country on earth, this will be done completely passively and mainly fuelled by the West’s greed for cheap goods rather than China’s appeal for world dominance. China is a country with some desperate social, environmental and economical disasters looming ahead, it is struggling enough to understand how it can manage these, let alone worry about invading Poland.

Off the soap box, and back to the blog, I want to list the Top X most amazing incredible slightly interesting facts that you may not know about China. The first thing to say that with a population nearing 1.4 billion people, everything is the largest, smallest, fattest, thinnest, oldest, most expensive and most contagious etc. that’s all a given, so I have tried to avoid these and concentrate on the ones that may make you say “Oh I didn’t know that?”, please tell me how I get on.

Chinese men outnumber women by 39 million, or to look at it another way, more than the population of Canada. Can imagine the school dances? For every 114 desperate teenage boys there would only be a 100 probably not so desperate girls!This is thanks to both a culture that rates boys over girls and a one child policy which drives selective abortions based on gender, which in turn leads Chinese women to abort more than 15 million children (mainly girls) each year, or to look at it another way the population of the top 10 largest cities in Canada.
Read more@

If he spent his ENTIRE YEARLY INCOME on housing, the average Beijing resident could buy 10 square feet of residential property.
A square meter of residential property in Beijing costs an average of 26,000 yuan (US$3,800), but the average per capita monthly income is only 2,000 yuan. Yet the property Market is booming and prices continue to rise seemingly uncontrollably. The government has imposed taxes on larger properties, but still those that are rich, ARE VERY RICH and have been buying vast acres of property, speculating that the growth will continue unabated.

China has enough pigs for each person in the USA, Canada, UK, France and German to have one each, and more than the next 43 pork producing countries combined

That's a lot of pigs trotters.

Chinese consume 3 million cigarettes every minute or 2 trillion every year. With 2/3rds of Chinese males inhaling their way through 30% of the worlds tobacco supplies. All of this smoking not only has an effect on the colour of taxi drivers fingers, it also leads to 1,000,000 people dying each year from smoking related disease, a figure that is expected to increase to over 3 million by 2050 as the rapid increase in smoking starts to kick in.
On May 1st smoking was banned from all indoor public places, of course most people are either completely unaware of this or couldn't care less, probably because there is no penalty for getting caught and still no legal age on buying cigarettes. The fact that the tax on smoking makes more than $30 billion for the communist party each year, some 7% of the total tax revenue for the country, maybe why the government isn't too keen to curb this form of population control just yet.

Although Mandarin is the official language, there are 292 individual languages still spoken in China. This is even more than the 175 languages spoken in the world's melting pot, America. Mandarin itself contains almost 20,000 characters, although the average Chinese person learns only about 5,000 of these in his lifetime - still this isn't proving a problem as China has more English speakers than the United States.

There are already more Christians in China than Italy, and it's on track to become the largest centre of Christianity in the world
Due to the extremely rapid expansion of Christianity in China, there are now an estimated 54 million Christians in the country comprised of about 40 million Protestants and 14 million Catholics.
Meanwhile, Italy has just 60 million people in total, of which only 79% are Christian these days. Which means Italy has 47.4 million Christians, a full 12% less than China. It's partly because 16% of Italians are now irreligious.
Moreover, China's Christian population is set to grow far more rapidly than Italy's, or even much of the world's, despite this as a percentage of the population (3%) you would find it hard to bump into one, and is probably why;

Chinese are far more likely to believe in evolution than Americans.
"Only Russia (48%), USA (42%), South Africa (41%) and Egypt (25%) remained skeptical about the scientific evidence that exists to support Darwin’s theory.
The results also show that a significant proportion of those people surveyed in the USA, South Africa and India (43%) believe that all life on Earth, including human life, has always existed in its current form.
Whereas 67% of Chinese believe that life on earth, including human life has been created by a system of natural selection.

However the main thing the Chinese believe in is money, and any one arriving at night and waking up in one of Shanghais five star hotels could be forgiven for thinking that they have landed in Rodeo Drive rather than Nanjing Lu, the streets are lined with Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Montblanc, Vesace and Cartier stores and the roads full of BMW 7 Series, Porsche Cayenne and Range Rovers. The display of wealth is incredible, for a laugh I once counted how many Porsche Cayenne's I would pass (or be passed) by on my way into the city center from my home - a journey of 17km, I counted 26! In every colour, shade and engine type. So why then is China's GDP per capita is the 94th-lowest in the world, below Angola and Libya? Well the chasm between those that have and those that don't is enormous, measured by the Gini Coefficient, China stands at around 0.48 up from 0.16 in 1978. The figure would be zero if wealth were perfectly shared out and 1.0 if it were in one person's hands.
Li Shi, an economist at Beijing Normal University and a prominent expert on the issue, said survey samples under-count poor rural migrants and the wealth of China's elite. He put the true Gini Coefficient at 0.53. That is to say that the 3000 $billionaires and 1 million, millionaires keep all of the money to themselves, only sharing what they have to on luxury cars, handbags and property!

Finally (I have hundreds more of these)
In China, an estimated 45 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks are used and thrown away annually. This adds up to 1.7 million cubic metres of timber or 25 million fully grown trees every year, or about the same area as Belgium every year - if this is the case why do I always get dirty 2nd (or possibly 3rd, 4th or 15th) hand plastic ones in restaurants?