Archive for July, 2008

Beijing to Drop Broadcast Delay

photo by Thomas Tribe

SEOUL - BEIJING’S CCTV WILL DROP its normal 30-second broadcast delay on channels covering the Olympic games, according to the official Xinhua News Agency, allowing viewers to see the events in real-time (via Reuters):

China Central Television (CCTV) has always built a 30-second delay into the transmission of live programs to ensure they aired “smoothly and safely,” the report said.

The time lag also gives the government-controlled broadcaster a brief window to stop images of protests or content critical of officials from reaching ordinary viewers.

Broadcasters in the U.S. have occasionally delayed footage in a similar way — especially after the Janet Jackson incident at the superbowl in 2004 — although it could be argued that the practice is largely employed Stateside to protect media from litigation-happy viewers. CCTV’s use of of the delay is more insidious on a couple levels, as it functions mainly to keep citizens in the dark by (sometimes literally) blacking out events and because the broadcaster controls a total of 17 channels.

Despite promising press freedom during the games, Beijing is keeping a close watch over foreign journalists, especially if they don’t procure the proper visa. From a recent NYT blog post:

Less clear is the fate of thousands of freelancers and reporters for local papers, smaller news outlets and niche publications. One freelancer in the U.S. told [the Committee to Protect Journalists] that, having heard of the problems getting a journalist’s visa, she tried to enter the country as a tourist, only to be told that she would have to sign a pledge promising not to write a magazine article about her experiences. Apparently, Chinese immigration agents have learned the power of Google.

This raises questions about the rights of foreign bloggers in the country as well, as there is little doubt that the local government will be keeping a close eye on the Internet; dozens of postings on riots in southwest China last month were apparently blocked by local censors.

Dislocated

SEOUL – IT IS THE RAINY SEASON. Great boulders of dewy grey roll over this city’s ceiling of haze, occasionally tumbling into each other with a thunderous crack, spilling their insides. The rain is like foamy tap water wrung from a kitchen sponge. It lathers the oily streets, douses the hurried citizens.

In the heart of this steamy metropolis, I can’t escape the feeling that I am floating. This city barrages the senses; even claiming the space behind your eyes is a battle. Seoul is marching, protesting, yelling, hustling — it is a crush of humanness. The blurry pace of it all is enough to make the traveler feel fractured and distracted; these symptoms of disorientation are only heightened with something as heavy and wonderful as marriage tipping the horizon.

Yes, by the time that carton of milk in your fridge goes sour, I will be a married man. The closer I come to the wedding date, the more I find it impossible for my mind to settle; I’m constantly buzzing, aware of the fact that my fiance is 10,000 miles away and that the clock is ticking down. I check my watch as if my flight might take off any minute. My body zips along the Seoul underground, my head bobs somewhere along the shores of Lake Monona.

I sweat. Or is it just that I’ve been walking through clouds?

This is the main reason — or at least, the best reason — that the frequency of my posts here has slowed to a trickle. Every time a sit down to write, I feel some force pulling me from my chair. I’ve been loath to stay in the apartment in the evenings; the aloof solitude of this tiny dwelling gives me more opportunities to mull over these feelings of dislocation: Here it is, this home I have made. Where is my other half?

—————

Posts may continue to be a bit thin for a little while longer here at TDT. I leave for Madison for my wedding next weekend, and my fiance and I have just over a week to tear down our old apartment, visit with friends and family, get married, pack up and jet back to Seoul together. Thanks for bearing with me. Safe travels.

Contingency Plan

photo by theogeo

SEOUL – THE OIL CRUNCH MAY MAKE begrudging environmentalists out of us yet. Though we haven’t quite converted our highways into bike paths, ballooning energy bills and prices at the pump seem to have the world thinking that maybe it’s time to reevaluate our auto culture. A recent story in the SF Chronicle says that more people are turning down jobs that are far away from home, even if offered better pay, on considering outlays for gas. A few days prior, the NYT reported that suburban life is losing its appeal — if only ’cause it costs more to fill up the Chevy:

Mr. Boyle and his wife must drive nearly an hour to their jobs in the high-tech corridor of southern Denver. With gasoline at more than $4 a gallon, Mr. Boyle recently paid $121 to fill his pickup truck with diesel fuel. In March, the last time he filled his propane tank to heat his spacious house, he paid $566, more than twice the price of 5 years ago.

Though Mr. Boyle finds city life unappealing, it is now up for reconsideration.

“Living closer in, in a smaller space, where you don’t have that commute,” he said. “It’s definitely something we talk about. Before it was ‘we spend too much time driving.’ Now, it’s ‘we spend too much time and money driving.’ ”

Ah, yes. The power of the pocketbook. Where footage of drowning polar bears failed to touch our hearts, surely a kick in the wallet shall succeed. Al Gore’s warnings might have been dismissed as left-wing scare tactics, but numbers are harder to refute.

As that hole in the bottom of our bank account grows, so does the our motivation to go green. Over the weekend OPEC President Chakib Khelil said he expects the crude price per barrel to top $170 this summer. About the same time, the government here announced its oil contigency plan (Kr). Should the price of the benchmark Dubai crude shoot past $150, South Korea will begin to more stiffly regulate energy usage in the public sector — including vehicle usage, air conditioning and lighting. In the worst-case-scenario of $170 plus per barrel, the gov will start to make such impositions on the private sector as well.

But one can’t help but wonder: will these changes stick when (or if) the financial pressure lets up? Will we have finally realized that our current lifestyle isn’t sustainable, or will we just settled back into that big old gas-guzzling groove we spent so much time wearing in? Either way, parking will still be a problem.


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