An amazing country, this. Must have seen 50 enormous cranes in Beijing today, each one building a new skyscraper. China's growth is quite real and quite remarkable. Envronmental standards could be better here, sure, but this a country that is producing stuff; it is not merely cutting down trees and making itself a dumping ground for toxins. Things work here. Things are getting done.
There are internet cafes everywhere and broadband free of charge in the nicer hotels. There is however a hitch. I can post to this blog, but cannot read it. Yes, dear readers, it looks as though Ask Edgeworth is not available in mainland China! (How sad for China.) At first I thought this was a hardware thing, a problem with the server in my hotel, but I have tried several internet cafes in two different cities and the same thing happens. This blog cannot be accessed. I then checked Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan. Those bligs were accesible, but mine is not. China, it seems, has seen fit to censor Ask Edgeworth! A nation of 1.2 billion is threatened by the scribblings of a graduate student with fewer readers than fingers and toes.
When I first arrived at this conclusion I was quite pleased. My own research papers in economics tend to irritate people (this paper, for example, finds an apparent negative effect of diversity in schools on the levels of skill students acquire--not something anyone wants to hear). As an aspiring academic, one of my responsibilities is to question assumptions that some would take for granted and to report the evidence, come what may. When my work stops annoying people, it will be time to throw in the towel.
Imagine my excitement at the thought of pissing off a nation 1.2 billion--or at the very least, pissing off its government. In my academic life, I rarely get the chance to annoy more than a dozen people at a time. (My social life, of course, is a different matter.)
I looked for the offending passage. One of my posts on a Tom Friedman column mentioned the Chinese president by name. Could that be the problem? I googled the Chinese president--and lo and behold, I could not access most of the sites that Google listed! I deleted that post to see if it would now be possible to access my blog. No luck.
I then checked other small blogs. A posting on Madeleine cookies was inaccesible, as was a site devoted to poodle grooming. My heart sank. Soon it became apparent that none of the blogs on Typepad or Blogspot could be accessed. This was a heavy blow.
China did not, in fact, hate me. China was no more afraid of me or my handful of readers than of a cookie recipes.
The puzzle remains: Why am I unable to access Ask Edgeworth and the cookie/poodle blogs? Are we small-fry bloggers, unnoticed and unread, we few, we obnoxious, we voices in the wilderness--are we a force to be reckoned with?
(But what is life without delusions?)
(May not a few literary roses sprout from the blogospehere, this steaming compost of rudeness, obscenity, and poorly crafted prose?)
More to come,