Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hypergraphia...

... Or written as opposed to verbal diahorrhea.

From the New Yorker:

Writer’s block does not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—the official listing of all mental diseases recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. Nor does its opposite extreme, hypergraphia, also known as “the midnight disease,” in which sufferers feel an obsessive compulsion to write.
I have always been a midnight writer throughout much of my academic career. The problem is not the time of the day (or night as the case may be) that one writes, but what one writes about. I really need to get off the procrastinating habit of blogging about politics. With each new development of global events and with each salvos fired in online debates I'm sucked in deeper and deeper, when I should be obsessing about fine-tuning my chapters.

I really admire Jane McGonigal who kept plugging away at her thesis, generating one best sentence every single day, right up to finishing her magnum opus. I sat down to write, but then started browsing the web for the latest news, and then I started to blog, and then I started to check out other blogs. This is not healthy, and would not get me to my finishing line.

I shall direct my hypergraphic energies to my thesis. Yes, a thesis, an argument for why the subject I investigated matter, how does it matter, and what should be done about it. Just last week I visited an elderly lady in hospital, she broke her hip when she fell while trying to put on her slippers. We sat and chatted, and we watched telly together for a while. She wondered what mango juice was, and I promised her that I would get her some from Marks and Spencer the next time I visit. I'm no longer collecting data, but you build up relationships over time, and you don't just stop caring.

Her existence and her experience matter, even as the world has too many more urgent issues to care about right now. And so I shall return to my chapters, because it is the only way I could help make their stories heard.

Labels: , ,

Quizás, quizás, quizás...



Siempre que te pregunto
Que, cuándo, cómo y dónde
Tú siempre me respondes
Quizás, quizás, quizás

Y así pasan los días
Y yo, desesperando
Y tú, tú contestando
Quizás, quizás, quizás

Estás perdiendo el tiempo
Pensando, pensando
Por lo que más tú quieras
¿Hasta cuándo? ¿Hasta cuándo?

Y así pasan los días
Y yo, desesperando
Y tú, tú contestando
Quizás, quizás, quizás

Y así pasan los días
Y yo, desesperando
Y tú, tú contestando
Quizás, quizás, quizás

Estás perdiendo el tiempo
Pensando, pensando
Por lo que más tú quieras
¿Hasta cuándo? ¿Hasta cuándo?

Y así pasan los días
Y yo, desesperando
Y tú, tú contestando
Quizás, quizás, quizás
Quizás, quizás, quizás
Quizás, quizás, quizás


She received an email with an all-too-familiar address. He's back. They arranged to meet up for lunch. They went back and forth a bit over the date and time, all the while keeping the tone light.
She started to worry about what to wear, and was paranoid that he might drop in unexpectedly at the office. Instead of leaving the door at the last minute, grabbing whatever half-decent clothes she could, she started preparing her office wardrobe the night before.

She booked a hair appointment the day before, so that her hair would be freshly cut, but not so fresh as to make it seem like she had it done especially for him.

The day was forecasted to be sunny and bright. She wore a white v-neck fitted top with three-quarter-length sleeves, paired with a flared light denim skirt. Casual and summery. She spent a long time agonizing over what shoes to wear, and stepped out in the end in a pair of leather strappy sandals she bought a month or so ago when she was in Spain. They had yet to be broken in properly, but they looked so good on her feet. He is worth sacrificing a tiny bit of comfort, she considered in the end.

He came to pick her up at the office, arriving just slightly later than the appointed time, just when she was starting to fidget a tiny bit. The secretaries waved goodbyes, with a knowing half smile on their faces. Why are they smiling like that? She wondered. It would surface in conversations afterwards that he had indeed dropped in on her at the office a couple of times, and both times she was (mercifully) out. He didn't leave a name, or a message, so she never found out that he had been there before.

Which is just as well.

The day was indeed bright, the air even a little balmy. A perfect day. They decided that it would be lovely to grab a sandwich and eat at the park. They started walking towards the newsagent, chatting casually about how the other had been. It had been more than a year since they last met. They exchanged emails occasionally, but nothing too serious. They knew the outlines of the other's life, not the details.

No, the details are where the heart is. No amount of the written word could convey that, so why start at all. In any case, look, they finally meet again, face to face.

She looked at him properly in the sunlight. Gosh, how thin he's become. She wanted to ask him if he's looking after himself properly over there. But somehow she didn't. Or couldn't? She had to consciously restrain herself from reaching up and brushing over the hair on his forehead. He looked somehow vulnerable, and she kind of felt protective towards him.

Since when have they switched roles?

He still had that same sparkle in his eyes though. His lovely, intelligent eyes. She remembered the first time she really looked into them. The memory was like an electric jolt, amazingly vivid. And painful.

She understood then that she still hadn't quite gotten over him.

They walked all the way to the fountain in the middle of the park, and sat at the fountain's edge. They unwrapped their sandwiches, and she immediately regretted ordering the roll with the grated cheddar filling. There was no way she could eat it and remain graceful in front of him. She took a few bitefuls, and sipped soda.

They talked and talked. She couldn't remember about what precisely, only a distinct feeling that they were both skirting around, like ice-skaters marking circles in the rink, dancing around but not with each other. He told her about his academic successes abroad, and she told him about her amazing conference trips. A few times he started to veer into his life outside of academia, but each time she started asking him about his paper plans instead. She couldn't help herself. It is a disease, I'm sorry, she whispered in her heart.

The weather suddenly turned overcast, and before they could even gather their things, heaven opened and rain started pouring, relentlessly. They were completely soaked within a couple of minutes. Typical Irish weather. Neither of them had an umbrella, and like many of the other formerly leisurely strollers in the park, they started running to seek shelter.

Trouble was, they were in open space, there was no shelter. He pointed to the nearest big willow tree. Let's run over there, he said, putting his hand around her waist and guiding her over. She tried to run, but her feet, being wet, were slipping from the strappy sandals. Damn these shoes! She cursed inwardly, berating herself for her earlier vanity. He kindly pretended to ignore her shoe situation, and walked with her to the willow tree.

Even as they walked, she couldn't help but notice what a comically cliched situation they have found themselves in. Like a standard romantic plot device, the rain came to bring them together just as they couldn't be trusted to do it themselves. What irony! To think that she used to study - and sneer at - these plotlines during an elective course as an undergrad.

They looked at each other as rain continued to drip down on their heads from the willow branches. Well, I definitely can't go back to the office now for another good while, she said. He didn't reply, and just kept looking at her, smiling rather mischievously. What's wrong? She asked. I'm sorry, but I can see your bra, he laughed. She looked at her own bedraggled self, momentarily embarrassed, but burst out laughing, You don't look so well yourself, Mister-I-can-see-your-bra, look at the state of you!

She gave him a friendly punch on the shoulder. He leaned into her, in the way meant for a kiss. This would have been just what a third-rate romance novel ordered. And it would have been perfect too, she knew in her heart. It had been so long... But that would have been too neat, and too cliched, and her pride and her self-sabotaging tendency simply wouldn't have allowed that. So she stepped back, and pretended to smooth over her skirt. He pretended to brush something off her back.

They stood awkwardly under the willow tree, waiting for the rain to die down.

After a quarter hour or so, the rain had abated just a little. Not wanting to remain stuck in the park, he said that there was a place near here that they could go to to escape the rain for a while. It meant having to get out in the rain again, but that would have been better than being stuck under a tree not knowing what to do with themselves. He led, she followed.

She remembered how he had shown her the view of city lights from a skywalk several years ago.
He brought her to the smallest pub in Ireland. Not being a tourist, she never even knew such a place existed. He took her hand and led her down a flight of stairs into a dark but warmly-lit basement. There were several elderly American tourists, wearing pastel-coloured rain jackets, with cameras still hanging from their necks, and the place was already packed. They exchanged pleasantries with the tourists about the dreadful weather, and went to the bar.

She was dying for a hot port, having shivered all the way there. Alas, the nonchalant barman said he didn't have any, not because of the lack of port, but for the lack of boiling water. Apparently the smallest pub in Ireland didn't come equipped with a kettle. Obviously, even a simple cup of tea was out of the question. He asked if she would prefer some place else, clearly embarrassed that he had brought her to a place that did not serve any hot drinks when they desparately needed one. She waved away his concern, and ordered her standard Bailey's and ice. Truth was, her feet were absolutely killing her by then, and she couldn't wait to sit down, hot port or no hot port.

They found the only quiet corner left in this tiny pub. They were both quiet, slowly sipping their drinks. He looked at her meaningfully, and asked, placing his hand on hers, So how are you really. She couldn't look him in the eyes, awkwardly retrieved her hand, and started talking gibberish, about office politics, about world politics, about anything that would distract them from the subject. He patiently listened, and nodded, and reassured. But his rueful gaze never left her face for a second.

The American tourists made a lot of noise as one of them ventured out and realised that the rain had stopped. He called back to his companions and they all made to leave. All of a sudden the tiny pub was deserted except for the two of them. I should really go back to the office too, she said. He nodded, and led her back upstairs.

Their eyes were startled by the brightness of the sun, as if nothing had ever happened and the rain was just a dream, save for the puddles on the ground.

He walked her back to the office. They said goodbye in the lobby, each promising that they would do it again soon. He gave her a quick peck on the cheek and left.

She didn't return to the office immediately, but went to the ladies, telling herself that she needed to dry her clothes out under the hand-dryer before she could face the girls, being the state that she was.

She locked herself in the cubicle, her face wet, this time from silent tears.

- Dedicated to my dear friend C -
- Story copyright: Snowdrops (c) 2008. Creative Commons 3.0.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Perhaps there is a silver lining in all these...

Yesterday marks a week's anniversary of the deadly Sichuan earthquake. So many heart-rending stories of lives lost and of families torn apart, are intertwined with heroic narratives of the bravery and dedication displayed by soldiers and rescue workers, and of the humane and unflinching leadership displayed by Premier Wen and President Hu.

As search and rescue teams race relentlessly against time to save lives while the window of opportunity for doing so is fast closing, and as the recently displaced citizens try desparately to survive the aftermath in a devastated environment -- perhaps, just perhaps, there is a silver lining to all of these grief and loss...

Over the past few days, I have been reflecting on the emotional tremours that I felt in my heart as I watch newscasts of the quake relief efforts. The sick feeling at the pit of the stomach however was unfortunately not a new sensation to me. Setting aside the dreary backdrop of unjust wars in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, the previous time that I felt physically sick watching the news was when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005; the other time before that, the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004; and the other time before that, 9/11 in 2001. Finally, my earliest experience of feeling immense heartache while watching the news, was June the 4th, 1989. Of course, the most recent one included the Burma cyclone that struck less than a fortnight before the Sichuan earthquake. In fact, the scenes of decayed bodies floating in waters along the Irrawaddy delta were eerily similar to those in downtown New Orleans back in 2005.

I have said in my previous post that the "transparency regarding the scale of the disaster, and of the progress (including lack thereof) of search and rescue efforts" is both Good and Ugly. I had wanted to say a few more words about what I meant by this.

On all the previous occasions when I felt sick watching the news, there was this immense helplessness, as an onlooker, of not being able to do anything while human lives were literally perishing before our eyes. Yes, we can donate money, send messages of support and prayers, wear black armbands or colour ribbons, hold benefits gala or candlelight vigils to show how much we share the pain of the victims even when we are not directly affected. But much of these are symbolic gestures, which might make us feel slightly better, but which are hardly helpful to the victims as they stare calamity in the face. Even when we generously and unhesitatingly donate money and various kinds of aid, we rely on the NGOs but more importantly, the Governments, to get material help to the people (that is, if the regimes in question are not actively killing its own people in the first place).

Even more important, we rely on the media to tell us what is happening when and where, to show us where injustices were done and/or what damages were made, and to see what kinds of help are needed by the victims and what have actually been done to help them when disasters - whether manmade or natural - strike. Yet, if the recent furore over the recent Tibetan riots were anything to go by, the media, even when they are supposedly independent from the state, are not the most reliable in this regard (and for those who have been paying attention to American politics, the rot has been set in for quite some time now). Impartiality, integrity, even basic journalistic honesty, seem like quaint ideals when reporters and news editors are working for profit-driven media conglomerates, and when the spaces for public discourse are heavily circumscribed by powerful political vested interests.

More important than even the above however, are the attitudes of people towards their fellow human beings. Do people care in the first place? Would they care about preventing the irreparable loss of lives of those who may have different racial or ethnic backgrounds, or who are poor and illiterate and marginalised, or who hold different political views? And if they do care, would they make their concerns for the fate of their fellow citizens be known vociferously, passionately, and hold the government to account to save and care for all? Would they demand that the media report the truth, rather than sweep it under the carpet because the truth may sometimes - in fact, quite often - be ugly?

It is on these points, that I found that there perhaps exist some silver linings after all to the current catastrophe. Before now, I have to admit, I was rather pessimistic about how China would handle a major disaster event like the Sichuan earthquake. Such pessimism relates not only to the one-party regime, but also the people. There is a Chinese saying, "Lives are like stalks of grass", and the lives of ordinary people have often been considered cheap by those in power, whether it was Mao talking of the "human wave" warfare tactic and his various purges that resulted in the deaths of millions, or the rolling in of the tanks to crackdown on dissenting citizens in Tiananmen Square in the late Deng era. More worryingly, the immense political and economic upheavals of the previous decades seem to have engendered a casual disregard for human life within the ordinary citizenry itself, where self survival trumps all considerations in a newly capitalised society, with the cavaliar flouting of health and safety regulations for one's workers, selling goods with known harmful substances to one's customers, even to babies and children, as well as increase in human trafficking as both internal and external migration step up. The ease with which some members of the public could issue death threats to his or her fellow citizens simply because of a difference of political opinions, as evidenced by the Grace Wang affair, gave me little confidence that the value of human life could be respected to its fullest in contemporary Chinese society. Coupled with the ingrained Chinese mentality that dirty laundry should never ever be washed in public, as evidenced by the official reluctance to act speedily at the onset of the SARS crisis, and especially in times of national pride such as the coming of the Olympic Games, when it is considered treasonous to air negative views or stories, so when I first heard the news broke of the 7.9 Richter scale earthquake in the Sichuan province, I was more afraid of what would not be done to help, rather than what damage had already been done by nature.

It is with immense relief, therefore, that I realised that the past week has shown how both the Chinese people and the Chinese government have courageously stepped up to the plate.

Unlike the many previous times when natural disasters struck China, whether it was the snowstorms as recently as the beginning of this year, or the many times when severe flooding have occurred in Southern China, this time, the whole nation - including the Government - pulled together in ways that are qualitatively different from previous disasters.

A blogger has already pointed out that, the lowering of the national flag and the official three-day mourning for the loss of lives of ordinary citizens is absolutely unprecedented in the People's Republic of China's history. As he eloquently writes:

For the first time, a Chinese government has embraced the idea that any human life, even that of ordinary human lives, has value. Actually, this is a very western concept, and is a very important step on the road to democracy. Is this not a valuable change in China’s reforms and opening up? This will make it that much more difficult for any Chinese government to dismiss the value of any Chinese lives which are lost in the future, whether they are due to natural disaster, or war, or for political reasons. (China Vortex, blog post)
Not only has the value of the individual human life been elevated in mainland Chinese consciousness, but for the first time, it is okay to openly talk about things that aren't working in the current system without being considered treasonous. Grieving parents openly questioned the shoddy construction of the schools, the collapse of which have caused the deaths of hundreds of their beloved children, many of whom were their only child under the one-child policy. The fact that not only are these criticisms being made to so-called "outsiders" (foreign journalists), but are actually represented in the country's mainstream media (if not state media, which has deliberately downplayed such stories), is unprecedented. The parents themselves are able to differentiate the corruption at local governance levels (a theme that was explored, by the way, in the film "Blind Mountain", which I saw at DIFF and which I have been meaning to blog about) - which need serious overhauling - from Party leadership, whom they continue to support and to whom they remain grateful. This allows the Chinese government to have this question of school construction being raised as a subject of official enquiry at one of its media briefings (CCTV Report a few days ago), paving the way for the airing of such ugly truths - even if they are only restricted to local levels at present without a deeper reflection of the one-party regime - so that they could be rectified for the good of future generations.

As several commentators have said, we need to work on ensuring that something good would emerge from the disaster, and not to let the valuable lessons be buried along with the many victims.

Reading the online reactions about the disaster, many people have lamented how 2008 has so far proved to be such an inauspicious year for China -- what with the snowstorms back in January/February, the Tibetan riots in March and the mass protests against the Olympic torch relay, and now this most severe of natural disaster in the country's history happened in May.

Perhaps we should instead, take a slightly different view and try to count our blessings even at such difficult times. When there is nothing that humans could do to stop the movements of the tectonic plates and the earthquake has to occur some time this year, it was relatively fortunate that it happened now, rather than earlier or later in the year.

If it had happened earlier in the year and coincided with the snowstorms and the extreme cold, China would simply not have been able to cope and there would have been even higher casualties and even direr need for shelter than is presently the case. Displaced survivors would not have been able to stay overnight in the open sports stadiums or in flimsy tents if not for the mild weather. Even the rain, which has hindered rescue efforts, might have also meant at the same time that some trapped survivors could get some access to water as they lay in wait for the rescuers to arrive.

The Tibetan riots sparked off waves of nationalism among Chinese compatriots both within and outside China, and while that has its many Bad and Ugly consequences, in the process Chinese citizens have shown themselves capable of using the full range of modern communications technologies available to systematically search for vital information, and to self-organise among themselves for humanitarian purposes this time round. Citizens and newspaper reporters were emboldened to share information without official approval in the wake of their experience of self-organising counter-protests over the Tibetan issue:
When the earthquake occurred on May 12, the Central Publicity Department acted the usual way for an emergency incident. An order was sent down to the various local media not to gather news on their own and stick to the Xinhua/CCTV reports. Thus the Central Publicity Department quickly found out that the order was effective. The various city and provincial reporters rushed out to the frontlines overnight. One newspaper had almost 50 out in the field. Everybody said that at a time of national emergency, they could not worry too much. If their reports get spiked, they could serve as volunteers.

Once the reporters arrived at the front lines, they threw themselves into gathering news while blending in with the military soldiers, police officers and civilians. They completely put the ban order from the Central Publicity Department out of mind. On the Internet, there was also a lot of information and opinions that came spontaneously from the civilian sector. The Central Publicity Department did not have the ability to stop this. They could only ask Xinhua and CCTV to increase their "opinion leadership" by denouncing the things that deviate from the official position, such as questions about earthquake prediction and shoddy construction of school buildings. (ESWN Translated News Reportage)
Even the dreaded "human flesh search engines" have been put to positive use for the first time, finding out the people behind the building company who did the right thing and ensured that the constuction of a school in Beichuan was built per specifications even when it meant countering local government corruption, thus ensuring that, ten years later, the school remains standing whilst those of other schools collapsed in the area (ESWN Commentary). And - this is the miraculous bit - the "human flesh searchers" actually respected the manager's wish to remain anonymous rather than have his personal details splashed across the interwebs even if it was for praise.

More crucially, if the earthquake has happened at other times rather than now, we might not have seen such moral leadership from Beijing. It was because of the Tibetan protests, that the Chinese CCP elders recognised, perhaps for the first time for a Party more used to controlling than pandering to its populace, that there is a well of popular support behind the direction the current administration is taking, and that it can afford to allow media access, which has a better outcome for the Party than engineering media blackouts. The fact that both foreign and domestic media can roam freely in the affected regions to gather news stories, and thus ensuring transparency of the scale of the disaster and its aftermath, as well as the corresponding progress or lack thereof of rescue and relief efforts, is perhaps one of several unintended positive outcomes of the Tibetan affair.

The fact that the earthquake followed closely in the wake of the cyclone in Burma, whose military government garnered worldwide opprobrium for its callous unconcern for the lives of its own people, served as a reverse lesson for the Chinese government on how NOT to behave at times of national emergency. Especially with the world's focus on China precisely because this is the Olympic year, recent events have given the Chinese government added incentives to act with moral leadership when disaster did strike. If the Sichuan earthquake has happened at other times or in other years, such moral impetus to do the right thing might have been lost.

Seen in such light, there is perhaps a silver lining in all these, even as we mourn for the tragic loss of the many who perished. To honour the memories of the dead means that we must not refrain from unflinchingly and unapologetically examining the causes and consequences of the disaster, and have the perseverance and commitment to rectify the Bad and preserve the Good, even when doing so might reveal something Ugly about ourselves.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sichuan mourning...

200 Earthquake Relief Workers Buried by Mudslide in China

China's state-run Xinhua News Agency says more than 200 relief workers have been buried by a mudslide in Sichuanprovince.

The Chinese government has declared a three-day period of mourning for the May 12 quake. It has estimated that as many as 50,000 people died as a result of the earthquake.

(From NYT news alert Monday, May 19, 2008 -- 2:47 AM ET)

Millions of people in China and overseas observed three minutes silence at 2:28 p.m. Monday (0628 GMT, or about two hours ago) to mourn thousands of people killed in an earthquake which hit the nation's southwest a week ago.

National flags will fly at half mast, public entertainments will be cancelled and the Olympic torch relay suspended during the three-day mourning period.

(More from Xinhua: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-05/19/content_8203338.htm)

"China requests the international community donate tents as a priority when they donate materials because many houses were toppled in the quake and because it is the rainy season," ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement, also thanking the international community for its help so far.

(NYT Report: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-China-Earthquake.html?hp)

Labels: , ,

Sunday, May 18, 2008

My carbon footprint...

... is currently estimated at 6.42 tonnes per year (or 0.54 tonnes per month).

While this number is quite a bit below the EU average of 8 tonnes per person per year. However, I should be working towards reducing my CO2 emissions to 5.14 tonnes per year.

Of the four areas - household, heating, personal transport and flights - that are assessed in calculating my carbon count, I did the best in household and personal transport (the latter because I don't own any cars and I live within short commuting distances of my workplace), but heating constitutes 54% of my carbon footprint even though my heaters are modern slimline ones.

It does mean however that I should be doing better now as the long daylight hours arrive with the summer.

And thanks to Change.ie (a really well-designed and informative website on climate change sponsored by the Irish Government), not only did I find out my carbon footprint number, both current and target, I am also given a plan to work towards my target number based on my existing circumstances.

Plus, I am also given information about what is being done nationally and at the EU level to tackle climate change. Its message is simple:

Every individual has a part to play in the collective effort to act on climate change. The public have key influence over the goods, services and technologies that businesses produce and have the power to influence government action.

And oh, it's even quoting one of my favourite sociologists!

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has".

Margaret Mead, American anthropologist, (1901 -1978)


Want to find out the size of your own carbon footprint? Click here.

Also, just a couple of graphics to see where we are compared to other countries. The graphs show how many tonnes of carbon are produced by each member of population, each year, in the countries shown:

Who knew Luxembourgers are such carbon-emitters?? It boggles the mind how they could more than double the EU average, being such a small country and being smack bang in the middle of the Continent, which would surely cut down on their travelling land miles as well as air miles. Do they all own SUVs or something?

Anyway, here's how the EU and China currently compares in the international league table using the same metrics:

I cannot understand how Bush has the gall to say that the U.S. would not sign up to the "new Kyoto" unless China and India agree to the same stringent requirements first. Bravo Al Gore for calling out the hypocrisy of the U.S. negotiators at the Bali summit earlier. If by saying that the U.S. is displaying "leadership" on the climate change issue, Bush is actually referring to the fact that the U.S. is the biggest polluter of the world, then he would not be a hypocrite, but he could stuff such "leadership" up his arse.

Labels: ,

Saturday, May 17, 2008

When disasters strike...

Image: Jessica Hagy

B = Transparency regarding the scale of the disaster, and of the progress (including lack thereof) of search and rescue efforts
C = Media
D = Seeking political advantage from natural disaster, whether actual (cf. the Burmese junta), or rhetorical (cf. mainstream media and in the blogosphere).

The fierce debates stemming from the Tibetan protests - identity politics in action - were another example of B before disasters struck, but they have the danger of shading into D when people used the natural disaster to burnish their rhetoric and further their own political aims. Sadly there have been too many instances of the latter [eta: yes I'm looking at mainstream media commentators like Li Yi at the Apple Daily, as well as blog commenters like Bushwacker et al; even though they are seeking vastly different, if not diametrically-opposed, political advantages from the catastrophe, they both stink IMNSHO]. Such fools should not be equated with those earnest critics who genuinely sought to improve government handling of disaster events, both in the immediate and for the long haul.

The question of "who we are" predicates on us being here in the first place. And in trying times brought on by natural disasters such as the Sichuan earthquake and the cyclone in Burma, we are all Chinese, we are all Burmese, no matter what our nationalities and the various political stances we take.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sichuan Quake Relief [Re-post]

(From the English Xinhua website)

Red Cross calls for donations to quake-stricken areas
http://www.chinaview.cn/index.htm 2008-05-13 11:43:44

BEIJING, May 13 (Xinhua) -- The Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) called for donations to help victims in the earthquake-stricken areas in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
The commodities in urgent need such as tents, cotton-padded quilts, food, drinking water are not so easily be transported to the disaster-hit areas due to transportation difficulties, according to the RCSC.
Donations in cash is preferred at this stage, said an official with the RCSC.
Donators can donate cash to the RCSC through the following bank account: for RMB account, the address is Dongsi Office, Beijing Branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the account number is 0200001009014413252; for foreign currency account, the address is Jiuxianqiao Branch of CITIC Bank and the account number is 7112111482600000209.
The RCSC also opened a hotline 010-65139999 and 010-64027620 for consultation during the daytime.
The 7.8-magnitude quake, occurred in Wenchuan Monday afternoon, has killed 9,219 people in eight affected provinces and municipality including Sichuan, Gansu, Shaanxi, Chongqing, Yunnan, Shanxi, Guizhou and Hubei, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said in a release issued at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

As of this time (around 6:15am GMT on Tuesday 13th) the Red Cross Society of China's site still seems to be down, probably due to the amount of people checking for updates/donating online; a check on the International Committee of the Red Cross website is still focused on the Burma relief efforts, and has yet to update any information regarding the earthquake in China itself.

[Update: the RCSC site continues to be down, but the British Red Cross Society has a Disaster Fund related to the China earthquake that people can donate to. Click here:

http://www.redcross.org.uk/news.asp?id=81083

The British Red Cross have donated £25,000 so far to the RCSC for their relief efforts in China, not a huge sum, but a start. Obviously the best way is to give direct to the RCSC.]

[Updated again: The Irish government has pledged an initial sum of 1 million euros to the relief of the China earthquake, I am relieved not only because the figure was not a paltry sum like the one that has been raised by the British Red Cross initially, but most importantly because the newly-appointed Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said that this money would be channelled through the Red Cross Society. There were no ties and conditions about sending in foreign aid workers or anything about wanting the supplies emblazoned with "Irish Aid" being visible to the victims. No, this was simple goodwill delivered in the manner that the recipient preferred. I am so relieved that the Irish government is staying true to its neutrality.]

Labels: ,

Viewfinder...

Where are you from?

Que sera sera...

Feed my pet!

Currently getting stuck in...

Have just finished...

Me, Anime...

A bunch of snowdrops by any other name...

SNOWDROPS
S is for Sweet
N is for Natural
O is for Open-hearted
W is for Worldly
D is for Dedicated
R is for Romantic
O is for Original
P is for Perfectionist
S is for Special
What Does Your Name Mean?