April 3rd, 2009
So what’s in the news today? Not much that I’ve seen so far. My boss has 新京报/The Beijing News delivered to his office in dead tree format, and it seems to me that the dead tree edition has its advantages. One thing I noticed today was a page devoted to new subway lines including cool graphics showing their routes, and, in the case of a line running through Changping, how it was going to be tunneled under a canal so as to protect both the integrity of the water-course and the safety of the worksite. I also saw a page devoted to the current round of experimental traffic restrictions, their imminent demise, and their possible extension. Oh, and female fighter pilots. Now that’s just awesome: Women who can kick Tom Cruise’s arse… oh, wait… It’s even more awesome.
As much as I love the internet and as much as I love 新京报‘s website for its elegant simplicity- or perhaps for its simple elegance- the dead tree version still seems to offer so much more in terms of layout and sheer tangibility of the news. Yes, that was deliberate.
So now, having spent so much time with the dead tree version of 新京报 over the last few weeks in downtimes between classes when I haven’t had time to read anything in any depth let alone translate it, I now find myself aware that today’s 新京报 has some pretty cool looking stories which I have half-read and which look easily translatable, but which I have to find on the dead electron version of the paper.
But they’re not the same. Here‘s how that Changping subway line is going to duck under a canal and the routes of several new lines (Fangshan, 9 and 15) but without the cool graphics I saw on the dead tree edition, and without all the new lines I’m sure I saw on paper.
One thing that does worry me, though, is the need to drill through what looks to me like a fault line:
The biggest difficulty in the construction of the Changping Line lies on the North Sixth Ring Road faultline. Although this section is only 200 metres long, after several discussions among experts, it was decided that a surface-level railway was better than either an elevated or an underground railway.
Now, I’m really unsure on the translation of “地震断裂带“. It doesn’t appear in that form in any dictionary at my immediate disposal (and I’m too tired lazy to go searching too far), but I am getting variations that suggest “faultline”. The rest of that translated section lzh proofread, so argue with her, if you dare. But faultline? Are there really faultlines so close to the city?
Don’t get me wrong, I was born and raised in a city with a major -and active- faultline running right through the centre of the city, on top of which sat the city’s road and rail connections with the rest of the island, and several equally active and only slightly less major faultlines unnervingly nearby. But just as my Chinese colleagues in Changsha couldn’t quite figure out how the 5 Kiwis their school had hired laughed at the concept of Changsha’s spring weather being changeable, I could never get my head around Beijing being vulnerable to earthquakes.
And yes, I know, Tangshan. Year I was born and Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong died. I’ve met no shortage of people who lived through that quake and remember it. Most memorable is the driver/general dogsbody of the oil school that served as my escape from Tianjin who, while delivering me to an oil company just north of Deshengmen I had been farmed out to, said words to the effect of “Well, what the fuck are they doing with all these tall buildings? What happens in the next Tangshan quake? Y’know, all the roads were cracked up back then.”
He was also heard to complain about how “乱 (chaotic)” the Houhai area had gotten. Cos, y’know, it was good back in the old days when everybody knew their place and the consequences of stepping out of line just weren’t worth it.
And he has a point, and I half agree with him, but didn’t I start out rambling about developments in Beijing’s public transport and the difference between the dead tree and dead electron editions of 新京报?
And wait… just how much space did Line 9 get in that article? Far less than in the dead tree edition, I’m sure. And how did Line 13 suddenly pop up at the end?
And how is it that the pictures of people involved in the discussions on the traffic restrictions are so much uglier in the dead electron version than in the dead tree edition? But still, it seems to be the same article, and seems to suggest that the traffic restrictions, with modifications, will continue. The modifications being that the restrictions will apply between 7 am and 8pm and that the 5th Ring Road (and I presume, everything outside the 5th Ring) will be a free-for-all. Also… how to explain this…. Well, with the restrictions being based on the last digit on the licence plates of cars, with cars being banned one working day per week based on the last digit of the licence plate, and that one day per week being rotated, the rotations will be extended to one every three months. An example: If plates ending in 1 or 0 were banned on Mondays, under the new rules, that Monday ban would last 3 months, and then be rotated, so that 1s and 0s were banned on Tuesdays while 2s and 9s were banned on Mondays, and that would last three months until the next rotation. I hope you see what I mean, but by no means take this as a trustworthy exposition of the policy in question. First of all, my example is purely an example and is meant to be taken hypothetically. Secondly, I’m simply too tired to figure it all out properly.
And these female fighter pilots? China’s first group has just gotten their wings, it seems, and the article suggests that their training was no-holds-barred, just as strenuous as what their male counterparts are put through. Not just that, but the article points out that 16 countries have female military pilots, including China the USA and the UK, and that of those sixteen, China, the US, the UK, Spain, Germany, Israel, and Pakistan have already trained female fighter pilots. It also claims that the first female fighter pilots made their apperance in the Soviet airforce in World War 2, with some even becoming ‘aces’ by shooting down five or more enemy aircraft. Apart from them, American and UK female fighter pilots have undertaken combat missions. The USA has the largest number of female fighter pilots, with 300 in the airforce who have been able to undertake combat missions since 1993.
Alright, I think that’s more than enough rambling for now. I still think the dead tree edition of 新京报 is better than the dead electron version, but whatever. I’ll enjoy the joys of paper and pass on what I like in electrons.