The English Channel

CCTV 9, the English channel on the Chinese television, recently covered the Ukrainian election, in which two of the candidates are named Victor, without making a single joke. Come on, that’s just bad news reporting. It’s like not saying “into the Frey” when talking about the fallout from A Million Little Pieces. At least the headlines are sometimes inadvertantly funny. I liked the oddly ambiguous “Bird Flu in Turkey”, but “American VP Shot While Hunting a Friend” is the best.

There is one unfortunately named anchor, Wang Dong. I don’t know if he’s a good reporter, or even if he speaks English, because whenever he speaks I start to giggle uncontrollably. This is the type of mature action which makes me an excellent teacher candidate.

And the news itself is fascinating. There’s never a mention of an oil spill, just an announcement 3 or 4 weeks later that the clean-up efforts are 15% above projection. Those crazy idiots at the EU have recently been persecuting poor Chinese shoe exporters with so-called dumping tariffs. There are lovely traditional festivals celebrated all over China, and Eurasia has always been at war with Oceania.

They also really like bizarre panel discussions. The interviewer says things like “Tonight we have a calligraphy artist from Kyoto. Ms. Keiko, how does your work relate to the Japanese dumping of chemical weapons in China at the end of the second world war?” The other night was an interview with Neil MacGregor of the British Museum, because the British Museum knew that I would be in the area, so they loaned their ancient art collection to Beijing. Anyway, the interveiwer wanted to know about the “interesting phenomenon” of having the Roman artifacts constantly on display, while the Chinese scrolls are in so-called conservation for nine months of the year. He blinked a few times, and then tried, with exquisite British politeness, to explain that bronze is sturdier than paper.

I can’t turn CCTV 9 off, though. It’s the only news in English, and I’m playing Bird Flu Bingo.

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