Comments And The Chinese Electric Car

No one, certainly not me, wants to be accused of racial prejudice. Make no mistake, it was disturbing just to be accused.

I wrote an entry on Gearlog last night about the new Chinese electric car from BYD. As with most of my posts for them (and here) there was plenty of me infused in the article and lots of my opinion. I am lucky that my editors give me latitude in that regard.

“From those fabulous folks who brought you the $40 Rolex watch and melamine laced baby formula (and pet food) it’s the electric car! Monday morning BYD unveiled the F3DM, China’s first mass produced electric sedan.”

Uh oh! I woke this morning and checked the comments.

“Why is racial prejudice so ingrained in the minds of the American culture? It is shameful that the author of this article thinks it is his duty to insult BYD and the Chinese people in general by opening this article with irrelevant and insulting references to Rolex knockoffs and tainted milk. Where does BYD fit into these imbecile ridicules?

Who knew? I told Helaine I was going to respond. She said don’t.

I checked back later today. I was being defended by strangers.

“The reference to a “knock off” is because the exterior is a knock off; just look at it! The technical advances are “inside” as rightly pointed out in the article. Get over it, I have (I’m Chinese). The author also took a good crack at GM too, saying its Volt is a “2010 dream”… why not have a go at him for saying that? I was in no way insulted or felt the article contained racial bias.

If you get ‘told off’ by someone, don’t first say its because you’re ethnically different, perhaps the person doing the ‘telling off’ does this to everyone, or perhaps you deserved it. If you still feel the article was refereeing to ‘stereo typing’ then we only have the Chinese government to blame for allowing knockoffs to occur so openly. “

Later another commenter came on.

“have you listened to any on the Chinese dialects such as Cantonese or even Mandarin recently? I’d say racial prejudice is pretty ingrained in us Chinese too. A lot of people I know still use “鬼佬” or something similar when referring to foreigners.”

Where do I start? Helaine was right. I would only have started a flame war. The other two comments have allowed me to rest easier. No one, certainly not me, wants to be accused of racial prejudice. Make no mistake, it was disturbing just to be accused.

On top of this what’s amazing is the reach of Gearlog. The site gets around 650,000 page views per month from every corner of the Earth. I suspect one or two of these commenters was from China. The world continues to get smaller.

I’m Not Excited By The Olympics

I suspect the athletes will not suffer irreparable harm during these few weeks. I cannot say the same for Beijing’s citizens.

Maybe things will change as the games get underway, but at-the-moment I’m not excited by the Olympics. Other than one or two notable exceptions I know no names. I feel no xenophobic urge to kvell for the USA team, though it’s probably nice if we they bring home medals.

Are there any real amateurs participating in the games anymore? Our society has come around to accept that change I suppose.

China has shown itself to be incredibly adept at keeping the world’s largest population under close watch. Now it’s extending that skill set, watching the world’s largest contingent of tourists and press. No matter what is said to the contrary, the press gladly reports on its own troubles. If minders are too restrictive, you’ll hear about it.

I worry about terrorism. I’m less concerned about protest than the Chinese government probably is.

The weather and air quality have been fairly close to the worrisome scenario painted months ago. I’ve been checking meteorological observations every day, finding the dew point at Beijing’s airport in the mid and upper 70&#176s on a regular basis and visibility of 1-2 miles common.

Back in February I wrote of the potential Olympic weather:

So, when the deputy chief engineer of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau says, “Even if the rare extreme weather hits Beijing in August, people will not feel muggy. High humidity will not accompany the hot weather in August because their climax periods are different, ” I’d hide the silverware and other valuables.

Good call Geoff!

The well trained Olympic athletes will work under these conditions, just as Beijing’s citizens do. They will breath the foul air, just as Beijing’s citizens do. I suspect the athletes will not suffer irreparable harm during these few weeks. I cannot say the same for Beijing’s citizens.

I’m Not Google… But If I Were

By now you’ve probably heard about Google’s capitulation to the Chinese. The Chinese government asked Google to limit (aka censor) certain search engine requests and Google said, “OK.”

If you’re in China, trying to find information that the government feels is inappropriate, too bad. Google won’t help.

I suppose it’s their prerogative as a commercial outfit. It’s the decision many company’s would make under similar circumstances. I’ve heard of media companies that provide ‘adult’ content here in the states, but tone it down in their Asian distributions.

In fact, Google has recently taken a stronger stand here in the United States, objecting to our government’s request for information on personal search requests. That’s laudable. It doesn’t take Google off the hook.

Companies often adapt their business practices to please the host country. And, there’s no getting around it, China is a huge host country with loads of profit potential.

Here’s why Google’s decision is so vexing to me. It has to do with their own corporate philosophy… their own declaration that they’re different. It’s number six of the “Ten things Google Has Found to be True.”

You can make money without doing evil.

Those are their words. I cut and pasted that right from Google’s corporate site.

Their site also used to ask:

Does Google censor search results?

Google does not censor results for any search term. The order and content of our results are completely automated; we do not manipulate our search results by hand. We believe strongly in allowing the democracy of the web to determine the inclusion and ranking of sites in our search results.

It doesn’t say that anymore. The page that held that info has been removed. I was able to retrieve a copy of what used to be there from Google’s own cache! I’m not sure how long that will be around before being revised, or deleted, which is why it’s a ‘picture’ of the page, rather than a link to what’s there at this moment.

This decision on Google’s part is evil. I can’t think of any other way to parse it. Google is subjugating their principles… my principles… in the pursuit of money. But it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if Google hadn’t have gone out of their way to claim they would never be ‘that’ kind of company.

There are many things, good and bad, this country can export. Freedom of information – the freedom to explore all ideas, is among our most precious and powerful. It’s so much better than exporting pop culture and fast food.

I have often heard an expression (which I will paraphrase here) that someone can be “F. U. Rich.” That means they’ve got enough money to do what they wish and not worry about the consequences. Isn’t Google in that position now? Don’t the Chinese need Google more than Google need the Chinese?

Where are Google’s principles?

Blogger’s note: Google provides the one source of income for this blog through its AdSense program. In essence, they pay my server costs. Google is also the largest source of traffic to this site.

Addendum – This entry was originally called “I’m Not Google… But If I Was.”