Changes in Chinese Censorship of Western Books about China

Peter Hessler, writing in The New Yorker magazine, notes a change in the publishing climate for books about China by Westerners, after traveling on a book tour with his Chinese censor!

“My Chinese censor is Zhang Jiren,” Hessler writes, “an editor at the Shanghai Translation Publishing House, and last September he accompanied me on a publicity tour. It was the first time I’d gone on a book tour with my censor.” Continue reading

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Final report for California Intertidal Ecology Survey now posted

Coral Street, Pacific Grove CA

The Final Discussion and Conclusions report for the 2014 California Intertidal Ecology Survey is now posted on the survey website. Review and comment is very welcome.

This past summer of 2014 we conducted a privately-funded survey of the ecology of intertidal invertebrate and marine plant communities between Point Conception and Point Arena in central California. The survey was completed in June 2014 and the results posted on our blogsite at 2014 California Intertidal Ecology Survey. Field data sheets and survey reports are there for all the plants and animals encountered.

The primary objective was to record detail of environmental conditions and catalogue invertebrate species at selected survey sites, including:

White Rock State Marine Conservation Area, Cambria CA
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Pacific Grove CA
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Moss Beach CA
Bodega State Marine Reserves, Bodega ay CA
Gerstle Cove State Marine Reserve, Salt Point State Park CA
MacKerricher State Marine Conservation Area, Fort Bragg CA

Our early consideration of issues such as zonation, alga growth, or species diversity in the California Intertidal zone has matured over the course of our surveys and led to an improved understanding of the value of long-term observation of the dynamic and highly diversified ecological environment of the intertidal zone as a component of a complex ocean system crucial to the health of our planet.

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Laotong 老同 “Old-sames” Women Who are Friends for Life, Revisited

Just received an inquiry through the China History Forum about the practice of laotong 老同, a uniquely Chinese kind of friendship between two girls that lasted all their lives, which was described recently by Lisa See in her novel Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. We described laotong in Lisa’s novel briefly in our post on Historical Fiction About China; here’s more detail on the subject of laotong from a 2012 post at CHF.

080912_1950_HistoricalF5.pngLisa’s painstaking research turned up much more detail than we find on Chinese websites like Hutung or Baidu, which say laotong 老同 were/are young girls of the same age and temperament bound to each other for life: 老同是指的是同年出生,且长相脾气相近的女孩一生相互照顾,相互爱惜,能够推心置腹。Lisa writes that when a “woman had a daughter about to turn seven and begin her footbinding, she would meet with a matchmaker, not to find a suitable husband but to look for another girl in another village who could match eight characteristics with her daughter. Continue reading

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Article on 2003 Mammoth Discovery Posted

Mammoths of ABDSPOur article 2003 Mammoth Discovery has been posted at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Paleontology program website. Here’s a teaser:

“A 1,100,000 year-old mammoth is the largest of thousands of specimens uncovered by diligently trained paleontology volunteers spearheading a remarkable effort to discover and preserve the fossil record of the Borrego badlands.”

…Peering east over the Anza-Borrego I see dull brown and dusty khaki in shimmering waves over the barren desert and parched badlands, chalk-white sand and thorny cholla cactus. The inhospitable character of this place is evident: hot, dry, prickly.

…In the same place, however, paleontologist George Jefferson sees a broad, grassy savannah latticed by gentle streams and strewn with woodlands of willow and cottonwood, an arid, subtropical world… Continue reading

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Researching Locations in Virtual Earth and Sky

We have been away this summer, on the California coast channeling John Steinbeck and Ed Rickets into our 2014 California Intertidal Ecology Survey, and have neglected posting here about Yang Shen Book II or other related subjects. Earlier this year, we did privately print four copies for reviewers of the first four chapters of Book II and those worthies have dutifully returned their copies with comment and corrections. As the tide of our survey has ebbed (in spite of what they say, however, we are still waiting tidally on others before we can post the final reports), we shall return now to posting at Old China Books occasional snippets about our progress with the novel.

Guanfulin to Qingpu by water 2We are working now on the setting for the last part of Chapter 32, which requires a journey of fourteen miles through the Yangtze delta at midnight. As always we labor to imagine the time and place, what it looked and felt like, with sufficient detail to make it real for a fastidious reader. The landscape is essential, as Lawrence Durrell wrote in The Spirit of Place, but our task is more than to become a tuned-in traveler ̶ we can travel through the space and time of our locations only aboard our imagination. Maybe, if we just close our eyes and breathe softly, we will hear as Durrell suggested the whispered message of a landscape, “I am watching you  ̶  are you watching yourself in me?” However, there are now some other resources we have been exploring. Continue reading

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Manilamen and Mandarins – Filipinos in 1860s China, Part 5: Palaso Salangsang, the Tattooed Bontoc Headhunter

Previously we wrote about Balla and Palaso, and as Palaso now comes center stage in Chapter 32 of Yang Shen, Attack on Tsingpoo, we have expanded his background. The principal sources for detail on 19th century Bontoc are the ethnography by Albert Jenks, (1904) The Bontoc Igorot, and a travelogue by Cornelis Willcox, (1912) The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon, from Ifugao to Kalinga. Here is our description of Palaso.

Tatooed Igorot 2There were one hundred and five Manilamen in the first contingent from Vincente Macanaya, the most striking among them being a tattooed Igorot – a headhunter named Palaso, from Bontoc in Northern Luzon. An intricate filigree of dark blue stain covered the light brown of Palaso’s broad chest, back and arms, shrouding his muscular torso with a shadowy mosaic of scales resembling snakeskin. His hair was gathered into a small, round basket weave hat tied with cord to the back of his head, a large gold ring dangled from each long earlobe, and boar tusk armlets encircled each upper arm. A small brass pipe with a long stem was tuckeIgorot head ax 2d under his hat, and at his waist hung a vicious-looking black battle-ax with a sharp, sloping blade of tempered iron hafted to a short wooden handle.  Fletcher could only think of Queegueg returned from the deep. Continue reading

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Three Authors Writing Today About China

Here are three recent, remarkable works of fiction by authors who are bringing China of many generations to life for readers in the Western world. The stories range from the distant Mongolian steppes through east China to San Francisco, with a historical sweep that crosses much of the last century.

Virginia Pye, River of Dust 
River of Dust

“On the windswept plains of northwestern China in 1910, Mongolian nomads swoop down upon an American missionary couple and kidnap their young child. In this story of retribution, these foreigners search for their lost son in a dangerous land that comes to haunt them and change not just what they believe but who they are.”

In her blog Virginia writes about having just returned from her first ever trip to China.   Visit also the River of Dust website  and Virginia’s Facebook page.

Lisa See, China Dolls

China Dolls“It’s 1938 in San Francisco: a world’s fair is preparing to open on Treasure Island, a war is brewing overseas, and the city is alive with possibilities. Grace, Helen, and Ruby, three young women from very different backgrounds, meet by chance at the exclusive and glamorous Forbidden City nightclub.”  The friendship they form sustains them through trial and turmoil over the following fifty years.

Lisa reports that she is on her way to Yunnan to visit three of the Six Famous Tea Mountains for her next novel. “I’ll be staying in guest houses, visiting tea fermentation warehouses, trailing tea farmers as they go about their work, and sampling lots and lots of tea.”  Take a look at Lisa’s Facebook page and her website.

Janie Chang, Three Souls
Three Souls

” ‘We have three souls, or so I’d been told. But only in death could I confirm this…’ So begins the haunting and captivating tale, set in 1935 China, of the ghost of a young woman named Leiyin, who watches her own funeral from above and wonders why she is being denied entry to the afterlife.”

In a recent blog entry, How to Help an Author, Janie has written a comprehensive list of things readers can do to help their favorite authors find a wider audience for their stories.

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Trove of Old China Photos at the Visualising China Blog

While googling around for detail about Chinese compradors we came upon a post Last years of the comprador at the Visualising China Blog . This led Old China Books to Visualising China, “a web-based resource that allows users to explore more than 9,000 digitised images of historical photographs of China taken between 1870 and 1950. This tool, aimed at both researchers and more general users, brings information from related collections together with an interface that offers cross-searching and intuitive ways to filter image, video and textual resources according to time and geography.” The site is supported by the British Academy, “through its Academy Research Projects scheme, and from the Arts & Humanities Research Council, through an award to the British Inter-university China Centre.” Continue reading

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Philippine Typhoon Relief 2013

Making a donation was not as simple as hoped for, but we finally went with the American Red Cross “Typhoon Appeal” with the expectation that the donation will find its way to the folks who need it most. The Philippine Red Cross website DONATE page has a PayPal button but the transaction flopped when PayPal kept insisting it could not find our email address – even when we have no PayPal account. Our bank’s BillPay finally admitted they can’t pay bills out of country. At UNICEF we couldn’t find a choice for PI typhoon relief. The other “pay” logos on the Philippine Red Cross website we have no experience with.

Information about activities for typhoon relief being carried out by the Philippine Red Cross is posted on their website.

Salamat sa lahat. Mabuhay mahaba at yumabong! Thanks to all. Live long and prosper!

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Kindle eBooks for Yankee Mandarin, and Yang Shen Book I 1st Edition, ordered “unpublished”

Old China Books has been ordered by Amazon Kindle to “unpublish” two of three Kindle eBooks, for the reasons cited in the KDP email below. Accordingly, OCB will “unpublish” the eBook for the 1st Edition of Yang Shen, Book I, and the eBook for Yankee Mandarin.

The eBook for the 2nd Edition of Yang Shen, Book I, will continue to be available on Amazon, as will both paperback editions of Yang Shen. As there is only the eBook Edition of Yankee Mandarin and no paperback, this book will no longer be available on Amazon; it can still be requested at no charge directly from Old China Books. Yankee Mandarin was the subject of a post here in June of 2012 Experimenting with eBook formatting.

The order from Amazon Kindle follows.

Date: Thu, 14 Nov 2013 04:56:11 PM MST
From: Kindle Direct Publishing <>
To: “”
Subject: Your Amazon KDP Inquiry


Thank you for your email. We have confirmed that your books do not meet the KDP content quality guidelines because they do not contain significantly differentiated content:

Yang Shen: The God from the West, Book I, 1st Edition Lande, James (ASIN: B0073K97EU) – version with most sales

Yankee Mandarin Lande, James (ASIN: B0088LI9BA)

Yang Shen: The God from the West, Book I, 2nd Edition Lande, James (ASIN: B00F8FDUWM)

We only allow significantly differentiated versions of the same book in the Kindle Store. Please unpublish all but one of the books above. Alternatively, you may take no action at this point do and we will remove the duplicate version(s), with the exception of the one with the most sales.

Best Regards,
Julia L.
Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.

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