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China [Jun. 1st, 2006|04:04 pm]
Arvind Narayanan
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I have recently been making (admittedly meager) efforts to learn to speak Mandarin, in the course of which I realized I could name only three Chinese cities. To put that in perspective, China has a fifth of the world's population, so that's like being able to name only 15 cities in the whole world. Looking at it another way, I was able to name 9 cities in the Australian continent, which has a population of around 25 million, so I can name 157 times more cities per capita in Australia than in China. Population is not a perfect metric, of course, but I think it is shameful no matter how you look at it.

Learning more about China has therefore jumped to the top of my to-do list, which unfortunately doesn't mean squat because I rarely get around to doing the things on my to-do list.

Coincidentally, yesterday I was trying to explain to someone why I thought Shanghai was a great location for Asiacrypt. I would like to scratch out my previous reasons and replace them with:

I mean, how can you argue with that?

[User Picture]From: ephermata
2006-06-01 11:23 pm (UTC)
Also, Mission Impossible 3. :)
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[User Picture]From: paper_crystals
2006-06-02 12:11 am (UTC)
When I went to Shanghai it reminded me of a the classic SF movie city. it still does. I like Bejing better.
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[User Picture]From: medryn
2006-06-02 03:23 am (UTC)
I want to go to Shanghai! Hmm, I guess I should write my paper. Stupid exension.
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2006-06-02 07:12 pm (UTC)
For once in my life, I was done well before the deadline, and they had to go and extend it!
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[User Picture]From: annamaryse
2006-06-02 07:07 am (UTC)
Interesting. I, also, have been looking at Mandarin with great interest. On our TV cable (we have digital cable in Los Angeles) we receive CCTV international as a digital station. They have Chinese lessons and gobs of programming about lifestyle, people, culture, history, ecology, engineering feats, wildlife, customs, and so forth. It's fascinating. Worth getting digital cable just for CCTV.

It's made me realize how little I knew of Chinese culture and how much more I wish to learn.
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2006-06-02 07:09 pm (UTC)
How much does it cost?

I've been using the podcasts at chinesepod.com. The good thing about it is that I can go at my own pace. The bad thing about it is that I can go at my own pace -- I'm still on lesson 5 or 6.
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[User Picture]From: annamaryse
2006-06-02 07:15 pm (UTC)
cctv International is on some cable systems and not on others. If you have it, it will be on the digital cable section... it's not a premium channel. You have to research it through your cable provider. I know that in Canada they were adverse to putting it onto the cable because of silly fear of Communist propaganda! It's not like that at all. It's just a LOT of good information. :)

Tell me who that is and I'll see if you can't quite find it. Thanks for chinesepod.com.... I didn't know about it!

I spend time in Vancouver which is like 60% Asian now, mostly Chinese. You can go in shops and restaurants there and not feel like you're in "Chinatown" but as if you were absolutely in Asia. It helps that my best friend there is Chinese so I have some advantage. Definitely visiting Vancouver in the past year's inspired me to want to learn Chinese.

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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2006-06-02 07:07 pm (UTC)
That sounds interesting. I'll put it in my reading list, which is even more useless than my to-do list. The only full-length book set in pre-modern China that I've read is Prisoner of Mao, which I would highly recommend.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-06-02 09:12 pm (UTC)
Huh, hadn't heard of it until now. I'll have to (eventually) take a look at it, ditto re: reading lists. :)
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