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{ Category Archives } China

When Archive Digitization Goes Wrong

Last week I paid a visit to a wonderful archive in a medium sized city of Shandong province, China. There I looked up various documents from the 1940s for my dissertation research that are a bit more local in scope than those I have been looking at in the Shandong Provincial Archives here in Jinan. […]

A Night in Changdao

I’ve been outside of Jinan this week, traveling about a bit. Yesterday I caught a ferry from Penglai (蓬莱) to a group of islands known as Changdao (長島) county which I had been told were well known for their scenic beauty. I had a day left of traveling with no specific plans and it seemed […]

Legal MP3 Downloads in China via Google

I listened to a great podcast recently of a Columbia University SIPA sponsored talk by Kai-Fu Lee on Google’s many different efforts to compete in the China market (Find their China site easily at One of the things Lee mentioned was the initial difficulty of competing with the MP3 downloads available, often illegally, through […]

Apartment Heating: Democracy at Work

In some countries you pay your electricity every month to an electric company, based on what amount you have used for the preceding month. When you set up the account they will come by and check your meter and begin the count. In the Komaba International House in Japan, near Tokyo University’s Komaba campus, where […]

Reporting Residency in Japan and China

In many countries you’re required to register your place of residence with some local government body. I think this is technically also the case in Norway, although I’ve rarely done it, but it’s something that I’ve now had to do both in Japan and China. In Korea, either because of my unusual visa status during […]

Jinan Used Book Market

I have just gotten settled in here in Jinan, in Shandong province, China. Except for a few weeks in Shanghai and Nanjing, I’ll be here until the end of next April doing my dissertation research affiliated with Shandong University. A young history masters student who has been helping me out since I got here and […]

Quotational Quarantines

As historians, we often engage in the liberal use of quotations to sanitize and quarantine distasteful terms or phrases that lend legitimacy to a category or a way of referring to an institution or other body. The use of these quotes, which I confess to frequently using, presumably robs such terms of their nomenclatural power […]

Script for Creating a Chinese Vocab List

The Problem: Let us say you have a list of Chinese words or single Chinese characters in a file. There are a lot of them. You want some easy and fast way of getting the pinyin and English definitions of that list of words or single characters and you want this in a format that […]

Pinyin Tone Dashboard Widget

I’m happy to announce the results of a few hours of tinkering: The Pinyin Tone Widget. This OS X dashboard widget will take a series of Chinese pinyin words with tone numbers appended at the end of each syllable and will add the tone marks where appropriate (e.g. zhong1guo2 becomes zhōngguó). Many years ago, before […]

Pitfalls of a Hotel Hallway

I am usually not too picky about my sleeping quarters when I travel. On my recent trip to China however, I met a really friendly university student on the bus who offered to help me scout out a relatively clean and conveniently located hotel near Shandong University. The place turned out to be more than […]