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Leaking State Secrets Out My Bum

As expected, I didn't last too long in my job at the state-owned enterprise, and now I'm back to watching episodes of DS9 on youku.

As per Jackie's suggestion, I feel I should share some insights into the inner workings of the propaganda machine here, having now worked as a part of it, but really there's not much to say.  The long and the short of it that these people are all idiots.  I didn't find it much different from working in New Oriental.  There, our team of people, each person uniquely unsuited for their job, worked blindly to make a crappy product that would never sell.  And even though it was a private enterprise, my coworkers were concerned with censoring the content to make sure nothing remotely bad was said about anything, either in China or elsewhere.

The SOE was just the same, except that it didn't matter if their products didn't sell, since they were government funded whether their products sold or not.  The only motivating factor for anybody seemed to be their fear of being publicly scolded by the boss, or "leader," as they all called her.  People generally didn't talk about or admit to the fact that the enterprise's publications were created to satisfy part of the country's propaganda program.  In fact, our "leader" would vehemently insist that we were making products for the market, and that in U.S. high schools, there was a real demand for educational videos about how glorious Beijing has become and how fortunate the Uighurs are that China has developed out West.  I can't tell if she really believed that or not.  A few months back, the enterprise held its annual meeting, which I was asked to attend for some reason, and the president said at one point that of course none of our products were going to sell -- our publications weren't for the market, they were just published to meet a state need.  But when we got back to the office, our boss continued to insist that there really was a market imperative behind what we were doing.

One day when my department went out for lunch, my boss asked me in front of everybody if I knew what the Communist Party is.  I just wish I could have gotten all these experiences on video.  Just unbelievable.

Looking forward, the visa situation is getting ugly.  Today I confirmed with my agent a rumor that no agents in Beijing are able to extend visas past September 15th.  He said that the government or PSB had imposed this restriction because of some foreigners who had obtained visa extensions in Beijing, went to Guangzhou and did something that got them arrested.  Also, like last year, this is another special year for China.  He said he thought the restrictions would relax after the national holiday in October.

I'm not sure what my plan is.  I was considering a trip to Indonesia to visit Seb, and apply for a new visa there, but I've heard I won't be able to get anything longer than a 30 day single entry.  I may just wait until the end of May when my current visa expires, pay for an extension until September and hopefully find a real job by them.  Here is to optimism!

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Looks like I may be Jewish after all.

I give up

My visa expires on Wednesday, and nobody needs crew around here, so I booked a ticket to SF on Monday. It was almost free with frequent flier miles and I will get to visit the airports of Bangkok and Frankfurt on a nearly 50-hour itinerary.

I could have flown to Singapore or Australia and tried again but I'm getting tired of spending time and money being a tourist, and there simply aren't boats going in the direction I want to go, only boats sailing to Malaysia and Thailand and bumming around. I just feel like going home. I'd still like to try this again in the future, but I can do it any time, and next time I can pick a place where there's favorable wind. So far I haven't spoken to a single sailor here who says they've had more than a day or two of proper sailing. Everybody is just motoring against the current without wind, so what's the point? I've already done plenty of motoring on the ferries here.

I spent two nights in Lombok and a day hanging ar…