Northwest Thoughts, Notes, Photos, Posts

China Censors Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air

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Parallel readings in translation: Into Thin Air – 进入空气稀薄地带

In 1996 I took a job in South Korea, where I studied a little Korean simultaneously with the Chinese characters that formed the roots of much Korean vocabulary. This led to eight years of teaching English and served as a catalyst for my fascination with foreign languages in general, and two years in South America in Brazil and Argentina, where I studied Portuguese and Spanish. But I had a fascination with the Chinese language in particular and moved to Taiwan, in 2002, where I studied Mandarin at the Taipei Language Institute, and set a goal of literacy in Chinese. I am far from fluency, but over the last twenty years have read many books using parallel readings to help understand translations in the languages I’ve studied. This has led to interesting discoveries, humorous mistranslations, clever interpretations of difficult cultural idioms, laziness concerning the omission of difficult passages, and in certain cases, censorship. Currently I’m reading Krakauer, and after finishing a paragraph, the next paragraph did not match. A whole passage, on page 286 of Into Thin Air, had been taken out, an obvious case of censorship:

Paragraph excised from Chinese translation: “But guiding Everest is a very loosely regulated business, administered by byzantine Third World bureaucracies spectacularly ill-equipped to assess qualifications of guides or clients. Moreover, the two nations that control access to the peak – Nepal and China – are staggeringly poor. Desperate for hard currency, the governments of both countries have a vested interest in issuing as many expensive climbing permits as the market will support, and both are unlikely to enact any policies that significantly limit their revenues.”

The Chinese government may have made strides since the downfall of Mao and adapting what they call “special communism (特殊共产主义 Tèshū gòngchǎn zhǔyì). Namely, a communism that allows a significant amount of control to the private sector to own property and for the distribution and production of goods. Nevertheless, they still feel it is in the best interest of their society to control information and protect society from what they deem as harmful ideas.

So those who cannot read Chinese can verify, I am linking to Google translate the last sentence of the translated paragraphs that sandwich the censored material. Translation is not an exact science, and word orders shift, but a Google check shows enough to make it definitive that the paragraph in question was certainly omitted. Well done, China!

。。。因为当人们知道没有氧气供应时,便很少人再去尝试。Yīnwèi dāng rénmen zhīdào méiyǒu yǎngqì gōngyìng shí, biàn hěn shǎo rén zài qù chángshì

Google: “…Because when people know there is no oxygen supply, very few people try.”

对攀登珠峰所犯的错误进行分析是一件非常有意义的事情。。。Duì pāndēng zhū fēng suǒ fàn de cuòwù jìn háng fēnxī shì yī jiàn fēicháng yǒu yìyì de shìqíng…

Google: “It is a very meaningful thing to analyze the mistakes made in climbing Mount Everest…”

Written by Caleb Powell

July 19, 2022 at 11:40 am

We Don’t Dial 911

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Unincorporated Snohomish County near Pilchuck River south of Granite Falls – November 2021

The signs indicate preemptive homicide. They populate King, Snohomish, and Skagit Counties, along with rural locales all over the USA. In 2020 I started photographing them. The further from the urban, the more ubiquitous. Any long-term resident east of I-5 in the foothills of the Cascades National Forest, in and around towns such as Arlington, Clear Lake, Darrington, Granite Falls, Marysville, Monroe, Oso, and Snohomish, knows them well. Their messages contain the implicit warning of “Before you harm us, we will harm you” accompanied by images of rifles, pistols, or a silhouetted target of a bullet hole-riddled torso.


We don’t dial 911 – F.A.F.O. (Fuck Around & Find Out)

Prayer is the best way to meet God – trespassing the fastest.

TRESPASSERS: I can’t force you to accept Jesus – but I can arrange the meeting.

Is there life after death? Trespass here and find out.

Warmer signs, “Home Sweet Home,” “Our Family is filled with Love,” and “Warning! You’re about to get hugged! Grandma and Grandpa’s house” outnumber the hostile, yet on unknown driveways one might focus on “trespassers will be shot” more than receiving a hug. Do owners of such signs harbor a desire to kill? Or do they simply want to be left alone?

My good friends Dan and Kendra live south of Coupeville in Greenbank. A married couple, they own guns for hunting and protection, moved to Eastern Washington, bought property on Whidbey, and started building for retirement on their five acres of woods in the middle of relative nowhere. While absent, thieves and vandals caused thousands of dollars in losses. After the third break-in they nailed a sign on a fence next to their gate: “We have firearms and a backhoe and aren’t afraid to use them.” Their tool shed, property, and residence have since remained untouched.

If a stranger wandered on to Dan and Kendra’s property, what would they do? An examination of our laws demands we ask if, within the gun lobby, simmers a tangible culture that enables a vigilante mentality? How many Second Amendment afficionados aspire to be the “good guy with a gun?” Do more households with guns lead to less crime? Comprehensive research, including that compiled by Scientific American, state otherwise. We can understand why a person might nail a “No trespassing, violators will be shot, survivors will be shot again!” warning on their fence, and the basis for Stand Your Ground, Right-so-carry, Use of Force, and Castle Doctrine ideology influencing laws, but do such regulations enable excessive self-defense and, even, a license to kill? To what extent does a citizen have a duty to retreat or call 911?

Residence in Arlington – April 2022

I do not have a gun. If a stranger took my property or was banging on the sliding door on our deck at four a.m., I would not confront. I would dial 911. But then, again, I don’t have a gun. But if I did, how would I act? Let’s return to Northwest Washington and a couple homicides.

In February 13, 2021, an Arlington couple, Joshua Tryon and Kamran Cohee, after inner tubing at Mt. Baker, passed a Loren Culp campaign sign on Highway 9 near Big Lake. Culp, a smalltown sheriff and Trump acolyte, gained notoriety during his unsuccessful 2020 gubernatorial campaign against Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee. The Seattle Times ran a feature, including a photo of a sign on Culp’s property stating, “all public officials or agents thereof” that “any officer or person who attempts to enter the property without a warrant ‘will be treated as any other intruder would.’”

Tryon, no fan of Trump or Culp, stopped, uprooted the sign, and tossed it in the bed of his truck, unknowingly under the watch of the vigilant homeowner, John Conijn. Soon Conijn and Tryon were throwing down while Conijn’s hairdresser wife retrieved a gun. When she came out the fight almost over, but she fired anyway in the truck’s direction, hitting girlfriend Cohee. Within a month the Mt. Vernon DA charged 55-year-old Angela Conijn with murder. The Conijns did not dial 911.

Less than three months later, just after midnight on June 5, 2021, Todd Smith, left a high school graduation party outside Arlington near the South Fork of the Stillaguamish River. He climbed a four foot chain link fence, crossed a line, walked up stairs of a deck of a mobile home and started knocking on a side door at around four a.m. In the police report interview, the homeowner cited being woken by loud banging and thus grabbed his firearm and went outside to warn Todd to vacate the premises. When Todd failed to heed, the homeowner twice pulled the trigger of his 38-Special. The bullets fatal. Afterward, at 4:17 a.m., his wife called 911.

If the Conijns and the homeowner who shot Smith had first dialed 911, Cohee and Smith would still be alive. The Conijns might be out a sign and Angela Conijn would be cutting hair instead of facing prison. Todd Smith may have gotten tired of knocking and left as the terrified homeowner sat in his living room cradling his gun as he waited for the police. But we’ll never know because these homeowners’ reactions precluded dialing 911.

Law enforcement, at times, deserve to be maligned, but their failures less common than their successes. Trained officers far more competent in defusing a dangerous situation than a “good guy with a gun.”

Therefore, no matter our position on the Second Amendment, use of force, self-defense, and the duty to retreat, we should examine laws concerning our duty to call 911 when possible, to heed the dispatcher’s advice, and give law enforcement a chance to do their job of protecting citizens and their property.

Written by Caleb Powell

July 6, 2022 at 10:36 am

Crime Rates Rising in Everett?

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The Everett Herald Staff headline and lede:
Fearing crime surge, Snohomish County police focus on patrol There’s little data that support — and some numbers that contradict — claims of rampant crime

Inside the editorial, “And while Fortney pointed to increasing crime rates, experts say more comprehensive — and higher quality — data are needed. And some existing data contradicts the sheriff’s claim that crime rates are rising.​”

Same Editorial has this data:

Offenses in Everett by year 
2020 – 11,314 
2021 – 12,249 
2022 – 13,566 (Pace based on 3x 4,522 thru April)
Shots fired incidents per year
2019 – 19 
2020 – 52 
2021 – 75 
2022 – 102 (Pace based on 3x 34 thru April)

Written by Caleb Powell

June 18, 2022 at 7:35 am

Shooting Death of 18-Year-Old Raises Questions About Washington’s Use of Force Law

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Shooting Death of 18-Year-Old Raises Questions About Washington’s Use of Force Law

by Caleb Powell • Apr 28, 2022 at 11:36 am

The Stranger

A memorial of Todd about half a mile from the scene of his death.

A memorial of Todd about half a mile from the scene of his death. CALEB POWELL

In the early morning hours of June 5, 2021, Todd Smith strayed from a high school graduation party outside Arlington, Washington, near the South Fork of the Stillaguamish River. The slender, unarmed, 18-year-old with boyish features approached a house and started knocking on a door. The homeowner exited and shot him. Fatally….more

Written by Caleb Powell

April 29, 2022 at 3:13 pm

Uganda – July, 1998

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Equator, Me, Jerry, Gerald, with Matt kneeling
Golf in Kampala
Queen Elizabeth National Park
Kisoro w/Nsanze family and Matt (H. Nsanze’s nephew)
Water tank that had to be filled daily so hostel guests could shower
Jerry – Kisoro Market
Virunga Mountains, Rwanda on other side

Written by Caleb Powell

May 4, 2021 at 8:38 am

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Oman – June 1998

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Jerry and Kai. Unknown wadi, mountains east of Al Ain in Oman
Khutwa Oasis, Oman, 1998
On the road to Muscat, Oman. July, 1998
Market, Oman, July 1998. We stayed in the hotel in the background. 110 degrees Fahrenheit!

Written by Caleb Powell

May 3, 2021 at 9:35 am

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Zanzibar – January, 1998

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With giant tortoise
Stone Town
Stone Town

Written by Caleb Powell

May 3, 2021 at 9:34 am

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South Africa/Soweto January, 1998

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At hostel with reggae band Sons of Selassie
Soweto, Thandi’s Aunt’s courtyard
Visiting the Nelson Mandela House

Written by Caleb Powell

May 3, 2021 at 9:29 am

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Victoria Falls – January, 1998

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Written by Caleb Powell

May 3, 2021 at 9:19 am

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UAE 1997-1998

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Photos, UAE 1997:

Mohammed, Abdullah, Me, Another Mohammed

Written by Caleb Powell

April 28, 2021 at 12:39 pm

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