Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sep 18

New Article: Our Mistaken Search for “Authenticity”

By Mitchell Blatt | New Writing

Here’s the column I wrote for the latest issue of map magazine. Actually, it was published on Sept. 1, so sorry for being late…

On TripAdvisor, many of the reviews of Jinli Pedestrian Street in Chengdu criticize the popular attraction because it’s too commercialized. “It is now a completely commercial zone, capped off with, wait, you know it, a STARBUCKS!” says a top contributor from El Paso, Texas.

It seems foreigners always hate something that is too commercialized and are always looking for the most “authentic” thing. I have felt the same way, too, from time to time. Whenever the topic of Yunnan comes up, I tell people not to go to Lijiang but to go to Dali instead. (Of course, Dali has bars and hotels, too. After all, without commercialization, there’s nowhere to sleep.)

In our search for “authenticity”, it’s worth defining what we’re looking for. According to the China Highlights travel agency, “Jinli Old Street is one of the oldest shopping streets in Sichuan Province, and it can be traced back to the Three Kingdoms Period, over 1,800 years ago.” Does it really make sense to criticize an ancient shopping street for being excessively commercialized? …

Read full article: Our Mistaken Search for “Authenticity” – map magazine

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Sep 10

The Universal Language of Basketball

By Mitchell Blatt | Travel

A Buddhist wearing red robes drove me to the Chinggis Khaan International Airport to leave Mongolia. He spoke almost now English, but somehow I could understand that he was asking what country I was from. When I said, “American,” he said, “LeBron James!” Later on during the ride, he said, “Dwight Howard.” I responded “Kobe Bryant,” but then he corrected me, telling me, “Howard came to Mongolia.”

We weren’t able to have much conversation during that ride, but the little conversation we did was based on the language of basketball.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is Dwight Howard in 2011 dancing a Mongolian dance in a nightclub:Continue reading

Sep 04

$8 Million of Flawless Counterfeit Currency Found in Eastern China

By Mitchell Blatt | Uncategorized

Police in Taizhou, Zhejiang province have seized over 80,000 fake hundred RMB bills, according to CCTV. The bills are so well forged that they can even pass machine checks.

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About an hour ago, the verified Weibo account of the Sunrise Metal Products (Shenzhen) Co. (@电商戏客) posted a message about the report. “According to CCTV, police in Taizhou, Zhejiang seized over 8 million RMB worth of fake currency with serial numbers starting with M3W96,” it said.

Subsequent messages relayed that the money “feels no different” and sounds the same, too. Already some fake currency with the M3W96 serial code has turned up in Beijing, and the shop owner said that the currency passed through her verification machine. Police are on the watch for currency with serial codes beginning with M3W and M3S.

Here’s the original message:

According to CCTV, police in Taizhou, Zhejiang seized over 8 million RMB worth of fake currency with serial numbers starting with M3W96. The characters “100” can reflect light. Without a machine, it is hard to recognize [it’s fake]. Please identify the currency you have. Be careful!

#M3W96真假辨伪# [话筒]据央视报道,浙江台州警方查获800多万元M3W96开头的假币。这种假币下边的“100”字样还会反光,没工具很难识别。请各位辨识手中的人民币,小心中枪额!