This is a special section of the 12 Angry Men Blog where we celebrate the best Troll to be found anywhere during the past week. While there are many varieties of troll, ranging from the fuzzy-haired dashboard decorations to the waylayer of the Billy Goats Gruff, we enjoy a well-executed jabbing that leaves an adversary stammering for a response. Any moron can produce a flame—mere sewage dumped upon the city square—but to produce a good Troll is a work worthy of the celebration of men.

The Troll of the Week segment will be written frequently enough to be termed “periodic”, but the actual label “of the week” is merely idealistic ambition, and it is not to be taken seriously.

This week’s winner of Troll of the Week is going international. A first for us here at the angry man blog. We wish to recognize an individual who has truly gone were no troll has gone before… bringing the wonderful world of internet insults mud-slinging, and occasional respondent legal ramifications (not to mention threats of physical harm) to the heart of a community of monks.

Context of the Troll:
China and Japan have long been natural enemies at the best of times and hostile beyond human capacity at the worst. Tensions between the two nations have been strained over the past 60 years, as China feels that Japan has not been suitably apologetic for atrocities committed during the Second World War. This also makes China a bit temperamental about anything seen as overtly aggressive or militaristic in Japanese behavior. One issue that typical meets these criteria is the realm of Martial Arts. Both nations hold powerful national pride attached to their homegrown fighting styles.

Execution of the Troll:
Last week an internet user identified only as “Five Minutes Every Day” posted a comment on the “Iron Blood Bulletin Board Community”. In his post he claimed that a Japanese Ninja visited The Shaolin Temple to challenge the monks there to combat and that the monks with their Kung Fu were unable to defeat the Ninja.

“The facts that the monks could not defeat a Japanese ninja showed that they were named as kung fu masters in vain.”

The entire Chinese nation was outraged, and the monks, eager to defend their honor quickly took action. That is correct, they got a lawyer and are suing the post’s author. Wait you say? A lawyer?!? This can not be Grasshopper!!! No cryptic Kosh-esque statement about the truth pointing to itself, or understanding being a three edged sword?!? No Caine/Master Po wisdom about patience and harmony?!? While the story could be completed right then and there, as most such stories would, it in fact continues on in its hilarity.

The author had written the post in an attempt to satirize the monastery and its head monk for not living up to the ideals and image that they foster and perpetuate (most notably that the order’s leader has his own chauffeur driven car). In a supreme irony, the monks response essentially proved his point, while at the same time demonstrating that same decadent legalism that China vilifies the West for. A two for one deal; not bad “Five Minutes Every Day”. Though trolling a bunch of monks, nay the Shaolin Temple itself, is worthy of song and herald into the halls of the legendary trolls, this was still not yet enough for “Five Minutes Every Day”. These statements led to the following responses which only serve to hurt the position of those making them:

“The so-called defeat is purely fabricated, and we demand the Internet user to apologize to the whole nation for the wrongs he or she did,” -Lawyer for the Shaolin Temple, cited in the Beijing News

Yes, yes, we all know how they feel about free speech in China. For crimethink they would love to make “Five Minutes Every Day” an unperson.

“It is not only extremely irresponsible behavior with respect to the Shaolin temple and its monks, but also to the whole martial art and Chinese nation” -Shaolin Monks cited in Beijing News

Is this a bad time for a “my kung fu is better than your’s” comment?

In a fantastic one-two combo troll, the author used a favorite troll tactic and posted a fake apology/second troll:

“What I wrote was fiction. I apologize to Shaolin Temple and all my readers….I hope that the Shaolin masters will exercise their Buddhist compassion and virtue, and forgive me. Thank you very much.”

“..Buddhist compassion and virtue, forgive me.” Classic, simply classic, way to subtly insult while on the surface back pedal and all the while maneuver them into a corner that they must accept the half-assed fake apology to save face. I owe you a beer!

Here is hoping that the Ask a Ninja is looking forward to killing the Shaolin lawyer soon. Mc Shaolin, it seems that you have met your match in the keyboard warriors. Long live the parody and comedy. I personally vote for Chuck!

Internetz Honor

For this inspired troll, “Five Minutes Every Day” is awarded the coveted Troll of the Week, and will receive an honorary beer at the Man Lunch. In addition to beer I personally owe you for the entertainment you offered. Any Shaolin Monks wishing to sue “Five Minutes Every Day” for the honor of said beer might find that once done, this beer much like their actions would then be without honor.

…and the interpreter replied—No

Have you ever seen the joke where two businessmen, an American and a Chinese are working out a deal with the assistance of a Chinese interpreter? The American businessman asks a question which gets interpreted through a great and lengthy process involving multiple conversations, a lot of symbolic writing on the palm of the hand, and many looks of consternation. After several minutes the interpreter turns to the businessman and simply says “no” —which is the answer to the question. While humorous, this is in fact a real phenomena as anyone attempting to do business in China can attest.

What we have here is a failure to communicate—not between the American businesman and the Chinese businessman, but between the interpreter and the Chinese businessman.

A little background is in order. China is a large country aggregated from multiple totally indigestible chunks–even for a maw as large as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). There are two major languages, Cantonese and Mandarin, which are essentially incompatible with Cantonese having 9 tonal variants and Mandarin four. Within China it is estimated that there are over 200 dialects of Mandarin alone. Plus there are other essentially separate languages used in the autonomous regions.

A person from the north Chinese province of Xisang has little chance of being understood by someone from Shanghai. What is actually occurring in the parable above is that the two Chinese are attempting to converge concepts so that they may actually communicate.

When each draws on his hand, he’s referring to Chinese characters, each a symbol for a concept and each mnemonically stable over the various dialects. Once the question is properly framed, the answer become possible to elucidate.

As a result, ideas, innovation and commerce tend to be predominately local. However, there are a great many Chinese, even in a local area bounded by dialect. From outside this looks like either a great untapped market or the scariest thing since Japan reinvented the transistor radio. More optimistic (or scared) Westerners look at local markets and say things like

Oh Shandong Province has 90 million people, I can extrapolate this market to the entire Chinese population and get numbers in the potential billions of customers.”

.. or

This group in Shanghai is innovating like crazy. What the hell happens when the rest of the country does the same.”

A more astute observer wonders whether the people of China can become the engineering and dynamic powerhouse of the 21st Century when they cannot even talk to each other. The CCP has taken notice of this and has mandated that Mandarin be taught as the common language. Dialects are still a major problem.

And then there is the written language which resembles the paths of an ink-dipped drunken rooster. On the plus side, (upon further reflection) since it’s derived from pictograms, it’s stable across all these various dialects and languages. On the minus side, building vocab requires learning an ever increasing set of new characters. By some estimates, a minimum of 5000 symbols are required for family level discourse. 20,000 are required for an educated Chinese to read a newspaper on the level of the New York Times. To read the Wall Street Journal from front to back: 50,000-70,000 symbols. A paper in computer science or biotechnology has symbol sets in the 100,000 range per discipline. Cross-discipline or interdisciplinary research is off to a crashing halt—you need to learn the discipline specific set for yours and the additional set of your coworker. So basic research has a chance— integrated applications —eh—not so much.

Stangely enough, the common language (with its attendant symbol set) for engineering and research is de facto becoming English. Mandarin is not particularly suited for engineering and science as it forces both sides of the brain to work. Chinese learn English if they are going to be doing science and engineering because to not learn English is the equivalent of clamping on concrete overshoes at the start of a 100 meter race.

Enter St. George.

This gives the Western world a unique opportunity. In order to promote Democracy is China, we have only to insert some “viral memes”, perhaps as English ‘borrow words’. The French are always complaining about how English is tainting their ever-so-pure language, so let’s do it on purpose with the Chinese. Some of this is already happening—witness the CCP’s attempt to restrict Google search engine output, or restrict what terms are available in Microsoft Office’s built-in lexicon. The Western world should make every attempt to load up the scientific and technical disciplines with dual use connotations for essential engineering concepts. The CCP still views politics as independent of science and technology—a glaring flaw in their world view, as it is the free exchange of ideas that promote advancement in science.

The CCP’s position is essentially self-defeating anyway. What absurdity prompts them to sponsor thousands of students to Western Colleges where they learn the language, absorb and train in the technology; and yet expect them not to be exposed to democracy? The CCP will either have to allow the nasty democratic connotations or disallow English.

If they do the latter, they are hobbled and Chinese hegemony is no longer a threat—it becomes in fact a paper dragon. If they do the former, we also win, as the concepts the CCP wants to suppress are put to use, leading to increased awareness of the benefits of democracy and economic freedom.