Every so often I get a scathing comment from an anonymous commenter on how we intentionally ignore such and such blog because we don’t want “the competition.”  That is completely untrue.  We ignore the blogs mentioned because we do not think they have much to say.

But there is one site about which I plead guilty for not having flogged enough here out of a subconscious fear of losing readers once we do so. The site is Sinocism and it is so over the top comprehensive and frequent that if you are going to read just one thing on China each day, you ought to at least consider making Sinocism  (a/k/a Sinocism’s China Newsletter) that one thing.

I was reminded of this the other day by a Sinosplice post noting the following:

Even so, I’ve come to recognize what a valuable resource Bill Bishop’s Sinocism is. You can sign up for the newsletter and get regular updates on all major issues facing China. I know more than one information junkie that reads every link in the newsletter, but for me, the headlines and blurbs are often enough. I click through when the articles especially interest me (and learn important new Chinese buzzwords from time to time too).

If you’re interested in China and you’re one of the few that haven’t heard of Sinocism, definitely check it out. Bill Bishop is also on Twitter (@Niubi) and the excellent podcast Sinica.

Sinocism’s tagline is “Be Informed about China” and if wish to be informed about any aspect of China, I recommend you check it out  But please don’t forget to come back here after doing so. Please!

Virtually nobody gets tired of comparing Beijing and Shanghai, myself included.  There really is a dichotomy, with neither side (yes, “side’) having much appreciation or understanding for the other.  When asked by people who have never been to China to compare the two cities, I usually sum it up by saying something like the following:

Shanghai is the business and finance city. It has a history of being China’s most international city and in many ways it still is. The people there are like New Yorkers/Parisians, which means they look down on pretty much everyone else.

Beijing is China’s government/power city.  It’s polluted and dry. Its location is unexpected for Westerners in that it seems to have been situated more for defensive reasons than for commerce or livability. It is also China’s media and tech capital.

Five years ago, my China trips almost always meant me spending three days in Shanghai for every day in Beijing. But a few years ago, that ratio completely flipped and now I probably spend at least five times more time in Beijing than in Shanghai. My law firm does a lot of work for media and entertainment and technology companies and that work is often complicated and hands on. That work is mostly in Beijing and it typically requires more client meetings. Much of our Shanghai work involves manufacturing companies and for a variety of reasons, they tend to require a lot less hand-holding and face-to-face visits.

Anyway, I am writing about Beijing and Shanghai because I got an e-mail from Matt Schiavenza the other day regarding the redesign of his blog.  And when I went to look at it (it looks great, BTW) I got hooked on his series of interviews with people living in different cities around the world.  They are truly fascinating and, near as I can tell based on the cities I know best, quite insightful and accurate. I ended up getting quite enthralled and read them all.

The Beijing and Shanghai ones are both excellent. The Beijing interview is with Jeff Crosby, whom I do not know.  The Shanghai interview is with John Pasden, who has been churning out great stuff on Chinese language (mostly) and culture (a bit) on his Sinosplice blog since 2002!  If you want to get a better feel for Beijing and for Shanghai, I recommend you check out the two interviews and then let us know what you think. Both of the interviews and of the whole Beijing v. Shanghai thing.

I think (and hope) this is the first time we have used an exclamation point in a blog post title and I assure you that this will not become common. I just am so impressed by the idea and the ingenuity and the hard work and the sheer helpfullness of the AllSet Chinese Grammar Wiki. I first learned of the Wiki from Ryan over at Lost Laowai, who in his post, “Chinese Grammar Wiki: Learning Chinese grammar just got easier,” had this to say about it:

AllSet Learning, the Shanghai-based language learning consultancy founded by long-time China blogger John Pasden, has just released what is surely a boon for mandarin learners who aspire to achieve better Chinese grammar — the Chinese Grammar Wiki….

As an on-again, off-again Chinese learner, I’m pretty excited for the resource. Few people I’ve met have spent as much time as John thinking about language learning, particularly as to how it relates to Chinese. His blog and various resources at Sinosplice have been extremely helpful over the years, and I have to imagine that with his ambition and love for the language behind the wiki, it’s sure to be fantastic.

I second that emotion.  What do you think?

UPDATE:  A reader sent me an email regarding a “wiki-ish” site he likes called Wordbuddy:

It is wiki-ish because it is a dictionary that anybody can add to (slang, etc). Other sites can do this, but this one is interesting because people can also add ‘memory tricks’ for learning words which everybody can share. For example:

书 (shū): The librarian will ‘shoot’ you if the <book> is not returned on time.

东西 (dōng xi): In old times, a “donkey” was one of a person’s most basic <things>.

讨 (tao3): The purpose of a <discussion>(讠) is to slowly inch(寸) toward an agreement.

独 (du2): A dog(犭) with flees(虫) will be shunned by humans and other dogs. He’ll become a <lonely> “dude”.

These are just off the cuff examples that users have entered. The site also integrates flashcards, radicals, translation, study lists, forums, etc, and makes a very good training tool for learning vocabulary.

Having spent part of last night helping my youngest daughter memorize Latin American capitals, I can vouch for the value of using memory tricks. Does anyone have a good way to remember that the capital of Uraguay is Montevideo, the capital of Paraguay is Asuncion, and the capital of Ecuador is Quito?