Little Red Bat

One of the many difficulties in learning a new language is the vocabulary — new words for things we already know. Another layer of difficulty is that often the new language uses different rules of grammar than those we are used to, even if we have never been able to master the old ones in the first place.

One more, nearly impenetrable barrier, is when the foreign language doesn’t even use good old fashioned American style alphabet letters. A case in point is Chinese writing, based on Hanzi characters. These characters, which look to us like a child’s scribbling, are densely packed with meaning. This pictographic writing, a combination of pictograms, ideograms, ideogrammatic compounds and phono-semantic compounds, is comprised of many thousands of characters. A single character can convey entire truckloads of meaning, like one of Scarlett Johansson’s eyebrows.

Chinese dissident, artist and political prisoner Ai Weiwei recently unleashed a torrent of cryptographically sensitive information in a single, pithy broadcast.

Mr Ai, who is too critical of the Chinese Communist Party for his own good, had been in jail for months and then was released and placed under house arrest. Ostensibly he was arrested for “tax evasion,” but everybody in the US, in Europe, in South America, Africa and Australia, and almost everyone else everywhere, knows that these were trumped up charges; his real offense is that he has been a loud and persistent critic of the Chinese government. While under house arrest, the two dozen Chinese police officers living with him make sure that he is always wearing his “Silent Silk Ribbon,” which is several yards of duct tape over his mouth.

Mr Ai, who has art on exhibit all over the more civilized world, made a surprise virtual appearance today, and made his first Twitter tweet in some time. His tweet, in Chinese characters, was translated into English. On the surface, the 10-character English translation of his tweet (“What’s up?”) was perfectly innocent, but the original ideogrammatic tweet has Western intelligence agencies scrambling to decipher it.

Many clever Chinese dissidents using social media employ alternative words and phrases to get around the ubiquitous government censorship of terms deemed to be offensive or embarassing.

The Peoples Bullying Party has been on ‘really high alert’ — because they’re really scared — after watching popular revolt in Egypt and other parts of Northern Africa. No shortage of resources has been spared in finding and apprehending anyone with the slightest link to anybody who has the slightest chance of stirring things up, from Shanghai to Xinjiang, from Beijing to Tibet. Even those who look cross-eyed at Chinese security personnel disappear.

Now, with riots in London dominating the news, top level members of the Central Committee are watching carefully, and looking for new ways to control the increasingly disgruntled populace. Distressingly high numbers of Chinese citizens are angry with the government’s perceived cover-up of the high-speed train wreck near Wenzhou, which killed dozens and injured hundreds. The decision makers in Beijing are worried that the London violence will be the Molotov Cocktail thrown into the fireworks factory.

They’re looking into the use of aluminum baseball bats. This is what Ai Weiwei was so cleverly hinting at, since the ideogrammatic symbol he used for his cryptic tweet can mean “what’s up?” — a request for information — but can also convey “who’s up?” — a clear reference to baseball and baseball bats.

Amazon.co.uk, the British branch of the huge American online retailer, has reported a 6000% increase in the sale of aluminum baseball bats, which are, so to speak, flying out the window. Some theorize that these bats are being sold to British shop-keepers who wish to protect themselves and their shops, or are perhaps being sold to the packs of sub-human young hooligans (“yobs” and “neds”) who have shocked the UK with mindless destruction and opportunistic looting. This intrepid reporter, dear reader, has burned through several barrels of midnight oil doing journalistic sleuthing, and has found the truth.

It’s really the Chinese who are buying up the bats. But why?

Deep cover informants reveal that a complex deal has been struck between Nintendo, Foxconn and the Peoples Propaganda and Benevolent Control Ministry, headed by the baijiu-loving bureaucrat, Fling Dhung. The Ministry intends to develop crowd-control hardware and software based on aluminum bats, and using Nintendo’s Wii technology. Huge buildings that formerly housed ping-pong parlors have been turned into Wii-enabled training facilities, where thousands of police officers practice swatting dissident citizens shown on enormous high-def screens.

Already far advanced in the field of face-recognition technology, so tightly woven into the fabric of national security, the Chinese intend further to unite the “smart-bats” with Apple-designed hardware provided by Foxconn, the mega-manufacturer of iPhones and iPads. Every time a police officer swings an enhanced bat at an actual protester, cameras inside the bat will photograph the targeted victim, and software will identify him or her. Then, taking advantage of the Apple gyroscope and accelerometer, the bat will estimate the severity of the blow. Combining that data with real-time blood-spatter analysis, the bat will decide whether to inform the nearest jail, hospital or coroner.

To honor Chairman Mao, the smart-bats will be painted red, and will be known as “Little Red Bats.” Looks like the Communist Party hopes to hit discord out of the park with this one.

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