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An American in China

Archive for February 4th, 2011

Ancient Chinese Customs

Posted by w_thames_the_d on February 4, 2011


The Civilization of China (Herbert Allen Giles)

The death of an emperor is followed by a long spell of national tribulation. For one hundred days no man may have his head shaved, and no woman may wear head ornaments. For twelve months there may be no marrying or giving in marriage among the official classes, a term which is reduced to one hundred days for the public at large. The theatres are supposed to remain closed for a year, but in practice they shut only for one hundred days. Even thus great hardships are entailed upon many classes of the community, especially upon actors and barbers, who might be in danger of actual starvation but for the common-sense of their rulers coupled with the common rice-pot at home.

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Poor Owners of Chinese ‘Massage Therapists’

Posted by w_thames_the_d on February 4, 2011


Today I would like a moment of silence for the glorious men and women who pay the bribes that keep their ‘massage parlor/brothels/places that pay bribes to the local ‘Chinese legal officials’-oxymoron that it is..
Anyway, these poor men and women have had to allow their slave/sex worker/massage ladies off to visit their little villages for the new year. I pity these gray toothed souls as their places of business lie as dormant as their souls and pity that they had to allow these women to go home thus cutting of the owners only income stream. I guess I should feel happy for the women who are allowed a respite from allowing their bodies to be utilized as a pin cushion by clumsy locals, but then again who cares about them right?

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Ancient China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on February 4, 2011


From The Civilization of China (Herbert Allen Giles)

Occupants of houses are popularly supposed to “sweep the snow from their own doorsteps,” but the repair of roads, bridges, drains, etc., has always been left to the casual philanthropy of wealthy individuals, who take these opportunities of satisfying public opinion in regard to the obligations of the rich towards the poor. Consequently, Chinese cities are left without efficient lighting, draining, or scavengering; and it is astonishing how good the health of the people living under these conditions can be.
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Twitter in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on February 4, 2011


You can use your Kindle with 3g to access Facebook and Twitter in China. I do it sometimes but only when bored. I usually tweet things like “damn I need a chocolate muffin from Starbucks” or the other day i tweeted “Damn Beijing subways have a lot of lesbian women” as I watched a couple of chinese women grouping each others naught zones.

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China is Killing Her Land

Posted by w_thames_the_d on February 4, 2011


Great article on China’s pollution problem. The article was called “The Choking of China and the World”

from here:
“So Watts stands in the village in Guandong province where the world’s old motherboards – yours and mine – are sent to die. There, children pick through the old computers, breaking down every reusable part, like they were the globe’s intestine. But the children sicken with lead poisoning, and develop brain damage, cancer, and kidney failure. Even when the kids get to sit in a classroom, they have to wear masks, to protect them from the mountains of garbage.

So he goes to meet the environmental activists who are trying to stop this poisoning of their children, and watches as – terrified – they are carried away to prison. (Imagine if Al Gore had been imprisoned for exposing Love Canal, and was still in solitary, and you get the idea.)

So he ventures out on a ship with an international band of scientists to save the last Yangtze dolphin – an animal that was swimming though China’s rivers 10 million years before the first human, and was a common sight not long ago. But gradually he realises he is too late. They are all dead. He says: “Man had wiped out his first dolphin? The end of a species after twenty million years felt terrifyingly momentous. This was not just a piece of news. It was even more than history. It was an event on a geological timescale.”

So he watches as the globe warms and China’s deserts stretch further and deeper with each passing year. So he stands and stares as the Himalayan glaciers – where most of Asia’s great rivers begin – melt and die, with two thirds on course to vanish by 2050.

This is not an unambiguous story. This destruction is not being pursued out of wickedness: it is happening as a side-effect of a benevolent impulse. The Chinese people are determined to rise from poverty to prosperity. Forty years ago, China was starving. Today, it is in surplus. Some Chinese argue: if environmental damage is the price we pay for whiplash development, why not? You Europeans and Americans destroyed your environments, felled your forests, trashed your habitats all through your Industrial Revolution – and when you were rich enough, you cleaned it up. Yes there is a cost, but it is less than the cost of staying poor forever. How dare you lecture us, when most of our emissions are from factories you have outsourced to make goods and process waste for you, and when you refuse to even make tiny cuts in your emissions are home?

There’s some justice in these responses. Your contribution to global warming (and mine) vastly exceeds the average Chinese person’s. Every successful environmental treaty in history began with the biggest polluters cutting back first. Yet we are refusing to do it, and far from urging China to go green, our governments are doing the opposite. It wasn’t mentioned in the industrial quantities of journalistic hot air that accompanied Hu Jintao’s trip to Washington D.C., but the Obama administration is currently suing the Chinese government at the World Trade Organization to stop them from subsidizing wind farms, saying it represents ‘unfair competition.’ A seventy-a-day smoker riddled with lung cancer isn’t really in a position to lecture a younger man to stop smoking, especially if he’s trying to steal his nicotine patches.

But if this debate dissolves into a game of mutual finger-pointing – you’re the worst! No, you are! – then we will be trapped in a spiral of mutual environmental destruction. The argument that China will simply clean up the damage when they’re rich doesn’t work, alas, for two reasons. Firstly, 700,000 people are dying every year in China as a result of the extreme pollution, according to the World Bank. They can’t be compensated at some later date with a wind farm. Secondly, and even more crucially, the West “cleaned up” largely by exporting its pollution to poor countries like China. As Watts puts it: “This model relied on those at cleanup stage being able to sweep the accumulated dirt of development under a new and bigger rug. When this process reached China, it had already been expanding for two centuries. Now “the waste [is] getting too big and the rug too small.” Where is China going to export it to? For how long?

The alternative is to fuel China’s development (and our own continued existence) with clean energy sources – the mighty power of the wind, the Sun, and the waves. If you believed the gassbaggery of America’s most influential columnist, Thomas Friedman, you’d think it had already happened. He is forever telling readers of the New York Times that China is becoming a ‘green superpower.’ The truth is much more complex. Some 69.5 percent of China’s energy needs come from the dirtiest and most planet-cooking fuel of all: coal. At the same time, the Chinese government is significantly increasing funding for renewables – but as an addition, not a replacement. This is a crucial distinction. If you ate a KFC bucket and a Weightwatcher’s meal for lunch, nobody would say you were on a diet. The Weightwatchers’ has to replace the KFC. In the same way, the renewables have to replace the coal, not just form an additional add-on. That’s not happening today. Not at all: coal burning is increasing.

Partly, this is because the Chinese government has less control than foreign observers assume. Watts says: “China’s political system is neither dictatorship nor democracy. At the top, the state lacks the authority to impose pollution regulations and wildlife conservation laws, while at the bottom citizens lack the democratic tools of a free press, independent courts, and elections to defend their land, air and water.” Inbetween there stand corporations and corrupted local governments bent exclusively on profit and growth, whatever the cost. So “when it comes to protecting the environment, the authority of the authoritarian state looks alarmingly shaky.” Yet at the same time, China’s leaders are – like ours – refusing to pursue the big projects that could haul us out of these dilemmas.”

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Illegal “Black Jails” in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on February 4, 2011


From this site. This excerpt talks about the news that in China, a group that allegedly has strong ties with the Chinese government has set up illegal or black jails in Beijing to stop petitioners.

excerpt:

“Another appalling and unforgettable story last year was the revelation by Guangdong’s Southern Metropolis Daily and Caijing magazine that Anyuanding, a private security firm with strong official backing, was operating a network of “black jails” in Beijing, accepting payments from local governments across China to round up and lock up rights petitioners in the capital. Prisoners in these facilities were subjected to chilling violence, the jailers acting completely above the law.

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“An Atlas of Global Pollution”

Posted by w_thames_the_d on February 4, 2011


The deepest recession since the 1930s has failed to reverse rising global carbon emissions, as plummeting industrial output in the west was offset by the continuing rapid expansion of China and a handful of other emerging economies, new statistics for 2009 show.

While US emissions fell substantially in 2009, to levels not seen since 1995-96, China surged ahead with an increase of more than 13% on the previous year – the equivalent of adding the yearly emissions of Germany, Greece and Peru combined.

Europe, Russia, Canada and South Africa saw their emissions dip, and India has risen to third place in the league table, with the strong growth in its carbon output driven by a ramping-up of coal burning to generate power.

Overall, by these estimates, global emissions fell by a tiny 0.1%. For short periods in the wake of less severe recessions, such as those in 1981-83, and 1991-92, emissions fell more steeply only to continue their upward trend shortly afterwards.

These statistics, from the US Energy Information Administration, track only carbon dioxide emitted by energy use – such as from coal and gas power stations, and motor vehicles. They exclude emissions from other sources such as methane from livestock, and deforestation.

The map reveals how heavily future emissions trends depend on China, which overtook the US as the world’s biggest emitter in 2006-07. China’s emissions have so far risen just as fast as its runaway economic growth, but the government is hoping to “decouple” the two in the next decade, reducing the country’s emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45% by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. Doing so will be essential if global greenhouse gas emissions are to fall in line with scientific warnings.

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Cool Things not Invented in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on February 4, 2011


This post is way off topic but pretty cool. It comes from http://www.maximumpc.com
The article is about the 25 coolest kitchen inventions of all time. If you want to feel old, check out how many of these things you remember from your youth…

Mortar and Pestle

1500 B.C. (est.)

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Put a rock inside a bowl and you’ve got the mortar and pestle, perhaps the first multi-functional kitchen gadget ever invented. In ancient times, it could grind spices and grains, turn herbs into medicine, and pulverize small stones into pigments for painting. Today, it gives us that holiest of foodstuffs: guacamole.

Fondue Pot

early 1800s

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Fondue—melted cheese plus various additives, depending on the recipe—began its life in Switzerland and France around 1800 or so, but it wasn’t until the late 1960s that the improbable dish hit its stride in the United States. Fondue pots now range from simple crocks heated with tea candles or Sterno to gargantuan electric models that create a fountain of goo three feet high (and are typically used with chocolate). Either way, it’s all fattening, liquid goodness to us.

A1 Heeley Double-Lever Corkscrew

1880

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Wine may be a sophisticate’s beverage, but the act of removing a cork from a bottle can often be a barbaric experience. H.S. Heeley solved that problem when, in 1888, he patented an improvement on William Burton Baker’s double-winged lever corkscrew concept (which had received its own patent in 1880). Heeley’s design—which affixed Baker’s wings to a top collar, something Baker omitted, perhaps in a drunken stupor—became the basis for the most enduring corkscrew system ever, lasting for over a century until the modern “rabbit” design emerged. The example you see here was sourced by Don Bull of www.corkscrewmuseum.com, home to all manner of clever cork-extracting devices—some of which look disturbingly like Civil War–era surgical tools.

Sunbeam Mixmaster

1930

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One fawning website pays homage to the Mixmaster by calling it “the most beloved kitchen appliance of the 20th century,” and that may not be far from the truth. Invented by Swedish engineer Ivar Jepson in 1928 and brought to market in 1930, the Mixmaster was the first stand-up mixer with dual, interlocking beaters, which made it more efficient than the competition—namely the single-beater handheld. Though it launched at the height of the Great Depression, the Mixmaster single-handedly made Sunbeam a household name. This sparkling example of Scandinavian enterprise was sourced from www.OldGreenCanoe.etsy.com.

Electric Can Opener

1931

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Before the invention of the can opener, how did one open a tin can? With a freakin’ hammer and chisel, that’s how. Early manual can openers were little more than bizarrely shaped knives that you levered into a can’s lid to pry it open. It wasn’t until 1931 that high-tech got in on the action with the invention of the electric can opener. Today’s industrial-strength openers can crack open up to 12 cans per minute, as your local lunch lady knows all too well.

Automatic Dishwasher

1937

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It’s the rare lazy bastard who must resort to machinery for washing dishes. Er, wait a sec. That’s just about all of us. The dishwasher is unique on this list in that its sole purpose is to clean up the mess that the other items on our list create. Today’s dishwasher design hasn’t changed much since 1937, which is when kitchens first began receiving permanently installed dishwashers, complete with rotating sprayers and fold-down doors (though, as you see here, in those original “electric sinks,” the doors were placed on top). Nowadays, dishwashers give sloppy chefs carte blanche to use every dish and utensil in the kitchen over the course of an evening—as long as they’re labeled “dishwasher safe,” of course.

Toshiba Rice Cooker

1955

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The Western world largely pooh-poohs the idea of the automatic rice cooker, as rice can be prepared quite easily on the stove top. But this position fails to acknowledge just how much rice is consumed in Asia, where it’s often served at three meals a day. The automatic rice cooker, invented by Toshiba in 1955, took much of the hassle out of rice preparation. Modern units now commonly include overnight timers, alarms, and special monitors to test whether your rice is done.

Chop-o-Matic

1956

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The godfather of kitchen gadgetry, Ron Popeil (see below) introduced his first gizmo, the Chop-o-Matic, at the exact, perfect time. With our economy booming through the 1950s, and housewives pining for less family-focused servitude (think proto versions of Betty Draper), Popeil’s appliance tore through vegetables in a flash, slicing and dicing them with just a couple of manual compressions. The Chop-o-Matic’s success—sales in excess of two million units—launched an empire that continues today (albeit under new ownership), and spawned dozens of imitators, including the curiously named Slap Chop, which sounds like either a martial arts technique or a cut of beef.

In His Own Words: Ron Popeil

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Ron Popeil specializes in kitchen gadgets (his dad, Samuel, invented the Chop-o-Matic), and is one of the most successful “serial inventors” of all time. He’s the “Ron” in Ronco, a TV pitchman of historical proportions, and has been responsible for the Showtime Rotisserie, Pocket Fisherman, and Hair in a Can. We share his wisdom here.

“The most wonderful thing about the infomercial business is that you only need one weekend to know if you have a success. If you make more money than the TV time costs, you’ve got a hit.

When television started, anything you put on TV would sell. Anything. Anybody that went on television with direct response was making money.

I’m working on a new product. It’s a deep fryer. It comes out next year. You say, “Why do we need another deep fryer, Ron?” Other deep fryers—they just don’t deliver. I was inspired by the turkey fryer, but it’s so dangerous and you can’t use it inside. This fryer is safe to use indoors, and can handle a 15-pound turkey. But wait: People don’t have big kitchens. What if I could deliver to you a small machine that you could keep on your counter every day? This fryer uses olive oil. And it’s not just for turkeys. Two chickens in 20 minutes. Chicken fried steak. Perfect French fries. Potato chips take a minute and a half. Have you ever had fried avocado? Fried watermelon? It’s called Popeil’s Olive Oil Country Fryer.”

Hasbro Easy-Bake Oven

1963

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In the early 1960s, Hasbro answered the question the world had been wondering about for years: Was it possible to bake a cake using the heat from a standard light bulb? It’s tiny, sure, but an incandescent filament reaches thousands of degrees Celsius (literally “white hot”), heating the surrounding air just enough to turn a puddle of goo into a two-bite cake in eight minutes. Hasbro has gone to extreme lengths to keep kids from putting their hands in the scorch chamber, but to mixed success. Including the tyke who required a partial finger amputation, 249 kids were hurt before the most recent recall in 2007.

Electric Carving Knife

1964

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The brainchild of inveterate inventor Jerome Murray—he also invented the airplane boarding ramp—the electric carving knife was a response to the belief that women of the early 1960s were so harried in the kitchen that, after preparing dinner, they were too tired and weak to actually cut the food they had spent all day cooking. The electric carving knife is largely a novelty item today, but for a dedicated few, Thanksgiving just isn’t complete without the buzz and whirr of a very small reciprocating saw.

Amana Radarange

1967

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Using microwave technology in the kitchen got its start in 1947 (like early computers, they were the size of refrigerators), but it took 20 years for the technology to shrink down in size and price to become acceptable to the masses. The watershed 1967 Amana Radarange looks a lot like today’s microwave oven, only larger, heavier, and with analog knobs. They were hardly eye-pleasing, but by the 1970s, microwave ovens had nonetheless become essential tools not just for reheating leftovers but, in some homes, for preparing entire (albeit disgusting) meals.

Trash Compactor

1968

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In the 1970s and ’80s, the trash compactor was every suburban kitchen’s must-have symbol of conspicuous consumption. Tucked away between the range and the dishwasher, there it sat, waiting to take your garbage and make it… smaller. It ultimately became so ingrained in pop culture that the compactor was famously futurized in the original Star Wars (remember when our heroes were stuck in the Death Star junk pit with the closing-in walls?) and later anthropomorphized by Pixar as the lovable WALL-E.

Sunbeam Seal-a-Meal

1970 (est.)

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Air out. Freshness in. Seal-a-Meal is a vacuum-sealing food storage system that, according to the company, lets you store perishables for five times as long as in a baggie or Tupperware container. It’s unclear whether anyone has ever actually successfully used a Seal-a-Meal for its intended purpose (ahem), but the device and its ilk have since found a second life as an essential component in sous vide cooking.

Cuisinart Food Processor

1971

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Now an essential item from commercial kitchens to the average suburban home, the Cuisinart food processor exploded in popularity after Julia Child registered her approval for it in the mid-1970s. The food processor may look like an oversized blender, but inside it hides genuine knife blades that spin at several thousand RPM, helping you transform any solid into a fine liquid mush with just a few taps of the “pulse” button. Yep, sometimes relying on your all-purpose chef’s knife isn’t the quickest path.

Willy Wonka Candy Factory Kit

1971

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To promote the theatrical release of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Quaker Cereals marketed this “candy factory” kit, which included all the molds, candy wrappers and scrumdidilyumtious doodads one needed to go into the chocolate bar business. The price for the factory was a mere $1, plus two proof-of-purchase seals from Cap’n Crunch, Life, or King Vitamin cereals. The scheme proved to be a rather convoluted strategy for children wishing to attain chocolate bars en masse, but more than a few industrious kiddies carried the ruse to completion by not just manufacturing chocolate bars, but also selling them door-to-door. This distribution path not only prevented children from eating their own inventory, but trumped curbside lemonade vendors, who lacked the marketing muscle of a major motion picture.

Mr. Coffee

1972

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In the 1960s, percolators fed America’s growing coffee addiction by recirculating boiling hot, previously brewed coffee through already extracted grounds. The result? A bitter (if not aggressively caffeinated) mess. The madness changed in 1972 with the introduction of the home drip coffeemaker, courtesy of Mr. Coffee. The gadget’s success can be chalked up to one key quality: It really did make the best coffee you could get at home.

Posted in China Fact | 5 Comments »

Did China Have a Hand in Creating Her Horrible Earthquake?

Posted by w_thames_the_d on February 4, 2011


Excerpt from The Choking of China
The book is about how China is polluting her country and the repercussions thereof. Here they talk about how China is damming water and the impact of the dams.

“But not for long. By 1980, 2796 dams had failed, with combined death toll of 240,000 people. After the construction of the Three Gorges dam, it soon began to trigger landslides and deadly waves. The rivers feeding it were not able to flush out garbage – so the water became carcinogenic and threatened people in 186 cities. But the most startling effect followed the Zipingpu dam – which may well have caused the Sichuan earthquake.

When the plans were first unveiled to build the Zipingpu dam on an ancient faultline, many scientists warned it was a bad idea. True, the faultline had been dormant for millions of years. But, as Watts puts it: “Each time it filled and emptied, more than 300 million tons of water rose and fell. It was like a giant jumping up and down on a cracked surface. Several leading scientists speculated that the result was a reservoir-induced earthquake.” Less than two years after reservoir first filled, the Sichuan earthquake struck, killing around 68,000 people. Discussion of this question was suppressed in China. But many distinguished scientists have argued that the country’s worst recent “natural” disaster wasn’t natural as all, but a direct result of government policy.”

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Muuaaa to China- XOXOXOX

Posted by w_thames_the_d on February 4, 2011


Maybe angry Bill has been to tough on the center country as of late. And yes I think my posts have been a little bit harsh so I am extending a hug and kiss to all 1 200 000 000 people who are forced to live here. Well lets make it 1 199 000 people because those in power in this place can sk it…
But anyway I wish nothing but good things to the good people of China who actually number around 1 189 999 999 and I truly hope for the best for them!!!
Xin ku le zhong guo

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