Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Young and the Communist

What happens when you mix propaganda with daytime television? Communist soap operas! I was visiting a Chinese friend in Beijing this weekend, and as in any good Chinese person’s apartment, the TV was on all the time, so I got to catch a few episodes of some soap opera involving Mao Zedong. There are a few of these. They invariably… (more…)

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The Great Shower Shoe Exchange

Some things have improved at the pool, and some things have gotten worse. The water is no longer the temperature of liquid nitrogen, for one. That’s nice. The sandal situation is a problem, though. In months past, we set our sandals near the edge of the pool. Now, for whatever reason, the system has changed so that we have to… (more…)

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Darwin vs. Car Commercials

It’s interesting sometimes to reflect on the evolution of a concept or field from a defined entity to a symbol or slogan. The advertising industry’s been specializing in this for years, taking something like a car and transforming it into a symbol which is meant to have immediate associations. It is meant simply to provoke, not to stimulate, the result… (more…)

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Which Will Kill You First: Hot or Cold?

Winter’s almost over, by which of course I mean the State, in its infinite wisdom, will soon be shutting off the heat. March 10, to be exact. It’s never officially cold or warm in China until the State says so, and this is convenient, really, because who has time to check the weather online or stick a hand out the… (more…)

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Chinese Swim Strokes

This is actually part of something I wrote earlier, but I wanted to post it on its own. I’ve decided to stop being annoyed by Chinese swimmers and start enjoying their company. In China everyone learns the breast-stroke first (or the frog stroke as it’s called here, and I for one think that’s a far better description; the breast stroke… (more…)

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All Aboard for Sesame Street

China’s always had an odd love affair with cutesy things, Hello Kitty being the most visible, but certainly not the most egregious, offender. Take a look at the magazines for sale at a corner stand if you’d like to see something more pertinent to social critique. At least half the magazines feature women on the cover (the other half feature… (more…)

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