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From cells to bells, 10 things the Chinese do far better than we do
November 23, 2004 7:18 AM   Subscribe

From cells to bells, 10 things the Chinese do far better than we do Ah, those clever Chinese. First they invent gunpowder and a few other essentials of modern civilization. Now they're gunning their economic engines. Yet who would have thought that, after a millennium of poverty, they'd already do so many things better than we? In fact, compiling a Top 10 list of what China does better than Canada isn't easy. There are so many items. To whittle it down, let's assume it's unfair to count anything related to cheap labour. So we won't include the wonderfully thorough mop-ups of supermarket spills: The staff don't plunk down those yellow you-can't-sue-us caution signs. They actually fan the floor with a broken sheet of Styrofoam until it is dry. Nor will we mention the exquisite, free head-and-shoulder massages that come with every shampoo and haircut....
posted by Postroad (72 comments total)

 
I have experienced such a head-and-shoulder massage with a haircut (though not in China) and I must say that it is a thoroughly superior, and exceptionally pleasant, practice.

And mark my words, if the US doesn't step up emphasis on public scientific education this list will be a much longer one in 20 years. (Yeah it's about Canada, but much of this applies to us Americans as well.) See: this book.

Hate paying those gym club bills? Loathe huffing and puffing around buff bodies in spandex? Beijing provides free outdoor exercise equipment in neighbourhoods throughout the city: walking machines, ab flexers, weight machines and rowing machines in bright reds, blues, yellows and greens.

Why didn't we think of this?
posted by baphomet at 7:31 AM on November 23, 2004


This kind of makes me angry. Why don't MY stopping lights shrink with time? Why don't MY parking lots show available spaces on nearby billboards?

I think we should invade.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 7:35 AM on November 23, 2004


i like the movie theatre idea. i tried to go to the movies this weekend. i thought i was so smart because i bought my tickets hours in advance. when i showed up 20 minutes before the screening, the only seats were in the first row. so i just got my money back.
posted by xmattxfx at 7:42 AM on November 23, 2004


In fact, compiling a Top 10 list of what China does better than Canada isn't easy. There are so many items.

Well, at least Canada still has ice hockey and maple syrup. Those have to count for something.
posted by briank at 7:45 AM on November 23, 2004


I don't really understand the point of a China/Canada comparison. Surely you could compare any two nations and compile a list of what the other does better? Is the site presuming that we all think China is a third-world country full of factory drones and farmers?
posted by Summer at 7:49 AM on November 23, 2004


Is the site presuming that we all think China is a third-world country full of factory drones and farmers?

Trust me, you'd be surprised...
posted by odinsdream at 8:04 AM on November 23, 2004


I get a head and shoulder massage when I get a shampoo at my salon. And the shampoo lady isn't even Chinese ;)
Also, the shopping area closest to my house just put up a huge parking garage that has digital signage telling you how many spaces are available on each level.
Americans are catching up! Just a little slow...
posted by turtlegirl at 8:10 AM on November 23, 2004


Is the site presuming that we all think China is a third-world country full of factory drones and farmers?

I think that's a harsh way of putting it. More accurately, ten or twenty years ago a list comprised of China's technological or cultural 'superiority' (I can't think of a better term although that one does imply a bit much) would be surprising to most, without them necessarily thinking it was all worker bees and farmers.

China pretty much launched themselves into the new century at an amazing pace. Even someone who's been paying attention can find interesting things that one would not have expected China to be at the forefront of (street control technology?).
posted by wolftrouble at 8:10 AM on November 23, 2004


They're kicking our asses, badly, in the female infanticide space too. Those Dying Rooms aren't gonna build themselves people.
posted by Scoo at 8:13 AM on November 23, 2004


OMG - I want the free hemming!! I rarely buy pants because it is such a pain to get them hemmed, and it gets expensive. If I knew the amount I was paying was the final cost, plus I could get them done while I pay, I'd be buying them a lot more often. Brilliant!

and about China being a third-world country -- so many of us know nothing about China. Our media (US) doesn't do much to educate us, or even share with us about what goes on there. I know they are not all farmers, but at the same time how am I supposed to know without going there? Just like I have no idea what it is like in Sweden.

I think the point of this article is to share what another country is doing that we would like ourselves. We tend to think of ourselves as so great, and having everything. I love seeing that view challenged. I want to know more!!

on preview, what wolftrouble said.
posted by evening at 8:14 AM on November 23, 2004


The Globe and Mail did a whole issue the other week/month about the rise of China, so it's not like the author just decided one day that this would be good way to fill her column.
posted by maledictory at 8:19 AM on November 23, 2004


In St. Louis, the Wehrenberg movie theater chain tried assigned seating for about a year. It was awesome. You could could order online, by phone, or in person and specify exactly what seat you wanted. They stopped doing it -- I guess people actually *like* having to sit in the first row if they don't get there half an hour before the previews start.

Also, I remember Denny's restaraunts about 15-20 years ago having the little service buttons they speak so highly of in the article.
posted by zsazsa at 8:20 AM on November 23, 2004


Why didn't we think of this?

There ain't no money in free exercise equipment, baphomet.

Surely you could compare any two nations and compile a list of what the other does better?

Yes you could. Better still, you probably should do that, and work to implement the best ones. A better question would be to wonder why this exercise isn't done more often.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:22 AM on November 23, 2004


China's cellphone practices beat ours. You can use them in elevators, subways and parking garages.
Common, what is the joke here? As how can a cell phone’s frequency travel through metal & concrete objects? Are you telling me they have antennas placed everywhere, or just no service at all.
posted by thomcatspike at 8:23 AM on November 23, 2004


Apparently they also lead when it comes to farmers who are also self-taught roboticists.
posted by gyc at 8:27 AM on November 23, 2004


i'd still rather ski at whistler in the rain than ski in china.
posted by three blind mice at 8:36 AM on November 23, 2004


Scoo, I wish I hadn't laughed as hard at that as I did.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 8:36 AM on November 23, 2004


I'm trying to come up with things the United States does better than Japan. So far I've got foreign language education and sandwiches, and I'm not so certain about the first.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:39 AM on November 23, 2004


gyc, good thing the US leads when it comes to actors who are also self-taught roboticists.
posted by zsazsa at 8:40 AM on November 23, 2004


If you are interested in modern China, this is a great place to start.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:40 AM on November 23, 2004


Aren't they good at censoring teh internet too?
posted by bonaldi at 8:40 AM on November 23, 2004


Aren't they good at censoring teh internet too?

Yup and they fine you and throw you in jail to boot.
posted by squeak at 8:49 AM on November 23, 2004


It's true that cell phones work on the subway in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. As you might imagine, this is kind of a mixed blessing. It's also clear to anyone who has spent any time in Beijing that the subway comparisons are based exclusively on Shanghai. The Beijing subway is crowded, dirty and doesn't go anywhere useful, and it uses paper tickets that must be bought from and then immediately collected by some of the most unpleasantly rude old women I have encountered anywhere. No one lines up, so at peak times you have to join a big crowd and kind of surge while waving cash in the air. As much as I hate the NYC subway, next to the Beijing subway it looks like the London Underground.

OK so I have some subway issues.
posted by alexwoods at 8:51 AM on November 23, 2004


Is this all due to the fact that they have 34958343 more people than us over there? You know the saying, two heads are better than one...

Maybe THAT'S why they're so much "better" (I use the term losely).

I will, however...give them the medal for best Nail Art work.
posted by squirrelly at 8:53 AM on November 23, 2004


Quite a cool article. Thanks Postroad.
I don't think we in North America fully understand the Chinese juggernaut that's just starting to gather speed.
As others have observed, our children born today will grow up in a world increasingly economically dominated by China.
I thought it was a nice touch in the futuristic (and short-lived) TV series Firefly that the (mostly Caucasian) characters spoke Chinese as well as English because they had grown up in a world dominated by the Middle Kingdom.
posted by Fracmaster at 8:58 AM on November 23, 2004


The seats in theaters idea is just such a no-brainer for anyone who has ever used the same system the Chinese use. Buy seats in advance, like on the airlines. Why participate in a mad rush? I used a preselect system in Thailand, and it works SO well. If you're the type of person who likes to arrive after the commercials and still have your favorite seat waiting for you, you should accept no substitution. On second thought, that's probably why they don't use them in America--so you HAVE to come early and watch all the lame ads just to get a good seat.
posted by squirrel at 9:01 AM on November 23, 2004


the US has better foreign language education than Japan does? Did I fall in to some strange alternate universe where that statement is true?
posted by Sir Mildred Pierce at 9:01 AM on November 23, 2004


On preview: welcome aboard, squirrely!

*grumble grumble, big smile, grumble grumble, suspicious leer*
posted by squirrel at 9:05 AM on November 23, 2004


On second thought, that's probably why they don't use them in America--so you HAVE to come early and watch all the lame ads just to get a good seat.

Maybe, but it might also be that a theatre knows that if only bad seats are available, they won't sell in advance. Unlike airlines, they can't sell them at a discount, so they stay empty. On the other hand, if they don't use assigned seating, most people who arrive late only to find bad seats will take those seats and not ask for a refund.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:14 AM on November 23, 2004


I don't really understand the point of a China/Canada comparison.

The author is a fairly prominent Chinese-Canadian journalist/muckraker.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:20 AM on November 23, 2004


alex woods,

agreed Beijing metro sux, but have you tried The Bund Tunnel (icestorm).
posted by johnny novak at 9:27 AM on November 23, 2004


Well...kids who graduate from high school in America have worse foreign language ability than most Japanese high school graduates. However, if you compare on a year by year basis, most Japanese study 4 years of English, and most Americans who study 4 years of a foreign language in high school speak it better than most Japanese high school students.

Kinda difficult to compare the two fairly.
posted by Bugbread at 9:32 AM on November 23, 2004


According to Wikipedia, China is by definition a "Third World" country. The real problem is that the term doesn't mean anything any more, since it is a Cold War term, and the world has changed beyond recognition since then.

I'm almost completed an adoption from China (travelling in two weeks), and I've been amazed at the ignorance of people about the country. Seriously, I find many people who still think it is all rice paddies, malaria and poverty. For example, many parents in my travel group act like if their child is ill, they'll have to take an emergency flight back to the U.S. immediately. Right, because there are no doctors in China. It may be inconvenient, and we'll need a translator, but we'll use one of the many fine hospitals in Beijing or Guangzhou, should that be needed.
posted by Invoke at 9:37 AM on November 23, 2004


the US has better foreign language education than Japan does? Did I fall in to some strange alternate universe where that statement is true?

I speak only from personal observation, but it's my belief that the methods (immersion, creative writing, etc.) of teaching foreign languages used in the US are superior to those in Japan, if one believes that the goal of foreign language study is full comprehension, fluency and ability to communicate in the studied language. Of course, Japan has the right idea in making English study mandatory for all students, but the rote memorization and "teaching to the test" methodologies don't usually produce actual fluent English speakers. Sorry about the derail.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:38 AM on November 23, 2004


Also, what bugbread said.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:39 AM on November 23, 2004


From cells to bells

Great, now I have AC/DC stuck in my head.
posted by jenovus at 9:45 AM on November 23, 2004


The issue of the Globe and Mail this article appeared in was 'really quite something', as my dad would say. The whole of the saturday paper - arts, business, news, even sports and 'life' were entirely focused on everything china.

One of the reasons that this might have seemed more sensical in its Canadian print format might have something to do with the relatively high concentration of Chinese immigrants in our major cities. The fact that the chinese population is ammassing a lot of wealth is much more visible, as are the chances to take advantage of trade opportunities. (Not to mention the use of language learning opps as perhaps a way to 'skip ahead' of other countries in our abilities to do business with china.) I think the main thrust was "if the canadian economy is going to be competitive into the future, we need to start acknowledging the competitiveness of the chinese." Hence the list.

The front page of the paper had a large-font chinese-character headline, that took up almost the entire page. The translation was something along the lines of 'if you can't read this, you're screwed'.
posted by Kololo at 9:46 AM on November 23, 2004


If we're digressing from the article a bit and talking about whose going to the next economic juggernaut, I'll put my money on India thank you.

They have the same economies of labor, but a faster growing middle class, a true democracy with lots-o civil liberties, and that native english language thing makes it oh-so easy to work with E.U. and U.S. economies until they're ahead.

And frankly, I welcome our curry bearing overlords. I swear, there is no good Indian food in NYC.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 10:02 AM on November 23, 2004


I want the free hemming!!
Recall Norstrums having free hemming, maybe they don't have a store in Canada though.

The seats in theaters idea is just such a no-brainer for anyone who has ever used the same system the Chinese use. Buy seats in advance, like on the airlines. Why participate in a mad rush?
Otherwise,
No one lines up, so at peak times you have to join a big crowd and kind of surge while waving cash in the air
Have had similar situations boarding air planes with unassigned seats in Hawaii. Think it is due to A Large Population thing.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:06 AM on November 23, 2004


To clarify, A large Population thing were the visiting Asians in Hawaii.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:08 AM on November 23, 2004


scoo gets the awared for biggest (only) belly laugh of the day. I'm a sick, sick man.
posted by Flem Snopes at 10:12 AM on November 23, 2004


one wonders on what kind of research -- if any -- this slim, slim fluff piece on the beauty of slave labor is based.
the amount of air pollution, the appalling city traffic, the terrifying bureaucracy, the environmental cost of the Great Infrastructure Leap Forward are only some of the many indicators of the fact that China's quality of life is not, as of now, on par with the West's (even if, of course, Shanghai has restaurants as cool as those in Lower Manhattan. I liked it there a lot. and the Peninsula in Hong Kong is one of the world's coolest hotels (even if I'm told that the Bangkok one is way better). shoulder and head and scalp massages -- well, one could get those almost everywhere now, as others have pointed out. customer service? Japan royally kicks China's ass.


many parents in my travel group act like if their child is ill, they'll have to take an emergency flight back to the U.S. immediately

tell them to also bring hot water over from America if they want to shower/bathe/etc. there is none in China!
*snicker*
anyway congratulations for your new baby. adoption rocks. and you guys do, too.
posted by matteo at 10:15 AM on November 23, 2004




One man's economic miracle is another's environmental catastrophe.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:31 AM on November 23, 2004


- PissOnYourParade has clearly never enjoyed Vatan.

- I've met literally hundreds of Japanese people who've "had" four years of English and can't (or won't) speak a word. Empirically, the system there is failing if part of its goals include developing a population of English-fluent speakers.

- To my mind, the biggest and scariest way in which Bush & co. have fucked us is in so undermining the American claim to hegemony that the way is smoothed for the emergence of the Chinese version. If you think Planet Hollywood is ugly - and I do, very much is - wait for Planet Shanghai.
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:35 AM on November 23, 2004


Best.Postroad.Ever.

Thanks, Posty!
posted by dash_slot- at 10:39 AM on November 23, 2004


Saw this a few weeks ago and forwarded it to a Chinese friend (in Hefei, has never left China). She was quite shocked that our stoplights didn't make sense and that we had to pay extra for hemming.

At the same time, when I told her about ethnic violence in Henan, she was not surprised or terribly bothered by the absence of media converage in China, or the fact that she couldn't access foreign websites about it.

Ever since my first visit, I have been fascinated by a land where the growing educated elite is "sophisticated" on most of the metrics we Western educated elite would use, but have no apparent need for any of our Lockian heritage.
posted by allan at 10:59 AM on November 23, 2004


I believe that the Chinese future dominance of economics and politics is being helped indirectly by the massive adoption of (mostly female) chinese "orphans" by Americans. See our own Invoke's comment above, for an example.

These babies are being adopted by-and-large by wealthy and academically minded American folks. My advisor in grad school adopted a baby girl last year. These young women will grow up to P0wnZ us... being perfectly positioned to use their american (and western european) upbringings to serve as conduits between cultures.
posted by zpousman at 11:31 AM on November 23, 2004


Having lived in China for a while, I found this article a little puffy and simplistic as well. For instance, the “narrow plastic bags” that stores give you to “sheathe your dripping umbrella” is just one instance of the incredible overuse of cheap plastic bags in China. I remember stopping for a bowl of noodles at a small shop and the server would just put a plastic bag over a bowl, pour in the noodle soup, and throw away the bag when I was done. Hey, you don’t even have to wash dishes, but then the ponds and creeks are clogged with non-biodegradable materials.
And the Shanghai mag-lev train is impressive, it keeps going faster and faster until you can’t believe it could get any faster, and you’re still a long way from the top speed of 431 km/h. The thing is, it’s only a seven minute ride; you save about 20 minutes over a bus ride which costs a tenth as much, which pretty much renders the mag-lev an expensive showpiece.
For all the cool things about China (and not losing sight of the many not so pleasant aspects of life there), what always impressed me the most is how stable the society is. For a developing country, where a mind-boggling number of people are competing for so few resources, with virtually no welfare system, charities, or other social safety nets, China has a remarkably healthy and well-socialized population.
And yes, the 10-yuan ($1.25) haircut and massage is a real pleasure.
posted by banishedimmortal at 11:32 AM on November 23, 2004


China's economic growth is definitely a mixed blessing. On the positive side millions of people are being lifted out of abject poverty. On the negative side the ecological price is staggering, and tends to indicate that the growth cannot continue at this pace for much longer. Additionally, of course, we have the worry about China's totalitarian system of government, which isn't a good thing for anybody; especially the Chinese...

China is today the world's biggest consumer/importer of steel and concrete; which fuels their building boom. They are spending around 33% of their GDP on new construction. If China still classes as third world, it won't for much longer.
posted by sotonohito at 11:37 AM on November 23, 2004


11. Starving 30 million of its citizens to death in one year.
posted by Hildago at 11:41 AM on November 23, 2004


I'm trying to come up with things the United States does better than Japan. So far I've got foreign language education and sandwiches, and I'm not so certain about the first.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:39 AM MST on November 23


the US has better foreign language education than Japan does? Did I fall in to some strange alternate universe where that statement is true?
posted by Sir Mildred Pierce at 10:01 AM MST on November 23

I guess this means we're behind in reading comprehension, too.
posted by effwerd at 11:43 AM on November 23, 2004


The Chinese may be clever chaps, but we Yankees lead the world in the development of new industrial products and processes that cause cancer. That , and Obesity.
posted by Megafly at 12:02 PM on November 23, 2004


I once had a long arguement with a friend concerning China's future dominance...I pointed out educational and population-related advantages, not to mention the three gorges dam which will supposedly create huge developement in central china. My friend argued, which is very true, that the difference in GDP and actual wealth of china is still way below the United States. But who knows what will happen to this with our increasing national debt.

I had a professor who told my international relations class, that once on a tour of NATO headquarters in Belgium, he spoke with an officer concerning Russia joining NATO...supposedly he replied with an answer along the lines of "well, they would be a great help, since theyre closer to china..."

China's gonna dominate.
posted by Kifer85 at 12:20 PM on November 23, 2004


I believe that the Chinese future dominance of economics and politics is being helped indirectly by the massive adoption of (mostly female) chinese "orphans" by Americans...These young women will grow up to P0wnZ us... being perfectly positioned to use their american (and western european) upbringings to serve as conduits between cultures.

Actually in my experience, a Chinese baby adopted and raised in America by Western parents (who probably can't speak Chinese themselves) is unlikely to be any better of a "conduit between cultures" as anyone else. And it may even be harder for them, as ethnic Chinese (or any Asians for that matter) are expected by Chinese people to be able to speak Chinese fluently, no matter where they were raised, whereas non-Asian people such as myself are lauded for being able to manage "Ni hao." One time when I was studying Chinese in Beijing, I asked some questions in fairly good Mandarin to a shopowner. He would then turn to my friend, a Korean-American girl whose Mandarin was much worse than mine, to give his answers.

Additionally, of course, we have the worry about China's totalitarian system of government, which isn't a good thing for anybody; especially the Chinese...

Although I don't really like that I usually end up playing devil's advocate for the Chinese government, I think that many Westerners have somewhat unrealistic expectations for the Chinese government. While there are undeniably serious problems with corruption, human rights abuses, etc, the alternative could be much worse. China has a long history of catacylsmic events when the government loses control of the population. The Taiping Rebellion of 1851, for instance, in which 50 million people may have died, was largely fomented by an army of unmarried, unemployed, discontent young men led by a charasmatic but delusional character who claimed to be Christ's younger brother--and they almost overthrew the emperor. This may seem like ancient history to us, but, as a result of China's one-child policy (another "totalitarian," but in my mind, absolutely necessary program) and abortion/infanticide of female babies, there is a large population of men who simply cannot find wives, and many of them also cannot find regular employment. I hate to say this, but I believe it in my heart and I speak from some first-hand experience: allowing people to foment dissent a la American-style "freedom of speech" could very possibly lead to the same kind of disaster. This is what is behind the Falun Gong repression. While I fully recognize the need for reform of China's political system, I urge people to remember that China is not, nor has ever been, capable of Western-style democracy or providing full protection to human rights. I hope one day it will be.
posted by banishedimmortal at 12:38 PM on November 23, 2004 [1 favorite]


didn't make sense and that we had to pay extra for hemming
This is plain good old customer service, something that the US's service industry is lacking. Wonder if the gas stations attendants in China clean your window and check under the hood?
posted by thomcatspike at 12:58 PM on November 23, 2004


While I fully recognize the need for reform of China's political system, I urge people to remember that China is not, nor has ever been, capable of Western-style democracy or providing full protection to human rights. I hope one day it will be.

I'll begin by saying that I am no scholar of Chinese history by any stretch of the imagination, and I also probably qualify as a bleeding-heart liberal, but either I'm misunderstanding you or this just doesn't ring true. If you're saying that China lacks the infrastructure or resources to fully and fairly enact democracy and civil rights, then you might be right. But I interpreted what you said as, "There is something about the Chinese character that renders them incapable of democracy," and that made me cringe.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:10 PM on November 23, 2004


>>On preview: welcome aboard, squirrely!

*grumble grumble, big smile, grumble grumble, suspicious leer*

posted by squirrel at 12:05 PM EST on November 23

Does that mean I'm in trouble? Cuz I mean, my nickname and all...great minds think alike, right? :::nervous laugh:::
posted by squirrelly at 1:33 PM on November 23, 2004


Who the fuck are all you people?
posted by jon_kill at 2:07 PM on November 23, 2004


There ain't no money in free exercise equipment, baphomet.

I would argue that there is, though not directly...if more Americans would exercise given free access to the requisite equipment we would see a decrease in obesity, and thus a decrease in obesity-related health problems- and since fewer people would be straining the health care system with their strained waistlines, the cost of health care to society and individuals would decrease.

That's a postulation which rests, of course, upon the assumptions that 1) Enough Americans would have access to this equipment to potentially make a noticable dent in our obesity problem and 2) enough of them would exercise enough to actually make that dent. Given the right conditions in society, though, I believe it would be possible.
posted by baphomet at 2:19 PM on November 23, 2004


Ahhh it's always always always the same story, nothing has changed since when I was born, really...what ?

My neighbourn lawn is more green then mine , Corollary : therefore he's a terrorist :D !

These "cultural" comparison are so naive...it is absolutely obvious that if we really look hard we'll find there are things/situation somebody else have/do better then us.

Take the "smart" traffic lights that show the remaining time...it's so FRIGGIN obvious it hurts, yet in some places in europe some people is busy dictating that 2 seconds after the pedestrian green light has lit, the yellow one should turn on so that the pedestrian will hurry up ! :D even if in the last 20 years yellow light means "don't go on street Red is turning on in 2 seconds". How stupid is that ? Unbearable, yet some think this is "progress" :) just because the timing has changed ! Fantastic !

Oh and you see ..the evil Chinese are all about infanticide of girls...sure , as much as some other country think they're civilized yet they kill adults :D , cause you know there's a difference between killing an adult and killing a fetus, the latter being evil and despicable, the former being acceptable. HOW friggin stupid is that .

Point being, when we see something that works well we may be tempted to adapt it to our lifestyle...just friggin copy the good thing dammit , how do you think the chinese counterfeiters made money ? They just COPIED !
posted by elpapacito at 2:51 PM on November 23, 2004


I would argue that there is, though not directly...if more Americans would exercise given free access to the requisite equipment we would see a decrease in obesity, and thus a decrease in obesity-related health problems- and since fewer people would be straining the health care system with their strained waistlines, the cost of health care to society and individuals would decrease.

And, of course, the first time some idiot gets on a public exercise machine after fourteen beers and breaks his arm, he gets to sue the government for a million dollars. Sadly, I just don't think Americans can be trusted with nice things.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:56 PM on November 23, 2004


the cost of health care to society and individuals would decrease.

Thereby proving there's no money in exercise equipment.

Remember, decreasing costs == less money. :-)

Not to say it's not a good thing to decrease said costs, but there really is no money in exercise equipment.
posted by shepd at 4:39 PM on November 23, 2004


But I interpreted what [banishedimmortal] said as, "There is something about the Chinese character that renders them incapable of democracy," and that made me cringe.

That's how I interpreted it as well. If that was indeed the sentiment, it is patently not true given the thriving Taiwan democracy.

As anyone who has spent time there can attest, living in China is a never-ending adventure because you never know what odd or cool thing you will run into next. Things change so fast too that I don't doubt it will outgrow its "Third World" status faster than a lot of people would think…
posted by gemmy at 4:48 PM on November 23, 2004


i like the movie theatre idea
I live in Korea and I hate it. I get to a movie 20 minutes ahead but perfectly good seats stay empty because people with more money than sense have reserved them. I think seats should be distributed by interest.

If I had a rock band I'd do it the same way: If you like us come early for the good seats, if you don't care sit in the back. Otherwise you get middle-aged half-dead fans in the front who wouldn't move even in an earthquake or scream even if they saw a ghost.
posted by Octaviuz at 5:11 PM on November 23, 2004


[...]some idiot gets on a public exercise machine after fourteen beers and breaks his arm, he gets to sue the government for a million dollars.

That, and the machines would be vandalized, spraypainted and liberally urinated upon by winos. Make no mistake, China can put these out there precisely because it is not a free society, and can exact terrible punishments for minor crimes and thereby deter casual, pointless abuses of the public trust. (By contrast, over here we only exact unreasonable disproportionate punishments for putting certain molecules in your body.)

Sadly, I just don't think Americans can be trusted with nice things.

It's nothing to do with trust, except perhaps that China can trust its citizenry to fear consequences.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:56 PM on November 23, 2004


You could put them in a limited-entry facility. Sign up (disclaimers are wonderful), get your access card, and understand that you're monitored as long as you're in the facility. Which would have no locker rooms since you can't monitor those. I mean, that's how we're running things these days, right? Freedom with surveillance?

Not that any of this is really on topic, but I'm just saying. Americans can fear consequences just as well as anybody else in the world, we just need to be reminded of those consequences much more directly.
posted by baphomet at 6:26 PM on November 23, 2004


Re: my earlier post,

We must laugh to keep from weeping.
posted by Scoo at 6:36 PM on November 23, 2004


Who the fuck are all you people?

They're the Chinese, and they're taking over.
posted by mr.marx at 7:09 PM on November 23, 2004


Picking up Octaviuz's thread, I live in Korea too, and most of the things that annoy me about Korean culture are borrowings from China*. I don't think I'd like it there.




*The rest are borrowed from Japan.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:07 PM on November 23, 2004


As much as I hate the NYC subway, next to the Beijing subway it looks like the London Underground.

You say that like it's a good thing.
posted by acb at 7:29 AM on November 24, 2004


The Chinese are better at cooking lung, and better at eating it.
posted by Julie at 2:05 PM on November 29, 2004


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