Monthly Archives: July 2005

Alert! Unidentified Chinese Sea Monster with Detached Tailbone Found!

China.org.cn:

Early on the morning of July 23, a fisherman from Ningbo City in east China’s Zhejiang Province was shocked by the sight of a huge creature lying dead beside the seawall near his home.

Liu, who lives in Yangshashan of Chunxiao Town in Beilun District and who has been a fisherman for over ten years, said “I have never seen such a monster; it was larger than a whale.”

It was first seen by villagers on July 20, according to Mei who breeds fish nearby, and is nearly 12 meters long and weighs around 2 tons, according to district sea and fishery bureau staff.

The animal reportedly has a long thin head and a snout nearly one meter long.

Partly rotten, with its spine exposed, it has been impossible to identify, but has been described as having some hair, and orange stripes across a three to four-meter wide belly. The skull, which alone weighs over 100 kg, and coccyx of the creature have fallen from its body.

(Incredulous emphasis mine.)

Ecuador, Peru, and the Failed States Index Map

Check out Foreign Policy’s Failed States Index Map. Interesting stuff.

My gripe: Ecuador is listed as “borderline,” while neighboring Peru is described as “in danger.”

Is Peru really in worse shape than Ecuador, which has seen three presidents deposed since 1997? While Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo’s approval ratings have been subterranean for a while (only about 7-10% of Peruvians currently approve of his performance), the government appears more stable than its northern neighbor.

The country-by-country data provides some insight: Peru receives a poorer score for “Security Apparatus.” I suppose that’s a reference to the Peruvian state’s ongoing struggle to deal with those pesky Maoist rebels, the Shining Path. The guerillas have been quiet of late, though, so I find this explanation surprising.

UPDATE: I just took another glance at the map, and I wanna know this: who’s doing the fact-checking over at Foreign Policy? Morgan Spurlock? Amazingly, Bolivia’s not even included on the list.

Bolivia’s president — as you’ll recall reading about here and elsewhere — stepped down a few months ago after a massive indigenous uprising. Bolivia is truly teeting on the edge of chaos; Peru and Ecuador are comparatively far from collapse.

Motorcycles Around the World

Question: why are motorcycles so prevalent in Asia and yet comparatively less widespread in other parts of the world? I have no idea. I’ve asked smart people about this in the past but have received no compelling explanation.

Is it because Asian cities are more compact than those in the West, making shorter distances more suitable to motorcycle travel?

Is it because many motorcycles are manufactured in Asia, so they’re cheaper to buy there?

Have motorycles not caught on in in South America because the roads are poor and would be difficult to traverse by motorbike?

Do Asians have a different outlook on death — hey, it happens — and thus are more comfortable with riskier motorcycle travel?

Motorycle usage in Europe is higher than in the Americas, but not as high as in Asia; what about motorcycles in Africa and Australia — do people ride them there? Not so much, I think.

Please posit theories in the comments. I’m dying to resolve this issue.

Chelsea FC vs. DC United

Last night Chris D. and I went to see Chelsea, the reigning champions of the English Premier League, play DC United in an exhibition game.

Chelsea won 2-1; their star-studded lineup was highly impressive, though DCU put up a good fight (and, in fact, scored first and held the lead for a fleeting four minutes).

Here’re my photos from the night. Here’s the full match report. And here’re some extended video highlights (under the “2005 Video” heading).

Nap Cap Pricing and Indigenous Indonesian Clog Wearing Customs

In an ongoing email thread, my Dad and I have been pondering an interesting question he raised: since Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch, did the native population ever take to wearing clogs?

He writes:

Newl-

Did you notice that the NC [Ed — he’s referring, of course, to the previously-mentioned Nap Cap] is $99.95! Your brain would already need to be asleep to order one!

By the way, I’ve been reading the history of foreign occupation in Indonesia, and it seems very unlikely that anyone other than aristocrats who profited from the Dutch presence ever chose to wear wooden shoes…

Anyone out there got an answer for him? My googling reveals nada.

I’m lookin’ at you, Frans V

UPDATE
: My buddy Frans V., who in fact grew up in Singapore and is of Dutch heritage, writes:

Newley,
The Dutch never wore wooden shoes. In fact, it was a dutchman named Johanas van der Vooran van Wuden who came up with the idea after the decline of the Moluccan spice trade to invent the wooden shoe and market them for tourists. The dutch had hoped that tourists would buy their famously large wheels of cheese, but they kept rolling off the sides of the ships as tourists returned home. The wooden shoe however proved quite popular and before long you could see tourists clogging clumsily down the cobble stone streets. Pickpockets soon picked up on this correlation of cash carrying tourist and poor mobility and the great Clog Crime wave took place in Amsterdam in 1872. Soon after the wooden shoe fell out of favor and the dutch tourism board lobbied to have Holland’s nuclear power plants replaced with windmills. So in fact, the dutch never really wore wooden shoes and people in Indonesia during colonial times for that matter wore Tevas, which have since been replaced by the locally produced Nike Aquasock.

Who knew?