Chinese corner-cutting in the new global world

From James Palmer at Aeon:

In our apartment in central Beijing, we fight a daily rearguard action against entropy. The mirror on my wardrobe came off its hinges six months ago and is now propped up against the wall, one of many furnishing casualties. Each of our light fittings takes a different bulb, and a quarter of them are permanently broken. In the bedroom, the ceiling-high air-conditioning unit runs its moisture through a hole knocked in the wall, stuffed with an old cloth to avoid leakage, while the balcony door, its sealant rotted, has a towel handy to block the rain when it pours through. On the steps outside our door, I duck my head every day to avoid the thick tangle of hanging wires that brings power and the internet; when the wind is up, connections slow as cables swing.

The apartment is five years old. By Chinese standards, it’s far better than the average. Our toilet works, while in many of my friends’ houses, flushing the loo is a hydraulic operation akin to controlling the Nile floods. The sockets do not flash blue sparks when plugged in, and all but two work. None of the lightbulbs have ever exploded; and the mirror merely broke away, rather than falling spontaneously from the frame. The shower is not placed next to the apartment’s central wiring and protected by nothing more than rotting drywall. More.

Reality check: Let me say it again: globalization does not mean that North American standards will become general. If they did, we should all rejoice. In reality, standards will be averaged, whether on necessities of life, consumer goods, or civil liberties. If you stand to benefit, vote for globalization, If you don’t, hold out for a better offer.

Note: It’s hard to image but in the mid-nineteenth century, Timothy Eaton (1834-1907) revolutionized Canadian retailing with his slogan: Goods satisfactory or money refunded.

His store is now history but one could keep the flame alive. First, let’s all reduce our consumption of Twit rhetoric about pan-culturalism and globalization.

See also: First China, now Iran, for science fraud Of course, the Iranian problem is slightly different from the one we discussed with China because the papers bought in Iran may be better than the ones the students would have written. It’s the students that are fakes, not necessarily the data.

Survey results: Political correctness makes people stupid: Part II Maclean’s