Thursday, January 10, 2008

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James Fallows on the ways in which the US is richer than China:

It’s more than strange. Some Chinese people are rich, but China as a whole is unbelievably short on many of the things that qualify countries as fully developed. Shanghai has about the same climate as Washington, D.C.—and its public schools have no heating. (Go to a classroom when it’s cold, and you’ll see 40 children, all in their winter jackets, their breath forming clouds in the air.) Beijing is more like Boston. On winter nights, thousands of people mass along the curbsides of major thoroughfares, enduring long waits and fighting their way onto hopelessly overcrowded public buses that then spend hours stuck on jammed roads. And these are the showcase cities! In rural Gansu province, I have seen schools where 18 junior-high-school girls share a single dormitory room, sleeping shoulder to shoulder, sardine-style.

I fight a silent war with the janitors at my school to close the hallway windows in winter. At least we have AC units in the classrooms.

This also reminds me of an article in can't-remember-which-local-rag last week titled (rough paraphrase-translation) "Foreigners Think Shanghai Houses Are Not Warm Enough" and went on to talk about building insulation — gasp! — and double-paned windows — double gasp!

I have a vivid memory of back when I was single and living at Jinshajiang Rd, where I would sometimes awake to the sight of my breath forming jets of condensation over the bed covers. But that had more to do with penny-pinching than insulation (to some degree).

3 Comments:

At Jan 10, 2008, 1:06:00 PM, Blogger 183418 said:

RE heating and air conditioning in general, at least in Shanghai, I see that many Chinese view A/C as "unclean" air. Hence, there are always those who open windows even when the A/C is going full blast.

 
At Jan 10, 2008, 1:11:00 PM, Blogger Micah said:

But as we all know that's BS, so the real issue is *its friggin' cold* these days so shut the windows NOW.

 
At Jan 10, 2008, 1:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said:

Actually most Chinese households in the US are cold as well. They just never turn on the heat no matter how cold it is.

 

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