Stupid Design – Evolution really screwed us over! *Evolution #2*

Originally posted on Steemit: https://steemit.com/science/@mobbs/stupid-design-evolution-really-screwed-us-over-evolution-2SourceSo in the first part of this series, we took a look at convergent evolution – the process by which two or more separate species develop the same traits despite being geographically separated and isolated for millions of years.

This is, in itself, a demonstration of how brilliant evolution can be; eyes are so complex and specifically formed, yet they developed on SEVEN separate occasions.

Only birds have wings… EXCEPT BATS

Only reptiles have scal – PANGOLIN


SourceSometimes, a great idea is worth hanging on to, and mother nature knows that. But mother nature can also be quite moronic at times, and that’s where we start off; stupid design.

Stupid Design

People naturally look at animals and see the success of billions of years… ok, most smart people. And they’d be right. They’re alive today, or had survived for millions of years, because they evolved in a way that was perfectly adapted to their environment. When that environment changes too rapidly, well, that’s when things typically die off.

But there are some things that don’t seem like ‘adaptations’ at all, but managed to sneak through the evolutionary cracks and survive in animals even to this day.

Giraffe

Perhaps most famously, Richard Dawkins set out to hammer this point home through a dead giraffe.

What he demonstrates is that, given a slow enough process, badly designed elements of an animal can get through without substantial consequence.

In the example of the giraffe (For those of you who cannot watch the video), there is a nerve called the recurrent laryngeal nerve which goes from the brain to the larynx, but rather than taking a direct route of about 2 inches, it takes a huge detour straight down to the heart, U-turning back up and into the larynx, for a journey totaling 4.6 metres!

This inefficient process is a historical legacy going all the way back to fish, in the pre-neck ages. As necks got longer, the nerve subtly got stretched out with no real consequence. You can even see less extreme results in us humans and other animals – even dinosaurs:



SourceThere’s no better place to say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

But sometimes, it IS broken, and life has just has to deal with it

Giraffe 2

Also, ever wonder what it feels like to be born, only to be welcomed with a 5-foot plummet to the ground? Welcome to the life of a baby giraffe. These guys have to sort themselves out, seriously.

Human Stomachs

You know, our stomachs can’t digest the main component in plant matter – Cellulose. Typically, it’s bacteria that does all the breaking down, and cows, for example, have no problem with this. But we don’t have that bacteria at all.

Sea mammals

You’d think, given they spend 100% of their time in the water, they’d learn how to extract air through some kind of… I duno, gill system. This is what convergent evolution was invented for! But no, moving the nose to the top of the head and massively increasing lung capacity should be a sufficient workaround.


It really looks like a nose when you see it close up…
Source

Human feet

26…That’s how many bones in the human foot. 26 moving parts for a rigid body part. Of course, this is another historical legacy from when our apey ancestors needed flexible feet to swing around and and grab stuff, but now, those 26 bones gift us with:

‘ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, and broken ankles’ – Jeremy DeSilva of Boston University


Ridiculous
Source

The eye

As imperfect as they are perfect. As Claire Ainsworth and Michael Le Page in New Scientist Put it:

’Their light-sensing structure, the retina, is wired up back-to-front, with the light-sensitive cells behind the nerves and blood vessels that support it. Not only does light have to pass through this layer first, obscuring the image, but the nerves and blood vessels have to dive through the retina, creating a blind spot in each eye.’

Source

Looking back at Part 1 of this series, I showed how the Octopus evolved eyes separately from us, but in the exact same way. They see like we do and the same genes were involved in its development.

However, they got it right. They didn’t have the same evolutionary path as us vertebrates.


Spot the difference
SourceNew Scientist continues:

‘when eyes first evolved in the ancestors of modern vertebrates, the retina arose from an in folding of the developing brain, and the cells that could form light receptors happened to end up on the inside of this fold.’

Having said that, new research supposes a decent reason why.

There’s a whole range of issues with the delicacy and disease-prone eye of a human, but we ain’t got time for that.

All of these are problematic and annoying, but we can just put up and shut up, right? Well… not always.

Fatal Design

If I ask you, you’ll probably start thinking about babies and birth. Correct! What a terrible design. Being bipedal has had a lot of advantages for us, and having a big brain has also had a lot of advantages. But put them together and what’s the solution?

Birth Canal

A narrow birth canal that can actually squeeze and potentially crush a baby’s skull, making it otherwise impossible to birth naturally. Without modern surgery, people just had to deal with it via death.


Source

Pharynx

The pharynx shouldn’t even exist at all. This is the passage that allows food to pass through. It’s also the passage that allows AIR to pass through. How efficient, putting them both together! Sure, it dramatically increases the chances of choking, something we all do at least a few times in any given lifetime, but hey!


Source

Oxygen

Speaking of breathing, how is it that we haven’t actually figured out how to do it?

The human breathing reflex happens due to the detection of carbon dioxide. Think about it. Our breathing reflex is NOT something that comes about directly from the absence of oxygen, the stuff that makes us not die. This indirect way of doing things means that in higher altitudes, humans basically suffocate without even noticing due to the lack of oxygen in the thinned air. Since there is not an abundance of carbon dioxide either, the human body can’t regulate its own breathing.

Wisdom Teeth

If you only have one argument against God, this is the one.
Not only are wisdom teeth vestigial – totally useless – but they are downright painful, and before medicine, ensuing infections could often lead to death. All for a couple of teeth you don’t even need.


Source

Hyena Clitoris

Prepare your imaginations. During Hyena pregnancy, the mother provides a high level of hormones to strengthen the babies within. Unfortunately, these androgens damage ovaries and make it difficult for those children to conceive when they grow up.

What’s worse, is that the clitoris, which also serves as the birth canal in Hyenas, grows up to 7 inches, protruding like a penis from her body.


Source

“Imagine giving birth through a penis,” said study co-author Kay Holekamp of Michigan State University

Errr, no thanks.

The consequence of this is that the tiny shaft – barely an inch in diameter – is ripped apart during birth, providing hyenas with a particularly high death rate in pregnant mothers.

The brain

The mother of all f**k ups. I mean, it’s wonderful and all, but there’s a phenomenal amount of inbuilt imperfections that are simply inexcusable. Wisdom teeth, for example. You can blame big brains for those.

Mental conditions are so rife in the human brain that we need a giant, 947 page book, the DSM-5 just to remember them all.

Many of these ‘disorders’ which lead us to shortened lives, suicides, homicides and more were actually evolutionarily advantageous back in the day, but our rapid change in lifestyle and culture made them a hindrance.

Bi-polar disorder, for example, is considered a mental tool that would have had a couple of advantages. First, mood swings would align with seasons and light, in the same kind of way bears hibernate or other creatures change their persona rapidly.

Second, bipolar disorder in women could have been advantageous for procreation, being more ‘manic when it’s summer time and convenient to get busy. This is backed up by the fact that bi-polar disorder is most prevalent in women of reproductive age.

Others include:
• OCD, which served as a psychological immune system
• ADHD was a great tool of innovation
• Dyslexia was a side-effect of a creative, problem-solving mind (only made a hindrance since the invention of writing)
• Austism, which served as a kind of survival superpower back in the hunter-gatherer days, working solo rather than in social groups.
• Stress, another wonderful survival skill now used to make us sick and die more easily.

So there you have it. A small sample of a huge, tangled mess we all put up with; humans AND animals. Next time you look in the mirror, admiring your own perfection, think again.

China – the bad, part 3

This is Part 3 of my series on China. Each part can be read separately, but you can read part 1 here
https://steemit.com/politics/@mobbs/china-1-the-bad-part-1

and part 2 here
https://steemit.com/politics/@mobbs/china-2-the-bad-part-2

Previously I discussed:

Economy
Population
Culture (in part)
Health & Safety
Corruption

I’d like to explore more aspects of culture, with my Steemian friend, who, as a Chinese woman, has a first-hand account, @ginafraser. So let’s begin

Equality

In many ways, much of what I say here would probably apply globally, but China has a systematic approach to inequality which, though changing in some of the major ‘first tier’ cities like Shanghai and Beijing, still has a long way to go, and in much – perhaps most – of China, has an unchanged attitude towards equality, in particular, gender equality. I find this particularly striking given their socialist history. According to the Gender Inequality Index, China ranks 91 out of 187 countries (some tied), and 99th in the Gender Gap index.

These statistics may not go against any of your expectations, but let’s dig a little deeper into what this actually means, culturally.

Women in much of China are considered as little more than a homestay maid that provides sexual release for the men. But these women also have to be the right kind. A woman’s value rapidly deteriorates in China based on their age and whether or not they are a virgin.

Marriage markets

When I say value, I really mean value. A common sight in China – even in Shanghai – is the rather famous ‘Marriage Markets’. So much so that they’re even a tourist attraction on many websites.

Here you can essentially sell off women to eager, aging, single men. You can advertise men too, but unlike women, the men tend to increase their value with age, and it’s their wallets that really matter.

剩女

China has a popular idiom ‘剩女’ or ‘leftover women’, which refers to women in their late 20’s that are still unmarried (Just recently, the nation somehow collectively decided to lower this age to mid-20’s). After that threshold, your value decreases and your chances of finding a partner in the markets (and elsewhere) plummets. Women typically then feel pressure to get whatever they can take. Additionally, the ‘virgin system’, as @ginafraser puts it, causes value to drop even more. I find this particularly bewildering given that there is a huge gender imbalance in the population in the other direction; a surplus of 33 million men reside in China.

Once a woman finds a man and the man proposes, it’s not unusual for the woman’s family to put a price tag on their approval. My friend’s fiancée was given the go ahead after a nice, brand-new, widescreen TV was put on offer, for example. Some may simply ask for a lump cash sum to prove you’re a good person somehow.

Rights

Women typically have less rights overall. Mao Zedong, in his little red book, insisted that gender equality is a necessity in society, citing equal pay for equal work decades before modern SJWs were even born. But his words did not match reality, with very few discrimination cases and little to no protection against harassment until very recently when Xi Jinping started to make some reforms, and even that led to little change.

Even anecdotally, I know of sexually harassment to friends of mine in public; men touching their underwear with their penis in the subway. Others witness older men casually masturbating over them. ‘When she later asked Beijing locals about the incident she was told that older men were allowed to take part in this kind of activity as they are senile and it was just the way things were.’

According to a Chinese Non-governmental organization, a massive 70% of women here have experienced sexual harassment at work, and 15% have left their jobs because of it.

Furthermore, domestic violence is as high as 40% against women, and even higher in rural areas. Like everything here, the main issue is simply a lack of legislation and enforcement. There is no protection or shelters for abused women, no helping organizations, and abuse is largely considered a ‘family matter’ to the authorities. With that in mind, divorce is not granted on grounds of ‘abuse’. It’s just not a valid argument for divorce in China.

Now we get to the ugly bit.

Unwanted children & abortion

As mentioned above, there are 33 million more men in China than women. That’s a huge number, even for a population as big as China. It may be partly due to the one-child policy I talked about in part 1.
As the policy took over (though many exceptions were available), there was pressure in rural areas to birth males, who are apparently better at work. Women are undesirable; not good for work. So there is a natural desire to abort the fetus or failing that, abandon the baby so they can try again for a boy.

Often, a family is allowed a second child IF the first one is a woman, because this first attempt is considered a ‘failure’. I should note that this attitude in and of itself is common all over including Vietnam and India. This continental gendercide is winding down slowly, like every other problem, but not nearly fast enough. Abortion rates are still incredibly high in China. 336 million abortions were reported since the one-child policy was put into effect, or 13 million each year, many of them forced.

Suicide rates are higher in women than men in China – The only country in the world other than some small island with a population of about 10 people. Now we can start to see why.

CCP

The Communist Party of China, of which there are almost 90 million members, enjoys plenty of general rights compared to the rest of the expendable population. Becoming a member is considered ‘the ultimate resume boost’ to start off, and, going back to the marriage market, your value shoots up substantially. You are culturally more respected and become more influential, because becoming a member is something considered only for the elite – despite it being 7% of the entire population.
To put the cherry on the cake, members literally have more rights according to the Chinese constitution: ‘Article 35 proclaims, “Citizens of the PRC enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of the press, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration.” Another segment guarantees workers the right to strike, to speak out freely, air views fully, hold large debates and write big-character posters.’ – With a big asterisk at the bottom citing ‘applicable to members of the party only’

Well, that’s nice.

Censorship

China is probably most famous for its incredibly powerful censorship system. With the great firewall, and the lesser known great cannon, billions of dollars put into watching and controlling dissent through social media, internet and a full range of hacking skills, there’s little anybody can realistically do and get away with it – foreigners like me included.
A fellow co-worker, for example, was on skype to his son one day, when he got a phone call from the internet company. ‘Sorry to disturb your call with your son, but’.

Wait, what? It seems they were sitting there, watching them chat through their own computer screen before calling him up, which violates no privacy rights whatsoever. If a private company has that kind of power, what does the government have?
A lot.

五毛党

The Chinese government hires something they call ‘五毛党’, or ’50 cent army’. This is a massive array of individuals paid to manipulate public opinion online (though it’s just as likely it’s an official duty of membership to the CPC). They are responsible for faking 450 million social media posts according to research.

They are also there to snitch on dissenters among other things. They specifically focus on ‘derailing discussions unhelpful to the communist party’. Essentially, they are professional trolls.

Wechat

Wechat is China’s Whatsapp. But it’s so much more than that. It’s an incredible, powerful device that transforms life as we know it. But I’ll get into that in the ‘good’ post later on. The problem is that wechat consumes almost every aspect of life. In the app, you can call taxis, pay your bills, book cinema tickets or flights, order food or pay at restaurants, charge your phone, unlock a shared bike and a whole manner of oth – oh, and chat with your friends.

With 900 MILLION users depending on this all-consuming app, it’s a little worrying when you realise they have a very cozy relationship – as is required – with the government. Censorship is bountiful, and there are 50-cent eyes required in every group chat over a certain number of members. Members of large group of 500 or more also have to register their phone numbers so there’s no escape

The parent company, Tencent, without telling anybody, censors a whole range of key words and images that appear in newsfeeds, typically things relating to political issues like Tiananmen square, the Hong Kong protests and so on. Many users have been arrested and some reportedly ‘disappeared’ (a common theme in China) for writing dissenting ideas where more than a few people could read it.

There is in fact a whole new language created by Chinese netizens meant to be a code to bypass censorship, but the grip gets tighter every day.

Censorship is incredibly fast and efficient here, so word has to spread fast if anybody wants to even hope to make a difference and get people informed.

VPNs

VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, are surprisingly not illegal in China. But with the vast majority of the country totally unaware of what that is, it doesn’t mean much anyway, and it allows the hypocritical government to access whatever they please. Just recently however, there has been a crackdown on VPNs, and now only VPNs registered and authorized by the government may function in the country. Surprise, surprise.

Media

Typically, all media is heavily censored. Songs cannot sing about anything controversial, TV shows are all safe and family friendly (there is no age rating in China, so EVERYTHING has to be safe viewing for EVERYONE), Video games have to be safe and friendly, literature has to be compliant and family friendly. And safe.

There was a period drama released a couple of years ago called ‘Empress of China’ which, famously, was pulled from the network without warning, and was not heard of again until a few weeks later when it was re-instated. See if you can spot the difference:

That’s right. NO CLEAVAGE.

Blood is also unacceptable for the most part. The recent movie Logan was released here surprisingly, but only after a full 14 minutes were cut out. I’m sure you can guess which bits.

Most international movies released here (of which only 36 are allowed in a given year), have a scene or two cut from it. Which leads me to the final section of Part 3.

International Affairs.

You may have noticed a sharp rise in Chinese actors in minor roles in big movie hits across America. This is no accident. With China rapidly becoming the biggest cinema market, and by far the fastest rising market, it only makes sense that Hollywood sucks their… little red book. But over here, it’s even more pronounced. What you don’t see in America are the additional scenes specifically recorded by Hollywood to include a dialogue or action by some famous Chinese actress or actor being patriotic and all round heroic. Some movie examples are:

• Iron Man 3 – An extra scene showing famous Chinese actors as heroic doctors operating on Tony Stark
• X-men – Fan Bing Bing, the most famous actress in China, played a useless role
• Transformers – It includes a wide range of Chinese product placement
• World War Z – Left almost unrecognizable after all mention of China was removed
• Dozens of other movies (Looper, Pixels, Karate Kid, Django Unchained, Hunger games, and so on) – Scenes cut entirely for
Chinese viewing.

It’s safe to say that China is having a substantial impact on the Hollywood industry. Directors are carefully planning their movies to be suitable and attractive enough to fit into that small, 36-movies-a-year movie list in China.

One Belt, One Road

China is of course a global power, and boy, do they know it. But naturally, it’s never enough. Just recently, Xi Jinping has released grandiose plans for the ‘One Belt, One road’ initiative; a giant update of the old silk road

The move plans to economically connect the world with China for developmental and cooperative reasons. But it’s not all it seems to be.

It has already gone under fire when footage of Kenyans protesting about the new rail system being installed by China surfaced. The rail system connecting the one belt will triple import and export times.

The Kenyans were protesting for a pay raise from $2.50 to $5… per day to start, but there was also protest about the track cutting right through a protected wildlife reserve, treatment of workers and all round poor conditions, such as firing Kenyan staff without cause, firing Kenyans for asking for more pay, dredging sand from beaches for construction, and stealing water from local communities.

This is common across Africa with Chinese companies, with many human rights laws being broken, with outbreaks of cholera, no protective gear and more.

But not to worry, it’s a divided issue, and at least thousands of new jobs have been provided to install the project. Sounds great! Except… the companies China brings to Africa import their own labour. Very few Kenyans actually got to work on the project.
The problems get bigger still. Kenya will be forcefully buried into debt as a result of this project. Kenya’s debt is now 700% of its annual budget – 60% of which belongs to China.

Similar plans are happening around the entire belt. In Vietnam, plans to ‘help develop’ the country will add additional debt equal to the country’s entire annual budget. There is certainly something sinister about this peace project.
500 billion dollars was given in trade in Latin America, with a further 250 billion in direct investments. Yes, almost a trillion dollars in the continent. As for One belt? An estimated 3 Trillion dollars will be sunk into that beast.

There are even broader efforts by China of global domination. In New York Times Square, for example, there is a huge propaganda ad playing 120 times a day, and has entire sections of newspapers dedicated to Chinese patriotism all over the country. Chinese propaganda is commonplace with entire TV channels dedicated to praising the CPC and more.

Overall, China spends around 10 billion dollars on international propaganda, compared to the US’s $666 million.

Make of that what you will.


Can you spot the propaganda?

To conclude

China’s influence on the world is phenomenal, and its rate of growth is even more astonishing. As worrying as this might be, the internal issues are, to me, a much greater concern. Political battles, human rights abuses, an extremely alarming disregard for safety standards and health, pollution disasters, substantial poverty, inequality, animal cruelty and a whole range of aspects I didn’t get time or space to cover, they all lead to one thing:

I need to make a Part 4!

But I promise it will be a lot shorter next time.

Thanks for reading this far, and a special thanks to @ginafraser for her personal knowledge included in this article.

Brainwashing – Old and New

Original post here – https://steemit.com/psychology/@mobbs/brainwashing-old-and-new

I’d like to preface this post with a…hmm… ‘Trigger warning’ (urgh). Further down it goes anti-Islamic, and generally anti-religion. But I want to be very clear that it is not anti-Muslim or anti-religious person, and I try to make that clear distinction.

The critique of an ideology is not bigotry, so if anybody has opposing opinions, we can discuss it civilly below!


Brainwashing is such an overused term when trolling or generally arguing on the internet, that the potency of its effects are often undermined.

Then

Brainwashing is an incredible global force that in many ways has defined and carved civilisation. Think about that. Some ridiculous Chinese people revere in Hitler’s achievements, saying he’s strong and changed the world for the better with some sacrifices – Just like Mao!

Historians often claim that Genghis Khan and the Mongol empire was one of the best things that ever happened to us; it connected the east with the west and set up the blueprints of continental trade and communication that we thrive on to this day.

But close your eyes and imagine being there. Imagine being the victim of Khan’s wrath, of Hitler’s ideas and ideology. Imagine being thrown into the mud ad a group of nomadic, brutal men throw planks of wood on you and your child, so you serve as the foundations for a victory party, with dozens of horses and hundreds of men trampling you from above, breaking your ribs, your children’s skull, and the hundreds of other victims surrounding your now broken and lifeless corpse.

Suddenly, that continental connection doesn’t seem so important.

Imagine looking up in your final breath, having had a bullet in your lungs, and seeing a field, plain and flat, as far as the eye can see on a snowy winters day in Stalingrad, yet you can’t actually see any grass or plains, but instead, carcass after carcass, lined up head to toe, messy piles reaching as far as the eye can see, like blades of grass that had just been mowed down by an industrial lawnmower.


battle of Stalingrad… the results

Suddenly, Hitler’s ideology doesn’t seem so valid.

Time is a natural brainwasher, and a very powerful one at that. We look at the 1200’s in amazement, but we can’t grasp the kind of world the 1200’s under the power of the Khan. It’s just too far away.
ISIS is nothing, ISIS is an ageing mosquito, slowly buzzing near your ear compared to the world our ancestors lived in.

This kind of brainwashing is inevitable in most ways beneficial. Living with this kind of knowledge every day would be the end of us.


Now

But although there are still countless atrocities going on right now, we really do live in a time of comparative peace. In fact, it is easily the most peaceful era in human history.

But as a result, a new kind of brainwashing has been born: Voluntary Brainwashing. And I can’t stand it.

Recently, my home country, England, has seen Islamic terrorism hit its shores again. It’s terrible, and it happens all over the world on a regular basis. Pick any birthday, and you can be sure to find a bunch of deaths related to Islamic terrorism on that day (I checked). So do we really have to keep pushing the ‘not all Muslims’ agenda, one of the most prominent forms of voluntary brainwashing?

Not all Muslims are terrorists. Obviously. If they were, we would all be dead right now – INCLUDING all Muslims, since they largely can’t agree with each other.

But it’s totally beside the point.

It’s like saying ‘not all North Koreans are evil dictators’. yeah, we know. But we also know that those North Koreans are trapped, brainwashed by the powers that reside over them, helpless. The only knowledge they get is the knowledge they’re told, the knowledge those almighty leaders want them to know.

In Islam, the exact same situation. Yet we condemn north Korea and for some absurd reason, do everything we can to revere Islam.

Every single terrorist attack that decapitates a dozen teenage girls, or injures 500 London commuters or the specks of beheadings and knifing and axing and van driving with a Muslim behind the wheel, weapon and action, with every one of them, it takes mere seconds for the solidarity movement to jump onto social media and say NOT ALL MUSLIMS!

Yeah. It’s not the Muslims that are the problem. It’s Islam.

Islam is one of the most successful brainwashing tools the earth has ever known. All religions are pretty efficient at this, but i’d say they are not voluntary.

You, as a Muslim, are trapped. You are victims of forced, lifelong brainwashing. From the day they are born, they are surrounded by adults who don’t want to teach them to think for themselves. They want to teach them to obey the ideals of a prophet of war, a vengeful God. A belief system that demands world dominance and the slaughter of all non-believers. How can you believe anything else when everything around you tells you otherwise? How can you escape when you are threatened with death for leaving?

For the vast majority of Muslims, there’s no way out.

So given how trapped they truly are, how can it possibly help those presumably millions living in fear of their leaders and Gods and prophets, but still blind to their faith from a lifetime of brainwashing, when those non-religious folk or Christians or general liberal minds across the west stand around with their fingers up their arses pretending Islam is a beautiful religion that people have simply distorted?

No.

Islam, like every religion, is a serious problem. And I’m very aware that you, as a westerner (probably) are more likely to get crushed by your fridge than fall for a Jihadist bombing, or get gunned down by a latino or whatever, but again, beside the point.

Most of these statistics showing that Muslim terror attacks are the least likely threat to you are generally based in the US, where Muslims are barely 1% of the population, and terrorist attacks are typically rare on the whole. When you go global, Muslims are 6 times more likely to commit an act of terror compared to the rest of the population)

Here is about 25% of the Islamic Terror attacks that have occurred in the last 30 days. I couldn’t fit the whole thing in one image.

But I want to focus on the very core of the religion, not it’s distorted offshoots.

There are many, many overwhelmingly alarming problems inherent to the ideology as a whole that simply do not fit in our comparatively peaceful world. It may have been a useful tool during the era of empirical conquests and cultural revolutions, but saying it has a place in this world, in 2017 is just dangerous, voluntary brainwashing.

It promotes suppression of women, it often prohibits freedom of religion around the world and it resists democracy and freedom of speech at every turn with a brutal Sharia Law.

When you learn that a vast number, of nations with huge populations think stoning somebody for adultery is the way to go (89% in Pakistan, 81% in Egypt), and those who wish to leave the religion should be put to death (62% in Malaysia, 66% in Palestinian territory), can you call yourself a Feminist or a Liberal as you desperately try to protect them by reminding us that NOT ALL MUSLIMS are terrorists?


When you learn the Koran teaches global conquest, to dominate over all other religions, be it through death or simply out-breeding slowly over generations (as told by spatterings of current leaders of Islamic groups around the world), are you still going to sit there, twiddling your thumbs reciting ‘NOT ALL MUSLIMS’? or ‘Christianity used to be just as bad!’ or ‘Some Christians in Africa are brutal too!’

Think about it. Don’t brainwash yourself. Religious people, especially Muslims, need saving. They are trapped victims of the most powerful psychological tool mankind has ever created.

If you are a Muslim reading this from a moderate family in a moderate country who feels fine with what you’re doing and what your religion stands for around the world, well, I don’t know what to say, but you are lucky enough to be in a country where you can make that choice, whichever way you decide.

Let’s make Critical Thinking the new global superpower and do away with all this fantastical, menacing nonsense. Stop giving a hand to a religion that goes against literally everything we believe in.

China – The bad… Part 2

(for included images, see the original blog post here: https://steemit.com/politics/@mobbs/china-2-the-bad-part-2)

Health & Safety

## Food & Drink

This is a BIG one.

China is renowned for its counterfeit products, its lackadaisical approach to piracy and a variety of other scandals, on the top of this pyramid of crime, I would say, is the rather ubiquitous fake foods industry, of which there is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to scandals (And believe me, it doesn’t cover the half of it) – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_safety_incidents_in_China

These incidents can simply be disgusting, like using cardboard in place of breaded food. Others are mildly concerning, like the recent bout of fake Budweiser, in which a small factory was busted for producing 600,000 crates every month ‘as workers at the factory dumped their bare hands in buckets of beer to fill the cans before sealing them shut on a dirty-ass conveyor belt’

Then we get to the downright dangerous and disgusting, like using human hair and sewage in tofu manufacturing, and poisonous baby formula, in which 300,000 children were made sick, and 6 were killed in this single incident in China alone. Other countries were also affected. There are numerous incidents of entire schools falling ill, some even having students contracting cancer from food incidents like this (though it could be wildly coincidental that somebody was diagnosed with cancer around the same time that 500 students fell severely sick, who knows).

Li Chiangjiang forced to resign from his position as safety boss after 53,000 infants fall ill from a baby formula scandal.

 

More personal to me, a recent man was caught on my very street with over a thousand dead cats hanging in plastic bags in his dingy apartment. He had been hunting cats in the street, killing them and preparing to sell them to restaurants – who would then claim it was another meat, such as rabbit. This was also not an isolated incident. I have a cat, so I made sure never to let him out again, until I moved house to a safer area. Again, this is in downtown Shanghai – the most developed and westernized city in the country.

Shanghai locals and expats always thought they were safe from food scandals like this, imagining the better safety procedures in such a wealthy city, yet only a few years ago, reports of 6,000 dead, rotting pigs floating down shanghai river shocked the world, as farmers from some unknown place upstream, due to some unknown cause of death.

 

 

Other restaurants just recently have been shut down – thirty-five in one bust – for adding opiates in their food in an odd attempt to drive customers back with addictive qualities.

http://fortune.com/2016/01/22/china-cracks-down-on-restaurants-opiate-use/

I was unable to find any data on how many deaths are pinned to food safety; it would be very difficult to count given the long term health issues, the sheer number of scandals, many of which still going to this day, and the general lack of control the government seems to have on these issues.

But it’s fair to say, when living in China, you have to live with the fact that you have probably eaten something unsafe, unsavory and illegal that may have detrimental effects to your health. You have to lead a very paranoid and careful lifestyle to see it through safely.

Even water is not a safe haven’t escaped it, with videos surfacing of individuals filling water bottles with unsafe tap water – some claiming 70% of bottled water is fake in cities like Beijing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFmQfTKuCH0

Well, if you’re going to live here being perpetually poisoned, might as well take it up as a dirty habit right? Grab a cigarette.

Actually, not so fast.

There is, I’m sorry to say, a thriving underground world of fake cigarette manufacturing. An estimated 400 billion fake cigarettes are produced in China – ‘Enough to supply every American smoker with 460 packs a year. These are produced in huge factories, often literally underground, like the subterranean factories in Yunxia.

These fake cigarettes are so profitable that even individuals that invested millions into legitimate factories ended up returning to the highly lucrative crime.

Since these counterfeit sticks are not regulated by health and safety procedure, they have been found with 80% more nicotine and 130% more carbon monoxide, as well as other decorative ingredients like insect eggs and human feces.

The safety of China is unbearable to think about, and there is a flood of flashbacks from a wide variety of reports going through my mind as we speak, but I’m already approaching 1,000 words and I have a lot more to cover.

## Pollution

This one is quite self-explanatory, but exacerbated by political corruption – as usual.

China is one of the top offenders of pollution. Recently, it has been reported that it’s possible India is in fact a worse polluter now, but since there is little comparative effort to diagnose their cities’ particulate levels, they have just been unappreciated until recently.

Having said that, 7 of the top 10 world’s most polluted cities are all located in China: Taiyuan, Beijing, Urumqi, Lanzhou, Chongqing, Jinan and Shijiazhuang. This is quite broad geography, spanning from way out west all the way to the east coast, and does not fully enlighten you on the details.

Recently, the city of Shenyang reported PM2.5 levels of 1,400.

PM2.5 is the particulate matter that is around 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter. This is considered the most dangerous particle group. Pm10 is typically things like pollen, whereas 2.5 is more like chemical pollutants that can easily enter the lungs and cause short, mid and long term health effects. 1.6 million people are put to death from polluted air in China each year.

So how bad is 1,400? Well, to put this into perspective, London, as I write, has an AQI (Air quality index) of 30.

Shanghai is faring almost as good at 38 – An incredibly rare occurrence, I’ll admit – and Beijing is around 150. The MAXIMUM level on the scale we use worldwide is a ‘hazardous’ 500 PPM, at which point all citizens will feel health effects and possibly breathing problems.

So when a city reaches 1,400… one can only imagine. All the cotton masks in the world aren’t going to save you.

This would be all very well if there was a prioritized effort to clean it up, but the government have made some… alternative plans. After Beijing was put under red alert for its dangerous levels of pollution three times in a short period, they simply raised the threshold required to create a red alert, several times, and, well, they haven’t had a red alert since! Problem solved!

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/22/beijing-raises-red-alert-threshold-for-air-pollution-warning

There are actually some profound efforts to clean up the air in China though, which I’ll cover in the ‘good’ post another time.

 

## Hygiene

Hygiene is a serious issue in many developing countries, and though China is on its way out of that label – Kind of (See part 1), it still has a long way to go.

You never have to go far, for example, to find some of the most disgusting public bathrooms mankind has to offer. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve cautiously entered a toilet cubicle only to find the wettest shit smeared over the actual seat – For reasons unknown – or on the floor.

A lot of this is to do with methodology and beliefs. It is believed that squatting is better for your bowels, allowing a smoother release and reducing stress to your insides, so you might find some country folk unaware of the point of a western toilet, and try hopelessly to climb onto the toilet to crouch over the bowl and, well, mistakes were made.

And yes, this actually happens. Another sign is needed:

But is squatting actually better for you, or is it just a hangover from the days when a toilet was (and still is in more rural areas and other developing countries) a simple hole in the ground?

Well, according to a study by a company that sells squat toilets, yes, it’s much healthier:

The modern day toilet is convenient, but has one major fault; it requires us to sit. While sitting to do our business may be considered “civilized”, studies show the natural squat position improves our ability to eliminate… The puborectalis muscle creates a natural kink to help maintain continence. Squatty Potty relaxes this muscle for fast, easy elimination.

As for real science, well, the studies have been disappointingly small. Although it’s true that squatting does create an easier release, this generally makes sense because you’re bending and pushing your weight into your bowels and adding pressure. Additionally, none of the studies claim that western toilets are an actual cause of constipation or bad for your health, it’s just that squatting feels better.
For me, I’m so unfit that squatting has been a traumatizing issue, and after hiking for hours uphill every day in Nepal, squatting in a shed is the last thing I want to be doing to my poor, tired legs.

There is the issue of your butt touching the seat that a thousand others have touched, but on one hand, studies show the bacteria on an average toilet seat is fewer in number and less dangerous than that found on your smartphone, and on the other hand, squat toilets tend to look like this:

And the splashback from that is something I’m not too keen to think about.

There are a range of other hygiene issues in Chinese culture, such as the whole philosophy of ‘ridding oneself of bodily waste when the need arises’, hence the bum-less trousers on babies in part 1, as well as the spitting, peeing and shitting from adults at any given time and place. But again, we better move on.
# Corruption

Corruption is rife around the world. You can find innumerable instances of it at any given time in any given place. Some are worse than others, like Kenya, known as possibly one of the most corrupt countries with a government. But we’re here to talk about China, so let’s go.

## Money

As mentioned in part 1, the Chinese economy isn’t doing too well. This is not helped by the raging corruption going around in big businesses and political families.

Since Xi JinPing, affectionately known as Xidada, came into power, he has been battling with corruption left over by Jiang Zemin, a previous party leader. The ideology of each leader seem to be so opposite that it has caused a complete overhaul via one of the biggest anti-corruption campaigns in history.

Several years ago, authorities seized $14.5 billion in assets from family members and associates of Zhou YongKang, a previous security chief of the CPC – more than some small countries make in a given year.

Zhou YongKang is a man responsible for a colourful array of crimes against humanity, including torture, intimidation, labour camps, persecution of dissidents, minorities and religious leaders, at the request of his leader, yep, Jiang Zemin.

Jiang Zemin, leader of the CPC from 1989 to 2002.

Since the cultural revolution, it has been the case that top officials would not investigate each other. That’s just how it’s been. Until Xi Jinping came along. So this huge case was the beginning of a new era, of ruthless wars between two factions within the communist party. And that intense battle between Jiang and Xi is… something for another post.

But since this all began, a huge number of officials have been arrested, some have disappeared entirely, and others forced to resign and even put to death. In the aforementioned case alone, 300 were arrested on charges of corruption. The fact that the richest and most powerful people in China fell like dominoes is testament to how serious this whole thing is.

When first put into power, the previous leader (who was rather unsubstantial due to the overwhelming influence of Jiang Zemin before him), warned Xi that if corruption wasn’t dealt with, it will cause the fall of the party, and the fall of the country.

Since then, Xi has taken down over a million officials… according to official statistics, anyway. It’s such a big thing that there’s even a reality TV show based around political figures confessing to their crimes.

Bai Enpai, sentenced to death for taking 38 million dollars of bribes.

When you start looking at numbers passing a million officials in corruption, you have to wonder, is this such a simple problem, or is this part of a larger culture, a system-wide situation that condones corruption from the ground up? It sounds to me like the entire party of the entire country of China has been totally fine with it.

The public are not unaware of this either, with 50% of the public saying corruption is a very big problem in the country, and a further 34% think it’s quite a big issue – a combined concern higher than all other aspects researched, such as health, crime and pollution.

 

The battle continues to this day, and although it’s clear the battle is benefiting Xi in many ways, garnering an exponential amount of power (Some liken his power to be on par with Mao Zedong himself now, and has officially been called ‘the core leader of the party’), it also has the added benefit of ‘draining the swamp’, as some orange-haired buffoon once famously put it.

But this is a big swamp, and the effects are far reaching.

## Ghost cities

The mishandling of money in China creates hefty artificial inflation, unstable financial markets and insane property bubbles that climb to levels higher than anywhere in the world.

One side-effect of this are pretty cool Ghost Cities.

One city, Wuliang, has a multi-million-dollar airport that sees less than 5 flights in any given day. Another which had a planned population of 1 million, has a mere 1 in 50 buildings occupied.

There are at least 50 of these ghost cities across China, and that’s only from one little study. Part of the reason why is because corrupt officials want to get promotions up the wazoo. Promotions are assigned based on their reported GDP growth. By artificially inflating those numbers by building way more infrastructure than necessary. This, in the example of Wuliang, created a temporary GDP growth of a massive 21%. Shortly thereafter, however, the report showed a -2% GDP growth, and that will only be lower now.

With Xi’s anti-corruption campaign going strong, corrupt officials inflating GDP, corrupt factories working in these ghost city and all corrupt families involved, tend to disappear and you’re left with yet another desolate landscape.
## To be continued…

Well, this has been so substantial and interesting to work on, I’ll have to make a THIRD part to this series on the bad stuff. I’ll cover areas involving society and equality, racism, the education system, ecology and international influence of China.

Hope you enjoyed reading, and, watch what you eat.

Hate your job? Good.

I say that because I currently feel your pain, and it’s nice to know other victims are suffering the same fate.

Generally, I refuse to ever do jobs I hate. I always vowed never to do an office job, never to do a mind-numbing repetitive job and only ones I would look back on and smile. Up to this point, I have stuck to that promise.

Even the paper-shredding job I pursued was at least stress free, and I had the freedom to make videos of my stupid antics as I did it, rather than be stuck in a forced drone mindset.

I hated kids but I wanted to get out there and experience something different, to push myself, and I did exactly that, it turned out I really thoroughly enjoyed it. I did intensive music jobs for no pay, because I love doing it, and I’ve collected glasses in a bar which left me with bruises and hurting muscles every night, deafened ears and a sense of loner-ness, given that I clearly didn’t belong in that crowd.

But now I am at a point of temporary financial despair that makes me feel like I’m about to dive into the real definition of ‘poor’. Poor in that you cannot afford choice. Poor in that you cannot imagine a month from now. Poor in that you have to think about every action you do, every bite you eat.

Ok, the poor thing isn’t actually my issue. I’ve been poor before, and I’ve been very comfortable before. The issues is that I have no choice but to teach 6 hours of classes that I absolutely despite and dread every day up to the moment I’m doing them. Afterwards, I suffer from bruises and aches and mental drainage right up until the point where I start dreading it again.

Well, I’m grateful it’s only 2 days a week, but it’s also on the weekend which takes up any free time I have where anybody else has free time. But the main factor here is, I am just not built to teach young kids. 12 years old? Wonderful. 10? Not bad, I can do it. Adults? Great.

3 years old? What are they even supposed to learn? They can’t physically draw circles, they can barely speak Chinese, let alone English. They cry whenever they see my weird, tall, white structure. They have no interest in what I have to say. They want to play, and play they will.

Screen-Shot-2011-10-24-at-1.26.52-AM-530x297

Kind of like what Schwarzenegger had to go through, but without the advantage of being able to actually speak to the kids.

The room is designed to be basically a play room with a teacher, and a glass wall for parents to watch and judge accordingly, whilst the kids inside get to be constantly distracted by other kids outside playing and parents waving. Should the parent walk outside or elsehwere, the kids will immediately burst into tears. This means I am expected to get them involved in FUN ACTIVITIESSSS for the duration of the class.

The duration of the class being a solid 2 hours each. I don’t even remember 2 hours worth of my life between the ages of 3 and 8, let alone being taught by some weirdo for that time.

My natural instinct is to tell them to be quiet and sit, but apparently I’m supposed to play and jump around, dance and sing songs. I don’t, I can’t. I won’t.

But, given my situation, I have no choice. I have to do it.

Picture the cliché 20’s scene: a middle aged man comes home, apathetically places his trilby hat on the hat stand, jacket off. Soft, taunting, despaired piano, jazz ballad playing behind him. Sits in his alpha chair and picks up a newspaper in a desperate attempt to hide his face from the world, from being asked ‘how was your day?’, from remembering the fact that tomorrow will come in just 9 more hours.

He fails to shake off the feeling of dread and failure, and turns to his local boozery. The smokier, the better. Dimly lit, he slouches on the stool, double whisky softly bouncing off each palm in slow motion. Trilby hiding his face from the bartender who looks at him pitifully.

el-momento-y-la-ternura-2-nighthawks-hopper

7 more hours, he thinks. Most of that has to go to sleep, and sleep lasts mere seconds. He takes another double.

Before getting totally wasted, however, his responsibility kicks in and he simply has to face the fact that tomorrow is ever coming. He can’t get out of this, he has a family to support. He goes home, Jazz ballad continuing.

Slowly, he gets into bed, 6 hours to go, eyes closed. Wife asleep. Mind awake. He feels the need to keep it awake. If he rests his eyes but remains conscious, time will pass slower but he will still rejuvenate to an extent.

But, to his routine horror and regret, it never works out that way and the next thing he knows, the day he wished would never come is here once again.

That’s me. You can call me The Piano Man. Thank god it’s temporary.

piano-man1

Chinese ‘culture’

  • Babies shitting all over public walkways, subway stations and trains
  • Entire waves of cars idly cruising through red lights
  • 10+ phones ringing during each cinema sitting
  • People completely oblivious to anyone walking towards them, ram out of way regardless of space
  • Using a small child to skip in front in a queue, save the spot and then bring the entire family to their ‘rightful’ place in line

Just a few things that spring to mind when I think of Chinese culture.

Ok, sure, there are reasons and excuses:

  • Nappies are expensive
  • Lack of education
  • Too large a population to control
  • Only recently open to the international community
  • Cars are…too fast to stop?

But they just don’t justify anything. If it’s too expensive to buy a nappy (diaper), and there isn’t enough time to rush your kid to the bathroom, for crying out loud at least take him to the SIDE of the street or walkway. If the kid is sitting in the train and lets loose on your lap, as I witnessed, GET OFF THE TRAIN. Don’t just sit there, slip a couple of paper map handouts under its arse and continue the journey for all to smell.

This is not an ‘education’ issue. This is a ‘common decency’ issue. Something that is innate in all human beings. It is intrinsic to an intelligent, social species.

You’re from the countryside and don’t know how the city etiquette works? What on earth are you doing with that smartphone? You found it and are using this cinema time to figure out how it works by testing the ringtones?

You’re all, simultaneously late for work – including taxi drivers – and can’t stop for irrelevant human beings crossing the road? Well, go die in a hole.

I’m sorry but I’ve been to and lived in much poorer, more underdeveloped places than Shanghai, the most developed and westernized city in China. This isn’t culture, it’s carelessness, it’s thoughtlessness, it’s ‘me first’ and ‘f*ck everyone else’.

I do not hate China, nor do I hate Chinese people or think I am better than they are. But as we all know, it’s far more interesting and fun to complain than it is to talk about nice things. 

The food is great, the travel is cheap, there’s almost an endless supply of places to go and things to see, the people are – despite how they sound – mostly pretty friendly and open to foreigners. The great majority are atheist (good for people like me, anyway). The streets feel mostly safe, the language is simple to learn but challenging enough to be interesting, the girls are pretty, the weather is great and so on.

Conversely, in England, the streets feel dangerous, the language is a pain in the arse, the majority are religious, they are idiots and suspiciously incestuous, the weather is lousy, the girls are (I’m going to stop here before people I know over there start kicking off). 

So there. I hate and love a little bit of every place. But right now I’m in the mood to tell China to get a fricking grip and stop shitting in front of the train doorway for me to step on. Buy a nappy, wait 30 seconds to get out or find the nearest corner and warn people. Dogs and cats can be taught to hold it. So can humans.

Stop making life worse for everyone else and start spending 2 seconds a day considering others around you. Stop risking the life of countless pedestrians and wait 30 seconds for the light to go green. Even the CEO of China isn’t important enough to avoid this rule.

If you own a smartphone, you are not from a place so alien to universal etiquette that you just can’t fathom it. It takes 2 seconds to learn the crazy, outlandish concept of ‘silent mode’ on phones.

If you are in a queue, you QUEUE. If you are in a wrestling match then by all means, push forward. Otherwise, I hope you get run over by your peers.