Wednesday, August 1, 2012


This is my favorite new podcast. Podcast URL is Blog site is at

I first heard of this via This American Life ( wherein the main Sinica guy, named Kaiser something, was extensively interviewed about being an expat living in China for many many years. Kaiser is joined by two or three other very smart, very engaging vernacular  English speakers who know China and Chinese extremely well. They are the young, smart, into-their-thing, well educated ones who write scholarly articles and occasionally get stories into the Guardian or Wall Street Journal. They go over the big news stories in China and then focus in on two or three of them, I am pretty sure beer is present.  Or they do a historical retrospective on some aspect of Chinese history. My favorite dialog from the current episode, in a discussion of the Manchus (all quotes approximate):

"I don't really know what Manchu [language] sounds like"
 "It sounds a lot like Romulan to me"
"You are such a nerd"
"Right, I'm the guy on a podcast talking about the Manchu dialect, what was your first clue?"

When I say big news stories in China, I mean big to the Chinese, not to us. I did not know that Peking recently had major flooding and 34 people died, nor that the Ming Dynasty waterworks held up just fine, but the stuff from the 20th Century pretty much collapsed, nor that this prompted widespread speculation about why the Mayor of Peking's resignation was announced (deep, hall of mirrors Chinese government stuff here). Nor did I know that their health care system sucks. The docs and nurses are very poorly paid and demand bribes for every little thing, you have to buy an appointment from a ticket scalper and patients get treated like shit. The story was deemed important on the "if it bleeds it leads" (they used this very phrase) basis that there is an outbreak of enraged patients murdering doctors, Chinese going postal.

Its not all as big a downer as these stories suggest, especially since they were treated with great sympathy toward both the regular people and for the problems of being a government for such a huuuuuggge number of people. Also, they have a good sense of humor.


No comments:

Post a Comment