Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui

This Blog was Invented in Xi'an 5,000 Years Ago

The Wonder of Evolution

Posted by MyLaowai on Sunday, September 5, 2010

Evolution is a wonderful thing. Truly wonderful.

Of course, when I refer to ‘evolution’, I don’t mean the kind of evolution that Americans can’t understand and will kill you for teaching to their children, but then what else should one expect from a sexually repressed and educationally backward nation of religious extremists and anyway they don’t really enjoy a nice cup of tea in the way that normal people do and all-in-all it’s probably a good thing we kicked them out of the Empire when we did, wouldn’t you agree? No, I’m talking about how habits and technologies evolve over time, how simple and primitive solutions to fundamental problems gather complexity and variety and sophistication. Think about it for a moment, and I’m sure you’ll be amazed too. If you have thought about it for a moment and you are not amazed, then you are probably not thinking about it with the use of your brain, in which case you really need to stop, back up a little, and have another go.

Take the way we eat, for instance. Primitive man pretty much just used to bung whatever he could find into his mouth and have a bit of a chew for a while, until such time as he was able to swallow it. And that was fine, if you’re into that sort of thing. Fortunately, at least one of our primitive ancestors, whose name is now lost to history but which is rumoured to be Dave, decided to cut his food into manageable bite-sized portions before eating it, and thus both the knife and the McNugget were born. This was a Big Step, make no mistake about it.

The next Big Step was the invention of cooking. The precise origins of cooking are not known, though the latest thinking on the subject suggests it was a driving factor behind our success as a species. The exact timing for the invention of cooking is also not known, though it is clear that it was slightly prior to dinner and slightly after the invention of fire (fire was invented, according to Chinese school text books, during the Xia Dynasty, though some foreign anti-China forces have claimed that fire occurs naturally). The thing about fire and cooking, is that it made the food hot. Now, that’s lovely during the cold months and it does certainly add something to the taste, but it also makes the food a bit tricky to hold onto, particularly during the actual cooking phase of the operation. One of our primitive boffin ancestors soon had that problem licked, though: he invented the fork.

By now you can see that we had the basics all worked out: something to cook the food on, and a knife and fork to eat it with. The logical chain made perfect sense, and evolution proceeded smoothly and as you would expect – knives got better handles and finer edges and specialised shapes, while forks grew multiple tines and became better at holding the food. In fact, not only was that the logical way for things to progress, if you were to invent a new system from scratch with all the advantages of hindsight and modern technology, chances are you would do exactly the same thing, and it would be only a matter of time before you had plates and soup tureens and a candelabra laid out on the table with which to impress the ladies.

The Chinese, of course, thought that balancing small and slippery bits of food between two round sticks held between just three fingers of just one hand was a more efficient system. And that, fundamentally, is the difference between them and the rest of the species. Evolution didn’t do anything to improve on their system, neither did hindsight nor modern technology. Not even exposure to the more culturally and scientifically sophisticated concept of ‘knife and fork’ could change things for the better.

Some people have always wanted to improve our lot in life, whereas certain other people have always liked to make things more complicated than they need to be. Take for instance what our ancestors did when they had cold hands – it wasn’t like they could put them in their pockets like a kangaroo. Someone had to go out and invent hand-clothes. Which also meant inventing needle and thread and a whole heap of other stuff involving skinning animals and what-have-you. These hand-clothes changed the world, they really did. For the first time in history, you didn’t have to worry about cold hands when you went out, and therefore people went out more often, leading directly to the invention of pubs and modern nightlife.

The first hand-clothes were simple affairs, little more than fur-lined bags you could put your hands in. But evolution took over, and soon these bags had become form-fitting so that you could have the full use of your hand and fingers – nowadays we call these ‘gloves’. I’m a big fan of gloves, because I like riding motorcycles. And this brings us to an interesting observation, because there are one and a half billion Chinese people who also like riding motorcycles (if not very skilfully), and yet they don’t use gloves. They use little bags for their hands. Even worse than the fact that evolution never had the slightest effect on the concept of hand-clothes here in the Middle Kingdom, is the fact that it might actually have gone in reverse: instead of the bags becoming better and more flexible, the Chinese came up with a system whereby the bags are tied to the handlebars of the motorcycle and you thread your arms into them, thus precluding the possibility of your getting off the motorcycle with your arms still attached to your body in the event of an emergency, like a truck and a blind corner, for instance.

One sees this in every single aspect of life here in China. When you want entertaining, you probably pay to go to a concert, or the theatre, or a comedy club. Here in China, we get a first-class comedy show every day on every street, for free! How good is that?

In fact, I have given the subject of evolution some serious thought of late, and I have come to the staggering but frankly only possible conclusion, which is that evolution does not exist in China, except perhaps in a negative sense.

Perhaps that’s why the national motto is : 5,000 years and still developing.

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37 Responses to “The Wonder of Evolution”

  1. John Galt said

    It seems, however, that all the tea drinking has left you Brits with teeth stained the color of yellow and, I’m not quite sure how you managed this with tea but well done anyway, crooked to boot. It’s good thing Americans switched to coffee drinking when they did, wouldn’t you agree?

    • MyLaowai said

      If there was such a thing as God, which of course there isn’t except in the minds of hippies and the insane, then he would drink tea for breakfast, martini’s for lunch, and rum for dinner. End of story.

      • John Galt said

        You forgot the Starbucks mocha frappuccino. Delicious.

      • MyLaowai said

        Only three things wrong with that, John. They are, in order:

        1. Starbucks
        2. Mocha
        3. Frappuccino

        Coffee is for drinking by coffee drinkers. That other limp-wristed muck is for folks who aren’t entirely sure of their sexuality at best, and probably couldn’t drink a bottle of gin if it killed them, which it probably would. They generally tend to have body piercings and wear clothes that don’t fit properly and listen to the dreary drivel that passes for ‘music’ these days. I wouldn’t be surprised to find them carrying lots of highly-styled but technologically inferior junk called i-Something’s. Hell, they don’t even smoke!

        Man up, folks. Man up.

      • John Galt said

        MyLaowai is my new hero? I think so. Next time of the month I’ll just grow some balls and be done with it. Thanks. I think Ayn would be proud, actually.

        However, Jobs’ man-titties are quite attractive, I can’t help but be hypnotized by them. I’m surprised the rest of the world has lasted so long. …I say as I type with my Pro.

        Justrecently.
        Fly over the States and you’ll see an amazing sight: silver sparkles from everyone’s orthodontic wear filling the night sky. The entire country always lights up.

      • MyLaowai said

        Fly over the States and you’ll see an amazing sight: silver sparkles from everyone’s orthodontic wear filling the night sky.

        Quite possibly. But fly to the States and at the end of the flight be instructed by the cabin crew that you must give a round of applause to “our brave uniformed men and women for defending our country”. And God help you if you don’t join in with the general celebration.

        There’s something terribly wrong with that.

      • John Galt said

        I gave the Brits a hand for keeping a stiff upper lip when their empire fell apart. Jolly good show, ol’ chap. Have a biscuit?

      • MyLaowai said

        I thought it was jolly good of them to give it away.

    • justrecently said

      I take it that you are American, John. Methinks your and your compatriots’ relationship with your (as white as possible) teeth is somewhat pornographic, and would therefore find no place on the ruly Chinese internet. Then again, white teeth are, of course, very healthy.

  2. Heiney said

    Morrissey calls Chinese a ‘subspecies’

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/sep/03/morrissey-china-subspecies-racism

    “Did you see the thing on the news about their treatment of animals and animal welfare? Absolutely horrific. You can’t help but feel that the Chinese are a subspecies.”

  3. Ned Kelly said

    Funny thing is, that the Catholic Church – which has recently been excoriated on this blog (but in fair ways which I respect!) – does NOT believe that there was or will be any “evolution” after the creation of Man.

    (Gloss: Actually, the last and present Popes, John Paul II and Benedict 16th, both believe(d) that the species of homo sapiens descended – through evolution – from apes and fish etc)

    But if you believe in Darwinian “evolution” in the sense that Man is no different from any other creature, then, yeah, you can justify enslaving or exterminating putatively “inferior” “races” of man.

  4. Sinosceptic said

    And don’t forget that nowadays in the west (you might have missed this being stuck in China) we also have the “Spork” and the “Knork“. How much further can evolution take these eating implements for goodness sake – we have (almost) arrived at perfection.

  5. justrecently said

    evolution (…) in a negative sense = revolution?

  6. crystaltao said

    If you’d take a little bit more time to explore the topic before writing the article – you would discover that (I am citing Wikipedia)
    Bone forks had been found in the burial site of Qijia culture as well as later Chinese dynasties’ tombs

    Of course, it would require you to change the chain of your logical deductions but I am quite sure that you would find the way to stay in the vein of your sinophobic speculations. Thumbs up!

    • MyLaowai said

      Hi again Crystal, nice to have you here. A couple of quick points for future reference:

      1. To really get the most out of this blog, you will need a sense of humour. You can borrow your boyfriend’s if yours is at the cleaners.

      2. The Qija people were not Chinese. They existed in an area that is today part of what is laughingly called ‘China’, but that doesn’t make them any more Chinese than are Tibetans, Uighurs, Mongolians, or any of the hundreds of other so-called ‘minorities’ that today live in areas controlled by the Red Army. Of course, the Qija are now extinct in any case, so the point is moot.

      • Chinese Netizen said

        Your comments hurt the feelings of the Chinese People.

        ~this comment has been electronically generated by the People’s Bureau of Interweb Surfing Culture and Moral Cleanliness for a Harmonious Society

      • crystaltao said

        Maybe your blog could be funny if it wouldn’t be so one-sided and predictable. So, I assume that sense of humor is just a secondary quality needed in order to ENJOY your “writings”.

        When I first stumbled upon your blog about a month ago, I felt slight irritation mixed with curiosity (and added it to my RSS reader). Further visits were accompanied by the growing feeling of boredom.

        Today comes the moment when my RSS reader should be cleaned from your reference for a more interesting entry. I, however, wish success to your “institution” and its permanent clients.

      • justrecently said

        Just a few words to solidify your learning effect, Crystal: when you are interested, you continue reading. When you feel bored, you stop reading (unless it happens to be your homework). Your discovery that much of this blog is predictable in the sense that it hurts your feelings and needs to be “cleaned” from your RSS reader was… umm… predictable from the beginning. After all, most blogs are mainly written by one blogger from one or a handful of perspectives. That’s why you will always need to read several blogs if you don’t want to get bored. And of course, sticking to the same RSS feed for a lifetime would be boring, too.

  7. [...] Or maybe you will wish to join Crystal Tao and Mylaowai in exploring the location of the Qija people. [...]

  8. Ned Kelly said

    Slap2Tickle asked,

    “How about devolution after man?”

    You’re showing your age, or rather your lack of it. Around 1980 the (“White” as far as I can tell) band “DEVO” named themselves after “DEVOlution”.

    • Slap2tickle said

      yeah sorry about the double post there, was having some problems with the browser and the first attempt didn’t show up until after I tried again. I think I’m showing my age being a post 70′s generation but all I had to fill my waking hours with was Elvis from my mum and the Beatles from my dad pretty much 24/7

  9. Ned Kelly said

    And then there’s ELVIS-lution!

  10. Ned Kelly said

    And I’m dating myself, but here’s another 1980s classic about dystopian “evolution/devolution”, by the Talking Heads:

  11. Dave in Macau said

    Ha ha, nice post.

    Reminded me of reading Douglas Adams for some reason, and not just the reference to tea!

  12. Someone thinks this story is fantastic…

    This story was submitted to Hao Hao Report – a collection of China’s best stories and blog posts. If you like this story, be sure to go vote for it….

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