Ancient Chinese Inventions that Changed the World

The first Seismograph

When critics accuse the Chinese of stealing technology from the West, consider that China was the most technologically advanced nation in the world for more than two thousand years until the middle of the 19th century.

One example of China’s technological abilities was when the first seismograph was invented in 132 AD.

When Zhang Heng‘s device measured an earthquake in 134 AD, he predicted the location.

Han Ministers did not believe the scientist. Then a courier arrived and reported that an earthquake had taken place where Zhang said it did.

In 1951, Chinese scientists from China’s National Museum worked on recreating Zhang Heng’s seismograph. Since there was a limited amount of information, it took until 2007 to complete the reconstruction.

In comparison, it wasn’t until the 18th century (AD), about seventeen hundred years later, that there was any record that Western scientists even worked on developing a seismograph.

The Compass

The Chinese were the first to notice that the lodestone pointed one way, which led to the invention of the compass. The first compass was on a square slab, which had markings for the cardinal points and the constellations. The needle was a spoon-shaped device, with a handle always pointing south.

Archeologists have not been able to discover the exact time the ancient Chinese discovered magnets. However, it was first recorded in the Guanzi, a book written between 722 – 481 BC.

Later in the 8th century AD, magnetized needles would become common navigational devices on ships.

The first person given credit for using the compass in this way was Zheng He (1371 – 1435 AD), who went on the voyages made famous in a book by Louise Levathes, When China Ruled the Seas.

Since the Chinese value education above business and the military, it makes sense that Chinese invented and used devices such as the compass and the seismograph centuries before the West did.

The Compass was also considered a symbol of wisdom. About the 12th century, through trading, the technology spread to Arabia and then reached Europe.

Paper

Imagine the rise of civilization without paper.

In fact, without paper to print books that spread ideas, would men have walked on the moon?

Papermaking is one of the four significant inventions from ancient China. Almost 2,000 years ago, Chinese discovered how to make paper.

In 105 AD, Cai Lon invented a way to make paper and submitted his discovery to the Han emperor.

This method soon spread to the rest of China, and the emperor rewarded Cai Lon by making him a member of the nobility.

The basic principles of papermaking invented by Cai Lon are still in use today.

To make paper was a six-step process, and properly manufactured paper lasts for centuries.

In fact, Buddhism arrived in China about the time of the invention of paper and this helped spread Buddhist ideas, which contributed to the spread of civilization.

By the 12th century, more than a thousand years later, the paper making process reached Europe, which may have contributed to the Renaissance of the 12th century and what followed.

The Printing Press

Six hundred years after paper was invented, the Chinese invented printing and the first printed books were Buddhist scripture during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD). The most basic printing techniques are older. Engraving came later and the carving, printing technique originated during the Tang Dynasty.

When we talk about paper and printing, we are talking about collecting knowledge, preserving and sharing it.

In fact, Ancient Chinese culture was preserved due to the invention of paper and these printing methods, which wouldn’t reach Europe until after 1300 AD, centuries later.

Once there were mass produced paper books being printed to share Buddhist ideas, the religion spread through China into Korea and Japan. The same happened in the West with the Gutenberg Bible and the spread of Christianity in the 1450s.

In China, for a thousand years, printing techniques improved until there were multi-colored printings.

Then during the Sung Dynasty (960 -1276 AD), the printing board was invented, which used clay characters. One character was carved into a small block of clay. Then the clay was put in a kiln to heat into a solid block. This method was efficient for printing thousands of sheets. These blocks would be placed together to create sentences and paragraphs of Chinese characters.

Later, the characters were carved into wood and over time, printing developed into an art.

Without the Chinese invention of printing, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism may not have spread to the extent that they have.

Gunpowder

Sulfur is the main ingredient for gunpowder, which was first developed during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD).

During the Northern Sung Dynasty, in 1044 AD, the book “Essentials of Military Art” published several formulas for gunpowder production.

It is ironic that the Sung Dynasty (960 – 1276 AD) used a Tang Dynasty invention to defeat them.

Several ingredients for gunpowder were in wide use for medicinal purposes during the Spring and Autumn Period of China’s history (722 – 481 BC).

According to the famous book “Records of History”, Chang Sangjun shared secret prescriptions with Pien Ch’iao (around 500 BC), who promised not to give the secret away, and then he became famous as a doctor of Chinese medicine.

In fact, gunpowder was discovered by accident.

While mixing ingredients to find an elixir for immortality, Chinese scientists stumbled on the formula.

Fireworks and rockets were invented but were first used to scare away evil spirits.

The irony is that gunpowder, which has killed millions when used as weapons, was discovered during the search for immortality.

One theory says that the knowledge of gunpowder came to Europe along the Silk Road around the beginning of the 13th century, hundreds of years after being discovered in China.

It is also ironic, that Britain and France used advanced gunpowder weapons to defeat China during the 19th century during the Opium Wars.

Note: There were more inventions than this short list shows. If you read the comments for this post, you will discover a few more.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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39 Responses to Ancient Chinese Inventions that Changed the World

  1. lida oshea says:

    This post was so interesting! something that is required on the web from someone with originality!

  2. arlene says:

    Studying your article, I discovered that this is vital information for me. And i am satisfied studying it. Really great
    : D
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  3. adam says:

    The article says “Imagine the world without paper”. If we are playing that card then let me in, imagine the world without fire. Without fire there won’t even be any civilization. It’s ridiculous and beside that it is easy to understand that the world does not need paper. There are many alternatives to paper, it just happens that paper is the better option among those alternatives. In addition, if you want to compare ancient China with ancient western civilization then you should compare ancient China with ancient Rome. Enough ancient history and let’s talk modern history. The fact is that almost everything that we see today in this modern era is a direct product of invention and innovation by western countries. Even the recent rise of China’s economic power is a direct result of Western investments. Investments that allow factories to be built.

    • There is no argument that America is the most powerful nation on the planet with the most advanced military/war machine. The US has been a super power since the end of World War II in 1945. How long the US can maintain that is not known.

      However, I find it interesting that you seem to think that the West is a superior culture, because the West built factories in China after 1980 as if the West did this for charitable reasons, but that is wrong. The reason Western corporations such as Apple, Hewlett Packard, and Wal-Mart developed manufacturing facilities in China was because of cheap labor and no environmental regulations or laws. This means that while the West was implementing rigid environmental laws to clean soil, air and water in Europe and the US, many Western corporations avoided this expense by moving the pollution to China, and then the spin masters of the Western media blamed this pollution on the Chinese. You can take this bet to the bank that those corporations profited from building factories in China.

      Now, back to the Roman Empire compared to the Han Dynasty:

      There were sseveral alleged Roman emissaries sent to China during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) and this fact was recorded by ancient Chinese historians. The first one on record, supposedly from either the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius (86 – 161 AD) or the later emperor Marcus Aurelius (121 – 180 AD), arrived in 166 AD.

      The Han Dynasty and the Roman Empire at their peak each covered 6.5 million km2 . There actually is no way to argue that one empire was more powerful that the other. However, the political structure of the Roman Empire could not manage an empire of that size so the empire split. Then the Western Roman Empire was 2 million km2, but collapsed and was totally gone by 476 AD, while the Eastern Empire (known s the Byzantine Empire) survive to 1453 AD and governed over 3.5 million km2 at its peak.

      Meanwhile the Chinese Empire continued to grow and the Tang Dynasty at its peak ruled over 11 million km2; the Yuan Dynasty ruled over 14 million km2 , but the Ming Dynasty lost ground and ruling over 6.5 million km2, and then the Qing Dynasty made up for it and ruled over 14.7 million km2 at its peak.
      From this evidence, it appears that the Chinese were much better organized to rule over a vast empire and maintain it much longer.

      During the Han Dynasty, evidence suggests that blast furnaces, that convert raw iron ore into pig iron, which can be remelted in a cupola furnace to produce cast iron by means of a cold blast and hot blast, were operational in China by the late Spring and Autumn Period (722–481 BCE).

      Evidence of Han-era mechanical engineering comes largely from the choice observational writings of sometimes disinterested Confucian scholars. Professional artisan-engineers did not leave behind detailed records of their work. Han scholars, who often had little or no expertise in mechanical engineering, sometimes provided insufficient information on the various technologies they described. Nevertheless, some Han literary sources provide crucial information. For example, in 15 BCE the philosopher Yang Xiong described the invention of the belt drive for a quilling machine, which was of great importance to early textile manufacturing. The inventions of the artisan-engineer Ding Huan are mentioned in the Miscellaneous Notes on the Western Capital.

      Around 180 CE, Ding created a manually operated rotary fan used for air conditioning within palace buildings. Ding also used gimbals as pivotal supports for one of his incense burners and invented the world’s first known zoetrope lamp.

      Modern archaeology has led to the discovery of Han artwork portraying inventions which were otherwise absent in Han literary sources. As observed in Han miniature tomb models, but not in literary sources, the crank handle was used to operate the fans of winnowing machines that separated grain from chaff. The odometer cart, invented during Han, measured journey lengths, using mechanical figures banging drums and gongs to indicate each distance traveled. This invention is depicted in Han artwork by the 2nd century CE, yet detailed written descriptions were not offered until the 3rd century CE.

      Modern archaeologists have also unearthed specimens of devices used during the Han Dynasty, for example a pair of sliding metal calipers used by craftsmen for making minute measurements. These calipers contain inscriptions of the exact day and year they were manufactured. These tools are not mentioned in any Han literary sources.
      The waterwheel appeared in Chinese records during the Han. As mentioned by Huan Tan in about 20 CE, they were used to turn gears that lifted iron trip hammers, and were used in pounding, threshing and polishing grain.
      Then the armillary sphere, a three-dimensional representation of the movements in the celestial sphere, was invented in Han China by the 1st century BCE. Using a water clock, waterwheel and a series of gears, the Court Astronomer Zhang Heng (78–139 CE) was able to mechanically rotate his metal-ringed armillary sphere.

      Zhang also invented a seismometer in 132 CE to detect the exact cardinal or ordinal direction of earthquakes from hundreds of kilometers away. This employed an inverted pendulum that, when disturbed by ground tremors, would trigger a set of gears that dropped a metal ball from one of eight dragon mouths (representing all eight directions) into a metal toad’s mouth.

      One of the Han’s greatest mathematical advancements was the world’s first use of negative numbers. Negative numbers first appeared in the Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art as black counting rods, where positive numbers were represented by red counting rods. Negative numbers are used in the Bakhshali manuscript of ancient India, but its exact date of compilation is unknown.

      In Chinese records, the Roman Empire came to be known as “Da Qin”, Great Qin, apparently thought to be a sort of counter-China at the other end of the world.

      Trade with the Roman Empire, confirmed by the Roman craze for silk, started in the 1st century BC. The network of roads built throughout China enabled trade on a large scale. Also, Chinese victories against the Xiongnu enabled trade to the west. This gave the Chinese an advantage because their goods were in high demand in the Roman cities, while Roman glassware was exported to China. Relative stability at the court(the empire remained within the rule of one family), as well as the laissez-faire policies of the early Han emperors(see rule of Wen and Jing), allowed the Chinese economy to prosper.

      High-quality glass from Roman manufactures in Alexandria and Syria was exported to many parts of Asia, including Han China.

      In addition, some historians claim it was trade with China (that craze for silk) that bankrupted the Roman Empire contributing to its eventual collapse in the West. The Romans loved silk the spices and other products that China produced.

      Then in the 19th century, the West, after more than two thousand years of China being the most advanced most powerful empire on the earth, finally advanced past China in innovation and weaponry. The first sign of that ascendancy was the Opium Wars where England and France used superior weapons to force China to allow the West to sell opium to China’s people. Historians say that eventually the opium trade was so destructive of Chinese culture that every family in China had at least one or more members addicted to the drug.

      China’s decline continued with the Boxer Rebellion and another Western invasion of China at the turn of the 20th century. The Boxers wanted to rid China of Westerners. Then there were wars with Japan and Russia leading to World War II and Japans brutal invasion of China.

      In addition, before World War II, there was the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911/12 that led to China breaking apart into areas ruled by war lords while in the south of China the Republican movement was starting. Then the KMT and the CCP had a Civil War that raged for decades ending in 1949 followed by twenty-seven years of oppressive rule under Mao.

      From 1839 to 1976, China was in turmoil suffering from wars, Civil War, chaos and anarchy. However, after Mao died, China started to recover when Deng Xiaoping introduced economic reforms that led to the opening of China to the West. Due to capitalist economic demands for cheap labor to offer cheap products to the middle class consumer economies of American and Europe, Western corporation flooded into China and built factories that China could not afford to build. In fact, it could be said that the clever Chinese used the West (sort of like Tom Sawyer convincing his friends to whitewash a fence he was responsible to paint so he could go fishing) to rebuild China after a century of destruction mostly due to the global dominance of Western Imperial colonialism.

      I see that as poetic justice because the West is responsible for the decline of China starting with the first opium war in 1939. It is ironic that the CCP used the West’s economic greed for cheap labor to build a modern China.

      You may also want to read this book review that shows just how brutal the West was to gain the upper hand. Nothing wrong with that. I’m sure China will do the same to others if she has a chance.

      http://ilookchina.net/2012/10/23/for-all-the-tea-in-china-a-book-review/

  4. date says:

    wow i learned sooo much. that is really going to help me with my ancient china project.

  5. Merlin says:

    As hilarious as this sounds, the little mouse is now chasing the cheese and powering the wheel in my head. I mentioned in my previous comment about the apartments needing a futuristic upgrade and it got me thinking. IS it possible to create cheap furniture for small spaces, and market this to the landlords? Would they go for it? Or would they continue using space wasters like the giant crap quality wooden bed and 100 year old dresser? As for cooking you could easily attach some form of stove to a wall, and put an aluminum plate behind it to take the beating of oil from Chinese cooking. The bed you just fold up. The table to eat on folds out of the wall. The closet can possibly be at the window. When you wash your clothes, hang them to dry and the sun will dry them. Instead of curtains, just close the doors on the closet. …Sorry, I’m having one of my creative moments. Unfortunately, that means in a few days everything will go blank and I’ll be scratching my head trying to figure out the hardest question in the universe. What to have for dinner?

    • You are right about the bacteria. We sometimes watch Dr. Oz and he had this demonstration with special camera lens. When we flush the toilet with the lid up, the flush causes a mist that carries debris and bacteria several feet into the air then it floats around the bathroom coating everything.

      It was disgusting and it does reach everything in that bathroom and coats it but without that special lens, you cannot see it. He said we should always close the toilet lid before flushing. That means when we visit a public bathroom and other people flush, we are being contaminated with their waste since public bathrooms do not have toilet seats that cover the entire opening of a toilet. Gross.

      Here’s a video link to one of the smallest/narrowest houses in Europe.

      • Merlin says:

        It’s funny how everyone is becoming so health conscious now. I still think its amazing how the people of the past knew more about things than we did. The Japanese separated the toilet and bathtub from the sink, yet they probably never knew about bacteria. Instead ancient cultures just called it “Demons” and if you build something a certain way you will be protected.

  6. Merlin says:

    I talked with a friend in US mentioned that its POSSIBLE America could divide into separate smaller countries like Russia. I asked if it would be a bloody mess of an internal war, and he said “Look. Everyone stares at their HD tvs, watch Neflix, or wave their arms around playing Xbox360. You really think they can even walk 5 miles let alone care about what happens outside their front door? If the pizza delivery boy is late by 5 minutes, it’s the end of the world. If the government falls apart, another Hitler arises in the world, or Korea nukes Japan….you really think anybody cares?”

    Narcissistic. HA HA HA! Reminds me a lot sadly about my sister’s friends and parents. And my mom’s friends. Once went to one of the friend’s house in the countryside…just down the road from my Uncle’s farm. Uncle is a hardworking farmer. Since grandpa died, he quit his job to focus more on taking care of the farms, and his hobby of his dirt race cars. Life there is simple. Old farmhouse. Old barns. Cows in pasture. Yet he lives like an average middleclass American. Compare with this lady lives down the road has a new suburban style house. A pool. Nice yard. 15 rooms (ever since coming to China it’s never hit home more that Americans waste space). She’s a widow of a soldier. Her kids at the time were in highschool. They’d all go in the basement to play beer pong. I just got bored since what was the billiard table I wanted to play on just transformed into a beer pong game of guys vs girls. I wander outside and one parent would ask me “What’s the kids doing?” as if I was the spy. I’d say “Oh just beer pong.” They’d say “Oh my god! Oh well. Hope they enjoy it.” And everybody goes back to sipping their beers and shooting the shit about who’s in what relationship. Lets dont care our kids are learning bad habits and performing underage drinking. Just like the time my little sis got drunk at a friend’s house and had to leave her car for the night. The next day I had to take time out of my own life to drive her to get her car. I told her next time I’m going to charge taxi fee. My sister’s all about partying and studies at the big state university. Oh who cares it costs 20,000 USD a year. Mom will drag dad into it over the child support he didnt pay for a few years because mom didnt want him to help since he had 2 kids of his own to raise. Drag dad into the mess and threaten to go to court to help pay for my sister’s college and make me as the messenger even though I went to the small hometown jr college without help. Then get the banks to loan money too while your at it and so when my sister gets out of college, gets the job, she’ll be paying back the loan until she’s 40. I worked hard to go through jr college, and came to China to escape the debt mess and DO something with my life than become one of those brainless American zombies. Thing is, when I got here, I managed to climb the Great Firewall only to discover there’s an even BIGGER wall beyond that. The Job wall, which only way in is if you provide your BA degree at the door. Since I ran through jr college, and spent another 2 years on computer networking….I never acquired a BA. I COULD fake it to get through the door. It’s sad my experience stops me dead. Cashier/stocker in retail, cook in F&B, janitor in factory/bank, and manual laborer handmaking foam nail files. I’ve shown I’ll work hard for a dream, yet in the end all it’s done is make me into a hermit that survives on begging from parents every month who are about ready to stop the freebees. My visa situation only further increases my depression. I feel like I’m left with 2 choices. Either keep going and starve when the money stops coming, or turn myself in and enjoy my time behind bars in a Chinese jail for an unknown number of weeks until deported which I’ll return home only to take more heat from family at how big of a failure I am and cant find a descent job in US to support myself. Survive cancer. Dream to live for those that lost their battles. Only to wind up at the bottom of a hole and contemplating where to go next.

    ANYWAYS, focus back to the comment, the toilets are by the bed in the prison is not a healthy way of life. Actually, look at the Japanese bathroom which separates the toilet, sink, and bath into separate rooms thereby separating the bacteria so it doesnt land on your toothbrush. American bathrooms dont do this, but as funny as it is, they crunch everything into a small room. Yet EVERY other room in the house is big enough to host a carnival. Connecting with the topic of “Chinese Inventions” I’d say the Chinese invented the apartment of the future by cramming 6 people into 1 apartment. Space is wisely used, even though those apartments could do with a futuristic upgrade such as foldup bed and tables and such.

    • Merlin,

      I would not agree that no one cares what happens and yes, the US could break up with the divisiveness-taking place in both houses of Congress between the Democrats and Republicans. It is possible that if the US breaks up there would be war again similar to the Civil War. Studies show that all it takes for a war of this magnitude is for 5% of the population to be involved in the fighting and that is highly possible. The obese couch potatoes that spend all their time chasing fun, watching TV, swilling beers would be sucked into it even if they didn’t care because eventually one of the groups that started it would show up, break down the door, shoot the men, rape the children and women and loot the house, which would lead to survivors learning to fight back. I would fight from day one and I’m well armed and I am not a couch potato or fat/obese. Even though I’m aging, I lift weights, work out, hike and am more than capable of holding my own in a fire fight with some insurgent.

      Consider that there are millions of military veterans that fought in Vietnam (like me), Iraq, Afghanistan and even the Korean War that are still around and most of us are well armed. Many of these men are patriots and would fight to keep the union together. Only a few would join the separatists. Most military veterans in the US believe in that flag and the union even if we don’t always agree with the majority party in Congress of who lives in the White House. I suspect that most of the former military veterans in the US well outnumber the seperatist groups. It would be a blood bath.

      In fact, there are more separatists movements in the US than there are in China, which I find humorous because all we hear about are the two separatist movements in China, which are the Tibetans, which have four or more, and the Islamists in the northwest but we never hear anything about the Alaska, California, Texas or Hawaiian separatists movements in the US. Then we also have the Mexican-American and Mexican movement that wants to take back the Southwest claiming that America stole it from Mexico as if Mexico ever owned that land except when those states were part of either the Spanish or French Empires and of course the Toltec’s and Aztecs never ruled that far north but the Mexican-American movement doesn’t want to know the facts but only the fiction they have built up that California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas really belong to them and Mexico.

      Then of course, the US has the White Supremacists—the American Nazi Party, Skinheads, what’s left of the KKK and other smaller groups that mostly hang out in enclaves in the north central part of the country where the states do not have many people of color, and some of these home grown terrorists are considered more dangerous than Islamic fundamentalists. There was that Oklahoma bombing of a federal building that killed a few hundred a few years back. The guy that was behind it belonged to one of these groups.

      There is a post I want to write about Conservative talk radio and the end of the Fairness Doctrine, which required talk shows to allow both sides to have equal time. Once the Fairness Doctrine was eliminated, the US then had the rise in popularity of shows such as Rush Limbaugh, Beck and many others until conservative talk radio became a HUGE media machine for the far right. Since there is no requirement to allow the opposition so called liberals to have equal time to respond, conservative talk radio has evolved into a house of lies and deceit and misconceptions. Anyway, the crux of it is that studies show that before Fairness Doctrine that was designed to insure a balance in opinionated talk radio and TV was cancelled allowing lies the freedom to exist as truth, more than 80% of Americans trusted the news media. Since conservative talk radio and TV is now allowed to lie without any checks and balances, that trust has dropped less than 50% in three decades. Too many Americans cannot tell the different between lies and truth anymore because the Rush Limbaughs of the world make lies sound as if they are the truth until the people that believe them won’t accept any facts that prove a Limbaugh is lying. They just say it is planted liberal lies.

      • Merlin says:

        So you think we’d have a 2nd Civil War? True people would be caught in the flames. The Tea Party is moving strong I hear. Before I left, when it was beginning, they had even the media dragged into it with Glenn Beck hosting. There were country music performers even performing. If it does blow up into civil war, I think it would be interesting since now the map is double the size what it was back in the days of the first civil war, and there are more states participating this time. I find it hilarious how civil war begins. The first was over counting votes and how to include African Americans, which escalated into the belief that the government was naming African Americans as free civilians and exploded across the south in anger. Now it seems it’s more about inner workings of political parties over money. If my memory is correct, wasn’t it Mao vs Chiang in the 1940s that fought each other even as WWII was happening at their doorstep? I wonder will America be the same? We’ve got the middle eastern terrorist groups abroad, and we have the drug cartels knocking on our door to the south all the while in Asia China is growing economically and Korea is sitting on their “nukes” that may or may not blow up in their hands. It seems to me that the US is beginning to look a lot like China in it’s pre-Mao days. So does that mean the losing party will make like a dog and jump ship to Cuba?

        You speak of union and separatists. Is Star Wars real? LOL!

        Alaska I can understand the problem because it’s not even ATTACHED to the US in anyway. It actually belonged to Canada or the natives of Canada. Hawaii I can see as a problem since the natives I dont think like the white man being there. Texas was always a dispute ever since the Alamo. Mainly because the reason was Texans wanted their OWN freedom without a government. As for the souhwest, I’m surprised to hear that the Mexicans are claiming it even though it’s also inhabited by Asian-Americans. Still I can understand why they want to claim it because the drug cartels are pushing north. In California, the whole state is a revolution. They were the first to push gay marriage and they’re the first legalizing Pot. I’ve never really been into drugs except for the neighborhood I used to live in where the guy across the street was a former dealer and the strange family next to my aunt/uncle were users that blew all their money to the point they tried to sell their rusty pickup and then the water company shut off power/water/gas and so they finally sold the place. Anyways, IF I was still back home, I think I’d move to California, get a cheap place with a license to grow Weed, and I’d make a descent living in sales. The reason I’d do it is because the money you’d make is huge. The plant is not just for the addictive abuser that will pay billions, but it’s also an alternative medicine that can be used to cure ailments.

        Like in Star Wars, it seems the separatists outnumber the Republic, as such maybe we should hire some jedi to cover our tails as we run and hide. The KKK can be appeased when they storm the whitehouse. You say the home grown terrorists are the worst? Well now they are going overseas to the mid east and learning from the Al Qaida (ex.- Fort Hood massacre). Muslim extremists dont even need to step foot into the west. They use supporters overseas now to do their work, or else they strike fear into the hearts of people that drives them mad (ex. – Norway island massacre).

        Beck. I remember watching him in 2008-2009. He was my favorite show BECAUSE it was hilarious to hear all the crap. To me it was better than watching “Who wants to be a millionaire” and “The Apprentice”, yet not as good as the History Channel or the japanese imported/edited anime shows. Beck was more a “comedy” that was part of the news network. although I think back then the news reported REAL news. I always enjoyed when something happened because the reporters would report on something live happening. Nowadays I try reading Fox News to get an understanding of what’s happening in the world and it seems they’d rather talk about the Democrats vs the Republicans. Conservatives vs Liberals. Ha ha ha! I only use their website to find NEWS in the world. What happens in the US house of congress doesnt do much good for me in Shanghai. The only time I’d be worried is when Hillary is standing in the office with Obama bbashing on China’s door about their control of the RMB. A mess with China only spells problems for me with my visa situation. They got the ID restrictions on long distance bus and train travel, so if ANYTHING does happen I’m pretty much stuck in Shanghai.

      • Did you know that Beck was involved with the Tea Party?

        An October 2010 Washington Post canvass of 647 local Tea Party organizers asked “which national figure best represents your groups?” and got the following responses: no one 34%, Sarah Palin 14%, Glenn Beck 7%, Jim DeMint 6%, Ron Paul 6%, Michele Bachmann 4%.[24]

        In March 2009 Beck put together a campaign, the 9-12 Project, that is named for nine principles and twelve values which he says embody the spirit of the American people on the day after the September 11 attacks.[86] The Colorado 9-12 Project hosted a “Patriot Camp” for kids in grades 1–5, featuring programs on “our Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and the values and principles that are the cornerstones of our nation”.

        The Restoring Honor rally was promoted by Beck and held at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 2010. The rally — which purported to embrace religious faith and patriotism — was co-sponsored by the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, promoted by FreedomWorks, and supported by the Tea Party movement.[87]

  7. Merlin says:

    I almost forgot about that and yet I remember the days when I was in the “prison” of hospitals for 5 years at UIHC in Iowa City. I call it a prison because I spent most of my middle school and early highschool years there. Few friends visited rarely. Mostly life was spent drowning away in boredom while staring down daytime tv. I tried movies, but it just seemed nothing would help. I turned to Nintendo 64, but even that was repetitive due to the limited number of games (mostly for kids so no shooter games or anything fun for teens). Felt like a prison. I was a teen with leukemia (considered in high risk due to the late age) yet all they have for entertainment is for 8year olds which is supposed to be the “normal” age for combating leukemia. ANYWAYS, yea my time there I remember seeing so many of the inmates from the state prison always shuffling around with the guard in the halls. It surprised me even then that inmates were being treated at the local hospital. I believe in everyone having equal opportunities at life, but still it felt strange. The question comes to mind, what if a person that is sentenced to life in prison has a serious medical problem? Would those inmates still receive treatment so they can continue wasting their life away behind bars? Anyways, it is a surprise to me that people actually committ crimes just for the free healthcare.

    Bernie was a funny case because they get him on his Ponzi scheme yet the American govt uses at least one for Social Security.

    Yea, I think the jail system is a joke. It doesnt really perform what it’s meant to do. It doesnt even keep crime off the streets. In my hometown, 10 years ago we had gangs locked away. The city cleaned up a little and you could feel safe going outside at night. Well, the 10 year sentence on most of those gangsters is up. Many get out, cant find jobs with their previous record and the crap economy, most turn to the street life again. Just before I left the police started to notice tags being marked around the city. After I came here, the shootings began. Not like we have enough problems with diabetes and cancer running amok. Now the country is setup for another possible division. Sadly, Americans have become fat, lazy, and illiterate. There are few patriots truly left that would stand up to fight to keep the country united. Most would rather kick back on their couches in front of their HD tvs and BluRay movies, drink a few Buds, and say, “Well DAMN those politicians! I’ll do somethin to put in my share of help! I’ll phone up Pizza Hut get a big Pepperoni delivered. My money I spend will go back into the economy and I dont need to leave the couch. :)”

    I had always imagined when the world ends, the honest people would put up a damn good fight, but it seems most cant even walk away from the tv because “The Biggest Loser is showing next! I cant go now! Then Oprah is on followed by the View.”

    • Merlin,

      And the few that are not brainwashed, fat (last I heard 60% of Americans are obese and more are on the way), couch potatoes and illiterate or semi illiterate (there is even more of these than the illiterates are) that see what is going on will probably be the first ones swept away because they think and protest.

      Let’s not forget the narcissistic self-esteem babies (the self-esteem parenting style started in the 1960s so there are many of them—probably worse than being illiterate) that grew up to be self centered, pleaser seeking, narcissistic adults that believe they are perfect, all life should be fun 24/7, and all dreams will come true. Then they turn thirty and wake up realizing that all dreams do not come true and most people have to work at jobs that are boring and don’t pay enough to support the fun life, so they turn to drugs and alcohol and commit suicide in large numbers, which statistics support.

      Yes, I read that there is something like 200,000 in the prisons serving life sentences that are now old and costing a lot to keep alive due to health problems such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Prison diets are not healthy and probably lead to more disease than we have outside of the prisons. Many in prison also do not exercise. Just because TV dramas and cop shows shows prisoners benching weights bulking up doesn’t mean most exercise. Too easy to become even more sedentary in prison than in the outside world since they do not even have to walk to the toilet since it is right next to their bed.

    • Chen Si says:

      I remember reading that the government once several years ago gave a prisoner on death roll a lung transplant.

      • In China? If read that this happens in the U.S. but I haven’t heard about it happening in China—until maybe now. In fact, in the U.S. I’ve read about how some criminals, who didn’t have health insurance but needed a new heart, robbed a bank and then made sure to get caught, and that’s all they needed to return to prison to replace their heart for free.

  8. Merlin says:

    This is a funny response as I’d expect most Americans would respond this way.

    Freedom of expression seems to have been abused and overused.

    As for the jails, the problem in the US is they arrest anybody until proven guilty which sentence is then extended. If not guilty, then you’ll be lucky to get a formal apology and send you on your way. People say that China police are corrupt and question people on useless reasons. Well, I’ve had many a situation in the US. Also on the topic, consider immigration. US was built on immigrants (sadly not the native community), and now today US Immigration services are using every piece of technology available to them to hunt down anybody that has expired their visa or worked illegally within the US. It’s so terrible that they’ll even charge anyone harboring an illegal with equal punishment. No matter what the charge is, the said people are then tossed on a bus, taken over the border, and released. Usually people run to the US because their own life situation is at risk. With the drug cartels amok in Mexico, many flee to the US for protection. Sending them back is sending them to their demise. Others that have committed crimes in the US, now they get off the bus free men/women in Mexico/Canada. As for the US citizen that committs crime, the most severe punishment is life in prison without parole. Actually, the only one being punished is society that has to pay in tax dollars to feed/clothe this individual in jail.

    I studied Philosopy and Ethics in college. One thing I remember reading about the justice system is that it is treated as a punishment to teach the accused not to redo a crime AND to show society as a whole “This is what happens when you committ a crime”. American jail system fails in that aspect. It doesnt teach the inmates to throw off their past lives and have a second chance at being a normal individual. Instead, the inmates read books and watch tv to pass the time. Sometimes they work at the jail doing basic chores such as cleaning the bedsheets. Other times they’re allowed internet access from which some use to continue harrassing their victims. They’re thrown together in the cafe and gym where they find people to relate to and create their own gangs inside the prison. The point is jail doesnt fix the core problem, but instead gives the accused an even greater motive to cause harm to those that put them away. It should address the core problem because those that end up in jail are those that were forced to turn to the lifestyle they did because they were not taught early in life like others how to find reliable jobs and work hard to earn money.

    I remember what an old man once told me. The entire system in America is rigged. The universities are funded by elite businesses. Those that cant survive college end up as the “slave labor” on the factory floors of the big companies. Those that do survive get an internship that is usually required at most universities or else they work part time at companies to help pay for their studies. After university, MOST hold a BA degree in their interest, but will tend to return to the same company they had done previous internship, parttime work, or gotten a scholarship from, and they’ll become office workers. Those that manage to get the MBA or Master degree still go back to the company they know and they receive a higher position such as Manager, Director, or CEO. Very few start their own business which usually requires little college.

    I say this because to handle your own business you need SKILL. Most think college provides people with the skills for a job, just like my previous boss. Unfortunately all the college can do is charge outrageous fees for knowledge that is already written in the 100 USD book you just bought.

    • Merlin,

      You forgot something about America’s “wonderful” prison system. 100% free healthcare. There are people in the United States that face death because they do not have health insurance. To survive, I have read of people that go out and rob a bank so they go to jail for the free healthcare, which could even be a free heart transplant.

      A hard working honest American that always told the truth and followed the laws may end up dead from a disease because he or she didn’t earn enough to pay for health insurance but a murderer or rapist or mob boss gets 100% free health care in US prisons for every health problem.

      The lesson for Americans is to be dishonest, become a thief, a murderer or a rapist to earn free health care. And for the white collar criminals such as Bernie Madoff that ripped people off for billions, if he had not been caught, his theft would have bought him the best medical care in the world, while more than 40 million Americans that get up every day and go to work to low paying jobs have none.

      I also doubt if those same criminals have to pay income tax for all the free food they eat.

  9. Merlin says:

    Yea, that’s one thing that always amazes me about Chinese history. Their armies were in the TENS of thousands. In Rome a hill would be a battle. In China, the size of Shanghai would be the battlefield! Also, Zhang He’s imperial fleet when he apparently sailed around the world were possibly the biggest floating ships of the era, although some dispute the numbers.

    The Wheel Barrow they say was invented by Zhuge Liang, but some say in fact it was another device.

    Zhuge is credited for some upgrade to the crossbow…either rapid fire or multi-shot.

    You mention the military assisting the civilians in disasters and repairing transportation networks. I find it funny how the US constantly trains for war, yet we’ve been bogged down for over 8 years in the Mid East. All the while, we’re hit with some strong natural disasters, the bridges are falling apart, and the government is losing money to pay it’s staff to repair roads.

    To answer your question at the end of your comment, I’d first challenge others to try to answer it themselves. In my own opinion, the world is round. If you push too much, you’ll eventually end up forcing them to come around from the rear and attack you in the back. In the end, all your efforts of war, only end in leaving your back open to the enemy. In this case, we’re in the Mid east, but we have drug runners armed to the teeth with blackmarket weapons crossing the Mexican border and committing kidnapping for ransom and murder. We have legalized pot in CA. Our own leaders cant agree to fix the economy. Our kids are shooting each other in school. BUT we are safe from terrorists based in Afghanistan! Dont want a repeat of 9/11 that took about 10 years to plan and put into action and just destroyed 3 buildings in NY and a section of the Pentagon. Just saying, if you were an alien visited Earth and went home to give a report about USA, what would you tell them?

    • Merlin asked, “If you were an alien visited Earth and went home to give a report about USA, what would you tell “them?

      America would earn an “F”. My advice to my leaders would be not to deal with Americans. They cannot get along and argue all the time telling lies about each other. They cannot balance a budget. They are in one war after another. They have a HUGE national debt and the average family has about $10,000 in credit card debt. The US has high unemployment numbers. The only thing Americans seem to have is freedom of expression and everyone, even all the illiterates and fools are allowed to vote but that might not be a plus.

      If the type of government that rules a nation were not the issue but the state of affairs were, how would the aliens grade China compared to the US?

      Let’s see, the US is involved in several wars, poverty is increasing and the middle class is shrinking while the 1% at the top keep getting richer, the National Debt is HUGE, more than 10 million are out of work and/or on welfare of some kind and 19 million more have had to take jobs that paid less than what they had before the 2008 financial crises. The corrupt criminals behind the 2008 global financial Crises were mostly Americans and none of them have gone to jail or seen a day in court and they are all filthy rich and most of them are still in the same jobs or switched to jobs that are similar. The US has the largest prison population on the planet (mostly minorities/people of color), spends more on defense and its military than any nation on the planet. The US also has not made finding ways to rid itself of using oil and coal for energy needs a major priority while China is now the world’s leader in solar, wind and cleaner coal burning power plants and nuclear energy sources. Sixty percent of Americans are obese and the average life span is actually less than it was a few years ago because people are dying earlier.

      In China, there is also corruption but officials in the government and in the private sector are arrested all the time, some go to jail, some are executed. Most of China’s people are working even if the pay may be low for many. China’s middle class is growing, in the last thirty years, China has reduced poverty dramatically and is responsible for 90% of the reduction of global poverty because of that. Oh, China is not involved in any wars anywhere in the world, but I’m sure if the hawks in the US had their way, China would be fighting the US. China also has a surplus of money and no national debt while upgrading the infrastructure (rail, road, communications, etc). While the quality of life is improving in China, the quality of life in the US is degrading for many. China has the second highest prison population on the planet but it is half that of the United States while China has more than four times the number of people.

      Many Americans do give to charities such as the Red Cross, cancer and diabetes research and many go to church on Sunday and are free to belong to any of the more than 3,000 religions in the US while they all debate which religion is the one that God/god favors and sometimes kill each other over the answer to this topic.

      Most Chinese value education and respect teachers while most Americans do not value education and do not respect teachers.

  10. Merlin says:

    It’s xmas in July! An article about ancient inventions. 🙂 So, I’d like to add a minor point that YES the chinese were and always have been focused on military power. Today they are building military power, just as their ancestors did in the past. As far as I have studied, the last of the Ming dynasty were not as war-like as the rest since they were sending huge amounts of gold and women to appease the northerners from invading.

    On to tech, an invention that was created in ancient China, the rapid fire….crossbow. The 2 are creative tech. The crossbow itself is an easy load easy fire trigger mechanism compared to the basic bow and arrow that requires holding the arrow in place and having the strength to draw the string. Plus, it can snap and hurt like a burn. The rapid fire capability I’ve heard it’s been invented by the legendary strategist Zhuge Liang of the 3 Kingdoms period, but if you read the ancient historians scrolls of the tomb of Qin I think I remember reading that the walls hold rapid fire machines launching arrows at any possible looters.

    Some tech that is non-miitary related are the wheelbarrow, the water clock, and the industrial production line.

    The wheelbarrow has been credited to been invented by Zhuge Liang of the 3 Kingdoms period. When his lord, Liu Xuande (Bei) had ran to Sichuan to setup the Shu empire, he discovered it was a prime location for it’s natural defense due to the mountains. He also realized fighting the war against the northern Cao Cao would be difficult on the mountain slopes, so he invented a wooden ox and flowing horse. Most people say it was a wheelbarrow and others claim it could be something completely different. I’m just calling it a wheelbarrow because I’m going with the majority vote.

    The water clock was used by ancient chinese. It was an entire system setup using gears, water wheel, and flowing water. The clock apparently was like a cuckoo clock. It had mechanical figures that would move and represent the day of the week. A giant round shape object on the top would slowly rotate and tell the month and year.

    The industrial production line was operated by a huge water will like that of a mill, the difference was it turned an axle instead of a grinding stone. Along the axle were pins, and when rotated the pins would hit a wooden post that would rise in the air, and then fall down (creating a giant hammer), and this would happen on a grand scale. By doing so, the people could use as a production line for either commercial use or mass production of military equipment.

    My sources, I’ve searched on google for most of it except for the industrial production line which I got from a segment of the History Channel back home.

    • Merlin,

      I agree. China has always had large armies. When The Roman Empire sent an army into the field to wage war, a large force might number 80,000. On the other hand, Imperial China often had armies of several hundred thousand in the field. Many of the inventions you mention, I have written about and will repost. However, I did not know about the wheel barrow. Thank you. I have always wondered who invented the wheel barrow.

      Here is where I wrote about the Crossbow (July 31, 2010) in addition to a few other Chinese inventions (in a four-part series) not mentioned in this post, and I will repost as a single page in a few weeks. http://wp.me/pN4pY-11h

      The Chinese also use the military to arrive first in disaster zones such as earthquakes and hundreds of thousands of China’s troops also build and repair roads throughout the country. They just don’t train and sit around waiting for a war.

      In addition, during the Tang Dynasty, one of the emperors married off a favorite daughter to the king of Tibet so the “very” warlike Tibetans would stop raiding into China’s western provinces. As for the northern nomads, mostly Tartars, Manchu and the Mongols, China built the Great Wall in an attempt to stop them from invading China and for good reason. The Yung Dynasty was the result of Mongol invasions and the Qing Dynasty was the result of Manchu invasions from the north–the two times China was ruled by a minority instead of the Han Chinese.

      Some Han emperors from different dynasties invaded the Northern grasslands where the Tartars, Manchu and Mongols lived in another attempt to stop those raids into China. That strategy was to drive the barbarians as far from China as possible in an attempt to bring peace to the Middle Kingdom and keep the fighting in barbarian lands.

      Isn’t that what the United States is doing today with hundreds of military bases around the world and fighting wars in countries such as Europe, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan — to keep the fighting away from the home country?

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