What came first, Paper for Printing or for the Toilet?

July 8, 2020

Since COVID-19 struck like a venomous cobra killing thousand daily, toilet paper has become a very popular item in the United States and from what I am learning, the world.

March through May, I didn’t see much Costco toilet paper at the store where I shop. That started to change in June, and on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, I saw more of Costco’s Kirkland brand toilet paper in one place than I have ever seen before.

The Costco I shop at added more storage at the back of the store for toilet paper on the heavy metal shelves the chain uses that soar 30 feet from the floor to the ceiling.  At the checkout stand, I asked the clerk if that mountain of toilet paper was enough to satisfy demand, and she said, those shelves had to be filled three times a day to keep up.

The pandemic is in its fourth month and demand for toilet paper doesn’t seem to be ending. What are shoppers doing with all the toilet paper they are buying, insulating their houses with it?

On the way home, I thought about the history of toilet paper. I already knew that China invented paper just like they did the printing press centuries before they both showed up in Europe, but what about TP.

History.com says, “Although paper originated in China in the second century B.C., the first recorded use of paper for cleansing is from the 6th century in medieval China, discovered in the texts of scholar Yen Chih-Thui. In 589 A.D, he wrote, ‘Paper on which there are quotations or commentaries from the Five Classics or the names of sages, I dare not use for toilet purposes.’

“By the early 14th century, the Chinese were manufacturing toilet paper at the rate of 10 million packages of 1,000 to 10,000 sheets annually. In 1393, thousands of perfumed paper sheets were also produced for the Hongwu Emperor’s imperial family.

“Paper became widely available in the 15th century, but in the Western world, modern commercially available toilet paper didn’t originate until 1857, when Joseph Gayetty of New York marketed a ‘Medicated Paper, for the Water-Closet,’ sold in packages of 500 sheets for 50 cents. Before his product hit the market, Americans improvised in clever ways (don’t ask).”

Why did it take more than five hundred years for toilet paper to reach Europe and the United States from China?

I wonder if China had a toilet paper shortage like we did in the U.S. after the Chinese learned about COVID-19, and first warned the world on December 31, 2019. I found one answer dated in February from the South China Morning Post reporting that in Hong Kong there was a fear driven rush to buy all the toilet paper one could drag home.  Guo Yukuan, a senior researcher with the China Society of Economic Reform, a state-backed think tank, said the panic buying was irrational. “This is purely driven by panic and stress,” Guo said. “China’s production capacity [for toilet paper] can supply not just Hong Kong but the whole world.”

Next time, before you flush, thank the Chinese for inventing toilet paper.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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How close does China’s Great Firewall watch Tik Tok?

July 1, 2020

The BBC reports “US President Donald Trump sought help from Chinese President Xi Jinping to win re-election, ex-National Security Adviser John Bolton’s new book says.”

The allegations refer to a meeting between President Trump and President Xi at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, in June last year. “Trump, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming US presidential election [in 2020], alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Mr. Bolton wrote in his book The Room Where It Happened, released June 23.

 

What if Xi Jinping does not want to help Donald Trump win reelection?

 

Until yesterday, I didn’t know what Tik Tok was. Curious, I Googled it and discovered from Business Insider that this popular video-sharing app has more than 1.5 billion all-time downloads, and is owned by a Chinese internet company called ByteDance.

From Forbes, I learned that ByteDance, the Beijing-based Chinese Digital Giant and Owner of Tik Tok, had impressive 2019 revenue and earnings of $17 Billion.

 

Does that mean China’s President XI Jinping allowed Tik Tok Tokers and K-pop fans to Tank Trump’s Tulsa rally to embarrass Donald Trump?

 

After all, the Chinese Communist Party is well known for its Great Firewall. Internet censorship and surveillance have been tightly implemented in China blocking social websites like Gmail, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and others. The excessive censorship practices of the Great Firewall of China have now engulfed the VPN service providers as well.

The New York Times even reported, “We Should Worry About How China Uses Apps Like Tik Tok, illiberal innovations created for China’s vast surveilled and censored domestic market are increasingly popular overseas.

“To China’s surveillance state,” The NYT continues, “a video-sharing app offers much more than your dog dancing to Drake. Tik Tok’s domestic Chinese version, Douyin, is heavily censored and surveilled: Last year, the British cartoon Peppa Pig was purged from the platform after the authorities decided she had taken on subversive meaning. (It is unclear whether this was because of a direct government order or the company pre-emptively censoring itself.) … “To date, no evidence suggests that Chinese authorities have used their leverage over Douyin domestically to censor or surveil Tik Tok overseas. But given what we know about Beijing’s illiberal impulses, there is a gap between what is provable beforehand, and what it is prudent to presume.”

Since China keeps a close watch on its social networking sites like Tik Tok, why did its Great Firewall allow all those teens in China and around the world to sabotage Trump’s hate rally in Tulsa and embarrass the most unpopular president in United States history, not only in America but throughout the world?

After all, wouldn’t it be in China’s interest to see Donald Trump defeated in November 2020? Trump even answered that question when he said, “China wants me to lose reelection.”

If true, China would not be alone. Most of the world wants Trump to lose, and so do I. That is why I am asking China’s President Xi Jinping to please help Trump lose this year’s U.S. election and block Russia from helping him like they did in 2016.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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My Splendid Concubine is now available to read through Kindle Unlimited.

About iLook China


China’s Sex Toy Industry Making a Killing during the Pandemic

May 20, 2020

Vice.com reports, “Sales for at least five major sex toy brands have seen significant increases throughout 2020, seemingly in step with instructions to stay inside and avoid other people.”


In the first week of April, the sale of sex toys in Denmark increased by 100%

China produces the most sex toys, while the United States produces the most pornography in the world (roughly 60%) and is the clear leader in porn production.

Real Sex Reviews.com reports, “China as a whole has been estimated to produce more than 80% of the sex toys in the world, with the industry being valued at $6.6 billion and employing more than a million people.”

One of those toys is the full-sized sex doll. According to The Atlantic, “Since ancient times, men have been getting it on with synthetic women.”


Inside a Chinese sex doll factory

The New York Daily Post reports, “Naturally antibacterial’: Sex doll companies trying to cash in on coronavirus. … Sex doll companies have an important public service message: Self-isolating can be fun and safe at the same time. Self-isolating doesn’t have to be the worst! All RealDolls are made from Platinum Grade Silicone and are naturally antibacterial and nonporous! Want one?”

What explains this increase in sex-toy sales and traffic to porn sites?

Psychology Today says, “Some research has found that when we are faced with the prospect of our own mortality, this prompts sexual desire and behavior as a coping mechanism. To the extent that the COVID-19 pandemic is making mortality more salient, it would make sense that you’d see a rise in horniness right now, which could partly explain why more porn is being consumed.”

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Impact of Cultural and Lifestyle Choices during a Pandemic

May 13, 2020

China is a collectivist culture based on valuing the needs of a group or a community over the individual.

Better the Future.org says, “The traditional Chinese diet consists of low or moderate amounts of meat or fish and plenty of vegetables accompanied by starches like rice or noodles. Tea is often served with dinner instead of soft drinks. Desserts are generally not part of the meal but fresh fruits can be served to help with digestion.”

The BBC reported, “China reported the cases to the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN’s global health agency, on 31 December.… The mayor of Wuhan has previously admitted there was a lack of action between the start of January – when about 100 cases had been confirmed – and 23 January, when city-wide restrictions were enacted. …

“WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has hailed China for the ‘speed with which [it] detected the outbreak’ and its ‘commitment to transparency’.”

The United States is an individualist culture. Very Well Mind.com says, “Individualistic cultures are those that stress the needs of the individual over the needs of the group as a whole.”

Health.gov tells us about the Current Eating Patterns in the United States. “The typical eating patterns currently consumed by many in the United States do not align with the Dietary Guidelines. … About three-fourths of the population has an eating pattern that is low in vegetables, fruits, dairy, and oils.

“More than half of the population is meeting or exceeding total grain and total protein foods recommendations (and) … are not meeting the recommendations for the subgroups within each of these food groups.

“Most Americans exceed the recommendations for added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.

“The high percentage of the population that is overweight or obese suggests that many in the United States overconsume calories. As documented, more than two-thirds of all adults and nearly one-third of all children and youth in the United States are either overweight or obese.”

How do these cultural and lifestyle choices translate to death by COVID-19?

On May 6, 2020, Statista reported that the United States was 1st place for COVID-19 deaths worldwide.

1st Place: The United States with 72,284 deaths

2nd place: the UK with 29,427 deaths (the UK is also an individualist culture)

11th place: China with 4,633 deaths (where the pandemic started)

The Smithsonian Magazine reports that “U.S. Life Expectancy Drops for Third Year in a Row, Reflecting Rising Drug Overdoses, Suicides,” and Global News reported, “The novel coronavirus is a bundle of proteins. It doesn’t care about faith, freedom, jobs or right-wing conspiracy theories, but that hasn’t stopped hundreds of Americans from defying all medical advice to protest against lockdown measures meant to keep them safe — often while standing unmasked and shoulder to shoulder.”

What about life expectancy in China? Macrotrends says, “The Current Life expectancy for China in 2020 is 76.96 years, a 0.22 percent increase from 2019.”  In fact, China has seen a slow and steady increase in life expectancy since 1950. Click the link in this paragraph to see for yourself.

It is apparent that the price for individual freedoms in the U.S. means shorter lifespans and a higher risk of death by COVID-19. What freedom means in the United States depends on each individual.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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What Came First, the Blog or the Book?

April 29, 2020

The reason I launched iLookChina in January 2010, was to build a social media platform to attract readers for “My Splendid Concubine”, my first published novel, and it worked. The 1st edition of the book was released in December 2007 and two years later the novel had sold 562 copies. By New Years of 2010, another 2,375 copies had been sold thanks to the blog. Fast forward a decade to February 2020, and Concubine has reached 64,399 readers (more if their copies were loaned to friends and family), and that is not counting the near quarter-million page reads through Kindle Unlimited.

This journey did not start in 2007. It started December 1999, when Anchee and I visited China together for the first time on our honeymoon. By then, I had already I started the nine years of research, writing, editing and revisions that led to the novel.

By the end of 2007, I thought I knew a lot about China. I could not have been more wrong. The truth was I didn’t know much at all as I was soon to discover.

That brings me to 2009, when I was a member of the California Writers Club (the 2nd oldest writers club in the United States), and I took an all-day workshop through the South Bay Branch of the club where we learned what we had to do to attract interested readers for our books.

Without word-of-mouth, readers are not going to find our books. We had to find the readers first.

In that workshop, we were told not to write about being writers as many authors do, but to write about something our book was a small part of. For me, that meant China. The instructor said if we wanted to be found on the first page of a Google search we had to publish 1,000 posts in the first year. I went home and did everything I had learned in that workshop and started posting three times a day until I hit the one thousand mark. Good thing I was a retired teacher by then, because that turned out to be more than a full-time job. After reaching 1,000 posts, I slowed down to one new post a day for the next few years before I ended up where I am now, once a week.

The first post was American Hypocrisy published on January 28, 2010. The first paragraph says, “Why am I writing about China? Simple—many Americans do not respect the differences between cultures. They say they do, but I don’t believe them. During the 2008-2009 school year, our daughter returned home one day to tell us that her history teacher talked about China and said the people had to be very depressed to live under a totalitarian government like the Communists.”

While China has an authoritarian one-party government, it isn’t a totalitarian state like North Korea, not even close, and I never met any Chinese depressed by their government during my trips to China. In fact, Shanghai turned out to be the Paris of Asia, a colorful, thriving city filled with life.

The day I launched the blog, I had been married to Anchee Min for a decade and had visited China nine times with my family to learn more about the country, its culture, and people, and even that wasn’t enough.

Long before the end of 2010, I ran out of stuff to write about by the time I reached the hundredth post. Most of what I knew about China was what I had learned while writing that historical fiction novel set in the middle of the 19th century. It was based on a true story and the main character was an Irishman named Robert Hart who was 19 when he arrived in China in 1854. Beginning as a student interpreter in the consular service, Hart arrived in China at the age of 19 and stayed for 54 years, except for two short leaves in 1866 and 1874. Hart has been credited as the most important and most influential Westerner in Qing dynasty China.

I had to learn more about China, or the blog was going to die a slow death. I started studying China’s history going back thousands of years. I wrote about the Great Wall, the Grand Canal, the first emperor, the different dynasties, the best emperors, the worst emperors, the inventions that came out of China, Chinese medicine, Daoism Confucianism, Buddhism, and the food, et al.

I also learned about China’s 1911 revolution, and Dr. Sun Yat-sen, known today as the Father of the Nation, both in Taiwan and Mainland China. Sun had been sent by his family to go to school in Hawaii as a boy where he learned about the U.S. Constitution. He returned to China as a young man and joined the revolution to replace the Qing Dynasty with a republic modeled on the United States but adapted to fit Chinese culture.  After several failures, Sun successfully recruited the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Nationalist Party, and other smaller parties to work together and form a multi-party republic.

Then Dr. Sun Yat-sen died unexpectedly in 1925 before the job was done, and the alliance he had built fell apart starting China’s long and brutal Civil War (1927 – 1949). The CCP did not start that Civil War. Chiang Kai-shek did that when he formed an alliance with the criminal triad gangs in Shanghai to destroy the newly forming labor unions and the young Chinese Communist Party that was organizing the unions. Without warning, Chiang Kai-shek’s troops, with help from Shanghai’s ruthless criminal triads, hunted down and executed, without trials, every member of the Communist Party they could find and the leaders of the labor unions along with the workers that had joined the unions.

To keep publishing posts and attracting readers interested in learning more about the real China, I had to keep learning, but I couldn’t do that by turning to the misleading, biased propaganda that often gets published and broadcast about China in the U.S. media. I had to find material published before 1911 and from other academic sources like from Australia, and the media from other countries like the BBC, France 24, and Al Jazeera English, headquartered in Doha, Qatar.

Since iLookChina’s launch, there have been more than 2,434 posts (most of them researched and written by me), 4,966 comments, and 802,366 hits (visitors). Sometimes I have paid a price when a China hating American accuses me of being an evil Communist and a traitor to the United States, because I strive to reveal the real China and not the fabricated one we often read about in the U.S. Media.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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About iLook China