Chinese Crossbow and other Inventions (1/4)

July 31, 2010

The Chinese invented the forerunner to the modern machine gun—a repeating crossbow. If you watch the video, you will see that firing the repeating crossbow takes the pull of one lever.  The arrows are in a clip above the firing mechanism.

Then the Chinese invented the stirrup. Prior to that, all of the ancient people on earth rode horses without stirrups and staying on horseback and fighting was difficult without the stirrup.

Thanks to stirrups, the horse became a more stable platform for war. Prior to the stirrup, it was common for a man to ride about seven miles a day. After the stirrup, that distance was extended to as much as 70 miles a day.

The invention of the stirrup along with the repeating crossbow created a powerful weapon. The Chinese could also manufacture items in mass, quickly and efficiently. The Chinese used pottery molds to accomplish this—even to build the advanced trigger mechanism for the crossbow. When it came to cast iron, the Chinese were a thousand years ahead of the world.

However, by the time of the Sung Dynasty, the world was catching up—meaning China’s enemies were stealing their technology.  It’s ironic that today, many in the West accuse the Chinese of stealing innovations. If so, China is only doing what was done to them centuries ago.

Go to Chinese Crossbow and other Inventions – Part 2 or learn more about The Accidental Discovery of Gunpowder

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Marriage and Money

July 16, 2010

I worked in a meat market once in the early 1980s.  I was the maitre d in a nightclub called the Red Onion in Southern California.  The kind of meat I’m talking about is the two-legged kind where men are looking for women.

Danwei has an interesting post about a similar meat market in China without the nightclub.   In China, marriage is often based on how much a man earns.  Since there is a growing shortage of women in China, men have to compete.  The winner is usually the one who earns the most. Danwei posted a letter from a university student in China, who is attracted to a beautiful girl in one of his classes, but he has nothing to offer and is ready to give up before asking her for a date.

This Video emphasizes that fact.  A Chinese laborer who doesn’t earn much and doesn’t own a home wants a wife but he can’t find one because men who earn more than him are getting all the available women.

Even if a girl likes a guy, the parents are going to get involved at some point to make sure the man earns enough to provide for their daughter. If the parents are against the marriage, the odds are it will not happen.

Don’t forget, the biggest reason for divorce in the US is due to money problems—something Chinese women want to avoid.  This is a case where love loses to money.

See Banning Virtual Love for the Troops

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Banning Virtual Love for the Troops

July 5, 2010

Tragedy has struck before with online dating like Krista Elizabeth Merry, a 15-year-girl, who vanished after meeting someone on the Internet. Love Fraud.com even offers 7 points to remember about dating and predators.

Knowing how dangerous looking for love can be on the Internet, it should come as no surprise to learn that the People’s Daily announced that China’s military leaders are taking online dating as a serious threat to national security and banned online dating for the troops.

Traditional Chinese Wedding

However, young military men are not in the army to become monks, so China’s officers have had matchmaking added to their duties. Source: IBN Live

Becoming a military matchmaker may not be so easy, because there is a growing shortage of women in China. CNN reported that some 24 million Chinese men of marrying age will find themselves without a wife by 2020.  In that case, being in the military might be an advantage since patriotic Chinese women could move military men to the front of the line—that is if enough women are ready to marry.

Discover You’ve Come a Long Ways, Babe

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Not One Less (1999)

May 8, 2010

In the movie Not One Less, a thirteen-year-old girl is asked to be the substitute teacher in a small Chinese village.  The teacher tells her that when he returns, if he finds all the students there, he will pay her ten yuan—less than two American dollars.

Although money is involved, it isn’t much. When one student, Zhang Huike, stops coming to school, Wei Minzhim, the thirteen-year-old substitute, follows him to the city.

There are several themes in this movie. The most powerful to me were the value of an education and not losing face. If Wei loses Zhang, she will fail the responsibility the teacher gave her. To succeed, she must keep all the students and teach them.

Confucius taught the Chinese that an education was the great equalizer and the key to leaving poverty behind. Most Chinese believe this with a passion.

Zhang Yimou was the director. He says, “Chinese culture is still rooted in the countryside. If you don’t know the peasant, you don’t know China.” Because of this, there is a strong message in this movie about the urban–rural divide, which is being addressed as China sews the nation together with high-speed rail and electricity.

This a powerful movie about children, education, and poverty that shows the challenges China faces in lifting the lifestyles of almost eight hundred million Chinese, who don’t live in the cities. The challenge is to do this without losing the values that made China what it is.

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel, Running with the Enemy, was awarded an honorable mention in general fiction at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival.

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Earth to Earth, Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes

March 31, 2010

It may take more than a few decades to change China’s culture to value girls equal to boys. China’s government is working to make that happen—that journey started in 1949, when Mao said, “Women hold up half the sky.” It isn’t easy overcoming several thousand years of culture.

Faith’s journey started at the age of two from rural China where poverty and a life of hard labor can be crushing. To encourage poor parents, who want a boy instead of a girl, not to throw a female infant in the closest river, government run orphanages have a no-punishment policy toward parents that abandon girls. Orphanages are surrounded by a wall with a drawer in that wall where parents may leave the child. The parent rings a bell, then hurries away.

Michelle Dremmer traveled from Chicago to China  more than fifteen years ago to rescue one of those orphans. She fell in love with the two-year-old, who was past the desired age of many adoptive parents, and she gave Faith a life of “happiness, opportunity and love” that few orphans in China experience.

Faith Dremmer

Another journey of five-hundred miles started on bikes and ended in tragedy for Faith, who was 17. I first wrote about this in Saying Goodbye, soon after hearing about the accident that claimed Faith’s life. Two of the girls survived. One spent eleven hours in surgery.

The driver of the van, who hit the girls, was an 86-year-old man. He was not injured. A friend of the driver said he was a good Christian who never drank and was close to his family—three children, six grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. I cannot imagine the burden of guilt he will carry for what life he has left.

I cry easily watching movies. It doesn’t take much to turn on the tears. My wife and daughter know this and when one of those scenes appears on the screen, they always look.

Doesn’t make sense. I shouldn’t cry that easily. After all, I’m a former United States Marine. I fought in Vietnam and taught in tough, barrio schools for thirty years where you had to be “mean” (what I call tough love without physical violence) to survive. It embarrasses me when those tears appear in public against my will.

The tears let lose this morning when I was alone. I went on-line and read about Faith’s funeral in the Chicago Tribune. Nearly 1,300 mourners attended. Actually, I read six pieces that started with the accident and Faith’s death to the one where a photo with my  daughter and three of Faith’s friends were walking back into the temple with their arms around each other. They had just carried Faith’s coffin to the hearse.

In another Chicago Tribune piece, there’s a picture showing the four girls carrying the coffin from the temple. The pain is etched on their faces. Maybe I cry easily when others suffer because I saw so much brutality and death in the war, or it’s something in my DNA that I inherited from my mother. She was the weepy sort—not my father.

I’m looking at the “goodbye” photo in the Chicago Tribune as I write this. I see one girl’s head bent in agony.

Although I can’t see her face and eyes, my daughter is holding a tissue in one white gloved hand. I think she is crying.

Every since I drove my wife and daughter to the airport, I’ve been alone with my thoughts—my emotions.

I didn’t know Faith as well as my wife and daughter did. My wife was with Michelle when they went to China to get Faith. My daughter spent six early years of her life in the same house with Faith and Michelle. As children, they grew up closest friends. As teens, they were separated by more than two thousand miles.

I read some of Faith’s words in the Chicago Tribune and heard her voice. “You ask me who my mother is, and I say Michelle Dremmer. She is my mother and will always be.” And Michelle says, “I didn’t save Faith. She saved me.”

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