11 July 2010

David Frum goes historical

On the Chinese Song Dynasty no less. He is reading several books about the period and is highly impressed. The Song were the Dynasty before the Mongols and is generally agreed to be the period when Chinese civilization reached its heights (except for personal hygiene according to Frum).

It's worth reading. Though I have to laugh at his last paragraph:
Premodern history is a story of cruelty. If half the world’s people lived in China in the year 1000, at least half the world’s cruelty took place there too – and probably much more than half, since the Chinese were so much better organized than anyone else.

Aside from not daring to try to calculate the proportion of cruelty that was actually Chinese, I would have thought that the 20th Century had pretty much retired the competition in cruelty.

and Early Modern? Wars of Religion anyone?


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At 13 July, 2010 10:41, Anonymous The Old Man said...

I had to laugh too when I looked at the article on the "personal hygiene" angle, and also read some of the comments. It stated in the article that some Arab traders were put off on the personal hygiene because the Chinese didn't wash with water after they had a number two. (Which was the Arab custom.) After wondering how dirty that was, someone in the comments had read the cometary by the Arab traders (probably a history professor with nothing else to do), and it said that the Chinese only wiped their selfs with "dry paper". Wow, just using toilet paper. Wonder if that custom has survived anywhere.

At 14 July, 2010 22:08, Blogger Clemens said...

Well, let's just say as a leftie I would have trouble in traditional Muslim societies.

And then there are the Japanese, who apparently think the Muslims are unhygienic.

"Users of the Matsushita toilet can program it to pre-heat or pre-cool a bathroom at a specific time at a set temperature. For
owners who might not be so regular, this toilet allows
users to set the temperature and pressure of a water jet spray used to wash and massage the buttocks, an enormously popular feature in Japan."



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