News in Brief
congealed by Tab Feng
China to tackle "walking gap"
Scientists and miscellaneous researchers are to investigate the gap in walking speeds between Chinese pedestrians and those of "waiguo". Government members have become concerned that the characteristic Chinese dawdle may be causing a loss of efficiency, as it may take, for example, an average worker 23 seconds longer to walk across a warehouse floor than for a foreign worker. A steering committee has been set up to investigate the phenomenon.
There may be a military angle, too. "China has long been conscious that a slight but manifest advantage is possessed by foreign military forces, who are able to put plans into action ever-so-slightly faster than the PLA because they walk faster," said logistics analyst Marcus Holdon of Jane's Defence Review. However, there have long been rumours that, since 1989, the government has maintained a crack battalion of PLA troops, loyal to Beijing, trained in the art of walking at normal speed in order to head off potential uprisings, including any from within the military. Will the powers that be at Zhongnanhai be prepared to give up this trump card? "In the long run," says Holdon, "I think they must. The larger the numbers involved, the more the 'walking gap' matters, and the last thing they will want when they invade Taiwan is to be outmanoeuvred by a people who learnt how to walk normally under Japanese rule."
Man at Bookworm terribly pretentious
Slight irritation and rolled eyes were the order of the day for patrons of Beijing's Bookworm cafe-cum-library last week, as 28 year old real estate agent Chen Haojun tried to impress with fancy foreign words and the fact that he frequented a place where white people go.
"这里的咖啡--这里的咖啡特别...authentic," Chen explained to two female colleagues as he entered the south Sanlitun establishment. He then went on to needlessly use the English words "original", "idea" and many more in otherwise entirely Mandarin sentences.
Friends and colleagues say this is not the first time this has happened. "He always does it," says neighbour of two years Li Huiyan. "The sad thing is, these aren't really difficult words that express difficult concepts Chinese doesn't have a word for. And anyway, I'm pretty sure he just looks them up in a dictionary in advance so that he can use them later, because he never seems to understand actual English conversations."
Excess rain due to "itchy trigger finger"
The government workers who operate Beijing's silver nitrate rainmaking guns have revealed that the sheer number of artificially rainy days in recent weeks has been down to an enthusiastic newcomer.
"Yessirree, it sure has been hotter'n a rattlesnake's belly these last few weeks," said Unit Superintendent Ma Jiaowen, spitting a wad of tobacco into a drain. "And by rights we should cool things down, but some people just gotta take things too far." He went on to explain that Guo Chefai, an "ornery greenhorn" recently hired as a rain gunner, "just has hisself an itchy trigger finger - soon as he sees a cloud his rain gun's skinned faster'n a jackrabbit in the rainy season and he's gotta have his shot." Ma assured reporters that Guo would settle down soon enough, but in the meantime it was important to realise that it is characters like Guo who "keep their shootin' irons greased so as decent ordinary folks can sleep in their beds at night."
Superintendent Ma then closed the press conference and rode his pinto to the nearest saloon for some sipping whisky.