lil asthma

September 18, 2008

You know how Wayne kicks it, and you ain’t gotta trip, like you lost your plane tickets.

The best selling rapper of the year, and the fastest selling artist since 2005 spoke to Wallstreet Journal (not quite the spread in Forbes, taking a Benjamin bath) about the Carter 3. I thought this part was particularly insightful:

Even the people who did download it [without paying], that’s a sign of respect. Trust me, it’s respect — if you don’t believe me you can call my bank. I don’t have a problem with downloading. I don’t have a problem with anything.

So not only is hip-hop still alive, but so is the record industry… with thanks to pirating. Of course people familiar with hip-hop always knew that. Mixtapes are gaining mindshare in America, but they have been around for a long time. Just more evidence that it’s not music that is in trouble, it’s just the people that aren’t in it for the music that are in trouble.

traffic

September 12, 2008

Most sidewalks in China are composed of tiles or cobblestones, and in the major cities there is usually a path with ridges for the convenience of the blind. In all the Chinese cities I’ve walked through, with all the millions of people, I have never seen a blind person walking the street. Even if I were to see a blind person, I could not imagine them utilizing the pathway because they would most certainly be accompanied by a friend or relative. When crossing the street with a Chinese friend I have become accustomed to the physical reassurance they offer by pulling my arm or putting their arm out to stop me from walking. I became used to the sight of Chinese girls walking hand in hand or arm in arm, supporting each other as if they had just stumbled out of a burning building. These observations may seem strange to the Western pedestrian, but they make all too much sense on Chinese roads.

I no longer gripped the “oh shit handles” in the taxi when we made a U-turn across three lanes of traffic at a busy green light. There would be honking, yielding, coming to a stop with our taxi perpendicular to oncoming traffic as we waited for the last lane of traffic to present an opening. The first time my taxi pulled in front of a bus from a stop in second gear it is easy to imagine the panic I felt, a different but just as anxious feeling came up the first time my taxi cut off a police car with its sirens on. It turns out that Chinese police turn on their lights to signify that they are on duty, but the rules of the road are clearly different. Traffic lights seem to be guidelines, the paint that separate lanes are mere decoration and horns see far more use than turn signals. Yet I always got from point A to point B.

Why is it that I got safely to where I was going? How could a system without rules accomplish exactly the results we depend on our laws to provide? There is a subtle and pervasive undercurrent in China that shapes the behavior of its citizens. This force can be described as a tacit mutual understanding between every individual. This understanding must be continuously maintained, constantly updated by being aware of ones surroundings. My friend pulling my arm was a sign that she was paying attention to my welfare, and stopping me with his arm was another friends reaction to the approaching cars. A taxi turning across a full street relies on the understanding held by the oncoming drivers, and when he stops with one lane left, he is considering the Audi speeding down the last lane who can’t slow down enough to accommodate him. It is not the rules of traffic that guide the decisions each driver makes, it is the surrounding environment that dictate the next move.

And traffic is just the metaphor.