Where should we live?
Sushu and I have been talking about living abroad somewhere for a year, to see more of the world and have some crazy adventures together.
This would be way more difficult after we have kids. Which, everyone keeps telling us, gets more dangerous and complicated after about age 30.
Doing the math, that means that if we're going to go live in another country for a year, we should do it soon.
Next question: Which country?
Pros: I speak the language; I know people there; good food; has a Mozilla office; plentiful inspiration for drawing comics; beautiful scenery; snow; natsukashii
Cons: Insanely expensive; Mozilla office is in Tokyo, my least favorite city; Japan discriminates against Chinese people; it would be really hard for Sushu to get a job that's not a crappy English teaching job; can be kind of depressing sometimes with all the conformism; "been there, done that"
Pros: Sushu speaks the language; it would help me learn the langauge; great food; relatively affordable; Sushu has family; Sushu has connections that could help her find a job; has a Mozilla office; could tour all sorts of awesome Chinese historical sites; snow (in the north)
Cons: Internet censorship; Mozilla office is in Beijing; polluted; government is really scary; not entirely sure how they feel about American immigrants in general
Pros: Fantastic music; beautiful beaches; rain forest; highly active local open source community; friendly people; multi-racial so neither of us obviously sticks out; affordable
Cons: Tropical diseases; crime; neither of us speaks Portuguese; food (other than churrascaria) not that good; no Mozilla office (yet); no snow
Pros: Beautiful nature; people speak English; multiple Mozilla offices (Toronto and Vancouver); friendly people; multiculturalism; snow
Cons: Food not that good (sorry, fans of poutine and Tim Horton's). Not that different from living in America which kind of defeats the purpose of this exercise.
Pros: people speak English; get to know my family roots; beautiful nature; snow; I know a couple of people there; Viking historical sites; active local open-source community; green technology
Cons: Kind of depressing, especially in the winter. Food not that good (seafood should not come in a metal squeeze tube). Not sure how they feel about Chinese people. Conformism. High taxes.
And that's it for the countries I've spent enough time in to have an opinion on. There are plenty of other countries in the world, though, and we could pretty much take our pick. Any suggestions?
Non-Homestuck pics from ACEN
Cat and Kent were only moonlighting as part of our troll horde. Their main cosplay was Gurren Lagann.
Cat attracted a lot of attention dressed as Anti-Spiral Nia. These two couldn't walk ten feet without someone stopping them for a picture. (Cat, you're one of the only people I know with both the figure and the self-confidence to rock the latex bodysuit look. My hat is off to you.)
Here are some pics from a Gurren Lagann group photo shoot, which while not nearly as big as the Homestuck photo shoot, was pretty cool.
Some Kaminae punching some Shimons
Lord Genome! There's a cosplay I've never seen before!
Yoko flying the flag of the Dai-Gurren-Dan!
The supposed end-of-the-world date of May 21 came and went during the convention, and the wold stubbornly continued existing. There were a lot of jokes about that; my favorite was:
...Rorschach here updating his sign.
Once in a while I still see some old-school Squaresoft cosplay, which always makes me really happy:
Rydia from FF 4!
And Frog from Chrono Trigger!
Here's Helena, who was UCJAS club president back when I joined in 2004.
She's not in cosplay, this is just how she always dresses these days: Her own custom hand-made dresses, and a mohawk. She's kind of badass.
And now for random pics...
These guys just need a Goemon and a Zenigata.
Not just a Creeper, a Dapper Creeper.
The best use for Yu-Gi-Oh cards.
Kame Sennin aka Master Roshi from Dragon Ball. There's a nostalgia trip. (Keep this guy away from the Yoko cosplayers.)
See, we're not the only people who come to the con as non-anime characters. BUZZ LIGHTYEAR TO THE RESCUE!
Seeking decent review website, decent SF anime
The only "anime" I watched at the con was a an internet parody Stephen showed me called Girl-Chan in Paradise. It's pretty spot-on. The bad-dub voice acting in it is hilarious. ("Why's that Kotobaru-san-sama?" "I used up all my strength using the shi... shinkenpatsu bakumatsu hatsudatsu technique") Worth watching if you like stupidity-based humor, and pretty impressive that it was animated and voiced by like 3 people.
As I've said before, I go to ACEN because it's a reunion for my college friends, which just happens to be at an anime con. Each year it makes me think about anime and how I used to love it so much but hardly watch it anymore.
There's the obvious reasons - the anime industry itself going downhill since the 90s, me not having the free time I had as a teenager -- but there's another factor too: I no longer feel that completionist urge like I used to. Used to be that if I got hooked on an anime I just HAD to see every episode. Now I'm kind of like, watch four episodes, get the gist of it, OK that wasn't bad.
So many anime series, even the ones I like, can pretty much be broken down into formula plot plus high-concept gimmick. You know what I mean? For example...
Formula plot: "Shounen tournament anime"
High-concept gimmick: "They bake bread! (and make lots of puns)"
And it's like, I've seen enough tournament anime to know exactly how this is gonna go down. I don't need to sit through it again. Once I've seen enough to get the main jokes ("the bread is so delicious that when someone bites into it they are transported to outer space in a trippy animated sequence") and understand the character interactions ("this guy's a sidekick who's only in the show to watch the tournament and explain to the audience how amazing the hero's moves are"), a show often doesn't have enough like the characters and the gimmicks.
Especially true since many series have disappointing, inconclusive, or nonsensical endings. The payoff at the end is so rarely worth the effort of watching all the way through, and that makes me wary of getting overly invested in a show.
Is there a decent anime review website out there? Cuz I was thinking, I might watch anime more than like once a year if I had a source of reviews I trusted to tell me what doesn't suck. There was a site I liked back in like 2001-2002 called Anime Jump, but it's long defunct. I've looked at the top Google hits for "anime reviews" and they're all much too fannish and not nearly critical enough. You would think this is an obvious niche; shouldn't there be all sorts of Web 2.0 anime review sites with user-generated content and crap? Where like you can rate a few shows to give it an idea of what you like and then some algorithm recommends stuff?
Well, if I'm going to ask for recommendations... you know what I miss? Science fiction anime. There used to be a whole sub-genre of gritty near-futures, with those lovingly detailed drawings of cityscapes and mecha, with mindfuck philosophizing grounded in at least semi-believable settings. Stuff like Akira and Ghost in the Shell, the movies got me into anime in the first place; Bubblegum Crisis, Macross, the Patlabor movies, the original Gundam, Gunbuster... it's not so much the giant robots as the futurism. Serial Experiments Lain counts, I think. More distant futures, too, like Nausicaa, Galaxy Express 999, They Were Eleven (my favorite anime film nobody's ever heard of). I should probably give Cowboy Bebop another chance. The most recent thing I saw to scratch that itch was... Paprika?
Do they even still make that stuff anymore? I know that ambitious OAV series were a bubble economy thing, but where are all the neon futures, post-apocalyptic deserts, cool motorcycles, and neo-Tokyos? Have they all been replaced forever by pedophilia, shinigami, and goth-friendly lacy frills? Did Japan completely lose interest in The Future sometime in the 90s?
That reminds me of something John Lung showed me at ACEN 2010: the opening animation for Daicon 4, a convention in Osaka in 1982. This was a fan animation done by amateurs who would later go on to become Gainax. (It gets really good around 3 minutes. Electric Light Orchestra for the win!) This video reminds me of a time when anime fandom was a piece of science fiction fandom and you could fit the Millenium Falcon and the Space Battleship Yamato into the same montage. Not really true today, is it? The anime fandom self-segregates and I doubt many of the teenagers at ACEN have ever read an Isaac Asimov novel.
Maybe some of you readers can recommend a review site and/or a decent SF anime?
I thought we might run into one or two other Homestuck cosplayers. If not that, at least a couple of people who at least got the reference. Oh boy was I wrong.
The Homestuck group photo shoot, on Saturday afternoon, was bigger than any of the groups for any of the actual, you know, Japanese cartoons at this supposedly Japanse cartoon party. Between cosplayers, photographers, and general hangers-on there had to be two hundred people in this crowd.
The con was swarming with us. There were troll horns sticking out of the crowd everywhere we went. It was way beyond my wildest expectations.
These weren't even supposed to be Homestuck cosplay pictures, they just happened to be in the backgrund of the shot.
Everybody was really cool and friendly and SUPER EXCITED about their favorite Homestuck characters. It was a great feeling.
Some other groups might have had better costumes...
but I was proud of the fact that we were the only group with...
...not just four...
...not just six...
But EIGHT of twelve trolls. Felt like an accomplishment. Especially since we gathered from as far away as California, Florida, and New York.
Cat and her new boyfriend Kent didn't hadn't ever read Homestuck but they were very good sports when we asked them to be Feferi and Equius with us. We explained to them a bit about their characters. (We... left out some parts of the Equius explanation. We didn't think Kent was ready for Musclebeasts just yet.)
Sushu made her own Flourite Octet by ordering blank white d8s and coloring them in. I kind of jokingly suggested that she could use my hand drill to drill out the pips, but she actually did it. Across 8d8 that adds up to 286 painstakingly hand-drilled pips. Sushu, you are amazing.
Alexis battled flu and final papers to get her Aradia costume done on time. She looked pretty fantastic. I'm really glad she joined us for this crazy project, despite all the hardship!
Brian was super serious about being Sollux, right down to the vampire fangs and different-colored shoes.
You have to imagine the psychic death-beams shooting out of Sollux's eyes here.
Wait, maybe I can add them in with my mad "Photoshop" (coughGraphicConvertercough) skills:
Isaac made a VERY SCARY Gamzee. He got right into character and lurched around muttering creepy nonsense and HONKing. It kind of freaked me out.
Stephen was REALLY excited about his Eridan costume, maybe even more than the rest of us. He programmed his phone to play Eridan's theme music so he could start it playing whenever he entered a room or strode dramatically down a corridor.
He left us for a while on Saturday night to go hang out with the other Eridans, who had apparently all bonded immediately over their shared romantic angst and desire to murder all land dwellers.
Reactions from people who didn't know Homestuck:
1. "So like... what anime are you guys from?"
2. "Dude it's... evil Peter Pan?"
Reactions from people who did know Homestuck:
1. "You guys look amazing! Can I take your picture?"
2. "PUPA PAN! SQUEEEE!" (running start) (pouncegreet) "TAVROS IS MY FAVORITE CHARACTER!" (hugs)
I tried to warn them about getting grey paint on their clothes but I still got hugged by three or four different excited fangirls. Who would see me from twenty yards away and come RUNNING. My fellow trolls got glomped too, but for some reason being the awkward, wimpy, handicapped troll dressed as his role-playing character got me the most attention. i'M a lITTLE cONFUSED aBOUT wHY tHAT iS.
At the group photoshoot, first we went through each character: "All the Karkats!!" All the Karkats would pose together and everybody would take their picture...
... all the Terezis ...
.. then all the Nepetas, etc.
There were eight or nine copies of some of the trolls, but only ONE lonely Kanaya.
There was only one Rose, too.
But plenty of Bros.
There were more Daves than any other kid. And like more than half of the Daves were girls, crossplaying. There were more girl Daves than there were Roses and Jades put together.
Come to think of it there was a LOT of crossplay (more F2M than M2F). Maybe the inherent bisexuality of trolls attracts a more gender-flexible fandom?
No character, character variant, or prop was too obscure for the Homestuck cosplayers! We saw...
The Mayor of Can Town!
Time turntables! (They hung from fishing line, and really spun!)
Check out Ahab's Crosshairs here. When I see stuff like this I feel jealousy for those who don't have to fit their props on board an airplane to get to the con.
and... Nicholas Cage from Con Air ?!? As a girl?
After that the crowd started treating us like the MSPA suggestion box and just yelled out commands.
Requests to act out their favorite rivalries...
...favorite Strife scenes...
Favorite scenes of tragedy...
And anything else they found amusing.
That's when the dead Daves start piling up. And dead Daves are the enemy.
Towards the end it degenerated into fangirls demanding their favorite crack-fic pairings. (I had no idea Tavros/Gamzee was even a pairing, but Some People were Very Excited about this.)
This one girl brought a copy of the children's book "How Full Is Your Bucket?" and went around asking all the trolls she met to sign her UNSPEAKABLE FILTH.
Me and Vriska played "Explore", the song from [S] WV: Ascend on banjo and accordion. Here's a video of us doing a run-through of the song in our hotel room:
"Explore" ([S] WV: Ascend) from Jono X on Vimeo.
We almost didn't get to play it. The crowd was really rowdy and there was no structure to the event so it was hard to get everyone's attention. We couldn't "just start playing" because the song starts out quiet and everybody would have just been yelling over us. So we needed a momentary hush. Had to push our way to the front and yell "HEY! WE WOULD LIKE TO DO A SONG FOR YOU!" Eventually enough people in the crowd shushed each other that we could start.
This was our first public performance together. We were pretty nervous, and the banjo was hard to hear, but we did it! We didn't screw up too bad and we got a lovely round of applause. Thank you for listening, Homestuck fans! You're awesome!
It was kind of like doing a Masquerade skit like in previous years, except this was for a select audience who understood and cared what we were doing.
ACEN as a whole is less fun than it used to be, because it's gotten so big and impersonal, and because I'm so far away from the anime fandom these days, and the fandom itself is kind of diluted and Balkanized and no longer has much of a shared reference pool. But the thrill of our Homestuck cosplay (seriously guys, this made me SO HAPPY, you have no idea) makes me think that one solution to this is to build your own con-within-a-con for the fandom you care about.
It would be fantastic to do another group cosplay next year. Any ideas?
Branded integration from a user-side content platform is dead.
It's dead. It's totally dead.
Oh my god, these guys.
The name dropping, the "cloud" everything, the terrible company names, the creative misspellings, using "SouthBy" for promotion, the fact that their phones never stop beeping... everything about that video is perfect. It's hilarious because it's only a tiny exaggeration. I keep meeting actual human with greater or lesser degrees of whatever mental affliction the dudes in the video are suffering from.
In related news, absurdly inflated stock prices for doofy websites.
The end of the world is no reason to celebrate
Look, I know the supposed upcoming end of the world is very silly and certainly wrong. The bible is quite clear that nobody knows when the end will come (Mark 13:32), so the people putting a date on it are... shall we say, following a rather creative interpretation of their own religion.
But still, atheists: if you're planninag a "Good Riddance" rapture party this weekend, you're just being a jerk. You're also spending way too much time focusing on something that you claim not to believe in or care about.
I mean there's not believing in supernatural beings and then there's making a whole hobby out of making fun of people who believe in supernatural beings. And if your hobby is entirely based on putting people down to make yourself feel superior to them, it's a pretty dumb hobby.
I guess that's why, even though I don't believe in supernatural beings either, I'm not a "movement" atheist or a "lifestyle" atheist. I'd rather define myself by what I do believe in than what I don't.
It's a nice day in Chicagoland
I flew to Chicago yesterday. I'm staying at my parents' house and working remotely (mostly from coffee shops) this whole week.
The anime convention is this coming weekend. I was going to go to that anyway, I just figured I'd make a longer trip out of it, get some time to visit with my family, play with Aleksa, etc.
I came down with a cold on Thursday. Thursday and Friday were the miserable days, and I worked from home. Saturday, after much waffling, I went to Taiko class despite still being sick. I'm glad I did, since I started feeling better immediately. Light exercise to get my blood flowing, plus yelling and hitting things and striking cool poses; I felt alive again. (I especially love playing the O-Daiko. Makes me feel like a god of thunder.)
So my cold was in a tolerable place by the time I got on the airplane. A mere 4 hour flight, it seemed so mercifully brief compared to the Brazil trip.
Last week in Chicago was oppressively hot and humid, the weekend was frigid and rainy, but today it's quite nice out, my cold is on the mend, and I quite enjoyed my walk to the coffee shop to camp out at a power outlet and leech wi-fi. It's true that in the Bay Area days like this (sunny, moderate temperature) make up 3/4 of the year. Which makes them easy to take for granted. In Chicago they're rare so everybody appreciates them more. Much like how recovering from a cold makes me appreciate my health. Feels good man.
Hey Jono what do you think about the Chromebook?
I guess people are expecting me to have an opinion on this Google Chromebook thing? It's a laptop that you rent for $20 a month and that only runs Chrome.
I remember back in 2004 I was guessing that eventually we would have web-browser-only computers, since almost everything non-geeks do with a computer these days is through a web browser, and an all-purpose operating system is a high-maintenance resource-hogging beast that provides no value when there's only one application you want. So actually I'm kind of surprised it took this long for one to emerge. (I guess "netbooks" were an intermediate step?)
If you're expecting a rant, well, sorry, I have no strong feelings either way. I wouldn't use one myself, but there's nothing evil about it. It will make sense for some people and not make sense for others and the people who want one will get one. Meh.
Street art from Salvador
Brazil seems to give me bad luck when it comes to cameras. On my first trip my camera was broken. On my second trip... I forgot to bring a camera at all. I plugged it in the night before, especially to make sure it was charged up. And then I left it plugged in and never put it in my bag.
I bought a cheapo disposable camera in Salvador, but I couldn't figure out how to turn the flash off, and so inappropriate flashes (or my attempts to compensate by covering the flash with my hand) ruined most of my pictures and they didn't come out at all. I took a bunch of pictures with Sushu's camera... but this morning when I tried to copy them off of the special new SD card she was using, it turned up blank.
And it sucks because there are a lot of amazingly beautiful things in Brazil that I would love to share with you. But I don't have any pictures of the rain forest or the coral reef we visited in Praia do Forte. I do have something almost as good, though -- street art from the Pelourinho neighborhood of Salvador:
I freakin' LOVE Brazilian graffiti. It's got this crazy sense of style to it that's unlike anything I've seen before. Some of this stuff would look good in a museum, but instead there it is on a random wall, just jazzing up the urban landscape. It makes me really happy.
(Blog note: 18 more posts until I hit my one thousandth post. Maybe I should do something big for the milestone like sum up my philosophy of life or look back on all that's changed since I started this site in 2004? Ah who am I kidding, I'll probably forget and make number 1000 a routine apology for a broken link or something.)
Friday, a week ago, I got what I think was my first-ever malware infection in 25 years of using computers.
I was using my Windows laptop. I had run Internet Explorer ONCE in order to check compatibility of one of my HTML5 game programming demos. I don't know whether IE was how it got in or whether it was through a Java security hole or what, but the timing was suspicious.
It was something called "Windows 7 Total Security" which is the same thing, just with a different name, as what my mom got -- malware that pretends to be an antivirus program, bombards you with spurious warnings about hundreds of imaginary viruses, and tries to get you to pay money to get rid of them. My version was somewhat worse in that it wouldn't let me go to any websites at all - every site got replaced with a bogus security warning.
I used Panda Cloud antivirus (goddam it people, stop calling everything "cloud", it's lost all meaning. At this point as far as I can tell "cloud" is a synonym for "internet".) Despite the stupid name, it worked.
Or did it? I was left unable to run any programs, because when I double-clicked an .EXE file it asked what program I wanted to use to open that file. The registry had gotten corrupted so that the file-type association for "EXE" was broken -- and I couldn't even run regedit.exe to fix it. I couldn't launch things from the command line even, because that's "cmd.exe". I finally found a website describing this problem and downloaded a sketchy batch file that successfully fixed everything.
Not sure if there's a larger lesson to draw from all this, other than that bad people who write viruses suck and should go to jail.
Ever since I discovered this amazing technology that makes free food out of dirt, sunlight, and water I have been wanting to try more of it.
Besides, subsistence farming skills will be very important for survival after modern industrial civilization crumbles, so I figure I should start practicing now.
The vegetable patch behind the house. Sushu's mom has been using it but she said I could take it over if I want to grow things there.
But first, harvesting what's already there. Garden spinach is SO GOOD. It tastes way more spinachier than spinach from the grocery store. We made spinach omelets, spinach quiche, spinach salads, spinach stir-fries...
and spinach hats.
I bought some tomato, basil, and bell pepper seeds (they're like $2 a packet from Safeway) and planted them. Yay seedlings!
Since this picture was taken, three of the tomato plants and one of the basil plants are now safely in the ground and growing nicely, but all the bell pepper plants shriveled up and died when I left them out in the sun on a really hot day. |:-( I started some more pepper seeds; I'll be more careful with these.
(Random fact: Did you know the bell pepper and the jalapeno pepper are the same species? Capsicum Annuum, it's called. So are others like the cayenne pepper, serrano pepper, and pepperoncini. They're all just different cultivars. The reason the bell pepper isn't spicy is because it has two copies of a recessive gene making it unable to produce capsaicin.)
Alright fellow trolls, listen up. I've made the horns but I don't know exactly what kind of hairdo / hoods everybody is going to show up with next weekend. So I don't know what exactly will be the best way to attach all these. Please let me know whether you want me to A. glue your horns to a hairband, B. glue your horns to a pair of hairpins, C. leave your horns alone and let you figure it out, or D. some other options.
Thanks, and see you at ACEN!
Happy Birthday, Minecraft style
Aleksa turned 11 on Saturday. Instead of sending a card I made this sign.
(I built a scaffold at sea first, set up a bed and slept out there for the six in-game days it took to finish this thing.)
I didn't tell her about it, I just let her log in and find it ;-)
I love Minecraft so much.
How to make up bullshit about China and get it published
On the flight back from Brazil Sushu was reading (and I was reading over her shoulder) Malcom Gladwell's latest collection-of-vaguely-related-anecdotes. It's called "Outliers", but I don't know what the title has to do with the main thesis, which is basically "the culture you're raised in influences your chances of future success". Not exactly a shocking idea there.
Anyway we hit the inevitable chapter about China and Sushu's eyebrows got lower and lower as Gladwell asserted the following dubious theories:
1. Chinese people have a stronger work ethic than westerners due to their history of rice-harvesting, which is an extremely labor-intensive form of agriculture. (Funny, I never heard anybody attempt to explain European culture as a side-effect of wheat cultivation.)
2. Chinese people are better at math because the words for numbers are shorter in Chinese, which means you can say more of them in the same amount of time and therefore memorize longer numbers.
If you doubt these statements, remember that like everything Malcom Gladwell says they are grounded in a firm foundation of anecdotes, appeals to proverbial sayings, and the occasional lonely out-of-context percentage.
It reminded me of Jared Diamond's description of China's "cultural, linguistic, and political unity". I don't know how you could ever make a statement like that unless you've never, like, talked to a single Chinese person about their country for ten minutes.
So now I'm thinking about how in the current American political climate, where China is the big boogeyman of both parties (a "boogeyman" who is nice enough to lend us trillions of dollars every time we ask), Americans seem to be able get away with writing any ignorant nonsense about China they feel like making up. It's easy! Just follow these steps:
1. Take a single actually true micro-factoid about Chinese people, language, art, history, or politics.
2. With your feet planted firmly in an America-centric reference frame, extrapolate wildly! Draw inferences from a single data point like a conspiracy theorist poring over two seconds of 9/11 footage.
3. Don't bias your brilliant theory by asking any Chinese people about it; I mean to do that you might have to drive 30 minutes to your nearest Chinese-American immigrant population center and make friends with one or something.
4. (The most important part) Be sure to tie your theory into the dominant crypto-racist cultural narratives of Chinese people as fundamentally Foreign and Other, and imply that their current relative economic success is due to some kind of Unfair Advantage stemming from their Ant-Like Conformity and Obedience.
5. Tie it all together with a grand theory that explains away thousands of years of history and over a billion people in a single glib sentence.
6. Publish a hardcover aimed at the airport-bookstore market with your name in really big letters on the cover, go on the talk-show circuit, and profit!
Ooh, I can't wait to try it myself. Here goes:
1. Actually true micro-factoid: Chinese languages use tones to distinguish otherwise phonetically-identical words.
2. Extrapolate wildly: You can't use just any pitch modulation you feel like when speaking Chinese. Pitch modulation is how I express my feelings when speaking English. So I guess that means you can't express any feelings when speaking Chinese!
3. I can't think of any other way to express emotions besides pitch modulation, and I'm not going to ask a Chinese person about it, so I'm just going to assume there isn't any.
4. A lifetime of not expressing themselves verbally makes Chinese people into emotionless automatons easily controlled by their Communist masters! They're stealing our jobs because they can work all day and night like robots!
5. Tonal language = Job-stealing robots. QED.
See, it's easy! Maybe you can come up with one about how eating with chopsticks makes people genetically predisposed to oppress Tibet.
Just make sure that you don't talk about boring stuff like the importance of family dinner time in Chinese households. Or the great diversity of local cultures in China's various provinces. Or the huge economic divide between urban and rural China. Or China's fifty-odd ethnic minority groups. Or that it's a family duty to respect and take care of elderly relatives instead of shipping them off to nursing homes. Americans don't want to read boring facts that make Chinese people sound not so different from us! We have a resentment to nurse, here.
Definitely, definitely don't talk about the phenomenon Sushu describes as "Chinese sketchiness", which is to say that Chinese people often don't give a damn about the official bureaucratic procedures or the way you're "supposed" to do something, and will circumvent odious laws and restrictions by dealing with each other directly, under the table, based on personal relationships and favors owed.
Because "Chinese sketchiness" directly contradicts the prevailing American image of China as a vast army of obedient Communist soldiers marching in lockstep. Americans want to think we've lost our manufacturing jobs because the Chinese "stole" them via some kind of Modron-like efficiency. We don't want to have to think that it might have been because of our own insatiable desire for plastic crap at rock-bottom prices or our ambivalence towards worker and environmental protections. And we definitely don't want to acknowledge the fact that we're trillions of dollars in debt to a country where men feel comfortable hanging out on the sidewalk in their pajamas all day long playing mahjong and chain-smoking. Much easier on our egos to imagine them as scary Borg.