The Ming Tombs: Drive

The Mings (“Brights”) were arguably the last ethnic Chinese dynasty before the Communist Party. Preceded by the Mongolian Yuan and succeeded by the Manchu Qing, the Ming found themselves surrounded by a world that was growing hostile to China. Attempting to reclaim their country’s former glory, the Ming bureaucratized much of traditional Chinese religion and, along the way, created a gorgeous series of imperial tombs just to the north of Beijing. There was a lot to see, and rather than pushing everything into a single post I’ll break up the photos, focusing first on the drive from our location (near Baiwangshan) to the Thirteen Tombs.

Wind had blown away the smog of the day before, and the ride up was beautiful.

Read more, and join the tdaxp motoring adventure!

Beijing is a city of contrasts. Within about two miles of each other we saw children playing with trash

and an amazingly ornate castle.

So much for “simple living

Not to mention, of course, the ultra-cool satellite receiver farm:

This area is considered “countryside,” and indeed there are countryish parts to it…

… other aspects seemed a bit developed for a village, such as the McDonalds Drive-Thru


and the sports stadium

The Ming Tombs, a tdaxp travelogue.
1. Drive
2. Spirit Way and Dingling
3. Shisanling Reservoir

Thai Food

After an amazing lunch of beef stew and fuji apples, among other things, we went out to dinner at the DaiJiaCun Restaurant, which serves authentic Thai cuisine in an Thai atmosphere. Dinner was amazingly fun: great companions, beautiful dancers, and interesting food (including bamboo, absinthe, and worms).

Those aren’t french fries

We were served in a private room that really was top-notch. A very nice karaoke set-up was installed (much nicer than Party World‘s, which blew away my previous expectations), and it was easy to see how people can spend a night there.

Plus I was nearly hit by a bus crossing the street on the way out. Best part: the bus swerved into where I was standing. That got the old heart racing!

Soft Power

Lexington Green, of Chicago Boyz, kindly linked to a book review on of Kurlantzick’s “soft power” book by in the open thread.

My thoughts (the quoted section is from the original article):

The “flat world” of globalization, so stridently advocated by Clinton and the current presidency of George W Bush, simply did not create the improved quality of life it promised for many Third World countries.”

How long has the “developing world” been “developing”? How long as the Third World waited as the global Third Estate preparing to take over?

The reason that life in the Afro-Islamic Gap sucks is that the Afro-Islamic Gap is culturally bankrupt. Europe’s experiments with totalitarian fascism were stupidly imported by the Muslim world after World War II, whle sub-saharan Africa’s colonial development was canceled because it cost Europeans too much money.


The continued horror of life in the gap is not because of the Washington Consensus, or Bill Clinton, or even the Iraq War: the continued horror of life in the gap is a reflection of life during most of human history: nasty, brutish, solitary, and short. The Gap, that prison of billions of persons, is the true whore of the world: capable of taknig cash, incapable of love.

After America crushed the final attempts of Europe to give a damn about life in the Gap, Gap elites have profited by taking cahs from this or that foreign power in exchange for some fleeting commodity. During the Cold War, the customers were Washington and Moscow and the good was whether or not to put the meaningless word “People’s ” before the meaningless word “Republic” in their country’s name. Now the situation has chnaged to selling raw physical materials: coal, tin, etc. Not an improvement.

China has moved into the US’s and USSR’s roles of paying with few questions asked. That’s a sign of Chinese power (compared to Deng’s first international act, say, which was to purchase feed-grade wheat to feed starving Chinese), but also a sign of China’s weakness (playing for nickles and dimes). America’s larger goal is to end history on her terms.

The United States is arrogantly accustomed to peace, having driven her early neighbors (Britain, France, Spain) from her neighbors and long ago establishing military hegemony over Canada and Mexico. Now the US extends the reach of capitalist peace under American protection from western Europe and Japan (end of World War II) to self-sustaining capitalist peace for all of Europe and all of the Pacific Rime (now). The material benefits to nearly everyone are obvious. America’s profit is that she manages to stop the rise and fall of states, unlike Britain in the 19th century, France in the 18th, Turkey in the 17th, Spain in the 16th, or the Empire in the 15th. No more wars or rumors of wars, for the first time since the Pax Romana.

Now that’s soft power.