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How Washington and Beijing Learned to Love Each Other

In October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong stood atop Beijing’s Tiananmen, China’s most important national monument, and proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The moment—still replayed on Chinese television—marked the culmination of China’s “century of humiliation,” a period of near-constant chaos, instability, and foreign meddling. 

For the United States, the Communist takeover in China meant that suddenly, the world’s largest country by population was suddenly an ally of the U.S. enemy, the Soviet Union. This alliance proved especially costly to Washington during the Korean War, when Chairman Mao’s troops came to the aid of the North Koreans, repelling American-led forces back to the 38th parallel.

In a 1958 article in The Atlantic, the Sinologist George E. Taylor considered this Moscow-Beijing alliance in an article entitled “Why We Do Not Recognize Red China.”  Aside from the era-appropriate use of the term “red”—scholars then distinguished between the Communist-led Chinese government on the mainland and the Nationalist-led one in Taiwan—Taylor’s essay argues that the United States shouldn’t recognize the Communist government ruling Beijing.

Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]


The bicycle barometer takes data about the weather, the status of the tube lines I use to get to work, and whether my local station is open or shut.

It then reduces all that data down to a single value and displays it on a dial with a bike sign at one end and a tube sign at the other.

For example, if it is raining a bit the dial will move a bit towards the tube sign, but if the tube is suffering delays, it will move a bit back in the other direction.

Different data points get different weightings. E.g. snow is more important than a bit of drizzle; the tube station being shut trumps everything.

It is built using a Nanode and an old clock I found at a flea market. The data comes from the Met Office’s Datapoint API and Transport for London’s line status and station status API’s.

(I’ll make the code available once I’ve cleaned it up a bit, follow @richardjpope for updates.)


Debbie Millman’s fantastic, National-Design-Award-winning Design Matters podcast – remarkable interviews with designers, artists, and cultural leaders - is now on SoundCloud.

For a taste, here is Millman’s interview with the inimitable Roman Mars of 99% Invisible fame:

[To tell a good, authentic story], you basically have to take your sincerity and the things that you feel and deconstruct it and reorder it and circle all the way back to getting back to that original sincerity and the thing that felt in the beginning that compelled you to tell that story. And all of that process is very technical.

Other interviews include Tina Roth Eisenberg, Jessica Hische, Bill Moggridge, Stefan Sagmeister, Erik Spiekermann, and yours truly.

You can also subscribe to Design Matters on iTunes.

Radio love story and a kind of inspiring talk about following what you are passionate about.

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