How China is Making Me Into a Worse person, #1A – James Fallows


Recently I mentioned that the Hobbesian nature of public life in China was bringing out parts of my character I would rather leave concealed. I have received a variety of responses, ranging from “stop whining” to “you don’t know the half of it.” Here is the strangest complementary anecdote, from an unexpected source.

Several days ago I was taking a commercial flight from Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, in whose general vicinity I now am. This leg of the flight was on United, which I take when possible (a) because I have a bazillion miles piled up over the years, and (b) because of its “Channel 9‚Ä≥ audio broadcast, which allows you to listen to the chitchat between the plane’s pilots and air traffic controllers. (It allows you to listen, that is, unless the pilot on a given flight decides to suppress it. Note to the majority of United pilots who allow the broadcasts: Thanks! Note to the minority who don’t: Bad policy, it makes it seem like you have something to conceal.) With my own flying career in abeyance for now, it’s a way to re-visit one of the interesting aspects of flying: namely, working in “the system” and responding to all the requests and instructions of the controllers.[Full Text]

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