The Ghost Cities of China

Sometimes it seems like China's the new Texas -- everything's bigger there. The population, the infrastructure, you name it -- even the ghost towns are bigger. Actually, it's hard to call what China has ghost towns, because A) they are actually cities, and B) they are empty but not abandoned; for the most part, they've never been occupied. Can you call a place no one's ever lived in a "ghost" anything?

Still, they're creepy, and a result of China's wild building boom, which has created some 64 million homes and apartments that are unoccupied -- some because they're built in out-of-the-way places where there's not a lot of demand for new housing, but most because they're far too expensive for regular Chinese folk to buy. Add to that a spate of "ghost malls," giant shopping palaces built for a consumer spending explosion that hasn't happened yet, and you've got a country that's turning spookier (and more post-apocalyptic-feeling) by the second.

Dateline did a report on the phenomenon -- this fascinating video is the result.

A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

A Tour of the New York Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room

The Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine documents the evolution of our medical knowledge. Its books and artifacts are as bizarre as they are fascinating. Read more here.


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