Regarding Chinese imperialism

Via Digby, Harold Meyerson has a lot of interesting things to say, but I'd quibble about the slightly-too-cute ending: "A nation that can assemble 2,000 perfectly synchronized drummers has clearly staked its claim as the world's assembly line."

I mean, yes, this is pretty impressive:

But it's easy to get a whole bunch of people to do fairly simple things en masse - those rhythms weren't difficult. And a country with a population of 1.3 billion people should expect to round up a couple of thousand competent drummers.

Compare and contrast the 1984 Los Angeles opening ceremony, with 84 professional-grade pianists performing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue:

At the time the US population was something like 230 million, which implies that, all things being equal, they could only have mustered 350-odd drummers to China's 2008. (Or, alternatively, that China should have had 475 pianists, just to one-up LA '84.) And the piano is much, much more complex than a simple drum, even after you take into consideration the requirements for all the drumming to be choreographed.