On his site, here, Brian Beutler* has a detailed and vivid description of the crowd-control "challenges" I mentioned recently. The story he tells is not funny at all -- and he and I would probably agree that it wasn't typical of the experience of most of the attendees, and that the mood of the throngs was overwhelmingly positive and cooperative. But I admit that I laughed at this part:

When I arrived at the entrance for silver-ticket holders, there was a "line" but it wasn't a line. There were no chains demarcating the line. When people arrived late, they often walked to the front of it. At times, this created huge problems for overwhelmed guards, who let packs of people into the screening area, many of whom hadn't waited, some of whom, I'm sure, had no tickets at all.

If I'd been there, I would have felt right at home. This is how all lines operate in China! Sometime I plan to do a detailed analysis of that seemingly-contradictory but nonetheless omnipresent Chinese phenomenon, the "wedge-shaped line." (Yes, I know this occurs in other cultures too.) If my wife, who after the years in Shanghai and Beijing has 101% gone native in line-management behavior, had been there, should could have steered all of us right up onto the swearing-in stand.
___
* Of Redlands, Ca; we stick together.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.