The claw

The other night, I saw in my fine local night market* something that bothered me. Actually, I’d seen it before but not in action. I’m talking about “the claw.”

You know those plexiglass booths filled with stuffed toys? The coin-operated booths that have a claw drop down to grab a toy when you push a button? If you get lucky, the claw hoists up the toy and then drops it into an area you can retrieve it from.

Well, there were several of these booths. But they didn’t contain the usual assortment of Hello Kitty and her pals. They had water and live lobsters inside. It would be a drop of several feet onto a hard surface for any lobster that was successfully grabbed.

I realize that compared to lots of other things that happen to animals here, this is extremely minor. It’s the way that this is turned into an amusement that bothers me. But I always felt bad for the animals used to scare the pop singers on those variety shows of a few years ago. (I didn’t feel bad for the pop singers, though.)

I’m guessing this is at other night markets as well. How long has this been going on? Do you think it will disappear soon, or is this here to stay?

*I’m not being sarcastic. I really do love Banqiao’s night market. But I hate to think what the WTO is going to do to the price of maiyou ji at my favorite stand.

I noticed this just this evening, as a matter of fact. I was strolling through the nightmarket, and there it was. A plexiglass booth full of lobsters waiting for the dreaded claw to send them to their fate. I can’t believe such a thing exists. I have to agree. I’m usually one against voicing criticism without looking at other perspectives, but I just can’t find a good perspective on this one. I’m cool with meat and seafood, but only if the living specimens are killed and cooked in a quick, painless and somewhat humane way. (Although it’s fun to watch those shrimp jump around on the grill at those live fishing places. Hey! j/k). But, just the same, this game is taking things a bit too far. Torturing animals (or crustaceans) for pure entertainment is completely unacceptable. What’s so bad about Hello Kitty, anyway? I heard they were going to change the official flag of Taiwan to a Hello Kitty logo.

That’s bizarre! Did you see anyone actually score a lobster?? I think they’d be pretty heavy for the ‘claw’, don’t you?

Crustaceans don’t have nervous systems, so I don’t believe when they go ‘thud’ on the hard surface, that they feel anything. I doubt it’s much worse than their handling pre-claw.

Taiwanese love seafood, so those machines would seem a good way to make money. Wonder whose brainfart that was.

Just imagine this bloke with his girlfriend going,
“Longxia lai, longxia laiLE!” and his girlfriend, “Nega longxia tai xiao, wo yao DAde longxia” But the whole idea is rather inane and perhaps a bit inhumane considering they took dogmeat off the menu earlier this year. poor wittle wobsters.

How much does it cost anyway?

Actually, lobsters do have nervous systems, albeit much more primative than those of vertebrates. I don’t know whether they feel pain or not. Wheteher they are aware of the pain at a concous level or the pain simply provokes an escape response is another issue altogether. I looked on the Web for information, but the sites I found were mostly fairly biased. The PETA site suggests that they do feel pain, whereas sites that deal with selling lobsters suggest that they don’t. Go figure. But this site has more information than you’ll ever need on lobster physiology:

To keep this post on-track, I agree with Cranky and Mo’Joe’s posts. It’s a ridiculous idea with little redeeming value. Even if these machines don’t cause any more pain than simply plucking them out with your hand, the practice doesn’t do much to elevate the level of humanity of the people “playing”.

And as my mom used to say, “Junior, don’t play with your food!”

I agree it’s pretty silly. And sort of sad.

But how much worse is it than skewering a live prawn that you’ve caught from a cement pool, brushing salt all over it, and tossing into a blazing hot oven?

It’s just another Taiwanese phenomenon.

And I love to eat lobster, so…if someone said, ‘hey i caught this badboy with a claw, want some?’ would I turn them down? dunno about that.

Having claws themselves, crabs have a natural respect for them. Females grabbed by the overwhelming steel claw must feel domination and exhilaration much the same as do women with rape fantasies in the arms of an attacker. Male crabs sense defeat and acquiescence at the claws of a superior foe. These are all natural responses in the animal kingdom that place the crab in a virtual marine environment. It’s nice that we can be such accommodating hosts prior to eating the guests.

Your are one sick mutha.

I’ve seen these booths. The only thing that has prevented me from giving it a go is that I don’t have the means to cook the lobster should I win.

I don’t think it’s torture. The animal is going to end up on someone’s dinner plate. I don’t see how this is any different than live lobster tanks you see at most places around Taipei.

Of course, if there was something like this in the US, the animal rights people would be outraged. In New York there used to be a game booth where you played tic-tac-toe against a live chicken. The chicken either won or scratched, but never lost. It was pretty cool (and good work for the chicken). But the animal rights lobby put an end to it.

The animal rights people think we should all be vegetarians. This is a part of PETA’s platform.

But as far as I can tell, these tanks are doing any harm to the lobster, as their fate remains the same: Food for people.

Bloody unfair, if you ask me. Now, if they were using live squid, THAT would be something to see.

How bout one for puppies? You could put it in the night market and even add a little shute in back where unwanted puppies could be added to the mix. You could call it the “poodle pincher”.

I was at a trade show last summer in Taiwan where they had about ten different versions of the lobster crane machine. Some of the names were “crab house”, “lucky hunting ocean park”, “aqua stage”, and “special super claw”. They also had one for fish that was ridiculously difficult (the fish would see the claw and just swim away). People were playing those things like crazy. Some monks came to complain as well. I have to admit it doesn’t seem any more cruel to me than shrimping or anything else that is done to animals before we eat them. Still, I hope there ain’t no crustacean god, or we’re gonna pay dearly.

One thing you have to remember is that the amusement game industry is in the toilet in Taiwan ever since Pres. Chen (then Taipei Mayor) stamped out almost all video games a few years ago. They don’t really have any money to develop new stuff so they are stuck with pouring water in crane machines and adding lobsters.

Speaking of shrimpin, anyone been to the shrimpin hole where they have the pole dancer? Know the address?

Anyone been to Taiwan’s Night Market and tried the snake gall in white wine?

Suppose to give men a super unquenchable hard-on etc… etc… and make them really “brave” in bed etc…

This is a very cruel way of getting “benefits” at the expense of other God’s creatures and I think not a hygienic way either, so the shop’s license should be confiscated and maybe the police should try taking the snakeman’s gall out without anaesthetic as an example to all- and see how the guy feels. The snake man is usually quite “manly” since he normally eats at least one gall a day and offers the second one to his audience.

In fact I don’t understand why Taiwan (or China) after so many years of Buddhism can allow its followers to do this. I believe there is a huge contingent of Buddhist in Taiwan. (Most of the rich people in Taiwan donate a lot of money to build the Buddhist temples and therefore there must be a huge Buddhist influence.) Also I want to say is there is obviously a “standard” here and is not like we have a vacuum of how to act.

Even if they are not all Buddhist as I am sure some of you would argue, the govt must be responsible for upgrading the general behaviour of Chinese people. Pigs are no longer slaughtered with huge choppers, but electricuted in specially cleaned abattoirs-death is instant and believed to be painless.

Snakes without their galls will die anyway. Why put them back into their cages or prolong their agony?

All over China, there are actually signs exhorting pepople to become more “civilised” (wen ming), not to swear, not to spit all over the place, not to pick your nose in publice. Why doesn’t the Taiwan govt do the same for its people? In my opinion Taiwan has no excuse, since it is a lot more “developed” and richer than China.

A related post/thread somewhere in this forum, about the “sick” or disgusting habits of some Taiwanese people in hospitals and other places like public saunas. I think all this should be stopped.

If you don’t see a certain disgusting behaviour or habit in Ang Lee’s movies, or on one of Taiwan famous game shows, Taiwan should not have it or allow it- period.

Maybe Taiwan should also set up a “branch”:


Unless the night market you folks are talking about have VERY BIG CLAWS, the creatures you are confusing for lobsters are crayfish. At least the ones I’ve seen were.
Torture? Are you kidding? Being picked up isn’t torture, and I’m not sure if a crayfish is high enough on the evolutionary scale to be “tortured” any more that angling a fish would be torture. What are you guys, Jains?
Think of the ways we large-brained animals capture and dispose of rats, for example. That rats could spread disease has nothing to do with “brutalizing” them with traps.
HAIL THE PERSECUTED MOSQUITO! Tortured by an electric mosquito paddle! OUTRAGEOUS!

Also in case anyone is wondering, the best place for snake medicine is actually not in Taiwan but (in my opinion) at a place on the outskirt of Bangkok (thailand).

The stuff that you can get from the Night Market in Taiwan I think is also touristy and phoney. It certainly cannot compare with the stuff from Thailand where there is actually a huge research institute run by Chinese medicine doctors and they use many different variety of snakes and the resulting “pills” are also alot more hygienic.

If a place is really good, it would have “repeat” business, agree? Even in an economic downturn, the place in Thailand is making ends meet and more, although I can’t guarantee that it will not be superceded by a similar research institute say from Yunnan (China) which is a province famous for making all sorts of medicine and teas etc.

This conversation has now degraded in to nothing more than another attack thread against Taiwan. What’s up with that? Who cares if someone picks their f@%#in’ nose in public? Einstein didn’t even comb his f@%#in’ hair! I’ve read that he didn’t even bathe every day. Does that make him uncivilized? Bullshit! As for the part about swearing in public, well…'nuff said.

Posting propaganda all over the place suggesting that people act more “civilized” sounds exactly like what I’d expect from a commie government that spraypaints it’s grass green to impress Olympics surveyors. Maybe they should make it mandatory, and start throwing people in jail for picking their nose, just like they do anyone that wants to worship a religion that adheres to a higher authority than the commie dictators. This is evidence of devolution, not the other way around, and I’m sure as hell glad people in your mindset ain’t responsible for creating Taiwan’s policies, Mr. K.

After the excellent comparisons that have been made between this game and fishing, I guess I’ll have to reverse my opinion about it. I don’t see what the big hairy deal is. Fishing is probably worse, as you hook the fish in the mouth and tear it’s flesh, while this game just involves dropping the lobsters a couple of feet. I ain’t gonna stop fishing because of that, so maybe I’ll go try this game out and see if I like it. If not…back to the drawing board. Good point, Wolf. Just zapped another mosquito as I was reading your post, and I can’t say I cried very long about it.

Mo Mo Mo I have read a few of your posts and on some levels I agree with you but you have a way of twisting everything into a “total” hate Taiwan thing. Nobody is safe from you if they say anything you perceive as negative. Just because I am a foreigner (that has made this my home for a long time) does that mean I am not allowed to take issue with things here (and no I am not talking about picking noses in public). Please tell me if I was a recent immigrant in a Western country am I not permited to complain about things that I feel are wrong.

Do me a favor try and repond with a little more thought then you did in the “plugs” thread to Craig

David_K, why don’t you just go home and lead your own sanitised introverted life alone and not bother everyone with your

'Sup, ? Nice to see some intelligent reasoning. It’s a rarity, around here. As for your question, , it depends on your background. If you’ve just come to Taiwan to work, and have no intention of sticking around, then I don’t think you can say shit, unless it’s regarding a legitimate unfairness or injustice against you in your own personal work situation.

On the other hand, if you’re a foreigner that’s married or has family in Taiwan or has worked/studied here for many years AND obtained or are pursuing permanent residence, I think you’re in a legitimate position to be more critical of Taiwan, especially from a human rights perspective. Most of the people in these situations tend to understand the “When In Rome…” proverb better than those that are here here on a short-term or temporary basis. What I am seeing in some of these threads are criticisms blindly launched without considering another point of view.

Assumptions have been made that the Taiwanese are incapable of common sense. Then a conclusion is drawn that any questionable actions (in the eyes of a westerner) are invalidated because of this lack of common sense. It’s not unusual. I’ve heard a lot of foreigners say “They just don’t have the basic common sense we have, back home.” Yeah. That’s why the buildings here are all made of cement, while all along the Florida coast, the houses are all made of wood. It goes both ways. Some things which seem obvious to us, are less obvious to the Taiwanese, while the same applies, vice versa. Why do women ride around on motor scooters with a baby on their shoulders, and another on the floorboard? Maybe because her family can’t afford a car when they’re only making $30,000NT a month. Just what the hell is she supposed to do? Walk? There’s usually a reason for these things, and it’s not always one that is void of common sense.

I don’t understand the “hate Taiwan” deal. Having lived here for over 16 years and not being an English teacher must qualify me to comment.
“If you don’t like it here, just leave,” is not even worth addressing, but the people who rip into people who are complaining about something as “hating Taiwan,” is just wrong. I can complain about lots of things here until I am blue in the face, but I would hardly characterize myself as hating the place.
Being critical is usually a sign that the speaker wishes an issue could be improved. If you think the “claw” is cruel when the prize is an animal with an exoskeleton, bully for you. I don’t agree, and I don’t think that this necessarily reflects of Taiwanese, but I would not draw the conclusion that this person hated Taiwan.
I only mildly dislike Taiwan…

Wolf, I don’t know if you’re implying that I’m the one who interprets criticism of Taiwan as “hating” Taiwan, but if you are, I want to set you straight. First of all, complainers tend to look at everything from a negative point of view, instead of looking for the positive. And most of these “complainers”, on this thread and others, are comparing standards in Taiwan with their own standards back home in the west. Then they accuse the Taiwanese of being “primitive” or lacking “common sense” simply because they don’t look at things the way they do. And if it hasn’t been said directly, it’s sure as hell been implied.

I haven’t taken issue with the fact that some feel “the claw” is somehow an abuse of animal rights. Then David_K started spewing shit out of his mouth, and I had to say SOMETHING. I did take issue in the “third prong” debate, because I felt it was one of those things that escalated from a basic concern about the removal of the third prong to the quaility of electrics in Taiwan. That’s ironic, considering a hefty portion of America’s electronics supply is manufactured in Taiwan. And, yes, Taiwanese electronic devices often include a third prong on the plug. But, strangely enough, apartment buildings are still built with all electrical outlets missing the third prong socket. Why is that? Well, maybe the manufactures DON’T think that pulling the third prong out is such a bad idea, as was previously suggested. Did it ever occur to anyone that if it was such a hazzard, it would become mandatory that all new buildings have three pronged sockets installed? It’s just one of those “what if” concepts. It’s along the same lines as the airlines not letting you use any electrical devices until AFTER take-off. Nothing’s been proven that these devices cause a safety hazzard, but it’s just a precaution. Got it? Good. Now go munch on one of those lobsters. I think I will!

Originally posted by wolf_reinhold: Unless the night market you folks are talking about have VERY BIG CLAWS, the creatures you are confusing for lobsters are crayfish. At least the ones I've seen were. Torture? Are you kidding? Being picked up isn't torture, and I'm not sure if a crayfish is high enough on the evolutionary scale to be "tortured" any more that angling a fish would be torture. What are you guys, Jains? Think of the ways we large-brained animals capture and dispose of rats, for example. That rats could spread disease has nothing to do with "brutalizing" them with traps. HAIL THE PERSECUTED MOSQUITO! Tortured by an electric mosquito paddle! OUTRAGEOUS!

It’s the landing that troubles me – not the picking up (though that’s pretty damn weird, you have to admit).

I don’t think this is really much like fishing. That’s at least got history behind it. But you can be pretty sure that the Yellow Emperor, whatever his fishing habits, didn’t have his plexiglass booth o’ Hello Kitty stocked with lobsters.

Tell you what, though, Wolf: The very next time I see a disease-spreading, bloodsucking lobster, crayfish, jumbo shrimp or crustacean of any kind flying or even scuttling around my apartment, I promise to snuff it out with at least as much satisfaction as horror in my heart. But before I kill it and make a tasty meal of it, I won’t be dropping it on the floor for the amusement of myself and others, OK?