Happy Chinese New Year

Beijing is in the process of shutting down for the holiday. The restaurants were all half-empty at lunch-time today and the streets seem semi-deserted. Of course, the fact that it’s totally freezing outside with slicing winds  knocking down bicycles and forcing pedestrians to walk with their backs to the wind could be a factor as well. Right in front of my apartment a gigantic, bright red fireworks shop suddenly appeared out of nowhere this morning. I think the only reason it’s so quiet out there is that no one wants to step away from their central heating.

I thought about leaving for the week, maybe going to Kunming or Guangzhou just for a change of scenery and a little more warmth. Then I decided I’d be better off saving the money and traveling when I have friends in town to go with me (which will happen next month). Still not sure how long I’ll be in China after the holiday; it all depends on the job market.  I think within  few weeks after the holiday I should have a pretty good idea of what my new opportunities here are. I’m still working part-time and going to class, but I can’t work part-time forever. Bills are due and all that. But I have to say, working part-time and studying is not a bad way to live.

Lots happened since my last post. America has a new president. China has announced plans to launch universal health care for all, while doling out stiff penalties to those behind the melamine-laced milk that not only killed and poisoned lots of kids but also made nearly all Chinese-made food products radioactive in the minds of consumers. Reports about which way China’s economy is going are still all over the map, and you can find ample evidence for any theory you can come up with. I have no doubt this’ll be the hot topic here for some months to come. 

There’s always a dramatic lull in business before CNY, and this year, based on my talks with friends and colleagues, this year it was deeper and longer than usual. (No surprise there.) Everyone’s wondering to what extent business will bounce back after the holiday ends. I am, too, and the answer could determine how long I stay here. Let’s hope for the best, for America and China, and despite the cliché, a happy Year of the Ox to everyone.

Update: Forgot to mention, this is an open thread, if anyone is around during the holiday to comment.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 82 Comments

Good luck on your side.

One of my friends who worked in a foreign owned comany in beijing just decided to jump ship recently. She knew that it is a very risky move at the current moment. The major reason I gathered is that she felt the bonus she got in 2008 was not as high as her colleagues at the same level. Given that she worked only for 6 months and took a maternity leave earlier in 2008, it is not that unreasonable. Thus, it seemed to be the job market still has many opportunities on senior positions.

January 23, 2009 @ 1:25 am | Comment

Cheers!! Its Chinese New Years! Happy New Years to all of you. My thanks to Richard for inspiring some very interesting debates on this blog. I hope the constructive criticisms from all of the bloggers will help change China for the better and help understand China a little more. But like the old saying goes,”a picture worths more than a thousand words”. Come experience China yourself. Because if you don’t now, China will not be the same tomorrow.

P.S
for those who happened to be in Hainan for the holiday, I’ll see you there!

January 23, 2009 @ 2:23 am | Comment

FB, you’re right – there are still opportunities here, and more than in a lot of other places. At least for now. I know I can find something, but I want to select and not settle.

NJ, I am sooo jealous. I’ve always wanted to go to Hainan, and especially today when you almost literally can’t go outside, it’s so bitter cold out there.

Bao, that’s quite an article you linked to. I wonder what the Party is thinking.

January 23, 2009 @ 3:53 am | Comment

They are most probably infuriated to say the least. Looks like the honeymoon is over, the marriage might be canceled I’ve heard.

The ugly truth starting to point its nose out?

What’s amazing, is that things seems to go at a much faster pace than before in the world wide Chess Board… Brzezinski… Cough Cough…

Almost exponentially.

January 23, 2009 @ 4:11 am | Comment

The chinese reaction to the obama speech seems odd. most americans probably would not think his inauguration speech was directed at china really at all. sure they would say there is some inferential or indirect points that have something to do with communist china.

the reaction seems more about chinese government fear of obama’s “soft power” and possible inspiration for “color revolutions”.

i will have to make a point to ask expat chinese who watched the inauguration here in the US what they thought with out the benefit of the filter of the chinese press.

January 23, 2009 @ 6:00 am | Comment

@Richard,

“Bao, that’s quite an article you linked to. I wonder what the Party is thinking.”

Quite simple. Trade dispute is about to begin. O is not friendly to China so far. Have you seen what his new treasury secretory said? Without a “talk” in hard way, nobody would back off to reach a compromise.

January 23, 2009 @ 6:17 am | Comment

May I bring up the subject of Religious Freedom? Isn’t it a licence to promote superstition? Why is CCP not justified in suppressing it? Give me one valid reason.

January 23, 2009 @ 7:09 am | Comment

Have a very happy Chinese New Year, everyone.

Provision of health care is something that has been a problem in China for a while. It’s good to hear that there may be a move towards a universal healthcare system, but with 1.3 billion people spending $123 billion by 2011 (i.e. across a number of years) can’t be enough. By 2011 the UK will be spending as much as £110 billion a year for a population of just 60 million.

Of course costs in China may well be lower, but it’s a no-brainer that the numbers don’t add up. It may be that “basic medical security” doesn’t cover much. Something’s better than nothing, but only as a temporary measure. There’ll be much harder decisions to be made in the future.

January 23, 2009 @ 8:08 am | Comment

China’s GDP Growth Slowed to 6.8% in Fourth Quarter

With exception to that last article you posted on the Chinese economy, most of what I’ve read (in and out of China) seems to be pointing in the same direction as the article linked above.

January 23, 2009 @ 9:11 am | Comment

Happy New all – and our host

January 23, 2009 @ 11:45 am | Comment

A Joke to Start the Chinese New Year, hope everyone have a great year:

Iranians say \”we have a lot of terrorists\”. Iraqi start to laugh.

Iraqi say \”our man are strong\”. Swedish start to laugh.

Swedish say \”we had a great leader\”. Germans start to laugh.

Germans say \”our soccer team is good\”. Brazillians start to laugh.

Brazillians say \”our women are beautiful!\” Italians start to laugh.

Italians say \”our men are very polite\”. British start to laugh.

British say \”our food is delicious\”. French start to laugh.

French say \”our history is long\”. Chinese start to laugh.

Chinese say \”we are very rich!\”. Americans start to laugh.

Americans say \”we make a lot of pornography\”. Japanese start to laugh.

Japanese say \”we are human beings!\”. Everyone in the world starts to laugh.

January 23, 2009 @ 12:05 pm | Comment

When it comes to healthcare, there are a lot of things which do not work in China’s favor. These include the one-child policy, which means that married couples, in addition to spending money on the education of their single child, will also have to spend on healthcare for four aged parents.

On the flip side though, there are significant business opportunities in Chinese healthcare. These include digitizing of medical records to cut costs, and new technologies for treatment and healthcare which are more cost efficient. The Chinese government is likely to press for less restrictive drug patents which in the US, favor pharmaceutical companies, for example.

Yes, a national healthcare plan is something which is almost impossible to get right, but the Chinese government has a rare opportunity to really effect change in this field which could potentially have global consequences, leading to much needed changes in the field. If they succeed, this could lead to dramatic change in a field which has favored a small number of special interests so far.

I hope they succeed.

January 23, 2009 @ 12:12 pm | Comment

Paul, let’s hope the succeed – this is one of the most volatile topics with the disenfranchised here, and the timing of this announcement was highly strategic.

I would be thrilled to see universal healthcare in China succeed. First, the stories of people without money being turned away from hospitals to die on the street are too many and too terrible. And second, it will further underscore the insanity of America’s out-of-control system, leaving so many uninsured. I have lots of theories about why we don’t adopt such a system, with the bottom line being that lobbyists for companies that profit from expensive and often unnecessary and/or ineffective treatments will fight to the death any ceiling imposed on medical treatment.

January 23, 2009 @ 1:29 pm | Comment

On another note… Will the “America is worse” crowd have a field day with the news that most of us who heard the live performance of classical music at Obama’s inauguration were hearing a pre-recording? It is a very different situation from the Olympic “crooked teeth” scandalette but I can already hear the outraged cries that when China does it it’s a global scandal and when America does it the media simply shrugs its collective shoulders.

January 23, 2009 @ 1:29 pm | Comment

Tonights news reports that Xin Yang a female chinese national graduate student at Virginia Tech was murdered by Haiyang Zhu a male chinese graduate student also a Virginia Tech student. allegedly the guy decapitated the girl with a large knife in the student union. he was arrested on the scene without a struggle.

i don’t see any thing political about this. it is a sad tale. but am curious to know how the chinese press will address it, if it is reported at all.

January 23, 2009 @ 1:32 pm | Comment

Here’s the link to that horrible story. If China Daly is consistent, they will attribute it to the stress placed on Chinese students living abroad.

January 23, 2009 @ 2:25 pm | Comment

Happy year of the Ox Richard. You are right, post-CNY could be the time when we may really feel the impact of the economy here, but I’m an optimist, hoping for the best (and planning for the worst :-) ) Enjoy the fireworks in Beijing, they’ll start soon :-)

January 23, 2009 @ 3:33 pm | Comment

@Paul
“These include digitizing of medical records to cut costs, and new technologies for treatment and healthcare which are more cost efficient.”

A possible positive cooperation area CH-US? Mr OB wanted to do something similar.

On more thing. It seems that CH students who choosed health related careers: doctors, nurses, specialist, etc have had a much welcome stroke of good luck.

Maybe even for some IT careers, the IT infrastructure investment and maintenance is going to be substantial

+1.3 Billions (+1.6B?)is a lot of people! ;-)

If they get it reasonable well it may be possible to do “health” tourism in CH. Like today in Thailand and India…. New source of much needed businesses for CH.

If the system is effective and can pinpoint diseases earlier or provide better treatment for know ones, or improve general well being would mind to let th CH system to handle my medical record. :-)

If it can say my life, or make it much more livable, I can take the risk of any information leakage.

January 23, 2009 @ 9:38 pm | Comment

With the exception of your recent post on China’s economic outlook, there seems to be a consensus forming that China isn’t doing as well as it would like everyone to believe. Beijing claims that its economy grew at 13% in 2007, but the latest figures are showing that growth slowed to a mere 6.8% in the 4th quarter of 2008.

The China Economics Blog also has a few points worth considering when looking at the figures coming out of Beijing: China statistics – to believe or not to believe?

January 23, 2009 @ 10:45 pm | Comment

Gordon, just today I found a wealth of articles on both sides – who ever knows what to believe? China will come out of this on a more solid footing than America, of course. At least we can all agree on that. If not, look up the latest Roubini analyses of the US banking system. China knows how atrocious their own situation is, and if they can just muddle through it with enough food to eat things will stay calm. In the US, I’m not so sure.

Scott, thanks for the comment. It’s so cold, maybe they’ll cancel the fireworks this year.

January 23, 2009 @ 11:06 pm | Comment

For those who want a link:

The financial crisis may lead to 3.6 trillion dollars in losses and writedowns for the global banking sector, an economist who was among the first to predict the meltdown said Thursday.

Nouriel Roubini, a New York University economist dubbed “Dr. Doom” for his longstanding pessimism, indicated the losses could be far greater than the 1.0 trillion dollars already recognized by banks worldwide.

The projected losses means the US banking system is “borderline insolvent,” said the economist, who predicted a crisis and collapse in housing as early as 2006.

In an analysis released on his RGE Monitor blog, Roubini and analyst Elisa Parisi-Capone projected global losses of 1.6 trillion dollars on 12.37 trillion in unsecuritized loans. About 1.1 trillion of the amount will be incurred by US banks and brokerages.

Another two trillion dollars will have to be written off by the reduced value of financial holdings currently estimated at 10.84 trillion dollars. US banks and brokers will likely suffer losses of 600 billion to 700 billion of this amount.

China’s financial system is in better shape. All this debt, how can we possibly ever pay it back. Start up the printing presses and prepare for inflation after the disinflation.

January 23, 2009 @ 11:13 pm | Comment

For some reason the rest of my post didn’t come through. I meant to include another article that I picked up from Dan Harris at the China Law Blog pointing out that ‘GDP figures aren’t what really matters; it’s where your business fits into the grand scheme of things’

January 24, 2009 @ 1:29 am | Comment

Have to put in my two cents since I’m one of those that has jumped off the “China will come out of the crisis better than the US” bandwagon as the numbers get worse, and I have found it increasingly hard to put much faith in the China optimists. The discussion about how trade surplus nations get hit harder in times of crisis than trade deficit nations has swayed me to the belief that China will get it worse. Will direct you to Michael Pettis’ latest piece:
http://mpettis.com/2009/01/there-are-monetary-echoes-from-the-1930s-too/

January 24, 2009 @ 3:03 am | Comment

I think there are two issues: how hard China and the US will get hit, and how each absorbs the blow. China could get hit harder than the US in terms of jobs and investment money lost. Dealing with the oversupply and under-demand for Chinese goods in a depressed global economy is mission impossible. There is no debate about whether China is in for deep shocks, increased unemployment and social unrest. While China is uniquely poised to suffer, the same bad news holds true for the UK, Ireland, the US and many other countries. It’s only a matter of degree. (Have you read about what’s going on in Ireland? Or with the UK pound?) What I’m referring to is which country has the best chance of surviving relatively intact. That will depend on money. If the banks are insolvent and the currency turned to toilet paper due to printing of bailout money you have the seeds for anarchy. Study up on Weimar Germany. This scenario is based mainly on the strength of the financial backbone that keeps the economy working, the ability of the government to lend and enough confidence to prevent a run on the banks.

Most of the articles I’m seeing point out the obvious, that China will get hit hard, impossibly hard. I was too optimistic about this myself, saying at the beginning that domestic consumption would at least keep things from collapsing. Now I’m not so sure, although it’s still not clear what’s actually going on here, thanks to the obfuscation of statistics, a suppressed media and a disingenuous government. I’ve stated at great lengths in other threads why I think China will, or at least may, come out relatively (key word) intact and possibly with an upper hand. I don’t think this can be contradicted by pointing to articles about how bad China may do. Obviously the worse things get the more impact China suffers in terms of unemployment and social unrest. However, those are situations that you can buy your way out of if you’ve got the cash. China has been doing this for decades already with the meaningless jobs at SOEs and elsewhere. For the 800 million in the countryside it will be about food and enough to get by. Everyone is braced for the worst and ready to do with much less. (Including me.) That’s true in America, too, from what I’m hearing, but a key difference is cash on hand and confidence in the banks. People can respond with a link that says some Chinese banks are in trouble, but they are nowhere near the US, where the biggest banks are on the verge of literal insolvency. And China’s people and government have saved money for a rainy decade. I believe they may get hit harder and bounce back with an advantage, however small, especially as the government exploits the carnage in Europe and the US and starts to make strategic acquisitions, something very few countries can do at the moment. None of this can be proven, as it all lies ahead. It’s just where I see things from the ground in China.

Can we talk about the weather in Beijing, or what people plan to do for the Spring Festival? I think I’m talked out on the financial crisis.

January 24, 2009 @ 10:01 am | Comment

Richard,

China has saved in US dollars and US govt debt, which according to you are like the Weimar currency. So either the US is not Weimar Germany or China has no savings. Might want to think through what you are saying more carefully.

Also although the banking crisis is pretty severe, we have seen this in the US twice before in the postwar period (late 70s and early 90s). In the early 90s lot of the banking system was nationalized. The US did just fine after that. We have also seen it in other countries like Sweden.

It is quite likely that bad debts is the US are worse than in China. But it is unclear how bad it is in China because they don’t mark-to-market most of the assets in the banking system, and most of the banking system is nationalized to start with anyway.

January 24, 2009 @ 10:25 am | Comment

A Day In the Life of a Chinese Immigrant in the US

6:30am, I don’t want to get up, but I get up. Put on my slippers, take a piss, and take a shower. Then I wake up my 4 year old son, and go to the kitchen and swallow a few bites of those disgusting bland noodles my wife made.

7:30am, all 3 of us get into my 3000 dollar used car with the broken ac. I drop my son by the kintergarden, drop my wife at her laboratory, and arrive at my office building. I’m already late.

I walk through several totally unnecessary doors with my magnetic card. Turn on my 17 inch LCD monitor. As Windows XP is booting, I boil a cup of the Green Tea that I bought from China last time. I then check my email, and find an email from my sister’s son, saying some generic greetings I could not remember.

I enter my password and log onto the server, and run the analysis program I wrote on these DNA data. I stare at the screen as the program runs.

At noon, I take out a lunchbox of some rice with chinese cabbage and some meat my wife made, heat it, and swallow all of it. After that, I have some free time, so I try to chat with David or Sarah from the next cubicle. I say to them with my Chinglish “Nice weather today”, they say “yea, really nice”. I go back to my cubicle. They dont know about the 5000 years of Chinese history, don’t know all the stories of the Qin and Han dynasty, don’t know the poems and verses of the Song and Ming, they don’t know anything. So forget about them. I get online read some Chinese Community forum and CCTV news. Then I go downstairs to take a short walk by myself, feeling the sun for a bit. I come back and get back to the LCD monitor.

3:00pm, there’s an office party upstairs. Everyone is going. So I go up as well. I see some white and blacks flirting with each other, and making some jokes I cannot understand. I smile and say “Hello, hello”. And then I go back to my cubicle.

5:00pm, I go back to my car and pick up my son and my wife. My son says the cheese in his kintergarden is not tasty, and he wants some dumplings when we get home. I tell him I am too tired to make dumplings today.

We get home. I turn on the TV and listen to some news, and start to make dinner. Sometimes my wife makes dinner sometimes I do. But she says she is too tired from her work at the lab today. I so cook. I put together some non-Chinese, non-American food, and we quickly eat them. My son says the dishes are not tasty, and wants some genuine Chinese dishes. I tell him we’ll go to Chinatown this week.

I go check our bills, and it has increased from last month. I say “Fuck!”.

Later, my son wants me to watch some cartoons with him. I watch it with him, and learned some new English phrases like, I forgot. 9:30pm, I say ok, son, it’s time for bed. I put him to bed.

I notice my wife fell asleep on the sofa while watching some Chinese dramas on CCTV satellite Channel. I gently wake her up and tell her to go to bed. She walks to her bedroom and goes to bed. I look at her, and notice her wrinkles, perhaps she really is tired from her chemical lab work today. I was gonna do that with her tonight, but forget it, maybe during the weekend.

I go brush my teeth, and then look at the watch and it says 11:30pm. I sit in front of the computer and browse some Chinese forums and news, and read some poems and verses of the Tang Dynasty. I suddenly realize how rich and deep Chinese literature and history is. I put on my headphones and play a song called “We are the descendents of the Dragon”, and read some essays by Lu Xun which I’ve read many times before.

It’s kind of late. I go into the bathroom, get a bucket of hot water, and put my feet in it. Oh it feels so good. I used to wash my feet this way in China. I start thinking about my old friends and classmates in China, and the many trips we took in college to Huang Shan, to Yunnan, how fun those times were! Then I start thinking about my deceased parents back in China, and I feel a bit moist in my eyes.

It’s late, it’s really too late. I realize I must go to bed now, otherwise I won’t wake up tomorrow morning. I clean my feet, and take a last piss, and take a look in the mirror at some grey hair I have and the wrinkles on my face.

I gently goes into bed by my wife, and goes to sleep.

6:30am, I don’t want to get up, but I get up. Put on my slippers, took a piss, and take a shower. Ok, ok, you know the rest.

Ok, this is the end. My friends, why waste your youths in this pathetic country? Are you treated as humans in this country? Do the whites in this country care about you slant eyes Chinese? If your children grow up to be an ABC who cannot even speak Chinese with you, who won’t even recognize his grandparents, who will feel disgusted with rice and prefer hamburgers, who think you are all “FOB”‘s and feel ashamed to have you. Do you think it’s wroth it? Come on, the home is waiting for you, the construction of our country needs you. Pack up your stuff, sell your house, and go back to your roots, 20 years later you will be another man.

January 24, 2009 @ 10:53 am | Comment

MT, we’ve been here before. Agree with you, it is unclear. No one knows what will happen, except me. If you think the present breakdown is in any way like the S&L crisis in terms of scale and global implications, fine. Re. China’s investment in dollars: Right now, today, the dollar is relatively safe. Hyperinflation, if it happens, may be in a year or two. China will in the meantime quietly but increasingly move money to safer havens. This can’t be argued – it’s all personal opinion.

It is really freezing in Beijing again. The one advantage is that it’s so awesomely impossibly cold, no one wants to go outside and blast firecrackers under the window.

Anyone have suggestions about what I should do in Beijing this week?

January 24, 2009 @ 10:57 am | Comment

Oh dear, Math shows his true colors.

Math, how are things in New York? That’s where you’re posting from, right?

January 24, 2009 @ 11:00 am | Comment

Math’s story is not far from the fact. A lot of Chinese immigrants are unable to master English all their lives, for various reasons such as lack of interest or enough talent. Chinese are among the immigrants most difficult to be assimilated. Mentally they still live in China and get stuck to their Chinese culture and way of life. They can hardly appreciate the American culture and adopt American way of life. Consequently, they talk and behave very differently from the Americans and also look quite weird to the other people, of which they themselves are totally unaware of. They feel estranged in reality and try to seek limited consolation in resorting to their Chinese culture, history, movies and politics, etc. They are ignorant enough to have a unreal grandiose opinion about the 5000-year history, from which they may feel some sense of pride (actually 5000 yrs and 8000 yrs of Chinese history make no difference, as it contributed little to modern civilization).

Chinese women, if single, fair much better than men, because they date Americans and learn a lot of American stuff this way and are able to RE-MAKE themselves.

Despite of their isolation in the American society as the 1st generation, very very few Chinese ever really go back to China to live, no matter how weird they are, even Math does not.

January 24, 2009 @ 1:46 pm | Comment

math,
hate to break it to you, but the day you described pretty much matches a lot of peoples routines in the US and i would dare to say also in china.

you can be excluded from cliques at work no matter what your race or gender.

are you a chinese willy loman?

go watch “death of a salesman” or try reading the dalai lama’s book “the art of happiness” and take reponsibility for your own happiness. turn off the tv and take the kid to the park and fly kite.

or dump your wife and kid and buy a sports car to satisfy your mid life crisis.

maybe you expect something from life that is really not realistic and try to raitionalize it as racism.

what do you think you want that will make you happy? have you ever thought of a hobby. there is a chinese man who plays the erhu at the rosslyn virginia metro station near washington on summer evenings. he seems content and has found a way to maintain a connection to his roots, maybe he even likes to eat pizza.

the world will not re-arrange itself to fit your wants or unattainable idea of an ideal chinese life in american.

most people have their own issues in life. why do you think you are special?

January 24, 2009 @ 2:49 pm | Comment

Jeez, Math, I’m starting to worry about you. Look, as others have said, if you have the basic necessities of life, if you have a roof over your head, food, clothing, and I’m sure you’ve got more than that, you really are responsible for your own happiness. You have to find a community, wherever you are. Hell, you could come and live in LA; there are plenty of Chinese people here if that’s what you’re looking for. San Francisco too. I can only speak to California, because that’s where I live and that’s where I’m from, but there are lots and lots of Asians here. Asian people have been a part of this state from the very beginning, and while it hasn’t always been a happy relationship, I think you’d find it pretty comfortable here.

Or, you yourself said, why not go home to China, if that’s how you really feel? What’s stopping you? Really!

January 24, 2009 @ 4:49 pm | Comment

A Day In the Life of a Western Expat in China

6:30am, I don’t want to get up, but I get up. Put on my slippers, take a piss, and take a shower. Then I wake up my wife, and go to the kitchen and swallow a few bites this disgusting thing they call bread here.

7:30am, the 2 of us get out of the house, after trying in vain to call a taxi for 20 minutes and we finally find a cab, the previous 3 stolen by unscrupulous people running in front of us when the Cabs stopped. We get in, suspicious stains on the the white blanket covering the seat. We squeeze in, avoiding the fresh stains. We go on the highway, traffic for 1 hour on a distance that on 3 days per year (rare occasions) takes 15 minutes to drive. I drop my wife at her work. I’m already late.

I walk through several absolutely necessary doors with my magnetic card (lot’s of thieves coming in the building, high tech and valuable equipment). Turn on my two 19 inch LCD monitor. As Windows XP is booting, I think about the tasty breakfast I could have bought if I was in North America. Oh well, I’ll just wait for lunch. I then check my email, and find an email from my mom, saying some generic greetings I could not remember.

At noon, some colleagues come by and invite me to go out to eat to generic tasteless Chinese restaurant #345337645. I grin and politely say “no thanks, I’m not so hungry today” (my stomach is hurting, no breakfast today). Some expats colleagues come by and invite me to go to Overpriced Tasteless Western restaurant #243 where I’d have the chance to buy a sandwich for only 3 times the price I would normally pay in North America. I say “please bring me back a sandwich, I have work to finish now, thanks”.

After that, I have some free time, so I try to chat with Xu or Li from the next cubicle. I say to them in pseudo Chinese “Nice weather today”, they say “yeah, really nice”. They put back their headphones and continue playing their online game. I go back to my cubicle. They don’t know about the 5000 years of Chinese history, don’t know all the stories of the Qin and Han dynasty, don’t know the poems and verses of the Song and Ming, they don’t know anything. They were born at the end of the 80′s.

So forget about them. I get online read some Expats Community forum and CNN/Fox news. Then I go downstairs to take a short walk by myself, looking at the gray sky for a bit. I come back and get back to the LCD monitor.

3:00pm, there’s an office party upstairs. Everyone is going. So I go up as well. I see the expats in a corner drinking a beer and the Chinese in the other corner, drinking a juice and making some jokes I cannot understand. I smile and say “Hello, hello”. Then decide its the worst party I’ve ever seen and then I go back to my cubicle.

6:00pm, I leave the office and wait downstairs for 1 hour to get a taxi. I tell my wife “today is the Food’s Quest day” which means we need to go to some special shop that import food so that I can have the chance to pay 15 dollars for a pack of eatable cookies. She tells me she’s too tired to go today. Alright, I think I still have mayonnaise at home for a Sandwich.

We get home. I turn on the TV and flip between the only 2 channels on a total of 63 that are not showing an historical drama, and start to make dinner. Sometimes my wife makes dinner sometimes I do. But she says she is too tired from her work today. I so cook. I put together some non-Chinese food and make sure I spice it up,to make it edible for my wife, and we quickly eat it. I say the meal is not tasty, and that I miss eating flavor full vegetables and beef that does not stink when I cook it. She tells me we’ll go to Overpriced Western Restaurant #213 this weekend.

I go check our bills, and I notice a 500 RMB bill for water (they did not send one for the last 6 months, God knows why). I say “Fuck!”.

Later, my wife wants me to watch some Chinese movie with me. I watch it with her, and learned some new Chinese phrases like… I forgot. 9:30pm she goes to watch TV.

I notice my wife fell asleep on the sofa while watching some Chinese dramas on CCTV Channel. I gently wake her up and tell her to go to bed. She walks to her bedroom and goes to bed. I look at her, and notice her allergies are getting worse, perhaps the pollution is getting to her like it did to me after 2 years here. I was gonna do that with her tonight, but forget it, maybe during the weekend.

I go brush my teeth, and then look at the watch and it says 11:30pm. I sit in front of the computer, turn on VPN #1, not working today, turn on VPN #2, great this one is OK. I now feel a bit depressed, as my internet connection is now the equivalent of a 56K modem. Well, better than nothing. I mentally curse the GFW and the CCP, to no use… Then I browse some Expats forums and news, and read some scientific and political papers. I get frustrated by the slow speed and turn off the VPN. I go back to read news. But now I can’t access 20% of the news now, I turn the VPN back ON.

I suddenly realize how free and liberal our Western culture is. I put on my headphones and play a song called “Chinese Democracy” from Guns n’ Roses, and compare the news head to head from China and North America and notice how absurd all this bullshit is. What a circus… And I’m right in it and witnessing it, first row. I think once more about this empty and meaningless sentence “Interesting times”… Yeah right… “Thrilling” to see the same exact endless rhetoric going on at different levels on the web, be it on blogs, or in the news.

It’s kind of late. I go into the bathroom, and open the tap to fill the bath. Oh it feels so good. I used to relax this way in North America. I start thinking why the water here is yellow and smelly… And I wonder what exactly I am soaking in right now?! I decide I don’t want to know.

Then I start thinking about my old friends and classmates in North America, and the many trips we took in college to the Vermont, to Jasper in the rocky mountains, how fun those times were (oh God, I miss vast and non crowded spaces)! Then I start thinking about my life in North America, and I feel a bit moist in my eyes. But then I remember all the business opportunities here and that the future belongs to China and that very soon America will be at the mercy of the Dragon and how wise I am to be here while most people are unaware of all this forthcoming greatness in China and… I feel a bit moist in my eyes.

It’s late, it’s really too late. I realize I must go to bed now, otherwise I won’t wake up tomorrow morning. I clean my feet, and take a last piss, and take a look in the mirror at some gray hairs I have and the wrinkles on my face. When I first arrived here, those were non existent.

I gently goes into bed by my wife, and goes to sleep.

6:30am, I don’t want to get up, but I get up. Put on my slippers, took a piss, and take a shower. Ok, ok, you know the rest.

Ok, this is the end. My friends, why waste your youths in this pathetic country? Do you think it’s worth it? Come on, the home is waiting for you, the construction of our country needs you. Pack up your stuff, sell your house, and go back to your roots, 20 years later you will be another man.

January 24, 2009 @ 5:23 pm | Comment

The right response to Math, Bao.

January 24, 2009 @ 7:34 pm | Comment

What Raj said. Well done, Bao! And Happy New Year of the Ox (or should that be Bull?) to everybody!

January 24, 2009 @ 9:36 pm | Comment

@math

Home is looks always nicer when you are far from it.

Not easy to adapt to a different place. I worked in several countries, have similar problem with languages and culture. Sometimes harder, sometimes easier.

But it is always interesting to see the differences. Just try to make the best out of it.

No matter how bad you think the US is there are a lot of things to see, lots of states with many differences. If bored then go to Canada, Mexico or the Caribic Island. ;-)

And with some luck you should find some people interested to know more about those 5000 years of CH culture. No Asia-American societies in your environment.

If you like good food I recommend Quebec/Montreal. Only place in north america (continent) where food was tasty, specially fish.

My regards to your wife.

January 24, 2009 @ 9:47 pm | Comment

Bao, you really redeemed yourself with that wonderful comment. Thank you.

Lisa, your response was spot-on as well.

Went to a pre-Chunjie Eve party jiaozi party tonight and just got back. I don’t know how people live in Shanghai without central heating. Difference between life and death.

January 25, 2009 @ 12:01 am | Comment

Home is looks always nicer when you are far from it.

Very true.

Bao, you really redeemed yourself with that wonderful comment. Thank you.

Very true aswell.

I don’t know how people live in Shanghai without central heating.

Well, Shanghai isn’t as cold as Beijing, I suppose.

January 25, 2009 @ 12:23 am | Comment

Richard, though the American bankings system is in deep doo-doo, I don’t you can say that the Chinese banking system is any better. American bank played games with sub-prime lending and predatory lending primarily on residential loans. Chinese bank have made (and continue to make) loans to finance the explosive construction going all over the country. Take a good look at how long building remain vacant once they are constructed. Take a good look at how little is sold at the retail level in all of those huge gleaming malls. Want to get rich in China? Seize property rights from some unsuspecting bumpkin, bribe as many cadres as you can afford, parlay that into a huge loan and never pay it back. That makes for very wealthy super-rich class but for a basically insolvent banking system.

I also don’t know who invented the concept of loans based on “stated income” (a process favored by predatory lenders). Could it have all of those Chinese who obtained fake certificates of employment to use in the purchase of car with a bank loan? Actually, greed has no nationality. Unscrupulous party members (CCP, Republican, Demorcrat, etc.) are pretty much the same everywhere. Greedy businessmen are pretty much the same everywhere. The only differences are in our ability to find out about them and then maybe, just maybe, do something to correct the situation.

I guess my take on your positive assessment of China vs the US regarding the outcome of the current economic crisis is that China will do a bit better because Chinese people have less to lose (more frugal, less acquired consumer goods, more saving) than their American counterparts (heavy debt load, high energy use per capita, consumerist fever).

Maybe we all hope that the year of the ox will bring bullish times for all. Xin Nian Quai Le!

January 25, 2009 @ 12:59 am | Comment

Sorry, that should have been “Xin Nian Kuai Le!”

January 25, 2009 @ 1:01 am | Comment

Of course costs in China may well be lower, but it’s a no-brainer that the numbers don’t add up. It may be that “basic medical security” doesn’t cover much. Something’s better than nothing, but only as a temporary measure. There’ll be much harder decisions to be made in the future.

In Taiwan the government subsidizes Chinese medicine. About 95% of that is nonsense, but people go to for treatment for chronic ailments that would be costly and ineffective to treat with western medicine, but instead are cheap and ineffective with Chinese.

The only bummer is when they have something treatable but switch to Chinese medicine and then die.

Chinese culture thus does offer some interesting ways to hold down healthcare costs. The system here in Taiwan is going to be insolvent in a few years, because fees are too low, and like everything else in Taiwan, there is no regulatory or auditing oversight, and because large institutions farm the subsidy system.

Michael

January 25, 2009 @ 11:13 am | Comment

Should have added: no doubt exactly the same shit will happen in China…

January 25, 2009 @ 11:19 am | Comment

NAS, China’s banks used to be a big focus on this blog in 2003-4, when I thought complete collapse was a very possible risk. Since then, everything I’ve seen and read makes me think they’ve stabilized. America’s are on the verge of insolvency, and unlike China they will be kicked in the head by yet another flood of foreclosures, bankruptcies and credit cards defaulting over the next 12 months. We discussed this topic in this thread if you want to review the arguments; no need to do it all over again.

Michael: In Taiwan the government subsidizes Chinese medicine. About 95% of that is nonsense,

Don’t say that too loudly over here. People here take their Chinese medicine very seriously. I don’t know enough about it to have a position but several of my friends/colleagues, including those who’ve gone to school and studied abroad swear by it. A small minority are cynical and say it’s just hocus-pocus.The few times I tried it, mainly for colds and flu, it had zero effect except one bottle of cough syrup they gave me that worked wonders. (Pinyin name, which doesn’t look like any pinyin I’ve seen before, is Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa.) My friends in oing Kong told me the best program was to use a combination of Western and Chinese medicine; I guess they’re hedging their bets in case eating beef tendons doesn’t really cure their tendonitis.

That would be a really interesting thread topic, the efficacy of Chinese medicine.

January 25, 2009 @ 11:46 am | Comment

Heck yeah! Have to find some provocative studies…

Happy New Year too ya!

January 25, 2009 @ 5:03 pm | Comment

Happy New Year. This week will attach no feelings of the downturn at least, enjoy it. Wish you good luck in China.

January 25, 2009 @ 5:04 pm | Comment

I always wondered why health care have to be a money pit.

Maybe it is a crazy idea. If all medical information of a person were digitized there would be several advantages. There would be a health state overview of the population. This could help to direct investment on health infrastructure.

Also individuals could receive recommendations in order to treat or prevent diseases/health problems well in advance. They could also receive information about best places to treat them.

Information from the system would also be useful to diffuse information about best treatments and practices through hospitals and doctors.

Finally a mix of Amazon+Ebay+WEbmed could be setup for people to find what options are available, best prices and treatment information. Mix a social network for discussions among patents about their experiences and recommendations.

Such a system could use advertisement to get part of their income, besides state support. There is a lot of business around health besides medical treatment.

Each person would have a balance according to the use of the health system. Interesting problem would be to find away to prevent abuses and choke points (over popular health centers) without limiting access to treatment and medicines to those that need it.

January 25, 2009 @ 5:06 pm | Comment

In any traditional medicine, CH traditional included, and “alternative” modern medicines there is usually a core of effective treatments, a lot of ineffective treatments (usually harmless if well used) and some positively harmful.

But the most effective characteristic in all of them, is the human psychological factor. Usually in the traditional and alternative medicines the relation patient-doctor is more humane almost psycological, and there is also a strong faith component in their treatments.
One of the failures of “Modern” medicine is that it has become too.. mechanical. It sees human beings as mechanism, forgets about emotional human side. But emotions and spiritual feelings have a strong influence in how able is the body to defend/repair itself.

If you feel good, your body will do a better job fighting diseases/helth problems by itself. Even when the health problem need modern (“effective”) medical treatment, a good mental conditions helps quite a bit to fight against a health problem and recover from it.

It is like in normal business life. Two companies with same resources and personnel competences, but one with a low spirit and another with a high spirit.
Which one is more ready to face times of crisis? ;-)

January 25, 2009 @ 5:27 pm | Comment

I always wondered why health care have to be a money pit.

I would guess because of the complexity of modern treatments. People don’t just want to be helped with cuts and bruises – they want to be saved from cancer and lots of other things. These days that’s very expensive. It may be in the future that countries with “universal” health care stop handing out some types of treatment to the elderly, long-term sick, etc. It would be a hard choice, but if society as a whole refuses to have enough children to support their needs they can’t expect them to work 15 hours a day and be taxed at 60%.

I agree that “traditional” remedies can be useful, but I don’t think they can do much about things like cancer on a large-scale. Some people may find the odd unusual, natural treatment but it isn’t suitable for everyone. One of the problems in reporting their effects is that 10% of people who tried it and got better will shout “miracle cure!” and be listened to whereas the 90% who didn’t get better won’t say anything.

January 25, 2009 @ 7:13 pm | Comment

@raj
“I would guess because of the complexity of modern treatments. ”

One more reason to make it more efficient. The sooner measures are taken against a disease the better. Digital records, efficient use of information and prevention should help to lower cost or give more with the same.

“stop handing out some types of treatment to the elderly”
Agree, sometime hard choices have to be made. I keeping me alive with low quality is going to bankrupt me, I prefer to die to be able to give something to my descendants.

” they can’t expect them to work 15 hours a day and be taxed at 60″
In CH families revere their elders, in the west we are forced by the govt to work for them. Strange difference.

“do much about things like cancer on a large-scale”
But by taking some of the emotional and spiritual support can do wonders to make it more bearable, even in the worst situation.

“One of the problems in reporting their effects is that 10% of people who tried it and got better will shout “miracle cure!” and be listened to whereas the 90% who didn’t get better won’t say anything.”
Yeah. That is a real problem, this effect not only happens with health remedies but also in the investment business…. specially hedge fonds ;-)

January 25, 2009 @ 7:31 pm | Comment

Happy 牛 Year to Richard and Everyone!

January 25, 2009 @ 9:42 pm | Comment

In CH families revere their elders, in the west we are forced by the govt to work for them. Strange difference.

Another myth, brought up by somebody who’s never even been to China. Go on foolng yourself, Sinophiles!!!

January 25, 2009 @ 9:47 pm | Comment

And please delete the double post, VPN hic up… Sorry about that.

January 25, 2009 @ 11:00 pm | Comment

ecodelta

Digital records, efficient use of information and prevention should help to lower cost or give more with the same.

Prevention is good, but there isn’t a vaccine for everything. Also you can’t share information too freely as patients have a right to the protection of their confidential medical data. Large databases are vulnerable to someone on the inside or outside stealing information.

In CH families revere their elders, in the west we are forced by the govt to work for them. Strange difference.

I think we shouldn’t knock ourselves too much. I think Chinese (like other Asians) may respect their elders more, but it’s not like we only care about our relatives because we’re forced to. My grandparents always had a child who they could speed-dial if they needed something short of an ambulance – plus relatives would come over to visit every day. Sure that’s not the situation with every family but that’s the same for Asia too.

But by taking some of the emotional and spiritual support can do wonders to make it more bearable, even in the worst situation.

I suppose it’s controversial to say “we’re going to spend $1,000 giving people quality of life for a year” than say “we’re going to spend $100,000 giving people the hope of getting over their medical problem”. Perhaps pragmatic and necessary but controversial still. Some people seem to think modern medicine can stop them dying…. ever. They’d never say it but they can’t quite accept that death is a natural end and that sometimes the end isn’t at 80.

January 26, 2009 @ 12:40 am | Comment

@raj
“Also you can’t share information too freely as patients have a right to the protection of their confidential medical data. Large databases are vulnerable to someone on the inside or outside stealing information.”

Between having my medical record absolutely secured and being dead (or not very much alive), the choice is clear to me.

I take the risk. :-)

January 26, 2009 @ 3:17 am | Comment

@raj
Ooops.. I should have said

Between having my medical record absolutely safe OR being dead (or not very much alive)

January 26, 2009 @ 3:20 am | Comment

@mor
“by somebody who’s never even been to China”

Yep. You are right. I was just up to the border with CH. I have more experience with the country south of that border, but it has strong CH influences. Even today, so to speak…

If all goes well, I will be able to extend my family branch in that country direction. I hope my impressions of filial pity still holds, I mus start to plan for my old age you know…., …. standards retirement plans do not look so well lately…. :-(

January 26, 2009 @ 3:27 am | Comment

Damn! It should be…

Between having my medical record absolutely safe and being dead (or not very much alive), or not so safe but being (very much) alive….

I take the risk any time.

January 26, 2009 @ 3:39 am | Comment

In This New Year, I Believe Everyone Should Just Relax

I have always been a fat guy, last night I stood on a scale and I weighed 90kg. My skin is also kind of white, I remember one of my friends joked with me once that I am whiter than a white person. But of course I repudiated that joke, and said that I am very proud to be a yellow-skinned person. My belly is also very round, and collects a bit of fat, and my doctor recently told me that I have this condition called “Fat-liver” (I don’t know what the English name is). And my blood pressure is 210/100. So now I am exercising everyday.

Anyway, I believe my years here in America has basically been a failure. I have not made much money, most of the money I have in my savings account is being used up very quickly. But I’m still quite happy with my current state. I think I’m just naturally very easy-going and optimistic, unlike some democracy-lovers here who often worry about the collapse of China and often try very hard to talk about serious issues like human rights. Why so serious? Anyway, the reason I am quite content with my life is that even though compared to many people in China, my life is quite miserable and poor. But whenever I think about my rich friends and classmates in China and feel sad about my poor life in America, I think about the poorer people in Africa, in Palestine, in post-Soviet Russia, and in New Orleans and West Virginia. So when I compare myself to those poor people, I suddenly feel that I am doing well, so there’s nothing to feel sad about.

I feel I am kind of lucky, I can live in a very spacious house. Even in China today there are still people living in much worse conditions, not to mention some states in America after this Wall Street Financial Storm. But I think they are happy too, because compared to people in Africa, they are also living very abundant lives. Now you may say “But there are many many corrupt officials in China!”. Well that’s true. But I am living in America, so I have no chance to interact with those officials. Even when I was living in China, I did not interact with the gov’t much except the time when I lost my citizen ID and had to apply for a replacement. So when I read some stories of corruption in China, I read them like novels, and I don’t really care too much about it.

Now you may say “What about those people in China who are suffering! How can you not care about them?”. Well, why should I care about them? I only feel lucky not to be them. There are so many people suffering in Africa, in New Orleans, in Wall Street, etc etc, how am I going to have time to care about all of them? If I spend all of my time caring for all of them, how would I even have time to do anything else? I very much think the current dictatorship in China is very good, it allows Chinese live in peace and not in war or disasters. So when I see those big disasters in the world like the Israel-Palestinian Conflict, the Indian-Pakistan conflict, the US-Iraq War, I will try to enjoy life even more. If I don’t enjoy life now, if I don’t try to drink all the beverages on the market today, eat all kinds of food on the market, try all the electronics, browse all kinds of websites, all the kind of magazines, all the kind of different clothes, then I will not have to enjoy those if a bad time comes.

So if you are living in the world, as long as you are living in peace, then try to be satisfied, and don’t blame this gov’t or that gov’t or say stupid things like democracy.

January 26, 2009 @ 7:57 am | Comment

Richard,

This is from the Economist about the soundness of the Chinese banking system. It talks about many of the arguments I was making.

http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12963444

January 26, 2009 @ 8:34 am | Comment

Thanks MT. Two arguments in that article. We’ll see which is correct.

Meanwhile, bad time for college grads in China who expected to have ripe pickings when it came to plum jobs. I think we’re going to only see bad news for the next year.

January 26, 2009 @ 1:56 pm | Comment

@Math (our most revered CCP shill)

But I am living in America, so I have no chance to interact with those officials.

Lucky you!!!

So when I read some stories of corruption in China, I read them like novels, and I don’t really care too much about it.

The luxury of a happy USA citizen!!!

Well, why should I care about them? I only feel lucky not to be them.

Thanks for telling us what is really on your mind, and the minds of Ferin/yourfriend, HongXing and Serve the People!!!

I very much think the current dictatorship in China is very good, it allows Chinese live in peace and not in war or disasters.

You’ve obvioulsy never been to China, which you have in common with the trolls mentioned above!!!

So if you are living in the world, as long as you are living in peace, then try to be satisfied, and don’t blame this gov’t or that gov’t or say stupid things like democracy.

That stupid thing called democracy makes sure that you can live in peace in that evil place called New York and allows you to say all the stupid things you are boring us with in your inane comments. It’s called freedom of speech!!!! Say about the Americans what you want, but they are a very tolerant people accomodating the likes of you and Red Star and abusive racist assholes like Ferin!!!

January 26, 2009 @ 10:44 pm | Comment

Math, is that your post?

January 26, 2009 @ 11:46 pm | Comment

Math,
“I very much think the current dictatorship in China is very good,it allows Chinese live in peace and not in war or disasters. So when I see those big disasters in the world like the Israel-Palestinian Conflict, the Indian-Pakistan conflict, the US-Iraq War, I will try to enjoy life even more.”

From what you have said and from your regular evil rants, you have an extremely limited comprehension of the way the CCP works. The CCP is responsible for the deaths of 60 to 80 million Chinese during peacetime, and it always finds a way to warp peoples thinking into acception oppression and calling it harmony. The regime is a terrorist regime and if you cared, which you don’t, you could find out what’s beneath the surface.

“If I don’t enjoy life now, if I don’t try to drink all the beverages on the market today, eat all kinds of food on the market, try all the electronics, browse all kinds of websites, all the kind of magazines, all the kind of different clothes, then I will not have to enjoy those if a bad time comes.”

What on earth are you saying? You live for that? Fine, you live for magazines etc. lot’s of people do (let math be an example of what absolute materialism leads to). Math, caring about people and empathizing with their suffering, especially if they are innocent people will not take away your time. You can care in your heart without losing any of your benefits (except for blissful IGNORANCE, sadly I think that is what you love the most)

January 27, 2009 @ 2:45 am | Comment

And I think godless’s comment perfectly illustrates what is wrong with the modern path of education. In the past, one would be educated in philosophy, metaphysics, ethics and rule of law (including the natural laws). For example in ancient China, the mysteries of the world and the study thereof were not considered superstition but pure science.

I think, godless, until you can show that there is no god, you would be more scientifically accurate to allow freedom of thought and expression. Taking a supernormal look at natural phenomenon is completely scientific. nothing in nature can be put into a box and labeled ‘non superstitious’ because everything is a wondrous marvel with countless questions behind every new and freaky discovery.

Calling religion superstitious is a slippery slope because everything we discuss in daily life could sooner or later be labeled as so.

So if you believe there’s some weird void of nonexistence after death, how is that any less superstitious and weird than thinking there is another place or dimension?

You want life to be so simple, but that’s not logical, life is mysterious no matter how tempting it might be for you to follow dear leader in thinking it is so simple.

January 27, 2009 @ 4:15 am | Comment

http://tinyurl.com/c4dqzf

Well done, Mr Prez – that’s just the first step to take on cars!

January 27, 2009 @ 7:01 am | Comment

snow, I admire you very much. Everyday you wake up and think about spiritual events, about the universe, about life, about philosophy. Your purpose in life is so high, you do not even need to eat, to urinate, to take a sh@t, to sex, to go to the doctor. All those people who worry about money, about food, about cars, are just losers, have no purpose in life, godless, bacteria. How did you become such a high level and advanced person? Of course it is FLG! Once you practice FLG, you will not be sick, will not need to eat, and will live forever long. Go join FLG today, only 14.99 a month!

January 27, 2009 @ 11:44 am | Comment

what is your problem?

January 27, 2009 @ 12:29 pm | Comment

The problem? The problem lies with the Chinese education. When Chairman Mao was alive, the college education in China was so unheard-of and ridiculous that no admission test was administered. Only those who were politically qualified and recommended by the CCP bosses in their work places could enter the college, regardless of their academic records and talent. The purpose was to ensure that the person would remain loyal to the CCP even after college education, much of which was also brainwash and that education would not turn someone against the authorities. Those politically unfit and unreliable were deprived of the education and left ignorant. Ignorance leads to obedience.

The core part of Chinese education still includes loyalty training and produces the kind of people who are irrationally dedicated to the motherland and CCP and hostile to the West, kind of like the programed robots, who are totally unaware how stupid and obnoxious they are.

January 27, 2009 @ 2:16 pm | Comment

“Once you practice FLG, you will not be sick, will not need to eat, and will live forever long. ”

Unless you are in CH…. If you practice FLG there you would be sick, don’t have much to eat either and maybe not live long.

But if you practice CCP instead there, you will be OK.

January 27, 2009 @ 3:11 pm | Comment

Many people say religion is superstition.

As far as I am concerned, after seen what happened in 20th century, ideology is also a superstition.

Set of believes which provide a distorted image of reality, based of myths and dogmas (usually controlled by an orthodoxy group), hinders development of a critical mind, make appeals to basic human instinct like fear/hate/bigotry, create artificial divisions among groups of people based on race/class/origin/etc and usually leads to harmful physical/mental effects on individuals and whole societies.

January 27, 2009 @ 3:25 pm | Comment

As the job market tightens, interesting to note (as does Professor Shih at http://chinesepolitics.blogspot.com/) that princelings, or ‘red descendants’ as they now prefer to be called, are making their presence felt. Nothing like a famous red relative to help trump those thousand other job applicants!

January 27, 2009 @ 5:49 pm | Comment

Some useful guidelines for commentators for the year 2009.

The 2009 Peking Duck Posting Guide or Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement.

Look at the pyramid and notice how the structure applies incredibly well to many of the comments.

But beware: Graham postulates that all arguments falling below Contradiction are unconvincing.

January 28, 2009 @ 4:31 am | Comment

Hi Ecodelta. I think that indeed can be the case, but ideology as a rule is not a bad thing… I mean strictly speaking your own opinion is ideological. Anyway, that’s not the point, but I mean, it’s what people believe in that makes the difference I think. It’s not the fact that they believe in something that is the problem because faith is some kind of natural thing that comes from within it’s very human and I think it is good because it compels us to strive for better, for happiness cause we believe in doing that. Anyway, what I mean is, there are things that you can believe in that do not have negative connotations. Like maybe you believe in being nice and it’s your standard rule to live by, so that wouldn’t be so bad would it? I think what’s wrong with a lot of beliefs is that people take something good and it becomes twisted to suit some negative things that people can’t let go of, so the religion or ideal becomes warped and tainted… Maybe…

January 28, 2009 @ 12:00 pm | Comment

I will apologize if I insulted godless and I will admit that I thought maths last thing was pretty neat (and Baos was good too), so maybe HX won’t be so mad at me? Or maybe you are one of those Chinese who simply get off on cultural revolution against Falun Gong.

Falun Gong people don’t consider you like bacteria. Human being is considered very special, of course includes you HX. And don’t believe so many rumors, they do not fixate on the bodily functions of immortals, they of course do have to worry about everyday stuff, and it’s free.

January 28, 2009 @ 12:18 pm | Comment

snow, please do not address me on this blog. I do not wish to talk to you at all. This will be my last communication to you.

January 28, 2009 @ 2:05 pm | Comment

Snow, consider HX’s last comment as a high honor. Always remember the source: HX takes the cake as this site’s most deranged and odious commenter. Not that there’s anything wrong with that….

January 28, 2009 @ 2:19 pm | Comment

I don’t believe “math” is who he says he is.

Dude if you life sucks so much just go back.

Just smoke some pot.

January 28, 2009 @ 2:36 pm | Comment

@snow
Hhhhmmm….

I suppose that the problem is not what people believe, but what they do with their believes… to other people. ;-)

Even good intentions can run amok.

There has been a post fight with HX? I missed it. He sounds very much hurt-feelings…

Come on HX, rocks ans stones can break your bones, but words should never hurt you. Unless they throw a Webster dictionary+thesaurus to you ;-)

Cheer up man

January 28, 2009 @ 3:14 pm | Comment

bandwagon as the numbers get worse

Things are getting worse everywhere. Citigroup and BOA are about to keel over.

but what they do with their believes… to other people. ;-)

Exactly. Take a look at the Spanish Inquisition, Jewish pogroms, the election of Hitler (and Bush) now Proposition 8. There’s a history of extremist Christian behavior for you.

January 28, 2009 @ 4:51 pm | Comment

“I suppose that the problem is not what people believe, but what they do with their believes… to other people.”

That sounds interesting, I know what you mean, it’s weird, like some people might think all non believers are bad, but at the same time their leader would say to hurt people is wrong, but their nasty interpretations are too tempted into think it mean they have the right to hurt those people…It’s a pretty serious problem )- :

By the way, for the record I never threw any sticks and stones or names at HX, he just started flaming after I said some stuff about math and godless. I didn’t think someone would get so upset over the criticism of materialism, anyway. I guess I insulted his religion…

Richard, thanks, I know, but I still take people’s stuff to heart, but that might not be very wise…

January 29, 2009 @ 12:05 am | Comment

@snow
” I never threw any sticks and stones or names at HX”

A dictionary+thesaurus? ;-)

January 29, 2009 @ 1:49 am | Comment

Resource based economy, starting to surface… Some of you might remember my babbling from a couple of months ago… Babbling, blah blah, puzzles, words… Who cares…

I do.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/BUSINESS/01/28/davos.wef.wedsnesday.wrap/

“He said it was time to: do away with virtual money” and establish an “economy of real values” grounded in a “just and efficient global economic architecture.”

January 29, 2009 @ 3:21 am | Comment

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