Open thread?

Slow news time, with CNY around the corner. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

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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: 135 Comments

Take a look at what I’ve written and you’ll find rants about everything from the laziness and dimwittedness of the average American to the charm of a couple Beijing taxi drivers to my zealous hatred of anything to do with Mao and the CCP

Oh yeah you said this and that and you also said, on an off day, that “the Chinese” needed to be “put in their place”, while hinting at open war which inevitably would lead to global nuclear holocaust. Even Richard chewed you out for that.

It’s because I am not in love with China. I do, however, own a home in China, married the love of my life who is Chinese, love and respect my Chinese in-laws

Oh really now.

January 21, 2009 @ 5:20 pm | Comment

“Don’t be freaked out. I have a good memory.”

Or you are assigned to this blog, being the elite of the CCP’s commenter, aimed toward the expat crowd on a site with a fairly good cross cultural visibility in China.

Just kidding, not need to blast me again.

January 21, 2009 @ 5:25 pm | Comment

@ferin

“All I’m saying is, you want to talk race we’ll talk race.”

Oh no, ferin, we don’t want to talk race. You and some looney tune who everyone is ignoring wants to talk race. You are the one who is obsessed with race, so as soon as you have the smallest sniff of blood in the water, you go after it like a great white and spew your crap all over the thread. You know as well as I do that everyone was ignoring el Chino and it is completely disingeneous to pretend otherwise.

Please grow up

January 21, 2009 @ 5:26 pm | Comment

I have a good memory too, but only for things like song lyrics and foreign languages. Not what somebody said on a blog 4 or 5 years ago. Truly the internet is forever.

And no, these things are not equally controversial. Physical differences can be easily measured. Intellectual differences, not so much.

And speaking of the absurdity of racial classifications, let’s look at, say, Africans. There is an incredible amount of diversity among Africans once you get beyond superficial skin color. And the same goes for Chinese and Caucasians, for that matter. It’s crazy to lump people whose ancestries are very different into one overarching genetic category, just because their skins are more or less the same tone. This is just one factor in a very complicated stew.

January 21, 2009 @ 5:26 pm | Comment

I certainly do deserve to be paid for my delightfully whimsical and friendly posts.

January 21, 2009 @ 5:27 pm | Comment

As an example, and please forgive my vague quoting here, I’m too tired to look this up. I recall reading that Africans and Australian Aboriginals are actually furthest apart genetically. Yet they both share a superficial characteristic of dark skin color. So how meaningful are “phenotypes” like this, ultimately? They are only meaningful in that we assign cultural significance to them.

January 21, 2009 @ 5:30 pm | Comment

I have a theory about traffic issues as relates to those in less developed and developing nations vs nations with highly developed car cultures. In my entire life I have lived in a culture that relies on the automobile for nearly everything: work, play, travel, etc. My earliest memories are of riding in a family automobile. As young children and then as young adults we spend thousands of hours inside a moving vehicle and develop visual perceptions of time/speed/distance relationships vis-a-vis vehicles moving at high speeds. Now, imagine a culture where access to motor vehicles are limited or non-existent. Imagine a culture where walking on foot, riding in a bus/subway car, or using a bicycle is the dominant form of transportation. The same time/speed/distance perceptions are not highly developed. If thrust into a situation where one finds ones self at the controls of a vehicle in traffic or high speed, it takes quite a bit of time to gain the preceptive experience that many of us just take for granted.
It would also be very interesting to look at the statistics for auto-related deaths and injuries in post-WWII US when the car culture really exploded and many people obtained their first automobiles. My guess is that the abilities of drivers were very undeveloped. While I think it’s easy to point to a racial or national stereotype about driving skill, it’s simply a generalization that doesn’t hold up under closer scrutiny.

January 21, 2009 @ 5:31 pm | Comment

@not_a_Sinophile – re: car culture.

Yes. Exactly.

January 21, 2009 @ 5:33 pm | Comment

Physical differences can be easily measured. Intellectual differences, not so much.

Hm I don’t necessarily agree. IQ is very easily measured, and the ramifications of a few points of IQ are meaningful. The one thing that no one is sure about, and is undergoing continued research, is how fluid or plastic the score is and whether or not something is being overlooked. You have to start somewhere though, All in all psychometrics is a respectable field of study.

And speaking of the absurdity of racial classifications, let’s look at, say, Africans. There is an incredible amount of diversity among Africans once you get beyond superficial skin color. And the same goes for Chinese and Caucasians, for that matter. It’s crazy to lump people whose ancestries are very different into one overarching genetic category, just because their skins are more or less the same tone. This is just one factor in a very complicated stew.

The same would apply when comparing physical differences, then. However you can’t say anything containing the word “Asian” without some stupid American confirming that the IQ studies by saying “derp derp derp, little Asian people! ho ho ho, I’m really funny”. Despite the fact that Northern Chinese are larger than nearly all other groups.

And that’s the thing. This blog has a track record of simply letting retarded comments like that get posted, over and over and over. That’s why no Chinese people except the ones you guys love to hate post here. The rest of them are too fatigued by the (anti)China blogosphere.

@Si

You and some looney tune who everyone is ignoring wants to talk race. You are the one who is obsessed with race, so as soon as you have the smallest sniff of blood in the water, you go after it like a great white and spew your crap all over the thread

Well said. The thing you are overlooking is that this blog has a history of letting such comments fly, and that many of the less “looney” posters have said things that are similar.

Again, you wouldn’t get crapped on so much if you didn’t deserve. I ask once more, why are there almost no Chinese posters here? They are either a) Falun Gong morons or b) Math

January 21, 2009 @ 5:36 pm | Comment

reading that Africans and Australian Aboriginals are actually furthest apart genetically.

Indeed they are. And they are very different.

January 21, 2009 @ 5:37 pm | Comment

Well, duh. I mean about physical differences. Northern Chinese in the past had a large Manchurian population, and Manchurian people on average were larger than say, Southerners from Guangzhou. China culturally is far different from Japan. Etc.

You know, I’ve been chatting here tonight because I was feeling too damn lazy to do the work that I should have been doing, and I was looking for an excuse to procrastinate.

But this is just getting stupid, honestly. Average height is easily measurable, intelligence is not. There are all kinds of questions about the validity of IQ tests and how scores relate to cultural differences and prejudices.

I refuse to engage in a discussion where entire “racial” groups are considered inferior or superior, especially considering how suspect the construct of “race” actually is.

A lot of people are regrettably ignorant about other cultures, and that’s not a failing that can be assigned to any one nation, it’s pretty much across the board.

I’m just going to say that some people here seem to have an agenda that’s based on feelings of personal inferiority that they compensate for by saying really stupid and insulting things.

January 21, 2009 @ 5:45 pm | Comment

c) They can’t write or read English ?

I mean, I know you will reply something snarky, but my answer is honest, that’s the same reason why we can’t debate on Sina or any other Chinese blogs or forums.

Since not many Chinese (living in China) people able to debate and write in English in an elaborated way, it might explain partially why only a handful make it to this blog, hence probably not representing a significant sample of the population.

Others could just don’t care probably to debate about all these questions with Western people maybe?

January 21, 2009 @ 5:46 pm | Comment

c) They can’t write or read English ?

There are a lot of Chinese people who can speak English.

Others could just don’t care probably to debate about all these questions with Western people maybe?

Yeah I can see why.

January 21, 2009 @ 5:47 pm | Comment

Hey I have an idea. Yourfriend, since you seem to find this forum so objectionable, why don’t you start a blog? You could be a bridge between cultures, and languages, and all that. Maybe you and Nan-h could start something, since you both seem to argue in similar ways, albeit from different positions.

I’m done. Going to sleep. Tired and dispirited. Feh. I got my two pages of writing done anyway, between all this nonsense, which is pretty miraculous. Probably speaks to my innate Anglo Protestant work ethic, or something.

Except, whoops! I’m not a Protestant! Oh well. Must be genetic.

January 21, 2009 @ 5:53 pm | Comment

“There are a lot of Chinese people who can speak English.”

I agree, but it’s one thing to be able to communicate with basic language skills VS mastering a language, even me I’m struggling to do so in English.

So my guess is that it can be intimidating maybe for some to engage in the discussion. For example, by using a limited vocabulary, it’s easy to end up sounding like a retard, even if it’s not the case.

I wish sometimes that there would be more Chinese on this blog also. It would be great to have a wider range of opinion (especially coming from mainland Chinese).

January 21, 2009 @ 5:58 pm | Comment

There are all kinds of questions about the validity of IQ tests and how scores relate to cultural differences and prejudices.

The only reason this is so is because American society tolerates a “racial narrative” where blacks and to a lesser extent whites are portrayed as a “master race” because of “athletic ability” or “dancing ability” or other euphemistic statements.

I refuse to engage in a discussion where entire “racial” groups are considered inferior or superior, especially considering how suspect the construct of “race” actually is.

Again, bringing up differences in stature (on average) begets the question of whether or not smaller or larger stature is maladaptive or not. Even conveyed without el chino’s level of complete stupidity, this is more or less implied.

Lastly I am not saying “inferior or superior”. I’m just posting statistics. There is always a lot of overlap. The reason why I do this is because, evidenced by prior posting history, it seems like 70% of this blog enjoys “racial” shit-slinging when it comes to “the Chinese”.

it’s pretty much across the board.

lol, I don’t want to drag this out to an even more ridiculous level, but certain cultures are at least less willing to say offensive things to opinion pollers than others.

deleted

January 21, 2009 @ 6:02 pm | Comment

Obama has tremendous appeal across the whole spectrum, especially after the disaster called George W Bush, who seemed to think that all was needed for leadership was belief and conviction instead of critical thinking. Unfortunately his conviction led the US and the world over the cliff.

In order to succeed Obama will have to have clear policies which all Americans will be able to understand. This means that he will have to be a truly great communicator since there are a lot of Americans who really are not very bright people, and understand very little of the outside world beyond the US’s borders and how it has been changed by globalization. For those who do know what globalization is, their views are mostly shaped by Thomas Friedman’s “Globalization for Dummies” series.

The greatest challenge for Obama is that while many of America’s previous challenges were inflicted by war, virtually all of its current challenges are self-inflicted. There will be a strong temptation for Obama to look for a foreign red herring to blame all of America’s troubles on, since many Americans look at things in largely black and white terms. I don’t think that he will do this; but some of his advisors may push him in this direction. Just hope that he ignores them.

The worst scenario is that Obama is not able to bridge the deep divisions created by the liberal/conservative factions of the Democratic and Republican parties over the past 50 years, and that the society continues to fray along political, class, and ethnic lines. The Republican party under Nixon and Lee Atwater, Karl Rove’s ideological godfather, used this wedge politics to set the foundation for the rise of the disastrous George W Bush presidency.

If that happens, all bets for a US recovery and memories of greatness will be gone. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. The world needs a US which can lead by good example and great ideas which are carried out, and not with a powerful and overstretched military which is feared by all and not respected by any.

In simple terms, President Obama needs to succeed. The alternatives are just too terrible.

January 21, 2009 @ 7:01 pm | Comment

Isn’t it agonizing, Paul, that the divide between the two groups was engineered, strategically thought out and put into play chiefly by Karl Rove, though its true roots can be traced back to Kevin Philip’s “Southern Strategy” memo and nurtured during the Reagan era. I really wonder if the gap is bridgeable because in recent years it has become so steep and so wide. Rush Limbaugh, an old-fashioned racist and hate-monger and general rogue is now mainstream, his show is broadcast to our troops in Iraq by the military. The right has gone so haywire, with monstrosities like these garnering large audiences. These spokespeople have been courted by the mainstream GOP machine; the blogger of the first link was actually given an exclusive interview with short-term UN ambassador John Bolton, while mainstream media interviews were refused. My simple point being, it didn’t have to be this way. While the Democratic party moved to the center under Clinton, the GOP swung way, way over into radical territory with the courtship of evangelical America, to the point of rejecting science and trying to break down traditional church-state barriers. And now we have a near-impossible tug of war. How can Obama bridge the gap with people who literally see him as a Muslim and a terrorist, who actually believe he is an enemy of America. Unfortunately, men who know better like McCain helped to cultivate the meme of the terrorist pal. And now we have to deal with this wreckage, and convincing many that Obama is not the Antichrist will be a huge challenge. So many in Congress are beholden to people who actually believe this, especially in AMerica’ reddest states. One beam of hope is Obama’s huge popularity coming out of the gate. Let’s see if he can make use of this and win both sides over. I know, not an easy task.

January 21, 2009 @ 7:29 pm | Comment

@otherlisa,

I always understood the argument against social security was because it IS universal, in other words, perceived to be socialist? Rather than being an entitlement to a portion of the populace, it was instead a giant message from the government that people are too stupid to save for themselves and be self-responsible. You mention that people think “I won’t need this, so why should I pay for it?”, but then you don’t answer that question. I will never need social security (which is good, since it will be depleted by the time I retire), so in theory why should I pay for it? I also believe lambchop is right, SS was originally set up to prevent veterans from going to the poorhouse, nothing like what it has mutated into now.

The best thing to do is simply eliminate the system (set a timelimit or age limit for both benefiers and workers, and set it to happen in the next decade or less). The next best alternative would be to privatize it (after all, it is people’s money, they should have a say on how to use it), but that would be political suicide based on the current economy. And the last alternative is yours, which I agree with since the other two will never happen: raise the income level for paying. Right now, social security is stealing from the poor and giving to the old poor. But what really needs to happen is for people to get rid of the mentality that it’s the government’s job to feed you when you retire.

January 21, 2009 @ 7:45 pm | Comment

@Richard,

Do you think the Republican party will get back to its FISCALLY (ie not socially) conservative roots in the next 4 to 8 years? There is some serious soul-searching to be done.

January 21, 2009 @ 9:58 pm | Comment

Chip, I can’t predict the future, but I think that’s certainly what they are going to claim as their distinguishing characteristic. Already, they’ve started criticizing Obama’s proposed fiscal package, pleading that we need to be fiscally responsible. This, from the people who rubber-stamped every request by Bush for obscene amounts of money for highly questionable purposes.

January 21, 2009 @ 10:40 pm | Comment

@yourfriend #80

You don’t calculate the relative number traffic death based on population, but on the total number of cars. Even China Daily gets that:

“According to our research, the death toll and death rate per 10,000 automobiles here is eight times more than that in America,”

http://app1.chinadaily.com.cn/star/2004/0408/bz9-4.html

January 21, 2009 @ 11:58 pm | Comment

The Republicans are in a quandary because they are a party of contradictions. Against abortion and against sex education. Against abortion but pro capital punishment. Against government but pro intrusive government. Against government spending but pro earmarks, unlimited military spending. As a party they are socially/morally/politically bankrupt. Time to really reevaluate who they are.

Can’t there be a fiscally conservative party that doesn’t want to shove religious zeal down our throats? Isn’t it possible to be socially responsible without spending trillions on pet projects? Maybe I’m just too unrealistic.

January 22, 2009 @ 12:21 am | Comment

Chip,

Nobody can know for sure what the future might bring. You could kill somebody in a road accident, and end up paying all your savings to the victims. There are plenty of risks for which it is impractical to save for. If we as a society agree that we cannot have old people living on the streets, then we need a program like SS. A privatized SS will not serve this purpose, because then it becomes like savings which could be taken away by bad luck.

SS is not bankrupt. Infact with minor adjustments (like for example making the increases indexed to inflation instead of productivity growth), it could survive well into the future. All the talk about it going bankrupt is mostly propaganda towards some goal like privatization.

January 22, 2009 @ 12:31 am | Comment

@yourfriend #80

Road fatalities are not measured in the number of deaths per capita, but number of deaths per 10 000 vehicles. In 2004, China had 8 times more road fatalities than the US. Even the China Daily gets that.

http://app1.chinadaily.com.cn/star/2004/0408/bz9-4.html

January 22, 2009 @ 12:49 am | Comment

Some of the reasons for car accidents in Colombia according to govt report.

Women sprucing themselves up while driving.

Men looking at spruced up women on other cars while driving.

Men car accidents proportion still greater than women. No yet sure about about men/women car accident ratio due to sprucing up effect.

Some other car accidents causes ton taken into account, for example.

http://tinyurl.com/6tlfhx

Sill waiting for CH govt report

January 22, 2009 @ 1:21 am | Comment

Otherlisa, you said “As an example, and please forgive my vague quoting here, I’m too tired to look this up. I recall reading that Africans and Australian Aboriginals are actually furthest apart genetically. Yet they both share a superficial characteristic of dark skin color.”

The genetic evidence suggests that all non African populations are descended from a group of people who left the African continent more than 50,000 years ago. That was the first great branching of the tree of humanity. All non Africans – australoids (ie Australian aborigines), caucasoids, mongoloids &c – are equally distantly (or closely) related, genetically, to Africans.

The similarity of the skin colour of Australian aborigines to that of modern sub Saharan Africans is probably due to convergent evolution. Nobody knows what the skin colour was of the original, Africa dwelling, human Ur-population, the ancestors of all of us. A sort of medium brown may be the best guess.

January 22, 2009 @ 2:19 am | Comment

There will be a strong temptation for Obama to look for a foreign red herring to blame all of America’s troubles on, since many Americans look at things in largely black and white terms. I don’t think that he will do this; but some of his advisors may push him in this direction. Just hope that he ignores them.

Very true. It seems like multicultural and democracy societies, especially in large countries, tend to fracture on cultural/ethnic/political/religious lines.

All non Africans – australoids (ie Australian aborigines), caucasoids, mongoloids &c – are equally distantly (or closely) related, genetically, to Africans.

If I’m not mistaken, Caucasoids are the most related to Africans and Australo-Melanesians the least related.

January 22, 2009 @ 4:55 am | Comment

Oh, for god’s sake Chip. If you want to live in a libertarian society, try Somalia.

What Matt said. You don’t know what is going to happen in the future. People become too infirm or ill to work. We have a generation right now who have had substantial portions of their savings, money they thought they could count on, wiped out in this Wall Street debacle. We have many many working class and middle class people who despite their honest hard-working efforts can’t get ahead.

What do you want, old people living under bridges, eating cat food?

And yourfriend, speaking of generalizations, I have never EVER engaged in “racial shit-slinging,” here or anywhere else, and I resent the implication that I have. And frankly, if you want to argue racial superiority of one group over another, because in spite of your denials, that’s what you are doing, please go do it someplace else.

And that goes for anyone who’s doing that.

Except Math, because we all need a dose of humor now and again.

January 22, 2009 @ 7:30 am | Comment

I never said anything CLOSE to implying old people should live under bridges. They shouldn’t! What I am saying is that Social Security was once built to be a safeguard for VETERANS and the World War Generations who were busy fighting or working to fund the war to prepare for retirement. Out of fairness to them, a system was set up to guarantee a retirement. The trouble is, we have know come to expect social security to take care of everybody, regardless of whether or not they deserve it. meaning the payments will either have to get smaller (it’s to the point where many people can’t live on it, especially the ones who need it) or workers will have to be taxed more. Both you and MT are right, some things in the future can’t be predicted, like illness and infirmity, so THOSE people should receive benefits (although MT’s example of the traffic accident is folly, if you are at fault and kill somebody in a traffic accident, I can’t sympathize, retirement savings or not). But by letting EVERYBODY benefit, it’s 1. Creating an enormous bill to be paid by the taxpayer, one which would be much smaller if only people who legitimately need help to retire received the benefits, and 2. it’s encouraging the REST of America (everybody else who have the ability to save up) to be lazy and irresponsible, and 3. it is taking money from the poor and giving it to the poor, not a smart system.

Don’t privatize Social Security (or atleast privatize it while guaranteeing a set growth rate), just limit the benefits to people who actually need it (but ofcourse setting a future timeslot, otherwise everybody will get pissed off when they realize they actually have to save money).

Oh, and otherlisa, good point on the plight of middle class workers trying to get ahead but can’t. I don’t deny this, though I think social security reform isn’t going to help them much (unless ofcourse ss was cancelled, that way the middle class wouldn’t have that stolen from their paychecks? Just a thought). Certainly health care costs are a huge burden to the middle class, it will be interesting to see if Pres. Obama is able to get some changes done there.

January 22, 2009 @ 9:22 am | Comment

Chip,

How do you privatize SS without massive increases in SS taxes in the short run (when people stop paying in, but we still have to pay out benefits to people who already payed in), or not paying out SS to people who have already payed into the system?

In a privatized SS system, let us say somebody takes his savings and starts a business, and it fails. Would you be okay with this guy living under a bridge and begging for food in his old age? Would the American people be okay?

January 22, 2009 @ 11:54 am | Comment

Privatization? After what just happened on Wall Street? No freakin’ way. Though you can bet Wall Street would LOVE to get their hands on SS money – a fresh source of capital.

Sorry, if you want to play with your retirement, do that with your 401K or your IRA. Social Security needs to be left alone.

January 22, 2009 @ 12:05 pm | Comment

@ ferin

Btw, where did you get that stupid name?

Anyways, apparently you missed the fine print with respect to the driving stats, driving under the influence is the main cause of most of the accidents, and since the rest of us like to party, that is the result. But the rest of us also know how bad native Asian drivers are, I see it in the US. You bring those horrible habits with you. You think you can drive but you don’t see the carnage you left behind.

And since when does China keep reliable stats about anything, especially vehicle accidents?

January 22, 2009 @ 2:08 pm | Comment

@ otherlisa

Social Security is in danger of running out of money because 1. SS taxes are counted as overall tax revenue by the feds and have been for decades. 2. Originally, people were supposed to get $1 back for every dollar they contributed, but thanks to the AARP, today’s retirees get $5-$10 back from every dollar they invested and the baby boomers will want more than their fare share as the ultimate entitlement generation.

January 22, 2009 @ 3:08 pm | Comment

I just read that Obama’s inauguration speech was censored by CCTV. Hard to believe that the Chinese government still feels threatened by their own citizen’s possible response to these words.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/21/asia/china.4-413194.php

January 22, 2009 @ 10:36 pm | Comment

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