It’s Raining Men in China — and That’s Bad News

70 million men in China are currently unable to find wives due to a staggeringly high imbalance of males vs. females.

Men outnumber women as a result of the country’s one-child policy which leads to many female foetuses being aborted as girls are traditionally discriminated against….

The traditional Chinese thinking that men are more valuable than women has dominated the country for many centuries. Some rural people just dump their baby girls outside orphanages, Ms Pan said.

The minister said 99 per cent of Chinese children adopted by foreigners were girls. There were millions more boys under the age of 10 than girls of the same age group.

‘Although the Chinese government has banned gender selection of newborn babies by ultrasound and selective induced abortion, many doctors secretly provide such services for extra fees, sometimes as high as 1,000 yuan,’ Xinhua said. One thousand yuan works out to S$213.

In a country where getting married and raising a family is all-important, this situation is a catastrophe for the millions of men who will not find wives. It reflects an attitude that goes way back in China’s history, and reading Wild Swans last month drove home to me just how horrific it can be for women. (I still cringe whenever I think of the author’s detailed descriptions of what foot binding actually encompasses.)


Is this the best way to hire a maid in Singapore?

A sad story about how Singapore maid agencies are “displaying domestic helpers in agency shop windows, prompting a women’s activist group to describe the practise as ‘appalling.'”

The article explains:

Mostly shy and some as young as 19, they sit without moving or talking as strangers peer at them.

“It presents a good opportunity for potential employers who can just walk in and interview them in person,” an agency spokesman told the newspaper Today, “better than looking at a photo.”

Some observers compared the scene to prostitutes who appear in window displays in the red-light districts of Amsterdam or Russia. Others expressed concern about displaying maids as commodities.

I find it truly repulsive, and I want to believe that most Singaporeans do as well.


Bush Haters — the latest meme

Another great post by Orcinus today on how Republicans are rewriting history a la 1984 with their use of the latest meme, “Bush Haters.” As usual, David digs deep into what the Republican spinmeisters really said about Clinton, and proves that there is no comparison between the Clinton Haters and today’s so-called Bush Haters. Quite the contrary.

The Bush Haters meme is now all over the media, the latest attempt by Republicans to use languaging to convey what they want . They really have honed it to a fine art, and the way they all sing from the same songbook with no dissonance and no beat skipped is something I look at with a true sense of wonder. Until the Democrats learn how to jam the air waves with their own tunes and drown out those on the right, I’m afraid the Republicans will continue to win in the all-important area of messaging.

Sorry for overdoing the songbook metaphor.


Pack journalism, or is America sick and tired of Iraq?

Yes, it is now a trend — the media are reporting that more and more Americans are getting fed up with the war Bush pompously declared was over, and how we are handling it. Here is the latest:

Aug. 23 — Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the U.S. mission in Iraq, saying the United States should reduce its spending and scale back its efforts there, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll.

SIXTY-NINE PERCENT of Americans polled say they are very concerned (40 percent) or somewhat concerned (29 percent) that the United States will be bogged down for many years in Iraq without making much progress in achieving its goals. Just 18 percent say they’re confident that a stable, democratic form of government can take shape in Iraq over the long term; 37 percent are somewhat confident. Just 13 percent say U.S. efforts to establish security and rebuild Iraq have gone very well since May 1, when combat officially ended; 39 percent say somewhat well.

It’s invigorating to see that Bush’s popularity has plunged 18 percent since April to 53 percent, indicating that a healthy number of Americans have maintained their critical faculties despite the noise and fireworks of the Bush propaganda machine.

Bush attack dog Andrew Sullivan is still on vacation, and I look forward to seeing how he spins this when he returns. He always placed great importance on Bush’s high ratings, proof that his imaginary “fifth column” would be vanquished and marginalized. He has to face the fact that Bush, his shining soldier, has lost the trust and the respect of much of the population. One thing’s for certain: he’s going to try to blame someone, and it will most likely not be Bush. (Based on past behavior, candidates would be Bill Clinton, the BBC, Paul Krugman and the rest of the SCLM.)


A beautiful read

While browsing through Singapore-related blogs, I came upon one that instantly stood out. I wondered for a moment whether I’d come upon my lost twin brother, at least in terms of style, love of music, and a bitter-sweet perception of the earth and its inhabitants. A sample:

As I was walking by the canal, I had that familiar feeling that my life was indeed a mediocre and insignificant one. Perhaps, I would have been gravely perturbed a few years ago but it seems that over time, I could think on this with a certain detachment, that even if it caused me to be mildly upset, I could attach to it no greater importance than the other fleeting emotions that might seize upon me occasionally, as if they were the strangers that wandered past the glass window of the cafe, sometimes peculiar enough to merit a second glance, yet largely indistinguishable from the general atmosphere. It is hardly the life of a poet. We do not have the luxury to indulge in our feelings, to taste its subtleties, to discover the myraid possible causes that might have led us to such a state, yet now and then, we find ourselves unexpectedly caught up in reverie, as if while transversing through a gallery, we find ourselves attracted to an exceptional painting, a painting that I have seen several times over the years and from its initial rawness of beauty, I have applied to it an intellectual understanding, so much so that I no longer separate cause from effect: its beauty and the artistry that produces it become indivisible, a complete appraisal of the genesis of the thought. However, on some occasions, when suddenly confronted, the original senseless impact of the thought is renewed afresh, and it would become unbearable, that life seems to treat us indifferently.

Definitely not your typical Singapore blog. Check it out and dig around.


Language and the War on Terror

I am always intrigued by the way politicians and media talk, the way they language their points. Today, Josh Marshall has a terrific post on how Bush’s vagaries and all-but-empty platitudes reflect the mess that is today’s War on Terror.

He starts by describing Bush’s latest radio address, weighted in the vacuousness that has become Bush’s signature:

I understand what the president’s saying. I recognize a general truth in it. But the generality, vagueness and abstraction is the problem. They are becoming the engines of policy incoherence and the cover for domestic bad-actors who want to get this country into fights few Americans signed up for.


Just as vague and abstract language makes for bad prose, it is also the handmaiden of bad policy and the abettor of buck-passing.

All this talk about civilization, totalitarianism, fascism and terror is just preventing us from looking at what’s happening and recognizing what are own interests are. They also make it possible for some people to convince themselves that it’s not a screw-up that we’ve turned Iraq into a terrorist magnet. After all we’re at war with ‘the terrorists’ and it makes sense that ‘the terrorists’ would attack us anyway, if only in a new venue. And we always knew it would be a long fight, a long twilight struggle, and yada, yada, yada and the rest of it. Same with the mumbo-jumbo about totalitarianism.


But the White House is being run by men and women who’ve already made a lot of really stupid mistakes that are going to cost a lot of American lives, money and credibility. And now they’re trying to hide from accountability in their own idiot abstractions.

Marshall’s been getting increasingly aggressive in his attacks on Bush. He started off in favor of the war and now seems totally disillusioned with our post-war bungling. Like Mark Kleiman. Like me.

It now seems that the one good thing to come out of the war on terror, along with the fall of the Taliban and Saddam, may well be the defeat of Bush in the coming election.

It’s swell that the Taliban and Saddam fell, but, to use Ronald Reagan’s language: Are we better off (in terms of national security) than we were a year ago? Two years ago? Are we safer and more secure when it comes to terrorism?

Terrorism has been moving full-speed ahead, far faster and more lethal than pre-911, as witnessed in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Bali, Jakarta and, just last Tuesday, the UN blast in Iraq, not to mention the suicide bombings in Israel despite the much-ballyhooed “roadmap.”

And our great victory in Iraq more and more resembles a true quagmire. mainly because we decided leadership there had to be on our terms, and because we paid infinitely more attention to the oil pipeline than we did to the people’s lack of water and electricity. How could we be so stupid, alienating just about everyone with our incompetence and lack of fundamental sensitivity?

Sorry for wandering a bit off-topic there.


The perfect Christmas gift! Bring ’em on.

Hilarious, wickedly funny article on why the new GWB Aviator Doll makes a perfect gift. Here’s how it starts:

Country’s in shambles and economy’s gutted and schools are shot and Iraq’s a violent bloody mess and joblessness is rampant and it’s a proud time indeed to be an American, and hence you might be asking yourself, what, pray what, can I give the hardcore lockstep pseudo-Christian homophobic Republican on my gift list?

What can you give the one who just loves bogus wars and BushCo’s lies and thinks SUVs are way bitchin’ and believes every bile-filled opinion crammed down their throats via Fox News and Hannity/Coulter/Limbaugh et al., hates them damnable gays and libs and environmentalists and has one hand over his heart while the other gropes the cat?

It only gets funnier. And I mean much funnier. The writer definitely has a streak of genius.

Via tbogg — thanks!]


Bad Car Day in China

Three separate road accidents have killed at least 34 people in China over 24 hours.

In the worst of the incidents, 27 people were killed in north China when their bus plunged down a 30-metre deep ravine late on Friday, Xinhua news agency said.

I used to be amazed at the number of traffic deaths commonly reported in the newspaper in China; it wasn’t the number of accidents, but the sheer number of lives that would be lost in a single one, often involving buses. Having taken a couple of bus rides outside of Beijing and in South China, I wonder why there aren’t even more accidents. You wouldn’t believe the condition of some of these roads, and the way drivers abuse them. Anything goes.


Bush to New Yorkers: Drop dead

Shocking. And the White House brushes it aside in the name of “national security”:

WASHINGTON – At the White House’s direction, the Environmental Protection Agency (news – web sites) gave New Yorkers misleading assurances that there was no health risk from the debris-laden air after the World Trade Center collapse, according to an internal inquiry.

President Bush (news – web sites)’s senior environmental adviser on Friday defended the White House involvement, saying it was justified by national security.

The White House “convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones” by having the National Security Council control EPA communications in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, according to a report issued late Thursday by EPA Inspector General Nikki L. Tinsley.

“When EPA made a Sept. 18 announcement that the air was ‘safe’ to breathe, the agency did not have sufficient data and analyses to make the statement,” the report says, adding that the EPA had yet to adequately monitor air quality for contaminants such as PCBs, soot and dioxin.

In all, the EPA issued five press releases within 10 days of the attacks and four more by the end of 2001 reassuring the public about air quality. But it wasn’t until June 2002 that the EPA determined that air quality had returned to pre-Sept. 11 levels — well after respiratory ailments and other problems began to surface in hundreds of workers cleaning dusty offices and apartments.


Andy Darrell, New York regional director of Environmental Defense, an advocacy group, said the report is indicative of a pattern of White House interference in EPA affairs.

Tell me one reason I would want the Bush White House to go on for another four years (aside from the fact that, at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be a better alternative).


Fair and Balanced Victory

Yes! Fox News loses its idiotic lawsuit against Al Franken over use of the term “Fair and Balanced.”

In rejecting Fox’s argument, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin called the network’s lawsuit “wholly without merit, both factually and legally.”

A fair and balanced decision. Al Franken summed it up with a pithy soundbite:

“In addition to thanking my own lawyers,” Franken said after the ruling, “I’d like to thank Fox’s lawyers for filing one of the stupidest briefs I’ve ever seen in my life.”

I wonder what Bill O’Reilly thinks about Franken’s book rising today to #1 bestseller over at Amazon. A classic exercise in stupidity, and accomplishing exactly the opposite of what you set out to do.

[Via Eschaton]