Posts Tagged ‘China’

Quote note (#327)

Urbit perspective on the Chinese century:

The closest thing to a general-purpose personal server today is probably the Chinese service WeChat. If you don’t know much about WeChat, you should really watch this NYT video.

Catch-up would be sensible. (Abandoning the bizarre Western prejudice that the Internet is primarily for political expression would be a start.)

Pointed criticism follows. If Urbit delivers, we could actually see some geographically-distributed competition, which is otherwise looking increasingly unlikely. 2017 should tell, apparently.

February 3, 2017admin 15 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Internet
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Twitter cuts (#104)

Discuss.

December 9, 2016admin 53 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Reason
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Chinese Trumpkins

SoBL has passed on this fascinating piece on Trump-fervor in Chinese elite opinion. It’s all good. Quasi-random snippet:

The past 30 years of China’s economic growth and social development began after a period of chaos [i.e., the Cultural Revolution], and there was no Enlightenment-like intellectual movement. Government officials, in order to mobilize reform, exaggerated the evils of the old benefit system as “everyone eating from one big pot,” which, with the assistance of some scholars, led to an almost complete social consensus that a market economy means completely free competition. With no restraint from ethics or rules, the “law of the jungle” that the weak are prey to the strong became nearly universal in society. Amid all the worship of the strong and disdain for the weak, an atmosphere of care and equal treatment of disadvantaged groups has not formed. Therefore “political correctness,” which is for the protection of vulnerable groups, basically does not exist in Chinese society, and the language of discrimination, objectification of women, and mockery of disabled people is everywhere. […] This way of thinking is further reinforced among some Chinese elites: they succeed because they are better able to adapt to and dominate this kind of environment. In this process, they are hurt by others, they hurt others, and gradually they develop a heart of stone and a feeling of superiority — that their success is due to their own efforts and natural abilities, and the losers in competition must be those who don’t work hard because they are lazy or have some other problems. Therefore, they believe in free competition and personal striving even more than ordinary people, and also feel more strongly that poor people deserve their low position, are more wary of the abuse of welfare by lazy people, and are more supportive of Trump’s attacks on political correctness.

The result is a shockingly civilized civil society (in which women, conspicuously, excel), but you wouldn’t get that from reading the article. Highly recommended, nevertheless.

November 22, 2016admin 30 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Discriminations
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Disconnection IV

In a Zhejiang mountain retreat for a couple of days — disconnected by my lousy disintegrating laptop rather than the wireless link here (which seems fine). The screen this is being pushed through looks like a piece of extravagant abstract expressionism cross-cut with destructive psychedelics. Impossible even to tell whether I am littering the thing with typos. Oh yes, and the quote marks key does not work. So basically, it is the view of a broken deeply stoned robot from inside a Jackson Pollack painting. (You are going to have to trust me on that.)

So consider it an open thread, and try not to be more obnoxious than strictly necessary.

ADDED: Daoist mountain bamboo forest (Siming):

20161005_133130

October 4, 2016admin 31 Comments »
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Quote note (#273)

Left behind:

Western democracies are, by design, sensitive to popular opinion. Elected politicians will be less likely to fund controversial projects, and more likely to restrict them. By contrast, countries like China that lack direct democratic systems are thereby less sensitive to opinion, and officials can play an outsize role in shaping public opinion to align with government priorities. This would include residual opposition to human enhancement, even if it were present. International norms are arguably emerging against genetic enhancement, but in other arenas China has proven willing to reject international norms in order to promote its own interests. […] Indeed, if we set ethical and safety objections aside, genetic enhancement has the potential to bring about significant national advantages. Even marginal increases in intelligence via gene editing could have significant effects on a nation’s economic growth. Certain genes could give some athletes an edge in intense international competitions. Other genes may have an effect on violent tendencies, suggesting genetic engineering could reduce crime rates. […] Many of these potential benefits of enhancement are speculative, but as research advances they may move into the realm of reality. If further studies bear out the reliability of gene editing in improving such traits, China is well-poised to become a leader in the area of human enhancement.

(Relevant.)

August 15, 2016admin 40 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Discriminations
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Informality and its Discontents

China’s problem with poorly formalized power:

As an old-style Leninist party in a modern world, the CCP is confronted by two major challenges: first, how to maintain “ideological discipline” among its almost 89 million members in a globalized world awash with money, international travel, electronically transmitted information, and heretical ideas. Second, how to cleanse itself of its chronic corruption, a blight that Xi has himself described as “a matter of life and death.” […] The primary reason the Party is so susceptible to graft is that while officials are poorly paid, they do control valuable national assets. So, for example, when property development deals come together involving real estate (all land belongs to the government) and banking (all the major banks also belong to the government), officials vetting the deals find themselves in tempting positions to supplement their paltry salaries by accepting bribes or covertly raking off a percentage of the action. (XS emphasis.)

(The article as a whole is ideologically pedestrian.)

Obscure the degree to which government is a business, and it will find a way to make itself one, around the back (with its executives privatizing sovereign property on an ad hoc, chaotic basis). Exhortations (from Sun Yat-sen, repeated by Mao Zedong) to “Serve the People!” are no substitute for sound administrative engineering, of a kind that rationally aligns incentives, and lucidly recognizes the sole consistent function of government — maximization of sovereign property value. The pretense of altruistic government and the reality of rampant corruption are exactly the same thing, seen from two different sides. The illusion of a public sphere is the root of the social sickness.

The gist of Orville Schell’s analysis is that China has deviated disturbingly from a functional Western model it would be better advised to return to. On the contrary, it is China’s continued (profound) submission to a Western demotist framework of administrative legitimation that makes its problems so intractable. A government devoted to serving the people is radically corrupt by essence. Government properly tends the national estate, as the agent of its owners. Open, clear, and unapologetic admission of that basic principle seems no closer in the East than the West.

ADDED: “Russian corruption is the new Soviet Communism.” … and the old Soviet Communism, and the older universal Jacobinism, and everything spawned from it. Corruption is what demotism is, rather than what it looks like to itself in the mirror.

April 13, 2016admin 39 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy
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Scrap snaps (#3)

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Huangshan — It isn’t K2 (but then I’d never be idiotic enough to try scaling K2.)

Continue Reading

April 2, 2016admin 6 Comments »
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Chaos Patch (#97)

(Open thread + links)

ACIDS. Hyperborean NRx. Limits of fascism, and nationalism. In defense of deontology. Journalism today. The weekly round.

Sell everything. The China bubble (related Marxist take). How low can oil go? Epocalypse (also). Western Spring (related). A fable for our times. The fury. Cthulhu dreaming. Thoughts on the deep state. Democracy in question. Charlie don’t surf.

The Sunni/Shia line up. Jihad in Istanbul, Jakarta, and Ouagadougou.

Who needs cash? How to make money better. Bitcoin and security. Event horizon.

More to come. The liberal agony (1, 2), and the other thing (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Tightrope walking. Taharrush. Feminism in crisis (plus, and related). The Swedish angle (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). Lie back and think of multiculturalism. Comedy hour.

An epic (loose) trilogy from Feser on Islam and Western religion (1, 2, 3). Other Catholic responses (1, 2).

Trumpenführer panic report (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Bonus Cruz popcorn. Nuclear popcorn.

SJW target of the week. Milo was warned (plus anecdotal fluff). Twitter and free speech. The Enlightenment in ruins. Adolf is back.

Why IQ matters. Hamiltonian bees. A colorful character. A CRISPR walk-through. Genes and brains ((cautious) Steve Hsu video interview). Tesla crime-think. The welfare trait. Liberated infidelity. The liberal war on science (remember). Smoking and schizophrenia.

Galactic dark ages. Space (and 2016 stuff). Colonizing the galaxy will be hard. Difficult numbers.

How England was undone.

Time to short Penn.

Tech acceleration made simple. Split futures. The year to come in quantum computing.

Wikipedia, an appreciation. Lessons of The Illiad. On Stephenson’s Anathem, and Gibson’s ‘Agrippa’. Closing of the childhood frontier.

“A common bias among the smart is to overestimate how smart everyone else is.”

January 17, 2016admin 37 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Chaos
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Chaos Patch (#86)

(Open thread + links)

Pillars of right unity. The moralistic prestige engine. The logic of civil rights. Dim enlightenment. TFP postrationalism. Zeitgeist skepticism. Diversity and authoritarianism. The weekly round, in doom.

Strategic pessimism. The coming Chinese global splurge (also), and population policy. Problems in Portugal. Japan’s strange choice. Straight-up Jacobins are the new extreme right. Indonesia burning. The land without a left. The power of ISIS. Venezuelan money troubles. Brazilian dissent.

Deflationary nemesis (can’t be stopped). “… big businesses … have increasingly used Left-ish politics as a form of public relations.” Over-extension (also). The age of distrust. Obstacles to apprenticeship.

Clueless and splintering. Dems ain’t what they used to be.

Sex and gender wars (and avoiding war, also, and more 1, 2, 3). So many tears. “Who cares what you feel?” Beyond comment. Drunken utilitarianism. Brown scare.

How Luther stopped. Douthat in the Cathedral (brings mixed response, and more). Mencken on traditional mass. Satanic squabbles (plus).

The flow (keeps coming). Winter-Chan worries. Disappearing natives.

Climate change. Putin’s cool.

On Cixin Liu.

The military tech in your phone. Innovation virus, and ‘temes‘. Innovative universities. Nero‘s new gig (1, 2). Accidental genius.

Two-Europes. Super-elites. Sequencing costs (graphic). Ritual in social complexity.

Quantum foundations of entropy. Efficient slime. Hot-head rats. Chimera. Hilbert curves.

November 1, 2015admin 26 Comments »
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The Dark Forest

Volume two of Cixin Liu’s science fiction trilogy.

The universe had once been bright, too. For a short time after the big bang, all matter existed in the, and only after the universe turned to burnt ash did heavy elements precipitate out of the darkness and form planets and life. Darkness was the mother of life and civilization.

The dark forest is the universe, but to get there — with insight — takes a path through Cosmic Sociology:

“See how the stars are points? The factors of chaos and randomness in the complex makeups of every civilized society in the universe get filtered out by distance, so those civilizations can act as reference points that are relatively easy to manipulate mathematically.”
“But there’s nothing concrete to study in your cosmic sociology, Dr. Ye. Surveys and experiments aren’t really possible.”
“That means your ultimate result will be purely theoretical. Like Euclid’s geometry, you’ll set up a few simple axioms at first, then derive an overall theoretic system using those axioms as a foundation.”
“It’s all fascinating, but what would the axioms of cosmic sociology be?”
“First: Survuival is the primary need of civilization. Second: Civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant.”

“Those two axioms are solid enough from a sociological perspective … but you rattled them off so quickly, like you’d already worked them out,” Luo Ji said, a little surprised.
“I’ve been thinking about this for most of my life, but I’ve never spoken about it with anyone before. I don’t know why, really. … One more thing: To derive a basic picture of cosmic sociology from these two axioms, you need two other important concepts: chains of suspicion, and the technological explosion.”

Continue Reading

October 1, 2015admin 34 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Cosmos
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