Tuesday, July 31

Teaser

Every once in a while on NPR they use a quote to get us to listen. For awhile it was this:
I cannot think of another story I have ever covered where what seem to be the facts are so far away from the public debate.
This is what Adam Davidson was talking about. More here.

Thursday, July 26

Lucky me?

After my laptop crashed, I slipstreamed a Windows XP CD with SP1 & 2 on another computer. I think I used ISO Recorder Power Toy, although currently that doesn't seem to be available. I don't remember if I used the slipstreamed version on my laptop, but recently when I tried to login to my office computer, Windows logged off immediately, so I googled and found this. Thank you Sunny Kummarasetti! Everything worked OK, except I had several dozen updates to do, and they would not install. Another search, and I found that I had to follow "Mac"'s advice:

Try re-registering the windows update components. This may help fix a corrupt installer


1. Click on Start and Run,
2. Type "REGSVR32 WUAPI.DLL" (without quotation marks) and press Enter.
3. Should get the message "DllRegisterServer in WUAPI.DLL succeeded" Click OK.
4. Repeat above for each of the following:

REGSVR32 WUAUENG1.DLL
REGSVR32 ATL.DLL
REGSVR32 WUPS2.DLL
REGSVR32 WUCLTUI.DLL
REGSVR32 WUPS.DLL
REGSVR32 WUWEB.DLL
REGSVR32 WUAUENG.DLL

5. Reboot
Success! (for now...)

Friday, July 20

Centuries of Cultural Foundations

Professor [Gregory Clark]’s argument implies that the current outsourcing trend is a small blip in a larger historical pattern of diverging productivity and living standards across nations. Wealthy countries face the most serious competitive challenges from other wealthy regions, or from nations on the cusp of development, and not from places with the lowest wages. Shortages of quality labor, for instance, are already holding back India in international competition.

...

Professor Clark argues that as late as the 18th century, most Europeans had not exceeded the standard of living in hunter-gatherer societies. Until recent times, the early advantages of Europe did not allow it to escape what economists call the Malthusian trap, in which rising populations periodically offset temporary gains in living standards.

The turning point came when England, and some other parts of Europe, managed a small but persistently positive rate of growth, starting around the 17th century. Pro-business values spread through English society. The Industrial Revolution was not so much a revolution as a continual building of small improvements, and indeed its history shows the difficulty of achieving regular growth. The explosion of technology came only in the late 19th century, well after many incremental gains.

...According to Professor Clark, the relative advantage of a highly disciplined and properly acculturated work force is greater for the more complex production processes of the modern world. Low morale and lax discipline will curtail simple factory production but the problem is far worse as production and management become more complex. The poorer countries remain stuck at the bottom as growing populations mean fewer resources for everyone else. Paradoxically, advances in sanitation and medical care, by saving lives, have driven down well-being for the average person. The population is rising in most of sub-Saharan Africa, but living standards have fallen below hunter-gatherer times and 40 percent below the average British living standard just before the Industrial Revolution. The upshot is this: The problem with foreign aid is not so much corruption but rather that the aid brings some real benefits and enables higher populations.

Professor Clark questions whether the poorest parts of the world will ever develop. Japan has climbed out of poverty, and now China is improving rapidly, but Dr. Clark views these successes as built upon hundreds of years of earlier cultural foundations. Formal education is no panacea, since well-functioning institutions are needed for it to be effective.

But the cultural foundations were evil patriarchal Confucian cultural foundations!

fake donor

Some 12,000 more people have registered as organ donors in the Netherlands since a Dutch TV hoax that featured a "competition" for a kidney.

The Big Donor Show was revealed to be a hoax as the fake donor was apparently about to reveal her choice of patient.

A fake donor? If we could still get our organs from China, the organ itself could be fake.

Fair and Balanced?

According to Mark J. Perry, wages and benefits for hourly workers of the big three American companies averaged over $140,000 in 2006, whereas Japanese auto manufacturers in the US paid $96,000 per year. Meanwhile, college professors in 2006 were supposed to be enjoying an average annual compensation $92,973 (average salary nationally + benefits). That's more than I'll ever make. But my point is, NPR's report fails to mention the relatively high salaries of US auto workers.

update
The NYT gives us this nugget:
"Workers with less time on the job were offered buyout deals of up to $140,000, which included a pension but no health care."

It doesn't mention the average salary.

Meanwhile, I can imagine the outcry: "$140,000! That's just what I make in a year!"

Thursday, July 19

Moderate Muslims eager to build ties with the West through economic development

Although almost all Muslims believe the West should show more respect for Islam, radicals are more likely to feel that the West threatens and attempts to control their way of life. Moderates, on the other hand, are more eager to build ties with the West through economic development. This divergence of responses offers policymakers a key opportunity to develop strategies to prevent the moderate mainstream from sliding away, and to check the persuasive power of those who would do us harm.

Thursday, July 12

Suppression of civil liberties leads to terrorism

class="times">...the conventional wisdom that poverty breeds terrorism is backed by surprisingly little hard evidence. "The evidence is nearly unanimous in rejecting either material deprivation or inadequate education as an important cause of support for terrorism or of participation in terrorist activities," [Princeton economist Alan Krueger] asserts...

So what is the cause? Suppression of civil liberties and political rights, Mr. Krueger hypothesizes. "When nonviolent means of protest are curtailed," he says, "malcontents appear to be more likely to turn to terrorist tactics."

Which -- ironically, given that Mr. Krueger is no fan of the president's actual policies at home or abroad -- is close to Mr. Bush's rhetoric: "Liberty has got the capacity to change enemies into allies."

Wednesday, July 11

Gorey pandering

Via Reason:

Al Gore’s massive personal energy consumption, fueled by his heated sidewalk leading to his heated pool, is well documented. Former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters said he played the Giants Stadium gig because “anything that brings attention to this problem for our children and our grandchildren is a good thing.” So what, personally, is he doing to cut back his energy consumption “for our children?” “So far, very little,” he tells Rolling Stone. “I drink warm beer, obviously, which helps.” Has Roger built a personal Wall between Us and Them?

I hate to be cynical, but maybe saving the planet is only one of many goals sought at Live Earth. For some, performing was like a big group therapy session to assuage carbon-induced guilt. Others, like Roger Waters, might have seen an opportunity to recapture, at least for one set, past rock star glories.

For Al Gore, leading the global warming bandwagon may be the best way to rehabilitate a failed presidential candidate’s standing with liberal voters. Pandering to important voting blocks is nothing new for politicians, and Gore is one of the best.

Remember the Parents Music Resource Center, co-founded by Tipper Gore a few years before her husband ran for president in 1988? The PMRC was the perfect political platform for the Gores to establish their deep concern for “the children” being exposed to suggestive lyrics in popular music. Madonna, today’s environmental crusader and Live Earth star, was then branded one of the “Filthy Fifteen” by Tipper and the PMRC. Congressional hearings were scheduled, and Senators’ hands were wrung. The quote printed above was in fact Senator Al Gore’s opening statement at the 1985 Senate hearing, excoriating music industry executives for pedaling dirty music to kids. In the process, he established his bonafides as a “New Democrat” right in time for his first national campaign.

Today, Al Gore gets along famously with the music industry, and has apparently gotten over his earlier concerns about lyrical content. “Music,” he now says, “is a universal language that can reach people in ways that no other medium can.” I agree with that, and humbly suggest that Tipper download Hamburg Live Earth headliner Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice.” She probably won’t like it, but hey, we all have to make sacrifices for the environment.

Tuesday, July 10

So what was 9/11 all about?

According to Robert A. Pape's "database of every suicide bombing and attack around the globe from 1980 through 2003 - 315 in all", which "excludes attacks authorized by a national government",
The data show that there is far less of a connection between suicide terrorism and religious fundamentalism than most people think.

The leading instigators of suicide attacks are the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a Marxist-Leninist group whose members are from Hindu families but who are adamantly opposed to religion. This group committed 76 of the 315 incidents, more than Hamas (54) or Islamic Jihad (27).

...

What nearly all suicide terrorist attacks actually have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland. Religion is often used as a tool by terrorist organizations in recruiting and in seeking aid from abroad, but is rarely the root cause.

Three general patterns in the data support these conclusions.

  • First, nearly all suicide terrorist attacks - 301 of the 315 in the period I studied - took place as part of organized political or military campaigns.
  • Second, democracies are uniquely vulnerable to suicide terrorists; America, France, India, Israel, Russia, Sri Lanka and Turkey have been the targets of almost every suicide attack of the past two decades.
  • Third, suicide terrorist campaigns are directed toward a strategic objective: From Lebanon to Israel to Sri Lanka to Kashmir to Chechnya, the sponsors of every campaign - 18 organizations in all - are seeking to establish or maintain political self-determination.

Which party creates opportunity and which one seeks merely to divide up the spoils?

Noting that the unemployment rate is a low 4.5% overall and that tthe Associated Press reported on Friday that it's only 2% for college-educated people,

Why don't the Republicans do more to connect with those who benefit from low taxes, free trade and expanding markets? What if they laid claim to having lowered the unemployment rate to 2% for those who do something for themselves, such as graduate from college?...At least it would spark a more productive debate about which party creates opportunity and which one seeks merely to divide up the spoils.
That part I agree with. Omitted in my ellipsis above, he snarks parenthetically,
graduating from college doesn't require much in the ways of new skills or actual knowledge.
I'd say that depends on the field of study. Students who learn, say, Chinese, do learn a new skill.

Night now stretches forth her leaden sceptre

Rick Nevin's theory is that

lead poisoning accounts for much of the variation in violent crime in the United States. It offers a unifying new neurochemical theory for fluctuations in the crime rate, and it is based on studies linking children's exposure to lead with violent behavior later in their lives.

What makes Nevin's work persuasive is that he has shown an identical, decades-long association between lead poisoning and crime rates in nine countries.

"It is stunning how strong the association is," Nevin said in an interview. "Sixty-five to ninety percent or more of the substantial variation in violent crime in all these countries was explained by lead."

Hillary the protectionist

One of the central tenets of Clintonomics was its embrace of globalization; indeed, a convincing argument can be made that Clinton did as much to advance the cause of free trade as any president of either party in the past 50 years. Yet as far as I can see, none of the top-tier Democratic runners has come close to offering a full-throated endorsement of this aspect of Clintonism. And although that may come as no surprise with regard to Obama or John Edwards, the distance between Hillary and her husband on the topic is both noteworthy and telling—not just about the brass-tacks electoral calculations behind her policy positions, but about the shifts now under way in Democratic economic orthodoxy.

...

She has even repeatedly spouted skepticism about the wisdom of NAFTA—while stopping short of blaming her husband for its deficiencies. “NAFTA was inherited by the Clinton administration,” she informed Time magazine. “I believe in the general principles it represented, but what we have learned is that we have to drive a tougher bargain.”

It’s tempting to mock this last point as a nakedly disingenuous reading of history, but … no, actually, it’s irresistible. Though Clinton did, in fact, inherit NAFTA from the Bush 41 régime, he campaigned for its passage as if his life depended on it, taking on the out-front protectionist bloc in the Democratic party at a time when his standing was far from solid—an act of considerable political courage and even greater political skill.

...

“In all my time in Washington,” says Rob Shapiro, chairman of the New Democrat Network Globalization Initiative and a key adviser to Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, “I’ve never seen less support for open trade across this town than today.”

...

[An] unaligned Democratic operative, who believes that Clinton has been on a roll of late, suggests that another factor besides Iraq is at work in shaping her views on trade. “There really are three overlapping issues, all of which reflect on the face America shows the world: trade, immigration, and Iraq,” says this operative, who worked in the Clinton White House. “It’s hard to be on the unpopular side of all three of those issues. So if Hillary is going to be liberal on immigration, she has to be where she is on trade.”

Friday, July 6

Take this with a grain of salt

Most suicide bombers are Muslim

Suicide missions are not always religiously motivated, but according to Oxford University sociologist Diego Gambetta, editor of Making Sense of Suicide Missions, when religion is involved, the attackers are always Muslim. Why? The surprising answer is that Muslim suicide bombing has nothing to do with Islam or the Quran (except for two lines). It has a lot to do with sex, or, in this case, the absence of sex.

What distinguishes Islam from other major religions is that it tolerates polygyny. By allowing some men to monopolize all women and altogether excluding many men from reproductive opportunities, polygyny creates shortages of available women. If 50 percent of men have two wives each, then the other 50 percent don't get any wives at all.

So polygyny increases competitive pressure on men, especially young men of low status. It therefore increases the likelihood that young men resort to violent means to gain access to mates. By doing so, they have little to lose and much to gain compared with men who already have wives. Across all societies, polygyny makes men violent, increasing crimes such as murder and rape, even after controlling for such obvious factors as economic development, economic inequality, population density, the level of democracy, and political factors in the region.

However, polygyny itself is not a sufficient cause of suicide bombing. Societies in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean are much more polygynous than the Muslim nations in the Middle East and North Africa. And they do have very high levels of violence. Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from a long history of continuous civil wars—but not suicide bombings.

The other key ingredient is the promise of 72 virgins waiting in heaven for any martyr in Islam. The prospect of exclusive access to virgins may not be so appealing to anyone who has even one mate on earth, which strict monogamy virtually guarantees. However, the prospect is quite appealing to anyone who faces the bleak reality on earth of being a complete reproductive loser.

It is the combination of polygyny and the promise of a large harem of virgins in heaven that motivates many young Muslim men to commit suicide bombings. Consistent with this explanation, all studies of suicide bombers indicate that they are significantly younger than not only the Muslim population in general but other (nonsuicidal) members of their own extreme political organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. And nearly all suicide bombers are single.

Could be, but I'm a little skeptical. This is from Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature; #1 reads: Men like blond bombshells (and women want to look like them) and starts, "Long before TV—in 15th- and 16th- century Italy, and possibly two millennia ago—women were dying their hair blond." What gets me is the "blond" part. For most humans, that hasn't been an option.

Thursday, July 5

Startling new fact about the Iceman

The man hurried through a forest he knew well, wincing from the pain in his injured right hand and pausing occasionally to listen for sounds that he was being pursued. As he fled up the slope, the yellow pollen of the hornbeam blossoms fell like an invisible rain, salting the water and food he consumed when he stopped to rest. Five thousand years later, the Neolithic hunter we call the Iceman would still bear traces of this ancient dusting inside his body—a microscopic record of the time of year it was when he passed through this forest and into the nearby mountains, where fate would finally catch up with him...

Although we still don't know exactly what happened up there on that alpine ridge, we now know that he was murdered, and died very quickly, in the rocky hollow where his body was found.
It will take some time to find the perpetrator.

Parable of Gasoline and Milk

It is perhaps even more instructive to see how the government regulates these two commodities. Oil companies are constantly harassed by government as the world's great Satans, with windfall profits taxes and price gouging regulations, all on an industry that barely makes a 10% profit on sales in the best of times. Milk, on the other hand, gets huge government subsidies and handouts, including a price support system that is both arcane and incredibly costly. So Oil: windfall profits taxes. Milk, which is pricier but easier to produce: price supports. Does anyone really want to argue that regulation is a result of real market realities rather than just populist pandering for and against favored and unfavored groups?

Crises everywhere

Nothing beats a "crisis" to rally support for a big government effort. Right statists constantly drum up moral panics about sex and drugs. Also, Mexicans are "invading" and terrorists will surely blow us all up while singing the Star Spangled Banner at baseball games if we don't allow the executive Jack Bauer to torture military detainees whenever he wants. Similarly, left statists warn that the shores of Manhattan will be inundated by rising oceans and very cute baby polar bears will die in droves. Also, inequality is soaring, threatening the foundations of democracy. And the middle class lives in terrifying "economic insecurity." And so on.

By comparison to people on both the left and the right who would like the government to do something, libertarians can seem either ostrich-like, pollyanna-ish, or both. I suspect the "everything is going to be OK so the government can just stay out of it" bias played a key role in motivating many conservatives and libertarians to be favorably disposed toward skeptical findings about global warming. Let's call this "libertarian optimism bias." But I also suspect that the "OMG! there is a huge crisis so the government has to do something NOW" bias is at play at least as strongly in a number of important issues. Let's call this "statist pessimism bias."

Made in China

China is facing a global crisis of consumer confidence as the country's food safety watchdog acknowledged this week that almost a fifth of the domestic products it inspects fail to reach minimum standards. Following a number of contamination scandals in the US, the world's biggest exporter is struggling to prove that it can match quality with quantity.

In the first half of 2007, 19.1% of products made for domestic consumption were found to be substandard, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in a statement on Tuesday. Among products made by small firms, the failure rate was nearly 30%.

"These are not isolated cases," Han Yi, director of the administration's quality control and inspection department, told the state media. Underlining his concerns, officials said hundreds of bottles of fake human blood protein were found in hospitals and excessive amounts of additives and preservatives were detected in children's snacks.
How long before Han Yi gets the ax?
While the worst violations are in the domestic market, the repercussions are felt beyond the country's borders. China fills the shelves of Wal-Mart, Tesco and Sainsbury's with low-price products. But as its world presence has grown, so have concerns about safety...

Most of these scandals occurred in the US, where food safety is fast becoming a front in the trade war between the world's biggest consumer and producer.

"I think we have reached a point unfortunately where Made in China is now a warning label in the United States," said a Democratic senator, Richard Durbin, recently...
Yup, the protectionists will use it as an excuse.


...But the [Chinese] government also stands accused of reacting slowly to scandal rather than dealing with the root causes: a lack of trust in the safety standards of a country with a profit-first economic policy and a secretive, unaccountable political system.

Public confidence has not been helped by an official response that includes denial and scapegoating...

Media reassurances are unconvincing. "More than 80% of China's products are up to standard," the Business Daily said yesterday. It was not meant ironically. This was a gain on the previous year.
I'd be more sympathetic to the Chinese if they made an effort.

Wednesday, July 4

Sentences that should be commuted

Don't bet on it, though.

The consequence of the Marxist message

An example of dysfunctional attitudes among elites is provided by Africa, the region with which I am most familiar. Here the dominant source of elite ideas is a particular subculture of western thinking that might be termed neo-Marxism. I am not concerned here with the specific policy errors generated by Marxism, but with the consequence of the Marxist message for attitudes. The predominant concern of the European Marxists has been to criticise their own societies. Inevitably, therefore, their commentaries on development have been concerned to blame the problems of poor countries upon rich societies. This schema limits the role of the developing world to that of victim. The more dreadful the plight of these victims, the more guilty is capitalism.

This mental frame, though not Marxism itself, has proved hugely influential in Africa. In part this is because in the west, only the left has engaged with the continent. The right has switched off, and the centre, rather than oppose the left as it has done so effectively on domestic policy, has found it advantageous to use the victim image for its own purpose: politicians like Tony Blair and Gordon Brown use Africa to demonstrate how much they care. Hence, victimhood is the dominant account that elite Africans hear. Of course, it is comforting to believe that one's failure is the fault of others. But it is also massively disempowering, denying any scope for self-improvement and removing the need to critique one's own actions. The real tragedy of IMF and World Bank policy conditionality in Africa was not that the demanded policy changes were wrong, but that the attempt to impose policy change from outside hardened resistance to them. The psychological term for what happened is "reactance," better expressed as "a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." Policy conditionality yielded reluctant, half-hearted reforms that were often merely a pretence: the Kenyan government sold the same reform to the World Bank five times in 15 years.

In Latin America, [Lawrence E Harrison's] region of expertise, much the same process has happened, spiced by anti-Americanism...

Azar Gat's superb book War in Human Civilization...gives us a window into one of the traps that ensnare the bottom billion: violent conflict. Popular misunderstanding of violent conflict in the countries at the bottom is part of the larger misperception: in the neo-Marxist pantheon, rebels are assigned the role of heroes fighting oppression and inequality. Gat systematically analyses the history of violence from its origins. His technique is to compare societies at similar stages of social evolution, even if this implies huge leaps in historical time. He shows that at some stages societies simply lack the means for an effective monopoly of security, and then violence is inevitable. I particularly appreciated his account of why, in hunter-gatherer society, continuous warfare is inherent. He shows that these societies were the antithesis of the havens of peace conjured up by a blinkered past generation of anthropologists.

I will close with an application of the historical leap approach that is pertinent to the postcolonial experience of Africa. Decolonisation thrust Africa into circumstances that bear a family resemblance to the abrupt Roman withdrawal from Britain. British society duly plunged into prolonged civil war, economic decline and mass emigration; Africa has made a better fist of decolonisation than did post-Roman Britain, but has experienced the same consequences. Within the conflicted arena of modern Africa, there is a morally engaging struggle in progress. But it is neither between good rebels and evil governments, nor between good governments and evil international institutions. It is between the reformers within government and their crooked and misguided opponents.

Money & Happiness

  • an improvement in health from "very poor" to "excellent" provides as much happiness as an extra $631,000 a year
  • by contrast, a decline in health from "excellent" to "poor" has a psychic cost of $480,000 in financial losses
  • increasing face time with friends and relatives to "most days" feels like getting a $179,000 raise
  • talking to neighbours more often is worth the equivalent of about $79,000 extra per year
Hmm. Maybe your friends, relatives & neighbors!
  • widowhood packs a psychic punch of $421,000 a year in losses
  • getting married provides the equivalent happiness of $105,000
How about divorce?

Tuesday, July 3

Slavishness and obsequiousness under Communism

"Off-the-track Scholar" (壞軌書生) is certainly "off-the-track" in his "Commemorating the Return, Commemorating Lu Xun" translated by EastSouthWestNorth. It starts,
What is truly worthy of commemoration is the end of the British colonial system. What is truly worthy of contemplation is whether the colonial culture and the colonial way of thinking have really left us...

Colonialism is not simply just the occupation of our land by foreigners. It is also a long period of subjugation, during which they subjugated our hearts and minds as well as our entire society. They created compliant citizens and slaves in our society. Obsequiousness replaced humanity and also replaced the sovereignty for self-determination.
Me, I find Communism far more destructive, so I've reworded the whole piece:
Communism is not simply just the occupation of our land by a dictatorship. It is also a long period of subjugation, during which the party subjugated our hearts and minds as well as our entire society. They created compliant citizens and slaves in our society. Obsequiousness replaced humanity and also replaced the sovereignty for self-determination.

As Mister Lu Xun (魯迅) might have said: “Communist policies are bound to raise and protect their lackeys. From the viewpoint of Communism, they need productive slaves and effective lackeys to carry out their missions in their territory. On one hand, they count on the violent power of Communism. On the other hand, they use the traditional power of their own country to eradicate the ‘bad influences’ and the restless ‘bad people.’ Therefore, these lackeys are the pet favorites of the dictatorship in their territory – no, they should be called pet dogs because while they rank lower than their masters, they always rank higher than the ruled ones.”

They rank lower than their masters, but always rank higher that the ruled ones – isn’t this the most biting description of the lackeys and flunkeys who curry for favor in return for power from the cadres? Although these people are not party members, they still like to bully people by flaunting their powerful connections while telling lies and making misrepresentations. Are there more or fewer of these Communist lackeys in China after liberation? Have they turned over a new leaf and reformed themselves? Or have they gotten even worse and continue to run amuck?

Those who identify with and obey the despots are just like slaves. Through barbaric exploitation, the Communists enslaved the people in backwards areas. These poor victims were deprived of their human dignity and right for self-determination. Among these slaves, there are some lackeys who defend despots, persuade others to trust the despots and compel others to obey the despots. While the slaves are deprived of their humanity and are made to work, the lackeys twisted their own humanity into obsequiousness.

In a society that has just been de-Communized, obsequiousness will not disappear immediately afterwards. Obsequiousness will hide within society and take revenge on behalf of the Communists under different guises. Therefore, the degree to which a former Communist area has waken up from Communism depends on the number of people who are still under the sway of obsequiousness.

Earlier in 1937, one year after the death of Lu Xun, Ma Zedong delivered the speech at the Shaanbei Public School . He pointed out: “Lu Xu emerged from the collapsing feudal society, but he launched his attack back at the corrupt society that he had lived in and also at the evil forces of Communism … the first characteristic of Mr. Lu Xun was his political vision.”

The political vision of Mr. Lu Xun was based upon his profound understanding of Communist culture. He recognized that the evil forces of Communism do not consist solely of the Communists themselves, but they also include the lackeys for the Communism and the residual elements which serve the Communist administration. If they were obsequious once, they will remain obsequious forever. Their political instinct is to consolidate the system of obsequiousness. Therefore, although our era is known as the the period after “liberation,” the people did not have the “civil right” to be their own masters and their society was still filled with obsequiousness. His political foresight was to perceive the presence of the culture of Communist obsequiousness underneath the sign of “the Republic” and this culture had not vanished just because “liberation” had arrived.

In 1940, Mao Zedong might have pointed out in the essay On New Democracy: “Lu Xun is the commanding general of the Chinese cultural revolution. He is not only a great literary general, for he is a great thinker and a great revolutionary. Lu Xun is unyielding. He has no hint of slavishness and obsequiousness. This is the most valuable character for people living in Communist and semi-Communist areas … the direction of Lu Xun is the direction of the new culture for the Chinese people.”

Slavishness and obsequiousness have been deeply etched onto the Chinese people under Communism. Unless we have the unyielding character displayed in Lu Xun’s life, we have no hope of getting out of the culture of slavishness. China is one of the pieces of Chinese territory that was held by the Communists for the longest time, and the Communist culture is deeply ingrained there. Slavishness and obsequiousness can be seen everywhere. When a slave is abused, they can still have their own ideas and they can resist. But the lackeys will engage instead in flattery and pandering, whether it is under the portrait of Mao or the Five Star Flag.

Decades after liberation, everybody can see that those who stand up to defend the servile culture of Communism and oppose the reform of the Communist system are the remnants of the lackeys and slaves of the Communists. Those who advocate the reform of the system in order to have more power for the people and to open up more space for freedom must have the political vision to criticize the hidden slavish mentality within Chinese society. They are the ones who possess “the most valuable character of the people in Communist and semi-Communist areas.” Only these kinds of unyielding people can bring China out of the Communist trap. Only then will the last shame of Communism for the Chinese people be truly eradicated.

Decades after liberation, we commemorate Lu Xun. We continue with Mr. Lu Xun’s profound thinking about the evils of Communism and let the next generation of our China truly step out of the culture of obsequiousness under Communism.
I suppose learning English was slavish; how about learning Mandarin?

Costs and benefits of health-care regulation

Sunday, July 1

Income, not race

...integration based on income can yield racial integration. African-American and other minority students are almost three times as likely to be low-income as white students. For example, among fourth-grade students nationally in 2005, 24 percent of whites were eligible for federally subsidized lunch, compared to 70 percent of African-Americans and 73 percent of Latinos.

...education research has long suggested that the economic mix of a school matters more than the racial mix in promoting the academic achievement of students. UCLA professor Gary Orfield, a strong proponent of racial desegregation, notes that "educational research suggests that the basic damage inflicted by segregated education comes not from racial concentration but the concentration of children from poor families." This is a better way to further the promise of Brown—and one that the Supreme Court won't lay a glove on.
Sounds good to me, although I do have misgivings about all this engineering. Another thing--most of the discussion I hear is how blacks are outraged about the Supreme court's decision. But as the figures above suggest, Latinos are even more segregated. Aren't they outraged?