Wednesday, October 22, 2014

An Unstable World: Part II China

Continuing from last time... let's move on to our next source of tension or "history that refuses to end."

== China: a humble historical correction ==
China and the West are clearly heading toward an inevitable -- and we hope very peaceful -- reconfiguring and renegotiation over trade and other relations. 

great-vault-forwardWhy? Because the trade imbalances... tsunami flows of money, capital investment, knowledge and intellectual property from west to east ... have achieved their main historical purpose, lifting China in history's Great Vault Forward, transforming that ancient land into a modern marvel. 

For which all say mazel tov! Let us get used to - and welcome - the idea that a billion talented and creative people are joining the world ranks of prosperous problem-solvers. It will be a better planet... after they adapt and finish their own, self-guided transformations to a fully mature-modern society.
(Indeed, they have started contributing to humanity's highest art form -- science fiction! You have heard me praise Liu Cixin's terrific Three Body Problem trilogy. Coming this fall from Tor Books.)
We are obliged to be welcoming and glad about this Great Vault. Indeed, let us recall that Americans were themselves net intellectual property thieves, once upon a time. (Though we never stole so much that it killed the goose.) While acting with deliberate care to protect our crown jewels, we should not be too sanctimonious.

east-westWhat we are not obligated to do, however, is swallow a narrative that is circulating over there. A smug and self-flattering tale that all of this happened because China invented just the right mix of state capitalism and clever, predatory, mercantilist ruthlessness. Or that any and all tactics - such as the rampant appropriation of intellectual property - can and should go on forever. 

The self-serving narrative boils down to two moral justifications:
(1) Westerners are decadent fools whose uncontrollable material appetites feed into Chinese predatory mercantilism. Morerover, Americans' proper role is to serve as figurative-commercial prey or cattle (that exact metaphor is used).
(2) That all tactics are justified as recompense and pay-back for centuries of oppression and colonialism by the West.
Number one we have spoken of before. This was all part of a grand plan that did not originate in China, but with the greatest person of the 20th Century... George Marshall, as we'll reiterate, below... for justification #2, well, sure, there is some moral justification there, though Chinese leaders played a huge role in their nation's slide from world pre-eminence, centuries ago. Still, the victim narrative only goes so far, for one simple reason.  And you all should be ready to deploy it, over the years ahead.
Let me reiterate that I say this in a spirit of friendship and respect, without a scintilla of hostility. But the basic fact is... that in all of its 4000 year history, China never had a real friend.
Except one.
Indeed, one reason for that lack of friends was Chinese policy spanning every dynasty -- proclaiming to all that they were Chung Kuo... the center of the world, an attitude that we are seeing glimmers of, again, across Southeast Asian seas.
china-usAnd then, yes, came genuine abuse by many foreign powers, when China was no longer able to enforce that centrality. Yes, colonialism and nasty treatment by western powers did happen.
Only, across all that time there was one nation that generally treated China well, or at least better than anyone else did. Just one nation that stood up for China (sometimes tepidly but at other times with ferocious loyalty) when China was down. Just one nation who (admittedly) did make some mistakes with China, and did a few wrong things, but generally could be seen trying, far more often than not, to be generous and fair. 
That friendly outsider was the United States of America. And if your reflex is to deny this, then in fact you know no history. No one else stepped up to tell the European powers and Japan to stop their expanding "concessions" and refused to seize any of our own.
No one else stepped up to help China resist brutal invaders - in the 1930s - and went into a savage war for which we were unready, and paid dearly, directly due to standing up for China, in its hour of existential need.
Even the long enmity of the Cold War was all about the U.S. choosing one "China" over another. All right, perhaps more subtlety was called for, then, and for a couple of years Chinese and American soldiers killed each other, each considering the other pawns to distant masters. But just as soon as Mao put his hand out, there was Nixon ready to shake it.
Again, there were mistakes! On both sides. But there is no way that China's attitude toward the U.S. can be informed or ever justified by "getting even for colonialism." If, across 4000 years, you can point to any substantial nation that was ever as good a friend... or that at least sometimes tried to be... then maybe we'll listen to the "colonialism" guilt trip. But you cannot. And we should not.

Again, I say that with respect and as a friend.

== The Mercantilism Gambit ==

And we are still at it. Because the narrative about 40 years of trade imbalances could be viewed in another way.

Walmart-EconomyWe have raised up the billion people of the Central Kingdom, by the magnificent method called "foreign aid via WalMart." The greatest uplifting in all the history of our species.  Moreover it was not the act of bleating, helpless sheep, but deliberate policy, established by Marshall, Acheson, Truman and Eisenhower and so on, to establish counter-mercantilist trade flows. The only "pax" imperium ever to do such a generous thing. (China did nothing of the sort, when it was on top of the world.)

I go into this policy elsewhere.  How - possibly - it may be the greatest accomplishment for which America will be remembered, a thousand years from now -- far greater than mere moon landings.  The Marshallian counter-mercantilist trade policy -- arguable -- saved the world.
So let's be plain, dear friends in Chung Kuo.  Your rapid upward progres merits real respect!  Your industrious self-rise, from the dust, to standing next to us,as brothers and sisters and equals. Well done! Feel good about yourselves for one of humanity's greatest accomplishments!

But it also merits some gratitude. Because you had a friend.

You're welcome.

== Continue to Part III


Mark said...

While I think the counter-mercantilism of American capitalism is largely correct and largely on purpose in a good way, I also think there is an important counterpoint. In mercantilism it is the state that is ultimately being promoted. The corporations are tools of the state.

Capitalism reverses that, at least in practice. To a capitalist, it doesn't matter which country they earn money in or from. There has always been pressure from the richest in this country to break down trade barriers, and open both markets and labor forces.

I don't think the purely virtuous form of reverse-mercantilism would have ever survived the political process if not for the fact the rich and powerful had their own reason, not nearly so virtuous. The end result is a mixed bag.

On the good side, lifting up people and offering jobs to those in poor countries is largely a good thing! But there are many negatives as well.

I once interviewed someone from Shanghai for a job and asked why he was leaving his current job. The answer was he was being laid off because his job was being outsourced to a cheaper part of China. Shanghai was becoming too prosperous! Also, the labor too expensive for some.

Today we have a situation where global corporations can pit workers against each other in various parts of the world. It isn't really free trade as we typically think of it where one country competes against another, since both countries are working for the same jobs in the same corporations.

(You see the same scenario locally, when corporations pit city against city for tax breaks.)

I don't think liberals, or anyone, have really solved this problem, yet. My hope is the world will eventually equalize, which will solve much of this, but that will take quite a long time.

Tim H. said...

I wouldn't entirely blame Great China for that attitude, there's many Americans with just such a contempt also. And I'm sure you know that the Marshall plan was the work of many, General Marshall was the best face to put on it to get it through congress. And a Kansas City WorldCon! If I can manage I might try to attend.

Anonymous said...

China still remembers the Eight Power Invasion, when American soldiers stabled their horses in the temples. And while I'll grant the Americans didn't want a Concession of their own, that was because they believed that an American should be able to go anywhere and sell anything in China, to anyone. Guns, drugs — whatever the American merchants wanted.

Sorry David, but you really need to take a more detailed look at the last couple of hundred years of Chinese history.

David Brin said...

Mark that is very interesting. A point I had not thought-of. That counter-mercantilism… while partly driven by the Marshallian design for a better world — might have also been propelled by rich international aristocrats who thus could shelter vast riches anywhere they might like.

Certainly that is going on in Japan. Where the economy is “officially” in tatters but truly vast sums of profits are simply hidden offshore. Indeed, you touch upon the reason, in EARTH, for the Helvetian War.

Still, your Shangai story only illustrates the “cascade” of industry, always led by the grueling textile mills. Follow them from England to the US North to the US South (a transition seen in THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT… then NORMA RAE)… to Japan then ever-quicker to Taiwan, then Korea then…

Always the textile mills were followed by assembly plants. then chip makers… gruesome, but their kids all had meals and went to school.

Anonymous, the 8 Power Invasion was a direct result of the reformist emperor being assassinated and replaced by towering assholes. Was “China” to blame for the insane stupidity of its leaders? Or the inflexible brittleness of its system?

Japan and Thailand showed what was possible.

Sorry, YOU are the one who is historically clueless.

locumranch said...

If the response of that visiting Peronista is any indication (even after Argentina begged the US for, and was granted, special economic terms to avoid financial default), it is unrealistic to expect any gratitude, thanks or welcome for US assistance from any foreign national.

After all, gratitude is an emotional rather than a reasoned response and, since the very act of receiving (and/or requiring) aid from another is a deeply humiliating & humbling experience for many, it is unreasonable to expect a positive emotional response like 'gratitude' from any macho culture that values face.

George 'W' Bush made a similar error when he invaded Iraq, imagining that the Iraqi populace would welcome 'us' as liberators, only to discover that any such gratitude was so short-lived as to be non-existent; George Sr made a near identical error when he went to the aid of Kuwait about 10 years early, only to be described by the rescued Kuwaitis as a bought & 'paid for' foreign mercenary rather than as a 'liberator' or 'friend'; and, of course, the French still harbour resentment against the US for a post-WW2 Marshall plan that rebuilt the Axis powers in record time but left its so-called Allies in ruins.

So, if the PRC wishes to scornfully describe the foreign participants of the global economy as 'commercial prey or cattle', so be it. We should accept this description as high praise, for that's the best description we can expect from them, the worst being described as 'liars','thieves' and 'traitors' when the trade differential (eventually) shifts to favour someone other than the PRC.

Perhaps Clare Boothe Luce (a former US Congressperson, Ambassador, Feminist & Presidential Medal of Freedom winner) said it best:

"No Good Deed Goes Unpunished", she said.


Duncan Cairncross said...

Locum is being a loonie as usual
As if the Argentinians or the Iraqi's have any rational reason to be grateful to the Americans!

I have just caused untold suffering and death - but here is a lolly - please be my friend!

I am thankful that the excesses of "my" empire (British) are now sufficiently long ago that the generations that actually suffered have mostly died off

David Brin said...

Duncan, show me the people who behaved well - when tempted by imperial power. Pax Brittanica was an order of magnitude better than all other paxes... especially pax Hispania... but Pax Americana upped that by two orders. provably and decisively and world transformingly...

...and still it is a process with piles and piles of mistakes, deliberate lapses into evil, unforeseen cide effects, and deliberate and accidental crimes to atone for.

All you can do is measure by OUTCOMES. And PB and PA by that measure come out smelling a bit more like rose than dung.

Fortunately, humans are not as Locum describes us. Gratitude can be many layered and believe me there are many many on this planet who appreciated either emotionally or logically or both, the US interventions to save the world from Hitler etc. I lived in London and in France and to say there's none is just plain wrong.

We WOULD have been greeted by Iranian Shiiytes and minorities as liberators with kisses… if the Bush family had not betrayed all honor and decency by leaving Saddam free to savage the people of southern Iraq. The reason I hate Senior even more than I hate Junior.

Daniel Duffy said...

As with Russia, China is doomed demographically:

Remember back in the 1980s when the Japanese were about to take over the world? Like Japan before it, China's aging population will bring its economic growth to a grinding halt.

Of all the Great Powers (EU, Russia, China, Japan) only America has healthy demographics (relatively high birth rate and more friendly to immigration than any other country). We are the only nation with a great future ahead of us.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Daniel
"Of all the Great Powers (EU, Russia, China, Japan) only America has healthy demographics"

I would have said
Of all the Great Powers (EU, Russia, China, Japan) only America has UNhealthy demographics
For the same reasons - but I predict a different outcome

Dr Brin
I agree with you about Pax Americana
Although I'm not sure it was/is two orders of magnitude better than PB - I would have said they were about the same, better American intentions outweighed by greater incompetence

- but Argentina and Iraq are on the negative side of the US legacy
The positive side elsewhere is much larger but that is not relevant to this generation of Iraqis and Argentinians
In two generations.....

Iraq could have been positive - not by Bush Senior only continuing but only if sufficient forces had been used to protect the countries infrastructure and to move forwards to a stable structure
Bush senior's coalition was more likely to be able to do that than Bush juniors group
But I don't think either grouping was big enough and long term enough to help Iraq over the transition

Stephen Peterson said...


At least some of the problem (I think a substantial part of it) is that part of the oligarchic-mercantile push to off-shore their riches, is to ensure that local conditions for business are sub-par.

There's a widespread pattern of really crappy local labor laws that just choke out all entrepreneurship, and really lax laws for foreign investment. Enabling wealth-transference out of the country.

Of course, this is classic elite hubris: they'd stand to gain even more, in the medium-to-long-term, if local entrepreneurs could start up their own businesses. Rising wealth level and all that...

Fu Dan said...

China has been around for thousands of years, seen empires rise and fall, was the world's greatest power for 18 of the last 20 centuries, yet here we have an American claiming they're "doomed demographically" and "we are the only nation with a great future ahead of us."

Surely this is the kind of hubris, ignorance and delusion that makes America so disliked around the world? America is a flash in the pan compared to China; the Middle Kingdom's ascent to leading world power is just a return to its historically normal status. Nor is China comparable to Japan; Japan is a former vassal state that is dwarfed in size, population and resources by China.

One of the great flaws of Americans is their lack of a long historical perspective. To the Chinese, the last two centuries have been an aberration; Americans mistakenly think they are the rule. Let's wait another few centuries and see where America is compared to China (if America even still exists, which I find doubtful) before making these ridiculous statements about much older civilizations!

Tim H. said...

Fu Dan, yes and no, Great China has a long history, but it's a new thing now and will be great, or not in different ways than in the justly storied past. Remember, we all share 200+ K years of humanity. And the entire world will go through a demographic crunch eventually, lack of simultaneity will cause local unpleasantness, but it should end in a world more in balance.

Daniel Duffy said...

Duncan, how are AMerican demographjics unhealthy exactly?

We are the only industrial country with a total fertility rate (TFR) above the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman.

As a nation of immigrants, we are the only industrial country welcoming of immigrants (racist Republicans notwithstanding).

locumranch said...

Perhaps my take on foreign affairs is too cynical to be popular, but at least it explains commentators like Adriana11 and Fu_Dan when the so-called progressive view does not.

Previously, I mentioned that reason could foister enlightment when used to override and/or delineate our baser instincts, but it could also lead into darkness when used to justify and/or rationalise them.

Argentina ratified its constitution for self-rule in 1853, was taken over by a NAZI-sympathising military dictorship in 1930 (back when it was one of the 10 wealthiest countries in the world), and then has been ruled (poorly) by a succession of fascist personality cults ever since.

And, even though Argentina has never been harmed by the US in any way (beyond loaning them money and 'failing' to protect them from the consequences of poor self-rule), Argentina blames the US for all its problems, as a debtor always blames its beneficiary, because it has always (since 1930) considered the US to be an enemy or adversary.

In the case of China, the PRC 'feels' and 'knows in its bones' that it is has been 'the center of the world' for 'thousands of years', so it has nothing but disdain for a young and "uncivilised' West, yet the truth of the matter is that it is the PRC which is young & uncivilised, existing as a nation state for a mere 75 years as compared to a 240 year-old doddering US.

Both of these countries have misused reason in an attempt to justify (and/or rationalise) their 'feelings" of primacy (and/or superiority) and, even though they have both greatly benefitted from their relationship with the US, scorn is all they have to offer in return, because to do otherwise -- to offer 'gratitude' -- (they believe) is to 'lose face' and 'admit inferiority'.

This is why 'No good deed goes unpunished', especially when dealing with cultures that value 'Face', because (as far as they are concerned) to need, accept or express gratitude for help is to admit disgrace:

"Screw you, you Infidel Dog, for your generous assistance. I accept it but I am still your better".

More on 'Face' is available at


Nicholas MacDonald-Wu said...

"Surely this is the kind of hubris, ignorance and delusion that makes America so disliked around the world? America is a flash in the pan compared to China; the Middle Kingdom's ascent to leading world power is just a return to its historically normal status. Nor is China comparable to Japan; Japan is a former vassal state that is dwarfed in size, population and resources by China."

Indeed, and that's what these demographers don't get- they're ignoring the fact that China has 500 million agricultural workers when they'd be fine with 10 million. A China with 700 million would still have more labor than it knows what to do with, especially in the age of automation that we are rapidly entering. China has an overwhelming surplus of labor, and with literacy rates now well over 98% for the generations under 30, and millions graduating from universities every year, an overwhelming surplus of educated labor.

When I took the CFA exam in China in December of 2012, I was in a room with 4000 other people taking it...

In English. And they were all Chinese.

This is what we are up against. As of 2010, 600 million people under the age of 30. In 2040, that will be 600 million workers between the age of 30 and 60. If you don't think they can run a world-beating economy on that labor force, you're smoking crack.

"Anonymous, the 8 Power Invasion was a direct result of the reformist emperor being assassinated and replaced by towering assholes. Was “China” to blame for the insane stupidity of its leaders? Or the inflexible brittleness of its system?

Japan and Thailand showed what was possible.

Sorry, YOU are the one who is historically clueless."

So, we're allowed to go in and invade a country when they install a government we don't like? I thought you had a problem with that sort of thing, Dr. Brin, don't you? Or is it different when they're the people YOU don't like? ;)

Though you're incorrect. Guangxu was not assassinated- he was arrested, and would live under house arrest for another decade. Nor was that the reason for the invasion- the reason was that foreign legations were being attacked by the Boxer militias- who didn't believe that foreigners should be granted extraterritoriality. Which, one has to admit, is pretty embarrassing; not being able to enforce your own laws over people within your jurisdiction was a tremendous loss of face.

And yet, those "towering assholes" ultimately implemented nearly all the reforms that the Guangxu Emperor wanted- or tried to. Understandably, they wanted to be in charge- and saw the emperor as having made himself vulnerable by biting off more than he could chew.

This, of course, is why a smart Chinese reformer always destroys all opposition before he attempts reforms. Not because they oppose the reforms, but because they'll use any upsetting of the apple cart as an opportunity to seize power themselves. This is why the last two years in China have been a bad one to be an official- Xi is destroying all potential centers of opposition before he makes his moves. Bo Xilai, being the most charismatic politician and the only other princeling to rival Xi, had to fall first. Now Zhou Yongkang is biting it... and one by one, the dominos are falling, and I have a feeling they won't stop until that demonic Old Frog himself, Jiang Zemin, dies a "mysterious" death.


And what did Thailand accomplish, exactly? They've been a second world basketcase for a century- never quite achieving takeoff. Not impressed. South Korea- that impresses me. They came further, faster, than any other country in history. In part through our aid. In part through a government that insisted on doing things their way- including protecting their industrial development.

Paul451 said...

Belatedly (and hesitantly),

Re: Pax-Americana in LA, America-the-friend in China.
The problem with comparing Pax America's evils to those of prior (or alternative) powers when considering the relative scale of harm, is that hurt is a purely emotional issue. It doesn't matter if someone else could have hurt me worse, or did hurt me worse in the past, you are hurting me now. It's entirely primal, beyond reason. (And your own response, towards the end of the last thread, was just as primal.)

A dog in pain or trapped. You tend the wound or untangle the trap, the dog feels more pain and attacks you. You didn't cause the wound or set the trap, and your motives are entirely pure, yet the dog will still bite the thing that is hurting it. Perhaps afterwards, if you're really lucky, when the pain stops the dog will realise you were helping (I've certainly seen that with my own dogs), but to expect such a realisation while you're still causing pain is foolish.

And that is when your motivations are entirely pure. As everyone had noted, including you, America's motives were so, so often decidedly impure.

Likewise, you get asked for an apology not because you personally caused wrong, but to show that you are different from those who've caused wrong in the past. It's not because I did it, it's to show that I am different. It's not enough to say, "yes yes, wrong were done, I already said that (shrug shrug shrug), but that's not what I want to talk about", you have to say, "yes, wrongs were done, and even though I didn't commit them, I want to make up for them".

And, IMO, it's a useful test of character, because I've noticed that those least willing to apologise for past wrongs, for the sins of the father, tend to be those least likely to solve present injustices. So if America really is a better empire, then...

(Heh. Turing word: "Justice")

Paul451 said...

"Bush senior's coalition was more likely to be able to do that than Bush juniors group. But I don't think either grouping was big enough and long term enough to help Iraq over the transition"

Bush Sr's coalition was dealing with an Iraq which was less damaged. OTOH, Bush Jr was coming in after Bush Sr had betrayed the Iraqi Shia, resulting in the natural Shia leadership being destroyed by Saddam, and to an Iraq at the end of a decade of sanction-driven deprivation.

Bush Sr also had more troops on the ground, more allies in the region, more Arab allies, more support from the world, and the warm glow of UN authority and a righteous cause (not just a faux-righteous excuse). Bush Sr also had the expectation of the world that the US would depose Saddam. Whereas Bush Jr's invasion was seen as entirely pointless, and idiotic, and incompetent. People were shocked when Bush Jr targetted Iraq before even remotely stabilising Afghanistan, otoh, people (including Arab allies) were shocked when Bush Sr didn't invade.

Fu Dan,
"Let's wait another few centuries [...] (if America even still exists, which I find doubtful)"

So you're expecting the continent to disappear? To be depopulated? How exactly would "America" not exist in 200 years, any more than Africa would not exist, or Europe, or Australia?

"before making these ridiculous statements"

Yay irony.

Nicholas MacDonald-Wu said...

"So you're expecting the continent to disappear? To be depopulated? How exactly would "America" not exist in 200 years, any more than Africa would not exist, or Europe, or Australia?"

Outside of the United States, they generally call us "America". He means the political entity of the USA, not the continent, obviously.

Paul451 said...

"And, IMO, it's a useful test of character, because I've noticed that those least willing to apologise for past wrongs, for the sins of the father, tend to be those least likely to solve present injustices."

Or to put it another way, closer to the current topic, those least willing to suffer a perceived loss of face are those least worthy of trust.

(Turing word: Necessary)

Paul451 said...

Nicholas MacDonald-Wu,
Re: America "not existing"
"He means the political entity of the USA, not the continent, obviously."

I realised that. My question stands. How exactly would America not exist? England exists without its empire, Europe without theirs, Russia exists after the fall of the Soviet, China exists today even after their 200 years in decline. How would there not be an "America" in 200 years?

He didn't say, "America's power won't exist", not even "America's democracy", but an absolute "America" not existing. Seriously, what would that even mean? It's a stupid statement.

[And for the record, I'm not American nor do I live in America, don't accuse me of parochial naivete.]

Nicholas MacDonald-Wu said...

There are many, many ways the political entity of the US could cease to exist as we know it, and in 200 years, who knows?

I think that's just his point about time horizons.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Paul

Bush senior had a much better chance than junior
(and could not be less competent)
But even then the only times that a nation has been knocked over and re-built (that I can think of) was Germany and Japan with the Marshal plan
And Bush was no Marshal

reason said...

Daniel Duffy (I'll reply for Duncan, who probably thinks the answer is so obvious it doesn't need to be said),
I'll give you a hint, "higher" is not always a synonym for "healthier". And "exponential growth meets limited resource" has well known consequences.

Alex Tolley said...

Totally OT. Ridley Scott is to film, "The Martian".

That should be interesting.

Adriana11 said...

Thanks Paul451. You made my point better than I could.

By the way the "rant" that Mr. Brin refers to was my copying and pasting an article about the CIA allowing Nazi war criminals to escape in exchange for "help". According to this source, both Mengele and Barbie got to LA with the CIA's blessing. And those Nazis were quite often employed on dirty work in the name of "anticommunism".

This he refused to read.

Because Mr. Brin has the most astonishing callous disregard for any collateral damage that might happen by the actions of his wonderful PA.

And in all his vaunted Otherness, there is no room for the expressed idea that collateral damage are owed ANYTHING, not even the dignity of expressing their pain and outrage.

Which means that a) all the Brin books I have at home go to the garbage and b) I will no longer want to correspond with a person with such ethical lapses.

We might agree or not agree on many things. BUT CALLOUS DISREGARD is not an opinion. It is a sign of a rotten character.

He is an evil man.

sociotard said...

But he did acknowledge people had been hurt by Pax Americana. He even listed some.

SteveO said...

Dr. Brin, the magnetovores are having a feeding frenzy...

AndyT said...

David says: "This is a deeply sick person, folks and I will not come back here to deal with her filth anymore. "


Adriana says: "We might agree or not agree on many things. BUT CALLOUS DISREGARD is not an opinion. It is a sign of a rotten character.

He is an evil man."


I haven't had time to read through ALL the comments yet, but it seems you are both making valid and interesting points. I for one was enjoying the discussion until it went off the rails. There is no need for this sort of escalation and anger. It is not helpful, nor is it befitting. Both of you should know this. For shame.

Remember... CITOKATE.

IMHO both of you should take a long time out, think things over without the bias of heated emotion, and then apologize to each other.

Or you know, just keep on flinging insults and acting like children.

Adriana11 said...


Let's be clear, it was Mr. Brin who first broke the rules of civilized discourse. After his latest accusation of being a Nazi sympathizer (he is very free with his accusations without proof) I went and found an article which supported my view. I cut and pasted it (and took my time because it ran over the maximum). What was his reasoned response? Call me a sicko and say that my document was just a rant.

I figured out that this exempted me from the niceties of civilized discourse and answered in the same tone, but with much better vocabulary (doctrinaire and callous disregard sound SO much better than sicko).

In any case, the books of his that I have are on their way to being pulped.

sociotard: That was not much of an apology "Yes, we did nasty things, but others did worse, so you should be content" He might as well say "I am entitled to your life, and the fact that I do not take it shows what a nice guy I am"

David Brin said...

Mr. Fu Dan, thank you for your input and you make strong points. Nothing that I said should be taken as insulting of China! Still - one can go too far in claiming that the Central Kingdom was always the center of human civilization. Ask this, if you were a visiting alien who wanted to make contact with humanity's most advanced and populous civilization, where would you have landed, during the last 6000 years?

Perhaps in 20+ years the answer will be Beijing! But it was not so for most of history.

From 4000 BCE through 500 CE the answer would have been the Mediterranean. Or just to the east. By advancement and population, that region far exceeded China's warring states. This changed around 500 CE with two events, the collapse of the Western and Southern Mediterranean zones… and the unification of China under the Chi'in First Emperor.

Then from 500 CE through 1500 CE certainly aliens would have landed at Xian or other Tang or Song or Ming capitals! During that millennium, the progressiveness of government, of course, varied.

Still, China deserves to be ranked as one of the great, ongoing realms of human civilization and we can all be glad that it is taking a noble, honest, progressive and scientific place among the leaders of our steady progress toward becoming an interstellar culture.

David Brin said...

This is amazing! Recent genetic appraisal of native inhabitants of Easter Island - or Rapa Nui -suggest that their polynesian ancestors interbred with South American tribes between 1300 and 1500 CE, just before the Spanish conquest. If verified, it would resurrect the theories of Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian explorer and author of Kon-Tiki, a book that enthralled my generation, back in the 1960s, proposing that Easter Island had been settled by raft-voyagers setting out from the region of Peru. Heyerdahl "proved" his case by constructing a raft in the fashion of pre-Incan Peruvians and arriving successfully at Rapa Nui. Only subsequent scholars determined for a fact that Rapa Nuians were descended (mostly) from polynesians and Heyerdahl -- whose feat set of the "recreation of ancient arts" trend that is so cool in our culture -- fell into obscurity. Now though? How cool to explore, recreate… and eventually be proven (partly) right.

This article continues on to reveal some even bigger mysteries!

David Brin said...

I see we have been followed here by a bona fide troll. Her relentless lies about me and my past engagement on the matters at question reveal genuine hysteria… as does her remaining in a realm where her hallucinating ravings are clearly not welcome.

"Expressing" is exactly what she has been doing, and she has neither been banned nor deleted from this entirely unmoderated site. Claiming that she has been quashed is part of what has become a diarrhea of lies, including that I ever called her a Nazi. Nor did I ignore her complaints about the American Pax; indeed I acknowledged many of them and expressed clearly stated sympathy and regret and interest in how to parse out how the pax could do better…

… till she showed herself to be an evil person in several ways. First through relentless outright hysterical lies… then in defense of her own nation's utterly indefensible sheltering of the worst criminals in the history of our species.

I have no further interest in her spectacular lying tizzy. I shall let her have the last screech… or word a couple of times… then proceed to trash any further "contributions" that I see.

Oh, for the record, anything she says about me in any other venue will likely be a towering lie, as well. I say so formally. If she speaks her version elsewhere, whitout mentioning that the victim of her slander calls her a hysterical liar, then she will prove my accusation true, in spades.

Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tacitus2 said...

I can't follow the latest spat at all from the comments. It kinda looks like some posts may have been deleted. If tempers were running too hot that may be a good thing.

I know the community here runs towards the progressive/liberal end of the spectrum (yes, I know, too simplistic) and that current polls would tend to put such folk in ill humor.

But persevere. Edit before hitting post. Sometimes maybe don't post at all?


Paul451 said...

ESA made a short film to celebrate the Rosetta mission. Whatever you expect from that sentence, it isn't this:

LarryHart said...


I know the community here runs towards the progressive/liberal end of the spectrum (yes, I know, too simplistic) and that current polls would tend to put such folk in ill humor.

For once, national politics was not an issue. Nevertheless, I find this a bit interesting:


Political Animosity Exceeds Racial Hostility

A new study from Stanford University shows that Americans are more polarized along political lines than even racial or religious lines. The divide is caused by a vast spate of negative ads depicting the other party as despicable as well as news bubbles in which everyone hears one-side vitriolic propaganda disguised as news.

One experiment asked 1000 people to rate high school students for scholarships. Many of the resumes had clues in them, such as President of the African American Student Association or Chairman of the Young Republicans. While race was a factor, partisanship made a bigger impact on how people viewed the candidates. Other experiments confirmed this finding.

LarryHart said...

I just early-voted in Illinois. So one vote for Senator Durbin and one vote AGAINST Bruce Rauner for governor is in the bank.

The sweet little old lady election judge who signed me in seemed to go out of her way to demonstrate that an ID was not required. I started pulling out a drivers license, and she cut me off, saying "Oh, I don't need to see that." She asked for the house number of my address and my last name, and from that she could narrow down all of Suburban Cook County to myself and my wife, simply asking "Are you Lawrence?" (my actual legal name). Then she carefully watched me sign my name, which matched the signature she had on file, and that was all I needed to prove I was eligible to vote.

To me, this is not at all inviting of fraud. Again, I could not just show up anywhere and demand a ballot. I'd have to impersonate a apecific, eligible voter and match that person's signature on file. What if I was not legally eligible to vote? Well, that would have been taken care of when I first registered. There is no reason I should have to prove I was born in Chicago before casting each individual ballot. I just need to prove I'm that guy who was already vetted.

Yes, Tacitus already brought up same-day registration, and no, I don't have a problem with requiring proof of boter eligibility as well as identity if one is first registering to vote. I do, however, have a problem with a state not accepting a photo id from a state univeristy as proof of identity, but accepting a non-photo firearms owner card.

I sometimes thank God I live in Chicago, and today is one of those times.

David Brin said...

ENough here... there's a new posting...


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