Month: November 2011

Balkan colosseum

In a colosseum gladiators were forced to fight each other or against some wild beast for the entertainment of the crowd. In Balkan, former-Yugoslavia in particular, different ethnic groups were exactly reenacting the colosseum show after 2000 years, only this time we watch the whole thing through the news program of our TV channel.

Of course there’s one big brother behind the whole show: The Western governments (or Germany in particular). Look at the political burlesque in Bosnia first. What’s the point of maintaining the country if Serbs and Bosnians, presumably share the comparable demographic size living in different regions with little overlapping settlements, never want each other in the first place? As expected, the pseudo-nationhood of Bosnia and Herzegovina never really works. If not for the carrot and the stick of the European Commission, BH wouldn’t exist in the first place (probably the term Bosnian either).

Then the stage shifts southward to Kosovo. It’s hard to convince me that the West is merely stupid and ignorant to interfere in a region that’s already messed up for decades in hope of solving those problems at once. I mean, there must be some other reasons other than a leftist scam. The situation in Kosovo is 10 times more screwed than that of Bosnia. The Albanian gangsterism is not something driven by the atrocity of Serbs in Balkan. It always has been there for years. NATO came, Serbs retreated. The next thing you know Albanian mafia runs the “country” now. If you say it’s a darn leftist scam. Then all right. Based on the principle of self-determinism, Albanians could probably get some kind of leftist legitimacy for the secession. But the implementation of the leftist principle seems to stop there, as apparently the northern Kosovo, which still remains predominantly Serbs demographically, is not allowed to rule by themselves and break away from Albanians Kosovo to join Serbia (They wouldn’t hesitate if they are allowed for a referendum). By leftist standards they are the minorities in Kosovo and therefore should be specially favored. Instead, NATO did everything they could to help the Albanians assert their authority over the Northern Serbs, over and over again. You expect the Serbs would just lay down and let them ravage over?

The most ridiculous part is, while EU find it extremely annoying to deal with the Serbs minorities in Kosovo, they simply turned shitface on Belgrade, blackmailing them if they dare to support their brothers down south they’d be forever banned from the possibility to join the mighty European Union. Well, eurocrats like to use this trick on Serbia. But do the eurocrats themselves really believe that one day Serbia would be part of the impeccable European Union (after their painful eastward expansion and economic crunch)? Unlikely. As far as I concern, they just want to nibble Serbia to the last straw, stripping off their privilege in Balkan after the fall of iron curtain. But then it leads to another question, why is EU so persistent in disintegrating the region just to screw up the Serbs? You don’t expect to tell me they do that just for the sake of many minority groups there so that they could be free from the Serbian despotism? The West never really considered Yugoslavia a major threat back in the days anyway. There must be another explanation about what they are really after in the region.

The good old days?

Italy as Italy

Just a couple of days ago hbd chick was talking about the dissolution of Italy and how much Italians really feel for their country. Italy, being Italian, has never really been a solid paragon of the modern nationhood. It’s hard to convince me that they have anything in common with the Romans other than living on the same ground where the highly disciplined Roman legion had vowed to fight for. Anyway, today I have seen a rather amusing piece of news from the internet: Euro crisis prompts Italian village to declare independence.

There is something interesting about the first reaction of the major economic downturn. You see a Greek might hurry to Athens to protest against the governmental austerity plan; a German would probably point fingers to the slacking Southerners for the fault while triggering their forbidden Deutsch pride; even an American could go for a hippie movement to target on the high-table bankers. But for a tiny Italian village, the first thing that crossed over their mind was to secede from the country (I said clean and to the point, maybe).

It seems to me that the tradition of the city-state in Italy still has quite some support. Other long traditions of Italy, a modern papacy, or the Spanish rule would most likely fail nowadays in the Apennine peninsula. As I wonder, who is going to be the next city to propose such deal, too? It now strikes me that no wonder Italians would be fine with the loss of Nice, Corsica, and Istria. That also answers my wonder why San Marino has always kept “independent” all along.

Italy in Renaissance Era

Only in Chinese: Shī Shì Shí Shī Shǐ

Today something really interesting came out of my random internet browsing. I have found a story written in classic Chinese extremely amusing, not because of its content but the way it was delivered. As we know, the Chinese language is based on written characters. The same character might have different pronunciations in different dialects and likewise different characters with different meanings might sound the same, even with the same tone. This makes it impossible to recognize an isolated Chinese character in a conversation without an actual context to indicate which meaning the speaker refers to. This story consists of characters all in one pronunciation (some tones vary) and makes good sense on the paper but sounds absolutely insane if you try to read it…. Here goes the interesting story:

<施氏食獅史>

“石室詩士施氏,嗜獅,誓食十獅。施氏時時適市視獅。十時,適十獅適市。是時,適施氏適市。氏視是十獅,恃矢勢,使是十獅逝世。氏拾是十獅屍,適石室。石室濕,氏使侍拭石室。石室拭,氏始試食是十獅。食時,始識是十獅,實十石獅屍。試釋是事。”

It’s not that difficult to understand this story, even though it’s written in classic Chinese. The story goes like this:

<The story of Mr.Shi eating lions>

“There was a poet named Mr.Shi who lives in a stone den. He liked to eat lions, and vowed to eat ten lions. Therefore Mr. Shi would usually visit the market to look for lions. At 10 o’clock exactly ten lions just arrived at the market. At that very moment, Mr.Shi shot a few arrows from his bow and killed those ten lions. Mr. Shi then brought the ten dead lions back to his stone den. Because the den might be too wet to store the lions. So he ordered his servant to clean and dry the den. After the den was cleaned, Mr.Shi started to try to eat those ten lions. However, only until he was eating the lions he found out that those ten dead lions were actually ten stone lions. Would you try to explain what was happening?”

The story line might sound a bit absurd but it’s clear and most of all, comprehensible. But if you try to read it out loud in Mandarin, well, I suggest you not to, because it would just sound like a lunatic murmuring nonsense. Here is what it would sound like if you read the story out loud (indicated in Pinyin romanization for reading):

<Shī Shì Shí Shī Shǐ>

“Shí Shì Shī Shì Shī Shì, Shì Shī, Shì Shí Shí Shī.Shì Shí Shí Shì Shì Shì Shī. Shí Shí, Shì Shí Shī Shì Shì. Shì Shí, Shì Shī Shì Shì Shì. Shì Shì Shì Shí Shī, Shì Shǐ Shì, Shǐ Shì Shí Shī Shì Shì. Shì Shí Shì Shí Shī Shī, Shì Shí Shì. Shí Shì Shī, Shì Shǐ Shì Shì Shí Shì. Shí Shì Shì, Shì Shǐ Shì Shí Shì Shí Shī. Shí Shí, Shǐ Shí Shì Shí Shī, Shí Shí Shí Shī Shī. Shì Shì Shì Shì.”

Seriously, this is NOT the story you should read out loud to other people. It’s better to read them on the paper.

This story was written by the Chinese linguist Zhao Yuanren (趙元任) in early 20th century to demonstrate that Chinese characters are especially designated for the Chinese language, whose status is irreplaceable. This was an attempt to rebut the ridiculous call for the romanization of Mandarin Chinese in order to abandon the use of Chinese characters at that time. The story serves the purpose well. If someone is seriously considering about learning the language still (assume you don’t get intimidated by this post), please start with the written Chinese first.

The untold story: Wenzhou people, Jews of China

Last night I was chattering with an Italian friend of mine. At some point we were joking about how seriously Chinese worship money nowadays. He then told me an amazing story about some Chinese merchants in Rome:

The story started with his mother involving in a small scale garment business a few years ago. She needed someone to prepare for some special buttons and sew up the label on the clothes. As it’s very small scale, it was hard to find anyone who is willing to do the work. But she somehow found this Chinese family in Rome, who agreed to work for her with a ridiculously cheap price. His mom’s business prospered soon and grew much bigger. The amount of work increased and that Chinese family were also upgrading for a much larger scale of work in association with his mom. A few months ago his mom paid a visit to that Chinese family in Rome. She found out that that family are in fact not doing the work at all. Instead, they outsource all the labor to another Chinese family, who just arrived in Italy and presumably don’t speak Italian (probably not even Mandarin). His mom was amazed at the business mindset of her Chinese partner and went to ask the new family about the price they were offered from the original family. To her surprise, the price they got was not even half the price the she pays to the original family! She was shocked and tried to ask them why they would accept such a low price. At this very moment her Chinese partner stopped her and whispered to her ear to tell her not to reveal the original price between them, for the new family do not even know about it at all!

There goes the story. Of course after the story I was pretending to laugh hard as well about how stingy and greedy those Chinese are. Luckily his mom does not have to directly compete with the Chinese producers (yet), otherwise the whole tone of this joke would be much much bitter. It is always a humiliation for me to hear from such absurd stories about the Chinese, especially from my friends. What’s more humiliating is that all those negative images of Chinese in Europe, are actually largely owing to one specific group of people from China: Wenzhou people.

For those who are not aware of the situation in Europe, the image of Chinese here has been largely corrupted by the invasion of Wenzhou people, especially in the Southern Europe where the regulation and law enforcement are loose (e.g. Spain, Italy, even Romania…). Though lack of official statistics about the number of Wenzhou people in Europe compared to the amount of Chinese in Europe in general, everywhere I go in Europe I could easily spot them on the street and hear about the local complaints about “those Chinese” (UK, Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, Spain ….). The both Chinese families in this story, are exactly from this group as well. It is always a big headache for me to deal with those lowly image they left for the Chinese in general.

I must admit normal Chinese is probably not much more decent either. but as soon as I realize most of negative images of the Chinese stem from those stingy gold diggers, I just couldn’t hold myself being neutral on this one.

Most of those Wenzhou people are not directly from the Wenzhou city but numerous counties and villages around Wenzhou. The place is at the southeastern coast of China,  traditionally an important seaport in the imperial China era. Chinese are the most agricultural-drilled people in the world, thus have the strongest affiliation to the land we settle down. The Wenzhou people, on the contrary, live on the most barren and hilly land off the coast, have little agricultural activities and share the least sense of land affiliation (They are the most dedicated merchants in China, so dedicated that we call them copper/money-stinky). They were driven to become full-time traders in and out of China. When mainland China just allowed the private ownership in early 1980s, they were already everywhere in China, blatantly selling counterfeit products of low quality. Their pure thirst for money without ethics left them a very notorious reputation all over China. At some point the term “Wenzhou product” literally equals to “fake and low-quality product” in every city in China. The image of Wenzhou people in China is equivalent to the Merchant of Venice under Shakespeare’s quill. Actually they are called as “the Jews of the Orient” by some westerners. Regardless of others’ disdain, they wouldn’t really care and many of them soon became the first people to get rich in China. Nowadays Wenzhou people in China are always associated with major negative social phenomenon such as real estate bubbles, garlic mania, Puer tea mania in the country. Obnoxious opportunists, that is how a normal Chinese would think of about Wenzhou people.

Apparently when they were exploiting every marketplace within China, their cousins already stared westward at Europe, the affluent Europe, as the place full of gold for them to dig in. Together with the Fujian people, Wenzhou region has one of the highest illegal emigration rate in China. They’d borrow a few thousand euro from all relatives to pay the smuggler to hide underneath the filthy cargo tank for months to reach Europe. Speaking no local language, not even Mandarin, they know they have cousins there who made big money; and that’s all they care.

Anyway, I am not deliberately dissing the Wenzhou people, nor I am exaggerating their deeds. Those people are THE MOST clannish people I’ve seen in China. They stick everything inside the big family, even for financing (they are famous in China for they’d rather turn to family members for financing than the actual bank). They are also the most pious followers in Chinese money worship cult. Sure they are, after all, harmless to the locals as they don’t steal, don’t rob, don’t rape, and don’t suck the welfare (maybe to local small business owners they are quite damaging). But to me, they trashed the image of China even before a European could meet an actual Chinese for a conversation. What they stand for, is exactly all that I loathe about the stereotype of a modern Chinese, money worshiping, unethical, impetuous, no respect for intellectual culture and manners. And that is inexcusably low.

Emotionalism > Rationalism

In my previous post about the information wasteland, I have made it clear that signalling is the most important character that attracts people’s attention. The medium of current information technology, which is the fragmented information overload itself, craves for drama and people who create drama. No gimmick, no fame. I for one have always followed this rule in my 6 years membership of the Toastmasters International, a public club that aims to improve participants’ public speaking and presentation skills. During my time with the Toastmasters International, one thing I would always do is to speak in a dramatic tone with wide range of body language and eye contacts. Over the time I have found out that no matter how irrelevant and non-sense my speech was about, people would always pay attention to me and recognize my performance even months after. They most likely couldn’t recall what I was talking about, but always remember some catchphrases I blurred and those laughs I brought to them with my sense of humor (dramatic performance). So in the end of the day, I easily got famous and favored by the crowd. Whenever I stand in front of the stage, people would pay extra attention to me with the expression to get ready for some nice entertainment once more.

Those gimmicks, as far as I can see, are not some novel invention of mine. It existed since the mankind learned how to communicate with each other even way before the maturity of our linguistic skills. It is natural that people dig the emotional signals and resonates with them. I am not saying it is a bad thing. We are driven to a decision by our emotions subconsciously, and that is a fact. Nonetheless, we have another intrinsic character that could help us for the decision-making independent of emotions: the ability to reason. Rationality is a discernible trait especially among high intelligent people, who are the real driving force for technological breakthrough and the societal governance. The widespread of printing press in the medieval era injected a strong boost for the growth of rational thinking among the populace all through Europe, with the help of books, a perfect medium detached with all forms of emotion in favor of emotionless logic thinking. That was truly an era of enlightenment. Both life science and social science experienced a rapid leap forward: universal education, modern democracy, industrial revolution, modern economics etc. Rational thinking for the first time supplanted emotions as the cornerstone of our decision-making principles.

When Neil Postman was talking about such things in his enlightening book “Amusing ourselves to death”, he overlooked one critical point, a point that could well explain the “proliferation of the show business via new information technology”. That is: we naturally prefer visual representation, emotional signalling over detached rational thinking and objective contextualization. Plenty of theories why we behave in this way (I have written an article to explain our visual representation), which I won’t probe further here. The point is the blossom of printing press era was the only meteor-alike exception in the long path of our human civilization history. It is not natural for most people to stick to some static objective paragraphs as our ultimate guidance. Once the technology advanced to a stage where we could develop a better information medium, we would just simply dash to that one almost instantaneously. Over 500 years of printing press dominance and its glory were easily overwritten by the introduction of mass media in less than 100 years.

Thanks to television, personal computer, internet, google, youtube, we have quickly reverted back to the most primitive stage of philosophy: emotionalism. Beg to differ? Turn on your television and see one image that isn’t intended to hypnotize you with emotional resonance: news coverage, advertising, TV opera etc. Even the most sacred and serious domain of human civilization, politics and religion, are no longer sacred and serious. “Democracy” is merely a fig leaf for the popularity contest based on emotional barometer – polls (Some are “bad” because they are “bad”, others “good” because they are “good”). Everyone is all of sudden a specialized theologist that see religion either as a superstitious gimmick or the supernatural power (Even the Islamic theology is a joke nowadays thanks to the rise of Jihad martyrs). Thanks to the dominance of some smart minority in this show business, minority in all social domains are now portrayed as simply the victims of the majority, regardless of what happens. Hence, minorities are always right and should be protected and worshiped as the blessed ones (we are not). This perfectly fits our emotional demand. Whenever a man defies a massive order. The first reaction from the public is always sympathy, followed by consequential supports. It doesn’t matter what and why the man was doing it. The theory part, the pseudo-rational thinking part, is largely marginalized and simplified with a few lines of a so-called expert on the TV or a pissed-off protester showing off his V-for-victory sign. We’d amplify the emotion and strongly abide the hunch, thanks to the information era. There are countless examples here, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, JFK, Che Guevara, Greenpeace, Arab Spring etc. … This is also the case of Ai Weiwei, an edgy post-modern artist in our home country that deems “politically active and heretic”. When people flock to pity him with great compassion against the old-evil CCP, few could calm their over-heated brain and contemplate: “what on earth is this fella doing for?” To me he tries to act like a hero but without any solid ideas or concrete dogmas. His “arts” are vulgar and explicit, and his “politic views” are immature and ambiguous.

Back to where I started in this article, the wisdom of intelligence has been downplayed in favor of emotional heroism today. All abstract thoughts are pushed back in the bottom of the library, a place that people barely visit. All leftism, rightism, communism, and even environmentalism, are merely a form of simple pictorial representation of different emotions nowadays, at least in the mainstream. True intelligentsia, the last remaining fraction of the printing press era (leftovers), are all labelled “reactionary” and squeezed in the margin of the society where nobody really cares. As long as the modern mass media sticks to the concept of the show business, there will never be a sober day for all of us. It’s not that we got retarded (we probably are thanks to the infusion of dumb people in the social welfare era), it is just we got hypnotized in this Brave New World – the prophesy of Huxley.

IQ geography in China

In one of my previous articles I briefly mentioned about the global distribution of IQ level by country. Aside from European-whites, Eastern Asians also have exceptionally high IQ level on average.

IQ by Country

The Chinese, with a population of 1.3 billion (91% Han Chinese), have a very high IQ average of 105. But little is known for the IQ level in different regions of China, whereas geographically and demographically it is simply too vast to ignore the regional discrepancy within the country itself. After an amateur scavenger hunt on the internet I actually did find some Chinese source about the IQ geography in China.

The data I found came from a website that offers self IQ tests for the Chinese netizens. Information such as age, geographical location were collected for the correlation purpose for the test result. The original statistics could be found here (in Chinese). I have constructed a series of simple diagrams for the IQ level by province in China (with the amount of participants in each province), as follows:

IQ by province in China (excluding Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau) typo: Tianjian should be Tianjin (mistake in excel)

Number of participants by province (in total 63636)

There are 63,636 participants who took the IQ test on this website from all 31 provinces in mainland China. The mean IQ level of all participants is 106. This is more or less close to the figure given in Lynn’s IQ and Wealth of Nations. Considering the skewed effect of having more participants from regions with apparently higher IQ (e.g. Beijing, Shanghai, etc.), the average IQ level from the test might be slightly deviated from the actual average IQ level of China. Nevertheless, it could still give us a general idea of the IQ geography in China.

IQ level by Province (the darker color means higher IQ average)

There’s a lot to be drawn from the IQ level by province data in China. From a simple glimpse of this IQ map of China, it is evident that the highest IQ level concentrates in the Central Eastern coast of China (around Shanghai, traditionally called Jiangnan). This region in China is famous for its beautiful nature, nature resources, and most importantly, talented intellectuals and traders. This region also happens to be the locomotive of China’s soaring economy. Interestingly, 5 out of 8 Chinese Nobel prize winners (except for the lame peace award which literally means nothing but a leftist scam) come from this particular region of China.

Besides Jiangnan region, high IQ level was also observed in economic strongholds such as Beijing and Guangdong. Those regions surely attracts more smart people than elsewhere in China.

The exceptionally high IQ level of Gansu, a northwestern underdeveloped province in China, could result from the skewed sampling in the study (merely 612 participants claimed to be from Gansu). It is possible that those participants might misrepresent the actual IQ level in Gansu (given that most of Gansu still struggles from poverty and environmental hardship).

Central-south China has a relatively high IQ level (including Hunan, the province I am from). This region is known for its fertile land and mild climate. This region is considered the core of China proper with extensive historical sedimentation that nurtures the rise of Chinese civilization. (off the topic: Hunan is know for its ferocious political and military figures in modern China!).

The relatively low IQ level regions in China largely overlap with the geographical region that has high minority populations with harsh geographical and climatic environment. It is unclear, however, about the role of ethnicity profiles in this observation. This study contains no data about the ethnicity of the participants. Hence, it is inconclusive to say that minorities have a lower IQ tendency compared to Han Chinese in this study, though it is probably the case in reality (from other parameters to judge high IQ level such as level of agricultural productivity, civilization etc).

Overall, this data at least shows us a general impression on the IQ level in different provinces of China. Hopefully there are more studies available for such topic in the future.

Information wasteland

Neil Postman once concluded in his marvelous book “Amusing Ourselves to Death“, that in the current world the media serves no purposes other than entertaining ourselves with information that is irrelevant, impotent, and incoherent to one’s actual life. He calls this age the age of show business, where rationality and logic are no longer the cornerstone of the public value. The rise of signaling and human psychology parallels with the abuse of human emotion in this information era. In another way of saying, people are losing interest in the detached, impersonal, and objective rationalism and embracing whatever that amuses and touches their heart the most rather their souls.

I couldn’t agree more. I have written a post sometime ago on why people prefer visual information over reading texts these days. The conclusion back then was that we are designed to process faster and bigger amount of information through a picture than a few lines of words. Overwhelmed by excessive information garbage, of course it is natural to select the easiest and the most straightforward way for the information intake. But seriously, why on earth do we need to know so much information garbage anyway? Current news reporting updates information faster than the speed of sound. There is literally little value to any sort of information that we are forced to receive nowadays that could be worth the attention longer than a week. And just asking yourself by knowing that life is the closest to hell in Congo or there was an earthquake hit Turkey, is there anything that would affect your daily life action?

Mostly not. The only purpose/value of such information to you is only: personal entertainment. You could use it to boost your smugness in a social event, impressing your date. That’s it. Probably in a month the only thing you’d remember is the country name of Turkey or Congo. Such news information at least have a sense of decency as it reports some “serious issues” around. Let me remind you that the most watched news on daily basis would always be the gossips of celebrity’s private lives and probably some stupid sneezing panda in the zoo. My friend spandrell recently opened a blog (popularity yet to be boosted), and he told me the hits reached an unbelievable height after he wrote a post about that Secular Liberal Feminist Vegetarian Individualist Egyptian pussy Aliaa Magda Elmahdy with a link to her naked pictures. The blog was immediately immersed with waves of horny web surfers that came from the google search (you’ve got to turn to 20X page to find his link on such “hot topic”). That tells you how depraved our information system is these days.

People lost the sense of abstract thinking and grow unprecedentedly impetuous towards intellectual curiosity. If you can’t read, back in the days, you are a stupid illiterate doomed to be trapped in peasantry; nowadays if you can’t read, you have “reading difficulties”, “short attention span”, but no worries, you are still fine – because you are not alone.

Using your hunch, your heart to feel the world looks way more appealing under the age of show business today. This may explain some of the reasons why we end up with such a lousy leftism as the predominant doctrine of our modern society. It’s way easier to use a photo of weeping starving African baby and a smiling Libyan rebel with AK-47 (or a picture of a 20-year-old Egyptian pussy) to convince people that there exists a utopia of freedom, democracy and equality.

Well you can’t really think beyond the picture about what and why on earth this happens, can you?

More people pretend and play-act. Few still think. Everyone suffocates in this information landfill and amuses ourselves to death. BNW coming!

Do you always need a picture to draw your attention for the reading?