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Posts Tagged ‘china’

A while back we heard about MySpace population being larger than some nations. Now as the Economist reports, Facebook is the largest digital community, 3rd only to India and China in membership:

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Facebook has become the third-largest nation

Jul 22nd 2010

THE world’s largest social network announced that it had reached 500m members on Wednesday July 21st. If Facebook were a physical nation, it would now be the third-most populous on earth. And if the service continues to grow as rapidly as in the three months to July, it will reach one billion in about 15 months—almost the size of India. Not least because of its gigantic population, some observers have started to talk of Facebook in terms of a country. “[It] is a device that allows people to get together and control their own destiny, much like our nation-state,” says David Post, a law professor at Temple University, Philadelphia.

“Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld”

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More interesting news from China:

iPhone maker Foxconn International Holdings will no longer pay compensation to families of employees who kill themselves to discourage further suicides

Other than the moral issue, it’s probably nothing less than what to expect in a society that puts value on money over human life. Was loss of life compensation large enough compared to expected full year revenue–did the suicides use NPV worksheets in Excel before they offed themselves?

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Barely a day after my decidedly negative post about Collectivism, I came across a good counter-point. My last words on the subject:

The catch: to be truly collectivist and erase all individuality is to become totally removed from what we can consider “human society” and be closer to an insect hive. Very successful, very efficient, very alien.

Well, David Brooks reporting from Chengdu, China thinks very differently. To David Brooks, the important thing to consider when comparing Collectivism with Individualism is context:

This is a divide that goes deeper than economics into the way people perceive the world. If you show an American an image of a fish tank, the American will usually describe the biggest fish in the tank and what it is doing. If you ask a Chinese person to describe a fish tank, the Chinese will usually describe the context in which the fish swim.

Reading David’s article brought to mind Nassim Taleb, whom we featured recently, and his fallacy of history. When we consider criticisms of Collectivism, we almost automatically associate it with the past experiences of Communism, Socialism, and Fascism, and how the societies based on these collectivist systems we’ve seen have either failed or stagnated. However, that individualistic societies have performed better in history is only half an insight–and by no means completely rules out the value of collectivism. However, this half-insight is practically the empirical basis supporting all anti-collectivist rhetoric.

David is quick to remind us of this, and of the alternative that we have all been quick to rule out, and more importantly, in 2008 he already has a historical context: China.

We in the West have a narrative that involves the development of individual reason and conscience during the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, and then the subsequent flourishing of capitalism. According to this narrative, societies get more individualistic as they develop.

But what happens if collectivist societies snap out of their economic stagnation? What happens if collectivist societies, especially those in Asia, rise economically and come to rival the West? A new sort of global conversation develops.

The opening ceremony in Beijing was a statement in that conversation. It was part of China’s assertion that development doesn’t come only through Western, liberal means, but also through Eastern and collective ones.

From here we can appreciate that hindsight bias may be 20/20 but it is also hopelessly myopic about future developments. Meanwhile, David also brings to our focus other thoughts that are helping to support a second look at Collectivism:

For one thing, there are relatively few individualistic societies on earth. For another, the essence of a lot of the latest scientific research is that the Western idea of individual choice is an illusion and the Chinese are right to put first emphasis on social contexts.

Scientists have delighted to show that so-called rational choice is shaped by a whole range of subconscious influences, like emotional contagions and priming effects (people who think of a professor before taking a test do better than people who think of a criminal). Meanwhile, human brains turn out to be extremely permeable (they naturally mimic the neural firings of people around them). Relationships are the key to happiness. People who live in the densest social networks tend to flourish, while people who live with few social bonds are much more prone to depression and suicide.

The rise of China isn’t only an economic event. It’s a cultural one. The ideal of a harmonious collective may turn out to be as attractive as the ideal of the American Dream.

Taleb calls history a fallacy and history is the only case against Collectivism. This only makes it more poignant to be students of history, and of the wide possibilities for how society can develop.

In my previous post I mentioned that the critics of Collectivism and Individualism seem to have a common fear: that of society degenerating to serve the interests of a minority. This suggests that both lines of thought are capable of creating that horror.

Thankfully, what David’s article shows is that just as importantly: both lines of thought are just as possibly capable of creating a better world instead.

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A lighter topic for a change. On relationships: I read recently about the anguish of a girl from Atlanta, a not so uncommon sentiment among women these days: “There aren’t enough men to go around.” But according to this blogger, this is becoming a serious problem in Atlanta:

Last time I checked there was 21 women for everyone 1 man and the problem doesn’t stop there because the you have to factor in the homosexual males, men with kids, liars & cheaters, people with stds, no job etc.   The problem is so big that the unattractive and broke down men now think they have a choice, lol.  Granted all of the women here in Atlanta are not wife material but there are plenty of good women out here who are at their wits end.  Living here you can’t play by the same rules like not taking care of your man mentally, sexually, etc because if you don’t some other woman will.

Sadly because of the high demand for a man you’re finding many women settling for the bottom feeders who would never stand a chance anywhere else.  I mean you know it’s bad when you see women working and men sitting at home with no job, using her car, and still having the nerve to cheat.

Interestingly, girls in Atlanta don’t have to go far for “decent” advice. Jeff Herring in an ezine article offers his “analysis” of the Atlanta Singles Dating Myths:

What this does is foster the myth that good partners are scarce and hard to find. If this its true, then you beter settle for whatever you can find.

Results of this myth

In a word, desperation. You stay with somemone who is not right for you, just to be with someone. Sets up a miserable situation.

What to do

This is one of those situtations where attitude is everything. When you approoach dating from an attitude of scarcity, you see scarcity. When you approach dating from an attitude of plenty and abundance, you see plenty and abundance.

It’s all about attitude eh? (read: Law Of Attraction again?). How’s this for attitude: our favorite cynical Chinese girl Intsiksiomai offers her take on an inherent flaw in that legendary female intuition which can help explain the devastation of women in Atlanta: girls simply fall for jerks very easily:

Most girls overlook this weakness in men, until it’s too late. They have married one! Girls get easily flattered with the protectiveness and concern of jerks. Girls often allow their men to control them like robots, all under the guise of love. Girls give up their career, and even their basic human rights for the pleasure of the jerks.

It’s also with some sense of eerie coincidence that a Chinese girl would offer this insight, because if you really think men are in short supply, whether as a statistical fact or simply a whimsical notion, then you better pack your bags and get headed for China: where centuries of male-preferential breeding has actually created a real gender concentration:

WUHAN, China — Chinese traditions, a tough one-child-per-couple policy and modern medical technology have combined to create a demographic nightmare that threatens China’s stability and endangers prospects for greater political freedom in the country with the world’s largest population. Over the next two decades, as many as 40 million young Chinese men won’t be able to marry, settle down and start families. There won’t be enough wives to go around.

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If the United States drops from its superpower status, will China replace it? Jim Rogers talks about China as if he is sure that China will succeed the U.S. He even goes to say that “they are among the best capitalists in the world”.

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This is really funny. It seems that capitalist United States is hoping that Communist China doesn’t act like a capitalist and unload U.S. government debt.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=anZHfo6tQi60

Asia Needs Deal to Prevent Panic Selling of U.S. Debt, Yu Says

By Kevin Hamlin

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) — Japan, China and other holders of U.S. government debt must quickly reach an agreement to prevent panic sales leading to a global financial collapse, said Yu Yongding, a former adviser to the Chinese central bank.

“We are in the same boat, we must cooperate,” Yu said in an interview in Beijing on Sept. 23. “If there’s no selling in a panicked way, then China willingly can continue to provide our financial support by continuing to hold U.S. assets.”

An agreement is needed so that no nation rushes to sell, “causing a collapse,” Yu said. Japan is the biggest owner of U.S. Treasury bills, holding $593 billion, and China is second with $519 billion. Asian countries together hold half of the $2.67 trillion total held by foreign nations.

(more…)

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Look what Europe has to say about the financial crisis. Is China going to replace the U.S. as a major financial superpower?

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE48O2L020080925

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany blamed the United States on Thursday for spawning the global financial crisis with a blind drive for higher profits and said it would now have to accept greater market regulation and a loss of its financial superpower status.

In some of the toughest language since the crisis worsened earlier this month, German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck told parliament the financial turmoil would leave “deep marks” but was primarily an American problem.

(more…)

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