Thursday 31 January 2019

“Australia, New Zealand academics avoid China after Yang Hengjun arrest” | SCMP

I don't know my compatriot Yang Hengjun, but I do know most of the China experts mentioned in this article: Antonia Finnane, John Fitzgerald, Anne McLaren, and others.
These academics are now nervous about visiting China in case they're arbitrarily arrested. That's the first time in my forty years in China that people studying China, who have spent their lives learning about the country, its language, its culture and its people, are nervous about visiting China. This is crazy. 
Should I be nervous about visiting China, as I do regularly from my eyre here in Hong Kong? Should I worry that as a critic of China on this blog, and ex diplomat, I might be banged up?  
I dunno, but I'm wondering. 
I'm now thankful that I've kept my blog low key and with few followers …(heh).
Australia, New Zealand academics avoid China after Yang Hengjun arrest

Wednesday 30 January 2019

“Huawei a victim of American subterfuge” | SCMP

Run by international crooks
How lucky we are to have a mind reader at the Post, to explain to us America's "tactics and intentions". If we didn't have Alex Lo's supernatural powers to reveal that America's pursuit of Huawei is "obviously politically motivated", we might be tempted to think the company had been thieving technology and cheating on sanctions. ("Huawei a victim of American subterfuge",  30 January).
We might mistakenly think that Huawei had stolen its first router design from CISCO, right down to copying its typos. Or that it had filched the design and an arm of a high-end robot from T- Mobile. Or that Huawei employees are given bonuses for purloining trade secrets. 
We might be inclined to believe that Huawei has a well-documented history of lying to banks, of setting up bogus shell companies to circumvent international sanctions.  
But thank goodness for mind-reader Lo, who assures us that all these charges should be "thrown out of court", because he knows: America's intent is malign and purely political. And Huawei is the victim.
Thank you Mr Lo, for your mind-reading insights!
Actually, while Huawei's cheating might seem clever, it is a problem for China's own de­vel­op­ment.  China wants advanced tech­nology from the West ; it won't come if trade se­crets aren't honoured and enforced. Chi­na's own firms can­not de­velop to their potential if their own in­tel­lec­tual property's isn't se­cure even as they are dis­trusted abroad as agents of Chinese spy­ing.
The more Beijing and its apologists excuse China's rampant thievery and sanction busting, the longer to reach trade peace. 
Enough of the victimhood, already. 

Pf, etc.…
Huawei a victim of American subterfuge

“How a Billionaire Spends His Money Is His Own Business” | WSJ

Something that AOC, Bernie, Pocahontas don't  know, or have forgotten or ignore: wealth creation (capitalism) creates jobs. Socialism destroys them. 
I suspect it's a combination of "don't know" and "ignore". If they have glimmers that maybe socialism might not be the best of all systems, they push them out of their minds because they just want it to work. It's so fair! And equitable!
How Ken Grif­fin and other wealthy peo­ple spend money is their busi­ness. But the left's de­ter­mi­na­tion to con­fiscate more of those dol­lars to redistrib­ute to peo­ple they deem wor­thier con­cerns every­one. In a free-mar­ket sys­tem, so­ciety's most pro­duc­tive mem­bers tend to fa­cil­itate upward mo­bil­ity for all of us, not just for them­selves. And not only through their phil­an­thropy.
Oil re­fin­ing made the Rock­e­fellers rich, but in the process, they made oil prod­ucts much cheaper and thus more widely avail­able to the poor. Prior to Stan­dard Oil, whale oil and candles were a lux­ury that only the wealthy could af­ford. The rest had to go to bed early to save money, explains Burton Fol­som, a pro­fes­sor of his­tory at Hills­dale Col­lege. "By the 1870s, with the drop in the price of kerosene, mid­dle  and work­ing-class peo­ple all over the na­tion could af­ford the one cent an hour that it cost to light their homes at night. Working and read­ing be­came af­ter-dark ac­tiv­i­ties new to most Amer­icans."
Rock­e­feller got rich and Amer­ica got more pro­duc­tive. Henry Ford did some­thing sim­i­lar in auto man­u­fac­tur­ing, as did Sam Wal­ton of Wal­mart fame with re­spect to big-box dis­count stores. Bill Gates has done more for hu­man­ity cre­at­ing his com­puter-soft­ware for­tune than he will ever do giv­ing it away through his foun­da­tion. Wealth cre­ation plays a far big­ger role than phil­an­thropy or gov­ernment trans­fer programs in im­prov­ing our stan­dard of liv­ing, some­thing that those for­ever try­ing to "stick it to the rich" ei­ther don't un­der­stand or choose to ig­nore out of po­lit­i­cal expedience.

Is­rael Is Pow­er­ful. That Doesn’t Make it Wrong

What a good letter from a Stanford undergrad:
Israel Is Pow­er­ful. That Doesn't Make it Wrong
Why do my peers op­pose Is­rael? Not be­cause col­lege students are anti-Sem­itic, but be­cause most hold one truth to be self-ev­i­dent: Powerlessness  im­plies moral le­git­imacy. The Is­raelis are pow­er­ful; the Palestinians are not. As such, the Is­raeli-Pales­tin­ian con­flict is merely a strug­gle be­tween victim and op­pres­sor, and no­body wants to support the oppressor.
Ac­cord­ingly, cam­pus pro-Is­rael groups of­ten try to por­tray Is­rael as a victim, too—a vic­tim of in­ternational bias and un­pro­voked ag­gression from its Arab neigh­bors. This strategy, how­ever, has failed. It will con­tinue to fail be­cause even though Is­rael may be un­der threat, it isn't pow­er­less. Is­rael's army is strong and its tech­nol­ogy is ad­vanced. But power doesn't au­to­mat­i­cally im­ply moral turpi­tude; and con­versely, pow­er­lessness does not guar­antee good­ness. In other words, might does not make Israel right, but it cer­tainly does not make Is­rael wrong, ei­ther. In­deed, Is­rael strives for jus­tice and peace. But stu­dents can't see that when they al­low the popular moral­ity of power to ob­scure the truth.
--Ben­jamin Si­mon, Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity, in­tends to ma­jor in phi­los­o­phy and re­ligious stud­ies and computer sci­ence.

“Hong Kong home prices will rise 5-7 per cent” | JP Morgan

Well I gotta admit Citibank got it right in July last year when they predicted a price drop in Hong Kong home prices for the second half of 2018. 
At the time I mocked them for "spurious accuracy" and I was right about that. Citibank predicted precisely a drop of 7% for the second half of 2018.  It came in at a fall of 15%, more than double their precise prediction. Why don't people learn simple rules of estimates: 
Give a direction and a range. 
That's the best you can do. 
The link below has an interactive chart for Rent and Sale prices for various districts in Hong Kong. That chart shows how the movements in rents are much smoother than sale price movements. That's one of the reasons property is such a good investment. You can count on steady, consistent cash flow. 
For first time buyers in Hong Kong the JP Morgan predictions — 5-7% up in 2019 — means more pain, especially if the estimate error is the same as Citibank's was. 
For us, we were lucky, having bought HK property in 2002. 
JP Morgan said home prices will rise 5-7 per cent

LATER (5/5/19): in last three months prices up by 8% already)

Tuesday 29 January 2019

Neomi Rao Gets Kavanaughed - The Wall Street Journal.

Oh boy! A good woman got at, for stuff she wrote at college. Which even then was quite sane and sensible.
This is almost too depressing for words …

Monday 28 January 2019

“Nicholas Kristof Must Have Visited A Very Different Cuba” | Daily Wire | Mitsotakis

Che the monster. Hero of the Left
I'd read the Nicholas Kristof article in the New York Times the other day and had wondered about his positive take on healthcare in Cuba. I'd heard some pretty dire stories about Cuban Medicare, pace the usually glowing reports on the Left. I mean, the Left is still in thrall to that horrid mass murdering tyrant, Che Guevara - he does look very sexy - so why would they report reliably about a system run under their beloved socialism. So I'd kind of doubted Kristof. (Not for the first time. In the infamous Sam Harris, Ben Affleck episode on Bill Maher's show, Kristof had disappointedly taken Afflek's mistaken side). 
Anyway, here's a report on Cuban healthcare. I must say this Mitsotakis report strikes me as way more likely to be on the money. In short, Cuban health is in a mess. Like the rest of its economy. 
By the way, the mention in the article of dual Cuban currencies and ration books takes me back to China in the seventies and eighties. I held dual currencies, I had ration books. It was only after Beijing went all "socialism with Chinese characteristics" - aka capitalism, with a Chinese twist -  that things got better. And they got better quickly, which at least ought to be one bit of good news for crappy communist economies like Venezuela and North Korea. If they ditch their leaders and ditch their rotten systems, there's hope for them yet. 
Despite his raging liberalism, I have long been an admirer of Nicholas Kristof. It takes a man of immense courage to do what he did in bringing the terrible truth about Communist China to light for all to see. He has also taken a stand on behalf of young conservatives who suffer discrimination on college campuses, a stand for which he received an enormous amount of hate mail from his lefty readers.
That being said, he screwed up — big time — in his latest column in The New York Times. His essay is dedicated to telling his readers why "Cuba has the Medicare for All that many Americans dream about."
A little background, to explain my dismay. 
[Read on…]

Kamala Harris is African American?? No way, Hoe-zay!

Indian-American or South Asian-American. Just not African-American
Race is terribly important to Democrats. Until it isn't. 
Everything has to be diverse, has to  include all races, has to accept all genders. Our "lived experience as a [xx] person" defines who we are. 
Until it doesn't. 
Take pres-candidate Kamala Harris. 
She is part Indian: her mother was born in India. 
But all of a sudden the Dems are selling Harris as African American! 
Presumably because the African American community votes 90% Democrat. 
Surely this can't stand? 
I'd much rather the Martin Luther King formulation. That we judge people by the content of their character not by the colour of their skin. 
But it's the Left that's made the colour of your skin the definition of who you are. It's Dems wot dunnit. So it's fair game to call them out in this. 
That being so, get this: Kamala Harris is Indian-American.She is not African-American. 
The "lived experience" of the two groups are very different. Kamala would have no more idea of the challenges facing a young African American man than I do. 
She's whiter than me, for a start 

America Lost Vietnam but Saved Southeast Asia - The Wall Street Journal.

Oz and Forse. Anti war moratorium, Canberra 18 September 1970

Hi John,
Reference our recent discussion on Vietnam and whether it might have been won by the US. I
Since my youthful participation in anti-VN war rallies I've come to think that the war was not as crazy as we - at our demos - claimed it was at the time. Worry about communist control of Asia was real and soundly-based. Communism didn't work out too well for Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia.
As to whether the war could have been won by the US, this article is interesting. The North Vietnamese thought it could have.
The article argues that, in any case, US involvement in Vietnam had other benefits in the region. Unless one thinks a communist Asia would have been good.…

It is widely be­lieved that the Viet­nam War was un­winnable.
But a 2004 His­tory Chanel doc­u­men­tary fea­tured in­ter­views with knowl-edge­able North Vietnamese who thought oth­er­wise. They said U.S. and South Vietnamese ground troops could have ef­fec­tively blocked the Ho Chi Minh Trail in east­ern Laos, deny­ing its en­emy es­sen­tial sup­plies and troop re­in­force­ments.
Other North Vietnamese said they were puz­zled that the U.S. failed to do so. This log­i­cal, war-end­ing move was ruled out by de­ci­sion mak­ers in Wash­ing­ton be­cause it would "broaden the con­flict"—never mind that the en­emy had al­ready broad­ened it by us­ing Laos as a base and sup­ply chain.

Another California Tax Grab | WSJ

Over years I've read a lot about the woes of California, home of the hippy movement but now ruined by socialism. Because that's what socialism does. It ruins economies in direct proportion to the extent to which it is implemented. 
In the case of California, that's more and more. And so we see more and more homelessness. House prices up. Harder to make ends meet here than in any other state of the union. The whole dreary panoply. 
Read on …

“Given chronic land shortage, it makes sense to use golf course in Fanling for public housing” | SCMP | Letters

I must weigh in on the Fanling golf course debate. I am not a member of the Fanling Club, nor am I a golfer. However, I am a long-term resident of Hong Kong; I care about our public assets of which the Fanling green belt is an ancient and valued part. If it were destroyed for housing it would provide so few dwellings that I doubt it would be even a decimal point rounding error in our needs. Yet a green asset gone forever. 
I agree with one of your earlier correspondents who said that to destroy Fanling is an act of "vandalism”.  It would also be an act by philistines.  Covering Fanling in concrete would be the act of a government smugly indifferent to our cultural heritage. 
Reader Arun Garg quotes the closure of golf courses in the United States in support of his contention that destroying Fanling "makes sense"  ("Given chronic land shortage, it makes sense to use golf course in Fanling for public housing", January 28). 
But the US still has over 15,000 courses, one for every 22,000 people.  That's 55 times more golf courses per capita than we have: just six courses for seven million people. Destroying Fanling destroys 17% of them, vs 1.3% closed in the US. Hardly a fair comparison, Mr Garg. 
The government says it is committed to promoting sports in HK especially youth sports. Fanling supporters have pointed out that the Club regularly promotes Open Days, public golf and youth events, attended by many thousands of our residents. The HK Open at Fanling is the most popular on the worldwide PGA tour and is attended by tens of thousands of Hongkongers. So Arun Garg's comment that "it makes no sense that interests of very few should override those of the majority" is exactly upside down.  The Club is for the many; accommodation for the few. 
Despite all this the government is seriously considering dismembering Fanling? For a tiny number of new dwellings and to appease the barely concealed envy driving Fanling critics?
Here's a thought: if the government really thinks golf is just for the elite (though it's not), take over the land when the lease is up and convert it to a public park. That at least would be better than housing for the few: itself an act of vandalism committed by philistines. 
In short: No, it doesn't "make sense", Mr Garg. 
Free Fanling!

Pf etc …

Why housing on Fanling golf course is a logical choice

Sunday 27 January 2019

Indigenous double standards in the era of #MeToo

Following on from my post about cultural gravity, here is Jacinta Price (Nampijimpa) an indigenous spokesperson, on the victim culture in her community. Which she says has to be ditched.

Left-Wing Politics and the Decline of Sociology | WSJ | Or: Cultural Gravity vs Hot Air Balloons

Below is another example of what Scott Adams has called "cultural gravity". 
That is, the weight — the gravity — of cultural mores dragging down some groups of people. He was thinking in particular of American blacks. (A better term, by the way, than "African-American",  because not all American blacks trace back to Africa).
When black students jeer a black classmate who is a prize-winner at the school's graduation ceremony, that's cultural gravity. When blacks call a successful peer an "Oreo" - black on the outside white on the inside - that's cultural gravity. When blacks mock their mates for "talking white", that's cultural gravity. Cultural gravity arises from allowing your victimhood, your hatred for past injustices, to trump your prospects today. In fact, to trump your best interests.
The clip below notes that black kids in white schools do better than black kids in black schools. That's because (me speaking now) instead of cultural gravity, they're being lifted by the hot air balloons of higher expectations. It's not inherent ability or IQ. It's the culture, stupid.
And that culture includes the family, as the survey below also showed. There's now plenty of evidence that if you want kids to do well, they need a stable family with a father at home. Then: Finish high school, get married and stay married. That's the recipe for sure-fire success.
We find the same effect of cultural gravity in the Australian Aboriginal community, aka the First Australians or indigenous community, and we find it most in evidence each Australia Day (yesterday) when we saw all sorts of anti-colonial, anti-white, anti-British, anti-Australia Day protests, rooted in victimhood and resentment. Started as Invasion Day marches in 1938, these days they're usually called Survival Day protests.
Some brave Australian Aboriginal representatives like Jacinta Nampijimpa(*) fight against cultural gravity in their community.  Sadly their usual reward is to get savaged in social media, with the classic contumely: "porch monkeys",  "coconuts" (Aussie version of Oreos). But they fight on, and good on them, for only when the community decides to hop into the hot air balloon's basket of higher expectations will there be real progress for the indigenous community. Progress to be proud of, not paternalistically handed to it.
(*) Turns out Jacinta was nominated for 2019 Australian of the Year; she lost out to two men who had helped in the Thai cave rescue. Pity.
Some of the find­ings [of the US 1964 Racial Equity Survey] were sur­pris­ing. One was that pre­dom­i­nantly black school dis­tricts got roughly the same level of gov­ern­ment fund­ing as predominantly ­white dis­tricts, con­trary to the widespread be­lief that white dis­tricts were fa­vored.

An­other was that black stu­dents in pre­dom­inanely white classrooms did bet­ter aca­d­em­i­cally than black stu­dents with sim­i­lar char­ac­ter­is­tics in predom­i­nantly black classrooms. The most surpris­ing find­ing was that the main vari­ables af­fect­ing ed­u­ca­tional out­comes for in­di­vid­ual chil­dren were not the amount of money spent on ed­u­cat­ing them or the professional credentials of their teach­ers. In­stead, they were the students' family backgrounds and the number of days they attended school. [my emphasis]. 

Saturday 26 January 2019

“There’s Nothing Wrong With Open Borders” | NYT

Oh, yes there is!
Just to take note of this article for the following reason: Republicans often criticise Democrats for being in favour of Open Borders. And indeed the leadership on the Left in the party (AOC, Pocahontas, the Bern) certainly does seem in thrall to the idea. 
But as the 1,700+ commenters here at the Times — with a left of centre readership — are strongly against the idea. Strongly. 
The article starts off describing what's become known as the Overton Window, the expanding (actually shifting) bounds of acceptable discourse. I say "shifting" not "expanding" because quite a few things are now out of bounds to talk about. See: gender/ sex, Islam (criticism of), black racism (criticism of), LGBTQ+ (criticism of). 
The internet expands the bounds of acceptable discourse, so ideas considered out of bounds not long ago now rocket toward widespread acceptability. See: cannabis legalization, government-run health care, white nationalism and, of course, the flat-earthers. Yet there's one political shore that remains stubbornly beyond the horizon. It's an idea almost nobody in mainstream politics will address, other than to hurl the label as a bloody cudgel.I'm talking about opening up America's borders to everyone who wants to move here.
Why a brave Democrat should make the case for vastly expanding immigration.


Friday 25 January 2019

"The Malign Incompetence of the British Ruling Class" | NYT

Here's an article, much admired(*), which I also admired at first reading, then found, on successive readings, a polemic and then a farrago of ad hominem, which is where I left it.
In short: Pankaj Mishra hates Lord Mountbatten, therefore: England and British colonialism, BAD….
It's not that simple, as I sit here in Hong Kong, one of the nicer outcomes of British colonialism, a fact agreed to by pretty much all the local Chinese living here, those who took refuge from the evils of communism and were free to make fortunes in the safety of this colony. Not to mention other pretty good outcomes: Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and..... drum roll.... the United States!  Oh, even India, pace Mishra.  Many many there have warm feelings for the Raj.  And as many, even in the sympathetic comments on the article, have noted that the killings of Muslims and Hindus was a Muslim and Hindu thing.  Otherwise, we're to assume they don't have agency.
I extracted the ad hominem and strung it together with the occasional preposition:
Britain's calamitous exit from the EU shows how ruthlessly the British, in another act of moral dereliction -- with a fantasy of imperial-era strength, hubris, mulishness, ineptitude, arrogant obduracy, egotistic and destructive behavior -- blundered into political fiascos. The callow beneficiaries, the incestuous and self-serving ruling class, recklessly gambled UK's future to whingers, mendacious, intellectually-limited hustlers who have bluff rather than expertise, are a self-involved clique, a chumocracy; Brexiteers chasing imperial virility.
Having cynically partitioned the UK, by aggressive ignorance of English Brexiteers, showing cavalier disregard, unconscionable breeziness, to the endless suffering, through malign incompetence have sentenced millions to death or desolation.
It's a racist fantasy, with ravings issued by imperial insouciance leading to catastrophic military fiasco, led by brutal paramilitaries, bumptious adventurers masters of disaster.
Smooth-tongued men deny the rolling calamity of Brexit. In fact it's the quixotic fools of imperialism with unimaginable chaos of no-deal Brexit led by bumbling chumocrats who are taking us down the treacherous road to Brexit, by a long-cosseted British ruling class
This is a "fantasy of imperial-era strength" this Brexit? Not quite. What about the "Act in Restraint of Appeals of 1533? Henry VIII's parliament asserted that England is 'governed by one supreme head and king' whose measures cannot be appeaaled against to the Pople in Rome. For Rome then, read Brussels now, and now you see the long genealogy of the idea Brexit, and its huge effect on Brisith history. It's not "a fantasy of imperial-era strength, hubris, mulishness, ineptitue" or "a racist fantasy". It's just a thing. Which has been a thing for a very long time indeed.
(*) Still, by "much admired" have a look at the 1,500+ comments on the article. They're almost uniformly in support of it. Including such asinine comments that Britain is worse than the Nazis. My god… the idiocy….


From here

And why it's safe to like this, even if you're a leftie!

Nuclear Power Regulators Scale Back Draft Safety Rule | WSJ

This is good news. Not Trump being a climate vandal, again... grrrr.... but some sanity in the area of nuclear safety.
It was the Greens back in the seventies who pushed nuclear safety requirements to ludicrous levels. To the extent that nuclear power stations had to be orders of magnitude safer than any other energies and orders of magnitude more than they had been till then. All because of a few accidents, counted on the fingers of one hand, and which killed just dozens — not thousands, let alone millions — of people. And all because of scare mongering. Meantime Coal kills vastly more per year. Even solar and wind do.
As the Swedish scientists said recently in an article I posted:  "if people say nuclear power is unsafe, we have to ask: in comparison to what?"  Because relative to other producers of electricity, nuclear is the safest. Not just safe, but the safest.
Still, the result of the Greens' efforts at over regulation, was that nuclear became too expensive. "See", they said, "it's too expensive". Well done Greens!
Worth noting: after the Fukushima accident in 2011, the Japanese government made 380 square miles out of bounds. (It's now open again).
Fukushima was a 4.5 GWe station. For the same amount of land to produce 4.5 GW of wind power you would need 350 sq m. Actually more, because of the low conversion of capacity to output (wind doesn't always blow). That ratio is between 10% and 50%. Let's take the average, 30%. So you'd need 1,170 sq m of land if you used wind for the equivalent power, three times the area put out bounds after Fukushima. And that would be out of bounds all the ti,e not temporarily.
But wait! there's more! When Fukushima was producing, before it was devastated by the unprecedented tsunami, it only took up a bit over 1 Sq m of land. That is: 1/1,170th, 0.09%. of the land needed for wind; land, to repeat, needed all the time. Japan is short of land. Such huge land needs for wind power can't simply be ignored.
Go, nuclear!
Now, read on …

“Would you rather be Meng in Canada or a Canadian held in China?” | My letter to SCMP

My letter was run in full in today's South China Morning Post
As long as the Post keeps running letters like this, critical of China, my heart is at ease about freedom of speech in Hong Kong. 
Well, somewhat at ease. It may be, of course, that our dear motherland sees an English language daily as no threat all so... let those silly gweilos play in their little sandpit if they must. 
Whatever, it's a good relief valve, at least for we gweilos and the Chinese English-speaking readers — which I believe is the majority of the Post's readership. That's to say, English-lliterate ethnic Chinese in Hong Kong and elsewhere in the region like Singapore and Malaysia. 

Thursday 24 January 2019

E.U. Plan was always to *punish* the U.K.. To *force* it to Remain

An insider's insight. The clear EU plan was and remains to punish the U.K. and to try to force it to stay in the Union because the pain of leaving is too great. Daniel Hannan on the perfidious EU. And it's looming success in their nasty aims. 
You want a one-sentence explanation for the chaos in our politics, the breakdown of our party system, the shenanigans at Westminster? OK, here it is. It's important, so I'll put it in the original French first.
"J'aurais réussi ma mission si, à la fin, le deal est tellement dur pour les Britanniques qu'ils préféront rester dans l'Union.
"In English: "I'll have done my job if, in the end, the deal is so tough on the British that they'd prefer to stay in the EU".

Wednesday 23 January 2019

"Sabrina Meng Wanzhou case exposes the worst of East and West" | SCMP | Alex LO

Holy Whatabout, Batman!
I'm kind of sick of the incessant "whataboutery" in these pages. 
Examples: China may steal technology, sure, but whatbout the US? Yes, China may unfairly subsidise its exports, but whatbout Europe? OK, China may improperly hinder imports, but whatabout Japan? [per your David Dodwell or Robert Delaney on any given day].
Alex Lo today: yes, China may jail random expat Canadians, "but what about the US?" Which, according to Lo, is wielding the "so-called" rule of law to arrest Huawei's Meng Wanzhou.
I encourage Lo to do a thought experiment: where would he prefer to be jailed, China or the US? Would he rather criticise Xi Jinping on Beijing's Wanfujing or harangue Trump on New York's Broadway? Try it. And find out just how "so-called" the US legal system is. China jails people arbitrarily, but "whatabout the US" doesn't cut it. There's no equivalence in the law and there's no equivalence in the treatment of dissent.
The fact is there is no equivalence between the arrest of Ms Meng and the jailing of unfortunate Canadians. Let's not forget the charges against Meng have been made public, that she has been read her rights and that she is out on bail, consulting with her lawyers on a defence. Meantime, the hapless Canadians? They haven't even been allowed lawyers, let alone to prepare a defence. One is on death row! Whatabout that??
A final bit of whataboutery: US is run by lawyers; China is run by engineers (it shows). What about both countries getting a bit more in balance? More lawyers in China and more engineers in the US. Whatbout that? Isn't that something we could all get behind?
Meantime: enough of the tu quoque, already!
Pf, etc...

Monday 21 January 2019

Oxfam Overreach. ABC Complicity

Poverty on track to be a thing of the past. Not good for OXFAM...
LATER: Pinker at Quillette
I just heard Helen Szoke, CEO of Oxfam Australia, on ABC Radio National.
She was talking about inequality and, given where Oxfam's coming from these days, I wasn't surprised at what she said: namely that inequality is bad and getting worse, not just in Australia but world wide. 
Thing is: both of theses statements are false. 
She said that in Australia 1% of the richest own the same as the bottom 70%. For the world the figures are 1% and 83%. I won't dispute those figures. They may sound bad, but are they?
The accepted best measure of wealth disparity is the GINI index. It goes from 0 (best) to 100 (worst). 
GINI Index in CIA World Factbook
Australia comes in at 30 which places it at 133 — that is, better than 132 other countries. In short one of the best(= most equal) countries in the world. Moreover, it has improved from 35 to 30, a 15% improvement in ten years. 
As for the world, again the global GINI index has improved in recent decades, not gotten worse. 
A more startling measure of the improvement in world wealth (and health) is this: 30 years ago 40% of the world was in extreme poverty. Today the figure is 9%. That is a staggering, unprecedented, phenomenal improvement. And one utterly unremarked upon by Ms Szoke. One might almost think she had an agenda. 
These improvements are all pointed out by Harvard Professor Steven Pinker in his books and a recent Quillette essay. 
But for the likes of Ms Szoke it's all the world going to hell in a hand basket. It's fault of capitalism. And the answer is to tax the bejeesus out of rich folk. 
The fact is: the world had got richer. The poor have got fewer. And the reason for the improvement is... drum roll... capitalism
I'm guessing that for Ms Szoke this is a problem. Hence the suspected agenda. Because Oxfam's mission is to fight poverty. What if poverty is declining (as it so clearly is)? What if the chart above touches the X-axis?  Woooah... no more need for Oxfam...
Enter friendly ABC, softball questions from a know nothing interviewer. And enter yet more nonsense about the parlous state of our world. 
Shame on Ms Szoke and shame on the ABC. 

Sunday 20 January 2019

How energy guzzler Sweden has risen to the climate challenge by building nuclear power plants | SCMP

A decommissioned nuclear power plant in Barsebäck, Sweden. 
Sweden currently has three nuclear plants with eight nuclear reactors 
in commercial operation. Sweden effectively de-fossilised its power 
generation between 1970 and 1990. Today, about 80 per cent 
of its electricity production comes from nuclear and hydroelectric power.
Climate Consensus people say we must “follow the science” Sure. But they don’t themselves follow the science.
Take the nuclear issue. It’s the safest and most reliable form of carbon-free energy. That’s the science.
But happen a Fukushima, they panic, and Germany decides precipitately to close down its existing nuclear stations. France is planning to do the same.
It’s madness.
It’s not science. It's delusion.
Here’s a story of Sweden doing the right thing. One of the few countries in the world doing so. Wind, Solar AND nuclear.
Australia could have been there: with lowest CO2 emissions in the world. Instead we forewent it and now have the highest CO2 emissions per capita, in the world.
A couple of money shots about the book, A Bright Future, by Joshua Goldstein and Staffan Qvist.
What fires up the authors perhaps more than anything else are the safety claims targeted at nuclear power: “Radiation rarely kills anyone, but fear of radiation kills a lot of people.” In response to claims that nuclear power is dangerous, they demand that people ask: “Compared to what?
They recall that in the Fukushima disaster, 18,000 people died as a result of the tsunami, 1,000 died because of “a botched evacuation”, and literally zero lives were lost because of the nuclear plant meltdown. They say that more than 1 million people a year die or are sickened worldwide by the environmental harm done by burning coal, and ask by what measure nuclear power is dangerous.
They are similarly ruthless with those who say we can solve the climate challenge by changing our lifestyles: “By all means recycle, ride your bike and become a vegetarian, but do not imagine that these actions alone will solve the problem.” Dismissing such action as “feel-good distractions”, they argue that our challenge is not to use less energy, but to use clean energy. With over 1 billion people worldwide still without access to electricity, they say the irresistible pressure is to generate more electricity, not less.

“Time to Break the Silence on Palestine” | NYT

Nice Hama-Nazi boyz.  To them we should give our land?

Here's the money-shot from the article below. 
… so, if we are to honor [Martin Luther] King's message and not merely the man, we must condemn Israel's actions: unrelenting violations of international law, continuedz occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, home demolitions and land confiscations. We must cry out at the treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints, the routine searches of their homes and restrictions on their movements, and the severely limited access to decent housing, schools, food, hospitals and water that many of them face.
Sounds fair, right. How could we object? 
Well, here's why: Because it's just not the whole story. 
The whole story should include the number of times Israel has offered everything the Palestinians wanted, only to be rebuffed: 1937, 1947, 1978, 2000, 2008, and the many other times in between various offers have been made. At one count some 27. What’s the point of a 28th? 
And because while all the media on the Left accepts Palestinian protestations that all they want is a Two-state solution, the truth is they don't. They want one Palestine "free from the River to the sea".  This is said time and again, but often in the Arab press only.  In short: they don't want a Two-state solution, they want a Final Solution
Even famous academic Bennie Morris has changed his tune because of Palestinian intransigence and overreach. He's a famous academic. I've read a number of his books. He has  been strongly critical of Israel. Now he recognises the futility of supporting unreal and unfair Palestinians demands. 
And raising the "right of return"? This would wipe out the Israeli state. That given, its self-evidently anti Semitic. 
And walls and house searches? They only ever happened because of intifadas and terrorism, aimed at killing Jewish civilians, women and children. The walls and searches worked. They would be removed and terminated if there were a reason to believe that arbitrary murder of Jews would not start again. Hamas and Fatah give no such assurances. 
And Gaza? It was given back to Palestinian control.  Only to become a base for terrorised attacks on Israel. So now Israel should give back the West Bank? When Fatah, have made clear they would wipe out the Jews on the WB and continue attacks on Israel. 
But, hey, it's the Jews!
But, hey, we "must cry out at the treatment of Palestinians"!


Don’t cry for me, Allemagne

This letter to the Times, 18 January, is making a lot of good folk teary eyed. Remainers like Prof Brian Cox are overcome with emotion.…
Link to Tweet
“Rot the heart of Britain”. Really? Come now, professor!
I don’t get it. I mean, I get the sadness at Brexit. I just don’t get the sadness at this rather nice letter.
After all, Europeans can still — will still be able to — have pint at an English pub. They can still pop over for a game of cricket, or milky tea and scones.
None of this changes with Brexit. Precisely nothing. To imagine it does is delusional.
Yet the good and noble, the remainers, are crying, literal tears. “What does this say about us?” (Well, nothing, really). “What have we done?” Oh we, Oh woe... oh wrack and wruin...
To repeat: nothing beloved in the letter changes. Nothing.
As one of the commenters on Prof Cox’s Tweet said: “We’re not going anywhere. We’re part of the Eurasian Plate”.
Prof Cox was recently overwrought over the Post-Brexit fate of British Universities. Again, I say huh? People will still line up (UK English: “queue”) for a place at Oxbridge. And international research is online, border-free. Does Prof Cox think that US universities are somehow constrained by not being part of the EU?
Prof Cox’s fame as a science populariser ought not make him immune to mockery for his plangent perturbations.
LATER: Prof Cox may be too young to remember: but it was Thatcher who brought the UK into Europe, while the Labour Party wanted to keep Britain out. So when he say that Tory ideology allegedly "festered in the darkest corner of the Conservative Party" he's being somewhat ahistorical....

If I robbed a bank I’d be a criminal

Buzzfeed: Trump told me to lie, says Cohen  Mueller: no he didn’t 
How the media reported the Buzzfeed story: “if true it’s impeachable”.
If it’s true that Trump told Cohen to lie to Congress >>  it’s a high crime and misdemeanour >> it's impeachable.
And, same logic: “if I’d robbed a bank I’d be a criminal”. 

Big word here: "IF".  
But the Buzzfeed reporter didn't do his fact check.  He just put it out there and the Left media ate it up.
"IF this is true, then Trump has to be impeached".
Then....Mueller’s office denied the report.
The bias, the salivating desire to take down the Orange One, is just so clear and present.

Saturday 19 January 2019

Another Rachel Dolezal affair? Hawaii congressman claims he’s “an Asian trapped in a white’s body”. « Why Evolution Is True

The link to the story is below.  In Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True. 
Basically a guy said he felt he's Asian. Even though he's Caucasian. Horror! Social media piles on. 
I added my comment....

Posted January 18, 2019 at 6:51 am | Permalink
"We can assume that were a caucasian raised in an Asian culture, their brain might be 'wired' similarly. Per the prevailing SWJ view, would that person not be trans-asian?"
That would describe me. A trans-Asian Aussie.
I'm of Scottish stock, but born in Japan and lived most of my 69 years in Asia. I'm married to a Chinese, speak and write Chinese.
I've often said "I feel Chinese". Usually to some little amusement by Chinese as I'm 6'4", round eyes and a very long nose (a "high nose" in Chinese). My little joke – which is also true – has never been taken amiss. It's ratherbeen enjoyed. Appreciated even.
I empathise with Ed, and his critics are know-nothing scolds.
By the way – in response to below – Chinese (and Japanese) have *both* pictograms and ideograms. It's why learning them is so charming.
And, FWIW, I find I can memorise poems and texts, and names, more easily in Chinese than English. Because of the pictographic element.
If Jerry reads this, he may recall we met here in Hong Kong a few years back, at the
Foreign Correspondents Club.
Peter Forsythe

  • Peter Forsythe
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 6:54 am | Permalink
    I meant @James Walker, above.
    (Re pictograms and ideograms).

  • Posted January 18, 2019 at 12:44 pm | Permalink
    Peter, thanks for sharing your illustrative personal example. Trans activists plant their flag on the hill of trans ID etiology being a person is born with a brain of the opposite sex*. Trans-racial ID can be rejected on the premise that race is a social construct. Even if it were to be shown that a person's brain can become 'asian' or 'black' through environmental pressure, the trans activists will still claim special status as having been 'born' that way.
    As Sam Harris cautions, arguing for equal rights, not on broad ethical grounds, but rather based on such rigid 'scientific' assumptions, can easily backfire if new discoveries in science disprove those assumptions.
    * Which, btw, conflicts two other points of SJW dogma, that there are no 'biological' differences between male & female behavior, and that an infinite spectrum of genders/sexes exists.

Sent from my iPad

DNC Nixes Sponsorship of Women's March -- Why Now? | Clarion Project

I first came across Linda Sarsour way back in 2012.
She really is a poisonous Islamist.
Apart from the raging Jew-hate she has a record of vicious misogyny, attacking women like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and of duplicitous support of Sharia law to be implemented, she hopes, in the US. Wonderful.
Clarion calls her out yet again.
Yet again, she remains a darling of the Left. Bernie loves her. Her critics are "islamophibic", you see.

Wednesday 16 January 2019

Heather MacDonald speaks with Ben Shapiro

I first wrote about Heather a few posts back and here she is again!  She's great.

“Republicans Rebuke Steve King but Face Vexing Question: Why Not Sooner?” | NYT

How dare they? How dare they castigate the Right for criticising the white supremacy of Steve King, but doing so "too late" (they say), when they never, ever, never-ever criticise extremism on the Left? How very dare they?
Yes, I'm bovvered....
My comment in The Times:
At least the Reps *did* criticise. And have done so every time a republican stepped out if line. Meantime where are the criticisms of Leftist extremism? Of the horrid anti-semitism of Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton. Nowhere. 
Louis the Jew-hater is unscathed. Rookie Congresswoman Tlaib has terrorist supporters at her swearing in. AOC dances with Al Sharpton, the repulsive anti-Semite and blatant racist. 
In short, the Right cleans house. The Left lets the dirt lie; at most, sweeps it under the carpet. 
In wake of House Republicans stripping Mr. King of his committee assignments, many are asking how he survived unpunished for so long.

LATER (19 Jan): according to Scott Adams, King didn’t wonder what’s wrong with White Supremacy. What he wondered was what’s wrong with  “Western Civilisation”. Fair enough.
If true, that’s a very different thing indeed. Scott’s point is that the media has simply run with the wrong story and has kept running with it. If I’m not too lazy I might get around to checking it out. Though I must say that if it’s true, King hasn’t made much of an effort to correct the mistake. 

Monday 14 January 2019

Women Don’t Belong in Combat Units | The WSJ

An arbitrary photo of a 1934 Alfa Romeo 6C. Brescia, Italy, May 2018

This (below) is an interesting article from a woman who knows whereof she speaks:
Ms. Mac Don­ald is a fel­low at the Man­hattan In­sti­tute and author of "The Di­ver­sity Delu­sion: How Race and Gen­der Pan­der­ing Cor­rupt the Universify and Un­der­mine Our Cul­ture."    

De Blasio: New York’s Mao Tse-tung. Yes, he is!

This is a truly shocking statement from NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. Though I'm guessing it was an applause line for his audience.
It does rather remind me of Mao's attitude to landlords. For de Blasio it's people with money who are "wrong". For Mao the landlords were "exploiters". Never mind that Mao's own parents were landlords who had earned their small plots by years of hard graft.
No, to Mao and de Blasio alike the very holding of assets is "wrong" "exploitative " and must be redistributed. By "us" of course. Us being Bill and Mao. Or AOC. All Good socialists.
Oh Lord! Save us from socialists. No matter how well meaning.  AOC is just the most recent, youngest and prettiest incarnation of this sharp tilt to the Left.
"Here's the truth. Brothers and sis­ters, there's plenty of money in the world. There's plenty of money in this city. It's just in the wrong hands."
—New York City Mayor Bill de Bla­sio, State of the City address, Jan. 10, 2019
Amer­i­can pol­i­tics is in part an eter­nal bat­tle be­tween those who prize free­dom and those who de­mand equal­ity, be­tween the forces of in­come growth and those of in­come re­dis­tri­b­u­tion, and in 2019 the re­distrib­u­tors are on the march. For the purest dis­til­la­tion of the so­cialist im­pulse, look no fur­ther than Mayor de Bla­sio's state­ment of raw po­lit­i­cal pur­pose that we quote above from his an­nual ad­dress last week.

Saturday 12 January 2019

The Arguments against Building the Border Wall | National Review

This one clip, from Douglas Murray's good article, tells it all:
Representative Eric Swalwell, for instance, claims that walls themselves — bricks, mortar, the lot — are "medieval." They are also, he says,"a symbol of 'us and not us.' And that is not U.S."
Out of 7.3 billion people in the world about 7 billion are not "us".  That is, they are not US citizens.
The United States cannot allow every one of the "non us" to come to the US, simply because they want to.
That would lead to the destruction of the very US to which they are seeking to emigrate.

“The Remoralization of the Market” | NYT

This is a good article by David Brooks.
It reminds me of something I read recently about the reasons for flat real wages in the US since about 1980. The answer?  Monopsonist tech companies. 
Monopsony = monopoly on the buy side. These companies are monopoly buyers of workers. While the few at the top, the gun coders and so, get richly rewarded, the majority are paid what the monopsony buyers decide. And they've stiffed workers. So the studies say. 
And isn't that ironic? Well, kind of, but more: it’s hypocritical, because the leaders of these same tech companies are — or say they are — the vanguards of leftist Social Justice. 
I agree with Brooks. We need to think about more than just money. And I say that as an Apple shareholder, which Brooks eviscerates. Yes, I'm shamed for Apple. And for Facebook. And for Google. Shame on all their houses. 
It has to start with shareholders themselves having more of a social conscience and demanding that the companies they invest in consider more than just money. That they consider their workers, the community and the country. 
I'm not holding my breath, though.
LATER: I appear to be the only one who likes the article.  The 760+ comments are pretty much uniformly hostile to Brooks.  Mostly they don’t like the moral equivalence he makes between Left and Right. They tend to think it’s all the Republicans’ fault. And they mostly don’t buy into his comment that “capitalism is a beautiful system”. I’m going to guess though, that none of these has lived in a communist country as I have: China in the seventies.
The Readers Pick mentions Jim Crow laws. But these were instituted by the Democrats not the GOP.
They appear to not like Brooks because he’s a Republican. And Republicans are, you know, bad. Morally bad. 
.... capitalism needs to be embedded in moral norms and it needs to serve a larger social good. Remoralizing and resocializing the market is the great project of the moment. The crucial question is not: How can we have a good economy? It's: How can we have a good society? How can we have a society in which it's easier to be a good person?