Posts Tagged ‘China’

BRICs in search of mortar

October 1, 2015

When Pat and I were raising our three kids we attended at least 12 graduations that I can remember.

The first round of matriculations came after each one completed kindergarten. Those first three ceremonies were joyous events for us young parents.

The next round was celebrated after each child finished 8th grade. With educational goals moving right along, we were again so very happy, as were the emerging adolescents.

The high school ceremonies were, of course, a biggie, in all three instances. Each young scholar’s participation signified, within those symbolic processions, certifiable progress toward educational and life goals.

The crown jewels for our young adults and for us proud parents were the three college graduations, with one at Duke and two at University of North Carolina.

What a grand preparation for our offspring in their proficiencies to go forth in technified 21st-century world!

In every one of those symbolic processions through which our young ones paraded with their classmates up to a podium where they received diplomas, very graduate had a flat item mounted on their head. Hanging from that flat item was a tassel.

The mortar board.

Each young person sauntered forth into our world of work, information and progress, with a mortar board upon their head.

What is a mortar board?

In the oldest sense of this phrase, a mortar board is a flat, hand-held board; it is used to carry a small amount of mixed “mud” (mortar). The actual mortar board, in the real world of constructing walls and buildings, has, attached to it on its underside, a hand-sized vertical handle that enables the bricklayer to carry the board and its mortar payload easily. The worker can then move from one position to the next while carrying an amount of mortar suitable for efficient work in   joining masonry blocks and/or bricks together as a constructed wall.

In the symbolic universe of education, however, a “mortar board” upon the graduate’s head signifies that the person is equipped to build structures of a different kind.

With the competencies acquired through education, the graduate can, metaphorically, build progress, prosperity, businesses profitable or non-profit,, institutions, knowledge bases, etc.

I was thinking about the mortar board this morning. I was considering its meaning as a symbol, as I have just explained to you. . . but also as an actual implement of constructive work in the real world of building houses. My thirty+ years in construction provided many occasions in which I literally carried a mortar board for hours at a time, while constructing house foundations.

Then this morning, while reading about some new developments in the world of finance and investments, I thought about mortar boards of the metaphorical meaning, which is why I write to you now. There is something interesting going on in the world now, pertaining to mortar boards.

What I read that is so fascinating is an article that I came across in an online news source, Deutsche Welle, that I had never seen before today:

http://www.dw.com/en/brics-nations-launch-new-bank-currency-pool/a-18574402

I gather from reading it that the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are gathering resources to fund an investment bank for purposes of financing infrastructure in their countries and also in the “emerging” countries.

If this banking alliance is successful, there will be in the future at least a certain amount–if not a huge amount–of divergence from those countries’ heretofore dependence on the West’s (USA, German, British, French) banking powerhouses, not to mention their central banks and international largesse like IMF and so forth.

I mean, there it is right there in the pic on the Deutsche Welle site: Putin of Russia, Modi of India, Xi of China, Rousseff of Brazil, gathered with many other national leaders in Ufa, Russia to lay foundations for the BRICs to get new “mortar” supplies for laying their necessary infrastructures in days to come.

Watch out, WallStreet!

Watch out, City!

Your days of hegemony in world finance and dollar dominance may be numbered.

These (formerly-called) Developing nations are now in the forefront of development and they need tools for constructing their infrastructure-deficient economies.

Wall Street’s obsession with high-frequency trading and risk-averse bubbly speculation is becoming more and more irrelevant in a bold new world of expanding overseas financial needs– Markets that are populated by young people–far more young people demographically than we have here in the good ole US of A.

Millions of young people with mortar boards in their hands and on their heads, applying for money mortar to construct sturdy infrastructural walls in which their own institutions will supply credit and new opportunities to initiate and develop new wealth.

Not old Western wealth recycled.

King Dollar, step aside! The handwriting for national developments across the world is on the wall. You are being challenged by the 4 R’s: rubles, rupees, reáls, renminbi and probably eventually SDRs.

Better read what those hands are writing on their freshly-mortared walls!

 

Glass half-Full

What’s a vacation for?

July 2, 2014

Now that we finally got to July and being on vacation, I have at last gotten around to catching up on a few personal projects that I would like to have undertaken long ago.

One project is learning how to actually make best use of the Macbook Air that I’ve been blogging on for two years now. Two and a half years, actually. Micah gave me the laptop at Christmas 2011. I’ve been stumbling around on it ever since, managing every now and then to get a word or two that made some sense out on the ‘net for all the world to consider. haha.

On this vacation, my brother-in-law John, the Mac guy, has been very helpful in this personal proficiency-improvement project, especially with utilizing the pictures from iPhone that I’ve been snapping to elucidate our Costa Rica vacation.

In the midst of this steep learning curve, a picture popped up on one of the Mac files, a picture that I had forgotten about, thought I had trashed forever, except that lo and behold it is still rollin’ around in the Mac and so I managed to pull it out of the trash. Pat took the pic exactly two years ago on Maui, Hawaii, at the Sun Yat-Sen park, which is a small memorial to the founder of modern China, Sun Yat-Sen. Here is his statue, with me standing next to it because I think Mr. Sun was a great leader:

Sun Yat-Sen park

A little research I’ve done today uncovers the impressive fact that both the major factions of modern Chinese liberation–the Mao-led Communist party and the Chiang Kai-shek-led Kuomintang– claim Sun Yat-Sen as a major contributor to their initial movements to wrestle the governance of China from the dying Qing dynesty, because Mr. Sun led the revolution that knocked the Qing out of power in 1912.

Another reason I think he was a great leader relates to a quote from him that I discovered on this very same statue-base in Hawaii two years ago. The quote is carved into one face of the statue’s base:

 “Search into the nature of things, look into the boundaries of knowledge, make the purpose sincere, regulate the mind, cultivate personal virtue, rule the family, govern the state, pacify the world.”

This principle(s) have been bopping around in my mind for these last two years. When I saw the pic pop up in my Mac wanderings today, the profundity of this wisdom suddenly came back to me. So I spent a couple hours today trying to find the source of the quote, which turns out to be not Sun Yat-Sen himself, but rather Confucius, in an old classic called The Great Learning.

I learned this when a google search finally led me to a pdf from a biography of Sun Yat-sen by a Stanford scholar, Marie Clare Bergere. http://books.google.co.cr/books?id=vh7M1u4IGFkC&dq=sun+yat+sen+%2B+nature .

The idea of “searching into the nature of things” is one that Mr. Sun made a central part of his own way of relating to the world and trying to make it a better place. I like that strategy, and it is the essence of my writing projects, the blogging as well as the novels.

Here is another pic from that Hawaiian adventure two years ago, just to illustrate what I mean by looking into the nature of things. This pic reveals just how everything, including the earth itself is just kind of. . . stratified:

Red strata  copy

Glass half-Full

Kula haiku

June 26, 2012

In Maui land and sky

Sun Mei brother Sun-yat Sen

shelter from the Storm.

Selah.

 

Glass half-Full

All Girls Allowed

May 21, 2012

I highly recommend that you read the long story of Chai Ling’s 22-year attempt to bring freedom to China.  She writes her account of it, including her strenuous leadership role in the the Tiananmen Square events of 1989, in her book, A Heart For Freedomrecently published by Tyndale .

If, however, you must settle for the long-story-short version, you may find the essence of her message in this passage, which is found in the beginning of the last chapter:

“In the twenty-first century, America will have no relationship more important than its relationship with China. Our leaders must have their eyes wide open and know whom they’re dealing with as they build this partnership. The best way to protect America is to help transform China into a peaceful and benevolent society. Respect for basic human rights, the freedom to worship, rule of law, and free media are all part of that necessary transformation. Still, the true transformation of China will not be political or social; it will be a reformation of the heart. The next revolution will not be fought in the streets; it will be won within each individual As I’ve learned through my own experience, when we’re confronted by the evil inside us and have to ask Jesus to cleanse us so we can receive his grace and forgiveness, then we can truly heal and move on. The same is true for a nation.”

Chai Ling had to switch nations, for reasons of personal safety. Now she lives here in the USA. But her lifelong  quest to bring deliverance to the people in her native land has led to her founding All Girls Allowedhttp://www.allgirlsallowed.org/ , an organization to support the restoration, value, and dignity of girls and mothers in China, by confronting the issues of gendercide, girl-child abandonment, trafficked children, and forced abortion. May God be with her, and with those whose protection she has accepted as her life’s project.

CR, author Glass half-Full

Chai Ling’s Heart for Freedom

May 17, 2012

Chai Ling has written a great book, A Heart for Freedom, (Tyndale) about her revolutionary life. I’m reading it now on Kindle.

http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Freedom-Remarkable-Dissident-Daughters/dp/1414362463

About a quarter of the way through her autobiographical account, she gets into those historically dramatic days that preceded the Tiananmen Square uprising of April-June, 1989. She gives an accounting of her role as a major communicator in that movement.

Chai Ling’s husband at that time was Feng Congde, a fellow-student at Peking University, and a forceful, very gifted leader within the protest movement.

In last two week of April, 1989, Feng had been intensely occupied with organizing a democratizing event at the Xinhua gate on Chang’an Avenue, the north end of Tiananmen Square. (This is so interesting to me, because I have visited Tiananmen and the adjoining Forbidden City.) On the night of a protest event,  police had dispersed the dissidents from the Xinhua gate, but the young students went on to strategize for what was to come in the next few days. (These events later stretched into weeks, and eventually culminated on June 4 when military troops shut down the Tiananmen uprising.)

In those early stages, however, Chai Ling writes that one night,  her husband Feng did not come home, so she went looking for him; Ling found her revolutionary mate in a room with his comrades as they planned a coordinated response to the repressive police action at Xinhua gate.

Upon finding Feng that night, she set up a desk outside the dormitory room that had become the organizational locus for students who were laying plans; the alert Ling began to function as a liaison between the core group and other students who wanted to get involved.

As the movement gathered energy and participants, 60,000 students from 48 colleges and universities in Beijing joined with a student strike. This was the inception of the larger massive protest that happened during May at Tiananmen Square. Feng Congde’s leadership was a seminal component in the student leaders’ dorm-room meetings that had preceded these events. What really focused the students’ intensifying zeal, however, was the  April 22 funeral of Party leader Hu Yaobang, whose inclination toward reform had endeared him to many young Chinese.

Hu’s memorial event, April 22, 1989,  was a mournful, highly-charged event. On the day of Hu Yaobang’s funeral, thousands of people gathered at the west side of Tiananmen, and upon the steps of the Great Hall of the People, in anticipation of the Party’s commemoration of him. But a long wait for the many thousands gathered there became a potential flash point for mob ire when the CCP leaders dispatched Hu’s hearse through a back route, ostensibly to minimize the deceased reformer’s legacy to the restless “People.”

The scene was about to turn violent. As Chai Ling writes, the core of Peking University (called Beida in the book) students quickly organized a strategy to prevent violence and imminent bloodshed. At that point, Ling jumped upon a wall and shouted out a desire to communicate with the leaders who were inside the Hall. This bold move on her part immediately propelled her into a critical negotiating role at that point in time. Someone handed her a megaphone, and her decisive act as stand-in-the-gap peacemaker between angry students and Party luminaries  became Tiananmen history.

Although Ling’s role in the Tiananmen uprising of 1989 was played mostly in Tiananmen Square itself–that is, the outside space–she must have later communicated with a highly placed official person who had been inside the Great Hall of the People on that day of Hu’s funeral. For she gives an account, in her book, of a certain moment in time–a quite momentous moment–when Premier Deng Xiaoping looked out a window and had a view, for the first time, of the massive gathering of young people out in the Square.

Chai Ling wrote:

Another old Party cadre who had fought with Deng alongside Mao Zedong in the early days of the revolution walked over to Deng and stood next to him, pounding the floor with his cane.

‘They call us dictators,’ he declared in a loud voice (to Deng) broken with age. ‘They call you the Emperor.’

That moment determined the fate of the student movement and all that followed. Deng would not tolerate anyone who called him a dictator.

Apparently, in the race of men, even reformist capitalist-road visionaries such as Deng Xiaoping have their intolerantly repressive aspects, as the world later witnessed on June 4, 1989.

Since that time, Chai Ling has come to follow a different leader–one whose whose revolutionary work pertains to the Spirit, rather than the dictatorships of this world. More about that later.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Ode on a Chinese Urn

March 11, 2012

(with allusion to John Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn)

 

You still unbroken vessel of longevity,

you elder of Silence and slow Time,

You Middle kingdom historian, who doth express

a powerful tale more enduring than the mandarin:

What dragon-drawn legend lives within your Han,

your provinces, your dynasties, your Confucian,

in walled Beijing or the mists of Sichuan?

What emperors or peasants are these? What workers’ revolution?

What mad five-year plan? What struggle to progress?

What Song? What Gong? What New Year’s pageantry?

 

New prosperities are sweet, but those ancient

are sweeter; therefore, with huquins, play now;

Not to the occidental ear, but, more revered,

play to the maosoleum  march  of Mao:

Young man, within the Party, you can’t forsake

the Song, nor ever can your heritage be gone;

Bold youth, never, never will you tire,

Though winning be your goal–oh, do not expire;

China cannot fade, though you have not eternal bliss,

For ever will you excel, and thereby make progress!

 

Ah happy, happy urn, that has not broken

 

your porcelain, your bronze, nor your Cathay!

You determined worker, unweary,

for ever working steel and silicon today;

More production, more quotas , more yuan renminbi,

for ever productive and for ever employed–

go ye ever panting, and ever for the gain;

with seething dedication, and no small pain.

It makes a man productive, not void

in the ever-marching cadre, the wagging dragon’s train.

 

Who are these coming to your revolution?

To what five-year plan, O fearless Chairman,

lead’st thou these workers ascending to the Party

in all their ancestors’ silken flanks?

What little village by Yangtse or Yellow banks,

what Pudong tower or Chongqing power

is steaming with your folk, to dawning dynasty?

Oh Shanghai! thy streets forevermore

will crowded be, Onward Guangzou, Xian,  Beijing,

with overflowing urns of Deng Xiaoping.

 

Oh China vessel, such prodigious capacity! with breed

of terra cotta men and women overwrought,

with  harnessed rivers and jade of steed;

You, porcelained dragon, dost challenge us from thought,

to red conformity: Cultural evolution!

When old age shall this generation waste,

thou shalt advance, in midst of Tiananmen woe,

upon the hard and fearsome world, with haste:

“Life is work, and work is life–that is all

ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Not.

 

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Inevitable forces of history

February 1, 2012

There’s only so much that a man can do. There’s only so that any nation can do, to put a stop to inevitable forces of destruction during their lifetime.

That’s not to say they shouldn’t try. We’ve got to somehow oppose the evils in this life, in this time.

This is what I’m thinking about as I research my current writing project, a novel about inevitabilities in the year 1937. Fascism, was a damn near unstoppable force during that time, although the Allies were later able to pull it off when they had defeated the Nazis of Germany, Italy, and Japan by 1945. But there were eight years of pure hell before the beast was put back in his cage.

However, there was another rising tide during those turbulent times of the late 1930s and ’40s– communism. It was in the background.  Over  yonder in Russia, eastern Europe and China, the ideology of Marx and Lenin was a slumbering giant.

Consider the plights of two military leaders (later political leaders) of that time: Tomas Masaryk of Czechoslovakia and Chiang Kai-shek of China. These two men and their armies were contending against the terrible fascist war machines of their era.

But life is never simple, and the perils of war are never predictable. In Czechoslovakia, Tomas Masaryk was trying to lead his fledgling democratic nation into an alliance with the Allies of the west, most specifically France. However, Vladimir Lenin’s revolutionary mustering of the Comintern would inevitably blind-side the Czechs and overtake their democratic impulses, but that didn’t happen until the late 1940s, after a whole damn world war, the Second! one, had been fought and driven into the dust of tragic history.

In the 1920s and ’30s. the Czech leader, Masaryk, had his hands full trying to deal with the after-effects of German-Austrian militarism (left-over from WWI) even as the fascist beast began to raise its ugly head again as Hitler’s zombified nazi war machine.

So it was quite sensible, quite understandable, that Masaryk did not want to take sides in the Russian civil war–communist Reds against nationalist Whites. Masaryk didn’t want to involve his people in a bloody Bolshevik struggle when there was still so much to be dealt with on the German side of his problems.

While developing an alliance with the French in the aftermath of WWI, Masaryk and his Czechs neglected the Russian bolshevik threat from the east.  But that same Russian bear later reared up in the late ’40s and overtook the Czechs anyway.

How could Tomas Masaryk have known? It was all he could do to handle the snake-pit of military and political evils on his western front.

There’s only so much a man, or the nation that he is leading, can do.

Chiang Kai-Shek had the same problem in China. His nationalist armies were fighting Mao Tse-tung’s communist Reds in the 1930s. Meanwhile, just across the sea, the fascist imperial Japanese were about to devour half of China (and all of China if it could have). The Japs took advantage of the Chinese infighting between Chiang and Mao’s opposing forces, until the Japanese threat became so undeniably serious. Both Chinese factions had to lay low against each, even in some cases work together, to run the damn Japs back to their island.

But then after all that had blown over–after the World War in which millions had died–in the late 40s, Mao’s unstoppable communists ran Chiang Kai-Shek and his Kuomintang army off the mainland to Taiwan.

There’s only so much a man can do. Communism, during the 1940s, was a slumbering, though inevitable, giant in both Europe and Asia. Now, alas, seventy years later, the whole idea of communism–the whole Marx/Leninism platform– has kind of ground itself into a post-1989 skid; it lingers confusedly with its finger occupying its nose as the world arranges itself into a new set of slings and arrows and inevitable evils and the heroics that oppose them.

Go figure.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

The descent of man

September 18, 2011

This is an ironic coincidence, that we Christians build our dogma around the fall of man, while evolutionists theorize about the so-called descent of man, from pondscum or some ameobic thing like it (just kidding). Either way you look at it, the direction is downhill. I suppose downhill is easier than trudging upward, but then downhill doesn’t descend forever; there is an end to it eventually, a leveling out.

Maybe that stopping at the bottom is hell, if you view life and its end in religious terms. Or maybe it is poverty, if you’ve got a humanist worldview.

Although we Christians emphasize the point that man is fallen–depraved–at least our revelation offers a hope of eventual ascent to heaven. These days, our hope–considered naíve by many– is, I think, more convincing than the humanist alternative. Stalin and Mao proved that communism is hell. Nowadays we’re proving that even capitalism is hell.  Hitler proved that (national) socialism, which is the commie’s evil twin, is also hell. Hell on earth. Watch out; it could happen again.

But the hope of Christ is based not on our faltering efforts (individually and collectively) to save ourselves, but rather, on the finished work of the crucified/resurrected one–his atonement for our shitty sin,  and then overcoming death to prove the point that he knows what he’s talking about.

If I could write a play to change the world–to wow the Tony people and then garner oscars for the movie version–could it have a more spectacular plot device than some guy resurrecting from the dead? I don’t think so. Not even Bruce Willis or Tom Cruise could perform such a feat, much less endure the agony that preceded it. Not even Mel Gibson could endure that.

I mean what could be more convincing than raising up from the dead? But then you gotta believe it, or it doesn’t work. Faith is the thing that makes resurrection work for you. That’s your part of the story; God’s already done his.

God, the Creator, did write such a story, an epic, and he set it in actual history, beginning with Adam and Eve and so forth, and Abraham and Moses and all that, right up through Jesus, Paul and John. Then he had the book published. You’ve probably heard of it, if you’re a bibliophile.

But back to the descent thing (it never fails to happen): While Adam and Eve were falling from God’s grace through their sin, outside of Eden the cro-magnon hominids were, perhaps, descending by successive mutations to full homo sapiens descentive glory.

There is a lot we still don’t know about the human race, but one conclusion we can make is this: our species has perfected the art of screwing up. Marx thought otherwise; he posited a steady progression through capitalism, dictatorship of the proletariat, and eventually evolved communism. But look what Stalin and Mao did with his doctrine. You can’t figure how to make the human society thing work. It always descends, after a pyrric flash in the pan, to dystopia.

I mean, for instance: It makes perfect sense, from a rational standpoint (although not yet a practical one), that we should develop energy generation through solar power technology. We’ve been talking about it since the 70s for good reason; but no American company has really made the breakthrough that would propel solar roof-collectors to mass market efficiency and low-cost affordability. The wallstreet crowd doesn’t seem to be interested in taking a chance on the prospect; they’re too busy playing poker with derivatives and credit default swaps. So our gov. finds what seems to be a good solar-developing company in California, and sinks a half bill into it, thinking that Solyndra might be the group to make the difference. But then the enterprise fails, goes bankrupt. Damn.

Why? Because they couldn’t compete with the Chinese! The commies! who are doing everything faster and cheaper than we can because so many low wagers work there, while all our people have gotten rich, fat&happy, and comfortably numb, and so we can no longer compete. I mean, these Deng-reformed Maoists are overtaking us with their hybrid Hegelian-synthesis neo-communo/capitalism!

A hundred or so years ago we were going great guns with full steam power, pulling stuff out of the ground and making cool stuff out of it and selling it to each other, making money hand over fist and then selling it all over the world. Now everybody else in the world, except the Europeans, are doing all that wildwest development faster and cheaper. Shanghai, Singapore, Bangalore, Sao Paulo are doing now what New York and Chicago were doing a hundred years ago. What are New York and Chicago doing now? Crying the blues and watching reruns of sex in the city.

We, the Brits and those other European post-colonialists, taught the “third” world pretty well. Those developing nations have learned their capitalism lessons thoroughly. They learned it, like all children do, by example. Their mutant version of capitalist development will survive our fittest attempts to catch up.

And the trains, in China. Don’t get me started. I’ve ridden on a couple of them. Let me tell you they are fast, and they are impressive. Our Prez points out, correctly, that we were building vast infrastructure and railways across America, back in the day. And why we can’t we do it again?

It’s the descent thing. Our trains have run out of yankee ingenuity somewhere between stations. While the Chinese maglevs whiz along at 200 mph, although they do sometimes run into each other. Watch out, sloppy safety regs ahead.

Our whole damned nation, and sooner or later the world itself, is running out of steam, or out of oil despite the frickin fracking. And runnin out of money, though there’s plenty of the printed stuff floating around. Our mph and our gdp is in a long, decelerating descent.

But there is an ascent from the devolving madness.  A sufficient tranche of preferred stock has been purchased for me, and for you, if you choose to invest your time. It is a company not of this world, although it is in this world. I will be ascending on its prospectus soon, with a little help from my resurrected friend. I hope to see you there, if not before.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Liu Xiaobo, a great man

October 3, 2010

I’m hoping and praying that the Nobel committee will award this year’s peace prize to Liu Xiaobo.

Born in 1955 in China, he is a man whose childhood fell within those tumultuous years now referred to, simplistically, as the Cultural Revolution.
In this very informative interview, he describes how Mao’s intensely ideological manipulation of Chinese society had resulted, by the mid-70s, in a nation of hard-working people who were exhausted, and battle-weary of the decades-long, cadre-imposed struggle for equality. Not only that, but far too many folks were, by the time of that crossroads in CCP experimentation, pretty damn hungry.

Mao Zedong, with his cadres of revolutionary peasant devotees, had imposed a huge, bloody, traumatic Marxist rearrangement of the Middle Kingdom of Asia. His zealous communists had violently wrested the empire from a chaotic, prolonged civil war that had followed the downfall of the Qing dynasty in 1911. After the 1949 Revolution’s first eighteen years of changes had been wrought, Mao the peasant-genius architect of the whole damn thing passed from this world.

In 1976, a master politician/statesman named Deng Xiaoping managed to get hold of the reins of power that the deceased revolutionary dictator had previously held. Deng was able to redirect the energy and resourcefulness of the Chinese people away from the logistical dead-ends upon which fanatical communist ideology had dropped them. He initiated reforms that have since lead to China’s becoming the economic powerhouse that we see on the world stage today. China’s painful nationwide imposition of communism had been revolutionary and violent. But from the time of Deng’s reforms in the l970s, “gradualism,” (a term used by Mr. Liu) has been the order of the day. The people of China needed a break from perpetual revolution. Deng lead them along a kinder, gentler path of prosperity-seeking.

Several years ago, we had a young Chinese student dining at our kitchen table. He told me “Deng Xiaoping was a great man.” At the time I did not understand what he meant. How could any communist be great? But the impact of any man’s life on his people and the wide world must be evaluated in the context of the society in which he was born and to which he devoted his life. My conclusion since that conversation has been that, yes, Deng Xiaoping was a great man. If it were not for him, China would not be in the position of strength, and greater freedom, that she enjoys today.

Now we see another great man of China on the world stage, Liu Xiaobo. He is also a reformer; he has taken on, along with many comrades, the next agenda item for Chinese improvement. It is a weighty burden–the injustices of one-party oligarchy and disregard for human rights. In that capacity, he is a co-author and signer of the Charter 08 manifesto, for which he was arrested, and is still imprisoned.

May the Nobel Committee have the courage to reward his life’s work.
Invest some time in the cause of liberty by reading this transcript, provided by New River Media in 2005, of a Columbia University interviewer’s discussion with Liu Xiaobo. You will gain, as I did, some fuller comprehension of those momentous, though quite tragic, events in the China of our lifetime.

Finally, I’m posing our Mystery Question of the Day: What was the “family contract plan, or family responsibility plan,” which brought greater productivity to the Chinese enforced agricultural collectives of the late l950s-early ’60s?

the China Syndrome, 2010 version

October 2, 2010

I encountered Today’s Mystery Question in a comment by Ken E. Zen, following the Economist’s analysis and discussion of Paul Krugman’s call for trade protectionism.

The Mystery Question is:

“How much of our Sovereign debt is being bought by China or simply reprocessed through the Federal Reserve?”

I must mention, though, that the runner up for Mystery profundity was signalled by an earlier commenter, rewt66, when he brought up the ages-old tragi-comic conundrum of human activity: Unintended Consequences?.