I have been tearing through books recently, due to my snazzy iPad Mini. I did a review a couple weeks ago, and I like that type of post, so here goes another one, this time 4 (5?) books and not three.
I will review the first three here, and then do the last two – both by Hunter Thompson, in a separate post. It would be too much to swallow for the four of you who read this, so thank me in the comment section. Also, Thompson’s stuff is so different, so raw and wild and unique, that I think it needs its own little place. Not to take away from Hawking, Sagan or Zinn, they are great minds that have touched mine with their work … I just think that Hunter wouldn’t really fit in and kinda demands his own space. Anyway, it could also be that I just don’t have the back muscles to sit here and type for 3 hours about books I read for an audience of three, 2 of which won’t read past
I keep reading stuff in the news that reminds me of stuff I wrote a long time ago. My ego demands I put it here for my mom and friends to read, and agree with. Today’s example is an excellent essay by Dr. Christopher Ford, called Sinocentrism for the Information Age: Comments on the 4th Xiangshan Forum.
Here is the intro to the story:
“On November 15-18, 2012, Dr. Ford attended the 4th Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, an event sponsored by the International Military Branch of the China Association for Military Science of the Academy of Military Science of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The paper he presented to this conference appears on NPF and on the Hudson Institute website. Below, however, appears a follow-up essay based upon Dr. Ford’s experiences at the conference, where he served on a Roundtable discussion group focused upon strategic mutual trust.”
So what did Dr. Ford experience? In the clear, polite, yet piercing language of the consummate professional Dr. Ford describes nothing more than Chinese generals demanding everyone in the world shut up and do what China says with regard to any and all issues that have even the slightest relation to China. I can just imagine everyone at the “Roundtable” trying to control their anger, shaking their heads at Chinese bombasticism, and trying their best to use logic and “facts” to convince these generals that there may be an alternative view of reality that they have not yet considered.
Reminds me of a dinner I once had with an Air Force colonel, his family and friends, and Luna. The colonel was Luna’s “uncle” and I was her “foreign friend” – I shudder to think of what the two of us had in common. Whatever we did have in common re: Luna would remain the only bridge to cross, due to entrenched political views on his side and imperialist lies on mine. Naturally, crossing the only bridge between us was unthinkable. In fact, Luna kept her head down for the entire dinner.
Long story short, Colonel Tight-britches said that the US had never won a war in Asia, that any attempt to do so would end the same way the Korean War had (Total Defeat and Humiliation at the Hands of the Chinese), and that in order to avoid utter defeat, the US had better recognize the wisdom inherent in all Chinese due to 5,000 years of continued, unbroken, glorious civilization and just get with the program.
The Program being, in summary: acknowledge China as Master and move within a worldview that establishes said acknowledgement as the basis for any and all interaction.
The Bo Xilai Incident will not die a quiet death. The plodding censors in the Chinese government are stirring up the rumor pot, and no one is sure if that is the goal or just a byproduct of incompetence and the absurdity of Web censorship in general. According to a recent CNN article, “Heavy hand of China’s censors fuels online frenzy,” there were even rumors of tanks on the streets of Beijing.
As Bill Bishop puts it,
“In the absence of transparency and credible official media, rumors fly,”
Indeed. A rumor I heard yesterday is even more spectacular and is making the rounds here in Chengdu and slowly inserting itself into the online frenzy. It’s probably as unfounded as anything else out there, but with Tibetan spies, dramatic snatches and behind the scenes high-level political deals, it makes for one of the more entertaining rumors out there.
As a responsible journalist, I should point out that the following is a rumor, unsubstantiated and therefore to be taken for what I believe it is: the makings of a great fiction novel.
I didn’t have the confidence to step into the Wang-Bo scandal that has raged across the mainstream Western media (and parts of the Weibosphere) because I just couldn’t confirm anything. And neither can anyone else, but that doesn’t seem to stop them. For the West, the sacking of Wang – or whatever you call having an official hide under the American’s skirts until he is pulled out by bickering National Police Agents and hauled back to Beijing for “questioning” – was basically an attempt by the center to cut into Bo Xilai’s growing power. Nip this whole ‘Singing Red” campaign in the bud, lest it bloom into true Cultural Revolution zealotry and spread across the lush, wet highlands that surround the chaos that Bo currently presides over.
But my confidence has miraculously returned.
I have spoken to a few friends around here who have a better grasp of Chinese politics than I do and have read pretty much everything anyone has written on the subject so now, like the gnome who creeps out of the flame-scarred hut after the dragon has ravished everything and went on to another village, I dare poke my head out to have my say.
Can it be denied that the US is actively engaging China’s border nations in an attempt to contain and control China? It seems pretty clear to most observers that such was the case years ago – Kissinger commented on the idea of containment back in 2005 – but with the recent moves in Myanmar and Darwin, it seems quite clear that the US has no intention of “sitting back” while China slowly takes control of the Pacific.
Is that even the case, that China was “taking control of the Pacific”? Now we can never really now because containment implies, and in a very clear way demands, a reciprocating outward pressure from China itself to puncture the box. A city won’t start digging trenches and tunnels and seeking ways out of a siege until it finds itself besieged.