September 30, 2012 | Graham

The Left does outrage so well

I’m wondering if Bob Carr intends to follow Alan Jones in apologising to Julia Gillard for capitalising for political purposes on her loss of her father, because you’d have to put him and Alan Jones in a similar boat.

Certainly the last person who ought to be apologising for anything is Tony Abbott.

A week ago Jones let off steam in a speech to a student club function which he thought was off the record. He claimed that Julia Gillard’s father had “died of shame”.

This is pretty poor form, but surely a problem for Jones and maybe the organisers of the function, but no-one else.

Jones speech only became public yesterday, but today Bob Carr tried to hook Tony Abbott into it.

“Tony Abbott ought to do the decent thing and say today loud and clear that he apologises to Julia Gillard for unacceptable remarks, made at a Liberal party gathering attended by frontbench liberals.

“Tony Abbott ought to send a message that the extremists at that gathering who cheered and applauded and laughed at that appalling utterance, Tony Abbott ought to make it clear that those people are denounced by him as well.”

Just like Jones, Carr is trying to trade off the prime minister’s loss. Unlike Jones, he casts himself as her defender, but that’s where the difference ends because they both use the death of her father for political purposes.

Further, while Jones’ comments were off the cuff and as the transcript shows, a little jumbled, and designed to be broadcast to around 100; Carr’s are premeditated and designed to be broadcast to the nation.

There is no reason for Abbott to apologise. What’s more, if he does apologise for one utterance of Alan Jones, then every other utterance of Jones becomes his problem for ever.

Abbott didn’t put Jones up to this, and despite Carr’s claims, this didn’t even occur at a Liberal Party function (Student Clubs are not part of any political party), so the Liberal party in general has no connection to it at all. The comments also appear to have gone down poorly at the function, a repudiation in themselves.

What we are seeing from Carr is a demonstration of one of the ways Labor has failed around Australia, including in New South Wales under his leadership. Bullying, politicking and harassment are practised to the exclusion of good government. He’s in New York at the moment, supposedly looking after the national interest. It’s not his job to moonlight as a Labor hatchetman at the same time he’s supposed to be being a statesman.

Carr knows Abbott doesn’t share any blame in this, but he can’t resist the temptation to try to implicate him because it suits the script that the ALP has been writing: that you can’t vote for Tony Abbott because he is a misogynistic, homophobic, extremist religious fundamentalist who is a physically intimidating, socially unacceptable caveman.

When you’ve got a government running that sort of abuse as its main re-election strategy it’s no wonder that verbal violence is breaking out all over the place.

Time to take all the trolls out of politics.


Posted by Graham at 3:12 pm | Comments (42) |
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September 23, 2012 | Graham

Fish rot from the head part 3: Why Lewandowsky’s “free market” questions are nonsense

Lewandowsky’s paper is cross-disciplinary. It combines psychology with economics and political science, but none of the authors has any academic qualifications in that area. As a result the questions that seek to measure adherence to “laissez-faire free-market economics” are nonsense.

To start “laissez-faire” (Fr, “to leave things be”) and “free market economics” are one and the same thing, so his terminology is inexact, at best.

This hazy thinking pervades his first question, and is made worse by his use of a four point answering system rather than the standard Likert scale.

Q1. “An economic system based on free markets unrestrained by government interference automatically works best to meet human needs.”

How to answer this question? Anyone who understands economics realises that “free markets” are actually a product of government as governments enforce, and often invent, the rules that make them work. So the question is a nonsense, and anyone with even slight familiarity with the theorists in this area would know that. While there is a lunatic fringe who thinks government is completely unnecessary, it is tiny.

However, the options that one has is to either agree or strongly agree on the one hand, or disagree or strongly disagree on the other. So, you either side against “free markets” or for them, and signal your discontent or otherwise with the wording of the question by the degree to which you hold that opinion.

From memory I agreed. Because what the question expressed is an impossible system I assumed that he meant a free market system with minimal government interference. If he had given a neutral “neither agree nor disagree” then I may well have picked that. But forced to choose, the empirical evidence is in that the free market does work best to meet human needs (another ill-defined concept).

Lewandowsky then poses this question:

Q2. I support the free market system, but not at the expense of the environmental quality

Acute readers will realise straight away that this isn’t English. Apparently you can be a professor in an Australian university conducting commonwealth government funded research and yet not be able to express your survey questions in standard English.

But let’s assume that by “the environmental quality” he means “the quality of the natural environment”, it is still a nonsense proposition. Again, empirically we know that free market economies provide the best protection to the environment, so there is no choice to be made. But if one assumes there were a choice, what is that choice? It is not stated. If we don’t support the free market, what do we support? Communism?

If he had phrased the question “I support the free market system, but with safeguards to protect the quality of the natural environment” it would have made sense, but many of the free market adherents would also have shown up as being environmentally concerned. Asked this way a rational human, aware of the evidence, has to give some degree of support to the proposition, but in the process look as though they aren’t concerned about the environment.

I’m not going to micro-analyse the next four questions, but they suffer from the same defects as above. They have a defective scoring system, embody false dichotomies and straw cases, and are terminologically inexact (for example he brings in a further variation of free markets which are “free and unregulated markets”, which on top of everything else is a contradiction in terms).

The questions are:

Q3. The free-market system may be efficient for resource allocation, but is limited in its capacity to promote social justice

Q4. The preservation of the free-market system is more important than localised environmental concerns

Q5. Free and unregulated markets pose important threats to sustainable development

Q6. The free-market system is likely to promote unsustainable consumption

Another fault with his economic construct is that it purports to measure only one thing – adherence to free market economics – but without measuring the alternatives to the free market he has no way of accurately situating the economic views of his respondents. He also has no way of measuring the different types of free market belief.

What he should have done was to construct a matrix of economic beliefs from the free market to the command economy and then placed all of his respondents in that matrix. It is an approach commonly used in political science and would have cured most of the conceptual issues he has with economics.

By asking the questions he does, what he reveals is his personal bias that you have the free market on one side and the environment on the other.

But that is what his survey is all about. He equates free-market economics with anti-science and the environment with science. He then tries to equate free-market economics with conspiracy theories, and conspiracy theories with anti-science.

In fact, he is the one who is anti-science demonstrated in poor survey construction, substandard understanding of concepts and meaningless statistical analysis of tiny samples, all techniques in search of the pre-manufactured conclusion that people who are skeptical of the IPCC reports are mad. This is a clear example of projection.

Posted by Graham at 11:36 am | Comments (2) |
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September 11, 2012 | Graham

When GetUp runs the government, the government should get out

The federal government’s decision to ban the “super trawler”, while popular with the GetUp mob, is another example of how this government trashes the rule of law.

The rule of law is the concept that the law applies equally to everyone. It is the basis of civilised and modern society. Its obverse is tyranny.

By passing legislation that applies effectively just to one ship this government proves yet again that it is not a legitimate government. It is a tyranny. Anyone interested in human rights and good governance ought to be appalled.

As Brisbane Times reports:

Environment Minister Tony Burke and Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig said in Canberra today that a precautionary approach would be taken over the super trawler – previously known as the FV Margiris – amid ”uncertainties” about the impact it could have on protected species such as dolphins, seals and seabirds.

”If we get this wrong, there are risks to the environment, to commercial operators and to everyone who loves fishing and they are risks I am not prepared to take,” Mr Burke said.

”There has never been a fishing vessel of this capacity in Australia before and the [Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act] needs to be updated so that it can deal with it.”

The super trawler is docked at Port Lincoln in South Australia and was poised to start fishing within days.

This is in the line of decisions that includes the Mining Resource Rental Tax, which was a decision to abandon the rule of law in the case of a particular industry.


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September 07, 2012 | Graham

Fish rot from the head Part 2: what is a conspiracy?

Part 1 showed that the Lewandowsky study was not of >1200 people. The questionnaire posted on the web was actually to recruit people so that those who showed “conspiracist ideation” could be selected and studied further. The total number of people who accepted one or more of Lewandowsky’s conspiracy theories was actually 553, and the greatest number who accepted any one of the theories was 289 while the smallest was 10.

The error for a sample size of 10 is plus or minus 30.99% at 50%, so the conclusions drawn on the question with the sample of 10 – whether the moon landing was faked or not – are useless.

This post will look at the question of what is a conspiracy, and also what constitutes “conspiracist ideation”. The conclusion, just to save you reading to the bottom, is that Lewandowsky has no clear idea so adapts it to what fits his thesis. This is not science because he moves the goal posts to a spot where he will get a positive correlation. It more or less doesn’t matter where he kicks the ball, it will land in the goal because the goal will move to accommodate the ball.

There is a problem in defining exactly what is a conspiracy and why there is a problem believing in conspiracies. Conspiracies are all around us. If you don’t believe in conspiracies, then you are naive. The law recognises that conspiracies occur, and in certain circumstances they are punishable if proven – see criminal and trade practices law.

Lewandowsky defines a conspiracist ideation as “the attempt to explain a significant political or social event as a secret plot by powerful individuals or organisations”.

Anyone who does not have a conspiracist ideation either wasn’t there, or wasn’t paying attention. Did Julia Gillard plot to overthrow Kevin Rudd? Was this a significant political event? Was it secret? Is the NSW right of the ALP powerful? No need to answer, this is all rhetorical.

If conspiracist ideation tells us anything about particular individuals who have it, then it is that they possibly understand better than others what is going on.

Of course, in some cases they are also mad.

Lewandowsky tries to define conspiracist ideation in terms of belief in “mad” ideas, such as that the moon landing was faked, but by doing this he ends up with a definition that is really only limited to belief in certain conspiracies, not a tendency to believe in conspiracies per se.

Which creates a problem for him. Conspiracies are by definition secret, and unless one has been proven to exist, there is no way of proving that they don’t exist. So, I blogged on June 11, 2010 that Kevin Rudd was under threat and might lose. On June 23, Gillard publicly launched her coup and the next day Rudd was gone. The conspiracy was therefore proven to exist.

However, up until the night it was launched prominent plotters were denying that it existed. If for some reason it had not carried through, I could have been criticised for seeing a conspiracy where none existed. That would not be fair, but I would not have been able to prove that it was not fair because it would be just a  matter of opinion.

So, while believing that the moon landings were  faked is wrong, believing that JFK was assassinated by a group rather than a lone gunman, has a much higher probability of being true, and is certainly not “mad”. It may even be true, but without the evidence, that will be a matter of opinion. In his sample 10 people thought the moon landings were fake and 247 thought the Kennedy gunman was not alone, which bears out my point.

So his first problem is that what he defines as a conspiracy (which in his terms seems to be something which people believe in, but which he doesn’t believe exists) is that there is no objective test of whether the conspiracy exists or not.

So he decides on a subjective basis what is a conspiracy, which means he has no scientific basis for his definition.

That then leads to questions of why he includes some and excludes others.

For example. There is a conspiracy theory that global warming skeptics are funded by big oil. Lewandowsky excludes this from his list. His writings confirm that he believes in this conspiracy. Why isn’t it on the list? The fact that it isn’t indicates that he isn’t interested in “conspiracist ideation” in general, but only specific conspiracies.

The only conclusion I can reach is that he leaves it out because it would significantly change his theory of the link between “conspiracist ideation” and “scientific denial”. My expectation is that a lot of those who accept what he calls “the science”, would also accept that conspiracy.

So, what can we say about the conspiracy theories that he does include? One thing is that they are almost all to do with conspiracies by governments or government agencies.

If you subjectively select those who believe in conspiracy theories that have to do with governmental corruption, then you are selecting a group that is prone to believe that the government is trying to put one over on them. No-one should be surprised if these people are less inclined than the population at large to believe in global warming as, putting the science aside, this is something which governments are trying to impose on their populations.

If he had chosen conspiracy theories where corporate or other non-governmental actors are the conspirators, I suspect he would get a different result entirely.

But that is not where it stops. He also decided to eliminate two conspiracy theories. One, that CO2 causing climate change was a hoax, and the other that “U.S. agencies intentionally created the AIDS epidemic and administered it to Black and gay men in the 1970s.”

So, the problem with this part of Lewandowsky’s work is that belief in conspiracies ought to be widespread amongst intelligent people, because they exist. That what is a false conspiracy is unprovable and therefore often a matter of genuine dispute. That he selected conspiracies that were likely to give him the result that he wanted, and generalised from them that they represented a particular mindset. And that he also eliminated conspiracy theories that he had polled on from his model.

If “conspiracist ideation” has any genuine existence, then it ought to be able to be defined by certain behaviours, or in principle beliefs. So rather than listing what he subjectively determines are conspiracy theories, he should have asked questions about beliefs and behaviours.

Questions like “How strongly would you agree or disagree that government decisions are manipulated by commercial interests?”



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September 06, 2012 | Graham

Fine cuts: some feedback on the public service

I haven’t been overwhelmed with responses on public service overmanning, but I’ve had a couple I want to pass on. If you want to add to this, please either leave a comment below, or go to my survey by clicking here.

Jane, who has experience of how short term contracts and the recruitment agencies interact writes:

Hi Graham, I stumbled on this website while trying to find some supportive comments with regard to public service cuts. I worked as an admin temp (between jobs) for Russo Recruitment for approx 6 months from September 2011. I was regularly placed in short term QLD govt positions, AO3 level.

In all honestly not a single position required me to do any work. Occasionally I would answer a phone call or file a few things. The boredom almost killed me, I was expected to sit at a desk all day and do nothing! I continued as it was easy money and filled the gap for a few months.

I assume there is a “designated position” and it is filled whether the work is there or not, otherwise the position may be made redundant.

These temp agencies place large numbers of staff in the public service. How many of these positions are filled because the agency sales staff are good at their job, not because there is work to be done? Following this, how much money is made by the temp agencies? I was disappointed and disillusioned by my experience and completely support the current cuts.

It would be interesting to know how much impact the Newman cuts could be having on the income of recruitment agencies, and if it is significant, whether the state government might be thinking of taking this sort of hiring in-house.

This response comes from someone who definitely is not a public servant. Strikes me as a little unkind, but I’m sure he’s not alone in being unsympathetic to the public service plight.

The Public Service have been a bit of a priveliged elite over recent times. To start with, any advertised job in the public service in the last 10 years has already been given out to someone who has the right connections. Outside applicants don’t stand a chance. This goes right down to entry level high-school leavers. Unlike many (perhaps most) people in the private sector, there are proper procedures for bullying, harrassment and discrimination in the public service & it’s simply not tolerated. It’s rife in the private sector, as is underpaying in the sub-$60K sector, and there is rarely any internal mechanism for sorting things out. You basically have to resign and hope the next place is better. That’s why most younger people would love to have a public sector job – even strong Liberals (and particularly libertarians ironically).

On the economic front, for those of us who keep our jobs, Brisbane is already becoming a better place to live in. I can always get a seat on the train these days since all the people with swipe cards hanging off their belts disappeared. And a lot of people are already moving interstate, reducing housing price pressures. I heard today on RN that the housing bubble is going to burst and the jobs cuts in Brisbane were given as one of the many reasons why. For those of us who have been locked out of the Brisbane market as this seemingly non-ending price spiral continued, a decline in housing prices is just what the doctor ordered.

There are winners and losers in any economic change & I think we are hearing too much about the losers. Yesterday’s losers – those who didn’t get into property before it skyrocketed – are going to be tomorrow’s winners, after 10 long years of the bubble.

Probably not a popular opinion among baby boomers or public servants, but for my generation and younger it will be good news.

I’m interested particularly in his take on public service hiring practices. Is he correct? If so, will the Newman government do something to make the situation more transparent?

Posted by Graham at 11:31 am | Comments (4) |
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September 06, 2012 | Graham

Fish rot from the head Part 1

They say that fish rot from the head, so could the drop in Australia’s performance in education be due to the quality of some of the academics holding tenured positions at universities rather than what happens in primary and secondary school?

If credentialled, well-funded and tenured tertiary institution staff are capable of dishing-up research which should fail an undergraduate, what chance have lower echelons.

Which brings me to the case of Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, who has been recently making a career trying to link what he calls “climate denial” with delusion.

His latest project is a study entitled MOTIVATED REJECTION OF SCIENCE and sub-titled “NASA faked the moon landing|Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science”.

It could have been sub-titled “The man who polled his prejudices and mistook them for the facts”. Prof Lewandowsky’s paper is certainly motivated, but it is not scientific or competent.

I’ve labelled this Part 1, as there is so much to analyse, and I know I will have to serialise.

I first came across this survey when approached by Jo Nova to have a look at the questionnaire two years ago. The study does not include the questionnaire, but I kept screen shots, and yes, I am one of the quoted sample of n>1200, but as we will soon see, n is actually, for the headline results <10. I’ve put the links to the screen shots at the bottom of this page.

The first thing to note is that there are 40 questions in the questionnaire, but a number of them are not referenced in the paper. I’m not sure why this is the case. One of them is also not present in the dataset that Professor Lewandowsky provided to me. That question is:

7. The Iraq War in 2003 was launched for reasons other than to remove Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) from Iraq

This question was also removed, but this was explained in the paper, effectively on the basis that it should never have been in the questionnaire. Which raises the question as to why it was in the questionnaire.

20. The claim that the climate is changing from emissions due to fossil fuel emissions is a hoax perpetrated by corrupt scientists who wish to spend more taxpayer money on climate “research”.

Questions 28 to 32 have also been removed. It was a mystery to me why they were in there in the first place as they ask how I feel about my life. That they play no part in the paper suggests that whatever theory was being investigated using them failed to pan out. If this is the case it is bad practice, and basically dishonest, not to report the failure.

There are two substantial findings in Lewandowsky’s paper. One is that people who believe in the free market are likely to reject science for ideological reasons. The second is that people who believe in particular conspiracy theories are even more likely to reject science for ideological reasons.

I’m going to conclude this first post by looking at how large his “n” really is.

For the free market question there were 6 questions that purported to define it (next blog for why “purported”). The other 5 questions were used in the model. The number of respondents who agreed with all 5 was 80. The graph below shows the number of respondents for each question.

On the basis of this, his n, when talking about free markets is somewhere between 80 and 244, depending. This is a long way short of the >1200.

Things get worse when you look at the conspiracy figures. There were only three correspondents (thank goodness) who agreed with all the propositions, and as this graph shows, generally only small numbers agreed with any of the propositions.

The conspiracy which gave its name to the subtitle in fact had only 10 adherents (and only 3 of these thought global warming was a hoax).

So the n in this case is somewhere between 3 and 289. Again, a long way short of >1200.

Questionnaire images:

Questions 1-6

Questions 7-13

Questions 14-20

Questions 16-21

Questions 22-27

Questions 28-32

Questions 33-39

Questions 35-42


Posted by Graham at 12:34 am | Comments (21) |
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September 05, 2012 | Graham

Rudd’s double pike on the homeless

If you thought that a Labor politician would be happy to know that the government was selling some commercial assets so that they would have more money for the homeless you’d be wrong if the name of that politician was Kevin Rudd.

This extraordinary fact came to light inadvertently, but courtesy of my co-panellist on Steve Austin’s Friday morning Party Games, Janine Walker.

Janine referred to a scrap between state housing minister Bruce Flegg and Kevin Rudd over homelessness that occurred via twitter. I was unaware of it at the time, but have since done my homework.

Janine said it was foolhardy to take on Kevin Rudd. Well, in those terms I guess I’m going to be foolhardy.

What happened was this.

Flegg, federal minister Brendan O’Connor and local member Rudd were all in attendance at the opening of Brisbane Common Ground, an innovative development to house 145 homeless funded by the federal and state governments, built at cost by Grocon (the same company at the centre of the CFMEU strike in Melbourne), and managed by local community group Micah.

There is a mix of commercial and residential in the development and it has some innovative sustainability features.

Functions like this are normally the place for public pleasantries with the niggles kept private. In this case niggles were served for main course.

Kevin Rudd took the opportunity of the available media to launch an attack on the state government for undertaking to sell three caravan parks they currently own, one of which used to be in his electorate.

He claimed that while almost 150 people were to be housed in the new development 150 were being “effectively evicted” at the other end of his electorate.

Unfortunately for Kevin, that is not true. What is worse the caravan parks he refers to are all commercial caravan parks full of tenants who are not housing commission tenants.

These parks are running at a loss, with the state government administrative arrangements costing $1.5 million on their own.

This means that money which should be going to the homeless (and there was a 20% jump in the number on the government’s books over the last twelve months) is being squandered on caravan parks which the public sector could run at a profit.

I’m not sure what “effectively evicted” means, surely you are evicted or you are not, but not one person has been evicted and the parks are to be sold as a going concern. There wouldn’t be much going, and undoubtedly a lot of concern, to the new owners, if they evicted the tenants.

This sums up the problems of federal Labor for me. Even the guy most Australians would like to see lead them can’t help himself and will climb over the welfare of the homeless just for a cheap media stunt. Whatever happened to the party that cares for the battler?

For the record I “door-stopped” Mr Rudd via Twitter today and asked him the following questions to which I have yet to receive any answers. Although to be fair, when you’re following 371,460 and being followed by 1,147,312, why would you even need to bother with TV cameras or a grumpy blogger who happens to be a constituent?

Questions via Twitter to Kevin Rudd

@KRuddMP Hi Kevin. Doing something for my blog on sale of caravan parks and you, Newmand and Flegg. Few things I’d like to know

@KRuddMP Did you say that people were being evicted?

@KRuddMP Are you aware that these caravan parks are fully commercial and not welfare housing?

@KRuddMP Are you aware that they are to be sold as going concerns?

@KRuddMP Are you aware that while commercial they run at a loss? Should housing commission money subsidise commercial operations?

@KRuddMP Anything else I should know?

Posted by Graham at 10:32 pm | Comments (1) |
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September 01, 2012 | Ronda Jambe

China – the sum of all fears, and hopes

How wonderful to arrive in Hong Kong and find an excellent Australian television channel available. It is that feeling of getting closer to home that will sustains me during one month in China. Having taught many Chinese students, it is appropriate to see how they live in their own country.

Will China ever become a country of migrants?

In Italy, for so long a people exporter, the Chinese are becoming ever more apparent, running shops and offering services. There is no doubt they will run circles round the Italians.

After being led in our group through Beijing East train station a few evenings ago, my gratitude for the circumstance of living in Australia has taken another great leap forward:

I’ve always admired the Chinese, but my respect for them has gone up quite a few notches. First impressions of Shanghai (Hong Kong doesn’t really count): ultra-modernised, extremely efficient, and proud, a tendency to silly fashion adherence notwithstanding:

It is just a matter of time before the Chinese start expressing themselves in more impactful ways. However, a fellow traveller said he can’t believe how much more colourful and happy China is now, compared to the 1970s, when grim expressions and Mao suits were the norm.

Are the Chinese still inscrutable?

The Chinese are both tougher and softer than I’d expected, but in different ways. Tougher just to persist as they do in a massed society, crammed into their super metro (12 lines or more, all pretty new) and taking a few minutes just to get onto the escalator.

Crush, crush, push, push, all without a harsh word or frown. New Yorkers are grumpier than this. And softer because even casual encounters have been pleasant, full of smiles and laughter (like when I came upon 3 little boys splashing naked with two older generations in observance, making the best possible use of the verdant garden strip on Century Avenue that is Shanghai’s answer to the Champs Elysee.)

Their love of and encouragement of their adorable children is dazzling. An exhibition of traditional toys in Beijing was filled with parents and kiddies drawing the displays. Title: Great Success Comes from Playing.

Who designed all these futuristic buildings in Shanghai?

They are certainly impressive, and their urban design museum reveals a rich history and a promising future:

At least they have recognised the importance of open space and greenery. Their publicity photos and ads all feature natural beauty prominently. And you have to respect a country that has neat free public toilet blocks with good signage every couple of hundred metres. The Metros and streets are always clean, or someone is busy getting them that way.

Oh, for fresh milk!

Where we were staying, near a freeway overpass and just 4 metro stops from People’s Square, the entire district smelled of tobacco, and sometimes, piss. The noise on the street was deafening, the air reminded me of a scene from Bladerunner, and I doubted my ability to stand-down the cars and motorcycles safely enough to cross the street to a convenience store, where we had to guess that the carton we were buying was actually milk. Try waking up to this view:

As a command economy (and a police state) China could make many more leaps forward towards solving their environmental and economic problems.

One glaring issue is the still closed nature of their society. It is not tourism friendly, with few English or European language speakers, and little information in English. We got our money back after entering the interesting looking science and technology museum in Shanghai because none of the exhibits had English info.

Picture writing has had its day

Going out on my ethno-centric limb now, I believe that the Chinese writing system creates a cultural barrier equivalent to their Great Wall long ago, and just as self-limiting.  There is an element in the Chinese that doesn’t want a more diverse, receptive population or visitors. Heaven knows they have enough to deal with as is.

Why are the English translations  in China so quaint?

There is a truculence as well as some charm in the peculiar ways they provide captions and signs in English. And good luck trying to find any foreign language media, written or electronic. Haven’t they asked a true bilingual to do a quick edit? Ever?

But think of how Attaturk brought in a phonetic system to Turkey, and they haven’t looked back compared to countries with Arabic script. Imagine if the Germans, out of misguided pride, insisted on only using their Gothic script. Or think of the Japanese, stagnating along, still a closed shop.

A phonetic system would give me a handle on how to communicate, and make it easier for Chinese to pick up a bit of English.

Such are the musings of an overwhelmed and respiratorily challenged visitor. In two weeks I’ll be happily home.



Posted by Ronda Jambe at 11:13 am | Comments (3) |
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