15 votes

Hurricane China: How to prepare

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55 comments

  1. [7]
    Omnicrola
    Link
    I got maybe about a third of the way through before I quit. There's some interesting points he's making, but the thing reads like listening to a friend who reads tech blogs all day go on a...

    I got maybe about a third of the way through before I quit. There's some interesting points he's making, but the thing reads like listening to a friend who reads tech blogs all day go on a caffeine-fueled manic writing bender about the amazing insight they had.

    19 votes
    1. [3]
      EgoEimi
      Link Parent
      I was just lamenting to a friend about this essay and the rambling, unstructured style of internet essays. There's been a big recent influx of such Ribbonfarm, Silicon Valley SV...

      I was just lamenting to a friend about this essay and the rambling, unstructured style of internet essays. There's been a big recent influx of such Ribbonfarm, Silicon Valley SV intellectual-wannabe essays.

      But, good lord, so many of the authors don't know the basics of essay-writing.

      Grade school teaches the hamburger essay format — introduce main points and thesis! Go through and develop each main point! Conclude with tying together main points to thesis! — because it works. The author should give the reader a map instead of challenging them to a chase through a maze.

      And lord do we know in our attention-deficient era no one has the time or patience for a maze chase.

      11 votes
      1. vektor
        Link Parent
        I have my quarrels with the usual essay format. Modern media is nice, give me some hyperlinks. Make it proper Tim-Berners-Lee-is-my-sensei hypertext. Make it 15 pages in a small wiki, each page...

        I have my quarrels with the usual essay format. Modern media is nice, give me some hyperlinks. Make it proper Tim-Berners-Lee-is-my-sensei hypertext. Make it 15 pages in a small wiki, each page elaborating on one distinct point. Cross-reference other parts of the wiki when needed, tie it into one argument, done. I can stroll through it however I see fit. It's not a maze, and it isn't a linear commute to work either, it's a park I can use at my leisure. Include all the nice little side notes that I'm sure you wanna cram in there, but tuck them away in another page and cross-link them. Give me the agency to skip as I see fit, by writing in such a way, that you don't rely on me having read your every word.

        1 vote
      2. reifyresonance
        Link Parent
        I would pay for a service (or volunteer to contribute to one) that takes semi-popular essays like this, cuts out the chaff, simplifies/shortens, and fixes the structure.

        I would pay for a service (or volunteer to contribute to one) that takes semi-popular essays like this, cuts out the chaff, simplifies/shortens, and fixes the structure.

        1 vote
    2. vektor
      Link Parent
      Yeah, reminds me of someone I know. I can't dismiss his basic points, because he happens to arrive at right conclusions every so often, but his arguments are all over the place, and sometimes the...

      Yeah, reminds me of someone I know. I can't dismiss his basic points, because he happens to arrive at right conclusions every so often, but his arguments are all over the place, and sometimes the conclusions are waaaaay off. Both the post, and the person I know.

      3 votes
    3. skybrian
      Link Parent
      More likely, the other tech blogs are copying Steve Yegge. He's one of the original ranting tech bloggers. He's been out of the game for a while, though.

      More likely, the other tech blogs are copying Steve Yegge. He's one of the original ranting tech bloggers. He's been out of the game for a while, though.

      2 votes
    4. hamstergeddon
      Link Parent
      That's a pretty accurate description of most tech things on Medium.

      That's a pretty accurate description of most tech things on Medium.

      1 vote
  2. [30]
    clepins
    Link
    The whole essay screams of so-called "Yellow Peril"--comparing the Chinese people to a thoughtless destructive force of nature ought to get the writer in the "trouble" they hem and haw so much...

    The whole essay screams of so-called "Yellow Peril"--comparing the Chinese people to a thoughtless destructive force of nature ought to get the writer in the "trouble" they hem and haw so much about. I see no reason to fear Chinese corporations any more than the American ones--it's obvious that American tech companies run counter to "democracy" or any other collective ideal if it benefits them, and to look for any morality from them is like expecting a grizzly bear to wait for the blessing of the meal at dinner. If we want the Tech Giants to represent the interests of their users (i.e. the people), they should be nationalized and the profit-motive snuffed out of them all together. We've legalized corruption in all facets of government in the "West" by calling it "lobbying," but when people are given license to be xenophobic by scaremongering about the acquisition of Epic Games, they jump at it, I suppose.

    12 votes
    1. [11]
      vektor
      Link Parent
      How about "Chinese companies can not be regulated by a democratically elected government, because they are under the jurisdiction of a authoritarian major power"? I mean, as a european I don't...

      I see no reason to fear Chinese corporations any more than the American ones

      How about "Chinese companies can not be regulated by a democratically elected government, because they are under the jurisdiction of a authoritarian major power"? I mean, as a european I don't like US Big Data companies having a huge influence in my life, but I can deal with it because I know there is a few layers of democratic control -in european and US institutions- involved. Corruption and lack of adequate democratic influence, sure, but I'm really not sure WTF china will do if you give them too much power.

      I'm aware my following implication is not supported by your writing, but: If being worried about a expansionist authoritarian foreign power makes me xenophobic, then I guess I am.

      30 votes
      1. [9]
        Comment deleted by author
        Link Parent
        1. [8]
          vektor
          Link Parent
          Agreed. I mean, I agree with the point about regulating tech a lot more (go, muricans, get it done for the rest of us), but that won't hinder nor help china. What needs to happen is that the...

          Agreed. I mean, I agree with the point about regulating tech a lot more (go, muricans, get it done for the rest of us), but that won't hinder nor help china. What needs to happen is that the democratic powers, if we take democracy seriously, should spread it where we can in the most peaceful way possible. Eastern europe might be a good example of this, as far as I can tell; Korea, Germany and Japan if you're willing to look farther into the past. And wherever peaceful "uplifting" (as patronizing as that sounds, forgive) is not possible, we should not give them the tools to gut us. By sharing freely what we have (in terms of IP, for example, or education), we're giving them the tools to use that against us. By investing in their country and building shit tons of high-tech manufacturing there, we're depriving our own people of work and investing heavily in their country. Why? I'm all for investing into poor nations that can be coaxed into a more liberal world view with a little bit of help, and even more so for investing into poor nations that already share a lot of values with the west.

          It's kind of the paradox of tolerance: The chinese govt. isn't exactly fond and friendly with the west, quite the contrary. By accepting that and still doing business with them as we are, we have to compromise our values, because our and their values aren't compatible and they're not exactly giving in[citation needed].

          Maybe the error in my thinking here is one of values of the west: Maybe the west isn't acting according to liberal ideas, because western elites aren't liberal, but rather authoritarian - because our democratic institutions aren't as strong as we think they are.

          [BTW, I used the word "liberal" relatively liberally. Please consider it a stand in of a social-liberal, democratic fundamental ideology, not at all equivalent to libertarian or democratic-party ideology]

          7 votes
          1. [5]
            vektor
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            To expand on my own point here (self replies aren't frowned upon, right?) I think a fundamental problem of democracy is the equality part: Your carelessly stupid opinion is as valuable as my...

            because our democratic institutions aren't as strong as we think they are.

            To expand on my own point here (self replies aren't frowned upon, right?)

            I think a fundamental problem of democracy is the equality part: Your carelessly stupid opinion is as valuable as my highly-researched, peer-reviewed, culmination of a lifetime of study and passion, opinion. Democracy is, as implemented today, fundamentally incapable of correctly assigning weight to voices that merit that, because we believe that equality means "everyone gets one vote" and it's done. It isn't. And it isn't even the only way of achieving democratic equality. The extent of my democratic participation is usually limited to voting for one party out of a few. I can not determine which party for which domain of policy; I can much less use my power more in issues I care or know about. As a result, people like my grandparents who have little stake in climate change or tech, and just want things to stay roughly the same and pensions to stay intact have as much of a voice as me in every single issue. The ones they care a lot for, the ones they care not for, the ones they haven't a hint of a clue about. What makes this more "equal" than the alternative, where my knowledge or passion is considered? Where I can say "Don't care about pensions, do as you please, but please do something about climate change"?

            Because I think that's what's holding democracy back from making the right decisions more often: We have great minds with great ideas. We just can't transport them to the top when and where it matters. We could be as amazingly efficient as china, while being better.

            5 votes
            1. [4]
              skybrian
              Link Parent
              It seems like those of us with carefully researched opinions should be able to get more votes by convincing others? At least, ideally. I don't see why we deserve extra votes to be handed to us...

              It seems like those of us with carefully researched opinions should be able to get more votes by convincing others? At least, ideally.

              I don't see why we deserve extra votes to be handed to us without doing the work.

              2 votes
              1. [3]
                vektor
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                I'm sure there's more possible reasons, but one would be that the decision is important to me and not to others. Our current system forces everyone to have an implicit voice in everything. My...

                I'm sure there's more possible reasons, but one would be that the decision is important to me and not to others. Our current system forces everyone to have an implicit voice in everything. My grandma would affect tech legislation by voting conservative, even if she only cares about pensions. She don't care about GDPR or copyright reform. But she can't even abstain without abstaining from everything.

                Some legislation only affects some people, so beyond a small stake representing fiscal effects, the others shouldn't get a say.

                1 vote
                1. [2]
                  skybrian
                  Link Parent
                  California has statewide propositions where you can actually vote on specific things, and I don’t think it’s an improvement. It seems like there are many issues that are simply not the sort of...

                  California has statewide propositions where you can actually vote on specific things, and I don’t think it’s an improvement. It seems like there are many issues that are simply not the sort of thing voters can make an informed decision on. We’re voting on things we never heard of. Even if you do try to make a good decision, the information needed to do it isn’t easily available.

                  The same is true of down-ballot electoral offices where you don’t know any of the candidates and there’s little or no reporting, so you’re just guessing. These probably shouldn’t be elected offices at all.

                  It seems like that’s why we have representatives? Presumably they have the time (and sometimes staff) to investigate all sorts of things that voters might not know about. In theory, anyway. Assuming you trust your representative. I sometimes think about alternative systems where voters might have a better relationship with their representative.

                  One way to limit voting to the relevant people is to make it a local office, rather than region or nationwide. But other than geography, I’m not sure there is a principled way to do it.

                  2 votes
                  1. vektor
                    Link Parent
                    Oh, I'm not saying there is a principled way of doing it. I have one idea floating about occasionally, where you split the parliament into a bunch of parliament, one per department basically. Then...

                    Oh, I'm not saying there is a principled way of doing it. I have one idea floating about occasionally, where you split the parliament into a bunch of parliament, one per department basically. Then I can vote for a particular party in a particular parliament. But that doesn't really address either of the two issues I have.

                    I have recently read the complaint that politicians regulating themselves (i.e. passing legislation that regulate their own conduct or pay) is of course a silly thing. Maybe a distinct elected office that oversees the foundations of our democracy is in order - a parliament body that is the one-stop shop for (a) lobbying control (b) corruption allegations (c) questions of politician pay and conduct legislation (d) points of order.

                    The idea is that they are outside of their own control - questions about their conduct are decided by the people in direct democratic vote. They are also selected democratically. And in a democracy that allocates votes, such that people who care, are informed and are affected have the appropriate weight in decisions, this body would be the one to make decisions as to how that weight is allocated.

                    Of course, I don't see a good way how they could do that except based on loose demographic properties: Tax obligation, age, profession, education. Which isn't going to be satisfactory.

                    1 vote
          2. [2]
            spctrvl
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            I think there are a couple of reasons why the west essentially bankrolled china's rise to superpower status. The first, and IMO most important reason, is that economic elites care a lot more about...

            I think there are a couple of reasons why the west essentially bankrolled china's rise to superpower status. The first, and IMO most important reason, is that economic elites care a lot more about economic liberalism than political liberalism, to the extent that they really don't care about democracy, especially abroad. If there's any sort of movement to do business only with democratic countries, which there absolutely should be, I'm not aware of its existence. Most you seem to get is bursts of social outrage every now and then when people belatedly remember that we're so economically integrated with slaving, authoritarian police states that we're basically complicit in their atrocities and crimes.

            The second reason, which is also worth keeping in mind, is that the political atmosphere of the 90's, which is when a lot of the relevant trade policy was set, was one of neoliberal triumphalism. That we were living at the end of history, bourgeois democracy had won, and that the CCP were living on borrowed time anyway, and that economic development would hasten their fall if anything. Whereas the opposite happened to be the case, since history is in fact not over, and there's a difference between an economically dependent satellite state embracing the ideology of its hegemon a la Taiwan, and a potential superpower like the PRC embracing the ideology of its most significant rival.

            4 votes
            1. vektor
              Link Parent
              Indeed. I think the counterpoint to that line of thinking could be North Korea. Where the west did not invest, did not try to hasten any fall by economic development. Quite the contrary: The fall...

              Indeed. I think the counterpoint to that line of thinking could be North Korea. Where the west did not invest, did not try to hasten any fall by economic development. Quite the contrary: The fall of the regime (or at least its disappearance into irrelevance) is hastened by disinvestment. NK was a potent threat, from what I can tell, a few decades ago. Since then, NK has been stagnant. Their army is in atroceous condition, their economy even more so. Technologically, we are ahead of them by decades. That could be china right now, just bigger. NK has nukes now, sure, but they can't use them for fear of retaliation, nevermind that their nukes might not even reach their target. NK will take a few more decades to truly die (because it is being propped up by CN, which is being propped up by the west in a way), but if china didn't interfere, the NK situation could be sorted out quite quickly and peacefully I believe.

              There is a reason autocracies don't develop that well, because autocracies do not like education, and education is key for long-term development. China seems to be quite good at walking on that knife's edge these days, but that's also because we let them.

              4 votes
      2. [2]
        clepins
        Link Parent
        These same "democratically-controlled" corporations profit off of war, the destruction of our environment, and the exploitation of people in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Enslaved workers...

        These same "democratically-controlled" corporations profit off of war, the destruction of our environment, and the exploitation of people in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Enslaved workers collecting palm oil for the manufacture of Oreo cookies are at least heartened, I'm sure, that Mondelez International could in theory be under the oversight of the somewhat-democratically-elected American government--never mind that both Republicans and Democrats are bought and paid for corporatists, through and through. While you're afraid of the Chinese government telling corporations what to do (which seems more like the right way around, for a country), I'm afraid of Western corporations telling our governments what to do, which they've done since its founding.

        8 votes
        1. vektor
          Link Parent
          Fair, we should be better about that. But that's comparing apples and oranges. Let's put it like this: I'm more afraid of CN corporations because they are as ruthless as any other corporation,...

          Enslaved workers collecting palm oil for the manufacture of Oreo cookies are at least heartened, I'm sure, that Mondelez International could in theory be under the oversight of the somewhat-democratically-elected American government

          Fair, we should be better about that. But that's comparing apples and oranges. Let's put it like this: I'm more afraid of CN corporations because they are as ruthless as any other corporation, while being backed by an authoritarian, expansionist, autocratic major nation state. US corporations are just corporations. Maybe they can gather some nation state support sometimes by lobbying, but sometimes they really really can't. That's a good enough reason to prefer one over the other.

          While you're afraid of the Chinese government telling corporations what to do (which seems more like the right way around, for a country), I'm afraid of Western corporations telling our governments what to do, which they've done since its founding.

          You know, there isn't much difference if the country is autocratic. Whether the dictator tells the CEO, or the CEO tells the dictator what's going to happen, that doesn't matter. But we do have the system in place to have the president/senate tell the CEO how it's going to go. We just have to use it. I'm not going to deny that the US has problems in its democratic institutions. Y'all need some more democracy in your democracy, so you can democracy while you democracy. Also: Both of these things -chinese influence and corruption/"lobbying"- can be huge problems at the same time, this isn't a competition.

          14 votes
    2. [17]
      nothis
      Link Parent
      Really? You read that piece and what you got out of it is, "ew, racism"? I quote: They're scary because they're competent.

      Really? You read that piece and what you got out of it is, "ew, racism"? I quote:

      China is the biggest and most organized economic, political, and soon, military force in the world.

      They're scary because they're competent.

      7 votes
      1. [3]
        psi
        Link Parent
        Honestly these are two separate issues. The piece can be problematic even if the underlying thesis is valid. Let's start with the problematic bits. I rolled my eyes when the author mentioned that...

        Honestly these are two separate issues. The piece can be problematic even if the underlying thesis is valid.

        Let's start with the problematic bits. I rolled my eyes when the author mentioned that they wanted to pivot from launching games to launching a talk show (so, almost immediately), but I stopped reading when I got to this:

        To give one pertinent example, China is absolutely 100% OK with “stealing” other peoples’ intellectual property. But to them, it’s not stealing — or at least it’s not viewed there in the same light that we view theft. We view cheating, and IP theft, as a form of “cheating at life”, and being grossly unfair to others, and we have sayings like “cheaters never prosper”, which we all know is bullshit but we say it anyway because we want to discourage cheating. Western society looks down on cheaters, and we think of them (at least a little bit) as bad people because they are cheating.

        But to the Chinese, and as you’ll see, also to most of the rest of the world, life is literally all a big game. If they succeed in hacking you and getting all your supposedly secure data, then They got you! Ha! You should have done a better job of protecting your damn data! It’s a victory to be celebrated, and although they may do it in private to maintain face, they celebrate just like you would if your team won a football game. Morality doesn’t even begin to factor into it for them.

        To suggest that the Chinese people find stealing and cheating acceptable, and that this attitude is somehow baked into their culture, is reductionist, absurd, and completely unsubstantiated. According to this simplistic worldview, if Wenjie leaves a sandwich in the fridge, and Han snatched it later, Wenjie would have no right to feel wronged -- after all, life is "all a big game" and everyone in China is fine with stealing.

        In fact, when the author suggests China is fine with stealing, what they really mean is that China is okay with IP theft . But IP theft is not the Chinese people behaving unethically, it's Chinese companies behaving unethically. And Chinese companies only behave this way because they're protected by the Chinese government. Rest assured that if Western governments protected Western companies similarly, IP theft would be rampant here too.

        Nevertheless, instead of seeing this as a moral failing of the Chinese government, the author instead paints the Chinese people as living by as some foreign system of ethics incomptaible with our own.

        Of course, China does threaten democracies. But the threat doesn't stem from the Chinese being cheaters; it stems from China being an autocracy with a massive economy, an even more massive military, and a nationalistic ruling party.

        8 votes
        1. nothis
          Link Parent
          So we simply cannot talk about Chinese society in a negative way without it being racist? For example, this article about China's culture of corner-cutting would be racist? China has not...

          So we simply cannot talk about Chinese society in a negative way without it being racist? For example, this article about China's culture of corner-cutting would be racist?

          China has not acknowledged the concept of intellectual property until the 1980s (and has basically little or no enforcement of it since). Suggesting this not having an impact on Chinese society's view of copying other people's work seems absurd to me. I'm not a fan of the article's meandering style and in-your-face tone, either. But reducing it to "Han snatches sandwiches" and thus dismissing it whole doesn't seem productive to me, either.

          7 votes
        2. skybrian
          Link Parent
          You’re right, it would be better to be specific about the kind of cheating he’s talking about. But it seems like differences in business culture are still about people being okay with what we call...

          You’re right, it would be better to be specific about the kind of cheating he’s talking about. But it seems like differences in business culture are still about people being okay with what we call IP theft? You can’t entirely separate people from business, particularly when we are talking about small businesses.

          Possibly he could give more examples of widespread IP theft, but have you read anything about counterfeiting in China? This is a common subject of news stories. There are apparently large shopping malls and they have customers who know they’re buying fakes.

          Differences in business norms can be systemic and yes, the government plays a role in perpetuating them based on what they try to enforce, but it’s not just government.

          It might be more useful to ask why US businesses are more interested in following some kinds of regulations, to the extent that they do? Based on widespread music piracy, I don’t think there is any great aversion to IP theft in this country either? At work, though, there is a lot of rule-following. Sometimes.

          We talk sometimes about Amazon not doing enough to keep fakes out, which shows that there is a norm for established retailers to try not to sell fakes.

          There is cheating and corruption everywhere, so this is a matter of scale, what’s common and what’s more rare.

          1 vote
      2. [13]
        chrysanth
        Link Parent
        Part of the model minority myth (which is commonly deployed to dehumanize Asian Americans) is that Asians are smart and competent to an almost robotic or superhuman degree. Just because the author...

        Part of the model minority myth (which is commonly deployed to dehumanize Asian Americans) is that Asians are smart and competent to an almost robotic or superhuman degree. Just because the author describes them as competent does not mean he is not employing common racist tropes in the way he is talking about China (in other words, being racist).

        3 votes
        1. [5]
          nothis
          Link Parent
          I'm sorry but this is the reason some intellectuals are checking out from liberal discussion topics. We cannot discuss Chinese politics and culture without being racist?

          I'm sorry but this is the reason some intellectuals are checking out from liberal discussion topics. We cannot discuss Chinese politics and culture without being racist?

          9 votes
          1. [4]
            chrysanth
            Link Parent
            We're looking at the topic with such different frameworks that there isn't the potential for productive discussion here.

            We're looking at the topic with such different frameworks that there isn't the potential for productive discussion here.

            1 vote
            1. [3]
              nothis
              Link Parent
              I agree but it's also a bit tragic that it has come to this. My attempt at squeezing some productivity out of this: In what framework could we discuss Chinese politics and society (in a possibly...

              I agree but it's also a bit tragic that it has come to this.

              My attempt at squeezing some productivity out of this: In what framework could we discuss Chinese politics and society (in a possibly critical context of global competition) without being racist? Is it just tone? Is it the filler words used in the article (a self-described "rant")? Or do you suggest the very topic is inherently racist?

              10 votes
              1. skybrian
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                Keep in mind that we’re talking about things we have little direct experience with. If we talk about our opinions then we are really just comparing intuition on what’s plausible, implausible, or...

                Keep in mind that we’re talking about things we have little direct experience with. If we talk about our opinions then we are really just comparing intuition on what’s plausible, implausible, or suspicious. That’s not so useful when our intuition isn’t based on much.

                So, my usual suggestion is to share links and tell stories. In this case, I shared a link to what I’ll generously call an opinion piece, and it didn’t go so well. I guess it would be better to look for more factual reporting?

                If we are genuinely curious about China then we should probably go looking for more links about what’s going on in China, reports of travelers and immigrants and so on. Maybe read a book or two? That’s work, though. I can say I have been curious enough about China to read a few books, but haven’t recently.

                I think it’s reasonable to decide that our discussion of this link is mostly played out and it would be better to start over discussing some other article. This doesn’t mean banning the topic.

                4 votes
              2. chrysanth
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                As the very first comment in this thread suggests, there is a long history to "yellow peril," and it is not my job to explain to you what that history is, nor could I do a better job in this...

                As the very first comment in this thread suggests, there is a long history to "yellow peril," and it is not my job to explain to you what that history is, nor could I do a better job in this Tildes comment than the historians who have written books and books about the subject of Chinese exclusion and how China and Chinese people have been configured by white power structures in the "West" as a threat that is trying to replace them. If you want to get started, check out Beth Lew-Williams' The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America. What this article does is reify that discourse in a way that gives them plausible deniability when accused of being racist. I mean, he even pulls the classic "I have Asian friends and a Asian wife, so I would know" shenanigans. It's not that it's racist to talk about how China is encroaching on the United States on the world stage as a phenomenon. It is nationalist when people are worried about the United States getting replaced, and racist arguments have long been used to justify that nationalism. This article is in that tradition. Upon reflection, the model minority myth wasn't the trope the author was invoking in that specific comment I made, and it was my mistake to have suggested it without thinking more deeply, but the piece is problematic, and we shouldn't be talking about being "scared" of China overtaking us, because then you're just reproducing the xenophobia the piece wants to generate.

                4 votes
        2. [7]
          kilroy
          Link Parent
          And the author never said they were robotic or superhuman, you did. He did say Chinese engineers were ever bit as on the ball with current tech as American engineers.

          And the author never said they were robotic or superhuman, you did. He did say Chinese engineers were ever bit as on the ball with current tech as American engineers.

          6 votes
          1. [6]
            chrysanth
            Link Parent
            If you can't see what it is about this piece that is problematic, I won't be able to explain it to you in a comment on Tildes. We'll have to agree to disagree.

            If you can't see what it is about this piece that is problematic, I won't be able to explain it to you in a comment on Tildes. We'll have to agree to disagree.

            1 vote
            1. [2]
              kilroy
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              Sure, we can do that. Perhaps next time though don't make statements which you aren't prepared to back up. It's not really fair to the person you're commenting on nor the people you're discussing...

              Sure, we can do that. Perhaps next time though don't make statements which you aren't prepared to back up. It's not really fair to the person you're commenting on nor the people you're discussing with.

              8 votes
              1. chrysanth
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                See my comment here, we are operating with different sets of facts because there isn't a recognition of the history of yellow peril rhetoric and violence in this discussion. I'm not backing up my...

                See my comment here, we are operating with different sets of facts because there isn't a recognition of the history of yellow peril rhetoric and violence in this discussion. I'm not backing up my facts because I'd have to explain yellow peril to you, and I don't feel like writing a 2000+ word comment about Chinese exclusion and how the tropes continue to be used today. I'll acknowledge that the model minority myth wasn't the trope being deployed in this case, but that the piece is adjacent to that tradition is clear.

                3 votes
            2. [4]
              Comment deleted by author
              Link Parent
              1. [2]
                psi
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                See: Tildes is pushing out the minority voice It's not the duty of minorities to explain to non-minorities why something's problematic (and I'm speaking generally here, not necessarily about...

                See: Tildes is pushing out the minority voice

                It's not the role duty of minorities to explain to non-minorities why something's problematic (and I'm speaking generally here, not necessarily about /u/chrysanth).

                Think of it this way: if an Asian American read this article and felt uncomfortable, and then they walked into this discussion, do they really need to justify their feelings? I mean, essentially what you're saying is, "Hey, I know you said this article made you feel uncomfortable, but I need you to explain your feelings to me [not an Asian American], and then I'll decide whether your feelings are valid." I'm not trying to attack you -- I believe your motives are pure. But ultimately that's the sort of discourse that drives minorities away from this site. So yes, maybe there "can't be a discussion if one side is not willing to discuss," but there also won't be any discussion if one side isn't present.

                As for what's wrong with the article, I touched on that here. Notice that the paragraphs I quoted (as well as the few surrounding it and many others throughout) could've been replaced with "Chinese companies routinely steal from Western companies," which is a factually correct statement that doesn't require half-baked speculation on the motives of nearly a fifth of the world's population.

                6 votes
                1. [2]
                  Comment deleted by author
                  Link Parent
                  1. psi
                    Link Parent
                    I guess it would be more accurate to say, "It's not the duty of minorities to explain to non-minorities why something's problematic," so I'll fix that in my post. Minority groups will share their...

                    I guess it would be more accurate to say, "It's not the duty of minorities to explain to non-minorities why something's problematic," so I'll fix that in my post. Minority groups will share their problems with you if you listen closely and often, but that doesn't mean they have to detail their grievances at your convenience.

                    5 votes
              2. chrysanth
                Link Parent
                Already responded to a few others but @psi has the gist of it. I've spent a disproportionate amount of time on this thread and I'm not going to persist in doing so by writing a comment explaining...

                Already responded to a few others but @psi has the gist of it. I've spent a disproportionate amount of time on this thread and I'm not going to persist in doing so by writing a comment explaining how the model minority myth is damaging. I mean this in the best way: If you'd like to know more, look up "model minority myth" with your favorite search engine, find articles written by Asian American authors, and get their different perspectives. I can't be that person in this thread for you right now who will explain it, it's just too much to give in a comment and I want to enjoy my weekend instead of writing an essay for Tildes to understand why this article is problematic.

                3 votes
    3. kilroy
      Link Parent
      Yes, we should fear both. They are competing forms of exploitation and corruption.

      Yes, we should fear both. They are competing forms of exploitation and corruption.

      5 votes
  3. [3]
    onyxleopard
    Link
    I want to come back to this and write more about the fundamental flaws with the author’s model of the world, but I wanted to point this out: This is in reference to Bloomberg’s “Big Hack” piece,...

    I want to come back to this and write more about the fundamental flaws with the author’s model of the world, but I wanted to point this out:

    I was for a brief time in charge of User Data at Grab, and during that tenure I learned the dark underbelly of Data Governance, which is that it is not working. While I was at Grab there was an article about how the world discovered that China had injected a hardware vulnerability into the supply chain for the entire world’s computers, and everyone was like, oh gosh, that sounds bad, and then the story just died, because YOU didn’t understand how serious it was. You, the general public, and by extension, our legislators.

    This is in reference to Bloomberg’s “Big Hack” piece, which still, years later, they have not provided concrete evidence for. Before I clicked the link, I assumed that this was what Yegge was referring to, and after clicking the link to confirm, it solidified my doubts about Yegge’s credibility. I’m sure that China and other state actors are constantly working on exploits in that vein. But no entity has intentionally “injected a hardware vulnerability into the supply chain for the entire world’s computers” (or at least has not been successful at it). The fact that Bloomberg was not forced to retract the “Big Hack” piece is just an indictment of Bloomberg’s editors and the authors of that linked piece. If Yegge believed this piece then he has some fundamentally flawed critical thinking skills (one can determine this for various reasons by carefully reading the article, but this was one anecdote that stood out to me as I was reading).

    10 votes
    1. [2]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      Yes, that's sloppy. The Bloomberg piece is controversial, so better to leave it out than to mention it in passing. Was Yegge not paying attention to what the followup was? Nobody could confirm it....

      Yes, that's sloppy. The Bloomberg piece is controversial, so better to leave it out than to mention it in passing. Was Yegge not paying attention to what the followup was? Nobody could confirm it.

      But Bloomberg actually doubled-down on the Supermicro hack last February.

      I think they got a lot of criticism because they haven't shown their work in a way that anyone else can confirm. This is how it normally goes with security reporting: lots of people brag but if they don't have evidence, nobody is going to listen.

      But that's not the kind of reporting Bloomberg was doing. They seem to have found many government sources who still think it happened. That seems worth reporting, even if it still leaves us wondering whether their government sources are wrong.

      There's no way that we, sitting at home, can check whether the supply chain has been infiltrated. We can't rule it in or out based on plausibility arguments. So, it comes down to being an unproven allegation.

      Maybe their government sources are all fooled based on the same flawed evidence. It's happened before. (Remember Iraq?) But it's a mistake to assume that, because they haven't proven their case, it must be false. If the evidence isn't enough, we need to round towards uncertainty.

      3 votes
      1. onyxleopard
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I'm aware. But they still haven't provided evidence. That's not the way they framed the piece. I'd have no problem if they were just summarizing unconfirmed reports. But they put photos of ICs...

        But Bloomberg actually doubled-down on the Supermicro hack last February.

        I'm aware. But they still haven't provided evidence.

        But that's not the kind of reporting Bloomberg was doing. They seem to have found many government sources who still think it happened. That seems worth reporting, even if it still leaves us wondering whether their government sources are wrong.

        That's not the way they framed the piece. I'd have no problem if they were just summarizing unconfirmed reports. But they put photos of ICs claiming that they were direct evidence.

        There's no way that we, sitting at home, can check whether the supply chain has been infiltrated.

        True, but Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. presumably have the motivation and resources to investigate this and they all disavowed Bloomberg's report.

        But it's a mistake to assume that, because they haven't proven their case, it must be false.

        I'm not claiming it was false writ large. I'm saying incredible claims require evidence before I believe them. Yegge's epistemology is apparently much more credulous.

        4 votes
  4. [4]
    chrysanth
    (edited )
    Link
    The author seems to base his argument on an appeal to nationalism. Taxing tech companies and forcing them to pay their workers a fair wage is in the national interest, so we should do it, not...

    The author seems to base his argument on an appeal to nationalism. Taxing tech companies and forcing them to pay their workers a fair wage is in the national interest, so we should do it, not necessarily because it is morally appropriate to do so, but because it keeps us competitive against foreign powers. While I agree with the proposals, I contest this underlying logic. We should pay workers a fair wage because they deserve it, and because we can afford to do so. And although we might typically associate his policy proposals with left-liberal thought, and he claims the article shows his left-wing tendencies, the basis of his argument is one that conservatives use as well. For example, conservative writers at American Affairs often propose serious shifts in industry regulation if they would benefit U.S. national interests, suggesting they value U.S. international dominance over profits for U.S. companies, as does the author. Those writers and this author are more alike than it seems at first glance, since they both share the goal of protecting and advancing U.S. national interests, and just differ on which interests are more important than others, which policies best achieve those interests, the details of it all.

    I suggest you find the most epic music you know, and play it while you read this.

    Just have to point out this line and how utterly ridiculous it is. To get people to feel how you want them to feel, you add music which evokes those emotions, and the author wants us to feel that China is a threat, so he wants us to play music evoking a great battle between two powerful forces... why don't we use our critical thinking skills instead?

    Edit: This article from Current Affairs, though on a somewhat unrelated topic, does a good job of beginning to pose the questions one might need to ask oneself to engage with my position on this subject.

    Why, after all, does it matter at all if China and India, who have many more people, also have larger economies than our own? Who cares? Why is it a “very real challenge that we must meet” that they are “catching up” and might “overtake” us, especially if standards of living are increasing across the board? Why should we be in a race for the largest economy? No reasons are given by Yglesias, because the actual reasons for believing this are ugly ones indeed. It ultimately amounts to a belief that United Statesians are superior to others and deserve more. Why should we be #1, rather than someone else? Because we prefer “our” people to “their” people?

    8 votes
    1. [3]
      skybrian
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I think the argument is that we should tax tech companies and force them to pay their workers good wages because they deserve it, but we shouldn't break them up, because that's not in the national...

      I think the argument is that we should tax tech companies and force them to pay their workers good wages because they deserve it, but we shouldn't break them up, because that's not in the national interest.

      He wrote a rant in his classic style because that's what he's known for, and apparently wants to promote some of the other stuff he's doing. I shared it because I thought the "Hurricane China" metaphor was useful. It's a common trope to talk about outrages in China as if it were possible to stop them by talking about how bad they are.

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        chrysanth
        Link Parent
        Yes, you're right, this is a better summary of the argument. It was not my intention to strawman him. I acknowledge that you felt it was worth sharing. It is common for many people to adopt the...

        I think the argument is that we should tax tech companies and force them to pay their workers good wages because they deserve it, but we shouldn't break them up, because that's not in the national interest.

        Yes, you're right, this is a better summary of the argument. It was not my intention to strawman him.

        I acknowledge that you felt it was worth sharing. It is common for many people to adopt the perspective he mentions at the beginning of his piece, that China is not "playing by the rules," or whatever it may be, and I agree that destabilizing the assumptions underneath that are important. However, he does so in a way that feels culturally essentialist, i.e. "Chinese people just don't think this way," and although he provides other examples (Venezuela, Vietnam) these are also communist countries, whose people and culture are commonly essentialized as well. I want to add that I, like others in this thread, understand this piece mostly as a rehashing of Yellow Peril rhetoric that has been racially sanitized for contemporary discourse, where making explicit racial appeals (i.e. "the Chinese will replace us if we don't do anything!") is no longer accepted by the majority of elites participating in the discussion, at least publicly.

        4 votes
        1. skybrian
          Link Parent
          I think it's difficult to make accurate generalizations about entire countries, especially large ones. Talking in this way ignores a lot of internal diversity, the ways that regions in the same...

          I think it's difficult to make accurate generalizations about entire countries, especially large ones. Talking in this way ignores a lot of internal diversity, the ways that regions in the same country are different from each other. I don't remember the exact quote, but I like how James Fallows wrote that anything you want to say about China is probably true somewhere. (And maybe for the US, too?)

          To avoid this, it seems better to do more detailed reporting about the places you've actually been and what you've actually seen.

          And yet, travelers often talk about cultural differences between the different places they've been to. Immigrants know that there are large cultural differences that are tricky to navigate. Culture shock seems to be real? How do we talk about such things? (More sensitively than Yegge, probably. At least he gives examples.)

          I've never been to any part of Asia yet, so I can't judge for myself, but I don't think Yegge is being particularly original here, or all that out of line with other articles or books I've read. It doesn't seem particularly essentialist to point at differences between societies that do seem quite different?

          I'm not sure about the cheating. It seems like it's common in a lot of places, the US included. And corruption seems like a pretty widespread problem? I don't think it's evenly distributed, though.

          1 vote
  5. Deimos
    (edited )
    Link
    This thread seems to have just turned into pure meta-bickering at this point, and I don't think there will be anything interesting or productive from it continuing.

    This thread seems to have just turned into pure meta-bickering at this point, and I don't think there will be anything interesting or productive from it continuing.

    5 votes
  6. [9]
    Kuromantis
    (edited )
    Link
    (Formatting is mostly mine.) Alright, I'm going to not LARP as a rationalist today and say this: If the rest of the op-ed is like this, (and the op-ed is nearly 8 thousand words long) I'm not...

    (Formatting is mostly mine.)

    I’m about to say some stuff that’s gonna get me in trouble. I’m a private citizen of the US who’s not even employed by anyone, and there will still be trouble.

    Incidentally, I’ve decided to start my own talk show. I am so bursting full of rants that I’ll never be able to write them all. It’s going to be a tech-oriented show, since I’ve been in the Big Tech industry for 30 years, and I’ve already got a bunch of high-falutin’ guests lined up. I’m busy getting my game Wyvern launched to Steam (very very soon), and who knows whether it’ll take off, but after that, it’s all about the talk show. I will be ranting like a madman, probably a couple times a week. I hope you’ll come visit.

    And now, on to today’s show!

    Hurricane China is Coming

    I suggest you find the most epic music you know, and play it while you read this.
    Here in the US, everyone is largely ignoring China, and they are doing so at their peril.

    China is the biggest and most organized economic, political, and soon, military force in the world. China does things very, very differently from the US and Europe, and ideologically they are also very different. So it’s very easy to be dismissive about them. It’s even easier to hate on China because you don’t like their policies.

    I can tell you right now: That’s dumb. It’s like hating a hurricane. It’s like hating tornadoes.
    There’s absolutely ZERO point in hating a hurricane. It gets you nowhere. What you have to do is prepare for a hurricane. That’s literally all you can do. You can’t stop it from coming. You can’t pretend it away. You need to prepare.
    China has been poor for a long, long time. For generations. And now they are rich beyond your wildest imagination. Their big cities make every single city in the US look like a dirty smelly armpit.

    This recent success has produced a level of Nationalism in China that rivals that of the craziest flag-waving “patriotic” Americans. Chinese people are proud of what they have accomplished, and badmouthing them will do nothing but piss them off, and it will not help you in the slightest.

    Instead, you need to try to understand them. I confess my understanding is nowhere near what it would be if I’d managed to live there for a while. But having worked closely for 30 years with mainland Chinese people (and also from HK, Singapore and other countries with lots of Chinese nationals), and having been married to a Chinese woman from Beijing for 5 years, and having many many Chinese engineer friends in the industry — and even though I, too, don’t care for some of their policies — at least I can spot a fucking hurricane when I see one.

    To help you prepare, so you’re not totally blindsided in the very near future, I’m going to try to help you understand China little better. And then I’m going to make an argument that our US legislators, who of course always have their heads up their collective asses, are even more clueless about the global Big Tech landscape, and they’re pointing a gun directly at the only assets we have in this worldwide competition that’s unfolding before our eyes. And that’s Not Good. Read on!

    Alright, I'm going to not LARP as a rationalist today and say this: If the rest of the op-ed is like this, (and the op-ed is nearly 8 thousand words long) I'm not going to read it, and wouldn't enjoy it if I did.

    (Not that I disagree with the author about if we should have a cold war with China, and I'm only moderately less confident in China's development, just that this style of writing reeks of sensationalism and is, to me at least, unbearable.)

    4 votes
    1. [8]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      It's totally sensational. That's what he does.

      It's totally sensational. That's what he does.

      1. [7]
        cfabbro
        Link Parent
        Okay, honest question; If you know it's blatant sensationalism, why post it here?

        Okay, honest question; If you know it's blatant sensationalism, why post it here?

        3 votes
        1. [6]
          skybrian
          Link Parent
          Despite being downright sloppy, I think there's the core of a good argument. When bad things happen in China, we often have online conversations about it as if other countries (the US in...

          Despite being downright sloppy, I think there's the core of a good argument. When bad things happen in China, we often have online conversations about it as if other countries (the US in particular) could do something to stop it, instead of about how to prepare and react to it. The "Hurricane China" metaphor seems like a useful alternative framing?

          Also, I thought people were more familiar with Steve Yegge's reputation for writing rants. I guess it's been a long time since he was Internet-famous?

          5 votes
          1. [4]
            cfabbro
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Okay, but why not try to find an article that takes those core arguments and actually does them justice, instead of posting this one, where they're muddled in with by a bunch of other (IMO)...

            Okay, but why not try to find an article that takes those core arguments and actually does them justice, instead of posting this one, where they're muddled in with by a bunch of other (IMO) intentionally sensationalist/provocative/inflammatory arguments, rambling tangents, and borderline xenophobic/racist generalizations?

            As for Yegge, I like to think I have been around the block as far as tech blogs go, yet still had no idea who he was before tonight. So perhaps he is either from before my time, when I have encountered him/his blog before it wasn't memorable enough to stick with me, or he is not as widely recognized outside your particular circles as you assumed? In any case, if this is the sort of way he typically addresses the subjects he writes about, I am definitely not a fan, even if some of his underlying points are ones worth considering. :/

            5 votes
            1. [3]
              skybrian
              Link Parent
              Well, I don't know of an article like that. I just repost links I happen to see, if they seem interesting enough to share. I guess this one shouldn't have made the cut? It's not like we're posting...

              Well, I don't know of an article like that. I just repost links I happen to see, if they seem interesting enough to share. I guess this one shouldn't have made the cut? It's not like we're posting much, though.

              Classic Yegge (from when he was at Amazon) can be found here. I think it got a fair amount of play on Hacker News, back in the day. But I looked at a few articles and I can't remember what I liked about them; they seem mostly of historical interest, if that. Maybe I remember him due to internal stuff at Google.

              4 votes
              1. [2]
                cfabbro
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                Yeah, that's fair enough. And I'm definitely not trying to completely discourage you from posting things here, especially interesting things you find, or topics you think are worth discussing....

                Well, I don't know of an article like that.

                Yeah, that's fair enough. And I'm definitely not trying to completely discourage you from posting things here, especially interesting things you find, or topics you think are worth discussing. However, I do think that needs to be balanced against some other considerations, e.g. the recently highlighted issue of Tildes pushing away minority voices. And I think articles like this from Yegge (and also a lot by Scott Alexander and others in the "rationalist" community as well, TBH) often have particularly contentious elements in them that are similarly problematic for much the same reasons. Sure, some points they make are probably worth considering and discussing under controlled/academic settings, but if sharing articles from them here causes heated arguments to erupt, and potentially pushes away a bunch of people who they're offensive/antagonistic towards, is that really worth it?

                So, perhaps a better way of posting something like this in the future might be to use a text-post, where you isolate the specific interesting points you would like to see discussed, so the conversation is steered better in that direction, and it does less damage overall?

                (Genuinely asking BTW, since I honestly don't know the best way to approach this sort of thing. Hard/serious discussions on contentious issues can be valuable, but they can also be incredibly detrimental to a community too. And IMO the minority voices topic, and this comment thread in particular from it, highlight exactly why.)

                5 votes
                1. vektor
                  Link Parent
                  My thought exactly with the text post. Got yourself a spicy link that is maybe too spicy? Steer the conversation. Either rewrite the content completely to the interesting parts, or give an...

                  My thought exactly with the text post. Got yourself a spicy link that is maybe too spicy? Steer the conversation. Either rewrite the content completely to the interesting parts, or give an abstract and acknowledge problems with the original text.

                  3 votes
          2. Kuromantis
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            While I definitely agree that Xinjiang, Tibet and increasingly so Hong-Kong and Macau seem to be increasingly out of reach from foreign intervention and China as a world superpower is here to...

            I think there's the core of a good argument. When bad things happen in China, we often have online conversations about it as if other countries (the US in particular) could do something to stop it, instead of about how to prepare and react to it. The "Hurricane China" metaphor seems like a useful alternative framing?

            While I definitely agree that Xinjiang, Tibet and increasingly so Hong-Kong and Macau seem to be increasingly out of reach from foreign intervention and China as a world superpower is here to stay, I feel like framing it as a hurricane implies too much helplessness and lack of power on the part of 'the west'. I'd imagine the US and other 'Western' nations can probably do a lot to be a more viable alternative to China in the nations where this competition is ongoing beyond just improving our quality of life and investing more in scientists so we can start a tech race and making sure they aren't subject to market pressures like producing the most studies. I also agree that, given this competition and how little of a damn China gives about antitrust, breaking up the tech companies might be a bad idea in the long run.

            1 vote
  7. skybrian
    Link
    Here is the key point: [...]

    Here is the key point:

    If you break up the Western Tech Giants, then they will be replaced with foreign companies that you cannot regulate. They won’t pay you tax, they won’t provide you with jobs, and they will control the entire narrative — social, political, economic, everything — instead of Western companies controlling, well, if not all, then at least part of it.

    [...]

    The solution you really need is completely orthogonal to what all the goddamn journalists are talking about today: You need to tax the fuck out of the Tech Giants. And you need to force them to pay a living wage and benefits to their workers. This will absolutely not put them out of business, nor in fact (despite their arguments to the contrary) will it even hurt their ability to compete. They are amazing, driven, very clever companies, and we’ve seen time and again that regulating them — whether it’s GDPR, or paying for news, or the Right to Privacy, or any of the other legislative initiatives that made them kick and scream — does not hurt them in the long run.

    2 votes